Rich Clark Marketing

Opinions from Rich Clark one of the UK's leading Marketing Professionals


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Growth Marketing Vs Performance Marketing

With the news that Google ad revenue is likely to drop for the first time in 2020 (5.3% according to WSJ), largely due to the pandemic that has engulfed the globe and the current boycott for Facebook ad spend, the world or advertising and marketing feels a little different.

This also raises the question of businesses that succeed and their approach to marketing. There is an argument that the linear measurability of acquisition marketing channels such as paid search and paid social are short term, return based approaches. Whereas modern, successful and high-growth brands look at a growth marketing approach.

What is Growth Marketing?

Growth Marketing has a number of definitions, that do in theory conflict or contradict each other in parts.

There’s Camp A, who were brought up on adwords and MVT that feel Growth Marketing is more in this camp. For example they take a look at the whole funnel of marketing and how the “traffic” navigates its way through the experience you provide and suggests that experiments should be made on steps within the process. This is still done in a relatively scientific or statistical way. A great option when the data is consistent, the sources are all reliable and attribution is 100% accurate and understood. This is compelling as the growth areas are targeted and controlled in a scientific way, with results analysed and then developed.

In my opinion there are two potential issues with this approach.

  1. How many organisations and teams have that data structured in a way that they can 100% rely on it, trust its integrity and have people that understand it
  2. If this isn’t implemented with military precision, it could actually slow you down rather than speed you up

Matt Cunliffe adds “It is vital that core journeys for core audiences are identified at the outset along with painpoints – these painpoints should relate to significant dips or low-performing metrics in the funnel that affect conversion, onboarding, retention volumes etc. It may sound obvious but I have seen distracting approaches on MVT where lots of micro-tests are identified that actually don’t have scale or impact upon roll-out. Whilst a rolling program of these smaller improvements could combine to uptick metrics, one often has bigger strategic challenges (e.g. what should our new commercial model be?) and you need to ‘clear the decks’ and get everyone (i.e. CRO, Product, UX, Dev etc) united behind solving and supporting that big issue. It relies on clear OKRs or strategic goals that filter down to teams so they are all laser-focused and don’t get diverted into baby-step, nice to have changes”

Camp B

Whilst the science behind Camp A is completely entrenched in Camp B. Camp B is more pragmatic. They are likely to be more entrepreneurial and potentially take risks. Camp B Growth Marketing can be a nervous position for many traditional brands as they act without all the data. Their pragmatism allows for risks to be taken, either through personal experience, whats happened in their sector or more likely in a different sector.  They will do tests and genuinely see the results, but they also appreciate the data stack is unlikely to be 100% accurate and as a consequence make allowances and accept the unknown.

Camp B are not reckless though. They will have as much of an eye on impact as Camp A. Neither camp of Growth Marketeers take non-success personally. They are part of the fail fast camp, take the risk, review and move on (either to build on success or stop an activity).

With both approaches however, they do look at the entire customer and impact on growing the business. Depending on your understanding of your customer and data, this is generally used for sustained growth as opposed to just gaining the immediate pound and then potentially having to reinvest to acquire a new customer or in theory the same customer again.

To make a Growth Marketing approach work, you will need to consider all of the following (sometimes referred to as pirate metrics):

Awareness

Acquisition

Activation

Revenue

Retention

Recommendation

One could argue, a Performance Marketing approach does consider the four four components, but in practice most performance marketing strategies at best look at steps 2, 3 and 4.

What are the biggest differences between a Growth Marketing led approach and a Performance Marketing led approach?

Remember all of the below are generalisations and most companies behave differently in both approaches to what the text books say, however here are the key differences as I see it

Performance Marketing v Growth Marketing

Main aspects of a Performance Led Vs a Growth Marketing Led approach

So everybody should drop what they are doing and move to growth marketing right?

Well all of the Growth Marketing experts would suggest this is the case, but it isn’t as simple as that.  Some brands would require a massive change both short term and others more long-term and culturally. Many businesses have 1, 3, or even 5 year plans that will be difficult to deviate from. Particularly if outside investment or equity plays for the management team are in play

Even on a slightly less investment based backdrop, to turn a marketing plan on its head and suggest some elements of a marketing budget has no discernible and immediate tracked pay back is uncomfortable. Even some Growth Marketeers would have kittens if you suggested an activity that had little in terms of data to back it up and no data-based evidence to suggest it would work.

