From my email this week...
Saturday, April 18, 2009
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Advertising and marketing works...
Impulse Buying Still Prevalent Among Shoppers
In the 2.3 seconds that most people spend on in-store brand decisions, it turns out they are more easily influenced than you might think.
Just over 90 percent of shoppers make unplanned purchases, and "about 51 percent of them take place right in the aisle," Curt Johnson, SVP for the consumer industries division of Miller Zell, told Marketing Daily. The Atlanta-based retail consulting company recently tracked the buying triggers of 1,000 shoppers. "We were surprised. Because while we've been hearing so much lately about how careful shoppers are being, making lists and doing research on purchases beforehand, there's still a lot of impulse buying."
The study did find, however, that shopping list use is up substantially (65 percent say they are making shopping lists prior to the shopping trip).
And it turns out that Gen Y is especially likely to do so, and more susceptible to advertising. "People talk so much about this generation researching everything online before they buy it," he says, "but this study showed that they actually index much higher than other age groups in terms of finding all advertising -- both in-store and outside the store -- as 'very effective'."
And Gen Y shoppers are also more likely to make impulse purchases at "end caps," the display at the end of store aisles, as well as along the periphery of stores. "Gen Y is, in fact, a lot more malleable inside the store than many marketers think," he says.
Overall, shoppers believe that ads designed to reach them in stores work better -- giving them a 32 percent effective rate -- than ads outside the store, which earned a 27 percent "very effective" rating. About 70 percent say they responded to end-of-aisle signage, 62 percent to merchandising displays, 58 percent to department signage, and 55 percent to shelf strips.
The study also found key differences in the way that stores trumpet their prices. Sale prices motivated more shoppers (70 percent) than "everyday low price" positioning (47 percent).
Overall, however, some groups are less interested in price than most retailers seem to think. About 93 percent of Baby Boomers, for example, say they prefer product messages rather than price-point messages while shopping.
(Source: Marketing Daily, 04/03/09)
Read and follow:
Want to Sell More? Pipe Down and Listen Up
Here’s a counterintuitive formula for achieving greater sales success: Stop pitching and start listening.
Most customers would rather talk than be talked at. They want to maintain control. So instead of grabbing the wheel and steering the deal, let the customer take the driver’s seat while you slip into the role of navigator. Once you establish where the customer wants to go, recommend a route for getting there, reroute around obstacles, tune in to directional concerns and negotiate roadblocks without ever taking your eye off the destination.
Listening, instead of talking, works in good economic times and rocky economic times alike. “The questions you ask customers might differ,” says Dawn Garzoli, director of sales for family-owned Nelson Staffing in Northern California, “but what remains consistent is the need to commit to listening, which develops a collaborative partnership that ultimately leads to more sales.”
In fact, listening is more important than ever during down economic times, when it’s easy to assume people just aren’t buying.
“The economic news says one thing, but if you ask thought-provoking questions, customers may tell you something far different,” says Garzoli. “You may learn that while the customer’s business has changed, with the changes come new opportunities that you’ll only hear about if you’re listening instead of talking.” She tells her sales team to imagine the customer saying, “Don’t tell me. Ask me and I’ll tell you everything.”
For your own sales success, follow these tips:
Ask, don’t tell. Make listening your top priority. By asking effective questions you prompt your customer to reveal wants and needs, share concerns and buy into the sales transaction while you become the customer’s knowledgeable, credible business partner.
Listen, don’t talk. Garzoli likens an effective sales conversation to a game of table tennis. You say something, then the customer says something, then it’s your turn again, and back and forth it goes. To encourage your customer to speak more, say even the smallest phrase, such as “uh-huh,” or “good point,” and you put the volley back in the customer’s court. If a silence follows, don’t jump in to fill it. Your customer may need the time. Sales trainers encourage these pauses, which are often followed by customer insights or buying decisions.
Collaborate, don’t assume. Assumptions reveal what you’re thinking and may be far different from the customer’s reality. When you ask and listen, your customer will share the accurate information you need to provide a good solution. Follow this advice:
Stay focused on the customer’s goal. Ask questions that get customers not only talking, but describing what they want to achieve, so you can address their needs.
