It’s Time To Put A Stake In The Ground

01.19.16 / Andy Malis / Advertising

If you’re reading this you have my congratulations. You’re still in business. You survived the last recession. Maybe thrived. You may have even watched with some satisfaction as lesser competitors closed their doors.

You’re probably feeling pretty good about yourself.

But will you be in business five years from now? Don’t be too sure.

There are seismic shifts happening in every industry every day and no one can predict what’s ahead with any accuracy. And it’s not just because of the internet. Do you think Subway or McDonald’s franchisees were worried a year ago? No, they were just counting their profits and congratulating themselves at their annual franchisee convention.

Here’s a good example.

There are tens of thousands of retail jewelers in the United States. And it’s nearly impossible to tell them apart. In my almost 30 years of marketing I have never seen a more “me-too” industry than retail jewelers.

Does this sound familiar?

“We’re ABC Jewelers. Family owned and operated for five generations. Founded by our great grandfather 80 years ago. We carry the finest selection and provide the best customer service at the area’s most competitive prices.”

Really? Do today’s consumers care how old you are? Maybe your loyal customers do but they’re dying off (sorry to be so blunt, but it’s true).

Here’s my challenge for 2016. Be the customer and define yourself from their point­-of-view. Mystery shop your store. Put a stake in ground. Differentiate or die. Stand for something. Anything. As long as it’s not what your competitor’s stands for.

Find out why your “never customers” have never shopped you, and why your loyal customers are so loyal. Discover that intersection and exploit it. Adjust your operation and your marketing accordingly.

While you’re at it, ignore your competition. Completely. Most of your competitors don’t know what they’re doing. Copying them is business suicide. There’s only one group you should be learning from – the customer.

Here’s a surprise – people who are interested in a particular product go to the internet, read about it, and find the closest dealer — all online. Can consumers in your area find you and the products you carry easily on the Internet? More importantly, can they read your website on their mobile phone? More than half of all Internet searches start on a mobile device

Succeeding for tomorrow depends on three things:

  1. Provide the right mix of products and services that consumers demand
  2. Deliver it to them the way they want it – in an inviting atmosphere for all customers – not just the ones who dress as well as your salespeople
  3. Be Liked. How? By creating a brand personality for your store that is humble, warm, friendly and doesn’t take itself to seriously

So now that the holiday rush is over and your back from vacation it’s time to get to work. Take a good hard look at your business. How are you perceived? What do you stand for? Now’s the time to differentiate and leap ahead of all your competitors.

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