When I was working as a “floor supervisor” at a large grocery chain when I was about 19, I remember venting to my boss at the time about how customers were like a herd of animals. They would all get in line together behind one register, without even recognizing the fact that there were 3 or 4 other lanes open. My boss listened for a while, but then she bluntly told me “If people didn’t follow the crowd, your job wouldn’t be necessary.”
People follow the herd. They see what other people are doing and they replicate what they see, because when it comes to mundane, daily decisions they don’t want to stop and think deeply about options. As humans we already have a million other big decisions we must make all the time, so why waste time thinking about another, trivial decision like which line to get into at the grocery store? Peoples minds typically default to the option that looks the best. If everyone is getting into one line, that must mean that line is the best line, right?
Marketers are like “floor supervisors.”
We have to show people that there are other options outside of that one idea that everyone keeps latching onto. We have to keep the people from following one set idea, and open up their minds to the other possibilities out there. We direct them into new lines of thinking, showing them better options than what they’ve been settling for.
I’m not saying people don’t make educated decisions about what they buy, because they do. And people like having options and information available. They just don’t want to work for it. Most of the time, at least in the grocery store, the customers didn’t even realize that there was another register open. They didn’t look that far. They came across the first option and stuck with it, because they didn’t recognize that there was a better, or at least different, option out there. It was the first thing their eyes fell upon so they went with it. This is why 75% of internet users never scroll past the first page of search results. Why create more work for themselves when typically what they need is on the first page of their search results?
“If people didn’t follow the crowd, your job wouldn’t be necessary.”
Online marketing is necessary
It enables small businesses to be able to stand a chance against the big, automatic options out there that people choose without thinking about every day. Customers want better options. They want to make it out of the grocery store as quickly as possible (unless they just love reading the magazines while waiting in line, which some do), but they may not realize that there already is an answer to their problem unless someone guides them to it.
Online marketing, SEO, social media. These factors give customers the ability to make a decision based on easily accessible information. Social media is extremely important because it reminds customers that a business is a viable option for them. Newsletters keep your business in front of the customer. Search engine optimization makes it simpler to find your business on search engines without having to wade through pages and pages of other results. All of this makes a business easily accessible.
But don’t forget the website itself. If you don’t have a website that is easy to use, then your not going to get any customers.
Let’s continue the grocery store analogy. If you have a cashier who is barely understandable, slow as a snail, and barely knows how to operate the register what are the chances you are going to ever choose that cashier’s line again? Pretty much zero, unless there’s absolutely no choice (and that’s why they created self check out). The same goes for your website. The most loyal of customer will never use your online features if they don’t load quickly or properly and don’t clearly tell you what a customers wants or needs to know, or fails to present information in an accessible manner. This hurts your business, because your website represents your brand and your company. Bad experiences with cashiers and websites can both deter customers from doing business with you.
Your small business may be a great business, but if customers don’t know you even exist as a potential option you are doing something wrong. You must find ways to direct customers to a line that will provide them with the options that they really want. Online marketing does just that: it helps direct customers to your business, showing them what they really want from a company, and making their automatic choice (that really long line) appear suddenly very unappealing.
If you are interested in learning more about how your business can be affected by online marketing, request a free consultation with us today.