My Top 5 Similarities between Retail + Casino floors

I confess that I love walking retail and casino floors.

I confess that I love walking retail and casino floors.

Many of you already know this about me, but for others I confess that I love walking retail and casino floors. I spent a number of years in the gaming industry and most of my career in the retail industry.  Retail stores and gaming floors are alike, in my opinion.  There are a number of comparisons.  Both floors are strategically designed to allow consumers to see what’s new; experience the merchandising strategy and layout; signage and overall promotions. There are also similarities when it comes to marketing and promotions to drive in-store/in-casino traffic.  (I’ll address that concept in a different blog).  When strategically developing retail store or casino floors some of the same objectives, objections, ideas, and tactics hold true. 

 Yes. Really. 

 Here’s my top 5 similarities that I believe exist between store and casino floors.  

 #1 Shopping.  When we go shopping we always have to walk through the floor/aisles to get to the good stuff.  Floor lay-out is important in attracting the shopper or player to walk through areas that normally they wouldn’t.  Meanwhile along that walk there are a lot of bells and whistles to attract you to spend more money than intended.  The most sought after products and/or games are always worth the walk. 

 #2 Destinations. Destination is defined as “being a place that people will make a special trip to visit”.  It’s an easy explanation and it definitely fits the bill for both retail stores and casinos. 

 #3 Merchandising.  Merchandising is evident when you walk down any shopping or casino aisle with promotions pulling us like magnets to buy or play; whether, it’s a slot machine randomly screaming out; or, a great display that catches our eye drawing us in to check it out. 

 #4 Rewards.  Creating loyalty rewards programs recognizing and quite frankly identifying your best customers is important.  Casinos have always led this phenomenon with identifying and developing programs for their best customers “high rollers” and now giving access to gamers at all levels with some type of rewards play card.  Both casinos and retailers have robust loyalty reward plans because they are “must programs” for these high transaction types of businesses.

 #5 Entertainment.  Shopping is fun for many as well as a necessity; and, gaming is considered by many a fun past time.  Some casinos are even investing in targeting families to visit.

 So, in my opinion as a retail and gaming nerd there are more similarities than differences when walking the floors; and, each could learn from the other. 

 So next time you’re walking a retail or casino floor see if your experience can relate to the similarities I shared. And, oh yeah I can never pass up a Wheel of Fortune slot machine screaming out to me.  So, the promotions work even for a nerd like me!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications.

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn her

Isn’t Civil Rights, Human Rights?

My father circa 1960s.

My father circa 1960s.

I rarely use this space to voice political issues but I feel compelled to on the topic of Civil Rights; especially, on this last day of Black History Month. Black leaders and Black History Month are synonymous with Civil Rights as they should but certainly Civil Rights shouldn’t be relegated to the month of February. Or, exclusively to the fight of Black leaders.

Civil Rights and the continued struggle for equality for ALL people is an everyday occurrence. Yet, it never seems more evident than in February that we are overwhelmed with teaching moments for our “tween” daughter. It’s exhausting to explain away why she as a brown skinned little girl has to carry the mantle in being “honored” (singled out because of the color of her skin) to be lined up with the other African-American children in a class to read a poem in recognition of Black History Month.

Honoring Civil Rights Leaders is an honor for all of us regardless of our skin color even during Black History month.  

 The poem should be a privilege for all to read. 

 Many of us are a product of institutional biases. We don’t even know that we carry these prejudices forward and exhibit it daily with what we say and do. We all do it but we have to recognize this and just stop. 

All of us should carry this struggle of creating a country that is based on the reality that there is equality regardless of fill in the blank. 

 Isn’t Civil Rights, Human Rights?  My answer is yes. What’s yours?

  

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications.

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

What took so long to revive, Toys ‘R’ Us?

(Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

(Credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

I don’t know about you but I’m thrilled that former executives from the now defunct Toys ‘R’ Us are staging a come-back.  My only question is what took so long? 

Take as recent as this past weekend, I was on a mission to find a Disney Princess Tiana dress XL (that a tween could squeeze into), long white gloves, and a Princess Tiana crown. And, yes Princess Tiana has her own crown.

It was a time crunch (as always).  I needed it by Monday.