Also, in my opinion it isn’t really a choice.  Good performance marketing people are good performance marketing people. They will be able to operate on any metrics you give them, they just need clarity and something that they can measure performance against to make good optimisation decisions.

The key factor for me that separates a performance led business, potentially somebody like The Hut Group and a good growth led business, somebody like boohoo Group, is fundamentally their willingness to take risks, build brands and not be tied rigidly to a plan.  I know people in the Hut Group will be up in arms at that statement and its no reflection on them, they dominate relevant paid search terms and drive strong growth through paid channels.  They will undoubtedly believe they are growth marketing people, however when you look at what we did at boohoo Group in my time there and what they continue to do. They first and foremost consider the customer, beyond that initial purchase. They build robust brands and communications that resonate with their customers. They build loyalty, advocacy and an army of customer based ambassadors that drive repeat purchase and behaviour.

The Data Issues

Whatever your views on Performance Marketing led or Growth Marketing Led, there are always going to be intrinsic data issues. Big Data, Data Scientists, Cloud Based insights, Econometrics, Attribution modelling etc etc can only answer some of the questions with 100% accuracy. Its down to the business to determine what investment it is happy to invest its in data and where it sees value. Its then the intelligence built around that data that matters. Which is a whole different topic.

Add to that the new EU regulations, which according to my sources has seen sites receive a large drop in traffic (most likely recorded traffic) but increase in the other metrics and you have another area of data confidence erosion. Added to the known ones of channel hopping, cookie expiration etc

Each business has to have its own strategy when it comes to data and do what’s right for them. This could in theory effect how it deals with its approaches.

Growth Marketing in action

Going back to really traditional terms. boohoo have built destination brand, where their target customer wants to shop. They have a strategy that ensures customers feel part of the brand pre, during and post purchase to encourage repeat purchase and layer in effective performance marketing, to ensure the brand is seen at the moment when purchase intent is there.

One cannot argue with that as an approach. The offer, matches the marketing and with a crowd-sourced ranging approach, they epitomise Growth Marketing, whether intentionally or not.

For me no matter what you call it, your marketing and business can thrive if you think customer first. Consider who they really are, or who they should be, not who you want them to be. Don’t deviate from that and serve them. Don’t just think about equity return or shareholder value, those things will come, if you build a brand and serve your customer effectively through each touchpoint.

I would really love to hear your views. Drop me a line or feel free to add a comment below.

 


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Help for Senior Marketers Looking for a Job

Job Hunting for Senior ProfessionalsThe economy was a little shaky at the turn of the year, with many traditional retailers hardly setting the world alight. Sadly the global pandemic accelerated a few casualties and highlighted issues in the business models of others.  As a result, there seems to be an unprecedented number of people looking for work, even those at a senior level that business previously turned to, in order to help navigate their way through various crisis.

Sadly, even businesses that haven’t fallen have removed amazingly talented people from senior marketing roles, taking a short-term view over medium and long-term. I set-up a WhatsApp group to help Senior Marketing professionals, either in this position or open to helping others. As a result, I am posting this article in the hope it can offer, help, hope and above all do some good for anybody searching for a role.

I won’t break it down to a top tips but I will break it in to sections. Each person that has contributed will be referenced and I will link to their profiles. After all if you like their wisdom or input, why not connect?

The sections I will break this in to are:

The hunt

The application

How to get noticed

The interview

Tackling bad news

Celebrating success

The hunt

Remember job hunting is not one way. If you have reached a senior marketing position, there is a good chance you have achieved over your career and delivered results. Very few people get so lucky that they reach the top.  Sometimes it can feel helpless. Sometimes the panic sets in and you want to be seen by as many people as possible and the temptation is there to up frequency and forget about quality. Don’t.

