As an owner/operator of a small to medium sized retail businesses, we hope this site is a resource to help you grow. As the content is developed we will address a wide range of issues relating to the growth of your business. Comments are welcome and if there is an issue you would like to have us deal with, please let us know. Most of our experience and certainly our interest is in the field of marketing. This will be evident as we go forward. Welcome aboard.
I have been trying to write a minimum of one post a month. I know it should be more frequent but it’s a reasonable goal which I plan to improve upon. I find myself on the last day of the month without an entry but I have the beginnings of this post as a draft. Interestingly the topic, reinvention, is topical given that New Year is typically a time that people address these types of issues. So here goes.
One of my dominant personal themes is “reinventing myself.” This has been something I have done for many years. I’m addressing this because I’ve taken what some might think is a pretty dramatic change in my work. I spend many years in traditional media, first on the creative side followed by many years selling. I am now working on business development with an online marketing company plus doing marketing for a local garden centre.
Each year, going into a new fiscal year with new budgets (do they ever give you a smaller budget) I would go through my reinvention process. My philosophical approach (read more) . . .
The Demand-Support Matrix
I am sharing something that I found very useful when assessing a demanding situation I found myself in. I continue to use this and hope you find value. Let’s start by looking at degrees of demand. Of course this is not the classical economics use of the word demand as it relates to supply; here we are talking about the amount of demand that is placed on us in a give situation. This is then overlaid with the amount of support we are given to manage that demand. In my Demand-Support Matrix the vertical axis is “demand” with a low demand situation below and high demand above. Keep in mind that this is a continuum, it is not either/or but a matter of degree.
If we look at jobs like delivering newspapers or flyers, I characterize this as low demand. There obviously is some level of expectation that the piece will be delivered and in a reasonably timely fashion but this is not extremely demanding. Often a daily newspaper has a performance standard for delivery, such as delivered by 6:00am. That is the promise in my community but the fellow that delivers the paper on my street hasn’t met that standard in many years. I no longer have the paper delivered but I see him while I am out walking my dog. It’s the same time every day and he’s delivering to my neighbours well past the delivery standard. My point is (read more)…
Customer Buying Style
Many years ago as a radio sales rep I had a client say to me “Everyone is a price shopper.” The gentleman had a small retail carpet shop. I needed a way to show him that this wasn’t the case. I developed my “X’s and O’s of Retail.” Over the years I’ve developed the model which contrasts what I call Transactional Shoppers and Relational Shoppers. When I shared this with Roy H. Williams, the Wizard of Ads, in early 2002 he wrote about it in his Monday Morning Memo.
Let’s run through this to see if it resonates for your organization. In my illustration above, the X’s are customers are the O’s are retailers. Each line from a customer to a retailer represents a shopping trip. The red lines indicate a purchase.
In the carpet business let’s imagine there are 5 customers that are going to buy carpet today and there are 5 carpet stores. Customer 1 visits all 5 stores looking for the lowest price. Store 1 has the lowest price and makes a sale. Customer 2 also visits all 5 stores looking for the lowest price. Store 1 makes another sale. Customer 3 renovated an older home 4 years ago. They recently moved into a larger home that needs new flooring and they return to the store they purchased carpeting from 4 years ago. Customer 4 has a sister that works at Store 4 so she is dealing with family. Customer 5 was recently transferred from Atlanta and knew where to buy carpet in Atlanta but doesn’t know the local stores. She asks a co-worker who recommends Store 5.
The owner of Store 5 saw three shoppers, two of them (read more)
Customer Life Time Value
I just fired up an old laptop to retrieve a document. This was a list of topics I planned to write about, and I thought it would be instructive to review the list. I had searched through all my current folders several times when it occurred to me that it was created a while ago and it might me on the old Sony. It took a little work to get the computer working. When I located the file I checked the date: May 18, 2005. The very first item on the list was “Lifetime value of a customer.”
I was first exposed to the concept when I read Customers for Life by Carl Sewel. I wrote a post about Sewel a couple of years ago. His book was published in 1990 and at the time Sewel calculated the life time value of his customers at (read more) . . .