All of these stores that have been vying for the “toy” business; and, every article I have read since the closing of Toys ‘R’ Us brags that the big guys Walmart, Amazon, etc. are slurping up the market share.  Well, I looked on AMAZON Prime $199 for a small adult dress – not happening.  Went to two different area Walmart stores to look for long white gloves and any crown at that point.  Neither store had them because I asked.  A sales associate informed me that they carry more of that type of merchandise around Halloween.  Okay, I get it.  It’s not Halloween.

I went to six different retail stores.

Couldn’t find any of the real stuff that I wanted except JC Penney’s had an entire merchandising area for Disney Princesses.  Exactly what I was looking for … just for toddlers.

The closest for my tween was the combination of Party City and Target.

I had to go from store to store and piece it all together which was beyond exhausting.  I complained loudly to my husband that this wouldn’t be a problem if Toys ‘R’ Us was still around.  What happened to it anyway?  That was a rhetorical question only.  Okay, I know the answer. 

So, I was thrilled when I read Toys R Us plots 2nd act with new look, new name.  Bring it on Richard Barry!  Here were some of my favorite things about Toys ‘R’ Us, it was always:

  • Halloween

  • Christmas

  • Birthdays

It wasn’t a seasonal toy store.  You could find any kind of toy and accessory regardless of the season (I mean maybe not a water sprinkler or baby pool) but you know what I’m talking about…

We love the brand, we love the company and I love the toy industry,” said Barry, CEO of Tru Kids Brands, a company formed earlier this year that owns the trademarks, brand and other assets of Toys R Us and sister store Babies R Us.

— Sarah Min, 2/12/2019, MoneyWatch

There is a void that Toys ‘R’ Us left in the marketplace that can’t be completely filled by the giant retail leaders or independent toy stores year-round.  I’m sure that I’m not the only one experiencing it; and, that’s why it makes perfect sense to me that Tru Kids Brands revival of Toys ‘R’ Us is already a winner.

So, while the name will be different it appears that it will be run by those who loved and respected the Toys ‘R’ Us brand.  When the Toys ‘R’ Us specialty retailer closed its founder Charles Lazerus died within days.  Toyrs 'R' Us founder Charles P. Lazerus dies after the chain says it's closing.  While I didn’t know Mr. Lazerus, I bet he’s asking the same question.  What took so long?

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications.

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 


Jump In!

You have to take that leap of faith. Jump all in!

You have to take that leap of faith. Jump all in!

Most of our lives (both personal and professional) we are always waiting for the right time. 

Whether it is waiting for the right time to get married; or, the right time to change jobs; or, you can fill in the blank for the right time you have waited for in your life. 

When is it the right time to follow your dream?  When is the right time to leave the corporate job or the 9 to 5 and to jump all in?  I was recently asked that question. When did you know it was the right time to leave your job and start your own business?

 There is never (in my opinion) a perfect time. And, if you wait for one your opportunity will pass. 

You have to take that leap of faith. Jump all in!  You have to believe not to at least try would end up being one of your life’s biggest regrets. That thought was a motivator for me to jump all in. You have to try and if for some reason it doesn’t work out then you at least tried. There is a Japanese proverb that goes something like “fall seven times and stand up eight”. Yep, that sums it all up. 

 There is a difference (in my perspective) between waiting for the right time and timing. The right time never comes but timing comes based on a will of circumstances whether you are ready or not; and, you usually aren’t!  You did nothing to set it up. It was not planned. Something happens. The window of opportunity opens and you either jump in or not. 

I jumped.

I took the leap of faith like so many other entrepreneurs before me; and, I certainly was not ready but I was not willing to regret letting the timing of my circumstances pass me by. 

  •  It’s hard work. 

  •  It never ends. 

  •  I own it.  Yes, it’s mine.😊

  •  I love it.  

 If owning a business is one of your dreams. 

 Don’t wait for the right time. It may never come…

Be able to recognize what you will miss, what you will regret if you don’t do it. If timing opens up a chance and you are not ready - which most likely you will not be - 

Follow your dream. 

 Jump in!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications.

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

PRIME©… and I’m not talking Amazon…

In this digital world, direct mail still matters.  You might disagree but it is always nice to receive a piece of mail that is not a bill; and, in so many ways our daily USPS box probably is not as cluttered (and overwhelming) as our inbox.  A recent LifeWire article post shows that the average business person receives 121 emails a day which is a lot of emails to filter.