Revolve the conversation around the customer’s situation. Instead of saying, “My purpose today is. …” or “I’d like to show you our solution. …,” redirect the discussion from your needs to those of your customer. For example, “Based on what you’ve shared, I think this solution would have a strong impact on your business. …”
Ask multipart questions. You’ll get the most useful information by linking a thought-provoking question with an action term that invites the customer to participate as you map out the sales solution. For instance, “Share with me the process you’re following and the key decision points you’re dealing with.” Or, “Based on the importance of the needs you’ve outlined, help me understand the total amount you plan to invest in a solution and what areas we haven’t yet discussed.”
See how it works? By asking the right questions and listening to the answers, you’ll establish a collaborative relationship that leads to a positive solution for your customer and stronger results for your business.
Barbara Findlay Schenck is a small-business strategist, the author of “Small Business Marketing for Dummies,” and the co-author of “Branding for Dummies,” “Selling Your Business for Dummies” and “Business Plans Kit for Dummies.”
Friday, April 17, 2009
You know the routine, I'm out of here for the weekend, except there will be more updates Saturday & Sunday...
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Eat it up:
Arbitron/Edison Infinite Dial Study Released
Yesterday Arbitron and Edison Research released the Infinite Dial 2009 study. These are the highlights:
· The weekly online Radio audience has again exploded in the last year, to about 42 million Americans aged 12+.
· One in five Americans aged 25- to 54-years-old listen to online Radio on a weekly basis -- an all-time high.
· Awareness of both satellite Radio companies remains essentially flat for the third year in a row at around 60 percent.
· Online Radio is showing up in the Arbitron ratings, thanks to Portable People Meter (PPM) measurement.
· An astounding 69 million Americans viewed online video in the last week.
· About 42 percent of Americans 12+ owns some kind of MP3 player; the vast majority of them own an Apple iPod or iPhone.
· The growth in MP3 player ownership is now fueled by adults.
· Social networking is a rapidly growing phenomenon among Americans of all ages.
The complete study is available from www.arbitron.com or www.edisonresearch.com.
Certain truths not only age well, they become more and more clear as the years pass. I attended our local advertising Addy awards a couple months ago and saw a ton of creative work that was very impressive.
However, does creative matter? Or does response matter?
I wrote about this a few days ago and you can click here to learn how both creative and response matters.
But also check out this article from BrandingStrategyInsider.com:
The New Positioning
This week I came across a 1997 interview I gave to Bob Lammons. The more things change the more they stay the same...
Q: What's the battlefield look like to you these days?
"Well, there's good news and bad news on the battle front. The good news is that, because of all the downsizing and re-engineering we've gone through in recent years, U.S. companies have learned how to handle global competition very well. The bad news is it is still amazingly competitive out there -- kill or be killed."
Q: In The New Positioning, you talk about the explosion of information in business today, and our inability to handle it. Isn't it good to have lots of information?
"Not really. Many people have so much information these days it paralyzes them. The Internet has made things worse, because it's full of non-edited information. I call it 'non-information.' It's a vast wasteland of unfiltered facts, pseudo-facts and non-facts, and the mind doesn't know what to do with all this data."
Q: You quote experts like Edward de Bono and Jack Welch on the "lost art of thinking." Does this result from information overload?
"To some extent, yes. The thing I find dramatically missing in business today is common sense. Many managers are so concerned about losing their jobs, they spend a disproportionate amount of time collecting and generating data to back up whatever decisions are ultimately made. "
Q: How can business-to-business communicators benefit from this insight?
"Read the first six chapters of my latest book. (At the time, The New Positioning, McGraw-Hill, 1996) This is not as self-serving as it might sound, because for almost 30 years we've studied the psychological aspects of marketing, and we've based our consulting practice on understanding the human mind and how it works. We've just never publicized the amount of information we collected from expert psychologists until this most recent book. My advice to communicators is, if you understand the mind, you'll do fine."
Q: In 1989, you and Al Ries wrote an article in Advertising Age titled, "The decline and fall of advertising." In that article, you chastised agencies for being preoccupied with awards instead of creating selling propositions for clients. Is it still true today?
"If anything, it's worse. Everybody hooted us down for that article, but the chickens have come home to roost: there's less client loyalty today and more accounts up for review. Agencies are turning out so-called creative campaigns that win awards, but fail to move products."
Q: Can you cite some examples?