As Chris McPartlin says “be choosy”.  Chris highlights potential issues with your CV being on every platform, particularly the content aggregators. “Don’t take the shotgun approach when releasing your CV over the net. Retain some control”

“Remember, you’re C-level or a director. The more your CV pops up and the longer its available on the web, you will be perceived as an actively searching person. You will get noticed by the wrong people. Questions may also be raised, as your CV would have been out there for a long time”

Probably the most important thing to consider at the start of the hunt is what do you definitely want from your next role. What don’t you want. What are your compromise areas? Sometimes money is not the most important thing. You might need a better work/life balance, you may need a challenge or you may want to work in a sector that you are passionate about. Just be clear, this is really important for yourself, but also for any would-be recruiter.

As Rachael Pettit adds “Speak with your contacts and let them know you’re looking, it’s surprising how many senior roles are not posted on traditional job sites, rather word of mouth recommendations. I’ve also found that talking to contacts, be it founders, ex-colleagues, mentors has really helped to sharpen what is the right opportunity for me”

Andy Turba believes organisation is paramount “Create a daily schedule. Juggling randomly between job search, talking to connections on LinkedIn or answering emails will eventually go against you and your productivity will go down. Try to write down your schedule the night before. This will leave you with time to concentrate on specific tasks. Making you more efficient and stop your mind wandering from place to place or task to task”

So the message is clear, take control of the process and make it a job in its own right.

The application

Where applicable, the application can be one of the most significant stages. It could be what separates you from shortlist to scrap paper bin.  When applying for a role and written content is requested, make sure you understand the role, you understand the spec and you understand how your experience fits. All sounds obvious, but recruiters have to sift through tons of applicants. Look at LinkedIn jobs at the moment. Jobs get posted and within a couple of hours, hundreds of applications.

Nicola Vidal expands on this with the following 5 step approach

1 Read the spec thoroughly and highlight the skills you match

2 Take your time. Prepare a draft letter. But genuinely tailor it. Better to apply with 5 well crafted applications than 10 rushed ones

3 Use a friendly tone. Be professional but sell yourself. Buzz words are needed if they are relevant

4 Be concise and relevant.The application should cover off what is required. No literary prizes will be won

5 Speak their language. Tailor the application specifically to the job spec

How to Get Noticed

As most senior professionals will tell you, the power of your network is really important. This is not only true when you are looking for a role but also when you have landed one.  Network with people but in the right way. Simply being a LinkedIn connection isn’t networking.  Interact and offer some value to your network, otherwise, what is their motivation for helping somebody that is simply a LinkedIn connection, especially if they could be competitive and in a similar role.

Roger Binks was made redundant at the start of the pandemic and highlights some of the things he has done to get noticed on his LinkedIn profile

“authoring posts to demonstrate my back ground but [importantly] with an edge and writing short papers/articles [for the same reason].  I have taken care to research the right subject, hash tags and people to add to the posts – all designed to maximise reach and audience quality. ”

When I speak to anybody that has successfully found a role or is actively looking, the same advice comes up. Networking is key. Make sure are seen and are either known or become associated with the right things. Be an active member of people’s networks without becoming overly intrusive.

The Interview

Interviews can be tricky at the best of times. With the current restrictions on ‘normal’ working practices, physically meeting for interviews is nigh on impossible. Video calls can often be difficult to judge. Sometimes peoples reactions are difficult to read. Not getting the signals when somebody is about to talk can cause awkward silences or even moments of overtalking.  Add to the fact that technology is not always our friend, so speed and connectivity can cause concerns.  But everybody is aware of this. We can all make allowances. My best advice for interviews from a personal perspective is based on two factors. Be yourself. If the people interviewing you don’t like your personality or there is no rapport, chances are you won’t fit in anyway. Second, always listen.  This is important in normal circumstances but even more so on video calls. Read signs when they are there and empathise with what is being said (if you feel empathy). Remember, you are being interviewed and were probably selected due to your experience or background. There is an interest in you and you have something that the business could use. Otherwise you wouldn’t be there.

The awkward questions

Regular ones include what do you think about our brand? How could we improve our site? What would you change about our marketing?  You do need to know answers to these and you need an understanding of the company. Equally you can’t know everything about them and thats fine. But when tackling these questions, be honest, you need to answer with what you would do. Again, you won’t succeed in the role once you land it if you have to adapt your ideology massively.

Chris McPartlin cements this view “… be yourself. Senior level professionals should demonstrate confidence and self-esteem. You know what you’re talking about and most likely have over a decade of experience under your belt. Act accordingly. It doesn’t mean being disrespectful or acting arrogantly. Show confidence. Show conviction.”