Regardless of what format the message is sent, we have conditioned ourselves to quickly scan what to keep and what to trash.   Many of us have it down to a science.  Whether it is a circular received in the mailbox or an email message. When it comes to deciding what to spend our time on opening whether it is with a click or a tear it has to be relevant!  We make decisions on what to read in seconds to decide if it is worth our time and effort. Research shows that consumers have on average an 8 second attention span.  Hard to believe but it’s really true.  Microsoft did a study that showed that goldfish have a longer attention span than humans.  They beat us by one second!

While many question the results of that study; and, many articles and blogs have been written to debunk the research we all have to agree that the premise has validity.  In this day in age there is something to be said about the barrage of content, messages and advertising that we are bombarded with on a daily basis.  An integrated marketing approach is always best in reaching our target audience whether it is digital or direct, here are some fundamental questions to ask to yield the highest ROI in marketing regardless of the format.  I created a formula called PRIME© and I’m not talking Amazon. Each component of PRIME© needs to work together to optimize the success of the marketing message.

 Personal – Does the person receiving the messaging feel that it is personally meant for him/her?

 Relevant – Is it important enough for them to spend time reading/watching it?

 Informal – Is it easy enough for them to quickly assess the offer and what they need to do?

 Measurable – What are you doing to track the usage/engagement?

 Employ – What tactics are you using to follow-up when the inaction and/or action is complete?

We received the below direct mail piece at our house before Thanksgiving.  Here are PRIME© check points for thoughts to consider using this card as an example.

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 It is:

PERSONAL.  We had recently shopped there and they thanked us for being a customer; and, it tied into the Thanksgiving season since it came early November. 

RELEVANT.  Although, we would have rather received a coupon during the spring time when we have a lot of home and lawn projects; but, understandably many consumers are getting their home ready to host the Thanksgiving holiday.  So, it passes the relevancy caveat.

 INFORMAL.  We could quickly scan and get the gist of the offer and what we needed to do. 

 MEASURABLE.  They included a $10 coupon. We either use it or not. 

 Not ENGAGING.  It would have been great to receive at least two emails from this company:  1). Letting me know that I should have received a card; 2). Reminding me about the coupon expiration date. 


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So, whether you decide to go digital, direct or both consider using the PRIME© model to see if your messaging hits the mark.

  

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. An expert in the field, Sonya has been published in numerous retail industry b-to-b publications.

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

What’s your New Year’s resolution?

The beginning of the year always starts the annual trade show schedule.   If you are anything like me, while you have the shows on your calendar they always seem to sneak up; and, are here before you know it. To keep with my New Year’s resolution to do more up-front planning and to be as prepared as possible I put together my list of the top things to do when working trade shows and broke it down before, during and after the event. 

 

 Before the trade show

  • Do your homework, yes that means make the time to spend on the trade show’s website to help you prepare to optimize your time out of the office.  This will help you stretch your travel and investment dollars to get the most out of your bucks. Simply put, have a purpose.

  • Develop and write 1-2 goals you want to achieve and make it specific (i.e. meet the VP of Sales from XYZ Company; get an understanding of who’s making the decisions at a newly re-structured company). 

  •  Set up relevant meetings before-hand specifically with companies on the fence or that you have spoken with for a while and there is no movement forward. Don’t wait until you get to the trade show. 

  • If the trade show is held in a prospect or customer HQ city, make an appointment to stop by their office and visit (after the show) but plan for it during you pre-show preparation.

 During the trade show 

  •  Are you walking the show floor?  The same logic kicks in. Map out your route. Make the floor work in your favor. This will help you see the most amount of companies possible in a limited amount of time. 

  •  Don’t get sidetracked. It’s easy to run into an old co-worker or a partner. Spend some time to get caught up but don’t get sidetracked because time flies by fast; and, the next thing you know you are behind schedule and there is no making up time at a trade show; so, make sure you allow time for these impromptu catch-ups. 

  •  Block out time on your calendar to talk to people you don’t know because you never know where a conversation can lead. Also, when attending large trade events that means there is opportunity to meet people in the elevators or taxi lines. You get my point. Don’t be shy strike up a conversation. 

  •  Always break bread with a customer or prospect. Be sure to have every meal hour full with appointments; and that means a drink before dinner. Spending uninterrupted time with a prospect or customer is a great way to REALLY get to know them.

