The customers are gone, now what? Tent sale!

Google Tents at Where Camp

My brother’s bar has gone from $15,000 a week in sales to $9,000. Almost every business I’ve been talking to has seen drops. Some less, some more. But it’s like a new kind of bomb just hit our economy: one that didn’t do anything except remove customers from our streets.

So, what do you do? When I used to help run a store in the late 1980s in Silicon Valley I saw the same thing happen. What did we do? We held a tent sale. Sent out mail to all of our customers. Made handmade signs that we put up along Saratoga Ave. Put a big tent outside. Moved all of our inventory into the sidewalk. Lowered our prices. And sales went up that weekend quite a bit.

See, the customers are there, they just are hiding in the shadows preparing for the worst and trying to avoid getting killed too as this big storm moves across our economy.

It’s going to be tough to think “outside the box” the next couple of weeks. The shock of this economy and watching the stock market go down, down, down is too fresh and too nasty.

But coming soon are lots of conferences that are still doing well. I remember in 2000 when the bust started happening that we still had thousands of attendees at our conferences. It was the sponsors that disappeared first. That gives you an opportunity to hold a tent sale out in the street.

Yesterday I was talking with Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV. He’s already thinking along those lines for visits to CES and SXSW — doing something low cost that shakes out customers. He knows attendance is going to be down, people will be depressed, budgets are already getting slashed, etc. So, we’re all putting on our thinking cap about how to do something low cost that’s metaphorically like the tent sale that gets us through the tough times by encouraging customers to come out of their holes and visit our businesses.

Got any ideas?

Hey, I have two of those Google tents. Maybe we can meet on the beach by the Half Moon Bay Ritz on Tuesday night, setup two of these tents, share some cheap wine and cheeze, and brainstorm about how to get customers over the next couple of months? I’ll meet you at the Ritz Fire Ring at 6 p.m. (on the Ocean Side) on Tuesday night and we’ll do just that.

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35 thoughts on “The customers are gone, now what? Tent sale!

  1. Great post Robert,

    I think what we need to do right now is build for the future, by looking at the lessons from the past.

    There were businesses during the last recession who did really well – NOT by following the crowd, but by examining what was happening around them and then, adapting their business model to suit the new demands of the marketplace.

    It’s going to be a bumpy but exciting ride Robert!

    Like

  2. Great post Robert,

    I think what we need to do right now is build for the future, by looking at the lessons from the past.

    There were businesses during the last recession who did really well – NOT by following the crowd, but by examining what was happening around them and then, adapting their business model to suit the new demands of the marketplace.

    It’s going to be a bumpy but exciting ride Robert!

    Like

  3. I think that now is a great moment for the businesses that will come with ideas that will help customers to “prepare for the worst and and avoid getting killed”. I have idea and I start building it now. Cheers!

    Like

  4. I think that now is a great moment for the businesses that will come with ideas that will help customers to “prepare for the worst and and avoid getting killed”. I have idea and I start building it now. Cheers!

    Like

  5. Thanks for the rallying cry Robert. Somethings never change and you have to spend money to make money even in rough times that is why we will keep attending conferences and learning new things to grow our businesses back.

    I think the most important thing for people to remember is that the show must go on. I hate to sound ignorant or naive, but the best way I have found to cope as the CEO of my own business is to keep working just as hard and just as smart as if nothing was going on. I figure, how can that make things any worse and it sure beats worrying.

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  6. Thanks for the rallying cry Robert. Somethings never change and you have to spend money to make money even in rough times that is why we will keep attending conferences and learning new things to grow our businesses back.

    I think the most important thing for people to remember is that the show must go on. I hate to sound ignorant or naive, but the best way I have found to cope as the CEO of my own business is to keep working just as hard and just as smart as if nothing was going on. I figure, how can that make things any worse and it sure beats worrying.

    Like

  7. Boy, it’s good to see you blogging again!

    Your posts give much better (and more personal) insight in what’s going on in the Valley than anything I read elsewhere.

    In Europe, we’re not hit nearly as bad for now. We’re experiencing the slow-down in ad spending through a decline in quality ads (at least from Google Reader).