In my opinion you also need to show something above the the technical aspects. Show you can be a leader.

Tackling Bad News

Possibly the most difficult part of a recruitment process. When somebody gives you the bad news that you haven’t been successful, particularly if you have massively invested in a process or its a dream job.  This hurts, you wouldn’t be human if it didn’t

From my personal perspective, remember this isn’t personal. Most people in senior marketing roles will have had experience of turning down candidates that have been good.  It should never be personal.

Always push the person giving you the bad news for a constructive set of feedback. Just saying, “sorry you were great but the other person had more experience” or “we just decided to go with an internal candidate” doesn’t help you.  Ask for positives and negatives from the people you spoke to.  You can learn from the process and often learn more from being declined than the one you land.

Celebrating Success

Whilst the obvious time to celebrate success is when you land that role, remember to do it in the right way. Your network should and probably will wish you luck, but many are out of work at the moment, through no fault of their own. Do it humbly and offer support and encouragement to others in your network.

It is also important to celebrate those small wins along the way. Getting shortlisted. Really smashing that interview. Creating something that genuinely helps you and others.

Please remember that it is important to celebrate success. Landing that job is great, but thats just the start. Make sure you land well. Have a plan and make sure the role is a success.

The End

I do hope some of you found this useful and can apply some of the logic to your own search. We have tried not to include the obvious like be happy or keep your chin up. These are givens.

I would love to know what you think, so please let me know in the comments or by dropping me a line of my LinkedIn.  One thing I have learned, is that it is very rewarding to help others and support them.

Contributors

Please also take the time to look at the people that added comments and experience to this post

Roger Binks

Chris McPartlin

Rachael Pettit

Andy Turba

Nicola Vidal

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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My Top Tips For New Marketeers

Top Tips

Top Tips For New Marketeers

It is after much deliberation and even consulting with colleagues, that I have decided to write a few of my top tips for people starting out in a career in Marketing. Marketing can be quite daunting to outsiders or those about to embark in a career in the discipline, so help is always needed.  I was worried that younger people setting out on their journey might look at something from an old fart like me and think, how is that relevant. But people did say, “your experience is amazing and to have advice from a well respected professional would be valuable” to quote one person.

So here I am, with a feeling of endorsement for the post in hand, I bring you my top tips. If you want text book, intellectual, corporatisms you can quote to show everybody how smart you are, look elsewhere. This is real and personal advice from the heart and just playing to my experience.

Feel free to comment. Add your own. Or even just criticise this, I have a thick skin.

1.Don’t chase money or titles

It can be really tempting to chase a job with a great title or the most money.  That is sometimes the case even later in your career, but its not the best thing.  Your first job is critical, but ever move you make throughout your career should be for a reason. Pick a first job you believe you will be passionate about. Good employers will forgive a lack of experience or naivety for somebody that is passionate about their role and their company.  The next step is one that is critical. I have seen many people early in their career demand more money or a promotion so early on, often before they have really proven themselves. Early on, sacrifice money and titles for the space to learn. If you aren’t developing or improving thats the time to think about a new role either within the company or elsewhere. But as with that first role, pick something that is right for you and plays strategically in to where you want you career to go.

2. When negotiating with third parties never accept the first offer

Salespeople, agencies and pretty much anybody in a commercial role will be trying to maximise the return for their employer and often for themselves. Us Brits aren’t great at negotiating or bartering.  But this is key. Create value for your employer by never accepting the first offer and rarely accepting the second. If you can’t move on price, try to negotiate something extra. Its not cheeky. Its nor insulting, its business.  The place I most learned what is possible was at boohoo, where every penny was counted as if it was our own, and possibly the best (and cheekiest) negotiator I have ever encountered was the then CEO Mahmud Kamani. I would sometimes cringe at his approach and think demands were unbelievable, but it nearly always got results.

3. Don’t compromise yourself

In any situation, never forget who you are. Yes it can be difficult climbing that corporate ladder. You will see people creating fake friendships to help them get on. The corporate laugh is penetrable when the boss makes a laugh. The tell tale brown nosing is visible from a mile off. It might help you, but you need to feel you have earned what you get and on merit. You need to feel comfortable that you have been true to yourself. If you can’t be, maybe the place isn’t right for you.