"Nissan's 'Enjoy the ride' animated spots are very popular, but sales are down and dealers are very anxious. I'm not sure what to say about the new 'Miller Time' spots. The only brand image I can associate with Miller Lite is that they like goofy things. I think the inmates have taken over the asylum."
Q: Why do you think this is being tolerated by marketers?
"Well, I can't speak for every marketer, but too many agency people claim that, because their client's products are essentially the same as the competition, they feel their advertising must be different in order to make those products stand out. It's one of the most tragic observations we hear, because an agency's job is to FIND A WAY to differentiate products based on product features and consumer benefits.. Those are the only things that count. Unless advertising helps build brand images that support product positioning and provide customers with solid buying incentives, it isn't good advertising."
Q: Probably the most controversial "trick of the trade" described in your new book is the importance of sound versus sight, or words versus pictures. This would seem to have enormous implications for marketing communicators.
"Absolutely. I'm a little surprised we haven't been challenged on this by the advertising community, but it's well documented that you can put ideas in people's minds without pictures a lot more successfully than you can without words or sounds. The old saying, 'a picture is worth a thousand words' is probably backwards."
Q: Have your consulting assignments changed over the years as positioning has matured as a marketing strategy?
Surprisingly, no. I've probably counseled close to a thousand companies now, and marketers still want us to help them do two things: (1) Differentiate them from the competition, and (2) Define exactly what it is they are selling (the category). In my latest book, we discuss the concept of "repositioning" as a way of dealing with change. New technologies and changing consumer attitudes are reasons why we should constantly reassess our playing field.
Q: Do you have any examples of business-to-business marketers that have gone through this "repositioning?"
"Silicon Graphics is a good example. Their initial success was based on defining their market as '3D graphics.' When they started to feel stifled by this definition, they created a bigger position -- 'visual computing.' Now that technology has made it possible to do this inexpensively with low cost computers, Silicon Graphics has changed the playing field again by defining a new category: 'high performance computing'."
Q: What's your best advice for advertising and marketing people as we look ahead to the 21st Century?
"It's still a battle for the customer's mind, and perceptions are your key to success. Because advertising and marketing people are charged with building perceptions, you will be more important to your company's success in the future than ever before. In order to do this, however, you must understand how the mind works and package your communications programs for maximum effect."
Sponsored By: Brand Aid
From a weekly email:
Practical Tips for Selling During Tough Times
by D.M. Arenzon
Tough times call for new strategies and tactics. Here are 15 practical things you can start doing right now to boost your sales.
1. Make sales calls by industry to start selling 10 times more than what you're doing right now! Think about it; if you made 10 calls a day in the same industry five days a week for one month, can you imagine how much you will learn about that industry? Can you imagine how much more you could bring to the telephone call? Rather than sounding like just another cold caller, you will soon be viewed as an expert in your field.
2. Treat your customers like gold. Give them good service. Give them more than what they expected. Start listening to your customers more. Build relationships with them. Focus on how you can help them. In time (meaning tomorrow, next week, next month, six months from now or one year from now), they will tell others. They will tell your story for you.
3. One excuse that a lot of salespeople make is "No one's buying anything." Stop the excuses! What's the solution? You need to knock on more doors to find one that opens completely! Change your thinking pattern. Stop the negative thinking. Now is the time to think of new and creative ways to cross-sell business to existing customers and to attract new customers to your book of business. When was your last brainstorming session with your co-workers, management or sales team?
4. In order to compete and make your sales during tough market conditions you may need to re-invent yourself and the way you do business. Ask yourself, "What can I do to strategically create more interest in my product or service?" If the sides were reversed and you were the prospect, what is the one "Magic Line" that you would want to hear? What would move you to take action and become a buyer?
5. How's your marketing collateral? When was the last time you updated it? Is your material engaging and eye-catching?
6. Quick question: When was the last time you sent a thank you card? I'm not talking about sending one through your email; I'm talking about sending a handwritten thank you note. This note could be for someone that you recently met with, a recent customer, or a new prospect. Thank you notes make your customers and prospects feel important.
7. People are always looking to save money, but when the economy is down, saving money becomes their number one priority. On your next cold call, let your prospect know that you have a customized money-saving program specifically designed for their industry. If they're interested in your offer, suggest a day and time that you may drop off this information. Send a friendly confirmation via email of your conversation one day before you visit their office. The contents of this email should summarize your telephone call and the day and time you will stop by.
