The year just seems to go faster than we expect. It’s like a freight train that’s going really fast and a new year is here. What’s important is what you’re going to focus on for this year and what things you should not accept any longer if you want to truly be successful with your product in retail. We’re going to be seeing a change in retail. Otherwise, if no changes are made, we’re going to lose just as many retailers or more than we did last year. Discover some predictions and suggestions for 2018 so your company can stay relevant. You may have awesome products that you’re taking to retailers, but ultimately it’s your ability to make them see what you see the, your ability to make them feel what you feel, and your ability to make them taste what you taste is going to be the key to your success.
I predict this is going to be one of our best years ever and I’m hoping that you feel the same. I’m hoping that you have set yourself up for a terrific year. Along with setting yourself up, I have a couple of predictions and even some suggestions on how to get yourself started and I wanted to share those with you along with some book suggestions. I am going to be reading some books each quarter, doing some book reviews and pulling out some information in each of these books that I found extremely helpful and hopefully you will find those equally as helpful. I’m going to let you know what the actual reading list is so that if you want to go and grab some of these books and read them for yourself so that when we review them, you’ll have something to talk about or you can comment and share your experiences with the books as well.
These are the books that we’re going to read and review on the On The Shelf Podcast. Book number one, Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin. If you don’t know who Jocko is, all you have to do is look up Jocko Podcast and go over to his podcast and he’ll blow you away with all the cool leadership stuff that he talks about in the books that he reads on leadership and battle. Jocko is a former Navy SEAL commander in Iraq and Afghanistan and he’s done some pretty cool stuff. He also owns a business consulting firm that he helps teaches those battlefield leadership techniques to businesses around the world. The information that he puts out and how he ties it together in the different guests that he has on his podcasts are amazing. I highly recommend that you go over and check that out. Along the way pick up his book Extreme Ownership because this book, they take stories on the battlefield and then they take those same principles that they learned in leadership in these specific leadership situations. They tie it into an actual leadership teaching that they’ve done with a company. You’ll get to hear the cool battlefield stories and then they’ll show you how they took what they learned there and taught it to a company and how that company was able to put that in practice. You will get a lot out of it. This particular book, when we review it, I’m going to have a colleague on. She read the book as well and we’re going to go back and forth and discuss that book. That should be super fun.
Book number two, 7 Strategies for Wealth Happiness by Jim Rohn. I’m going to go ahead and jump out there and say if you’ve never heard of Jim Rohn, I would look at you strangely. Secondly, I would say go out and buy everything that you can find by Jim Rohn and read it because he, in his time, was a visionary in regards to how to make yourself more valuable, how to focus on the right things and truly how to be successful and happy at the same time. 7 Strategies for Wealth Happiness by Jim Rohn. Anything by Jim Rohn will be worth your time. Number three book, How to Win Friends & Influence People by Dale Carnegie. Most of you most likely have already read this book, which will make it even more fun. I would go back and read it again. Every time I read it, something else pops out at me and it has a ton of extra meaning. I always find that I’m not doing the stuff that I should be doing to win friends and influence people, something as simple as smiling. I’m one of those deep thinkers and I don’t always smile while I’m thinking so people tend to think that I’m upset. You’re not going to win friends and influence people if they think that you’re upset. Nobody wants to be around people that are upset. I go back and reread the key highlights of this book quite often to make sure that I’m not falling into that trap. If you’ve never read it, please pick it up and give it a good read. It will be fun for us to discuss that on the podcast.
This fourth line is a little bit of an outlier. I like it because it has helped me in how to organize my day. It’s called The Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. His proposal and what he calls a Pomodoro is chunking things down. I know that Tony Robbins talks about chunking things down a lot. He chunks things down into twenty-minute intervals with a five-minute rest in between. If you have a big project, you chunk it down into twenty-minute intervals and after each interval, you get a five-minute rest. Then you get back into your twenty-minute intervals. The cool thing is during your twenty minutes, you’re in it. No distractions, no email, no phone, no talking. You take these twenty minutes and you bang out whatever you’re supposed to be banging out in that twenty-minute Pomodoro. That will be fun to get into that a little bit. Please feel free to go out and grab those, read them up. That will make it a lot more fun for us to discuss those when the podcast time comes.