4. Build your network

As you progress in your career, a network is really important. I don’t just mean loads of connections on LinkedIn, take the time to speak to people, learn and show a willingness to listen.  Your contacts will help you in future career moves, but more importantly a network of relevant people you can trust and know will do a good job, is priceless as you move onwards and upwards in your career.

5. Lose any arrogance

Arrogance and thinking that because you have an amazing degree or some experience, is one of the worse traits. Have confidence in what you know, demonstrate your ability and knowledge but don’t push it further than is necessary, which links in to

6. Always learning

Accept you are never the finished article. I have been doing this for years, across various roles, business and industries.  Even at a Director or CMO level I am still learning. Never refuse opportunities to develop, even if you feel it is outside your immediate discipline always learn. It could be from your colleagues in finance that can shape your commercial acumen. It could be colleagues in the HR department that help you understand have people behave. It could even be as simple as the receptionist who has a different view of the world to you, which helps you have a more rounded perspective.

7. Understand your offer and your customer

The text book definition of marketing, effectively focuses on identifying customer needs and responding to that need with that they want.  So to play true to this, take time to learn about the company and products or services you are marketing. Go above and be the most informed person you can be. Ask the stupid questions, that everybody else won’t ask.  Really live who your customer is, learn what makes them tick and understand what is relevant to them. You can do this without masses of research as long as you understand who they are.

And finally

8. Be results focussed

When I mentioned this to most people, they immediately think about the trackable, e.g. what sales can be achieved or what ROI is acceptable. With any spend quantifiable objectives or targets should be set. But this is equally show you are somebody that can deliver. Find out the pains of your team, your manager or the organisation and see if you can influence solutions to those.  Or simply show a great can-do attitude, rather than being that one that finds a million excuses or reasons why something can’t be done.

There are two types of people. Radiators and drains. Don’t be a drain

If you got this far, well done, thats quite a lot of commitment. I hope you found it useful, interesting or at the very least allowed you to lose some time.  Please let me know what you think and share with anybody you think might benefit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Benjamin Shalom the entrepreneur behind Ultimate Boxxer


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Young Entrepreneurs – Benjamin Shalom

So in the second of my posts acknowledging young entrepreneurs (the first being Social Chain’s Steven Bartlett) I would like to showcase Benjamin Shalom.

Benjamin Shalom the entrepreneur behind Ultimate Boxxer

Benjamin Shalom the entrepreneur behind Ultimate Boxxer

Benjamin first came to my attention a couple of years back, when I was still working in Manchester, but with N Brown. He randomly contacted me on LinkedIn asking for advice.  I met him a couple of times and it was clear  that he clearly has his head screwed on.

Benjamin had toyed with a few career paths, having been in law firms and even setting  up his own fastfood delivery service. He obviously has a passion for  live events and a love for boxing. The two simply collided to create Ultimate Boxxer, which Benjamin set  up and still runs.

Whilst I did offer some early guidance and help (or at least I hope I did), including on the branding and concept, very little input was needed.  Benjamin’s passion, determination and ability to get things done was actually inspiring to me. There were things he didn’t know, but that didn’t matter. He would source the answers and make it happen.  An attribute sadly lacking in many people.

Image result for ultimate boxxer

In the action at Ultimate Boxxer II

Since those early days, Ultimate Boxxer has grown and there are many events planned this year and without doubt in to next. He has secured two broadcasting deals with the current one a large deal with  BT Sports.  All this while creating a compelling format for boxing that T20 did for cricket. Fast action, entertainment, knock outs and a big cash  prizes.

Watch out for Benjamin Shalom and of course make sure you take in some Ultimate Boxxer, the man and the format are winners.

Follow Benjamin Shalom on LinkedIn

Love to hear your comments and views by replying here. If there are any entrepreneurs under 30 you think  I should cover, please let me know.

Eye catching facia on RIPNDIP pop-up


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The Future of the High Street

There is much debate over the demise of the High Street, with the Internet seemingly  being single handedly being responsible for the demise. In this piece I will explore whether this is the case and what we can do to try and make retail an art, like it used to  be.

