Hero Worship

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Hero Worship

By John Stanley We all need hero’s in our life, for me I would include Nelson Mandela and Al Gore in my list, but we would all select different people to put on personal list. The real challenge is that in your local community are you on the list of your consumers and neighbours. I remember Bobbie Gee ,the Californian based image consultant give a speech a few years ago when she mentioned “you know when you have arrived when the consumer uses the word MY not THE when they talked about you. What she was highlighting was while you are THE corner store, hairdresser, travel agent or garden centre, you were not a hero in the consumers mind. Once they talked about you as my garden centre, hairdresser or hardware store you had actually penetrated their mind in a different way and become a hero they could recommend to their friends. Business ,in my view cannot become hero’s, only people can become hero’s and therefore the culture you build in your business and the way you communicate your believes are important in the way you grow your business. Only the people can become the hero’s in your business, the chances are that when they leave a number of your customers will leave as well and follow them the next retailer that employs them. Have a Hero Strategy Having said your business cannot have a hero status in the consumers mind, I do believe you can put strategies together to build your hero’s and make it part of your marketing strategy, in saying that it should be sincere, a false promise will result in lost sales. Hero strategies can take a number of different tactics, some retailers prefer to build their team as hero’s, others make their customers the hero’s whilst others transfer the idea via their products. Your Team as hero’s The easiest way to create a hero strategy is to build one through your team. If you are recruiting the right type of people this can be an easy strategy. People buy from people and the aim of your team is to build a relationship with your consumers. Companies use different techniques to build on the hero worship and the key is what works for you and your team. One thing that in my mind that is non negotiable is the name badge. Research carried out by Shoppers Anonymous in Perth, Western Australia revealed that a sales person who wore a name badge was perceived to provide 15% better customer service that one who did not, if this is the case then name badges would be compulsory in my business when dealing with consumers. Maximart in Portugal ,is a well know hardware company in the region, to build confidence with their consumers they have all the team’s faces on a board when consumers enter the business, you may say that you do the same, but at Maximart they have included a bit of humour. I have a client who has a pet store and all the staff name their pet on their badges as well as their first name, it all helps to build that bridge between the customer and your team member. You cannot expect to become a hero overnight. When the consumer enters the store for the first time and meets you, the chances are they will like you. On the next visit they may start to trust you and only after that will they start looking at you as their hero. The rules are of the game are to build the trust relationships first. This can be achieved by promoting your love and expertise for what you sell by placing signage with you on that recommends what you are selling. Zanthorrea Nursery in Perth went one stage further a few Christmas’s ago and produced a leaflet that promoted “A few of their Favourite Things” Mid Ulster Garden Centre in Northern Ireland and Grevillea Plants Plus in Victoria ,Australia both have developed posters and labels of their team members promoting their favourite things in store. Your Customers as Hero’s The library at Mechlan in Belgium has banners down the side of the building that are of local residents that use the library, they have decided the consumer should be the hero. Stew Leonnard, the fruit and vegetable retailer, in the Eastern USA has used his customers as hero’s for many years. Customers would vie to have their photograph on the store hero wall holding a Stew Leonnard carrier bag, the challenge being who could get the most exotic location for the photo. Other business’s promote the activities of their customers in their newsletters. A certain way of helping to spread the message in the newsletter to the customers friends. The Product as the Hero As I have already mentioned it is only people who can become the hero, but once they have been accepted as the hero’s you can then use this as an opportunity to develop product hero’s One of the big issues facing all retailers is the “Green Issue” and how the retailer builds on the opportunities. Companies that are green and are genuinely green can create hero worship. Companies that get involved in ‘Green Washing” Will often get caught and lose credibility. Green Washing is where the company gives one message to the market place, but acts in a different way in operations,. For example my local supermarket sends out promotional material to say it has gone green, yet even though they have biodegradable bags on offer ,the checkout operate puts your groceries in a plastic non degradable bag without even asking the customer what their choice would be. To me this is an example of green washing, even though it may in real life be a lack of staff training. Garden Centres in Australia have the opportunity to become accredited in sustainable practices. Once they have passed the requirements they can promote themselves as Green Garden Centre’s. They also now have the opportunity to create “Habitat Hero’s”. Plants that are recognised by the garden centre staff as local and have a low carbon footprint and will survive with low water and help the local environment are labelled with a “I’m a local Hero” label This is an excellent example of where the product can become the hero. Farm Shops in the UK are promoting the level of Carbon Footprint on their labels, for example. “Did you know the carrots in the supermarket travelled 1000 mile to get to the shelf. I travelled 100metres and was picked this morning. Join the Challenge Consumers are looking for retail hero’s more than they have done in the past. I accept that all of us some of the time are looking for the cheapest offer, but we are also looking for the teams we can trust. We need a hero in each retail sector and this is an opportunity for you to grab the high ground. If you are a hero we will be prepared to pay more for the product and service. John Stanley is an internationally recognised conference speaker and retail consultant with over 25 years experience in 18 countries. He has authored several successful marketing and retail books including the best seller Just About Everything a Retail Manager Needs to Know. John’s retail experience covers hands-on retailing in supermarkets, hardware stores, garden centres, farmers markets and drug stores. For more information John Stanley and his services visit his website www.johnstanley.cc