I did think a little bit about what this year is going to be like, what’s going to be important, and what am I going to focus on? What am I going to focus on with my clients? What are some things that I will not accept any longer if you want to truly be successful with your product in retail? A lot of times when you’re hired by a client, you give them the advice, that’s why they hire you. When they say, “No, I’m not going to do that,” there’s only much that you can do and say, “Okay.” We simply will not be taking on any clients that don’t agree that these are key crucial parts of their success. It makes no sense to me when you know that something is a key piece of your success not to do it. For the predictions, number one, social media and connecting with your customers will be more important than ever. What you do socially, and I’m not talking about having a social media page and posting some pictures of your product and putting it on sale, I’m talking about reaching out and talking to people through social media.
One of the things that is most crucial when people don’t do it enough is you get people that like your page, but do you go back and like their page? You want your people that like your page to like your posts and comment, but do you go and like their posts and comment on their stuff that they’re putting up? Most likely the answer is, no, because it takes a lot of time and it takes a lot of effort. It’s like building a friendship, you have to want to do it. If your social media is going to pay off dividends for you, if it’s going to be there for you, you have to put that time in. You have to reach out to the people that are liking your page and also like theirs. You have to reach out and find post on their page that you like and comment intelligently about that.
You can’t simply expect that they’re going to do it for you when you’re not going to do it for them. It’s a one-way friendship. Often we say, “None of my friends ever call me. Nobody ever calls me up and invites me to this or invites me to that,” and then you have to ask yourself the question, “Do you call them? Do you invite them? Are you proactive in keeping your relationship going?” Often, what we want from them is not something that we’re willing to do ourselves and therefore the relationship goes stagnant. Your social relationships are exactly this way. You have to put out what you want people to put into your social. If you don’t, your relationships will become stagnant, your followers will no longer see your posts, and your social media won’t be working for you like it could or should. If you don’t know how to do this or you’re not good at it or it’s not in your wheelhouse, reach out to us. We have a terrific team of people that do this and do it well. That was number one.
Number two, making the shopping experience more customized will play a bigger role than ever. How your product fits into it will be a huge deal. You know how I feel about the customer experience. You know how I feel that there are two parts to the customer experience. There’s the one that the retailers do and that is how they present their store. Is it a pleasant shopping experience and do the people know what they’re talking about? Are there cool things for you to buy and is it worth it for you to walk into the store? That’s part of the customer experience. The part that you control is when they buy your product and get it home, is it going to present them with a terrific customer experience? How is it going to be to unbox it, to start it, to read the instructions? Are they going to be delighted with what’s inside? Is it a cool packaging? Does it make them feel like they spent their money well? That’s on you. It’s a win-win when the retailers have a great customer experience so the customer feels welcomed and they can walk around and enjoy themselves.
Then they buy your product and they get home and the experience is even better at home with the product and they love it and it works as described. That retailer and you are uniting to create this experience that’s memorable that will keep the customer coming back and keep the customer somewhat loyal to your brand. We know that 6,700 retailers down the tubes exploded, gone, off the face of the planet. In another couple of years, nobody’s going to even know who J.Crew was. Nobody’s even going to know who Charming Charlie was. These retailers are simply going to be gone off the face of the planet because they weren’t able to accomplish this. How you do that is going to be crucial and that leads into number three, which is mastering the customer experience.
How will your products take advantage of this? What is your product unboxing experience like? Let me give you a good example. My daughter wanted a Canon Rebel Ti. It was $649. It was expensive. Some friends of ours had a daughter that had a Canon, it was a couple years old. She was upgrading and they wanted to know did we want to buy that and give that to our daughter? It was a good deal and it all seemed fine, but I know my daughter. I know what she wants and she doesn’t want a used camera. She wants to get the brand-new camera, go home, open it slowly, take out each piece and look at it, take a look at the instructions, the booklet, and she wants to feel that experience of pulling the camera out of its plastic sleeve for the first time. She is like nobody I’ve ever seen somebody that truly enjoys the customer experience. That’s what I mean. It would be devastating if she were to open this camera and it didn’t meet her expectations. She would be depressed about it. She would be, “This isn’t what I thought,” and although she would enjoy the camera, the experience would never be the same.
I want you to think long and hard about what experience does your product give the customer when they opened the box, when they get at home, when they use it for the first time? Is it going to be a tremendous experience or is it going to be lackluster? If it’s going to be lackluster, you’ve got to fix that. You’ve got to get that up to par because that’s going to play a huge role in how customers and buyers are seeing your product this coming year. Let’s get on to some suggestions. These are suggestions for you. The books, the predictions, these are things I want you to incorporate into your plan. These are the things that we talked about in our planning sessions that we completed with all the people that signed up for that time with me. I’m offering a condensed version of that for you to think about when you’re making your plans.
