Monday, September 10, 2007

Know Thy Customer

We hear it all the time: “Retailers have to know their customers and be willing to respond to their needs and expectations.”

A new Super Wal-Mart recently opened outside of Oberlin, OH (the home of NACS, Inc.).

In case you’ve never been to Oberlin and don’t know much about the region, it is a small college town set in rural Ohio. The area is on the northern edge of the expansive Ohio Amish country, as well.

That said it should have come as no surprise to see the unique set of parking spaces offered at the new Oberlin-area Wal-Mart.

During perhaps the busiest time of year for college stores and NACS, this sight still made me stop and consider the following:

1. Just how well DO we know our own customers?

2. How far are we REALLY willing to go to meet their needs and be their number one choice of store?

3. It's comforting and humbling to be reminded that many times it really is the little things that make the biggest difference to our customers.

Tony Ellis, CAE

Saturday, September 01, 2007

All dressed up....

Most of you probably remember Cows on Parade in Chicago some years back. Many other U.S. cities took this idea and adapted it to their own cities. Thus creating a vehicle for local organizations and businesses to engage with the city and its people. Toronto had moose, Cleveland had guitars, and one of the southern meccas even had pigs.

Well, Chicago has come up with a new gig for this summer - body forms. That's right...deocrated and themed by or on behalf of businesses, organizations, actual dress designers, universities, and more.

Why did this catch my eye? Take a close look at "Cultivating Knowledge" installed by Loyola University-Chicago. Now if that doesn't give you some creative ideas for a window display, a store-sponsored contest, or some other crazy event...I'm not sure what will!

In case you cannot see the details, she has a small rake in her backpack and the dress is made of books...textbooks to be precise.

As they say, inspiration often comes from the most unexpected places.

Tony Ellis, CAE