“Are We There Yet?” Marketing Tactics That Confuse the Journey with the Destination

Posted on Sep 4, 2013

The Smart Parking Garage

Success and Failure Road Sign with dramatic clouds and sky.

This weekend, I had the opportunity to visit the new shopping mall in town. The parking garage was a technical marvel. As we pulled in, a digital billboard noted the number of available parking spots on each floor. A similar digital marker was at the end of every aisle. And, there was a light over each parking space – red for occupied and green for available. Circling the garage looking for an available space had become a thing of the past; within the span of two minutes, I was digitally ushered to an available spot.

Not Necessarily a Better Mouse Trap

Upon exiting my car, I looked around for the nearest elevator. Surprisingly, the signs were drably painted and poorly lit. Ditto for the signage that showed what level of the garage I was on, and in what row. Apparently, the engineers had invested all of their energy into getting me to a parking place. They didn’t much care if I found my way to the shops, or once done, back to my car. They believed they’d built a better mouse trap because they’d made parking more efficient and easy. They forgot that parking the car wasn’t the objective. The objective was to have me spend money at the shops. Parking the car quickly was just one step towards that goal.

It made me wonder: how many of our marketing tools suffer from the same challenge? How many get you to the parking lot, but fail to direct you to the shops? How many leave us at the metaphorical cash wrap with no clear next step once the purchase has been completed?

Three simple tests

  1. How Do I Buy This?  Look at your suite of marketing tools – website, social marketing, collateral, etc. For each tool, ask the simple question, “How Do I Buy This?”. If you can’t clearly see how to get to a point-of-purchase, neither can your prospects.
  2. Where Am I?  As we saw during the recent Google outage, search is a major force in web traffic. Each page and post must be treated as stand alone experience. Are your name and brand clearly visible? Is it easy and intuitive to move up and across levels within your site/blog/whathaveyou? If you can’t readily figure out where you are within your social site, neither can your prospects.
  3. How Do I Get Back to My Car?  This one’s actually a trick. Once the purchase transaction is complete, your customer can easily get back to where they “parked”. That’s what the browser back button is for, after all. No, what you need to focus on here is the broader post-purchase experience. Do you offer up-sell and cross-sell opportunities at check out? Do you offer a chance for purchaser to engage with your brand? Nip buyer’s remorse in the bud by offering additional positive experiences post-sale.

In many respects, the biggest failing of the Smart Garage wasn’t that it confused the process with the objective. The biggest failing was that it handled the process so well. My expectations were high as I exited my car. When they weren’t met, it colored the rest of the shopping experience. And perhaps not surprisingly, I left the mall empty handed.

Are you setting similar barriers for your prospects?


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“Are We There Yet?” Marketing Tactics That Confuse the Journey with the Destination

by Scott A Livingston time to read: 2 min