Thursday, July 31, 2008

Surgical Learning and Upselling

I was recently reading an article in Chief Learning Officer magazine ( about Proctor & Gamble's new employee training method that focuses on quickly addressing the current, necessary educational need. They call this practice Surgical Learning and base the concept on cutting away exhaustive, detailed accounts about new topics and surgically choosing only the content needed for a quick and effective training session--usually "on the fly".

What a wonderful concept for our industry! Quick, easy, on-the-job and just-in-time training on relevant and critical skills and topics.

So where do you find content of this kind? Anywhere! Everywhere!

A colleague forwarded me something just today that is perfect for college stores and as an example of content perfect for surgical learning.

Check out the information, step-by-step process outline, and You Tube video (!) on "Upselling" at ("Inspired talks by the world's greatest thinkers and doers") is another great source for short, educational videos you could use with your staff, during store meetings, or on the fly for quick learning moments.

The educator in me loves this. It really IS all about continuous learning!

Tony Ellis, CAE

Friday, July 25, 2008

Seeing is Believing

Insight into what your customer is shopping for, buying, and not buying is like an ace up your sleeve.

Problem is, shoppers rarely tell you what they really buy and don’t buy when you ask them in focus groups and interviews. In fact, research has shown that they often tell you what they think YOU want to hear and actually do the opposite when they are actually shopping.

But I learned a clever way to get the real story not long ago…while talking to one of your college store colleagues.

It’s a simple, Saturday afternoon exercise:

1. Request/Sign for $40-60 from petty cash.

2. Go to the local mall or shopping center—preferably one with at least a few of the hot retail brands for our primary customer segment (e.g., Hot Topic, Abercrombie & Fitch, Hollister, Old Navy, and/or American Eagle).

3. Identify a student-ish shopper that has shopping bags (has completed purchases).

4. Offer them $20 to review what they purchased, from where, and why. (A short, polished intro of who you are might lessen the shock-factor in their reaction.) :-)

5. Repeat 1-2 times.

Go get ‘em!

--The Retail Muse

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Boring no more revisited

Hotel gift shops are probably the grimmest retail experience of them all. Cheap and over-priced souvenirs gathering dust amongst threadbare carpet and sad mass-market paperbacks and alka seltzer packages does not make for a rewarding shopping experience.

At the Gladstone Hotel ( in Toronto (Ontario) the experience is totally different and is an amalgam of carefully chosen art and design souvenir items that range from the sedate Maple Cookie Pin to the Limited edition “urban archeology” collection superimposing images of architecture onto reclaimed discarded bricks from Toronto’s landfills.

Not to be outdone with just a simple trendy gift store, the Gladstone has just launched their web site The site requires either Safari or Firefox web browser, but is worth going through the download and install of either browser. The site is simple, powerful, and effective. Imagine a campus store using this approach to sell to summer conference and visitor business.

And don’t forget to check out the recycled laptop sleeve:

Mark Patten

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Getting to Know You. Getting Know All About You....

Knowing who your customers is the food of champions for retailers. Not just who comes in to buy "this or that" or only when they HAVE to.

No, I'm talking about the customers that come in because they like your store, what you sell, who you are, what you represent, and so on. These are the customers that you want to get to know VERY well. Why? So you can sell them even more stuff, of course!

One of the ways to do this is to run a contest or giveaway. Contest entry forms allow you to collect name and contact information for those that enter. Typically, folks that enter are going to be customers that are motivated (to fill out the entry thingy), trusting of you (that there will be a "grand prize winner"), and interested in whatever the focus of the contest is (activity, product giveaway, etc.).

I ran across an interesting contest the other day at my local public library. (You knew there was something that prompted this post!)

The Cleveland Public Library System is running an Adult Summer Reading Club event with a theme of "Get an Inside Look". Here's how it works:

1. Read 3 books or listen to 3 audio books between June 9-August 9. (Motivates action within a specific time frame)

2. Write the Title and Author of the three books on the entry form. (They learn what books I'm into reading)

3. Indicate your top 3 choices for an "Inside Look" tour. (They learn more about my interests)

4. Complete name, address, contact info, and library branch. (They find out who I am, where I'm using their services, etc.)

5. Drop off entry form and cross fingers!

They have partnered with some local Cleveland businesses and such to offer some really cool "Inside Look" tours, among them:
- Cleveland Browns Stadium
- Playhouse Square (our historical, multi-venue theater complex)
- Progressive Field--Home of the Cleveland Indians)
- Severance Hall--Home of the Cleveland Orchestra
- FBI Building

How easy would this be to replicate on your campus? Tours of the stadium, concert hall, or other community landmarks. You could focus this kind of contest or promotion about purchases, used textbook buyback, or any other activity that you want to encourage or motivate.

Contest are a fun way to interact, learn about, and reward your customers. And back to school might be the perfect time to try one out!

Tony Ellis, CAE