Humanize the Shopping Experience
Catalogers need to continuously humanize customers’ shopping experiences despite an increase in technological advancements, said Todd Simon, senior vice president of $380 million-marketer Omaha Steaks, during his keynote address at the Annual Catalog Conference last week in Orlando. Simon offered several pointers for catalogers to improve and grow their businesses, including the following:
If you sell a commodity, turn it into a brand. “We leveraged the regional quality of the beef we sell -- premium, grain-fed Midwestern beef in the heart of beef country USA in Omaha,” Simon said. The company adds value by incorporating a natural beef aging process that he said few beef manufacturers do, and then Omaha Steaks flash-freezes it at the peak of flavor.”This way,” he said, “we turn a potential negative [freezing meat] into a positive. And we bundle it with award-winning service, which lets the customer know she’ll have a great experience.”
Be a solutions provider.”Our lives are full, we’re deluged by media,” Simon said. “As marketers, we have to figure out how to reach consumers, and think of ourselves as solutions providers.” He said traditionally, business-to-business (b-to-b) marketers have positioned themselves as solution providers, while consumer marketers have been more straightforward product sellers. But he advised that consumer mailers follow the lead of b-to-b marketers.
He used the example of his own company’s recent launch of a catalog selling complete cooked meals, and noted that it’s meant to be a solution for busy people for whom”dinner is a daily problem to be solved.” He noted that 83 percent of all consumer purchases are made by women.”How can you make her life easier? How can you make it better? Create space in her life by saving her time. If you steal her time, you are toast.”
Study your mom.”Look at your mother as a mini-marketplace,” Simon said. “She should be your beta tester for Web-based programs, because if she can’t [navigate] them, they’re too complicated. She approaches things intuitively, knows what she wants, and will reward those companies who serve her well with loyalty and high lifetime value.”