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The self-serv situation

by | Aug 11, 2015 | Savoir Stuff | 0 comments

Despite being allergic to dairy, I love Orange Leaf, a frozen yogurt chain with outlets in my area (though, thankfully, none too close). If you haven’t been to an Orange Leaf, chances are there’s something like it near you. This is one of those self-service yogurt shops where you can choose and mix your yogurt (or in my case a non-dairy frozen treat) and decide how much you want to eat. Then, you take your tub of soft serve to the toppings bar and add whatever your little heart desires. (They even have toppings I can eat, too!)

Oh, man. It’s good stuff. I’m giving myself a hankering.

However, my most recent trip to Orange Leaf got me thinking about your marketing and what the web has wrought to your marketing programs.

I’ve talked before about the purchase process and how that’s changed; how the traditional funnel has been turned on its ear and isn’t really a funnel any more. Google did a study not too long ago that demonstrated that B2B buyers were 57% of the way through the purchase process before engaging with a sales representative, regardless of price point.

So what does that have to do with Orange Leaf? Well, quite a bit, as it turns out.

Now, your buyers are helping themselves, just like they would at Orange Leaf. They’re deciding what flavor they want; they’re reading the descriptions; they’re asking the guy next to them what he recommends.

This is a perfect metaphor for how the purchase process has changed, both in consumer and business markets.

When you’re home in your kitchen, you order a TV, sneakers, a bathing suit, power tools, books or movies online – and you typically have a great experience doing it. What happens next is that you take that experience with you to work the next day; it doesn’t stay compartmentalized at home. So when it comes time to look for a new laser printer, or office supplies, or lawyer or accountant, you’re likely to want – or outright expect – the same kind of experience researching and making the business purchase. Our culture has unequivocally shifted to the digital and it’s not going back.

This means that the web presence for your company is critically important. Getting found online and building trust and credibility are of paramount importance.

No matter who you are, or what industry you’re in, you’re dealing with a web-empowered buyer. These people are surfing websites and social media to identify and qualify vendors. They’re asking questions and getting recommendations. They’re researching solutions to their problems. And they are reading, listening to and watching free digital content that is available to them at the click of a mouse. They are helping themselves to as much information, as they need or want, to do their research and make their buying decisions.

You are no longer the sole source or gatekeeper of information about your company. That means that you should consider taking a page out of Orange Leaf’s book. If you did, you might:

  • Figure out who’s coming to your site and what their problem is.
  • Figure out what kind of information they want to educate and inform themselves.
  • Keep a close eye on who consumes what so you can continue to fine tune the “store.”

Orange Leaf has a variety of choices for a variety of audiences. You might not need as many options as they do, but you absolutely should think through what you do need and what your audience is looking for because they sure as heck are helping themselves to information online.

Interesting corollary: I also visited a Dairy Queen recently to get my dad a gift certificate. The experience there was much different. First of all, I waited in line a long time. If it weren’t for the fact that my dad loves Dairy Queen, I wouldn’t have waited. And, you’re limited to their sizes and offerings, which are seriously limited compared to Orange Leaf. Plus, the service staff made several mistakes with the orders taken and fulfilled ahead of me, making my wait longer and decreasing my confidence that they’d get mine right.

It felt so old school in comparison, and not in the good, nostalgic way: make people wait, use your service staff, consume your sizes, and do it your way. Like I said, if I didn’t have a compelling reason to be there I would have bounced, which is what people are likely doing from your website.

When it comes to marketing and your website, try to be like Orange Leaf, not like Dairy Queen. Your visitors will be happier, more satisfied and leave feeling good about your brand.

 

 

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