Attention for Your Business Doesn’t Always Equal Profit

By | September 2, 2011

It may be famous, but it's not profitable.

I am no fan of Julia Roberts, nor Hugh Grant, but their 1999 movie Notting Hill is much-beloved by millions of people and did plenty well for itself at the box office.  The hidden “star” of the movie was the English travel bookshop.  (Side note: The store itself technically did not appear in the movie.  Its exterior and interior were recreated for the set.) With a recognizably blue facade, the store has been a tourist attraction for many thousands of people.

And with all these extra people coming by the store, surely they sell plenty of books, don’t they?

It turns out the answer is no.  Instead, the little shop is shutting down soon due to deeply declining sales over the past years.

How did this happen?

Well, as it turns out, people who are interested in getting their picture taken in front of a bookshop featured in a movie are not the same people interested in purchasing travel books.  Who would have thought?

This is a fantastic teaching point for marketers who think that maximum exposure is the best way to boost sales.  Heck, it’s useful for anyone who is thinking of doing a grand stunt for the sake of visibility.  You need to examine if your efforts are drawing in profitable visitors.  Is there a high conversion rate for sales or are they merely browsing?

Interest doesn’t automatically equal profit.

However, that isn’t to say you shouldn’t be paying attention to trends or trying to draw eyes your way.  You just need to be maximizing the efficiency of your efforts.

Make a profile of your ideal customer/client/patient.  Figure out where their interests lie and the best way to increase your visibility to them.  You don’t just need a ton of people flocking to you if they’re never going to buy anything.  Then you will be just as frustrated as me watching a Julia Roberts – and the poor owners of the bookshop.