The responsibility to grow the business is yours. The skill set and process that make growth happen are very much hers. Julie Burrows has run $1 billion consumer business, launched over 70 new products and deeply understands consumer interactivity and social media. Using her skill, growth becomes your product's results. More.
I’ve been inspired by these three books this spring:
Lead! Lean In- Women, Work and the Will to Lead. I heard Sheryl Sandberg speak at the W50 Conference at Harvard Business School this spring. Her message was inspiring: acknowledge the internal messages that hold you back from your leadership potential and change them. Her book reminded me to say thank you to my incredibly supportive spouse and the great women leaders who’ve been my bosses and role models. I am leaning in to new leadership possibilities this year! One note: don’t scan this book…let it sink in and remember the emotions you experienced on your leadership journey.
First things first, get the strategy right! Blue Ocean Strategy-How to Create Uncontested Market Space and Make Competition Irrelevant by W. Chan Kim and Renée Mauborgne. This is a must read for anyone working on new products. The examples are inspiring (like Cirque du Soleil’s transformation of the circus industry) and the exercises help you create your own blue ocean. It’s easy to scan and add this thinking to your business planning.
Make your message memorable! Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath. The Heath brothers remind us that sticky messages are SUCCESs – Simple, Unexpected, Concrete, Credible, Emotions and Stories. The most successful campaign in my career used these elements. On Pillsbury Toaster Strudel, we set a new positioning of ’Like Pop Tarts but Better.’ The message was concrete, simple, credible, unexpected and allowed for great stories. And with new advertising (like the ‘Locker’ ad) we doubled the business in one year! Use this book as a quick reminder on how to get to a breakthrough brand message.
Thank you to Peter Hubbell of BoomAgers for reminding me to get out of the red ocean and to make a sticky message. And to HBS, what an inspiring conference that lead me to lean in.
I’ve always believed businesses are built on repeat. All the businesses I ever worked on needed at least a 40% repeat rate to be viable. And when you do the math – which I just love to model – you see just how much of the volume is due to repeat. That 80/20 rule (80% of the volume comes from 20% of the users) really does come true.
So the new trend of subscription services is very intriguing. Of course, insurance premiums and financial products have known how to do this for decades. But now hard goods has an easy way to drive repeat with their best customers using these services. Here are some new ideas on the market:
- Birchbox for Men - monthly subscription service that’s like getting a goody box in the mail. The men’s Birchbox contains a menagerie of lifestyle and grooming products plus snacks. The subscription is $20 per month. See more men’s services in this article from November in Mashable. (FYI..there is Birchbox for women too.)
- Amazon Prime – As Jeff Bezos says, “…Prime is now the best value in the history of shopping.” For an annual subscription of $79 you get free unlimited two-day shipping for 15 million items. This service drives repeat of Amazon in our household! There’s no official number of subscribers, but Piper Jaffrey estimates it at 10 million at the end of 2011.
- Member.ly – To run your own subscription service is as easy as using member.ly. You can be your own curator!
- Executive clothing shopping services: There are many to choose from but my favorite is Corset Styling. It’s a local Edina store but stylist Jodi Montgomery Mayers has customers all over the country. This group is high service and wonderful style!
On a side note, I guess I inherently have an interest in “repeat” given I’m an identical twin. My twin sister Lynda and I were called “Pete” and “RePete” in high school (my maiden name is Peterson.) There’s a lot to love in repeat!!
Thanksgiving/Black Friday Weekend:
Total Sales: $59.1 billion, +13% vs. last year
Top five categories (based on what shoppers said they bought): clothing, electronics, toys, movies/DVDs, and for the first time ever – footwear.
Fun fact: 22% of shoppers shopped on Thursday with the busiest times from 5-8pm.
Fun fact: 36% of shoppers used smartphones to help shop while in stores on Black Friday.
Online fun fact: Spending online on Black Friday alone topped $1 billion for the first time (comScore, National Retail Federation.)
Small Business Saturday:
Total Sales: U.S. supporters of local businesses spent $5.5 billion or 9% of total weekend sales. Note: this spending is only shoppers who were aware of Small Business Saturday and not how much was actually spent at small businesses on Nov. 24.
Fun fact: Small Business Friday is in its third year. My niece Ali Chapin leads the Social media effort for Small Business Saturday at Amex.
Fun fact: American Express reported a 21% increase in card-member transactions on Small Business Saturday. (National Federation of Independent Business and American Express.)
Total Sales: $1.46 billion spent online, +17% vs. last year.
Fun fact: 11/26/12 was the busiest day for online commerce in history.
Fun fact: Online sales for all of November were $16.4 billion.
Not so fun fact: Online shoppers loaded up on more items but spent less per visit on Cyber Monday.
This should be a strong holiday for retailers, based on one fact alone. This is the longest shopping period between thanksgiving and Christmas that is possible. In my days running seasonal businesses at Pillsbury, we counted these days carefully as the number of shopping days and weekends for parties directly impacted sales.
So here’s to a great holiday for all, not just our nation’s retailers!
This seasonality wheel has been in my tool it, thanks to Dugan Valva Contess. While it’s over ten years old, it continues to be relevant today. (As Harry Balzer of NPD would say, things don’t change that fast!) While we live in a world of minute-by-minute marketing, it’s crucial to know the overarching emotional and activity states of our culture throughout the year. The insights from this wheel have helped me answer the following questions:
- For a consumer shipping business, how can we address a summer slowdown and continue to grow our business with the most loyal users?
- How should we approach the holiday season on a daily basis?
- When should we target events in the blood donation field?
Interestingly enough, my colleague and social media guru Robin Neifield (CEO of NetPlus) recently wrote on the same subject for ClickZ, thought she focused on the timing of social interactions. She reminded us that “the biggest mistake you can make with a seasonal business in social media is to assume that seasonal high months are the only ones you need to plan for and to ignore all of the adjacent opportunities for good interactions and good content.”
I want to update this wheel with the new digital mindset (i.e. adding Black Friday.) Let me know what you would add. And watch out this month…you may finally have that urge to organize your office…it’s the season!