Merchandising Basics for Beginners

The genesis of this post is a long-standing debate with my colleague on a topic that can be safely put as “Marketing Vs Merchandising”.  To begin with, I feel  that there cannot be a debate/discussion on Marketing “Vs” Merchandising because the latter is a very important subset of the former which also consists of several arenas including pricing, promotion and sales lead generation. If I were to present an analogy, consider marketing division as a human body and the different marketing functions as its organs that operate on their own to keep the human body up and alive! so you see now a debate on kidney Vs Human body is kinda ridiculous.

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who is the brain you ask?! well…most often it is the marketing head of the company 😀

But the best part of any discussion is the information exchange that happens (sometimes to win a pointless argument) and this time I got to learn about the merchandising basics that will help you close the gap between marketing, sales and operations that sadly work in silos in most organizations!

Merchandising is defined as the act of promoting the sale of goods, especially by their presentation in retail outlets. The keyword here is presentation. Not to sound shallow, but the presentation of products, goods, services, offers, sales reps, furniture and displays inside your store is a testimony for the standard of your store.

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So watch out for these merchandising basics to make your store look like picture 2:

#1 STORE LAYOUT 

Spending a lot of time with the store layout to figure out the most optimum store setup is highly recommended in the case of new outlets. 3D layout and dry runs should be done before you actually start setting up the store units. This step can make or break the entire shopping experience in your store for the customers. During the dry runs where you approach the store from the eyes of the customer…figure out the high visibility areas, congestion areas, navigation challenges, placement zones which would be best for the store.

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example of store layout for a pharmacy

the grades A,B and C in the payout are a part of the “Visibility Grading”. A being the most visible areas followed by B and C. Again, this here is the final layout which was finalized after a lot of permutation & combination of the display unit arrangements.

#2 MERCHANDISING SEGMENTS

Merchandising segments are defined to maintain the uniformity or uniqueness of each product category and hence maintain the overall look and feel of the store. merchandising segments are also mean to make the in-store shopping experience of the customer a lot more convenient. Let’s continue with the pharmacy example…so there will be broad product categories like skin care, hair care, feminine care, eye care, OTC medicines, vitamin supplements, baby care , etc. For a merchandiser it is very important to different each of these product categories in a visible manner so that the customer knows exactly where to find what.

Also, each merchandised segment should be have a line of connectivity for the customers to move from one product category to another without even realizing it. so having wall units for skin care, hair care & feminine care in a continuous line will make more sense than skin care, baby care & vitamins.

#3 STORE DISPLAY 

It is what it means! make your store look good…for which all the efforts are being made. But here are some sub points that will simplify your understanding of the display in a store:

  • Counter display – Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) should be displayed at the counter. The area of the counter display is graded as a high end visibility area in the store and are meant for handy products that might slip out of a customer’s shopping list. e.g chewing gums, candies, hand sanitizers, wipes and so on.
  • Free Standing Display Unit (FSDU) – or a Floor Stand is an integral part of  store display.  Utilizing floor display in a correct manner not only increases the likelihood of impulse purchase but also the willingness of shoppers to switch between brands.
  • Window Display – It is important to keep window display area tidy at all times as this signifies your store reputation. Do not stock up products in front of the window display as it portrays a disorganized viewpoint of the store. But window display is crucial for promotion material to entice the customers.

#4 LEVEL PLACEMENT 

There are few important things to consider when placing products on the shelves, such as:

  • Placing your most profitable items at eye level
  • Placing products for children and pregnant women at eye level
  • Placing your popular or targeted products in between eye and knee level of visibility

#5 PLANOGRAMS 

Once you have decided which products are to be placed on which shelves basis the best visibility plan, it is important to consider how the products have to be arranged on the shelves too. A planogram is a visual diagram, or drawing, that provides details on the placement of every product in a retail store. These schematics not only present a flow chart for the particular merchandise departments within a store layout but also show which aisle and on what shelf an item is located.

while I have tried to superficially touch upon the basic merchandising practices, there is a lot more that goes into making a store look flawless and customer friendly. But these pointers will definitely lay a strong foundation in your learning about merchandising and will surely make your views count in “merchandising Vs. marketing” discussion 😛

 

 

 

 

 

#5 Viral Marketing Techniques you need to know today

If you are in India or an Indian in any part of the world, then I believe you have already been swept by the videos and pictures of this kohl eyed girl who until yesterday we had no idea about. Yes, I am talking about Priya Varrier who has now become the “most searched celebrity in India in a span of 2 day”! Now there couldn’t have been a stronger nudge than this for me to write about this subject, so here it goes…

Literally, all it took was a barrage of facial expressions and a wink that appears for a few seconds and the whole country was head over heels in love and awe for this teenage girl from Kerala.

