Merchandising Basics

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 😛

 

 

 

 

 

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 🙂

 

 

 

 

Are you asking the right questions??

OK, this has happened with me many a times. I’d spend so much energy and time scheduling meetings with clients, preparing the presentation, confirmation emails to and fro and of course navigating to the office location. But all of this is a prep work for the final few minutes (depending how much you have been granted) that you get with the client. Once you are through the usual greetings, one liner puns to ease the tempers (for being late in my case :-/) and exchange of business cards….the time starts ticking for you to make some sense before its time to wrap up. Now you know how important this topic is??…and realize how easily you can turn a crucial meeting into a futile exercise if you DO NOT ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS!

I am going to write about some of my meetings with clients and how to I prepared to ace it. As a marketing professional I meet clients who are looking for marketing and branding solutions, and that’s what I am going to talk about here. Believe me…its the worst feeling coming back from a meeting and saying this↓↓↓ to yourself 😀

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Scenario I:   Introduction Meeting

There are times when the agenda of the meeting says “get to know”. do not fall for the trap and take it as a typical networking meeting where you exchange cards and check out the other person’s clothing (#judgemenot). If the client wants to “get to know ” you there is always some scope of work which s/he does not want to disclose straight away. And so it becomes your onus to get that scope of work out of them during the meeting. Think of it as an interrogation only set up in a corporate environment and no gansta talk 😛

So here are 5 questions that you MUST ask when meeting your client/prospects for the first time.

#1 About the organization

well i know the name says abc motors or xyz construction…so its pretty obvious. But do not shy away from asking the client about their company because then you know what and how they describe their business. believe me they always gives away a lot of additional information that you will not find in their ‘about us’ section of the website…like what are their business priorities, expansion plans, subsidiaries and so on.

Also, read between the lines when they say we are planning to set up a team, acquire some business or maybe shut some part of the business. That is where either you are required or you can pitch for your services.

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#2 How did you come to know about our company?

The benefits of asking this question is twofold…here’s how. My company’s marketing investment is focused on Google SEO and Adwords. So if we get to know that companies are reaching out to us after they see our ads or spot us in the top rankings of Google search, we know its money well spent. If companies are hearing about you from other industry players…then you must be doing your job right!

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#3 How can we help you?

Its simple and straight forward. Up until this time in the meeting the two parties have “known” each other quite well so let’s stop the dilly dally and talk business. Of course before you ask this question introduce your company and all the services that you provide. So that the client/prospect is not wondering if you are the right person to ask for help. It is always better to have a company presentation, brochure or profile so that the client gets to see your work.

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#4  Do you want to know more?

It is like breadcrumbs you leave behind to let the conversation flowing. Yes the client needs something that you can provide as a one time job. But if you see more scope of business where you can definitely impress the client, here is you chance. Talk about how you can send them some more information via email of schedule another round of meeting to discuss in detail. The client’s response will also tell you about his interest level in doing business with you. So think of it as a litmus test of your performance so far.

Also if the client is interested and wants to see what you have in store, take a note of all that you gotta share and please do not forget to share the same!

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#5  What next?

This very question prompted me to write this post. Only that I asked this question to myself  on my way back from the meeting…What am I supposed to do next? You know the meeting went well, there is scope and it would be great if you could do business with them…but what do i do immediately after this meeting so that all of the possibilities become come true!

It is no good asking yourself this question…it is rather too late. Confirm the next set of actions before you sign off. Be on the same page and make a note of what key information/communication has to be exchanged between the two parties. You will be surprised as to how much a even a short meeting can lead to.  It is also a good practice to share minutes of the meeting (MOM) to have a record of the points discussed and it can accompany the ‘thank you/pleasure to meet you’ email.

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I hope this helps your next meeting 🙂 and don’t fall asleep during one 😉

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