I have always been a little different, and for the most part (but for a few instances that will not be mentioned here), it has served me well. It has opened doors and attracted interesting people into my life—some of whom developed into lasting friendships.
I believe business, especially retail, is very much the same. Businesses need to attract people and cultivate those lasting relationships. Getting people to notice us in this cluttered media market is increasingly difficult. This is where being different comes in handy. It helps us stand out from the crowd.
Consultants call this a “differentiation strategy;” I call it common sense. If you are offering the same products or services that everyone else is offering, you are only left to cut margin and compete on price (consultants call this a “pricing strategy”).
It does not take a consultant to know without massive scale this is not a very sustainable strategy. This is why I believe so deeply in celebrating being different.
One of the lessons we learned from our licensing partner Eddie Bauer is to put the bold, colorful, high-tech, high-performance products at the front of the store. This catches attention and draws people in. Many of our customers have found success driving traffic with a similar approach: placing contrasting modern furnishings, elaborate statement pieces and/or strong pops of color in their most visible areas.
So, put some surprising product—the bold colors and the fashion-forward designs—to the front of the store, to the display windows, to the catalog covers, to the social media posts, to the email communications . . . wherever customers are looking. Let’s attract some positive attention and drive meaningful traffic.
Now that we have their attention, how do we make customers love us? What has worked for me is a genuine interest in helping them find what they want (not what we want to sell them).
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