Be Topical, Not Typical

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Be Topical, Not Typical

Around the world there is economic uncertainty, one day the stock market is up and the next it’s down. Trying to build your consumers confidence in such a difficult time is a real challenge. The key is to be topical, not typical in such a retail climate. What do I mean by that? A typical retailer will tend to do nothing and “weather the storm out”, but these are not typical times. A retailer who sits back and hopes that the good times will return is likely to lose market share. In turbulent times you need to by topical, you need to be proactive and go out there and make waves. This does not mean you need to spend more money on marketing and advertising, but it does mean you need to think about promoting your business in a different way. I often work with retailers who ask me how do they come up with new ideas, they claim they don’t have the time and they have exhausted all their ideas. Yet, the answer is usually within their own company. The Value of Brainstorming Your team have the ideas that can help you be topical. Typical businesses tend not in involve the team in marketing strategies. Topical businesses constantly involve the team in the ideas loop. Once a month take a couple of hours to work “on” your business with your team, provide some refreshments, and brainstorm ideas. Set a budget (which could be nil) prior to the session so the team have a parameter to work within. The subject could include how to develop unique displays, marketing campaigns or advertising to get more people through your front door. Let me give you some examples: Zanthorrea Nurseries, Western Australia, have created a blackboard that is placed outside the garden centre with a topical message on it. This message is changed weekly which means consumers need to drive past to catch the new message, simple, but it works. Another client built a product promotion around the Oscar week in February. They created their own Oscar winning products and promoted them as their hero products during that week. The Beijing Olympics is only a few weeks away. One client of ours, during the Athens Olympics, four years ago, built a new display, based on the sport every time a New Zealander won a medal. The display also promoted a specific product. The result of this was the local newspaper and T.V. got involved and every time a new medal was won the company’s customers count went up accordingly. All these ideas came from the team members and as a result they were committed to make sure their ideas were a success. Be Positive, Not Negative It is so easy to get involved in “downturn” conversation with your customers. It is “typical” to talk the same language as the customer. But, customers are coming to your businesses to cheer themselves up. If you are “topical” you will also be upbeat and put a positive spin on the relationship, whenever possible. Tom O’Toole, of Beechworth Bakery in Victoria, Australia turned a $100,000 business into the most successful bakery in Australia, attracting over 600,000 customers to a store in a small bush town that is not on a tourist route. His message is that the owner needs to define their goals; “a goal is a dream with a date”, and then have the desire to do it. In his conference speeches he emphasises that culture is the key to success, culture is caught, not taught. Invest in your team in a positive way and they will grow the business. The role of the business owner is to inspire the team to make positive changes in the business. Look Around You I believe every business owner should take time out every week and take a thirty minute walk looking at retailers who don’t sell what you do. On that walk you should make notes on displays that you can copy in your own store. Look at the way themes are put together, what props they are using and how you can copy them in your business. A typical retailer would never consider looking at other retailers. A topical one does it all the time.