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OK, I had been working hard. Our small painting project, the bedroom and master bath, was grinding on. We had been working on it as time allowed, but there hadn't been much of that available. But this day, this very special day, we were going to finish the project. Then it happened: I glanced up at the television and saw the most beautiful chicken nuggets my eyes had ever seen. They were deep-fried to a golden brown and the artery-clogging battered-morsels looked irresistable to me. I wiped the drool from my chin, painted a few more swipes, tried to get the image out of my mind and then gave in and asked my wife if she was hungry.
I told her that I had a sudden hankering for chicken nuggets. She was surprised because I'm normally a beef kind of guy...and yes, I said beef, not beefy! I told her that I had seen chicken nuggets advertised on the television a few moments ago and they looked great and that they were on sale and that I wanted some...and then it hit me!
I suddenly realized I had no idea who was advertising their nuggets. The picture had been beautiful and the adjectives, superlative, but the presentation of the product had not cemented in my mind who was making the offer. I don't know where the break down occurred. If we were to watch it together, perhaps we would come to some conclusion. My point is two-fold: 1.The advertisement failed. 2.The advertisement succeeded.
How can it do both? Well, we went and had chicken nuggets...at least I did. (My wife opted for something healthier). However, I am pretty confident that the advertiser was not the restaraunt from which I bought my nuggets.
It's all about branding. Have you ever had someone in your business ask, "Who do I make this check out to?" or "What is the name of your business?" We hear it often when we're working with retailers in their stores. Here is the long and short of it: Your store's name can't appear too many times in your store (or in your advertisements). It should be on all your signs, all your selling flags, on all your bags, on all your clerks' shirts, your walls...I'm starting to feel like Bubba Gump..."you can eat it fried, boiled, steamed"...you get the picture. Do it tastefully, of course, but be proud of your store's name.
So, I had my chicken nuggets. The advertisement worked, but for some reason, in my mind, it failed to connect the product to the seller. It wasn't the first time. I bet that you, at some point, have recalled a commercial, maybe even told a friend about how much you liked it, but then was unable to identify the advertiser.
Branding, folks, yes it's that important!
What are your competitors doing right now? Do you ever wonder if they're plotting and planning to gain more of your share of the available retail pie? You can bet one thing for sure: if they're good retailers, they've got something up their sleeves to increase their business next week, next month and next year. And how, exactly, do I know that? Because every good retailer has a plan to increase market share!
Are you contemplating how you can make your business more visible to those who would be interested in your products or services? Have you studied your competition to evaluate what their strengths and weaknesses are? Have you performed a SWOT analysis for your own business? Are you keeping up with the latest trends within your category and are you seeking out new ways to re-energize yourself and your staff?
It is important to know that change is important! How's that for a newly coined cliche?
But think about it: Change is important to keep your business energized and your customers interested. Think about the stores you frequent. If they were to look the same each time you walked in it wouldn't take long to tire of them, would it? They would quickly become mundane and boring.
So, we've established two things: (1) Every retailer needs a plan to increase market share and (2) Change is important. So why not sit down today and evaluate your store through your customer eyes using the 6 Ps that we wrote about in 10 Weeks to a Better Retail Operation. This is a great way to assess what changes you might need to make in order to attract more customers. Attract more customers and you'll gain a bigger piece of the pie.
We work with retailers everyday helping them to become more profit and customer focused. It is amazing how often we'll hear one of those retailers say something like "I don't know how my competitor (you fill in the name) stays in business...whenever I drive by his store there aren't many cars in the parking lot???"
I never understand whether the guy we're talking to thinks he's doing such an incredible job that it leaves no room for anyone else, or whether he projects his own struggles down the street and marvels that either one has lasted as long as they have. (OK, guys I'm being funny...isn't it sad when you have to explain your own humor?)
The point is that you can't know how to best position yourself against your competition if you don't know what they're doing. It will take some reconnaissance. Then you must plan whether to imitate their areas of success, i.e. battle them head-to-head or position yourself where they're not and try to fill voids instead. Either way, knowing what they're doing will help you plan better and give you insight as to the changes that you need to make.
Remember your store should be fun. It should be fun for your customers, it should be fun for your employees and, above all, it should be fun for you. I'm guessing that you'll have more fun as your results get better. So start planning today.