    Like

  8. Boy, it’s good to see you blogging again!

    Your posts give much better (and more personal) insight in what’s going on in the Valley than anything I read elsewhere.

    In Europe, we’re not hit nearly as bad for now. We’re experiencing the slow-down in ad spending through a decline in quality ads (at least from Google Reader).

    Like

  9. Interview Request

    Hello Dear and Respected,
    I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion.

    We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don’t mind. Please send us your approval for your interview at my email address “ghazala.khi at gmail.com”, so that I could send you the Interview questions. We would be extremely grateful.

    regards.

    Ghazala Khan
    The Pakistani Spectator
    http://www.pakspectator.com

    Like

  10. Interview Request

    Hello Dear and Respected,
    I hope you are fine and carrying on the great work you have been doing for the Internet surfers. I am Ghazala Khan from The Pakistani Spectator (TPS), We at TPS throw a candid look on everything happening in and for Pakistan in the world. We are trying to contribute our humble share in the webosphere. Our aim is to foster peace, progress and harmony with passion.

    We at TPS are carrying out a new series of interviews with the notable passionate bloggers, writers, and webmasters. In that regard, we would like to interview you, if you don’t mind. Please send us your approval for your interview at my email address “ghazala.khi at gmail.com”, so that I could send you the Interview questions. We would be extremely grateful.

    regards.

    Ghazala Khan
    The Pakistani Spectator
    http://www.pakspectator.com

    Like

  11. LOL, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV, referenced in your article, most recent episode, #555, “… you know what, no matter how soft the economy is, it’s still about family and we should be pretty happy. There’s always been worse times, even if we have another great depression II, there’s still been worse times, and you know dinosaurs were eating us when we were cavemen, so there’s always worse times.” I love it! He’s got a point. Of course he and I are still employed.

    Like

  12. LOL, Gary Vaynerchuk of Wine Library TV, referenced in your article, most recent episode, #555, “… you know what, no matter how soft the economy is, it’s still about family and we should be pretty happy. There’s always been worse times, even if we have another great depression II, there’s still been worse times, and you know dinosaurs were eating us when we were cavemen, so there’s always worse times.” I love it! He’s got a point. Of course he and I are still employed.

    Like

  13. A few weeks ago one of my clubs from college had Bacardi come out for a pool party of theirs and taught them how to make Mojitos. It was great, because they had cheat sheets that showed you how to make them. And as long as you were of age they would step back and talk you through each step. It was great marketing because the potential customers got a chance to learn something by doing it themselves and at the same time they became familiar with Bacardi’s products. The best part: It was totally free!!!

    Like

  14. A few weeks ago one of my clubs from college had Bacardi come out for a pool party of theirs and taught them how to make Mojitos. It was great, because they had cheat sheets that showed you how to make them. And as long as you were of age they would step back and talk you through each step. It was great marketing because the potential customers got a chance to learn something by doing it themselves and at the same time they became familiar with Bacardi’s products. The best part: It was totally free!!!

    Like

  15. Jeremy: I’d have a night where everything is sold “at cost.” That way you get people to come into the bar and stay in touch with you and their neighbors. Or, do something like “bring your own beer night” where you can bring your own six pack and pay $5 to get into the bar. Or start holding job and economic meetings. Just a couple of ideas, they probably are all lame.

    Like

  16. Jeremy: I’d have a night where everything is sold “at cost.” That way you get people to come into the bar and stay in touch with you and their neighbors. Or, do something like “bring your own beer night” where you can bring your own six pack and pay $5 to get into the bar. Or start holding job and economic meetings. Just a couple of ideas, they probably are all lame.

    Like

  17. A tent sale sounds like a great idea!

    I believe that if one can, now is the best time to be slashing prices and trying to help the customer, without overly hurting oneself. If one can do so, the consumer will remember this helpful act and when things turn upward again, you will be in a much greater position.

    Like

  18. A tent sale sounds like a great idea!

    I believe that if one can, now is the best time to be slashing prices and trying to help the customer, without overly hurting oneself. If one can do so, the consumer will remember this helpful act and when things turn upward again, you will be in a much greater position.

    Like

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