Want to make the most of this year? You’re going to need a solid strategy. Using the right tactics can boost your bottom line and allow you to take advantage of emerging opportunities, but badly-conceived moves hurt your brand and turn off customers.
Knowing what to do is no use if you don’t know when to do it, so timing and execution are just as important as having the right idea in the first place. Planning early and often is key.
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Of course, the litmus test for good strategy is success. Here are some proven tactics, trends and ideas to consider as you work to grow your company this year:
Tap consumers’ privacy paranoia
Some shoppers welcome the rollout of technology that enables chains like Hudson’s Bay Company to identify when they’re in the vicinity of a store—if they’ve downloaded an HBC app—and send them notifications and customized messages. (Hey, there, newlyweds! Waterford crystal is now 50% off.)
But some consumers are spooked by the technology and worry their store visits and purchases will be monitored involuntarily. Enter a new wave of products and services designed to enhance consumer privacy, like AVG Technologies’ PrivacyFix app, which blocks Wi-Fi location tracking in retail stores and public venues. Watch for more to come.
Sell experiences, not products
Online shopping sites can sell all kinds of widgets at the click of a button, but so far, at least, none has figured out a way to offer the giddy thrill of ice-skating on a newly Zambonied rink or the satisfaction of custom-blending a bergamot-and-vanilla-infused perfume. So smart retailers and manufacturers are finding ways to offer just that—one-of-a-kind immersive experiences that build relationships with brands and offer businesses a chance to interact with consumers in a way digital retailing doesn’t allow.
Hockey giant Bauer, for instance, just announced plans to open 10 North American retail stores featuring indoor rinks. And a Selfridges department store in London recently offered a “Fragrance Lab” experience, packaging it as a ticketed event (it included the cost of the perfume). The 15-minute “scent journey” featured white-coated lab assistants and an audio guide that toured visitors through scented rooms. Price of admission: £65.
Exploit internet insecurity
The hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment late last year and the theft of thousands of documents from its servers (including, humiliatingly, an unprotected spreadsheet of all the company’s social media logins) proved once again that security threats are proliferating online, and no one is safe.
The silver lining of our increasingly paranoid age is that both consumers and businesses are looking for solutions to keep them secure. Data-security services—auditing, consulting, software and training just to start—are poised to grow further, while consumer products differentiated by privacy and security (like Open Whisper Systems’ secure texting app, TextSecure) will enjoy a marketing edge in the coming years. Crime may or may not pay—but fighting the criminals will continue to be a growth industry.
Leverage the power of one
Short-run, customized printing and manufacturing is making it easier than ever to create individualized products. And when a customer creates something, they’re more likely to promote their own ingenuity, a recent report by McKinsey & Company points out.
The paper cites Adagio Teas as a compelling example: Adagio lets consumers develop customized teas and, if they want to, make the blends publicly available. Guess who then helps promote Adagio?
“I’m really excited about lesser-known regional cuisines, like Peruvian, Turkish, Syrian. People are travelling so much now we’re seeing a more sophisticated understanding of geography—smaller breakdowns are happening. We don’t think about Canadian wine anymore, we think about Niagara or Okanagan. We even think about northeastern Turkey versus southeastern. And more and more people have the confidence to embrace the heritage of these places.”
—Vikram Vij, CBC Dragon
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