A few family members and I spent this past weekend at a bed and breakfast in the Texas hill country, near Fredericksburg, TX. This area, with it’s large assortment of shops, restaurants, and B&B’s, is very popular with tourists. And I noticed something – the very best, most heavily-trafficked shops had one thing in common – they each offered a unique experience to visitors.
A prime example is Wildseed Farms, just outside of Fredericksburg.
Their claim to fame is that they are the largest working wildflower farm in the nation, but they are so much more than that! Sure, they sell wildflower seeds, but that’s not how they get you in the door.
First of all, going down the highway, the sprawling farm and a colorful sign at the entrance piqued my curiosity, as in “Ooh, that looks interesting! Let’s check it out!”. Then, once inside the door, I found not only a huge assortment of wildflower seeds for sale, but also some really nice souvenirs, trinkets, and clothing. In the courtyard, I saw plants and garden decorations for sale, and on the other side of the courtyard, there are two more stores: one featuring bird feeders and related items, and the other filled with locally made jams, jellies, salsas, and honey – complete with samples. We couldn’t resist getting some Wildseed Farms honey, and a jar of avocado salsa.
In addition to the shops, they also offer tours of their wildflower fields, a butterfly exhibit, and wine tastings on some weekends. All in all, Wildseed Farms has a colorful, fresh, attractive vibe that is not only hard to resist, but fun to experience. We only spent about half an hour there, but I plan to go back when the weather gets cooler for more in-depth exploration (and probably more seed, honey, and salsa purchases!).
So how does offering such a great experience help Wildseed Farms’ bottom line? Well, other than bringing more customers in the door, this delightful experience has an important effect: It gets people excited about wildflowers! Which leads them to buy seeds, so they too can have wildflowers (and butterflies and hummingbirds) in their own backyards! Also, being such a popular destination, Wildseed Farms has also gained a lot of publicity in magazines and travel guides, which of course brings them even more visitors.
And how can you apply these same principles to your business? Regardless of whether you have a physical storefront or operate solely online, you need to create a pleasant and engaging experience for your customers. This means keeping a clean, attractive, and well-organized space, with lovely product displays, and as little clutter as possible. Find ways to engage your customers’ senses, and get them excited about your products!
MORE EXAMPLES: Of all the shops that I visited, the least effective ones were the antique shops, filled to the brim with stuff, most of it just old junk, with less than half of the items being truly worthwhile.
On the flip side, I visited a wonderful clothing and accessories store, where the owner greeted everyone at the door, and had a little seating area at the front of the store with complimentary coffee, chocolates, and cookies. Her shop was impeccably decorated – even the bathroom was beautiful! All this had the cumulative effect of making me want to linger, browsing the wares for longer than I would have otherwise.
About Barbara Austin
As the graphic designer & founder of Sweet Dreamz Design, Barbara loves working with women entrepreneurs to brand their businesses. She shares a variety of small business advice and anecdotes here on the blog. Check back every week for new tips, inspirations, and how-to articles, or subscribe to get regular updates in your inbox each week!