This morning at Checkfront HQ we had a surprise visit by Choux Choux Charcuterie – a neighboring business offering artisanal meats and fine cheeses here in Victoria. It was a “welcome to the neighborhood” sort of visit that included a delectable sampling of their products and a very non-salesy reminder that they’re an easy option for lunch.
Choux Choux is right next door to us, and yet, if you had asked me yesterday, I would have drawn a blank at their name.
What they did was smart and a great business lesson.
We’re an office building with a handful of tech and marketing companies; maybe a eighty individuals in total; many of whom buy their lunches multiple times per week. In an environment where we probably have 20 different lunch options within a one block radius, they found a way to stand out and create a lasting impression that will very likely result in new business. How?
- They invested in an audience that could provide repeat business.
- They did something unexpected.
- They front-loaded value by offering their product, for free – no strings attached.
- They spread first hand knowledge of their offerings.
How might this model apply to you?
Think about your customers. What locations, or businesses do they frequent before they reach you? In Choux Choux’s case it’s rather easy, it’s the building next door and the 80 or so millennials there who need brain fuel every day. What if you’re a whale watching tour company? Well, there’s a good chance a large number of your customers are tourists. Where are tourists likely to frequent? Local hotels and lodges.
Now, before you go approaching all the guests at your local Hilton, think about the repeat business part of the first point above. Tourists are, by nature, transient. A better option is to make an impression on someone who can provide repeat business. That’s probably not the tourists directly, but how about the permanent staff at the hotel’s front desk? They interact with loads of tourists (who they could refer) each and every day. Bingo!
Now, what if, out-of-the-blue, you drop by and give the hotel manager a free outing for a few of the staff as a way of introducing yourself to other local businesses? If they don’t take you up on it, you’ve introduced yourself, nothing lost. If they do take you up on it, give them a top-notch experience like you would to a paying customer. It’s something they certainly weren’t expecting it, they didn’t pay for it and they had a great time… given the opportunity to suggest local activities for future hotel guests, which business do you think would be top-of-mind? Hint: likely the company that just took them out for the afternoon. Better yet, because they now have first hand knowledge of your offering, rather than just awareness of your business, they are able to share their experiences, suggestions on what to wear, etc. with prospects – all building to a better experience for any of the referral business that does come through. Smart, right?
As business owners, it’s easy to fall into the belief that if you build some thing great, new business will just find you. As Choux Choux’s example reminds us, sometimes an easier path is to find new business than to be found. Try taking a different approach from your regular marketing channels and do something personal and memorable to source out new business, see what comes of it.
As a side note, I think Choux Choux found some new fans, as evident below from the remainders of the tasty spread they brought us.