Friday, August 29, 2014

Making Memories One Guest at a Time

Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom averages around 47,000 visitors a day. Everything about the park, however, is designed to make one person feel special, not 47,000. Let me explain.

There were four young children on my left. My family sat to my right. We were all parked on the curb halfway between Main Street and the Cinderella Castle, waiting for the Electric Parade.

Many Disney characters were in the parade including Mickey and Minnie, Cinderella, and even Alice in Wonderland.

As Alice passed us by, she pointed to the children in the double stroller on my left and said, "Oh twins, how adorable!"

From the excitement that arose next to me, you would have thought they had just won the lottery. And in a sense, they did. Alice singled them out and made them feel like they were the only ones in the park at that moment. It only took a few seconds. But they will be talking about it for a lifetime.

No matter which Disney employee we met, each one treated us as if we were the only guests there. That's the true magic at the Magical Kingdom.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS This is actually harder for store owners to master than for your frontline employees. As the owner, you're constantly watching everything going on. But if you really want to impress the heck out of your customer, enough so that she says WOW and brags about you to her friends, you have to put the blinders on and give her that you're-the-only-one-here-and-I'm-so-grateful-to-be-able-to-help-you laserlike focus.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

What You Have in Common with Disney

I spent last week at Walt Disney World. As with any theme park, there are always upgrades being done. But instead of just "pardon the dust" signs, Disney plastered their walls with Walt-isms. I snapped this picture of one while chasing my boys to the next ride...

"We keep moving forward, opening up new doors and doing new things... and curiosity keeps leading us down new paths." -Walt Disney

Then Roy Williams, aka The Wizard of Ads, hit me with this Monday Morning Memo (if you haven't subscribed to this free email yet, you are missing out big time!!).

To sum up Roy's Memo... 93% of successful companies have been successful because of their ability to improvise and adapt. 

Keep moving forward.
Keep opening up new doors.
Keep doing new things.
Keep going down new paths.

It works for Disney. It works for 93% of all successful companies. It will work for you.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I have many thoughts, stories and ideas from my trip that I will be sharing over the next few days. Forgive me if I gush too much. Walt is one of my heroes. You'll definitely like the stories.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Better Than When They Came In

The New York Times did an interview piece with fashion icon Michael Kors and famous restaurateur Danny Meyer. (You can read the whole interview here.)

Danny summed up great customer service in one line...

"Great hospitality is taking however we three felt before we came here and making us feel a little better when we leave."

Are you making your customers feel better than when they came in? Do that one thing consistently and your business will grow.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Here are some ideas for things you can do that will definitely make your customers feel better.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Have You Tried This?

Another restaurant closed in town. They posted a wonderfully grateful goodbye on Facebook, thanking everyone from the staff to the suppliers to the customers to the city leaders (well, okay maybe not that last one). They even apologized for the inconvenience of closing. They said they gave it their best shot but just couldn't make a go of it.

One of my staff, when hearing of the closure asked a profound question...

Why didn't they try something else?

They had the kitchen, the staff, the liquor license, a small group of dedicated followers. Why didn't they try something else?

They had a premium location downtown, a banquet room (a couple of them), parking out back. Why didn't they try something else?

They had ambiance (although a little loud), great window seating along the street, outdoor seating, gigantic fish tank seating, and really cool bathrooms. Why didn't they try something else?

Two things I didn't see happen. They didn't change the menu. They didn't change the pricing. Two complaints I heard the most (besides how loud it was with all the wood floors and vaulted ceilings) were the menu and the pricing.

You gotta get those two right.

The right menu (products).

The right price.

Get those wrong and all the rest doesn't matter. If you're doing everything else right and your business is failing, chances are you got one of those two wrong. Why don't you try something else?

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS I get it that they may have chosen a menu/pricing consistent with the type of restaurant they wanted to be (their brand), but there is a lot of wiggle room within "fine dining" and "upscale" and "top-shelf" and "gourmet" and "specialty" and "unique" and "quality" to work with your particular crowd. Also, it may be that it wasn't the actual menu and pricing that caused the problem but the perception of the menu and pricing. Perception is reality, folks. You gotta win the perception battle.

PPS I'm sad to see them go. I'm not trying to criticize them, but to help you learn from their experience.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Moms, Mobile Phones, and the Transactional Customer

I have been bombarded with companies selling me on the merits and benefits of Mobile Marketing. The main focus is sending out texts with coupons and deals to people in the vicinity. Some of these companies are offering me packages less than $20/week. Others want me to commit to thousands a month. They have the statistics that show they will bring me gold.

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics." -Mark Twain

Kids Today magazine just had an article this month with even more statistics on mobile that I found quite enlightening and worth exploring deeper.

Here is the first statistic from the article:

"According to the latest data from comStore, overall mobile purchasing accounted for 11% of e-commerce spending in 2013."

E-commerce spending, depending on your source, is anywhere from 3% to 10% of all retail purchases, so mobile purchasing is anywhere from 0.3% to 1.1% of all retail purchases. Before you drop a load of your advertising budget on mobile, keep that in mind. Shopping on their phone is an incredibly small percentage of all retail sales.