Park Resorts Innovates
Some times a totally different approach to a problem delivers a winning solution.
In the hospitality industry one of the major challenges is maintaining reasonable standards with lower skilled jobs. In food service, bussers, and dishwashers and in lodging, housekeeping staff are in this category. Poor service delivery can have a negative effect on customer experience. We’ve all checked into hotel rooms that we not up to our standards. Good housekeeping is subjective but the guest’s reaction is all important.
When a guest gives a review that says “Go and sleep on the subway, it’s cleaner” or “A jail cell would have been better than the room we stayed in. (read more)
Loyalty programs can be as simple as a “coffee card” that gets punched every time the customer places an order and allows her to earn a free coffee after a given number of purchases. The programs can also be sophisticated programs that allow customers to accumulate points at multiple businesses and/or allow the retail partners to gain information on customers’ shopping habits.
With a loyalty program, I am sharing two things to keep in mind. First, if you have a program commit to it. Encourage your customers . . . (read more)
Traditional and New Media Comparison
I begin with a disclaimer. This is an opinion piece, and in the spirit of full disclosure, I currently work in online marketing but most of my experience is in traditional media.
If we frame this comparison in terms of the message and its delivery, and tracking the costs, I feel it simplifies our comparison.
THE MESSAGE: With traditional media, you develop a message which you have full control over. The development of the message may have a cost associated with it. There may also be a cost to take that message and prepare it for use in the form of media chosen. For example, there could be substantial costs to create a television commercial. With new media, you don’t always develop a short form message which you control. This is especially true . . . (read more)
Starting a Business
Anyone can start a retail business. Two words . . . Lemonade Stand! Am I right? All retail business is pretty simple, it’s exactly like your childhood project, just scaled up. Open up for business with a popular product, in a location with some traffic and charge a fair price, badda-bing-badda-boom. Let’s analyse a bit, let’s see, rent – zero, wages – zero, input costs – zero, advertising costs – zero, taxes – zero, profit margin – woohoo!!!
Wayne Huizenga made several fortunes consolidating businesses. He first did it in garbage building Waste Management inc., he then did it in video rental building Blockbuster and then did it with Auto Nation. Let’s take Huizenga’s template and consolidate the lemonade stand business . . . then we’ll do an IPO and be rich.
David Beckham’s Favorite
I begin today by sharing a passage from David Beckham’s autobiography “Both Feet on the Ground.” I first read this book shortly after it was released. I was taken by Beckham’s description of a particular goal and this passage has stayed with me. He describes this as his favorite goal in a Manchester United shirt:
“We got a free-kick on the edge of the Real (Madrid) penalty area. If I’d been picking and choosing, I might have wanted to be a yard or two further out. The closer you are to goal, the quicker you need to get the ball up and then down again to beat both the wall and the keeper. I’d practiced it tens of thousands of times . . . (read more)
Guy Kawasaki’s Intrinsic Giving
I just finished reading Guy Kawasaki’s book “Enchantment, The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.” I my first encounter with Kawasaki was when I read “Ten Ways to use LinkedIn” on his blog How to Change the World. He is an author, venture capitalist in Silicon Valley and former chief evangelist at Apple Computers.
This isn’t a review of the book, although it is a very good book and one I would recommend, rather a brief discussion about his thoughts on giving. Guy talks about about building trust through giving. (read more)
Disney Does it Well
Most people that go to a Disney theme park have a good, sometimes great story to tell. In reading the book “Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds, and Actions” by Guy Kawasaki, I read a personal story in which the individual tells of a situation in which a Disney employee “enchanted him for life.” This prompted me to tell my little story from our very first trip to Disneyland. First, a little background. Our daughter had been wearing braces. The Orthodontist said she could have them off in time for the trip but had to promise to wear her retainer for two hours every day.
The big wow came about from a moment of panic. It was late in the day. (read more) . . .
