I have a confession to make. I can't stand marketing. When I find flyers stuck in my front door or mailbox - or worse, under the windshield wiper of my car - I am always tempted to roam through my neighborhood or the parking lot collecting them all, dumping them all on the front door of whichever business distributed them, lighting the pile on fire and running away. I never do that of course, but that's what I want to do. Telemarketers? I really wish someone would invent a telephone system that lets you press a button to send 5000 volts down the wire to fry the caller's phone system. I'm so bad that even when I walk into a physical store, if the shop clerks are just a teensy bit too pushy, I get really annoyed.
So here's the conundrum. As you've probably noticed, I own a shop. I'll give you one guess what is the part of operating the shop I am finding the most challenging. Yep. Marketing. Ugh. So, feeling my way along this new challenge, I'm slowly finding things that work for me without having to compromise my strong anti-marketing stance.
Actually building relationships with people - go figure - seems to be a good start. Vending at local pet fairs and fundraisers, setting up donation programs with rescue groups, chatting with people on internet forums. Making my focus be learning about what people like best about various pet products and which products they feel are good and bad, and just learning from people and being a nice human being. NOT focusing on sales, sales, SALES! The first year or five of a brand new business should be all about reputation-building anyway, so I believe this is a good approach. Sales will follow, building relationships must come first.
And I have a long list of things I will NOT do, because they drive me so batty when I encounter them at other shops:
- I will not configure my shop to shove a newsletter signup box in your face two seconds after you arrive, forcing you to close it so that you can do what you came to do: browse.
- Nor will I assume that if you're spending 5 seconds "too long" browsing that you can't find what you want and shove an obnoxious chat window in your face. You browse as long as you want to. Want to leave and come back another day? What is so wrong with that? It's like the old saying, if you love someone, set them free; if they love you in return, they'll come back. Okay, that's a little silly in this context, but I think it holds true. If a customer likes your site and/or your products, they'll come back.
- I will not collect my customer's email addresses and add them to a newsletter list. Don't you hate when you make a purchase somewhere and then discover that you've been added to the shop's marketing newsletter and have to unsubscribe? I sure do, so I will not do that to my customers!
- Neither will I sell my customer's email addresses. I mean... really? I know everybody across the internet does that these days, but still. No thanks!
- I also won't configure my shop to pop up a lightbox - those things that gray out all of the screen except for the nag/beg so that you can't read the site content or do anything until you've satisfied the nag/beg. Lightboxes come straight from satan's behind and I won't use them.
So there, my dear visitors. This is my official marketing policy. It's more of a welcome mat than a marketing strategy, but I'm okay with that. Hello, come on in, take your shoes off if you like, make yourself comfortable. I'm right here if you have any questions or want to chat, otherwise I'll be in the kitchen making coffee!