The customer centric grocery store

As I begin to write this I am standing in an enormous lineup at a Sobey’s grocery store in Parry Sound, Ontario. Parry Sound is a small town of 6500 about three hours north of Toronto. This line is composed largely of cottagers stocking up for the long weekend.

I’ve been thinking a lot about customer centricity lately and this store is giving a great example.

The line is so long I almost packed it in and left; but, like everyone else here, I have little choice but to suck it up and wait. I saw pretty quickly, though, that this store knew it’s customers. They knew that on the Friday of a long weekend their store would be flooded by vacationers and that they would be faced with a lot of grumpy customers if they couldn’t handle the rush.

How do you manage an onslaught of customers when you can’t set up extra tills? Here’s what they did:

Instead of having us pick a register and line up, we all got into one, long line stretching the length of the store. One of their employees took on the role of traffic director. As we got to the front of the big line, he directed us to smaller lines at one of the registers, always watching for line hoppers who may spark a riot. While waiting in line another employee came by and handed out free water bottles. I was that thirsty, but I was wowed by the extra effort and gladly accepted it. How could I get angry when they were so clearly going the extra mile?

And everyone was REALLY friendly. The traffic director, the water girl and even the cashier, who was smiling and joking with us all as she rang us in.

My hat goes off to the manager of this store. He clearly knows his customers and takes it upon himself to adjust his normal business practices according to their changing needs. He gets customer centricity.

In fact, I got through the line so quickly I had to finish this post at the cottage.

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Book review: Digital Impact, The Two Secrets of Online Marketing Success

Finished! That’s book number one down in my 12-month challenge. I really enjoyed Digital Impact. I was a little worried when I saw the cover – a little too 1980s sci-fi, but inside was true gold. My biggest takeaway is still the subject of my last post, the assertion that fishing (attraction) is a more important strategy for today’s marketer than hunting (targeting). Beyond that, though, the book is really well structured and easy to read.

The two secrets are implementing good performance metrics and spending the time to create really compelling content (Magnetic Content). Those might not seem earth-shattering, but Mayar and Ramsey do a great job of breaking their ideas down into digestible, actionable chunks with solid examples.

For example, they propose a total of seven metrics and group them into exposure metrics (is your content getting noticed?), strategic metrics (is your content moving the needle on your goals), and financial metrics (is your content making you any money?). Through subsequent chapters they they explore six key digital channels and recommend the best metrics from each category for each channel. It’s simple and easily implemented. By easy, I mean understandable. They make it clear that doing it right takes time and money, but I feel confident I can take these channels on with a little trial and error.

Those looking for the quick and simple DIY model of digital marketing may be disappointed. Their approach, done right, is not something you could implement overnight. But, if you are looking for an easy to read, practical book that can apply to any business, Digital Impact is the one you want. It covers all the big channels, how to create great content for each and how to measure the impact of what you create.

So, that’s one book down and 11 to go. Up next: Six Pixels of Separation, by Mitch Joel. A long over due read.

Marketers need worms, not bullets

As I make my way through Digital Impact, by Vipin Mayar and Geoff Ramsey – as part of my journey through 12 marketing books in 12 month – one of the first concepts that struck me was the need to be a fisher not a hunter as a marketer today.

Hunting, they assert, involves “tracking and targeting your prey (the consumer) and then shooting them with your ammo (ad messaging).” Fishing, on the other hand is all about attracting the consumer with the right bait. That bait, of course, is the content you put out through various channels. The better your bait, the better your catch.

Any fisher (the real kind, not the metaphorical) will also tell you fishing also requires patience. You need to continue to put out quality content until it lures the fish.

Fishing alone won’t feed most companies, though. Mayar and Ramsey point out later in the book that the best content undiscovered will not bring in customers. So, you have be a bit of a hunter, too; to target your prey with ad messaging to let them know where your bait can be found.

So, what are your weekend plans? Hunting, fishing, or sitting on the dock with a beer?

A marketing book a month; what’s your recommendation?

So, I have decided to make the onset of summer a time to embark upon a 12-month journey towards becoming a better marketer. My chosen method of learning: books. More specifically, I plan to read a marketing/business book a month for the next 12 months and see what I can glean and apply from each, and share some of my thoughts on each here, spurred on by the fact that the list of titles on my wish list is growing and I never seem to have time to read them.

I now a book isn’t exactly a strange place to look for ideas, but it’s important not to overlook the obvious. And I know a book a month isn’t a huge accomplishment, but I’ve never been a speed reader – I like to take my time and float through a book – and I have to allow for the usual interruptions.

The first book on my list is Digital Impact: The Two Secrets to Online Marketing Success, by Vipin Mayar and Geoff Ramsey. Why this one? A few reasons, actually. I heard a great interview with Geoff Ramsey by Mitch Joel on Six Pixels of Separation; my company is going through a rebranding and we will be remaking our online presence; and I like that there are only two secrets. Two’s not too big. I can manage two.

I have a list of a half-dozen others that will be on my list over the course of the next 12 months; Six Pixels of Separation; Trust Agents; Flip the Funnel (I know it’s sad how many of these I haven’t read). I’m open to suggestions, too, so please post yours in the comments section.

I’d also really like to hear what you think about the books I’m reading and posting about. Maybe we can get a little MBA-type banter going and all learn a little something beyond what’s found in the pages of the books.

So, here goes. I’ll be back soon with some thoughts on Digital Impact as I make my way through it.