But what about coupons they get on their phones and then bring into the store?

Here is the second statistic:

"Nine out of ten moms take notice of advertisements on their smartphones. One-quarter clicked to get a coupon after receiving a mobile ad and 15% of moms clicked on the ad to go to the website."

In other words, almost all of the moms saw the ads, but 75% of the moms did not take the bait, 85% of the moms were not enticed to go to the website. Now, don't get me wrong. Twenty-five percent is still a pretty good click-thru rate. But remember who is clicking - the Transactional Customer - the mom who believes she is the expert on the product and knows more about it than you do. These moms are loyal to one thing only - the deal. They have no loyalty to your store and only buy from you when you have a sale.

But aren't all moms all about the price?

Here is the third statistic:

"More than half the moms, 53%, say coupons are appealing in a mobile ad; while 23% want a deal that is located nearby."

Once again proof that roughly half the population in any category, including the technologically savvy new moms, is interested in the deal (Transactional Customers) and the other half is more interested in the trust factors (Relational Customers).

When you plot out your strategy, decide which customer you want to attract and proceed accordingly. While your competitors go after that 53%, remember that there is a lot of business to be done with the 47% who don't find coupons on their phones appealing.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS Don't think of me as anti-technology. Smartphones are here to stay. You need a website and it needs to be optimized for mobile. You need social media as one part of your relationship-building portfolio with your customer base - and many moms are using their smartphones as their primary tool for social media. You also need to be smart about where and how you spend your money. Your most loyal customers are not loyal because of your coupons, they are loyal because they trust you. Before you buy a mobile marketing plan, make sure you've put enough effort into building that trust and that the mobile plan reinforces that trust, not undermines it.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

What are You Doing to Reach the Influencers

McDonald's spent millions advertising the Happy Meal to children. Yet, who ultimately controls what a child eats? The parent, of course. Yet, McDonald's made billions from the Happy Meal by advertising to the strongest influencer.

There is a bra store near me that specializes in custom-fitted and hard-to-find sizes of bras. They advertise on the local ESPN sports/talk radio station. Yes, a bra store on a sports/talk station. And they're making a killing by saying, "Hey guys, tired of hearing your wife complain about her bra not fitting?"

Later this fall I am going to give out about seven thousand $5.00 gift cards to the students of one of our school districts. In a couple weeks I am going to wine and dine and bribe their teachers through a Teachers' Night Out private party at our store with food & drinks, prizes, fun activities and incredible incentives for attending. I want to make sure that when the teachers hand out these gift cards that we get a great return on our investment.

Too many retailer make the mistake of thinking they have to focus all their efforts only on the person who might buy or use their product. The most powerful push someone gets to shop at your store usually comes from someone other than you. It seems counter-intuitive, but sometimes your best advertising and marketing needs to be directed at a non-customer.

If you can convince the influencer of the benefits of your business, they will convince the end user of your benefits.

There are two advantages to this approach.

First, since you are advertising to an indirect target, they are going to be more surprised (which is a good thing) and interested in your ad. It won't come off as such a sales pitch. The bra ladies weren't trying to sell a product, just to offer a solution to a common problem heard by married men all over the planet.

Second, the influencer has far more power to affect the actions of your intended customer than you do. Word of mouth from a friend always trumps advertising by a company. Let the friends and family and influencers do all the heavy lifting for you.

Yeah, it's risky. All advertising is risky. At least this one has a pretty good track record (or why else would people be trying to ban the Happy Meal toys?)

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS To do this you just have to do two things. First figure out who is that non-customer that has the power to influence your shopper. Is it a parent, a child, a spouse, a friend, an authority figure? Second, figure out a message that will resonate with that person. It is powerful and it works.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

When Lions Lead Lions

Someone tagged the railroad bridge at the end of our block.

It says, "An army of sheep lead [sic] by lions will always defeat an army of lions lead [sic] by sheep."

All four cars at the light praised me when I took this picture, thinking that I was going to report it to the authorities.

I took the picture because it gave me pause and made me think. The message would seem to be that the talent of leadership outweighs the talent of the workers. The leaders willing to make the bold moves will inspire their followers to accomplish greater things than leaders with weak ideas and strong followers. In battle that may be true, but in retail I'm not yet convinced.

A great work force without great leadership will ultimately fail.
A great leader without a great work force will ultimately fail.

Oh, they both might stick around by default for a while, but in retail both of these will fall quickly to lion leading lions.

You can spend all your time on training your staff, but if you don't spend any time training yourself, another retailer will eat your lunch. Likewise, you can spend all your time training yourself, but if you don't spend equal time training your staff, another retailer will clean your clock.

But when the lions are led by lions, the Savannah is all theirs for the taking.

-Phil Wrzesinski

PS If you're a sheep of a leader, hire a lion to manage your business. If you have a lot of sheep on the front lines, go find some lions to pounce on those customers. Don't worry about teamwork. Lions work well in a pride. This book will show you how to identify the right type of lion, whether for management or the front lines.