Growing Customers with a Visit to the Mall

The best shopping experiences are in the mall.

They’re just so darn good at converting you from a wandering, lost soul to a customer. So why not look at how they interact with you and learn a few lessons about growing customers.

Consider that you see a store that you’ve never been in before, and linger outside as you look at it. Maybe you’re in the mall looking at the sign trying to figure out who they are and what do they do.

Before you’ve even made the choice to engage with that particular business, you’re basically loitering. It’s a strong term, but it’s a good one to explain that initial part of any interaction. This term applies to people who just come to your website and then pop right off again; the term ‘high bounce rate’ is used to describe this occurrence.

These are loiterers, not really prospects at this stage. They are people who are just coming to kind of hang out, and so we start off growing customers with that phase.

Lesson: You need something clear and bold to explain what you are to a loiterer.

Let’s assume that something about the store has attracted you. This is the point at which you enter the store because you’re just trying to get a sense of what’s going on or what they sell.

You know what happens next. A salesperson approaches you and asks if you’re looking for something. Your response is almost automatic,

I’m just looking.

I call that a looker. Somebody who is just beginning to engage in your business, someone who doesn’t know what’s happening there yet, but is just looking.

But you’re just looking because you haven’t figured out yet what it is you want or need. It’s the store’s job to lay everything out in a way that you can discover it yourself, because you’re likely not going to engage with a salesperson at this point.

A salesperson who engages too early – and too forcefully – at this stage will not be growing customers. They will be chasing you off.

But more importantly, unless you can imagine yourself walking out with something in that store, you’re going to leave soon. Your time is valuable and unless something in this store will make an impact on you, you’ll just move on.

Lesson: You need to capture the imagination of the looker with a description of how you can change their life.

Now imagine that you’re looking in this brand new store and suddenly something catches your eye. You realize that it’s something you might like or need.

This would be the point when you might pick something up off the shelf, examining it. At this point you are comparing and contrasting.

You look at the price, you look at the tag and you look at what’s in it.

Now you’re a shopper, really engaged and ready to make a decision about whether this is something that you need. It’s important to note that before this point, you probably wouldn’t have been interested in a conversation with a salesperson. And you definitely wouldn’t have been interested in the features of the product.

The store can really start growing customers by making it easy to align your need with the benefits of their products. Make it easy to read, easy to find. Better yet, provide personalized and customized tools and services that connect your prospect’s need with the benefits you offer. The more personalized, the better.

Lesson: You need to present the benefits of your product or service in a way that matches the need of your shopper – just the facts at this point, but no sooner.

If that decision is positive, you move from being a shopper to being a buyer. A buyer is somebody who’s ready to make a purchase.

This is where retail separates the winners from the losers. How do you feel in a store when you’re ready to buy but you can’t find the cash register? Or worse, you find it, but there’s no one there to help you? Have you ever walked out of store because you couldn’t buy what you wanted to?

Retailers that make it obvious to find the cash register do well. Either it’s in an obvious place or you are accompanied by a salesperson who will take you there personally. Anything else is a failure of experience. You can’t be growing customers if they can’t buy from you.

This may be obvious if you have an e-commerce site. But sometimes our products or services require a few steps to close the deal. If so, don’t “hide the cash register.” Make sure your prospect knows how to become a customer.

Lesson: You need to explain how to transact business with your buyer; be clear about how to buy your product.

So this process of going from loiterer through looker, to shopper, to buyer – growing customers – is what I call migration. It is the ability of a prospect to choose to engage with a business on a deeper and deeper level until they choose to become a customer. In some sense, you aren’t growing customers – they’re developing themselves.

In this podcast episode we discuss the different messages that each of these prospect segments needs to hear.

Curious about the color scheme? We explain that too.