 After the trade show 

 Believe it or not, all leads generated at trade shows do not get follow-up post show for various reasons.  Some of those reasons are valid.  Just by following up on your leads you will outpace your competition.  Here are some specific ideas. 

  • Quick email asking for a brief follow-up call. 

  • Connect with them on Social Media that means an invitation to LinkedIn, following them on Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, etc.

  • Did you promise to send someone a bit of information or to make an e-introduction? Then do it!

  • But, most importantly when you get back in the office do all of your follow-up or time will slip by and you will be too embarrassed to follow-up. I learned that lesson the hard way. 

Good luck on your preparation for each show; enjoy the time at the trade event and make sure you get the most out of it.  Happy New Year!

 Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.


 

 

 

10 Business Lessons Learned in 2018

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As a small business owner operating in an industry surrounded by large companies, I have learned so many lessons as I boldly dare to compete. Here are my top 10 business lessons learned in 2018. 

 1.  Quantify everything!

  •  If it can’t be quantifiable it better darn sure be anecdotal!

  •  If it’s neither quantifiable nor anecdotal - dump it!

 2.  Don’t expect reciprocity - it rarely happens!

  •  If companies or people do not deliver the first time they will not deliver the second time. Stop expecting it and let them go. 

 3.  People say all kinds of things because they don’t know what to say...listen, correct what you can then move on!

 4.  Be willing to have tough conversations filled with honesty and frankness while being sensitive. 

 5.  Always have multiple plans. 

 6.  Results supersede everything (no excuses, no explanations). The bottom line is do not believe the hype especially when it is not backed up with numbers. 

 7.  Stretch by trying different things and communicate with people you don’t know. 

 8.  Always be willing to learn something new.  Never ever walk away without something new from a conference, article, or conversation. 

 9.  Keep at it!  Do not get discouraged or if we do let that feed our will to continue. In most cases, it does work out!

 10. Take time to have fun, relax and restore our energy. We can’t power through if we are running on a deficit. 

 There were many more lessons learned but the above are truly my top 10. I felt that they needed to be written down as a quick reference to remind me of the things I should be doing as I boldly move into 2019. Happy New Year!  


Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and the Founder of the eRetailer Summit and JC Event Group. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

What's on your list? Here’s my top 10…

Since Thanksgiving just happened last week many of my business conversations have begun with how was your Thanksgiving?”  I bet yours have too. Recently, when that question was asked there was a pause; and, I believe it was because the person had to think about it. 

As everyone that lives on our planet knows, Thanksgiving is kick-off for the height of selling season for retail in preparation for Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and all of the days counting down to the gift giving day of Christmas.  So, no wonder a retail professional struggles to remember Thanksgiving a week ago because in retail time it was light years in the past; and, now the laser focus is on THE holiday sales. 

In the spirit of ushering in a season that means so much to the retail industry. I am pausing for all of us during this busy season to give thanks. 

Here is what is on my list of the top 10 items to be grateful for that many of us can relate to during this very busy, undeniably stressful and beautiful season:

 1.  The excitement of every child. 

 2.  Finding deals for the items on our shopping list. 

 3.  Selecting the BEST Christmas tree. 

 4.  Decorating our homes. 

 5.  Going OFF the diet until after the Holidays. 

 6.  Catching ourselves humming a Christmas song. 

 7.  Recognizing those in need. 

 8.  Giving. 

 9.  Feeling the joy of the season. 

 10.  Just Gratitude. 

 The focus on Holiday retail sales and Holiday busyness will be over soon. So, when asked how was your Holiday?  I plan on pausing and giving a silent thanks of gratitude. Happy Holidays!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

It’s Kick-Off Time!

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It’s kick-off time and I’m not talking about Thursday night football. Today, starts the 3rd annual Home Improvement eRetailer Summit conference sessions

The Summit is based on gaining intelligence and insights that are relevant to retail, eCommerce and home improvement. It helps manufacturers, distributors, brick & mortar and online retailers learn more about and leverage the growth opportunities in home improvement online sales. Primarily, because so many other product categories are more eCommerce mature than the home improvement product category; which, includes a long list of sub-categories. These categories include hardware & tools, lawn & garden, outdoor living, home decor & paint, home environment, housewares, home security, storage & organization and more. The Summit creates a focused environment for industry professionals to come network, learn and meet with potential partners with one-to-one facilitated appointments.