Tescopoly

It was over a decade ago when Andrew Simms released his then controversial business book Tescopoly. The author told the story about how supermarkets bought up land on the edge of towns and in subarban areas and essentially stockpiled them. They then moved to  buying units in town.  Whilst single handidly changing the way people shopped by providing all  the retail services that was once the provision of the local high street. We are talking, butchers, bakers and even key cutters.

Tescopoly shows how retail changed thanks to Supermarkets

The book also explores how Tesco and the other supermarkets used their buying power to “convince” farmers and other producers to supply them and their extensive supply chains as opposed to smaller more local purveyors.

Whilst the book goes deeper, including profiting from poverty, it does show how supermarkets created waves of ghost towns or even worse as Simms states it Clone  Towns.

But why is this relevant? Well the demise of the high street and the local retailer was on its way long before the internet, seemingly took charge. In fact, a lot of the retailers that are claiming they are being hit by the internet are the exact same retailers that rose with the advent of clone towns. The same shops appearing on every high street, with no regionalisation to reflect the local area.

So it could be argued, that actually the current wave of retail issues is purely cyclical and the internet has just been the vehicle to drive the change.

Facing  the music

A while back when I ran a music  website,  I explored why the landscape of music and music consumption had changed. It could be argued a similar pattern emerged in music  with people embracing new hard formats to listen to music and moving on with the times in to eventually sales dropping dramatically and streaming becoming  the new norm.

All of that is true and technology did drive change, largely thanks  to  Apple  in the  early  days and more latterly Spotify and  the like, originally driven by platforms such  as Napster.  However, similar to what was discussed in the previous section, the selling of music went through a similar pattern.

When I was younger  I used to DJ  back in  Bristol and  the West Country, some times venturing to London or Birmingham.  However, this was so long ago, I didn’t have a laptop and software to create and mix playlists for me, I used those black bits of plastic on a turntable.

I used to go to Replay Records in Bristol, under a  subway, right by the old bus station.  It  was close enough to Broadmead shopping centre but far enough away for it to be a  genuine experience.  They had decks in the shop where you could mix and listen to the tunes you had bought.

Image result for ourprice

Ourprice Records the  turning point for indie record shops

As I was in to Hip  Hop this  was my place.  However the city was littered with  local  record shops.  Old  Market had shops that sold rock and more indie music. Park street was home to shops with  dance  music, in short they were everywhere.

Whilst the digital age definitely changed the music  landscape without a shadow  of doubt, it was originally altered by big corporates who took prime spots in shopping centres and provided just enough music  outside the core mainstream,  to make people feel they weren’t missing anything.

First HMV.  Then came Our Price and then Virgin took over Our Price.   The whole music  retail scene was being eaten up. Ring any bells?  These retailers are pretty much no more, with HMV bemoaning their fortunes, due to the internet. However, poor management in their history meant they simply didn’t keep up. Remember though, they  were originally responsible for hundreds of smaller independent record shops closing.

A similar tale  to what is currently happening on the high street.

So before we cry foul that the internet is ruining our high street, lets listen to  the lessons retail have provided us in the past and understand, the potentially cyclical pattern. We also need to recognise that the internet has provided many customer benefits/ Benefits that bricks and mortar retailers have in the main, failed to embrace or have been too slow to adapt.

Another great example is ToysRUs in the UK. Setting up huge out of town toy sheds. At first they won the nations hearts by allowing kids to experience play. As they matured every inch was allocated for selling and the experience for kids was removed, leaving  just big warehouses. They also failed to adapt for the  digital age, allowing Amazon to swallow their share under their noses. ToysRUs went from stealing the toy shop from the high street by being bigger and cheaper, to losing their place, by somebody bigger and  cheaper.

Convenience

Whether we like it or not, as a nation, we are more time poor than ever.  With this in mind, no wonder convenience is a massive factor in helping  shape our shopping habits.   What internet retailers have been great at, is trying to ensure we can not only buy things from their online stores that may not be readily  available from the high street, but larger online retailers have been obsessing over convenience.  Next day delivery. Order tracking. Pick a time slot for delivery. Same day delivery.

