(Time to read this Blog is about 2½ minutes)
Before we get to the main topic, here are a few things to get you thinking:
- My biz quote of the week:
“Never take advice from someone who has never made mistakes. They’re either liars or are totally lacking in self-awareness. “
- The ‘Circle of Life’ is a myth. While watching Disney’s Lion King last week, it occurred to me that the key message of its iconic song, ‘The Circle of Life’ is a myth. Life is not a ‘circle’. It’s actually and upward or a downward spiral.
Life is an upward spiral of giving value, energy, respect, insight and joy to others, who will then uplift and re-energize you in return. Or, life is a downward spiral of taking from others; disrespecting, stressing and depressing others, who will then disrespect and suck the energy out of you as payback. So, which spiral do you choose for your life?
- What will your business do in 2021 to be easier on the planet? Researchers in India have created durable and waterproof ‘vegan leather’ from fermented coconut water mixed with banana, hemp or teak leaves.
US shoe and clothing brand, Rothy’s, has launched a handbag collection made from recovered ocean plastic and recycled polyester.
So, how might you innovate, reduce, re-use or recycle in your business? Get your Team involved. They know stuff!
Now, to this week’s important topic:
Are you delivering a consistent and amazing ‘Brand Experience’ in every part of your business?
There are lots of definitions of what a ‘Brand’ is. Here’s mine…
Your ‘Brand’ is your promise to deliver a consistent and compelling set of values, standards and experiences that your target customers want in their lives.
Every market and every industry, including yours, is over-served and under-differentiated. There are way too many other people selling what you sell. You need to create and communicate a compelling Brand Experience that ‘grabs’ your target customers, clearly differentiates you from your competitors, makes you famous…and grows your bottom line. Then, you need to keep that promise, every customer, every time.
So how is it that I report two vastly different Brand Experiences in Canadian Tire Stores here in Ontario, over a period of just five days?
Note for our many non-Canadian readers: Canadian Tire is Canada’s largest retailer of automotive aftermarket products and one of the country’s biggest sellers of hardware, tools, sporting goods, electrical and plumbing supplies, small appliances and house wares. They’re huge and they’re a Canadian retail icon.
Each Canadian Tire Store is independently owned and operated and there is supposedly a rigorous system in place to ensure that only those operators who have proven themselves in smaller markets, get to open a store in a large metropolitan area.
Well, apparently that system has broken down somewhere along the line. Just before Christmas I walked into a Canadian Tire store in Toronto, advertising flyer in hand, and asked one of the staff where I might find a particular item shown on page two. This young man looked me straight in the eye and said, “Mister, we don’t know sh_t around here!” and he walked away. Hey, I don’t make this stuff up.
Who hired this guy? Who communicated the Brand Promise, the company history, culture and values in his first week of employment, before he was ever allowed within 10 feet of a customer? Where was the ongoing training on “where stuff is”? Which experienced employee was he partnered with for his first two weeks on the job so that he’d know how things are to be done and how customers are to be treated? Where is his supervisor who should be monitoring employees to see if they’re doing and saying the right things? And, where is the store owner who’s ultimately responsible? There’s an old Viennese expression, “The fish stinks from the head.”
And it wasn’t just the staff experience that broke the Brand Promise. Half the plastic shopping baskets piled up just inside the front door had no handles and in the Tool Department there was no button beside the sign that said “Press button for service.” There were just two bare wires sticking out of the wall…and they sell those same buttons in their electrical department.
Fast-forward to my visit to the Canadian Tire store in the town of Bracebridge, two hours north of Toronto, early Boxing Day morning (the day after Christmas for those who don’t have ‘Boxing Day’ in your culture). The Staff who, theoretically, should have been bloated with turkey and eggnog and grumpy about having to work the day after Christmas, were lined up just inside the front door greeting customers with huge smiles and asking how they can be helpful. I thought I had died and gone to retail heaven!
The store was packed with bargain hunting customers and the staff were energized, knowledgeable and helpful. What they didn’t know, they quickly went and found out. They checked in the back room for out-of-stock specials, gave out ‘Rain Checks’ for items that were sold out, assured me that they’d call to let me know when those items were back in stock…and they did call. They made a promise…and they kept it. That’s how Brands are built!
So, there you have it. Two stores in the same chain with the same Brand Promise…but with very different Brand experiences. How does that work in your business? Whatever product or service you sell, what’s your clear and compelling Brand Promise and what are you doing to deliver that consistently to every customer, every time, at every touch point? What will you do to fix what needs fixing…and when will you start?
That’s it for this week…
Stay safe…live brilliantly!
Donald Cooper speaks and coaches internationally on management, marketing, and profitability. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org in Toronto, Canada.