“I understand that working at the movie theater isn’t necessarily the most thrilling way to spend your Saturday afternoon when you’re twenty-something years old,” Ron said. “But I have a hard time dealing with my employees being on their phones when I’m paying them to be working.”
One day, Ron snapped, and asked one of his employees exactly what was so fascinating on his phone. It turns out that instead of restocking the popcorn bags, the employee preferred watching funny videos. “He was on this guy’s YouTube channel, watching clip after clip,” Ron said. His employee tried to get his boss to engage with the content, but something else had captured Ron’s attention. “There was all kinds of advertising going on,” he said, “and over 100,000 people had viewed that channel. I knew I needed my theater to be visible in that space.”
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Ron’s target customers are a lot like his employees: young adults with limited amounts of disposable income and a strong interest in pop culture. “I figured that if my employees found this stuff entertaining, chances are my customers would as well,” he said. He created a few video ads of his own, targeting them geographically and to his target demographics, to see if he’d see any change in the number of seats sold. “That first weekend, there definitely was a spike,” Ron said. “Was it a huge spike? Not necessarily – but it was enough that I’m interested in learning how I can use this tool better.”
I love this story from Ron for three reasons. First, it demonstrates how important it is to understand who your customer is, and how they spend their time. Ron knew the movie goers in his area were a lot like his employees – which is often the case with small businesses. He made his observation, thought about what it meant for his business, and then stepped up and tried his idea out, creating his first ever YouTube ads. Best of all, he measured his results to see if the effort was worth it – and he did, in fact, experience a small sales spike.
That spike wouldn’t have happened if Ron hadn’t taken the moment to see what his employee was doing on his smartphone. As business owners, obviously we want to prioritize our team’s efficiency – but let’s be real, slacking happens sometimes – and it’s not just your employees. Remember, your customers are someone else’s employees, and they slack off sometimes too. It might be well worth it to see what your team’s paying attention to, before reminding them to get back to work.