Its launch in 2016 gathered 20 people to a south Florida resort; and, started with a different format than exist today and the goal will always be to evolve based on customer feedback just as we began. And, while this year we have grown to more than 70 attendees, it still maintains its core values which include:

Collaborative by actively leaning on its advisory council which represents retail, eCommerce and home improvement influencers in the trenches every single day. View the advisory council.

Intimate because it’s invitation only and attendees are vetted and pre-qualified before extending an official invitation.

Insightful in attracting top A-list speakers in sharing their experiences, data and perspectives on retail and eCommerce; specifically, as it relates to home improvement. View the agenda.

Focused on home improvement online sales with gathering the right connections, delivering the right content and offering appointments with the right partners. View guest eRetailers.

Whether you are attending or not, you can still kick-off your day by joining a much-needed conversation for home improvement online retail sales. Please follow us on Twitter @eretailersummit and our LinkedIn Showcase Page and please use #eretailersummit18 to share your insights and join the conversation.

And, by the way, consider scheduling the Summit on your calendar and include it in your events budget for 2019. It will be back in Chicago, Nov. 6-8! Cheers to a great 2018 Summit!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

What's your follow up like?

A reminder to myself to follow up, be persistent but don’t be a pest!

A reminder to myself to follow up, be persistent but don’t be a pest!

Regardless of the type of business we’re in research shows that the most successful people are those that consistently follow up. We can’t get the sale if we don’t follow up. We can’t build a relationship if we don’t follow up. To be able to follow-up successfully is clearly a skill and a characteristic that screams that you are different. Whether you are an attentive waitress or advertising executive, it is all about the follow up. Let’s face it, most people just don’t consistently follow up.

 What’s your follow up like?

When I truthfully answer this question, I know I have some work to do here. It’s not because I don’t follow up but because I am one of “those people” that will continually follow up. For an example, if there is a “did not respond” until I hear no I am going to try and connect with you in various ways. Some people appreciate the persistence and I think it makes them that more interested in finally connecting. But, in most cases, I have to admit that the level of tenacity I bring to follow up isn’t always balanced; and, sometimes the scale can tip and prospects might (probably) think I’m a pest.

Every time I start thinking I’m a pest, I read research like this one from Dartnell Corp about following up on sales prospects. It’s obvious the most people eventually give up but these numbers are staggering. Here they are:

  •  48 % give up on the first contact

  •  73 % give up on the second contact

  •  84 % give up on the third contact

  •  90% give up on the fourth contact

The premise of the study was based on the fact that persistence pays off; which, of course makes perfect sense - that is intellectually it makes sense. But, when you are facing rejection after rejection it becomes an emotional response to give up.

What statistical group do you fall-in?

If it’s a lower one don’t feel bad. You can make it a point to develop stronger follow-up skills now. If you’re in the higher group, congratulations! You’re one of the 10% of salespeople that generate 80% of sales. It takes a disciplined person to follow up while continually hearing no. You see the end game and know the process is long. It’s very clear, in most cases, the longer we continue to have meaningful follow-up with a prospect the greater opportunity to win a client. (The client sees that you care and that you’re not going anywhere). It can be daunting but in the end the result is worth celebrating. If it were easy everyone would do it, right?

But it’s not. It is well documented that it takes between 11-14 touches before someone buys. And, I can vouch for that in my business too. Some might say that sounds high. But to me, it sounds right on point because you’re including multiple layers of touches including e-mail, social media, phone, and/or face to face meetings.

It’s hard to make that many connections and to not be a pest. There will be definite times when the client might not appreciate the bugging. It’s hard to do but we need to back off. (Or at least I do). But, I’m willing to admit that my follow-up needs more balance; and, I plan to work on it. What about you?

 Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are customers mouthing-off about your brand?

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My sister recently visited a church that was new for her.  She was so thrilled by their warm welcome and swag bag full of goodies that she couldn’t wait to call and share her experience. The gifts included a bible, coffee cup, sunglasses (this happened in the summer) and a prayer wristband.  Nothing different, nothing novel but it made my sister feel good about them because they went the extra yard; and, thanked her for deciding to spend her Sunday morning with them.  Remember even churches compete for attendees (members). 

