As it appeared in the Daily Nation on February 7th, 2017
A few days ago, I was on Argwings Kodhek Road waiting to make a right turn. As I waited, I noticed a group of people carrying placards. At first, I thought they were protestors but on reading the message on their placards, I noticed it was about some “Crazy Prices” at House of Leather a store not far from where this was happening. Many of us may have come across this store’s unique marketing tactics. I have often seen them on Ngong Road, but the main question is how many have visited the store as a result and do they remain loyal customers thereafter?
Despite living less than 2 Km away from the store and seeing the placards on Ngong road, I am yet to visit the store. On this particular day, I was curious to find out if they have an online store. After I got home, I checked them out online. I could only find their Facebook page. For some reason besides my Zuku woes, the website and Facebook shop were not connecting. What was of most concern however was that their 2016 Facebook queries were yet to receive any response. I wondered why a business investing in attracting new customers out there in the streets would fail to spend time responding to their customers on Facebook.
Like house of Leather, many businesses are trying to attract customers at all costs. The cutthroat competition in some sectors makes the race for customers so evident. On many streets of Nairobi, if it is not the Matatus battling it out for passengers it is the retail stores on every street or the hawkers out in the streets. While some stores have very attractive displays, others have staff ushering customers in. A few other stores have gone to the extent of having audio invitations for customers to get in. We may have witnessed at least one or the other.
In some retail outlets, the effort to attract new customers is not very evident and in others, no one seems to care. Maybe such businesses already have enough customers. Even better, maybe these businesses are more focused on retaining their existing customers before attracting new ones. Seth Godin in his book the Purple Cow talks about the need to stand out in a crowded marketplace. He goes on to point out that it is easier for customers to love a brand when the brand loves back. Failure to combine standing out and loving customers is perhaps the reason why most brands hoping to attract new customers are not succeeding. A few brands are however succeeding on the two fronts; they are attracting new customers and keeping them happy because they love them.
Zappos.com represents a retail business that stands out by an above and beyond customer experience. Tony Hsieh the founder of Zappos.com in his book Delivering Happiness has this advice to marketers “we take most of the money that we could have spent on paid advertising and instead put it back into the customer experience. Then we let the customers be our marketing”. If you are hoping to attract new customers this year, there are fundamental questions that you need to ponder before trying to attract new customers. Are your existing customers happy? Are they coming back? Are they doing the marketing for you?
Lucy Kiruthu is a Management Consultant and Trainer connect via twitter @KiruthuLucy