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The result?… everyone was occupied on social media talking about this video, sharing it, liking it, making memes about it and most importantly relating to it. If at this point you are asking yourself this question “how can I make it viral?” then here are some quick tips to win the viral game.

#1 CONTENT IS (& WILL ALWAYS BE) KING 

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I know I am not the first one to say this so ignore the mic drop. But seriously,  it is the content to start with that will potentially make it viral in the end. Content marketing was widely spoken about in 2017 and its ripple effect will continue even this year, only the focus will be on Video Content in 2018. With the proliferation of features on social media platforms that has made video an easy to access, view and share form of communication, people now like what they watch (not just see).

Also, you’d agree that videos are a more spontaneous and interactive form of “talking” to your audience. So for starters keep up and adapt to new forms of content to make it viral.

 

#2 RELEVANCE, DON’T LOSE IT

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This brings me back to the viral video that urged me to include this point in the list of techniques. Well not everyday you see viral videos making headlines but whenever you do, it is mostly about a subject/topic/event/phenomenon that was already being talked about. In the case of  this video clip trailer for a song in Priya Varrier’s debut Malayalam film, Oru Adaar Love, which was launched during the valentine’s week when the youth of this nation was already fishing for something playful and romantic to kick start their valentine’s participation on social media. And they found it in the twenty-seconds iconic wink 😉

 

Thus it is really important for your content to be relevant to the times which will make it easier for people to relate to it. Now that does not mean you cannot change the subject and that is where the next technique comes into picture.

 

#3 HIT THE EMOTION

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Again emphasizing on the content, the core of your message should cater to the emotions of your audience. Be it happy, sad, shock or annoying…if it’s different it will work. Remember the Turkish chef aka “Salt Bae” who sprinkled some salt with loads of attitude and rocked the internet last year? Also, the dancing hot dog which until today I have not been able to make much sense of, and now very famous Prof Kelly and his adorable kids who walked into his study while he was live on BBC. Some of these never seen before stuff on internet were bound to go viral because everyone’s looking forward to some thunderbolt event to start their day.

 

#4 BE SELECTIVE 

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Now here I want to talk about a misconception about Viral Marketing. As the name and subject suggests, we are talking about volume, number, quantity and the bigger the better type. So going by this understanding, the universe is your audience to achieve the scale of being viral. But NO! the concept of targeting still applies. You need to be selective and know your target audience for your content. This will further help you in selecting the right communication channel, reach to people which related interests and pick influencers who are important for these target audience.

 

#5 MAKE IT EASY TO SPREAD

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It has to be contagious like viral. If your content is easy to share, download and embed then it will be spread as fast as virus does. So, allow people to share your content or message easily, embed it on their own sites and download it for use later.  While doing all this, make sure your simplify your message for people to understand and share.

There you go! now you know it all. I hope these techniques will help you make your content go big. And for me…this gif is making me hungry 😐

 

 

 

 

 

 

Make Money Blogging: The Beginner’s Guide To Affiliate Marketing — Antony Agnel

Blogging looks fun but in the long run, it is an expensive job (or should I say a gift?) unless you very well know how to monetize your blog. Registering an average .com domain name costs around $10 to $15 dollars per year and paying for web hosting can take it further high. Hosting a […]

via Make Money Blogging: The Beginner’s Guide To Affiliate Marketing — Antony Agnel

We got inside your pockets! (Tissue Box Marketing)

Let’s say if I have 10 unread emails in my inbox, chances are  that at least 3 of them are some kind of a marketing proposal. Marketing proposals are usually written by advertising and marketing agencies, design companies, or by individuals who are pitching an idea to a potential client. Who wouldn’t want to know about these ideas that can potentially uplift the existing marketing efforts and drive results. So I usually reserve my time for reading these emails and the hidden agenda (not so hidden anymore) is to know what’s new in the market, statistics that can change the game and most importantly what’s becoming obsolete.

