Victoria's Secret has about 1500 retail stores, a world class catalog, and according to Alexa.com, a website that is consistently in the top 100 websites on the planet, as measured by traffic.
They successfully merchandise multi-millions of dollars in lingerie, fashions, beauty products, and accessories.
They sponsor an annual beauty show, and they sponsor events, with elegant supermodels like Heidi Klum and Tyra Banks, and get worldwide publicity from those events, on TV, newspapers, magazines … their message is virtually everywhere in the world.
Now, let me share with you the one marketing mistake that Victoria's Secret will NEVER make. Victorias Secret will never become an INTERNET ONLY business!
Can you imagine how much business they would LOSE by closing down all of their stores and catalog businesses, because they think that the internet is “HOT”?
Retail sales, at the store level, accounts for more than 98% of Victoria's Secrets sales. Now, you may be saying to yourself, “Joe, that's a ludicrous position to even SUGGEST that Victoria's Secret would EVER consider to be an “Internet Only Business”.
And you would be completely correct.
But do you want to know the sad truth?
As a business consultant, I advise entrepreneurs every day, IT IS A COMMON THEME; I consistently run into otherwise intelligent people that DESIRE to create an INTERNET ONLY business!
Sure, the thought is seductive: I'll build a website, I'll build some traffic, people will fall in love with my products, they'll order in droves, my bank account will fill up, AND I CAN DO IT AUTOMATICALLY, WITHOUT EVER TALKING TO A HUMAN BEING!”
Sure path to failure
My friends, wake up and smell the coffee! That kind of lunacy is a sure path to failure, just as it would be an act of lunacy for Victoria's Secret to shut down their stores. If you want your business to thrive, do not, I repeat, DO NOT depend solely on building an internet only business.
In today's mass media environment, it's difficult to trust ANYONE that you can't meet personally, or at least talk with, in order to develop a relationship.
There are several reasons that Victoria's Secret stores are successful, and, in my humble opinion (which I value above all others) it's because they do a great job of helping customers, face to face, and delivering a very personal, satisfying, relationship-building connection with their customers.
So, what's the lesson? If you're building a business, don't sabotage yourself by limiting yourself to the internet ONLY, which may likely be your least likely way to succeed. Instead, use ALL the tools available to you:
- Use Online Publicity AND Offline Publicity
- Use Web Site Communication AND Telephone Communication
- Use E-mail follow up AND Direct mail follow up
- And above all else, make a commitment to having the personnel in place to close the sale, as well as deliver personalized customer service AFTER the sale.
Sure, it takes effort, energy, and time to jump in the car and go visit a client.
But it demonstrates something at a very high level that you cannot do over the internet.
It demonstrates that you CARE enough to show up.
Someone once said that showing up is half the battle.
Your web site cannot show up for you, and it cannot look your client in the eye, and it cannot reach out, and shake hands, or hug someone.
Victoria's Secret will never throw away 98% of its business with a “Web Only” strategy. Neither should you.
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Joe Nicassio is a sales and marketing coach.