Isn’t that the end game for every brand?  A customer’s experience should be so good that they share it with everyone else. When a brand has delivered a positive experience word of mouth is the best marketing ever! It elevates that brand above its competitor.  

An excerpt from Forbes Senior Contributor Kimberly A. Whistler (Jul 17, 2014, 8:48 pm Why Word Of Mouth Marketing Is The Most Important Social Media) looks at the following facts:

  “According to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. “. 

Okay that says it all. What gets 92% endorsement?  Nothing these days. Those are really high numbers but let’s face it we believe people that we love and trust. So, when a family member or friend relays their positive interaction with the brand; we decide we want that experience too. In addition, the same article goes on to say:

In a recent study, 64% of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing. However, only 6% say they have mastered it.”  

So, based on those numbers there is tremendous opportunity in leveraging our customers experience to the point that they share it with others.  But, how?  Here are some of my personal favorites combining contemporary with old-school tactics. 

Technology:  Take advantage of social media platforms and technology formats.  For example, send a thank you note after your customer’s experience with a social media link asking them to share their positive experience with your brand. Take time to encourage customers to post a video and write reviews on popular sites that customers use as references.

Give-Aways:  Premiums are always long lasting opportunities to get your name out into the marketplace. And, customers always love multiple gifts that are functional and packed in a bag. Just make sure that we select gifts that are relevant and deemed valuable to our customers. 

Personal Touch:  Personal attention always works especially if you’re in the service business.  A follow-up call WOWS the customers. It shows that you took the time to reach out to them.

Research:  Traditional Surveys can be an inexpensive way to understand “word of mouth” through data. The net promoter score is a great way to gauge specific feedback – would you recommend this brand/product/experience to a friend/colleague?   Data helps us gain insights from our customers; so, we can tweak their journey with our brand. This is especially true if it wasn’t a good experience.  

Some of the above tactics are expensive; some of them aren’t but it’s very important to figure out what works best with our target customers.  To know that there is so much opportunity to increase our word of mouth marketing versus paying for advertising is encouraging; and, let’s face it, we all need customers positively mouthing-off about our brands!

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 



 

5 Reasons: Why Big Isn't Always Better…

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My nephew is a senior in high school (that’s him #44) and happens to be a darn good football player. He has a number of colleges scouting his talent to play at their school. While it might appear to him that the Division I schools are the best because of their sheer size and their investments in their sports program; he was encouraged (by his parents) to look at smaller Division III schools because they might better fit his needs.   

Why do we always think bigger is best?  In some cases that is true but not in all instances; and, we need to evaluate each situation on its own merit taking into account our needs and goals.

Recently I pitched a speaking role to a company. Based on all conversations they liked what was being presented — the topic, the target, the end goal EXCEPT the audience wasn’t big enough.  

They like to go BIG… 

Believe me, I get that but not when all the other marks have been hit.  So, whether it is a decision to attend a school, speak at an event or to accept a position at a company, consider that the biggest choice isn’t always the best decision. 

Here’s my 5 Reasons Why Big Isn’t Always Best…

 1.      Quality versus Quantity:  Small counts as quality.  Quality is intentional, takes effort and has a distinct intelligent purpose; Quantity is all about numbers.

 “Quality is more important than quantity.  One home run is much better than two doubles.”   Steve Jobs

2.      Focus versus Distractions:  Focus counts as attention.  Focus is directing time and attention to a smaller number of issues.  Distractions is all about disruption.

 “My success, part of it certainly, is that I have focused in on a few things.”  Bill Gates

 3.      Unique versus Individual:  Unique counts as not comparable.  Unique is un-parallel, un-matched and un-equal.  Individual is all about making up a group.

 “Each of us is a unique strand in the intricate web of life and here to make a contribution.”   Deepak Chopra

 4.      Meaningful versus Shallow:  Meaningful counts as significant.  Meaningful is genuine, relevant and important.  Shallow is superficial.

 “A meaningful silence is always better than a meaningless word.”  Anonymous 

5.  Follow-up versus Fall-thru:  Follow Up counts as results-oriented.  Follow Up is the ability to do what you said you were going to do.  Fall-thru is nothing. 

"To build a long-term, successful enterprise, when you don't close a sale, open a relationship." – Patricia Fripp

Being in an environment with a small group considered a quality target gives us the opportunity to focus on the issue at hand.  It gives us the chance to learn about the uniqueness of that person. It allows us to have meaningful conversations in a way that instills passion. When all of these forces come together follow-up is easy because we know exactly who we are talking to and the points to be made. 

