This guest post is by Jeff Esposito, Vistaprint’s Social Media Manager.
You never know when inspiration will strike, and you might often be shocked when it does. Over the past few months, my young son has started to focus a lot more on the world around him, and with that, his love of animals has grown. So when thinking of things for him to do, I often think back to the fun things I did as a kid, and one image that keeps popping up is a petting zoo. So, when we took him to the petting zoo a couple of weeks back, the biggest thing that I noticed was that beyond the guise of a “happy place for kids with animals” were some simple but ingenious business tactics worth borrowing as we look to improve our businesses.
Stand Out: Many petting zoos are connected to farm stands or local markets. Adding the attraction of a petting zoo makes the storefronts stand out from their competitors, and also makes them stick in the minds of their patrons. Would you rather take a child shopping at a market where they get to ride in a cart, or at one where you can get your shopping done while the kids get to play?
Now, that doesn’t mean that you should run out and buy a llama and some pigmy goats; instead, take a step back and think of something that you can add to your business that keeps you top of mind, and ahead of the competition. This can be anything from free coffee to a customer picnic or barbeque.
Engagement Is Key: If you’ve ever been to a petting zoo, you probably know that customers are very interactive with the attraction and the employees. This type of personal engagement helps keep these establishments in their customers’ memories. The question is, how can you continue this level of engagement with your customers?
For starters, you can offer tips and tricks for customers that may involve your business, an example would be if you own a propane and grill business, for instance, offering weekly recipes for customers or hosting a regular cook-off with specialty prizes. If you have a brick and mortar location, another way of boosting engagement is to greet customers as they enter the front door similar to what you see at Wal-Mart and Home Depot. Making your customers feel like they are valued and wanted will let them know you care.
Augment The Experience: Baby animals are cute and cuddly, of course, but have you ever noticed that there is always the option to feed the animals as well? If so, you have probably noticed that this extra perk can run anywhere from a quarter up to a dollar or two and you probably have never noticed the upsell.
Even if cute, cuddly animals are not your cup of tea, if you owned a tea shop selling a scone or a free tea with the purchase of a travel mug, you might have found something to boost your bottom line without coming off as a pushy salesman.
Have you ever tried any of these tactics with your business? If so we’d love to hear how it turned out for you, in the comments below. If you are going to try any of them out, please let us know how they turn out for you.