Number one suggestion, if your product has hit a plateau, don’t ignore that. I had a customer call me a couple of weeks ago. They’ve had a product on the market for a good twenty years and now sales have past the plateau with this gentleman. They have gone plateaued and now they’ve been declining year over year and he doesn’t have much of a business anymore. His question to me was, “Is there anything that I can do to resurrect this business or should I let it go?” I took a look at is product and this product really launched in the ‘80s, originally. It still had the same packaging. It still has the same look and feel. I said, “If you want to resurrect this product, the product’s still good. You’re speaking to a whole new generation of people or you’ve passed a generation and now you’re onto another generation of people. You can’t keep it in the same packaging. If you want to resurrect this product, you’re going to need to resurrect the look, the feel, the way you speak to the customer, the way you package it, the way it sits on the shelf. That has to be completely rethought through and redone.” If your product has hit a plateau, don’t think it’s a sales slump. If it’s been steadily slowing down, you need to take a solid look at it, what it looks like, who you’re speaking to and is this still relevant. Does it still make sense? Don’t ignore it. Don’t think, “It’s a slump. It will pick back up.” Don’t ever ignore a plateau or a slump that goes on for months and months. Don’t do it.
Suggestion number two, be a problem solver with your products. Remember the products that are going to be talked about at parties, that are going to be passed around to friends, that are going to be mentioned in comments and they’re going to get created a hashtag, are products that solve a problem. Every product on the market solves some problem. Are you calling that out? Do you know what the problems are that your product solves? Is it readily available on your website, on Amazon, on your product packaging as to what part of your life is going to change when you use this product? What part of your life is going to be better when you use this product? What problem do you have that will no longer exist when you use this product? If none of that is on your packaging, on your website or on Amazon, you have to get after that. You need to get after it because it’s going to be more important than ever. Be a problem solver. Use your product to solve some problems.
Number three, connect with people that love your product like you’ve never connected with them before. I’m not talking about influencers that you pay to put out information about your products. I’m talking about people that use your products and truly loved them. Connect with those people. Become close with those people. Perhaps send them a prototype idea or send them information on something new that you’re doing. Get them to continue to advocate for your product and be a passionate user and passionate advocate of what you’re trying to accomplish. These people can have a huge impact on your social experience and people that will buy your product.
People will listen to anybody that is passionate about a product and yells it from the mountaintops, even if they’re not a celebrity, even if they don’t have a million views on their latest YouTube video. If it’s just JoBlo influencing JoBlo’s sphere of influence but he’s passionate about, “You have to try this product. It did this and it did this and it was amazing.” You know what I’m talking about because it’s happened to you or you’ve done it. You’ve used a product that was amazing or solve the problem so well that you told everybody that you could find. I want each of you to go find at least one or two of those people that are shouting from the mountaintops about your product and engage with them. Get to know them closely and talk to them, share ideas with them, because those are the people that are going to help blow you up.
Finally, number four, go just as hard for the little wins as you would for a Target contract. I put this in there because over the course of last year, I’ve had several clients that just wanted the big contract. They didn’t want to do specialty, they didn’t want to do mom and pop, they didn’t want to do anything that they would have to order quantities for that weren’t container loads. I can’t stress this enough, when your product is unknown, when nobody knows who you are, you have to start somewhere. You cannot wait for the big hammer to fall. Sometimes it’s not going to fall. It’s not going to happen. You’re going to have to create a groundswell of smaller people using your product and that is what’s going to help catapult you to the next size retailers and then to the big box retailers and then the club retailers. It sometimes happens that way.
Don’t discount the little wins, work just as hard for those. For one person, one store owner that owns a store, to take your product on and put it on their shelf and start pushing it out to customers, that’s as important. Does it take a lot of work? Yes, it does. Do you make a lot of money doing that? No, you’re probably going to lose money, but you’ve got to start somewhere. It’s like the person that has no job and they’re waiting for that one perfect job. In the meantime, they’re going bankrupt because they can’t pay their bills, but they’re still waiting for that one thing. Sometimes you have to go get something to bring some money in and then still look for the job of your dreams. You can’t just sit on the sidelines. The same thing goes here. You need to go out and find some smaller people. If you have nobody buying your product, let’s start small. Let’s go to the little guy. Let’s go meet a store owner, walk in there personally and pitch your product to that person personally and start there. It might be just five units, six units or twelve units, but that is twelve more units than you had yesterday. When that person calls you and says, “I’m out. People love this product.” Now you have a story and now you can refill that order. Let me tell you, the feeling to refill an order, whether it’s a Target order or just one person, is huge.