 So, when considering whether to join, attend or accept please look at other parameters in addition to size. Because big isn’t automatically always the best. 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 





 

 

 





What does the new Internet Sales Tax decision mean to your business?

The Court’s decision in South Dakota v. Wayfair overturns a 1992 ruling, Quill v. North Dakota, that, in essence, made the Internet a tax-free zone. 

The latest ruling gives states broader taxing power that, according to various estimates, could allow them to reap anywhere from $8 billion to $23 billion more sales taxes annually. 

Currently, all but five states—Alaska, Delaware, Montana, New Hampshire, and Oregon—impose sales taxes. The ruling was a particular victory to South Dakota, whose law requires dealers with more than $100,000 in sales or 200 transactions per year in the state to pay a 4.5% tax on purchases, including those made with buyers in states where the seller might not have a physical presence. 

At least 16 other states have laws similar to South Dakota’s that would allow them to start collecting taxes from online sellers. 

Online retailers such as Wayfair and Overstock opposed the South Dakota measure because, they assert, smaller sellers would be hit with onerous compliance costs. 

What does this decision mean to your business?

Very few people understand the intricate implications, how to prepare for it and what are some solutions. Brian Fricano, CEO and Founder of Sustainable Supply is one of the few. He will join the Home Improvement eRetailer Summit to discuss, clarify and offer solutions to this recent federal ruling. 

            Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO                                     Sustainable Supply.com

            Brian Fricano, Founder/CEO                                     Sustainable Supply.com

Read more here http://www.eretailersummit.com/press-releases/

If you haven’t registered yet, please do at https://www.eretailersummit.com/eretailers-info/request-an-invitiation/ and take $300 off with code ATTEB because we all should understand what this decision means to our business and our market. Hope to see you November 7-9, 2018 at the Hotel Monaco Chicago in Downtown Chicago. 

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  

Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit.  

Please follow the eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

 

Guest Blogger, Julianne Will: B2B E-Commerce: Living Up to the Same Standards as B2C

Julianne Will, Writer/ Editor/Social Media Consultant & Founder, Local Universe

Julianne Will, Writer/ Editor/Social Media Consultant & Founder, Local Universe

Long gone are the days when a buyer was willing to make multiple phone calls and fill out written paperwork to research a purchasing decision. In fact, today's agents expect the Amazon shopping experience. Here are some important considerations.

Let’s start with a pretty stunning fact: In March of 2015, nearly half of all B2B researchers were millennials, according to a Think with Google report. “Back in 2012, there was a pretty even mix across age groups. In 2014, however, 18- to 34-year-olds accounted for almost half of all researchers, an increase of 70 percent,” the report stated.

It’s likely the number of millennials in this role has only increased. And millennials, who are largely digital natives, have been game-changers when it comes to technology.

They’re helping to drive a fundamental shift in today’s B2B buyer. Instead of talking to sales reps, “most B2B shoppers are 57 percent of the way through a new purchase before they reach out, and 93 percent prefer to buy online,” according to Shopify Plus, the customizable e-commerce platform designed for high-growth merchants, including B2B companies.

The growth is rapid, but there’s room for more: B2B e-commerce will reach $1.2 trillion in the United States by 2021 and account for 13.1 percent of all B2B sales, Forrester estimated in its June 2017 report “Landscape: The B2B eCommerce Playbook.”

That 13 percent might not be indicative of a lack of demand, but rather a reticence on the part of B2B organizations to commit more fully to e-commerce.

There are special challenges, of course. While purchasing agents are expecting the same sort of functionality, immediacy and ease of use for research and transactions that they experience in their everyday lives, manufacturers often need to manage dynamic pricing for different customers; the ability to request a quote; or real-time inventory figures, for example.

Fortunately, an increasing number of software solutions are allowing manufacturers to establish platforms that function much like the online shopping sites buyers are used to. Sana, a maker of e-commerce solutions for wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers, reported in October 2017 that of the top 10 channels cited by the 300 businesses they surveyed, three were some form of web store.

