Undercover UnMarketing
I’VE ALWAYS WANTED to be a private eye. Growing up watching the three Ms will do that to you (Matlock, MacGyver, Magnum P.I.). My mission was simple: Visit multiple retail framing stores posing as a customer to do research for an upcoming seminar at an industry trade show. Donning an old baseball cap, T-shirt, and jeans I set off on my search for the best and worst experiences I could find. Unfortunately, none of the 14 stores I visited could be classified as “best” because they all performed miserably. My initial thought would be that some stores would get it right, treat me as a valued potential customer, understand how relationships equal good business, and there would be others that didn’t have the time of day for me.
Each store had the same scenario presented to them—a young man in his street clothes comes in to inquire about getting his college diploma framed, which he did not bring along. So off I went . . . and that’s where everything went downhill. I can’t really choose which part was worse, the store owner/operator who peered out of the back room announcing “Can I help you?” in a tone that would define “stern” or the rolling of the eyes when I mentioned I didn’t bring the item to be framed with me.
At every stop I was told that I should have brought in the piece to be given a proper estimate, and to come back with it if I wanted a quote. Is this reasonable? Of course, I understand the concept of not being able to quote on something you can’t ...

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