When people come back and want more of your product that means something. You’re doing it, you’re making it happen, it’s working. You will eventually have that container or ten containers or whatever the huge orders going to be, but it’s going to happen slowly. It’s going to be one painstaking pitch at a time. Don’t discount those people, don’t not go to those people. They’re going to lift you up. Those people matter. When you walk in and pitch your product to them and it works, your pitch becomes stronger, your pitch becomes better. When you go to a trade show and you’re talking to people in your booth, you can say, “I have a hundred small independents that are turning twelve units every single month. Think about scaling that, think about that on a big atmosphere. They’re turning on our products and ordering more. They love it. You want to talk to somebody? Go talk to John Smith over at his store. He’ll tell you. You don’t have to take my word for it,” but you have a story. You have something to tell. If you’re just waiting for the big pitch, when you go to a buyer and they’re going to say, “What are you doing now? Where are you selling it now? How is it going now?” and you’ve got nothing. Then the buyer’s going to say, “We’re going to pass.” Get out there and go just as hard for the little guys as you are for the huge contract. That’s my top four suggestions and top four predictions. I’m probably more excited now than I have been in a really long time. I’m not sure why.
I’m hoping that we’re going to see a change in retail. We have to see a change because otherwise, if no changes are made, we’re going to lose just as many retailers or more than we did last year. Take a look at REI and what they’re doing. They’re coop business. Their employees are owners of the company. I was talking to my mom and she was in an REI. She’s older so she’s not going to hike a lot but she wanted some hiking boot and she was shocked at how much time that employee took to find the right boot for her and what she was going to do. I said, “That’s because that employee’s an owner. That employee has a stake in you buying at REI and coming back and telling me the story that you’re telling now so that I will go to REI.” If we can’t figure out a way to give some of that ownership to some of these employees, if we can’t figure out a way for buyers to understand that it’s okay to take a chance on a cool product even if nobody else is selling it, if we can’t figure out a way for retailers to stop discounting the crap out of everything and thinking that that’s the way to save their failing sales, then we’re going to struggle once again next year.
I feel that people are going to figure that out. I feel that retailers are going to start to see that because if they don’t, retail will start to wane away in a way that we’ve never before in our time seen it. I don’t think that that’s going to happen. A lot of smart people are running a lot of great companies out there and it’s my hope that they’re starting to see that what they’re currently doing is not working. I have faith in it. I have faith in you guys. I have faith in the awesome products that you guys are taking to retailers and your ability to make them see what you see, your ability to make them feel what you feel, your ability to make them taste what you taste. I have a lot of confidence in you.
Here is to this year, the best year yet. I can’t wait to see what you guys are going to do. I can’t wait to see what you guys are going to share with me. That’s all I got for this podcast. If you want to support the podcast, there are a couple ways that you can do that. Hopefully, you enjoy reading the blog. If you want to continue to support it, become a subscriber. That way you’ll know exactly when the new podcasts are out. We try to stay on as regular schedule as we can. If you want to know when the podcasts are coming out, subscribe. Another way you can support the podcast is to give us a review. Go onto iTunes or Stitcher and tell people why you liked the podcast, what it’s done for you, what’s helping you in being a Big Boxer. That’s another great way that you can support us.
We’re going to be changing some things. We’re going to be coming out with a lot of cool things and different ways that you can connect with us and I’m super excited about that. That will come out slowly. There will be other ways that you can help support the podcast once those things start to happen. For now, subscribe and then give us a review. I appreciate that. If you want to send us a question, which we love, you can reach out to us on Twitter @TLBConsult. You can reach out to us on Facebook @TLBConsulting. You could become part of our Facebook closed group, which is called On The Shelf Now. Lastly, you can go to our website, TLBConsulting.com and shoot us an email. We’d love to hear from you. I’m sending you off with as much positivity and great thoughts that I can. I look forward to talking to you again soon. Until then, we look forward to seeing your products On The Shelf.