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Long Lines Are Great Marketing In Action

Every business wants a long line of potential buyers ready to purchase (or ready to talk to a salesperson about buying).

I take note when I see a long line of eager customers.

A long line of potential customers means faster revenue growth, higher profits and competitive advantage. “No lines” means struggling to find qualified prospects, longer sales cycles, more discounting, revenue declines and lower profitability.

Last week I attended the Dead and Company concert in Phoenix to see a few members of the Grateful Dead perform in a big, outdoor venue with 30,000 Deadheads. There was a long line to get in. Everyone in line was happy, eager and talking to each other.

This could have been any business with demand for their products and long lines: a Chicago Cubs baseball game, an Adele or Taylor Swift concert, a Comic Con convention or Broadway hit musical, an Apple new product launch. Or the few restaurants in your city where people choose to wait more than an hour to get in. In Phoenix, these include: Little Miss BBQ (2 hours), Gadzooks enchiladas (40 people in line for lunch) or Pizzeria Bianco (2.5 hours). Every city has them.

They all have long lines for the right reasons. Their product is good, their marketing is working well and their business is thriving.

Businesses with long lines of buyers have three traits in common.

1.  They are known for one thing

Every restaurant with a long line is known for being the best at one thing. Best sushi, best pizza, best BBQ, best enchiladas. These restaurants could cook anything, but they choose to specialize.

Most times you’ll find the shorter the menu, the longer the line and the higher the price.

2. They appeal to a narrow audience

Grateful Dead music is clearly not for everyone. Yet their loyal fans filled concert halls to make them one of the top grossing bands of the 1990’s, second only to the Rolling Stones. Comic Con conventions create long lines and traffic jams, but their fans revel in being unusual, together. Apple’s “I’m a Mac” campaign celebrated their customers for being different.

“Fan” is short for fanatic. Most people aren’t fanatics.

3. They built a consistently great product for their fans

These lines are not the result of aggressive marketing tactics or big advertising budgets. These businesses have remarkable products their fans love. Their fans also love to tell other people about their products, which is the best marketing you can get. Apple sells to their fans; their fans sell Apple to everyone else.

Take the time and effort to make something great that your fans will love. This means your product or service will not be as great for your non-fans. Ignore non-fans and don’t try to satisfy everyone.

Watch for long lines of people intentionally waiting to buy something. You’ll always find great marketing and a great business at the end of the line.

  • What are you known for being best at in your market?
  • What are the characteristics of your very best (fanatic) customers?
  • How are you making something remarkably great for your fans?
  • What do you have to stop doing to focus your business?