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Sustainable Tactics?

Village Marketing

Charing 8 years ago me and my partner ended up in a lovely Kent village and we're still here (living and working). It's a medium-sized village, very conveniently located on the A20, 6 miles away from the largest town. Not a commuters village, a real 'villagy village' as one of my friends always remarks upon. The High Street (which slopes up the 'hill' so rightly named 'high') has a number of shops, offices and utilities used by most villagers (and others from further afield). Off the High Street and around the village even more businesses (small and large) are located. A thriving village!

But apparently according to a sign in the Butcher's shop-window our village is dying! (Above the window is an even larger sign: free-hold business for sale).

The sign (hand written in various colours and in capital letters) lists four other businesses/shops that have disappeared from the village over the years and now we're about to lose one of our butchers (yes, we have two butchers in our 'small' village!), followed by the 'call to action': USE US OR LOSE US.

Now that doesn't sound right, does it? It made me rather cross.

I remember, not so long ago when the old proprietor was still running this butcher-shop, frequently on Saturdays clients had to queue outside his shop. They - the queues - have gone.

Over the years other businesses - our own among them - have come to our village, working hard to supply good products and quality service. Other almost failing businesses have changed hands and consequently the business concept and marketing method have changed for the better. Our local hotel-restaurant-pub and our Health Club come to mind, rescued from the brink of 'extinction' by innovating entrepreneurs. Or the haute-cuisine restaurant which changed itself into a bistro and gained more clients and turnover. Or the Post-Office who keeps adding products you can't get anywhere else on the High Street to the assortment, like stationery and light-bulbs (where a little sign tells you that other seize light-bulbs will be sourced for you when you ask for it).

The new window sign and especially that call for action reminded me of another sign I saw before in the village. Yes indeed, some other businesses have gone, the news-agent among them. We have two convenient shops on the High Street - one at the beginning - at the bottom, so locally known as the 'bottom-shop' and one higher up - locally known as the 'top-shop'. When the news-agent closed, the top-shop had already made known they would be selling newspapers and magazines once their refurbishment was finished. Two whole weeks this shop was closed then re-opened (bright and filled with an even greater variety in products). The bottom-shop had sold many newspapers and magazines during those two weeks, then the hefty sudden increase of 'shoppers' dried up again. I passed the shop a week later and noticed a 'complaint' in the window about this drop. Why had everyone left them again?

Sounds familiar? The top-shop, closed for two weeks had offered the elderly villagers a home-delivery service during that time. The bottom-shop, although providing an 'outlet' for newspapers and magazines offered nothing more, hadn't added other items to their product range, hadn't increased their service-level or hadn't thought things through IMHO - just expected that once a client was won he/she would frequent them for ever.

Business doesn't work like that, it's the other way around: you keep supplying quality products and quality service - then we, the clients, will keep supplying you with our custom.

No Mr Butcher, this village isn't dying. There have never been more businesses (small and large) in and around our village than there are now and by supplying good quality,good service and changing tactics when needed they will survive.

So Mr Butcher, why blame your "clients-to-be" for not turning into real clients as your 'down-fall'? That's too easy.
The 'call for action' should have been another one, directed to yourself.


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