By Jeff Blackman
One year, my family and I spent our winter break in Los Angeles. We did all the traditional tourist stuff — plus, lots of shopping!
Venice Beach. Beverly Hills. Hollywood. Santa Monica. They all offered what my wife and daughters call “retail relaxation!” That’s a euphemism, for “smokin’ credit cards!”
My son, Chad, and I were rarely active participants in this shopping frenzy. Instead, we’d politely and patiently observe these “trained professionals” flawlessly execute their artistry and craft.
Each store seemingly offered non-stop opportunities, with their endless racks and infinite shelves of clothes and shoes. One night, while shopping on Melrose Avenue, the girls were immersed in shopping bliss. Their focus was impenetrable.
Chad and I looked at each other and knowingly nodded. We knew, this was our chance for a quick, undetected escape. We bolted for the door. We made it.
Once on the sidewalk, Chad declared, “Daddy, let’s just walk!”
Excellent. A perfect game plan. A father and son united.
We were “team testosterone,” committed to survival, without falling prey to the seductive allure of the next store window. Until …
And then, with the calm of a dispassionate 15-year-old (since enthusiasm wasn’t cool at that age), Chad said, “In here.” He motioned us to enter Advantis Ride.
Advantis Ride was a GUY store. Nuthin’ frilly or fancy. It was for guys who meant business, especially, on their bikes, skateboards, snowboards or blades.
Shoes, belts, buckles, pants and shirts hung from the walls, rafters and shelves. Most were in dark, masculine colors.
This wasn’t some “mall store.” It was a street store. With street credibility. A street reputation. And, it was cool!
The walls were adorned with t-shirts and pictures autographed by celebrities who were also customers. Who? If you didn’t watch MTV, VH1 or the Xtreme Games, you’d exclaim, “Huh?”
In one word, the store’s merchandising, products and tattooed employees were — brilliant!
Advantis Ride knew who its target market was — young males — and it went after and appealed to them with a vengeance.
Chad was, finally, in his own retail heaven.
He headed straight for the “shoe wall” and quickly found a pair of black leather beauties. These were eye-catchers. Cool, sleek, albeit somewhat menacing. (The logo was a white-stitched skull and crossbones!) I calmly asked, “Chad, how do you think your Mom will react to the logo?” He replied, “Yeah, that’s a problem.” He removed them and kept looking.
Patrick, a salesman, overheard our conversation and smiled. As he approached us, he asked Chad, “Hey dude, whatta ya looking for?”
Chad answered, “Something to hang in.” Patrick knowingly shook his head and made three suggestions.
Chad reached for the first pair and said, “Cool!” As Chad stared at his feet in the floor mirror, he gave me a “thumbs-up.” I agreed.
The shoes looked great and were devoid of logos that would induce his mother’s panic! Chad was happy. I was satisfied. Patrick was thrilled. He made a sale.
As Chad admired his selection, his mom and sisters entered the store.
Despite being “weighed down” by bags filled with their new acquisitions, they masterfully weaved past and through clothing displays to reach us.
Chad looked up and asked, “Well?” His sisters said, “They look good.” He smiled.
And then, he patiently waited for my wife’s response. Sheryl’s reply took Chad and I by surprise. I stood in disbelief. Chad’s smile morphed into a frown, and then anguish. For Sheryl had uttered the unthinkable. The incomprehensible. The inconceivable. She exclaimed, “They’re adorable!”
NO! That’s the last thing Chad wanted to hear! Two words, “That’s adorable!” instantly transformed “cool” into “nerdy.” Patrick also stood in shock. He’d just lost a sale!
But Patrick was good. He knew how to quickly recapture his customer and decision influencers. He said, “Dude, no worries. There’s lots of other cool stuff. You want a pair to hang in, right?” Chad nodded.
Patrick then turned to Sheryl and said, “When else might Chad wear these shoes?” She replied, “In marching band, he’s a drummer.”
Patrick said, “Cool Chad, I was in marching band when I was in high school. Here’s a really cool pair for hanging and marching. I wish they had these when I was in band. They’re brand new and really special.”
I turned to my wife and, kiddingly, urged her not to say that these, too, were, adorable, cute or lovely!
This time, Sheryl, the girls, and I simply said, in unison, “Cool!” Then Patrick added, “Chad, the shoes really bring out the color in your eyes!” We all cracked up!
Patrick made the sale. Chad wore the shoes out of the store.
- Find ways to quickly relate to your target customer, with your language, attire, and product presentation.
- Know who’s in your market, and focus on them (don’t be all things to all people, that’s usually a losing strategy).
- Offer multiple solutions
- Appeal to peoples’ dominant buying motives
- Know who’s making payment, and acknowledge their concerns, issues, or buying motives, too.
- Use humor; when folks are laughing, they’re usually comfortable to make a “yes” decision.
- Know that words matter — their denotations and connotations.
- Offer something that’s unique, special, different.
- Use testimonials (e.g., celebrity customers) that reinforce the value of your products and the power and influence of your brand.
Jeff Blackman is a Hall of Fame speaker, bestselling author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer. In 2008, he was Vistage’s Fast-Track Speaker of the Year. Jeff’s clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Please contact Jeff at firstname.lastname@example.org or via jeffblackman.com to learn more about his other business-growth tools and to subscribe to Jeff’s FREE e-letter, The Results Report. You can also “connect” with Jeff at LinkedIn or “follow” Jeff at Twitter.
Originally published: Feb 15, 2012