Mom and Pops

Before we get too far into the new year I wanted to write about something I saw over the holiday.  We have several very good local news sites here and there was a piece on one of them about local merchants and how they’re having difficulty competing both the online retailers and the national chains.  What was interesting to me was how almost every one of the merchants quoted focused almost entirely on price competition.  Many also mentioned “showrooming” – looking at goods in a store but buying the online where they’re usually less expensive.

The same day I read a report on a paper issued by Silverpop.  As MediaPost wrote:

Apple, Lexus and Amazon.com have transcended prices and features to create compelling and fulfilling customer experiences, says the report. They’ve embraced the customer revolution and are raising customer expectations for every other business.  A recent study reported that 83% of consumers are willing to spend more on a product or service if they feel a personal connection to the company. And one fifth said they would pay 50% more if they felt the company put the customer first, points out the study.

The paper talks a lot about how retailers can integrate data with the in-store experience and how that can then move across from the real world into the digital world.  You can read the specific suggestions in the piece.  For example, I wonder how many of the local guys quoted routinely gather email addresses in store and communicate in a way that helps them understand and reflect the customer’s needs and preferences?  I’ve had retailers ask for my email (and physical) address but inevitably they end up sending me a catalog, not something tailored to my buying interests.

The end of the MediaPost article states it nicely:

In 2014, marketers will have two choices, says the report they can keep running marketing for marketers, delivering generic promotional messages when the company has an offer it wants to push out, and focusing solely on driving customer transactions. Or, they can start running marketing for customers, delivering content uniquely tailored to each individual’s needs and expectations.

That’s how marketing has evolved over the last decade.  The big guys are learning it and the Mom and Pop retailers must if they are to survive.  It must be for customers, not for marketers.  Do you agree?

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