A month or so ago, I took a MASSIVE step out of my comfort zone and spent five days at a meditation retreat. I was curious to find out what all the fuss was about, so, armed with little more than a sense of trepidation and a good book, I found myself in a wooden cabin in deepest darkest Gloucestershire.
The week was interesting on a number of levels, but my personal experience isn’t what I want to share with you.
No, surprise surprise, this is a story about marketing. Or a lack thereof.
I found the retreat one Sunday afternoon through a Google search. I quite liked the language used on the company’s website (it was very practical and not as “hippy” as some other sites I looked at), and read some good reviews on Tripadvisor.
The tone of the website and the opinion of strangers was enough to convince me that this wasn’t a cult and I would probably survive. I booked online with no contact at all with the company to influence my decision.
When I arrived, it was all a million times more basic that either the website or the strangers on Tripadvisor had led me to believe. Cue a deep breath and some words with myself about embracing the experience…
As the week went on, I became fascinated with the business model. The owner openly admitted she never did any marketing and hadn’t updated her website (except for retreat dates) in several years, but she was always fully booked. Whilst this is great on the one hand, I came to realise that she was missing some fairly obvious additional income streams, not to mention support for retreatees (as I think we should be called).
On our final day, we were given a “how to translate everything into the real world” type talk, which was intended to help us carry out the tools and techniques learnt during the week when we rejoined normal society. This was useful, but I was waiting for the upsell.
There wasn’t one!
What? No refresher course offered at a discount if I book now? No 1:1 Skype option?
As a marketeer, that rang alarm bells, but as a retreatee, I felt a bit disappointed. How would I be able to use my learning in my normal life without on-going support? I wanted to buy some hand-holding but wasn’t given the option.
As we left, we were asked to complete feedback forms and include our email address.
“I never email anyone though, so I don’t know why I ask for this” confessed the owner.
Why isn’t she sending me useful to links to books I might be interested to read? Why isn’t she emailing me meditation techniques in case I have forgotten on the drive home? How about dates of future events? How about simply asking me how I am getting on after being submerged in her world for five days?
Again, as a marketeer, I was appalled by this attitude that new people would just come through Google, and as a retreatee I definitely felt she didn’t really care and I was just another person passing through. I’ve done my job, now run along, I need to concentrate on new people… Not good.
A very simple automated email campaign would have created a feeling of warmth, support and love: just a few of the things we were taught to embrace during the week. An email campaign would also have brought in additional sales, and as we all know, an existing customer is worth many times more than a new customer.
Technology perhaps doesn’t sit well with the ancient art of meditation, but it is a vital part of today’s world, for support and for business growth.
Please don’t treat your customers as transient beings. Use the tools at your fingertips to nurture and develop on-going relationships. Both your customers and your bottom line will thank you for it.
It’s good to share the love.