marketing, merchandising

Blurred Lines

spider web in closeup photo
Photo by Phil Kallahar on Pexels.com

Marketing or merchandising?  Who gets to choose the focus? This tension has existed for as long as I can remember.  Marketers are the story tellers, determining and inspiring the targeted audience to make the purchase. Merchants comb the market place on a constant quest for the “right stuff” and always take into account the why and the who behind the choices. If you don’t know why you’re offering a product, you should not be acquiring it. Sometimes that stuff is exclusively developed with product managers and/or manufacturers to drive demand.  In others, the merchandise is inspired by instinct based on glimpses of trends from all types of media. Or simply part of someone’s product line. (My kids thought people read magazines by ripping the pages after experiencing my habits.) Product assortments are based on logic and magic…interpretations of what is on the horizon, has been successful in other forms, or is total shot in the dark based on gut and analysis.

If merchants don’t know why they are purchasing/developing product, don’t have a clear vision of the price and profit guidelines and have no vision of product positioning, they aren’t doing their job.  Same goes with marketers. If they aren’t asking the why behind the what in order to tell their story, they are not contributing to business growth in a collaborative partnership. It’s a team effort.  Both talents are necessary to grow a profitable customer base.  Embrace the blurring and create something great!

Now that you have an earworm, here’s some relief: http://bit.ly/2oQpiDO

 

demand, merchandising

Content + Commerce

In a prior life, my role was to guide the selection and presentation of very specific product to a passionate enthusiast base.  Their positive response would drive profit and revenue to the business. Content was aspirational photography and detailed instructions and supplies in the same category of product but vastly varied aesthetics, size and difficulty levels. The challenge was telling a compelling story to entice and convince the viewer that they needed multiple versions of the product category because they would be missing out on something great if they didn’t pounce on it. Whether the offerings be colorways, patterns, specific prints, techniques, or an exclusive deep black fabric, they needed to light a creative fire.

Another adventure was in the world of childbirth and early childhood education, combining that with the best “stuff” in the business.  Working with IBCLCs, nurse midwives, early childhood education experts, child safety experts, and many others, we not only conducted classes online and in our center communities, but we culled through all of the unnecessary and unsafe product offered in a vacuum to uninformed parents and their friends and families.  Content was king, but commerce sealed the deal.  You could see the shoulders relax in a father who had been sent on an emergency errand to pick up a breast pump part when he walked into one of our locations.  Or the groups of brand new mothers heading out of a classroom with their babies and new friends in the exact same boat.

What is your content for your commerce?  Do your merchants, marketers and planners know how to set that stage for the theater that is retail?  Think about your business and ask yourself where that happens.  How does each channel function?  Do the product pages on your site provide inspiration, as well as all of the details that a customer needs to pull the trigger?  Do your emails or direct mailings drive traffic to all of your channels?  How are they richer in content than your competition?  Is there a sense of urgency created ?  Limited quantities, unique product properties?  Something beyond price?  I hope so.  Without the perceived value of information and inspiration, who cares.