Four Questions to Continually Ask About Your Customers, Products and Brand
You don’t have to operate any stores to always “mind the store.” For us in the catalog/direct/multichannel world, that means finding time in our 24/7, 365-days-a-year world to step back and ask ourselves a few questions. It’s not an easy task to pull back from our everyday happenings, but it’s mission critical to stop and ask:
1. Are we the company our customers want us to be?
2. Are we the company our competition envies?
3. Are we looking around every corner to see what’s coming next?
4. And for that matter, how can we adapt to meet the needs of the next “trend” so we can effectively contribute to our customers’ wants and needs and therefore our own EBITDA?
Although we in the direct world have our own issues, I’d like to share the following retail story to illustrate what happens when you forget to be vigilant in engaging the above, because this can just as easily happen to one of us.
I just read that after the holiday season, CompUSA will be going out of business. Incredible! It’s not often a big retailer like that goes under.
While it may be a shame, I can tell you why this is happening.
It was outdone by the competition! When you enter the stores of its main competition, Circuit City and Best Buy, you actually can feel a difference, particularly in store layout, merchandise presentation and in-store branding. Most of the CompUSA stores feel old and out of touch — like they’re still stuck in the ’90s. No balance of product, very little branding. It could be any old, generic warehouse store inside.
In contrast, Best Buy has developed branded generic services such as the set-up and repair of computers — both those it sells and those it doesn’t sell you. Best Buy quite brilliantly turned this service, which it neatly branded The Geek Squad, into something almost as hip as the nerds in the Revenge of the Nerds movie became all those years ago. Fast forward to the present, and you know you’ve made it when in this case, a TV show called “Chuck” builds its premise on your company, right down to replicating your store design for its main set.)
Jim Gilbert has been creating direct marketing programs that drive superior ROI for almost 30 years. Fluent in consumer or B-to-B, creative, operations, and analytics, he marries the strategic and tactical sides of direct and social media marketing in a seamless fashion that gets results. He's CEO of a multidiscipline direct marketing agency, Gilbert Direct Marketing, Inc., which focuses on direct mail, catalogs, DRTV, telemarketing, print, alternative direct marketing media and social media marketing. Jim has been involved in start-ups, expansions and turnarounds, and is an expert in helping multichannel marketers get to the "next level." He's a former adjunct professor, teaching direct marketing at Miami International University, and is President of the Board of Directors of the Florida Direct Marketing Association. Jim loves to talk direct marketing, and has done many lectures on direct and social media marketing.