Continuing his series of blog posts, PPH Freelancer Paul Waters goes down his local market and asks that most pressing of questions – where do pole dancers get their smalls? There’s more than meets the eye…
We’re always hearing about “what the markets are doing.” The NASDAQ, the FTSE 100 and the Hang Seng. “Let’s go over to the markets,” say the TV presenters. So I did.
I’ve been finding out the inside story and top tips from “the market” itself. Basildon market, that is. And there’s good news and bad news. But the good news is that the bad news for them is good news for you. Er… does that make sense? Bear with me.
First of all, some top tips from the experts at customer relations – market traders themselves:
- Presentation is key: So says Mick of Purfect Pets. Your stall has to look good. So maybe it’s time you reassessed your PPH profile.
- Exceed expectations and ensure your customer knows it: That’s from Ray on the greeting cards stand. You may be a contractor who goes above and beyond what you’ve agreed to do, but that extra effort could be wasted if your customer doesn’t realise. So make sure you let them know you’ve gone the extra mile. When Ray hands over a penny in change, he says: “Here’s your extra penny just for turning up.” The customer smiles as if he or she has just received a bonus – though in fact it’s no less than that to which they were entitled. So if Ray can make correct change seem like an added extra, you should let your customer know when they really are getting something extra for free.
- Give them what they want: Bob at Aladdin’s Cave says: “You’ve got to offer what people want, not what you think they should want.” Their needs or desires are more important than what you happen to have. So if they don’t match, you have to change, not them.
- Give them more: Next door to Aladdin’s Cave, Brad sells cosmetics. Few customers escape with a single purchase. It’s all about upselling, says Brad. “Give them what they want and then try to sell them something extra.” After all, they’ve already made the decision to trust you and buy from you – why not develop the relationship?
- Be honest: Ricky doesn’t go for high pressure tactics at his jewellery stand. “If it’s not right for them, I’ll tell them so,” he says. There’s no point in going for a quick sale at the expense of a longer term connection. And he’s not just being a nice guy. Experts say that 90% of sales are to regular customers, not passing footfall.
- Nurture your regulars: On the nearby book stall, Chris listens to people wittering on even when she’s not really interested. “You can’t take regular customers for granted,” she says.
- Be clear and tactful: Chris fits new watch or car remote batteries. Even in the best run businesses, he says, you may have unhappy customers. As an ex-Butlin’s Redcoat and old time theatre veteran he has a go at cheering them up by singing the Winkle Song (warning, this is a little cheeky – Ed.). Failing that he is able to refer back to their agreement and tactfully explain exactly what he is – and is not – offering. That way he can stand over his work and justify what he has done. And if a clear explanation does not sort it out – at least he’s got his winkle covered.
- Admitting fault: But if Chris’s explanations and Winkle Song just aren’t enough, Julie on the women’s clothing stall has a straightforward approach. If you’re not happy, you get a refund or a replacement. No argument. “That’s how you turn an unhappy punter into a loyal customer,” she says. “Except with knickers.”
- Be flexible: And Julie is also light on her feet when it comes to spotting new opportunities. When a lap dancing club opened opposite the market, her clothing stall developed a sideline in “specialist lingerie” – bright red shiny basques, see-through nighties, bottomless tights. Pole dancers have to buy their work wear somewhere.
- Price: According to Tony on the sock stall, you have to monitor your competitors. Getting the price right is vital. So if you can undercut your rivals, you do it. But if that’s not realistic – after all, PPHers are competing on a global market – you have to work on “your flash, your show”, says Tony. Customers have more choice these days, so you must differentiate your product – make it clear what is special about what you have to offer.
- Quality: Quality is the secret weapon in a cut-throat market. Martin is a successful butcher who has carved a niche in the market because he takes complete control over his product. He picks his own meat at Smithfield Market at an ungodly hour of the morning, prepares and cuts it himself and deals with customers. That’s how he ensures attention to detail. “Quality is above everything else,” says Martin. “People will pay for quality. And that’s how you get them to come back again and again and again.”
– Paul Waters is a Journalist, Writer, Broadcaster and Social Media Consultant