Increasing Store Traffic: Crowds Attract Crowds

29 Feb

shoppers in crowded store

I was twelve when I got my first marketing lesson at The Pink Poodle.

Before the proliferation of McDonald’s and all the other fast food restaurants, places like the Pink Poodle dotted the San Fernando Valley, in Southern California. They served hot dogs, hamburgers, milk shakes and almost anything else that was unhealthy but tasted good.

It was a popular hang-out for teens, especially during the hot San Fernando Valley summers.

My best friend Bill and I ate at the Pink Poodle often. Bill got a huge allowance and treated me almost every week-end.  The owner and cook befriended us and learned I was a budding artist.  To keep two of his best customers happy, he gave me my first career break! I got a commission to create a “No Loitering” sign. In exchange, I would get $1.75 worth of food, in trade; big money for a kid without a college education.

The sign was made (with my mother’s help) and displayed in the dining area. It was a proud moment for me.

The Marketing Plan.

The owner wanted to clear out the rift raft which in his mind were the teenagers who were only buying cokes and fries and occupying his fifteen small tables for long periods of time.

Both the sign and his encouraging words soon took effect.  Those who had finished their fries and coke were asked in so many words to leave. Those who use to just hang around, no longer did.

My sign was a whopping success…and a precursor to my budding career in advertising and marketing!

Be careful what you ask for because you might get it.

The once crowed hang out with low yielding customers were all but gone. Now there were plenty of open tables and none where sticky.  All that was missing was the new high paying guests (like our parents and other taller people).  The owner’s plan was on track.

Guess what happened?

When you drove by the Pink Poodle, people noticed the place looked empty. They didn’t comment that the “low producing customers” or even kids were gone. They just saw a slow restaurant.

Busy restaurants attract people. If they are busy they must be good.

My first marketing lesson at 12 years old was; crowds attract crowds.

Success begets success.

People like to do business with successful companies and people like to eat at restaurants that are busy. If other people think something is good, it probably is.  How can a business or restaurant be bad if so many people are there?

Barnes and Nobles knows this. Check out all the cheap people who just hang out there to read a book or magazine. They even have comfortable chairs and encourage loitering. They know some of those loiters will be customers and those that don’t, well, they may come back another day to make a purchase.  At least they are making the place look busy.

That is because crowds attract crowds.

Always look successful. Everyone loves a winner.

Are you doing a seminar at a hotel and don’t know how many people to expect? If you think you are going to get 100 people, get a room large enough for 100 but set up the seating for 50 or 60. If you get 65 people, everyone will think you had a sellout crowd. Let a few stand for a while, then put another ten chairs out.

The event will look successful, and people’s expectations about your presentation will begin in a favorable light.

Congratulations. You just created a crowd. And crowds attract crowds.

Doing a restaurant grand opening? Make sure all the employees, family, relatives and vendors are there.  Make sure there is a crowd.

Remember, crowds attract crowds.

Ever walk into a retail store that is empty? You want to walk right out.

Improve the situation; make your employee or employees do something. They need to look busy. If they are, it means business must have been good an hour ago, or yesterday, and you just came in during the lull and missed the crowd.

Stocking a shelf with a new line of cosmetics or perfumes?  Make sure one SKU is missing. People will look at the display and unconsciously notice someone before them purchased an item from it.  It must be good if someone else thought it was!

You have just increased the chance someone else will follow that lead.

Create an environment that looks busy and crowded because crowds attract crowds…and that creates a buying frenzy. 

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One Response to “Increasing Store Traffic: Crowds Attract Crowds”

  1. Linda Wassel April 6, 2012 at 1:39 pm #

    Alan, now teach me how to sell my children’s books. I have four now and am working on number five.

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