Choosing a Business Name
Let’s go shopping at the “Wort & Must Co.”? Can you imagine what you might find in this store? If you are a beer or wine making enthusiast you might know that “wort” is the big pot of fermenting liquid in the initial stage of beer making and “must” is that infusion of fermenting wine. This is a very strong name for a local business. It does take a level of understanding to appreciate the significance but once you know, you never forget. Wort & Must Co. is an evocative name. More about that in a minute. Unfortunately when the initial owners sold . . . (read more)
Business Name Mistake #2
In a previous post I gave my insight into a mistake business owners make when naming their business. Today’s post looks at another mistake; choosing a business name which will be first in an alphabetical listing. Think of a number between one and five, write that many “A”s followed by the work Aardvark. The more “A”s you have the closer to the beginning you will be. This is something that is done to be listed first in a telephone directory. Choosing to name you business after this creature only works if you want to be listed first. Is this the right symbol for your business?
People don’t choose a business because it’s first on an alphabetical list. If a consumer is looking for laser eye surgery what criteria do they use to choose? This is their eye sight so at the very least they are looking for a competent surgeon. Will they choose AAA Aardvark Eye Clinic? Let’s choose another category where safety is not as much of an issue. If a person needs new glasses they may be looking for (read more)
Business Name Mistake #1
I started a post a while ago planning to discuss naming your business with a thought of making suggestions about things I think work well and some that just don’t. That’s post is still in draft status but one thought I want to tackle now.
One of the biggest mistakes a small business owner can make when naming their business is to name it after the category. For example, a plumber calls his or her company “The Plumbers” or “The Plumbing Company.” The temptation to do this is because the business owner believes that every time someone talks about their category they are saying the business name. Unfortunately that’s not how this works. There you are, excited because someone says to their partner “Better call the plumbers.” Ah ha, they just said your name! Wrong! In fact what is happening is the consumer just said the generic name of an entire category. Having this type of name actually hurts more than it helps. We’ll get to that thought later.
In the ecology of big business, one of the fundamental rules of marketing is . . . (read more).
Lessons from Pike Place Fish Market
The Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle, WA is famous for WOWing people. This is the fish market that is famous for throwing fish. It’s a little bit of theatre and a must do on most Seattle visitors’ itineraries. This is a company worth emulating and it is easy to learn from John Yokoyama’s great company. He and long time business coach Jim Bergquist have created a business training division. There is a training video and a book both called simply “Fish.” The two men also speak to businesses large and small and at industry conferences.
There are four simple lessons . . . (read more).
The Community Speaks
A century ago, in small towns around North America, everyone in a community knew everyone else. You also knew all of the merchants and they knew you. Merchants were responsive to the needs and wants of their community. Customers could offer feedback and merchants listened.
Fast forward to today and in many ways we find ourselves in a very similar environment. With the Internet it is much easier to know about a business and if they make a mistake the community finds out about it, not just within a 50 kilometer radius but globally.
This is a story that has been unfolding in the last couple of weeks, it’s over the top, and it’s a textbook case in what not to do. First some background. The fiasco all started when a customer, Dave, that had ordered two game controllers . . . (read more).
Did You Miss an Opportunity to WOW?
I will start with what I consider a missed opportunity. A young woman, let’s call her Stephanie, has drawn a name for a company gift exchange. The individual she draws if British so Stephanie decides to put together a gift basket and include some English tea. She goes to a shop for the tea, and after she gets it home she notices the best-before-date is less than a month away. She returns to the shop and all of the similar packages have the same date stamp. There is a smaller size of the same tea that has a much longer expiry. Stephanie decides to accept the smaller size in exchange even though she has paid for the larger size. The shop keeper agrees and Stephanie leaves.
When Stephanie returned for the exchange the shop keeper was busy and even though she was the only customer in the store she was left to her own devices. What the shop keeper could have done was engage Stephanie and find out what she needed the tea for. The shop keeper could have . . . (read more).
If your business is interesting in a workshop for your people on marketing contact me and discuss your needs. If you are a member of a business industry association, business networking group or service club and you need a speaker for an event I would be happy to discuss your needs. For information on presentation topics click. . . More