Just came from VCon, which as always was fun. This year, while I don’t have the numbers of attendees it sounded like they had more or equal number of attendees this year than previous years. However, our sales as Starlit were down significantly – along the lines of 40% from the year before.
Why? A number of reasons I think:
1) Inadequate staffing
2) Less Space
3) Fewer new returning customers
4) More competition
I’m going to tackle number 3 in this article, because it’s something that preys on my mind regularly. VCon has over the years that we’ve been going to it stayed the same – same attendance, often the very same individuals and quite often the same vendors. Few things have changed over the course of the 7 years we’ve been there with attendanc elevels seeming to hover around the 500 – 700 level each year.
What that means is that we’ve been selling to the same customers (for the most part) for 7 years. And at a certain point customers just have enough games – they start slowing down, they become more selective in their purchases or just stop buying (or coming). All customers do this, it’s a given.
So the trick in any business is to acquire more new customers – which VCon this year did. However, if you don’t do it in a regular process, you face another major problem – sometimes, early customers don’t purchase as much. For example, a lot of younger attendees this year, which was great to see and says a lot of good things for VCon’s on-going growth in the future; but these younger attendees are for the most part either do not have the interest or do not have the disposable income to purchase as much as former attendees.
So our average dollar value of purchases drops, and even if we do the same amount of sales we’re still below our previous year sales. Now, if each year new customers were drawn in; they too would progress along their buying / life cycle and the total average value would be higher.
And so you can see how a business would decline if it doesn’t get new customers – the old customers leave or move on, no new customers are found or are found too late. Total sales decline as customers don’t progress fast enough through their buying cycle.
It’s why marketing is a constant need in a business – you have to keep pushing customers in so that you have a constant series of replacements. If you can push in more customers than you lose, you end up growing. That simple really.