Hubby and I went for a spur-of-the-moment drive Sunday that took us south to Cooperstown, New York, “The  Home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.”  Did our day include anything baseball-related?  No, silly…  We’re not baseball fans.  We like free food so much more.

Our stop included a walk-through of the Fly Creek Cider Mill which has been in existence for as long as I can remember.  Why had I not visited there?  Did I already mention the free food?  Yup, aisles and aisles of gourmet, snacky goodness – many with samples in front just ready to be tasted.  And taste I did!  Salsas, sauces, dips, chips, popcorn, brickle, fudge, honey, cider products, cheese,  muffins, and I’ll say it again, fudge!  We walked through the two floor country store perusing all of the fancy foods then went upstairs to look at a humongous amount of crafty, cutsie, country-style knick-knacks.  I picked out a few things for upcoming birthdays.  No bargain prices here, just a huge selection of quality gifts and very delicious foods.  Something for everyone.  After we checked out at the cash register we were “funnelled” to the door at the back of the store and as we stepped outside we were pointed directly at the outside deli/bakery/ice cream stand.

Am I writing this to share what a great time we had?  Not really, but that’s just a by-product.  I wanted to write about the genius of marketing and how some companies have really figured it out.  Since I own my own little business I am ALWAYS looking at how successful  businesses are run.  It is fascinating to me why some companies are so much more successful than others and also how some seem to cover every angle of marketing goods to their customers. 

This “little” country store has a genius of a marketing plan.  The more I thought about it, the more it seems like they were doing everything right: 

Many road signs to get people to turn off of the main drag and go to the Cider Mill.

Many parking spots at the location and across the street.  This place was full of people and there were still empty parking spaces.

No admission fees.  Just walk in and start perusing the goodies.   

A huge variety of foods and gift items for every niche available.  Upstairs the gift items included the usual collector niches like birds, apples, bears, angels, camping, hunting, teachers, grandma stuff, Mom stuff, school theme, country towels, oven mitts, signs and more.  The foods ranged from sweet to spicy, from fudge to chips and pretzels.  Again, something for everyone.

When we cashed out our merchandise the cashier told us about their online store and gave us a coupon for Free Shipping for over $100.00 purchase, a coupon for $2.00 off our next visit to the brick and mortar store, and a 10% off coupon for the snack bar just outside the door.

Just a few steps from the cash register was a complete menu page (that we could take) showing all of the food that we could get at the snack bar AND showed all of the prices.

The whole time we were in the store the workers were very helpful and friendly and were likely to point out a special that was going on in the section you were perusing.  (Not in a pushy way either, if you know what I mean.)

As we were driving away, we saw a section to the side for children.  It was a maze that they could ride little toy tractors around.  It had several wooden boards with the faces cut out so Mom and Dad could take Junior’s picture as he put his face in the painted scenery after he rode his tractor to that stop.  Cute! 

SCORE!  Successes are made by continuous marketing and improvements, not by sitting back and watching and waiting for the money to roll in.  Do many businesses know this?  You would think so, but we all know that’s not the case.

Did I learn something from this wonderful experience?     Absolutely.

1.) Don’t gorge on a variety of free samples that may not combine well. 

2.) More importantly, don’t sit back and expect your customers to know all about what great things that you offer.  Tell them. Show them. 

3.) Sell only quality items. 

4.) Let them try the products when possible. 

5.) Don’t charge for admission or tack on silly “handling” fees. 

6.) Give something free when possible. 

7.) Be pleasant and helpful then go away. 

8.) Give your buyers your brochures. 

9.) Send them away with several reasons to come back. 

10.) Direct them to another potential buying opportunity.  Cross promote. 

We’ve already decided to go back soon (when we don’t have melting groceries in the car.)  We want to see the Farmer’s Museum, the Art Museum, do some Lakeview Dining and, of course, make another stop at The Fly Creek Cider Mill.  It’s free, we have a coupon :-), and the chances are good that we’ll want a little snack!  Of course we’ll buy something too and then we’ll just sit outside by the pond and feed the geese some corn.  (Another nice touch – especially if you’ve got toddlers.) 

I obviously highly recommend this attraction if you’re ever in the Cooperstown area.  I also invite business owners to give some thoughts about how well your current marketing plan is working.  I sure did and some changes will be made.

What changes might your business need?  I’d love to hear from you.