The Lure of the Bargain Book

 In Inspiration, Small Business

Ever notice how many things seem like they should be fun until you actually do them? What is really sad is that we have done most of those things before – and we should know better.

For me, many of those misguided notions of fun involve shopping of some kind. Going to the mall sounds appealing every six months or so, and even yard sales have a certain pull until the reality of sifting through piles of outdated electronics and battered sports equipment while sweating through your shirt sets in.

For me, though, it is the call of the mega-bookstore that snags me most often. Now, I like bookstores, and I like browsing through “my” sections and the magazines. And since I generally only go into bookstores when I am with my wife, I like that part of it, too.

The problem lies in the innocent-looking but soul-sucking rows of bargain tables offering $2 and $3 books on every subject imaginable. Books-A-Million, in particular, has more linear feet of bargain books than anyplace I have ever seen.

It is not the bargains that bother me, but rather the overwhelming pull they possess to attract my wife to start at one end and shuffle ever so slowly down the line — combing through the piles with great intensity and expectation.

She loves it. Me? Not so much. But I dutifully follow for a while until my repeated sighing causes her to insist that I check out the business magazines.

It really does amaze me how patient and determined she is to find just one or two deals that will save us money and serve a significant purpose. Unless you own a bookstore, however, it is highly unlikely that your customers are going to be that patient.

We need to do a better job of communicating the benefit of what we offer right up front. Make it obvious from the first few seconds they enter your store, visit your Web site or encounter you at the coffee shop. Our 30-second elevator speech should not just be about what we do, but rather focus on how we can help.

Most potential customers are not going to spend an hour inching their way through your business looking for the thing they can’t live without. It is our job to point it out to them right away.

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