Have you visited a children’s book store lately? On the surface, it’s gotta be one of the happiest places on earth.
Why not? It’s filled with thousand of books, all with snappy covers… lots of color… and funny characters.
But underneath the sensory overload, all is not rosy. Operating a brick and mortar store is a massive investment with enormous fixed costs. A manager has to pay employees, rent, taxes and… probably a million other things.
And in a typical kid’s book store, inventory turns over SLOWLY. Most people visit for the experience; very few actually buy anything.
When customers do buy a book, it’s nothing unique. Overwhelmingly, it’s a title by one of the top two or three Mom-approved authors. The celebrities. Think 80/20. Survival of the Fittest. Law of the Jungle.
It’s hard to sell a book in a bookstore
Weak sales make it hard to stay open. That’s why Barnes & Noble has been contracting for years.
The display tables drive book sales in a store. They’re positioned at the front door and other high traffic places. Publishers pay big bucks for display table placement.
So when you stop at the table to have a look, how do you choose a book? They all LOOK good. Really, it’s kind of hard to mess up brightly colored, coffee-table sized cover art.
Regardless, many authors stop here. It FEELS like the ultimate win to have your book occupying this space.
However, the reality is different. While a book display is nice, it’s nothing more than a secondary sales driver today… even in high-traffic places like Manhattan. Add to that, the disruption of people constantly picking up and putting down books… in the wrong spot. This one little thoughtless act, kills sales… showing how fragile display tables are as a sales driver.
Really, even in the best of times, books are an occasional purchase for parents.
Get em’ hooked on your product
Contrast that with DRUG stores. The drugs… er, pharmaceuticals, in the back of CVS, Walgreens, Rite Aid, etc. brings in 60-80% of the store’s profit.
The front-end merchandise which you might’ve thought was the reason for the store is really an illusion. The toiletries, food, and greeting cards are upsells that hardly move the needle of the corporate ledger.
Drug stores have a business model. They rely on a RECURRING revenue stream. Drugs run out. People need refills… URGENTLY!
Anyone needing a prescription filled will go to the closest drugstore that accepts their insurance. They’ll keep going back, barring a disastrous experience. While there, they’ll pick up a few upsells.
So the obvious question isn’t whether book stores should start selling drugs :). As it is, drug stores already sell books… the same best sellers at the kid’s book store.
The question is: how do YOU keep customers coming back? Especially when your product isn’t absolutely necessary and doesn’t fit a recurring billing cycle.
There are several answers to that. You could introduce new products. You could discontinue old products. You could offer service warranties. You could sell your product through new channels.
The easiest solution though is to STAY in contact with your customers. Do that, and some of them will continue buying from you, consistently.
Targeted content keeps the focus on the customer
How do you stay in contact with customers? You can’t really, unless they grant permission. Permission — where they opt-in — as opposed to advertising, is getting harder and harder to do. The truth is, no matter what marketers say, NOBODY wants a “relationship” with a company.
They want help… or laughs… or discounts. Targeted content, custom made. Don’t think that you have a relationship in the human, two-way sense. You don’t. Keeping that distinction clear will keep you sharp. Or put another way, you won’t mistakenly think it’s about YOU or THE BRAND.
Targeted content always puts you in a better position to sell customers what they want. Needless to say, creating high-quality, exciting, and helpful content presumes you’re learning about them with every interaction.