8. Try testing new messages. Maybe it's time to refine your sales pitch or perhaps it's time to reword what you say over the telephone because your current message is not working. Take a look at what your competition is doing and review their website for new and innovative ideas.
9. Start introducing your customers to each other. Look for synergistic opportunities between the two. There's an old saying, "What comes around goes around." If you take the time to introduce a client to another, in time, they will take the time to refer you business!
10. Do more research on your prospects and customers before you call or meet with them. Armed with more information you'll relate to your customers and prospects much more quickly. The more you know about your prospects and customers will always result in better sales questions, and better questions will always close more sales!
11. The best time to make cold calls is during tough times. Everyone's complaining about their vendors. If you strategically position your company and convey the right message you will get the attention of your prospect. Focus on benefits, solution-based selling and bring new ideas to the conversation (do some research on their competition).
12. Some great words and phrases to use on your sales calls during these times include: well-positioned, strategic, take market share, customized, targeted, implement, custom-design, industry specific, tailor-made, generate, caliber, quality, includes, added value and grow your business.
13. Start doing some research on your prospect's industry. Did you find an interesting article in a trade publication? Did you find an advertisement of one of their major competitor's? If so, then try sending it with a note saying, that you look forward to speaking with them soon and thought they may find this article (or advertisement) of interest.
14. Are you making enough outgoing calls? No output means no input. How many outgoing calls are you really making time for each day? Each week? Calculate your statistics.
15. During tough economic times, there is nothing more important than persistence. Being persistent means making not just one sales call, but many more. Being persistent means not giving up on prospects. Being persistent means not giving up period. How many sales appointments did you set this week?
Known as Mr. Cold Call, D.M. Arenzon is the author of How to Have Fun Cold Calling and Get Your Telephone Ringing Off the HOOK. He says, "Your cold call success is dependent on 11 winning personality traits. Collectively, these traits allow you to uniquely market yourself over the telephone so you can inspire your prospect's curiosity, reduce their resistance and close even more sales!" To learn more, visit his site www.MrColdCall.com.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
The purpose of this spot on the internet is to share wisdom from various sources focused on Marketing, Advertising, Sales and related topics.
At our monthly Advertising Federation lunch today we had an amazing presentation. It was amazing because I had low expectations based on the way it was marketed. (And I'm involved as the V-P of Communication!)
We have a V-P of Programs who sets up the event, I get the P.R. materials from the speakers and send it to a graphic designer who creates the direct mail piece which is then adapted for the website and email blasts. (Starting in July, I'll take on a different role on the Board and leave the communications to a different V-P.)
Seth Godin wrote about presentations today:
The hierarchy of presentations
A presentation is a precious opportunity. It's a powerful arrangement... one speaker, an attentive audience, all in their seats, all paying attention (at least at first). Don't waste it.
The purpose of a presentation is to change minds. That's the only reason I can think of to spend the time and resources. If your goal isn't to change minds, perhaps you should consider a different approach.
- The best presentation is no presentation at all. If you can get by with a memo, send a memo. I can read it faster than you can present it and we'll both enjoy it more.
- The second best presentation is one on one. No slides, no microphone. You look me in the eye and change my mind.
- Third best? Live and fully interactive.
- Powerpoint or Keynote, but with no bullets, just emotional pictures and stories.
- And last best... well, if you really think you can change my mind by using tons of bullets and a droning presentation, I'm skeptical.
A presentation isn't an obligation, it's a privilege.
Labels: Seth Godin
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And who's not...
Fewer Young Adults, Kids Seen in Restaurants
While Baby Boomers Visiting More Often
In addition to a challenging economy, restaurant operators are also dealing with shifting customer demographics as parents decide to leave the kids at home, and young adults, ages 18-to-24, cut back on restaurant visits, according to The NPD Group, a leading market research company.
NPD's CREST, which has tracked consumer purchasing and consumption patterns at commercial restaurants since 1975, shows that in 2008, restaurant visits by parties with kids declined by three percent, and restaurant visits by young adults, the most lucrative restaurant market, dropped from 254 per capita in 2007 to 233 in 2008.
