When you walk into Starbucks you quickly fall into a well planned routine. You wind your way through curved aisles, filled with shelves of enticing products. Suddenly the path widens and you face the front counter and a myriad of treats and other delicious calories. The lighting is powerful and enticing, leading your eyes to the muffins, croissants, and scones.
The routine becomes more familiar with a call of, “Can I take your order?” resonating from behind the counter. You look up at the menu board and see the daily specials and coffees of the day. Just like the marketing people planned, your eyes see the words “Gingerbread Latte” written in colorful script and your mind instantly imagines this frothy and delicious concoction instead of that cup-o-joe you came in the door for. You are helpless to resist and of course you need a grande.
Soon the Barista is mixing the ingredients and tells you that the latte will be available at the product bar at the end of the counter. The end of the counter just past the pastry case… Hmmm… do I want the scone or the croissant today? Within seconds the few steps you take to pick up your gingerbread drink results in another sale. That dollar fifty cup-o-joe has turned into a seven dollar sale with a whopping total of 1100 calories to go with it.
A smile crosses your face as the Barista hands you your drink and a small bag with your scone in it. You turn around and grab a napkin from the mixing bar and take a seat next to the window. The Starbucks path took you from the front door to your eventual seat by the window. This modern day yellow brick road took you past many temptations and enticed you into the purchase of a few. As you finish your treat at the window seat you notice the new chrome travelers mug on the shelf next to you. You picture that mug saving you from an embarrassing spill in your car and the sale is made… another twenty dollars as you walk out the door.
What started as a $1.50 cup of coffee turned into a $27 shopping spree. The secret was placing high profit items along the “routine” path. Almost everyone takes the same path when they enter. The routine or ritual of Starbucks is intuitive and well laid out. You can take this same idea and apply it to almost any business.
The routine of a web based business is based on the navigation system. Are the destinations well laid out? Are the links intuitive? The better the path the more successful the site will be. When you go to a grocery store, the aisles are well laid out with signs telling you the products that are available on each aisle. Why are milk and eggs always at the back of the store? It’s to take you on a journey down the high profit isles of candy, cookies, and crackers.
Have you ever tried to use a different type of computer or PDA than you are used too? Is that Apple computer really easier to use if you are familiar with a PC? The closer to your regular routine the new device is, the more comfortable you will be. And comfort equals additional sales.
Does your business have a well laid out path and a comfortable routine? Do your customers know where they are going or are they playing a guessing game? Do they know how to read your street signs or are they facing a crossroads with no directions? Can they understand the language you use to describe your products or services or is it like a foreign language to their ears?
Patrick Hanlon talks about the rituals and sacred words that different brands use to differentiate themselves in his new book called “Primal Branding“. Patrick takes us on a fascinating journey into the business routines of successful companies such as Coke, Nike, and UPS and illustrates why they are so popular.
The next time you go into a store or purchase a product online, pay attention to the routine that you go through. Note the steps along the path. Could the path be better laid out? Is it too long to keep your attention? Do you get halfway down the path only to get frustrated and turn back. Are their flying monkeys and scary lions along the road or friendly people and smiling faces?
These are great questions to ask yourself about your own business or service. If the path is easy, well laid out, and full of happy people your customers will be happy, return often, and tell their friends about your yellow brick road!