The New Popular Kids: Retailers with a Plan

There is good news for retail store owners. A 2014 survey by Accenture shows that 21% of U.S. shoppers plan to increase their in-store purchasing! This has more than doubled from the previous year. After years of being declined as the outcasts, retailers can finally re-take their vital place in the community. That is, if they are prepared.

As traditional and new media continue rapidly evolving, the retail environment becomes more and more important. As a retail owner, you need to laser in on the solution to, “How do we convert passive shoppers into active buyers?” Before the shopper steps through your doorway, you’ll want a Shopper Marketing strategy as a first step.

Presentation is the next step.  Does your retail environment provide an atmosphere the shopper can relate or aspire to? What about the presentation of the products on the shelves or kiosks? Does the presentation support your brand as an independent shop? Does it appeal to the shopper, drawing him in to understand how that product can make his life better?

As the shopper stares at your products, does her experience in your store surround her with the support she needs to say “Yes! I want that!” Be aware, that today’s shopper is also likely to use a smartphone in-store when considering a purchase.  When doing so, only 19% of shoppers actually complete the purchase in-store. What are you doing to meet that behavior? Are you leveraging it to develop loyal customers?

Your sales and floor staff are also key. We’ve all had the experience of shopping in a store where the sales staff made us feel like we were interrupting their day. They couldn’t have cared less if we made a purchase or not. The flip side of this, equally as off putting, is an over-eager staff. No one wants to feel pushed or bugged.

Staff needs to understand your brand and how it translates into the way they engage the shopper. This knowledge combined with adequate self-awareness empowers your staff to genuinely assist the shopper and will lead to more purchases and greater customer satisfaction.

If you need help with your Shopper Marketing Strategy, Customer Experience or Brand / Culture Development, Big Vision Media Group can help. We are qualified and committed to independent businesses and the communities that support them.

Your Place in History

It’s fifteen minutes to 1AM, well past my regular bedtime, whatever that may be. This night I’m purposefully staying up to see the blood moon. Though I’m not an astronomer of any kind, I do find it fascinating to think I have the opportunity to see a natural phenomenon four times over the next year or so that was never remotely possible for Mozart, George Washington or Abraham Lincoln. For the fleeting hour to come, I’ll have a sense of history in the making.

In reality, we are all —in every moment—making history. We may not end up in the history books or e-readers or whatever technology delivers information to the future, but we are each in our own way creating the culture that will be studied. Your business is a part of the history being written. What legacy will you leave?

Knowing the Supply Chain

A video released earlier this month highlights the problem with irresponsible supply chain selection. Some companies simply make supply chain decisions never considering the conditions or standards of their sources. They focus solely on price, forgetting there are other serious “costs” involved. Read more

Cinco de Mayo

It’s not every day that you get to watch people set aside the normal daily cares of life to simply enjoy the art of being. For Luna Azteca, Cinco de Mayo is one of the days. This is the second Cinco de Mayo I’ve been lucky enough to share with these beautiful people. They infuse each moment with the happiness of family, friends and the basic enjoyment of being alive in a community of love.

 

Long live community!

Leading with Values

Today, two news articles popped out at me. One was about Zappos “squishy” culture and the  other was about Panera’s profit from shared values. The message is clear: people care about values. Harvard Business Review, Forbes, and other publications as well as the swelling number of books written about profit built on purposeful intent (e.g. Conscious Capitalism by John Mackey and Raj Sisodia, The Responsible Business by Carol Sanford, etc), are removing any doubt that the future of business must be squarely focused on human needs beyond the simple product offering.

Too much headline news is curated based on fear or tragedy. To be honest, I think it makes some people nervous to believe things are improving. Perhaps trouble has become a “safe place” for them and the idea of change for better makes them nervous? But the facts are that the world is indeed getting better, and people truly do care about each other. The sooner businesses wake up and realize it, the better chance they have for success.

The Stories in our Head

This morning I read a good blog article by Garr Reynolds summarizing a TED talk by Andrew Stanton on storytelling. It emphasized that humans connect through stories to form our emotional bonds. In marketing, it’s about understanding the stories of your audience and creating a story they can connect with.

Stories run our lives but most of us aren’t thinking about it. That kid that made fun of you in elementary school? What story about you or life in general did you create when that happened? That you aren’t as good others? Or perhaps that next time you’ll make sure no one can hurt you again? Twenty or more years later, are you still living in that story?

Some stories propel us forward (I am loved, I have valuable contributions) and other stories cripple us (I will probably fail, I’ll look stupid).  Those stories can make or break our relationships, work, recreation, health—everything that’s important to us.  I wonder how many good businesses fail because of the stories in people’s heads?

How do you know which stories are hurting your life? First of all, if there’s a strong negative emotional connection to an event in today’s life, quite likely it’s triggering the stories inside you. See! I knew that would happen. No one ever comes through for me.  Or why do I always get the short end of the stick? I’m the good guy!  Once you find the source of that story, you can leave it there and see today’s event for what it is. That person said/did whatever. That’s all. Once you have the story in perspective, you can move forward and continue to do the great work you’re here to do.

Image by: Alejandro Linares Garcia

Transforming Systems

Effective systems are critical to success. Businesses have multiple systems: lead generation, sales, accounting, workflow, customer service, etc.  These systems and processes are set in place at the beginning however once set up, should be reviewed regularly. Adapting to unforeseen variables, technology, social behavioral changes and expectations, and innovations is an ongoing effort.  Continuing adaptation is non-negotiable if a business is to experience any kind of sustainability and success. While commitment to transformation has always been important in the modern era, the speed of change has increased dramatically.

