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8 cool things you can learn from the major electronic chains

Do you know what separates Radio Shack from Best Buy? I don't know. I started thinking about this when I had to buy a birthday gift for my daughter. She wanted a cell phone and I went to a store closest to my office.

Inside, I was greeted by a listless jollier, obviously hating his job. He yawned during our conversation, but nodded smiling greetings to his colleagues who came back from lunch. Ouch! This company must be losing lots of money because customers probably will not return – or so I thought. The worst part is that they probably won't lose that much. We are far too accustomed to disinterested sellers and think that we have to put up with them.

But when we meet someone who is interested, we'll remember it. This is where all small business owners have their best chance - to win over the listless big business by providing great service. Will you be the one that everyone will remember?

Eight things you can learn from the big consumer electronics chains:

1. Show that you keep up with your marketing
Switch on current events. The FIFA World Cup, for example. To show that your business keeps up with what's happening in the world gives us a sense that you have an outgoing company with the same interests, joys and concerns that we all have as human beings.

2. Create reasons for campaigns
Become the world champion of celebrations.
”Today we have been in business for 20 years.”
”Today it was 20 years ago that we opened up our first store.”
”Today we have sold 20 000 flat-screens.”
Anything is worth celebrating and building campaigns around.
This is where the major electronics chains do amazingly well.
Make it work for you too, in small or large scale.

3. Arrange internal competitions
Let the staff compete for prizes for reaching goals. If you work on your own, you can compete against yourself by reaching different targets - and rewarding yourself when you reach your goals. The major electronics companies are constantly staging competitions sponsored by various vendors.
You can do that, too!

4. Take care of the phones
Answer the phone - this is an area where these huge companies are very poor in. Imagine that they would always have a trained, service minded person answering the phone and one who was good at selling over the phone who booked time with customers - what amazing sales opportunities.
These huge companies have it all served to them on a silver platter. They could sell amazing volumes without any efforts: They have a customer calling and asking about a product (something he/she is already interested in and he/she knows all there is to know about this well known company) - but there is no one to pick up the phone. No one to talk to, no one to give advice. This is where a small business has its best chance to win over their great rivals. You can't compete on price, but you can show customers that you really are there when they need you.

5. Beware of negative goodwill
Have you visited a company for a special offer, but had to leave empty handed because there was no product left? Consumer electronics companies have become good at this. There are people claiming that the products haven't even been in stock at the store and that the ads are only for luring customer into the stores so they can be fooled into buying a more expensive version.
Beware of deceiving your customers.

6. Sharpen your payment terms
Create the best payment terms you can. It may be hard for you to charge 3 dollars today and let the customer pay the rest in October, but try to figure out what would work for your customers - and for you. Buying expensive things are big decisions. If your product or service costs 5 000 dollars, it can be a big decision. But if the customers could pay 50 dollars a month for 10 months, the decision would be much easier to make.

7. Solve the customer's problems with deliveries
Offer different types of deliveries. If your products are hard to carry around or carry on the bus, offer to deliver them, to cooperate with the local gas station that rents trailers. In short - offer customers easy solutions.

8. Make your own Kinder Eggs for your customers
”I want to have a surprise, something exciting and tasty”– that's the success story behind the Kinder Egg. The ad is aimed at children. Children like exciting surprises. But that goes for us adults too. The question arises: “Why are we, as customers, not getting a surprise from time to time?”

Why haven't any of the consumer electronics chains learned that every time we buy for more than 100 dollars, we could earn a bonus at checkout?

It's so easy and so cheap. Why are all the consumer electronics chains so similar? Is it because their concept works so well or is it lack of imagination? I don't know. But if you find yourself in a buying situation where the same product costs about the same in stores that look about the same with people who have similar knowledge about the same things - which one should you choose? Perhaps the geographically closest one.
Pity. You'd probably choose the store that offered a bonus.

What can you offer your customers as a bonus when purchasing? In other words - how can you make it more fun to shop from your company? Think about that for a while and think hard, it can make a greater difference than you might think.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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