Agencies usually cover a casket of communication channels including the traditional  newspaper, television, radio and trendy social media platforms. But they also explore some rather unconventional channels to take the customers by surprise. If i were to use a nomenclature then this is typically known as Guerrilla Marketing – unconventional (read “in your face”) promotion of products and services with little budget to spend.

Here I want to talk about one such type of guerrilla marketing tactics that has garnered a self explanatory name for itself – Tissue Box Marketing. I am sure you are are not impressed yet and I don’t blame you. Having your logo and company information  on a pack of tissues what’s the big deal right?! Here’s the big deal…

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Guerrilla form of marketing falls under ATL (Above the Line) Marketing where the objective is to reach to the masses and spread awareness. As a marketeer I know that ATL strategies are hackneyed as hell because you do the usual mass media stuff like print ads, radio and flyer distribution at high foot fall areas. Yes, flyers in this digital day and age! we all know what happens when an overly colorful and informative piece of paper is shoved into our hands…a quick scan and you get rid of it in most cases.

*For me I keep anything that has home delivery service 😛

But what if this flyer was more than just a piece of paper? AHA moment!

Enters the idea of tissue box marketing which is extremely prevalent in Japan (not sure if it originated there). The pictures show that your messaging can be sophisticated or  crude but you can be sure that the customer will make space for it in his pocket or purse. wallah! you got inside their pocket what else. As a marketer I find this as such an achievement because now every bearer of your tissue pack is an ambassador of your brand. Also, tissue paper as a product connects with the customers who use it for their personal hygiene. That for me is win – win.

The sheer simplicity and effectiveness of this revamped version of an old tactic has impressed me a lot. The only best thing that can top this would be distributing free food haha 😀

 

 

What’s new is your view!

Happy to share this interesting read on Forbes :

The Top 10 Trends Driving Marketing In 2017

Honestly the article does not contain information that we don’t already know. So don’t expect to find the success mantra or the next big thing for your marketing campaign. But you will certainly receive a fresh view of how you can use the marketing channels and tools to the fullest to achieve your marketing goals. I really found this helpful, especially the emphasis on using video content for marketing. I truly believe that customers “listen” to what they see!

The article also talks about data driven marketing that surely helps in making promotions intelligent, accurate and personal. But I feel big data is just one side of the story (no doubt a rather important side) . Small Data or what we commonly know as market/consumer insights are still a cornerstone of formulating a path breaking marketing strategy for any company.

Small Data by Martin Lindstrom  is a collection of case studies that ingrains the importance of on-ground research and reading between the lines to crack the code. Eager to share key takeaway from this amazing book and that’s most likely going to be my next post. Stay tuned and keep sharing.

 

Can “Cold Calling” lead to “Hot Selling”?!

Are you on the other side of the phone, with a script that has no emotions and a target that has no logic? If your answer is YES, then this blog is for you because you got it all wrong bruh :-/

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But…If you are on the other side of the phone, with a strategy crafted for the person you are calling that will initiate a meaningful business relationship? then go chill!! you have it figured out 😀

So you know what I am talking about…Cold Calling. If you are a noob then here is a wikipedia definition for you – “Cold calling is defined as the solicitation of business from potential customers who have had no prior contact with the salesperson conducting the call.” You get it? all the credit card, health insurance, property dealer calls you get almost every day! It goes by a more professional term called telemarketing btw.

As a marketer I have no doubts that telemarketing is a very useful, result oriented and sophisticated marketing tactic that can generate leads, convert sales and develop business relations. I mean just think about it…you (a consumer) are chilling on a sunny day thinking about a luxurious foreign vacation and wallah! the phone rings and a warm voice tells you how a credit card with travel benefits can make your dream come true. I mean this is the story of modern age genie you guys!!

Sadly in real life this is how the scenario unfolds…you (a consumer) are overworked in your office trying to catch up with the pending to-do list and damn! the phone rings and a high pitched voice starts narrating a story that’s just  mumbo-jumbo words with very little sense in it. And you just slam the phone down hoping to never hear that voice again. Some who have lost hope even block these numbers to be sure!

