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Lessons from Destin

Even the most creative marketers and business owners can get so accustomed to the status quo that we fail to think outside the box.  Having spent a week in Destin, I'm coming home today with a renewed excitement for the work that I do, taking a few good marketing lessons with me.

Strong Call to Action:

In a city where the vast majority of potential customers stay for no more than a week at a time, it's sometimes hard to hear yourself think over all the businesses shouting, “look at me!”  Furthermore, since nearly every business that serves the tourists is on the same crowded street, it makes it exponentially harder to stand out.  

In such a market, even a great location and great product will do you no good if you can't catch the immediate attention of your potential customers.  Word of mouth can get you only so far.  An eye catching sign and inviting exterior are essential.  The smartest marketers in the area stand out even further with a strong call to action. “Free beach bag with any purchase,” “Free hermit crab (when you buy a cage,)” and “Come inside for a free seashell,” are a few that stood out to me.

Since many of my clients are in the business of selling high-end products, we are constantly worrying about maintaining a certain image.   Often we scoff at such “cheap” or cliché tactics. However, I can't deny the importance of strong call to action.  

My clients could stand to learn a thing or two from the tattoo parlors and beach junk superstores, which are abundant in the Destin area.  It might be more difficult to incorporate a strong call to action while maintaining an upscale image but it doesn't make it any less important.

Price Discrimination:

One thing I noticed in Destin is the rampant use of price discrimination.  Though many might perceive price discrimination as a negative akin to price gouging, I tend to look at it as a brilliant convergence of the concepts of economics with those of marketing.

By carefully crafting their sales and specials, the small business owners of Destin are able to capitalize on their customers' utility by charging prices more in line with what each customer is willing to pay.

The most obvious example of price discrimination in the Destin market right now is all the Snowbird specials. The snowbirds come to Florida in the offseason to get away from the frigid cold up north.  Not only do they pay less for the condos they live in (around $1500 for a unit that rents for $12000 in peak season,) there are Snowbird specials everywhere from Goodwill to the always delicious Dewey Destin's Seafood Restaurant.

Though price discrimination doesn't really work in the retail world because if ownership can be transferred, consumers will buy low and sell at a profit.  However, there is a lesson to be learned for many of my clients.

Sometimes we get so tied to a particular demographic and price point that we lose sight of the true reason we are in business- to make a profit. Widening your price points (assuming you don't throw quality and service out the window,) will help to widen your potential customer base and lead to more potential sales.