We have a tradition in our family to share "highlights" over dinner. So yesterday, our first day back home after a week in Orlando, my wife and I asked our two kids to pinpoint their TOP highlights from our week there. The answer...hanging out at the hotel pool. Granted, it was pretty cool (a water slide, a beached pirate ship that they could climb on, water canons for shooting water at one another), but c'mon! I lost track of the bucks we spent to get into Magic Kingdom, Seaworld, and Animal Kingdom, and their answer is THE HOTEL POOL!
Don't get me wrong, I don't regret the trip or the expense. (When prompted) my son (4) and daughter (6) remembered the fun we had on Splash Mountain, escaping the heat by relaxing through Small World, and soaking up parade of lights. But some of their top memories were outside the gates of any of the theme parks. Beside the hotel pool, my son LOVED the Lego store in Downtown Disney, and my daughter was crazy about the T-REX Restaurant right next door and the greek restaurant with the fire-eating belly dancer. Definitely fun stuff.
So what could this insight mean for your business? A few things come to mind:
1) Location. Orlando was a sweltering, sticky mess last week (as far as this Northerner turned Bay Area mild-weather-loving temperature wimp is concerned), so it's hard to say that Orlando is a great location in general. But the RELATIVE locations of the businesses we encountered (hotel, restaurants, stores) and the theme parks themselves all contribute to their mutual success. There are numerous ways to analyze how that all works out. Let's just pick one -- target audience.
Target Audience: Can just any old hotel decide to devote the space and expense to build a pool so elaborate that it borders on a water park? Of course not! But the folks at Marriott KNEW that a large percentage of clients would be families with young children who were bound to stay for 7 or more days and be looking for activities each day...giving their management a lot more confidence in making that investment.
It's the same for your business. Maybe "location" is a true geographic issue for your business. If in retail, do the other stores around you attract the same profile of client that you would like? Maybe you are a consultant and don't have a storefront, but the question is still valid. Have you joined networking organizations that help you meet more of the people you'd like to meet? Have you placed your skill profile online in places that will expose you to the right kinds of prospects?
The better your "location" attracts your target audience ON ITS OWN, the more successful your marketing efforts will be. One way to think about how good your location is -- if your business wasn't even there, would your target customers be there anyway? If the answer is 'yes' -- then you likely have a good location. If 'no' then you probably have a marketing challenge that you don't need.
2) What Really Matters May Not Be What You Think. So we spend an entire day traveling (in each direction) and umpteen $ in tickets, and the make-or-break experience for the trip turned out to be the hotel pool. If it was lame, I'm not sure what the lasting impression for my kids would be. Luckily, it was great -- a major contributor to fond memories of the trip.
So what's your "hotel pool?" We all THINK we know what our customers want and CONVINCE OURSELVES that we are spending our time improving the right products, services, and practices.
If my "Disney principle" makes sense to you though, there are likely things going on in, on, or around your business (that you have never considered) that are either: 1) providing benefits you should not change because your customers value them, or 2) impeding your success by silently dragging you down.
You've got great food, a nice setting, and reasonable prices -- but inadequate parking keeps people away. Still using styrofoam containers? Forget about attracting environmentally conscious customers. Using an automated attendant on your phone? It might not matter that you have better prices or more experience than your competitor, if your target customers want to speak with a live person... you get the idea.
So what can you do about it?
- The quickest thing you can do is ask a friend (someone who will give you honest feedback!) to experience your business as a new client would. You are not objective, so you need someone ELSE to do it. Ask them to take note of everything possible, and compare it to the most ideal experience they could imagine.Concerned that you need more help than a friend could offer? Contact us for a detailed Competitive Intelligence Report. We review dozens of factors that are critical for ANY business to be successful, and compare your performance to that of competitors you choose.
- Survey your customers and prospects. Be sure to leave opportunities for them to comment on what they like and don't like about working with you or simply interacting with your company. Remember, you need to find things you don't even know you're looking for!