Sadly, the temptation in many organizations is not just to avoid change, but actually punish anyone or anything that hints at the need to change.  Leadership often looks at the cost of change in the short term rather than the long-term cost of being locked in a concrete (aka safe, proven) system.

Some organizations are trying to “transform”. They get that things have changed and they need to adapt. Unfortunately, the aspiration to change is much easier than actually doing it. Transformation requires continual learning and the ability to adapt, over and over again. Businesses struggle with this because they rely on choosing solutions to create their way of doing things, and those solutions are based off knowledge and ways of thinking.

Yet to be successful, positive change must be ongoing. The burden falls on leadership to:

  1. 1) be committed to continual education and long-term change,
  2. 2) provide an environment that allows for flexibility and adaptation and
  3. 3) empower workers rather than inspect them.

Dr. W Edwards Deming is considered to be the father of modern quality control. He popularized the process of Plan/Do/Check/Act. Later in his career, he modified it to Plan/Do/Study/Act because he felt that the emphasis on “check” was interpreted as inspection. The difference between “check” and  “study” is enormous. “Checking” can be used to threaten workers and create fear in the workplace. “Studying” looks at the system and allows for understanding and growth. Far too often quality control is used to bludgeon the workers rather than modify a faulty system. As always, the root of the problem falls on leadership’s ability to allow ongoing transformation.

Outstanding

When you’re thinking about marketing, you already know you need an outstanding idea. You will have mere seconds to communicate it. Less than a year ago The Associated Press claimed our attention span is 8 seconds, shorter than a decade previous. People obsess over making those seconds count, scrambling to rise above the noise like eager volunteers waving their hands at the teacher, “Pick me! Pick me!”

The Super Bowl is the biggest ad game in town, with mega-millions spent to get the most attention. We talk about the ads after the game, or maybe sneak peak and pick our favorites before the Super Bowl is played.  Yet many of the top spenders are losing market share, or at best still scrambling for a genuine place in the hearts of consumers.

That’s where the big companies, for all their millions, are missing the point.  A truly outstanding idea begins with an outstanding company willing to address the higher values and purposes of its customers. Being louder, funnier, cuter or more obnoxious than the other guy may grab 30 seconds of attention (because it stands out), but loyalty to a trusted brand that can prove it supports the values of its customers is what wins. Don’t seek to  merely stand out—be outstanding!

Photo wikipedia.org by P. Keleher

Honest Words

Another popular Darwin misquote came through my Facebook feed yesterday.

It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change.

While I would love to use that sentiment to talk about sustainable business practices, Darwin never said this nor is it consistent with his theories.

My friend Carol recently had an article published in a local print magazine. The inexperienced editor changed her word segue to Segway and made other erroneous editorial changes without her knowledge before publishing.  She shared her dismay with me that readers will think she made those errors.

Now someone is claiming the tragedy at Sandy Hook is a hoax in order to gain gun control. No doubt there will be some people who leech on his conspiracy invention. With the abundance of conspiracy aficionados, who knows how long this one will float around and whether it will eventually disappear or worse yet, pick up new believers.

Most people are aware that information on the internet and passed around through social media is not necessarily true or even close to accurate. Words get invented, massaged or distorted much like in the game of Telephone I played as a young child.

The problem existed long before internet or other broadcast technology, even before the printing press when people relied on scribes (many who were uneducated) or tribal storytellers for their most vital information.  So how is anyone supposed to know what is true?

  1. Confirm, fact-check, do your own research. While we can confirm some facts through research, sadly much information gets filtered through personal or corporate agendas and belief systems.
  2. Commit to personal and corporate integrity. Make sure what you put out to the world is as true as you know it to be. If you find out later you were wrong, own up to it.

It sounds simple but it’s amazing how many people find honesty so difficult.

 

 

 

Businesses Must Become Humanized.

The internet and mobile device technology has changed the world by giving instant access to nearly all information and a voice to every person.  The postal system is nearing collapse, news publications and advertising agencies are folding daily while free social media is being used to build virtual communities, impact elections and give a voice to revolutions. 3-D printing will be bringing even greater shifts in what we consider normal. Technology’s transformation of long held paradigms will continue to unfold while business leaders scramble to adapt.

One of the clearest shifts is the empowerment of the individual to choose what they want as well as when and how they want it. To say this has a radical impact on business is an understatement.  Before the Human Age, businesses and media outlets could dictate what you knew and how you’d receive that information. They were in control. Corporate interests were the primary focus and to be honest, they didn’t really need to care about the personal wants or needs of the customer. Now that the customer can edit out ads, eliminate information overload based on their personal preferences, easily find competitors and broadcast publicly their dissatisfaction with any aspect of their experience with you, the power shifts dramatically to the customer. Suddenly, the individual is king while corporate kingdoms are dissolving overnight.

One of the most amazing aspects of this new dynamic is the return of humanity. Since the customer has the power, the business world is now forced to care. The corporate and business world must prove they genuinely care about the customer, the community, the earth, human rights, etc, because the individual now has: 1) information, 2) options and 3) a very public voice.

Material needs represent only a part of basic life requirements. To be a fulfilled human, we must address our emotions, hopes, values and greater purposes. Businesses who are able to figure that out, adapt and communicate it in time will be the truly sustainable businesses of the future.

Photo: Wikipedia.org