A robust and successful B2B e-commerce program will function much like the best B2C retail sites. Key is to apply traditional sales fundamentals to this new way of doing things. You’re still selling solutions. Can you categorize your products via use or application rather than type? Can you model after Amazon and populate a list of goods that “you might also be interested in” when a buyer adds a product to the cart? What about recurring items that can be saved to a “frequently bought” shopping list available to the agent the next time he or she logs in?

Whether you sell to a distributor or to a retailer, B2B e-commerce also is the ideal way to provide up-to-the-minute product information that can help sales downstream and increase loyalty to your company. What might your buyer need? Downloadable specs or signage? A sharable assembly or use video? Not only will this increase your market presence further along the sales funnel, but it also will make life easier for the B2B researcher--again, providing solutions.

The need for a solid reputation and impeccable service doesn’t change even if the means of researching and purchasing does, of course. Most wholesalers, distributors and manufacturers still will need to provide a diverse set of channels.

That might mean offering buyers a way to call with a more complex question than your site can answer. Sales reps might take on an increased relationship-building and service function, helping to identify other business needs that can be met by a company’s offerings or even visiting on site to see how products and product content are being used. Demos and shows still are a great way to offer researchers the ability to touch, taste and test a product. And complex products may require a pre-purchase visit from an expert to identify the right mix of solutions.

Julianne has been published in major metropolitan daily newspapers and national magazines, as well as written print and online copy for diverse industries including wine, fitness, food, travel, retail, banking, industrial technology, real estate, commercial paint and decorating, and more. She crafts strategy, creates profiles and serves as the voice of businesses on social media platforms including Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn. Julianne also has launched a small ecommerce business retailing goods that give back.

Follow Sonya Ruff Jarvis, Jarvis Consultants, LLC on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.

How hard is it for you to just say no?

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It’s always interesting to me that people find it hard to say “no”.  I am talking about the people that don’t say yes, either.  Right, you know what I’m talking about.  If you have been in business for any length of time you have come across people who just can’t say no but they don’t say yes.

Many believe that when you never respond that it should be accepted as the universal “no”.

Yet, just saying no from the beginning would save so much time and money.  I believe saying no should be considered a standard of excellence in conducting oneself with professional etiquette.  I would guess that most people would appreciate that response and see it as a respectful gesture that you don’t want to waste anyone’s time including your own.

Say no, if you’re not interested…

Say no, if you’re don’t want the person on the other end to call you back…

Say no, if you don’t want emails and voice mails clogging your inbox...

But for some reason, the majority of us just can’t say no.  I did some research on this topic only to find out that this phenomenon has been talked about and written about at exhaustive levels; but mostly about people who always say “yes”.  An article written by Hank Davis from Psychology Today put it best “…they are far more comfortable having your request die of old age than actually refusing it.  They’ll leave it for you to figure out whatever it was you wanted just ain’t gonna happen”.

Really?  Just say “no thank you”.

Here’s my top 5 reasons why we just can’t say no. They are:

1.      The Universal language of “no”

 By not responding you get the message. (We already talked about this which I believe is the #1 reason.)

2.      Avoiding Tension/Conflict

Uncomfortable saying no because we don’t want tension or conflict.  

3.      Hedging our Bets

Thinking about the issue because we don’t want to entirely close the door because it’s just like the lottery “you never know”

4.      Too Busy

Believing that we are too busy to stop and take the time to respond. 

5.      Not Relevant

It’s just not relevant to our business/being.  (This is the most justifiable reason but still just respond “no”.)

focusing is about saying no
— Steve Jobs

That makes a lot of sense intellectually; and, admittedly, I’m not a psychologist (even though I did consider Psychology as a Minor in undergraduate for a moment).  But it’s my guess that it’s more of an emotionally-driven non-response.

Either way, like the lyrics of a popular song “say something or I’m giving up on you”.  But, wouldn’t it be so much easier to just say “no”?

 

Sonya Ruff Jarvis, is the Managing Member of Jarvis Consultants and Founder of the eRetailer Summit. Sonya has extensive experience in creating original innovative solutions to overcome major business challenges.  Sonya has spent most of her career visiting headquarters across global industries and has built strong business relationships across diverse brands. 

Sonya has a M.B.A. in Marketing. She is married and has a daughter and they live in Fairfield County Connecticut.  

Follow Sonya on twitter at @jarvisconsult or @eretailersummit

Please follow the new eRetailer Summit showcase page on LinkedIn here.