A view of the industry through the
eyes of independent and chain retailers.
When Big Ideas Don't Work,
It's OK To Move On!
Learn from the example of a Las
by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (May 2, 2011)
One of our best ideas ever was to make an
effort to actually see the places we have the opportunity to visit.
We’re grateful that we took a day to be tourists in New Orleans just
a month before Hurricane Katrina hit. We'd been to that wonderful
city a hundred times, but we’d never before taken a day to see the
sights. We kicked ourselves for having been there so often but
missed so much. Never again we said.
Now, you would think that, given the number of
times we visit Las Vegas each year, we'd have seen it all. Not so,
but since our pact, we've seen just about every show on the Strip.
We've left each one, shaking our heads, wondering what took us so
One of our favorites was AVENUE Q, the
Tony award winning Broadway musical, at Wynn Las Vegas. If you
haven't seen it, AVENUE Q is kind of Sesame Street
meets South Park. It's unique because the puppets tell the
story, but the audience gets to see the puppeteers too. Sometimes we
didn't know where to look because "both" performers were so good. It
was pure fun, but definitely not for kids. It apparently wasn't for
Las Vegas either because it didn't even last a full year.
Steve Wynn bought the exclusive North American
rights to AVENUE Q and built it a beautiful theater, but it
never connected with Las Vegas visitors. Perhaps it didn't have the
word-of-mouth excitement that it enjoyed on Broadway. Maybe it
wasn't flashy enough, or didn't have a song everyone can hum whether
they've seen the show or not. Even though it's a fun show that
should have been a hit, the thing that impressed us most was Steve
Wynn's ability to move on.
Wynn is well known in Las Vegas for his
attention to detail. When the Venetian Resort opened a model hotel
room on the Strip for potential guests to preview, Wynn is said to
have re-designed an entire tower at the Bellagio -- and it wasn't
even open for business yet. Wynn Las Vegas had been open just five
years when he decided to remodel all 2,700 guest rooms. Expensive
changes, yes, but Wynn knows change is a critical factor in his
Steve Wynn works ON his resorts, not IN them.
His focus is not on how great it is, but rather what he could be
doing better. Funny thing, Steve Wynn runs a multi-billion dollar
resort, yet he's a lot like you: he constantly evaluates his
business, making changes until he gets it right. He's on top of what
his competition is up to, and when it makes sense, he outdoes them.
Sure it would be a lot easier to leave his
resorts the way they are and adopt a "build it and they will come"
attitude, but that attitude just doesn't cut it with today’s savvy
and demanding consumers.
So, here's the big question: how good are you
at tweaking your store? Do you constantly review what's going on?
Are you on the lookout for new ideas, or are you content to make subtle
changes and hope shoppers will notice? They won’t. Here are some
things you need to make a part of your operational activities:
1. Visit your competition every six
weeks. More often if your competition is known for making changes.
Cruise their parking lots and stop in their stores. Watch how
customers shop, and what they say to store associates and other
shoppers. Visit their websites. Google their names and read their
social media posts. And sign-up for every single thing they offer to
customers. Have the snail mail delivered to a post office box; get a
free e-mail account so you can receive their weekly blasts. This
under-the-radar, stealthy move will give you a heads up on their
plans before their ads hit the street. And don’t worry about what
competitors will think about you visiting their stores -- if they’re
smart, they’ve already been in yours.
2. Look at your store through your
customers' eyes. Because you come to work each day with a list of
things-to-do that’s as long as your forearm, it's easy to get Retail
Tunnel Vision. When you have tunnel vision, you walk through the
store with blinders on; it’s time to take them off!
After a day out of the store, grab a pen and
paper, and stand just inside your front door. Write down everything
that would bug you if you were a customer. Be very objective.
Nitpick. Then ask a customer -- yes, a customer! -- to do the same
exercise. You will likely fill a page or two, but your customer will
fill three or four. Prioritize the things on the list and get busy
fixing what needs fixing. Trust us, customers will notice!
3. View your merchandise with an
objective eye. You may love a certain line or department, but the
product just isn’t selling. No matter how much you love it, if it
doesn’t sell, it's got to go. You have to make room for product that
can pull its weight.
If your sales floor has looked pretty much the
same for more than 30 days, you have work to do. Move product
around, set new speed bump displays, refresh your gondolas, and add
some demos and make-it/take-its. And build foot traffic with fun and
creative in-store events. If that product still doesn't move, then
hold an End of Season Clearance Sale and price those goods to sell
-- you’ll be able to reinvest those dollars on merchandise that
Afterwards, do this exercise:
1. Draw three columns on a sheet of
paper: use the left column to list marketing ideas you've seen
competitors (and other non-competing businesses) use that could be
tweaked to work in your store, too. In the center column list ways
you can spin each idea to make it different, unique, and memorable.
2. Stick this piece of paper in a handy
spot, but don't look at it again until the next day. You have to
give your ideas time to simmer.
3. The next day, review the ideas listed
in the center column, then use the space in the right column to
expand your original ideas. Make them bigger! Make them better! Make
them so unique to your store that they'll be tough for competitors
4. Have your team to do the same
exercise. Tell them that it's okay to go a little crazy with their
ideas, because no idea is a bad idea. We're certain they’ll surprise
you with things you've never thought of before.
Your store is a constantly changing and
evolving entity that needs your care and attention to thrive.
Starting now, vow to work ON your store, not just IN it. Take a
risk! Steve Wynn could have opened with a sure-bet show, but a
sure-bet show would not have been exclusive to his resort. Sure,
it's safer to buy commodity brands and top selling lines; you need
them, but you also need to be unique. If you're not uniquely
different, then you become just another store selling "stuff."
Starting now, choose to be different! Try a new
direction. And if it doesn't work, get rid if it and try something
else. Creative change, after all, is the lifeblood of your store.
KIZER & BENDER TO SPEAK AT THE CHA SUMMER
Rich and Georganne will conduct two seminars
at the CHA Summer Conference & Trade Show July 19-21 (with education
starting July 18) in Rosemont, IL.
1. "Advanced Social Media Strategies for
Retailers" (S110). It's Tues., July 19, 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Topics
include Tips To Improve Your Facebook Business Page ... How To
Create Tweets That Get Re-Tweeted ... Smart Ways To Promote Your
Business on Facebook and Twitter ... What -- and What Not -- To Say
to Encourage Customer Conversation ... How Much Time You Should
Invest Each Day in Social Media ... The Latest Tools Available To
Help You Evaluate Your On-line Effectiveness ... How To Measure Your
Marketing Success in Terms of Interaction and Sales ... Social Media
Sites You May Be Missing
2. "Time for a Change: Jump-Start Sales with Cross Over
Products -- for Paper and Scrapbook Retailers" (S117). It's Wed,
July 20, Noon to 1 pm. Topics to be covered include Things to Think
About When Selecting Your New Merchandise Mix ... How To Mine the
CHA Show Floor for New Ideas ... How and Where To Display Your New
Lines on Your Sales Floor ... How To Cross-Merchandise Your New
Additions with Your Current Categories ... Inventory Management
Must-dos ... How To Build a Buzz About Town
Online registration begins May 5 at
(Note: Meetings & Conventions
magazine took a survey of meeting planners asking them to name their
favorite speakers/keynote presenters – and Kizer & Bender make the
list, along with such luminaries as Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Mike Ditka,
Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Colin
Powell, and others.
To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand
KIZER & BENDER Speaking!
Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design
103 North 11th Ave., Ste. 206,
St. Charles, Illinois 60174
Phone: 630-513-8020 | 24/7 Mobile: 708-347-2682 Fax: 630-513-8098
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