NPD CREST market research finds that the increasing absence of children in restaurants is a result of cost cutting measures on the part of adults, since the average size of a restaurant party when kids are present is over twice as large as for adult-only parties, driving the meal costs almost $8 higher. Both quick-service and full-service restaurants experienced traffic losses in 2008 with kids under 13 years old. Losses were particularly pronounced at supper, but occurred at other dayparts as well.
Although kids' absence from the restaurant scene is a recent phenomenon, young adults have been scaling back on restaurant visits for the past five years, with the decline from 2007 to 2008 being the steepest. Young adults are among the heaviest users of restaurants, and foodservice operators expend considerable resources to attract this group. In 2008, the 18-to-24-year-old age group accounted for nearly seven billion restaurant visits and spent $42 billion.
According to the NPD report, young adults' preferences are shifting. Health and food quality is top-of-mind with them. The study finds they feel restaurant food is often too high in calories, and there aren't enough healthy/nutritious options. They also reference poor food quality, not freshly prepared, and no fresh ingredients when evaluating restaurant food.
"Considering the cost of adding kids' meals to a restaurant check, it's not surprising that adults are deciding to keep the kids at home, and I believe we'll see more kids in restaurants once the economy improves," said Bonnie Riggs, NPD restaurant industry analyst. "It's a different situation with the 18-24-year-olds. Their restaurant preferences have been changing over the last few years, and it will be important for restaurant operators to understand these preferences in order to get them back in."
One group that has increased their visits to restaurants over the past year is Baby Boomers, ages 50-to-64, according to NPD's foodservice market research. In 2008, the number of per capita visits by adults, aged 50-to-64 was 209, up from 204 in 2007 and 201 in 2003.
"Restaurant operators need to understand that their customer profiles are changing, and it's just not about the economy," Riggs noted. "There are long-term behavioral shifts occurring and they need to have a greater understanding of who their customers are and what those customers are looking for in their restaurant experience."
(Source: The NPD Group, 03/31/09)
STIHL cuts through the clutter. Hidden Valley residents eat Kraft dressing. Dr Love hawks Dr Pepper. Let's launch!
Chili's launched a bland TV and online campaign to promote its "10 under $7" menu. The campaign centers on a fictional restaurant chain, aptly named P.J. Blands. This is the franchise where customers settle for bland food that's not bad or good, just average. And made entirely from cardboard. The first ad, seen here, watches P.J. Bland receive consumer feedback. "Hey P.J., my meal has no taste," says one customer. "You're welcome," he responds. The ad is abruptly cut off by a Chili's logo and the statement: "Life's too short for bland meals." P.J. Bland conducts market research in another ad, seen here. Adding cardboard to cardboard still leaves customers with food-shaped cardboard. There's even a P.J. Blands Web site with an elaborate menu layout, bios of employees of the month and an 800 number to call and leave a message for P.J. If you Google "bland food," a paid search ad for P.J. Blands appears with a Chili's ad following. Hill Holliday created the campaign.
Residents of Hidden Valley, Minnesota love the taste of Kraft ranch salad dressing. Don't tell the neighbors. Samantha Bee from "The Daily Show" goes on a road trip to bring the improvements made to Kraft ranch dressing right to people's doorsteps -- because she's never invited inside. Driving a Kraft-branded bus and armed with an unlimited supply of ranch dressing, Bee hits Hidden Valley neighborhoods, conducting her own flavor of market research. When confronted by police, Bee remarks, "I guess if great taste is a crime, then take me off to flavor prison... Please don't take me to prison." Watch the ad here. Mcgarrybowen Chicago created the campaign and Mediavest handled the media buy.
Gatorade Tiger launched a TV spot last week called "Woods of Wisdom," starring a youthful, animated Tiger Woods, having trouble focusing on his golf game. Tiger is mentored by a grizzly bear, reminiscent of Wood's late father, Earl, who leads the youngster to Focus Falls. Once Tiger drinks from the waterfall, he's able to hit the ball straight through the forest. See the ad here. I like that the ad is promoting a low-calorie drink for athletes, but it feels like it should be running on Nickelodeon, targeting kids, rather than someone like myself, who's on the lookout for low-cal sports drinks. TBWA/Chiat/Day Los Angeles created the campaign.