Even online retailers that haven’t obsessed over customer service have been effected, proving its not all plain sailing. Look at the different fortunes that somebody like, my former employers, boohoo had over some of its competitors.  When I was at boohoo, we would try to find ways our delivery cut off time could be extended. We would look at ways we could cut the cloth differently with couriers to make it cheaper for our customers.  Whereas if you look at somebody like Maplin who provided quite specialised equipment, but  failed to invest in service, its UX  or an eCommerce application that really added anything to its standing as a multi-channel operator, showing that a digital presence isn’t the be all and end all.

As our lives change and the world moves on, we need convenience. The beauty of the way the internet and online retailing has developed is that it can deliver this. Not just from a delivery aspect but also from a UX perspective. Hours of research and testing is  spent on improving customer journeys on retail websites. Yes some of that is for pure commercial reasons, however it also aids us as customers.

Improved technology means the imagery that is seen on sites and the quality of video has increased astronomically and again,  retailers that don’t adapt to this need for high  quality content, could be the next victims of the retail cycles.

Its all about  science

Whilst there are many experts in customer experience. Jobs  exist now that were even conceived a couple of decades back, a lot is down to the reams of data processed by big machines. Testing  platforms that can optimise on the move. Of course all supplemented by hugely intelligent data scientists and analysts that provide information to marketers and eCommerce professionals alike.

The early and perhaps, still, the best proponents of this are Amazon.  The digital retail goliath grew from selling books online to the huge retailer, broadcaster and hardware company you know today. This all started from neat algorithms that identified trends and helped to improve customer experiences online, but all based on speed and convenience.  As Amazon develops every sector it is unusual for them to spend much on  trying to make sticky content, they are effectively the Google of retail.  All built on strong data driven decisions that  power the entire existence of the organisation.

Going  back to convenience. Amazon realised a long time ago, that providing a great  delivery proposition could engender loyalty.  It worked and Amazon Prime is one of the most successful  subscription services today. Not only do they generally (unless you  live in rural Bedford) provide fast and accurate delivery, they have convinced you to pay upfront for the privilege. Yes they make you pay up front a quite healthy sum for deliveries you may make in the future. Genius. Remember, with all their data modelling,  they would have already worked out the numbers. Yes you  may order smaller and more frequently, but equally you are more likely to make more purchases to ensure you  “get  your money’s worth”

This commercial acumen and understanding of customer behaviour and value is  something that the majority of bricks and mortar retailers would only dream of. They all have the opportunity, but they have preferred not to invest to the level needed in their technology and spent the profits elsewhere.  This has come back to haunt them.

Retail isn’t dead

The simple truth of the matter is, retail isn’t dead. As with the comment of cyclical retail patterns, that  is the current trend. Brands such as Apple and  Nike are throwing up shops in key retail environments. However, rather than just putting up stores with shelves of their boxes, thy have  reimagined  what retail means. They  have looked at  their customer base and  created retail experiences that  will appeal to their  customers. There is that combination of customer and  experience again. The same terminology  that  eCommerce professionals use, but translated to physical retail.

The  successful retailers of today look  at their retail offerings as more than the confines of their four walls. They  also look beyond just the physical products that they  sell in the actual store.  They see their stores as experiential platforms and useful marketing and brand tools.

Basketball activation at Nike, The Grove in LA

Basketball activation at Nike, The Grove in LA

One of my favourite executions of Nike’s retail presence is at The Grove in LA.  The  store has had several experiential areas, that in theory allow the customer to try before they buy, but in all honesty, it provides that element of theatre thats needed. They used to have an immersive basketball simulator that challenged users in their b-ball skills. They  had a football (soccer) court where people could have a kick about and latterly, they have a  running machine  which expertly crafts for an individual to help aid their running.

All providing the theatre but  creating real customer value. Showing for certain that  retail isn’t dead, its just that businesses need to  catch  up.

Pop-ups

The fact that many  digital retailers are clamouring  for  a physical presence is further evidence that retail isn’t dead. The likes of  Amazon, boohoo, RIPNDIP  and adidas  with its launch of NMD in London all created  pop-up retail experiences. Brands like Amazon and Missguided are securing  slightly longer term placements.

