Archive for November 28, 2011

Template for Success?

Experience is the life blood of our “intellectual property”. It sells our services on resume’s and brochures. But how we apply that experience can make all the difference when it comes to bringing our expertise to present opportunities. Those that have the albilty to understand how to adapt and apply experience to new situations are always in high demand. On the other hand, if we view experience as a pure template that can be 100% applied to new situations because “it worked in the past”….those folks more often than not…. find that mysteriously, the same success is not replicated.

The reasons for “templates” not working the second or third time around are numerous, but most often I find they do not account for the changes in consumer sentiment, recognizing that running the promotion repeatedly will diminish it’s impact,  and the difference in competition that often vary over time and from one geography to the next .

The supermarket industry is unfortunately notorious for relying on “tried and true” promotions, expecting the same results despite the aforementioned issues.  In fact we cling on to promotions and marketing schemes for such extended periods of time,  that even if they are compelling to the shopper, they die of over exposure.   

 

I could supply a laundry list of examples of over-exposed and unmodified template promotions that have died a pre-mature death.  I suppose you could as well.  While past experiences are vital for success, especially when it comes to not repeating promotions and programs  that were utter disasters, repeating successful programs and promotions should be done in a thoughtful way…. acknowledging how an ever-changing enivornment may dictate modifications. It is this process that will keep promotions and initiatives fresh for the consumer, profitable for brand and retailer and adaptive to a dynamic market place!

Holiday Sales at a Cost

Cheap turkeys, door busters, lowest prices of the year… all of these ploys are working better than ever in this “deal” driven economy. But the question remains, when the smoke clears from the promotions, is there any residual, lasting patronage that justifies these deep margin investments? I believe the key to getting promotion minded shoppers to come back when the deals cool off is nested in solid category by category price strategies. While a consumer is picking up deals, if shoppers notice that prices on in their favorite categories are competitive, even if not on deal, there is a strong likelihood of them including the retailer in their consideration set for routine shopping. Using promotions as an opportunity to introduce shoppers to non-promoted “value-pricing” is an opportunity more should embrace!

Style over Content?

Mobile technologies, QR codes, Near Field Communications are wonderful.  They are quickly changing the conversation and the way shoppers engage merchants.  But is the technology ahead of the content?  Is it ahead of the strategy, or even the ability of retailers and brands to even measure and understand these new engagements?

More likely than not, the prevailing answer to each of the aforementioned is yes.  Not that we should get caught up in pedantic detail of thirty page strategies or lengthy reports…..but we should be devoting some major attention to both. But what cannot be overlooked is the inherent elevated expectations from the consumer that the quality and volume of the content we deliver via these new technologies is worthy of the delivery mechanism.  Better said, great technology demands great content.  

Great content contains three vital elements.  Relevancy, Value, and Timeliness.  To be relevant, we retailers must use customer data and transactional history to learn quickly what floats the shopper’s boat.  Value can be both monetary and an informationally based, but more the former than the latter.  Timeliness implies a sense of urgency, a call to action.   There is no quick and cheap ways to make this happen.  But in the retailer, brand, third party partner triage, there are some basic rules of engagement that should be considered.

Retailers must make investments of people, offer expense, and promotion in channeling existing offers and deals to these new media, understanding that there are no magic buckets of new money from their brand partners that will suffice as the sole source of offer content.  There is no substitution for the retailer’s own content to dominate.

Brands, when new funds can be made available, should rightly insist that their retailer partners have both the sophistication and the willingness to share customer insights and investment results to qualify for their fair share of these funds.  But once the brand partner has access to the retailer’s data, they have an added responsibility to help the retailer honestly grow the category and their business, not just the brand’s own share at that particular retailer.  Brands must be prepared to adjust their content to adapt to the retailer’s customer, not force a pre-conceived brand strategy down the pipeline if it is not a good fit.

Content and Technology Partners have a role to play as well.  They need to solicit constant feedback from the brands and retailers to refine and strengthen their technology or their content to insure the consumer remains engaged and does not become weary of antiquated technology as others around them are becoming more efficient.

In real estate it’s location, location, location!   

In technology enabled CRM, it’s content, content, content!