Before Padma Lakshmi devoured every morsel of her Carl's Jr Western bacon six-dollar burger, the brand ran a TV ad starring a doctor jonesin for bourbon. The doctor has bourbon on his mind as he scrubs up for surgery, glances at a patient's X-ray and walks the hospital halls. "If I don't have a bourbon by noon, look out," says the good doctor as he enters an operating room. The ad promotes the Bourbon Burger, complete with a zero proof label. Watch the ad here. A radio ad, heard here, describes people dubbed as "bourbon burgeraholics," or those who "care more about Bourbon Burgers than their family's welfare." There's a place for them offline at Carl's Jr. and online at EatResponsibly.com. The site rates what type of bourbonaholic you resemble. Apparently, I'm a happy one. In-store ads continue the theme and pair bourbon with Coke. See an ad here. Mendelsohn Zien Advertising created the campaign.
Dr Pepper launched a new flavor, Dr Pepper Cherry. I can't wait to see how this differs from the taste of regular Dr Pepper. The brand found another fake doctor to hawk its new product. Last year, Dr Pepper used Dr J, Julius Irving, in a TV spot; this time around, it's Dr. Love, aka Gene Simmons. Decked out in KISS makeup, Simmons is surrounded by pyrotechnics and lovely ladies as he makes his case for Dr Pepper Cherry. Nick Simmons, Gene's son, emerges onstage to inform his father that he's not being smooth enough in his delivery. Watch it here. Deutsch LA created the campaign and Initiative handled the media buy.
If print isn't dead yet, it might be soon enough, once STIHL is finished with it. The company launched a print campaign in the Wall St. Journal where chainsaws, blowers and trimmers demolish copy. Words are no match for the STIHL products; mock stories are blown away and newspaper columns are chopped down to a more manageable size. See the ads here, here and here, created by Winsper.
Unum insurance launched a national 30-second spot on cable networks such as WE, Food Network, HGTV and Bravo that takes place in a fashion studio. In less than 30 seconds, an evening dress is sketched, approved, created, promoted and walking the runway. Hard work is rewarded with Unum benefits. See the ad here, which launched April 5. The VIA Group created the campaign and handled the media buy.
How do you make the best stuff on earth better? Tweak the packaging, place greater importance on the health benefits of green and black tea, and replace high fructose corn syrup with real sugar. That's what Snapple seems to have done. Two new TV spots launched March 30 and describe the change in Snapple... without really describing the change in Snapple. It's all a mystery. A team of Snapple researchers in the jungle stumbles across "better stuff." This better stuff is packaged in a crate and shown to employees, but viewers have their vision blocked. Watch the ad here. Another ad, seen here, shows a marketing team brainstorming for a new campaign slogan. Deutsch LA created the campaign and Initiative LA handled the media buy.
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From my email:
Surprise the Customer
This is something to add to your customer appreciation strategy.
Surprise the customer. Make them say "Wow!"
This can be as easy as sending a birthday card or a holiday gift.
Maybe you just pick up the phone and unexpectedly "check in" with
your customer. You might send a surprise gift - nothing
extravagant. Just a small "something" to show you are thinking
of the customer. A very powerful idea is to send a card for
something personal. For example your customer may tell you that
he/she has a big anniversary coming up or their son or daughter
is due to graduate. Sending a card for those types of event
shows how well you listen. I can assure you they will be
One of my favorite things is to find an article in a magazine or
newspaper, tear it out and send it to the customer with a note
saying you thought of him/her when you saw this.
The bottom line is that customers like to be remembered and
Copyright © 2009- Shep Hyken, Shepard Presentations
Shep Hyken, CSP is a professional speaker and author who works
with organizations who want to build loyal relationships with
their customers and employees. For more information on Shep's
speaking programs, books and tapes contact (314)692-2200 or
Wednesday, April 15, 2009
Clickables from Mediapost:
I bet there is something all of us can learn here:
The Inside Scoop
There are lots of good frozen-yogurt shops in Simon Glickman's Pasadena, California, neighborhood. But one—21 Choices—seems to enjoy bigger crowds than the rest, and he explains in his Editorial Emergency newsletter how the small storefront keeps customers coming back from more:
- It delivers plenty of atmosphere. Unlike most corporate chains, the environment is quirky and inviting—multiple television screens flicker with cooking shows and vintage cartoons while the teenage staff "sing and shimmy" to a Motown soundtrack.