Eye catching facia on RIPNDIP pop-up

Eye catching facia on RIPNDIP pop-up

The more successful of the  pop-up shops share a few commonalities. Perhaps the most  common is  creating an installation that will be  talked about and perhaps more importantly provide photo opportunities for content hungry  grammers.   Whether thats  with  a cool frontage, urban interiors or just some  cool  people that provide a crowd with  an interest point, again  something way  beyond the realms of  standard retail.

Government

Above all of this, even if the internet  isn’t damaging retail, or isn’t the complete cause, one thing is for  certain. If we want any  form of retail experience on our high   streets or in our town centres, local and central governments  need  to act.  Something needs  to  be done  to  encourage both shoppers and  retailers back  in to the spaces before  they are filled with  charity  shops or coffee shops.

The end  (is not) nigh

Hopefully this  piece has helped paint  a slightly  different  perspective on the current retail landscape. Its not all down to internet retailers. Retailers just need  to  get good again. Perhaps they key  is  also to stop relying on chains and  help  local shopkeepers get  back  to connecting and selling quality products to  their friends and neighbours.

The crux of  how  retail needs to  shape up, is surely by getting closer to the  customers again. Identifying  the customer wants and needs. Understanding  a customers desires and  what  will  attract somebody to visit your  store. Offer something  different and  dare I say it unique. It doesn’t have to  cost  the earth. Above all, embrace digital and make it a part of the customer experience and buying journey, then the whole retail perspective is modernised

I  would  love to  hear your views. Feel free to comment on this article, even  if you  disagree or perhaps agree,  let me know

 

 

Steve Bartlett Social Chain CEO and founder


1 Comment

Young Entrepreneurs

We all hear about the younger people out there innovating and becoming genuine entrepreneurs. In my recent career I have been lucky enough to meet some of these people.

When I meet somebody who is young(er) and has amazing talent, I try to help and support.  Whilst this may sound altruistic in nature, the truth of it is, I believe we are all always learning. I learn and develop my knowledge and approach by speaking to them.

So I will highlight, on an ad-hoc basis some of these great business people I ave personally come across. The only rules. I have to think they are great and under 30.

First off, and I haven’t asked him, so I hope he doesn’t mind.

Steve Bartlett Social Chain CEO and founder

Steve Bartlett Social Chain CEO and founder

  1. Steven Bartlett (CEO and Founder) Social Chain

I first met Steven when I invited him to come in and speak to me at boohoo. This was off the back of a Youth Marketing contract he spoke at (and I was meant to be speaking at).  The issue that we wanted Social Chain’s help with? Well effectively to help magnify what was already a strong social media presence.

We needed to grow a global audience, but ensure that that audience was fully engaged.

Steven was refreshing in that like other “agencies” he came in with a deck. The difference though was he was reacting to the conversation, rather than just slavlishly going through the deck. He was pulling insight from tools, showing examples and coming up with ideas on the fly.

This was different and exactly how we ran at boohoo. A good plan, but always able to move as things change, a real agile way of working.

We gave Steven and Social Chain a trial, which was hard to explain, given we were already one of the most engaged social brands in the UK. But his passion was infectious and his ideas were new.

Needless to say, the proof was definitely in the pudding and Steven along with his Social Chain team fully delivered to expectations.

I also took Social Chain to my role at N Brown where the backdrop was completely different. We were operating in a smaller sector with an unknown brand in the US. With a tiny 15-20k Instagram followers for SimplyBe and nobody engaging, we had an issue.

Using different techniques and really working with me and my team, we came up with  strategy and series of activities that led to us driving 100k Instagram followers for SimlyBe in the US in around 6-8 months. Overtaking the UK account.

Social Chain Environment

Social Chain Environment

Now, you could argue the Social Chain team are the ones doing all of the work. To be fair, Steven is one of the nicest and most humble professionals I have ever met and he would probably say the same. But his team and his business operate in his mould. They are hard working. The are passionate about what they do. They are all hungry for results. But they all act in a professional yet down to earth and friendly way.

Looking around their Manchester office, where it all started, albeit in a much smaller way.  Steven’s personality and vision plays a central role. From the huge slide dominating the main office, to the working/sleeping pods, this is no normal place to work.

If you need to get to grips with your social media and aren’t afraid to try new things, get hold of Steven, I promise you will not regret it.

Sorry Steven, I should have asked first, but I didn’t.

Oh and one final thing, he likes a nice hat