They say there are just two things you can be certain of in life…death and taxes.
But I reckon there’s a third – and it’s that we are all social animals, we are born to interact with our fellow citizens, we crave face-to-face encounters and when we touch the flesh it makes us feel more connected and, more importantly, more valued.
This irrefutable reality is no more prevalent than in the modern day real estate industry, where we have gone full circle over the past decade or so and are now pretty much back to the past.
Agencies have returned – and continue to return – to the concept of the high street front office store, where generous shop-front windows raise their brand and profile, celebrate their offerings and wares and draw customers in, where a memorable personal customer experience is just about guaranteed to seal the deal.
That’s not to say the intoxicating cocktail of the website and other digital media has lost its verve; rather, it’s an acceptance that both can and should co-exist, in perfect harmony, if we are to maximise our marketing vitality, drive business and improve the bottom line.
It’s an appreciation that the trend that saw companies surrender their prominent high street locations for smaller offices and sometimes even upstairs premise with little or no exposure lacked that vital ingredient of personal contact.
It’s also the realisation that, as has been the case since time immemorial, interaction with human beings lies at the very core of our existence.
Even the celebrated giants of the digital revolution and their many fantastic online business models – I’m thinking here of the likes of Alibaba, Amazon and Google, to name but a few – are beginning to establish standalone bricks and mortar retail stores as they grasp the importance of the human touch.
They further understand that the digital marketplace is becoming increasingly crowded, there is so much more information out there and messages are being drowned out and lost amid the clutter.
They know the missing ingredient is a shopfront that not only informs people that they’re more than an online business but one that values face-to-face interaction.
If you happen to drive by or walk past the premises, you will immediately know what line of business they are in, you will absorb the brand name and take in details such as contact numbers and web addresses.
Without a bold high street shopfront that shares your key messages via the feel-good magnetism that’s inherent to the cold white light of VitrineMedia’s backlit LED screens, you run the risk of being invisible – and of losing a potential client to a competitor who has taken the time and trouble and gone to the expense of promoting his brand and raising his profile.
Which happens to be a neat segue to the perennial question about just how much business actually comes from the windows in the digital age…?
In my experience and by my calculations, when people tell me they get 50 per cent of their business from the website, about 40 per cent from referrals and a little from repeat business – and then nonchalantly add that the window is pretty much irrelevant as it accounts for perhaps five per cent of business, I figure they must be doing exceptionally well as they’re happy to walk away from about $100,000 in income each year.
Let’s assume an agency records 20 sales a month. With five per cent coming from the window, that’s one sale a month at an average commission of about $8,000. Over 12 months, that’s just shy of $100,000. And that’s without taking into account web sales that might well have been sparked by window visitations.
Companies that invest but a fraction of that in VitrineMedia’s backlit LED screens to display their products and attract people to the business – either by entering the premises or noting and visiting the web address – receive a return on investment in no time at all…and for years to come as the LED panels are guaranteed for 80,000 hours of continuous usage. Put another way, it’s about nine long years.
Yes, the message is clear. The most forward-thinking businesses are seeing the light and going back to the past!