- It makes customers feel valued. When the line moves slowly, staffers require no coaxing to hand out samples, genuine apologies and coupons for free yogurt. If it turns out you don't like a flavor combination, they'll replace it without charge, and Glickman's wife once received an extra scoop because an employee liked her sock-monkey key chain.
"But the company's service ethic goes much further," notes Glickman, "and this is where you should put down your Snickerdoodle Swirl and pay particular attention."
Simply put, 21 Choices excels at thinking in terms of community:
- Personalized touches include a poster by the front door that lists regulars by name.
- Since customers care about environmental issues, the shop made the switch to biocompostable cups and spoons. "A handmade sign explains that this move has added to their overhead and resulted in slightly higher prices," he says. "No one seems to mind."
The Po!nt: Argues Glickman, "No matter how much money and resources are allocated to make a business like this fit into a community, there's no substitute for earnestly getting to know and embracing that community."
Source: Editorial Emergency. Click here for the full post.Sphere: Related Content
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Ever since I started paying for my gas at the pump, I rarely visit the inside of convenience stores...
Convenience Store Sales, Profits Showed Gains in 2008
An otherwise tough year for convenience stores was balanced out by strong retail fuel margins from the unprecedented drop in wholesale fuel prices during the fourth quarter of 2008, according to data released this week by the National Association of Convenience Stores.
Overall convenience store industry profits rose 54 percent in 2008 to reach $5.2 billion, reversing a two-year decline where profits dropped 42 percent over that period. Industry sales jumped 8.1 percent to reach $624.1 billion, with both motor fuels sales (up 10.1 percent to $450.2 billion) and in-store sales (up 3.2 percent to $173.9 billion) showing growth.
The growth of in-store sales defied the overall trend in U.S. retail sales, which fell 0.6 percent based on U.S. Department of Commerce data. It also came despite a rare decline in the number of convenience stores. For only the third time in the past 15 years, the industry store count dropped -- 1.0 percent to 144,875 -- as many stores closed because of the punishing economic conditions and record-low motor fuel margins the industry faced during the first three quarters of 2008.
The convenience store industry sells an estimated 80 percent of the fuels purchased in the United States, and motor fuel sales continue to dominate industry revenues, accounting for 74.5 percent of all sales dollars, in examining same-firm sales data. However, overall fuel gallons sold declined 2.4 percent. Meanwhile because of low gross margins on fuel (5.7 percent), only 31.7 percent of all profit dollars came from fuels sales.
Credit card fees continue to be the industry's top pain point, surging another 10.5 percent in 2008 to reach a record $8.4 billion -- nearly three times the level just five years ago.
Although unemployment levels nationwide were souring in 2008, there was good news with respect to the convenience store industry's employment figures. The industry saw a modest 0.8 percent gain in number of employees, which rose to 1.73 million. Annual turnover numbers were even more impressive. For non-managers, annual turnover was down to 109.0 percent; turnover for managers was down to 29.0 percent.
There were several significant differences between the industry's top performers and bottom performers. Top quartile performers sold more than twice as much motor fuel as the bottom quartile (187,932 versus 84,369 gallons per month). The top-quartile performers significantly outperformed the bottom quartile inside the store, as well, with merchandise sales of $124,797 versus $75,753 per store per month. As a result, top quartile stores showed an average monthly pretax profit of $13,173 per month, while the bottom quartile lost $3,626 per month.
Once again, cigarettes dominated in-store sales, accounting for nearly one in every three dollars spent in stores, but cigarette gross margins continued to plummet, falling to 15.3 percent. These low cigarette margins dropped the category to third in terms of gross margin contribution. Meanwhile, foodservice, which includes dispensed beverages and food prepared on site, continues to show strong growth, accounting for nearly one in four in-store profit dollars.
Nearly 75 percent of in-store sales were from the top five categories:
• Cigarettes (32.7 percent of in-store sales)
• Packaged beverages (14.1 percent)
• Foodservice (13.9 percent)
• Beer (10.2 percent)
• Other tobacco products (3.9 percent)
Nearly 70 percent of gross margin dollars were from the top five categories:
• Foodservice (23.9 percent of gross margin dollars)
• Packaged beverages (16.6 percent)
• Cigarettes (16.0 percent)
• Beer (6.9 percent)
• Candy (4.8 percent)
(Source: Convenience Store/Petroleum News, 04/07/09)