Whenever I travel I enjoy observing how other cultures approach business and wonder how I can benefit from their practices. Here are some small business marketing tips I picked up in Vanuatu.
Be proactive in understanding your clients’ needs
To travel from our hotel to the local town, Port Vila, we needed to catch a taxi. As soon as we were in the taxi the driver would engage us in conversation. How many are there of you here? How long have you been here? Where have you been in Vanuatu? He would probe us for information in a friendly manner, and as we drove along would point out interesting features and share titbits of the local history and all the sites we should see.
The taxi drivers were using the short trip to demonstrate their skills as a tour guide and would attempt to up-sell a full day trip to us. By the time we arrived in Port Vila we invariably had the taxi driver’s number, a quote for a full day trip and a detailed description of his suggested tour itinerary, which invariably included glorious waterfalls, opportunities to swim with turtles and exclusive trips to their own local village, which used to be home to cannibals and head hunters. How could we resist?
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Do you utilise the time you have with your clients to further understand their needs and suggest further products or services that they could purchase from you?
Know how much your client is prepared to pay
We soon realised that the taxi charges were about 75 percent cheaper if we walked about five minutes out onto the public road instead of catching the taxi from the hotel’s grand foyer. Once the local taxi drivers were aware we were prepared to take the time to get a cheaper price, they’d offer us the discount rate at the hotel’s foyer.
Do you assess how much your clients are prepared to pay and offer different prices for the same product or service to avoid losing a client?
Alleviate your customers’ fears
There were many skilfully crafted wooden ornaments and decorated shell trinkets for sale in Vanuatu, but I avoided purchasing these knick-knacks because I did not want the hassle of declaring goods at Australian quarantine. Cleverly, a couple of stores displayed large information signs about quarantine regulations in different countries, and how their shop could supply a special quarantine certificate you could use at immigration.
Are there factors preventing potential clients buying from your business? Can you provide them with additional information to appease their fears and build their trust?
Tailor your approach to your customer
There were numerous market stores along the gorgeous Port Vila harbour, selling tropical clothing, leis, coconut carvings and other colourful gifts. Nearly everything had a price sticker, and all similar stock across the market had the same price. The locals were laid back; they did not seem interested in bartering. As I was on a tropical island in the Pacific I actually expected them to engage in bartering and was a little surprised that they didn’t.
Do you service everyone in a similar manner, or are you aware of their different cultural needs and expectations?
Have you picked up business marketing tips from your travels that you’ve been able to apply to your own small business? Please share them below.