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So where is it going wrong? It all sounded good when you were presenting the strategy in the conference room…100 calls per day > 50% response rate > 10% pipeline ….the numbers were magical! then what went wrong?

“Knock Knock”

“Who’s this”

“Your strategy that needs better EXECUTION”

* i use humor as a defense mechanism 😀 😀

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So Let’s talk about Useful, Result Oriented & Sophisticated cold calling (yes it exists) and how these simple pointers can really change the game for you:

1.WHO AM I?

FYI, this is deep. Before you pick up that phone to dial an unknown number please be sure who you are. Find an answer to who (your company) and what ( your role and offered solution) gives you the power to make this call. I say this because many a times I get a call from “someone” from “somewhere” telling me things which are secondary part of a conversation. Please take some time to introduce yourself and your purpose before you jump right into the tele script.

2.  IS IT A GOOD TIME?

If you are not asking this question before you nose dive into a long conversation with a complete stranger…please don’t complain that chivalry is dead, cause you are killing it! Please appreciate other person’s time and give them the option to opt in or out of the call basis their present state of affairs. If they are busy ask more a suitable time to call back and please call back.

3.  SCRIPT OR NO SCRIPT?

I am not saying tele-scripts are useless but they are redundant. I was once given the task to make a tele-script for IT solution sales and believe me there is no end to the number of possibilities how the conversation would go. So i just took the most likely situations and made a script (or what turned out to be a list of FAQs) that was meant to give direction to a telemarketing rep. So step out of it and use it only for directions! try to sound genuine, add a personal touch and go with the flow of the other person’s response.

4.  OK I HEAR YOU, NOW WHAT?

Ever happen to you? you get so busy planning for the worse that you run out of reactions when it all works out? After a dozen unsuccessful attempts when that one God sent angel says the golden words like…”yes, I’d like to know about this” OR “yes, I want that” OR “yes, Ok” what then? You are probably dancing on your seat thinking of the deal you just won. Na ah! stop dancing and get real…tell them the steps that follow, call to action that includes signing up right now or a meeting request.

5.  ARE YOU THANKFUL?

Yes you are in the above scenario…the guy just signed up for your service. But are you thankful when someone says “sorry, but I don’t need this”? probably not much, but you gotta be! Not wanting to sound preachy at all but that’s the rule. Thank them for their time, any information that they might have shared, their patience while you were finding the right answer and most importantly their interest (if any).

I guess this helps every telemarketer who is armed with a phone that has a lot of potential. Let me know your thoughts…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Content Marketing 2022

Hail the power of sharing!

Not so much the “sharing is caring” moral science lesson we all got as kids…but that small share button by the corner of everything you read and watch online. A one click reach to all the watchful eyes who are ever so keen to know what you are up to!

Honestly I am not much of a sharer because I tend to apply a lot of filters to what is good/bad/interesting/politically correct about a post and by the time I am done contemplating the subject…its too late. But  you can still appreciate the power of the share button being on the receiving end of it. Everyday I come across such amazing reads, updates and happenings around the world about something as random as walnuts and as specific as my interests. So while I am still sticking to the long checklist of do’s and dont’s before sharing something online (which btw is a good topic for a blog), here’s a good read on content marketing that a connection shared on LinkedIn.

Content Marketing in 2022: Very Personal, No Silos, and Lots of Voice

content-marketing-2022-cmw-experts-talkWhere do you see yourself in five years?

Do you hate that question as much as I do? While I’m not a fan (perhaps because I’ve never had a great answer), I understand why it’s asked. The interviewer wants to know that the job candidate has considered the short-term future and wants to see how the candidate’s potential path for success fits with the company’s.

With a professional twist, we asked the experts presenting at Content Marketing World what they see in the next five years as the biggest changes in content marketing. This isn’t a list of predicted tech advances or outlandish guesses – it’s practical and proactive. You could take one or all 25 and begin working on them today (if you’re not already) – to plan strategically for short- and long-term success.

We’ve segregated the answers based on the five emerging themes – personalization, formats, implementation, voice-activation, and data.

 

http://contentmarketinginstitute.com/2017/08/content-marketing-2022/#.WYCOrfdjvHU.linkedin

doing my bit of sharing 🙂