Category Talent and Leadership

Peanut Butter Pretzels!

Anyone who has ever had Trader Joe’s pretzels, probably has had a whole bag of them.  They are addictive, to say the least.   However, unique products are only a part of the success equation at Trader Joe’s.

What truly makes TJ’s different – and what ensures that they are swamped with loyal fans, is their commitment to the in-store shopping experience.

Jeanne Bliss wrote a great piece on Trader Joe’s consumer-centric strategy in a piece called Trader Joe’s Customer Experience Obsession.

She proposes some good evaluative questions in the article:

Do you obsess about the moments of connection? About how you relate?
• Do you think about not just what you say, but how you say it?
• How would you rate your intent and ability to obsess about the moments of connection – the key interaction points with customers?
• Can you identify your most important customers contact moments to determine what you should “obsess” about?

Click below for the full story



Can You Focus on Partying?

Do you ever wonder how we are able to key in on a specific conversation at a cocktail party?  Even when there are myriad competing noises from the other conversations, people laughing loudly, kitchen doors swinging, glasses clinking, etc.?

Melinda Beck of the Wall Street Journal looks into this phenomenon of our ability to focus on a task at hand, despite many other influences… and our inability to productively multitask. Here is a cool video on the topic:

I wonder what the implications are to marketers as we think about consumer engagement and the overabundance of sensory inputs we all receive every second of our lives?

The short piece poses a bunch of great questions – below are some of the recommendations for productivity (and safety):

Recognize your limitations. The brain can only fully attend to one thing at a time.

Make your senses work together. If you’re trying to listen to someone in a noisy room, look directly at the speaker.

Focus on what’s important. Many professions—from pilots to police officers—depend on keen powers of observation. Training and practice help. But experts say things like chess and videogames likely won’t expand your overall attention skills.

Allocate blocks of time to specific tasks. Sometimes a deadline can force people to focus.

Avoid distracted driving. Don’t talk on a cellphone, text or give voice commands while at the wheel.


Coke and a Smile!

In late 2010, Coca Cola released their ‘Content 2020′ plan… and communicated their strategy though the use of an interesting set of videos.   I have watched the videos too many times to mention – I am a bit spellbound.   I keep coming back for a couple of reasons:

  • The strategy is compelling… the shifts make sense and are brilliantly-explained in a building logic that Barbara Minto would be proud of!
  • Coke’s use of RSA Animate to illustrate their strategy is brilliant – it actually is a great representation of the company’s strategy of ‘creating content so contagious, that it can’t be controlled’… exactly what these videos are…

They have divided the brand communication strategy up into logical chapters:

  1. Liquid and Linked Content Development
  2. The Case for Change
  3. The Evolution of Storytelling
  4. Baking ‘Live Positively’ into Storytelling
  5. From Insights to Provocations – the creative brief = Bigger Thinking
  6. Developing Liquid Content
  7. Investment Principles for Liquid Content
  8. Researching Liquid Content
  9. Applying the Dollar Multiplier to the Iterative Production Process
  10. Summary…

Check out the videos below – I think you might dig them…

Here is video – Part 1

Here is video – Part 2:

No Thanks, I’m Just Looking…

“Can I help you?”

How often to we, as consumers, hear this greeting when we are in the shopping environment?  And, what do we always say? “No thanks…”

Obviously best practices training teaches sales associates to ask open-ended questions as opposed to “can I help you?”   In the end, it IS about the people… the sales associates’ role in driving conversion is irrefutable.  A knowledgeable, unobtrusive, and, well, helpful sales associate can dramatically increase a retailer’s KPIs of sales per square foot, GMROI, and many other productivity metrics.

However, retailers continue to invest in more mechanical efficiency levers like stock-outs, plan-o-grams, etc.  Some new research by Serguei Netessine at INSEAD shows that many retailers might be better served by understanding more about human efficiency analytics and metrics.

Here is a passage from his very interesting article in the HBR:

“The most innovative employee managers we know use business analytics to understand the differences in how individual store associates perform. When these retailers make dynamic adjustments, therefore, they are not only deciding how many but who in particular to move to a sales floor.”

Key takeaways include:

  • Understanding in-store consumer traffic patterns
  • Educating store employees how to meet consumers’ needs
  • Flexing staffing (and specific sales associates) to seize the knowledge above

Check out the HBR story here: