Posts Tagged ‘Retail Marketing’

The Ultimate in Brand Loyalty, Bobby Stokes and a Pencil case?

May 29, 2011
LIverpool Pencil Case

Loyal for life!

Chatting to a friend of mine last week the conversation came around to football, the Champions League Final and the ultimate in brand loyalty – the undying support for “your” football team.

Supporting your football team through thick and thin must be the ultimate in brand loyalty and is one of life’s greatest mysteries – how does this happen, when does it start and why do supporters never waver from their team despite success and otherwise?

How do we end up with this incredible bond with a football team from another country? – it really makes little sense but it exists and it runs so deep that it affects us, our moods, our friends and even those who we may not like!!

As a die hard Liverpool fan I can honestly tell you my form is great when they win, lousy when they lose, I get anxious about new signings and I get suspicious of people who support their arch rivals!!

I’m not from Liverpool (but I do like going there – the people are great fun!), my parents aren’t from there, I will do my utmost to watch every match (on TV or computer), I feel betrayed by Mr Torres, I did meet the legendary old club chairman Peter Robinson once and I think You’ll Never Walk Alone is the greatest football song ever!

How is it that in a lifetime we might have many personal relationships but we never change football teams? – what is that about and where and how does it actually start?

My friend is an Everton fan – how did this start? Well, his mother who he admits knows nothing about football bought him an Everton pencil case – he tells me the following year she bought him his first ever football shirt, a Liverpool shirt (she does have taste, that woman..), which he refused to wear. The ultimate brand loyalty had set in, he was a die hard Everton fan.

Bobby Stokes celebrates FA Cup winning goal versus Manchester United

Well done Bobby Stokes !

My cousin who I hadn’t seen in a very long time proclaimed he was a Southampton fan – curious I asked him how this happened? He nearly killed me that I did not know – he reminded me that when we were kids (1976 to be precise) he was visiting our house on FA Cup Final day when Southampton (in the old 2nd division) were up against the mighty Manchester United.

I warned him not to support Man Utd if he knew what was good for him – Bobby Stokes scored a winner (do click the Bobby Stokes link – the goal is worth watching!) for the Saints in the 83rd minute to  seal an unexpected win and a new “brand loyal” fan was won for life! To this day despite few opportunities to celebrate memorable wins he has remained loyal to his team.

Getting deep about this topic with my Everton buddy we actually agreed that you could even use the word “love” to describe that bond with your team – whoah, that’s heavy?

How can your brand or business instil even a fraction of that kind of loyalty with your customers?

– buy them a pencil case?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Have a Positively Fabulous Easter!

April 14, 2011
Retail tips for Easter

Positivity? - Why Not !!

Budgets, bad weather, IMF bailouts, things are tough, sales are bad, wages are down, burn the bond holders, senior bond holders, junior bond holders, any bond holders – Oh my God, my head is bursting ! Enough is enough ..

In business all the marketers will tell you about the importance of having a Unique Selling Point, a USP. It is that element that is unique that makes your business special and makes you different to your competitors. In a busy marketplace that can be hard to achieve. In the current climate it can be even more difficult as everyone is afraid of mistakes so we end up playing it very safe, even boring at times.

Now go back to my first paragraph, read it again and then read further on and let’s discover a really simple way to make your business stand out this Easter.

Here goes..

This Easter draw a secret line around your business and make it a haven for all those who enter or deal with over the phone or on email – you are going to give them a gift, something that is quite unique, something that are not getting in most other places. When anyone crosses that secret line they are going to experience nothing but positivity – yep, that’s right simple positivity.

That’s all well and good but how do we do it? – Here is my 10 step plan!

1.       Yourself – You start! ( “Good morning, Greg”)

2.       Your Team – Tell them that negative talk is banned, you want them cheery and bright with customers – watch what happens (have a negative jar instead of a swear jar!)

3.       Bright – You want to see bright merchandise in the windows, bright visuals on your website, bright stock in the stock list, bright clothes on the staff. Buy flowers!

4.       Sales – Increase your sales targets. We all know it’s not easy but tell the team you are budgeting for an increase (let everyone else do the opposite, prepare for the negative it and it will definitely happen)

5.       How to? – Ok, while you are positive you are also realistic. You want positive plans from your team as to how the sales targets will be achieved

6.       Bonus – Promise bonuses for those who succeed, win/win if you make it

7.       What to do with that bonus? – Get everyone in the team to write on a piece of paper what they will do with their bonus (put their private responses in an envelope with their name on it – keep it for them)

8.       Drinks/dinner/chocolates/coffee – When the sales plans are done and the bonuses are decided on do something as a team. Bring chocolates or buns into work.

9.       Customers – treat them really nice, offer them coffee, offer them biscuits. Tell them about the secret line if you have to – they will think you are nuts but they will appreciate it

10.   The World – little enough that you can do about the other stuff, keep it outside the line!

Sorry I have one more tip – why stop at Easter?

Happy Easter!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion

Another Crazy Christmas! – Some Tips for Retailers

December 10, 2010
Tips for Retail at Christmas

Tips for Retail for Christmas

Writing a piece about retailing at Christmas should be quite straight forward you would imagine, but writing a piece that it is really helpful for retailers that have been through so many of them at this stage is a little daunting I must admit!

With a backdrop of recession and cutbacks, getting customers parting with their hard earned cash will be more challenging than ever but presents must be bought so let’s roll up our sleeves.

As part of the preparation for this article I decided I should ask my good buddy Mr Google for a little help and see what extra nuggets I could find that would definitely impress the experienced retailers out there.

If you Google “Tips for retailing at Christmas” you will be quite surprised with what you will find! My search actually took me to a website called – can you imagine a website designated to just that topic!

In a way it’s not at all surprising seeing as the Christmas period accounts for a huge % of peoples revenue as well as a huge % of footfall. Even more important the festive period will bring a large number of “new” visitors who could well be trying out your store for the first time – what an incredible opportunity if you really think about it.

I will look at the tips under four broad headings:

Attract the customers into your store

Customer loyalty is as a result of the good work you have done throughout the year and will determine where customers will do their shopping when it comes to Christmas. However you have to do your utmost to attract them in and compete for their attention.

Database Promotions – this is where you use your databases, your invite lists, and your Facebook page for special offers, special customer nights and even Christmas cards as gentle reminders that you are open for business.

Wow Window displays – Christmas windows are really special and if possible push the boat out and really build attractive displays that grab customer attention. (I always get blown away by the window displays in London at this time)

While having an attractive window display is critical, remember that people need complete “solutions” with either their outfits or their gifts – be sure to put your best foot forward at all times with your most attractive and available stock.

Fresh – Have new merchandise arrive throughout the whole festive period keeping your store fresh and if not refresh and rotate the key displays so that the store feels new and vibrant.

Offers – Make sure your promotions are well displayed but in a tasteful way and in keeping with the overall store look and feel.

Clean and tidy store – Allow extra staff time each evening for cleaning, tidying and rearranging so that the store is looking the best as much as possible.


Look after the customer really well when they get there

Research has shown that at Christmas 60% of purchasing decisions are made within the store – once they come in your door make sure that happens.

Christmas is a Floor Show – One of the sites I visited referred to retailing at Christmas as being a “Floor Show”. The game is won and lost on the sales floor and this is where the staff and managers should be spending their time looking after customers, making sure that the part time staff knows what they are doing, spotting trends and sorting out issues – plenty time for the office work in the New Year!

Happy Team – Keep your team motivated and upbeat. Christmas is a happy time and cheery staff are vital for the business. It is your responsibility to keep them happy, plan a Christmas party, bring them coffee and treats and make sure you rotate them so that they don’t get too jaded as this will result in lost business.

Happy Customers – Make sure there is a good atmosphere in the store with nice scents and festive but not “too” typical music. Offering a festive drink or some sweets or treats can put the shopper in a very good mood.


Give yourself every chance of selling to customers and as much as possible

Once you have done the hard job of attracting people into your store you want them to do a lot more than browse and say thank you!

Make it easy – Shoppers want to maximise their time and minimise their decision making so make it easy for them by bundling and coordinating products, labelling them clearly and having relevant accessories within easy access.

Have a Top 10 or Favourites rail – Display the popular lines prominently making it easy for the customer to purchase with confidence.

Show people what to buy – Create displays with the specific solutions in mind such as mother’s gifts, party wear etc

The right staff – You need the right quantity of good staff to maximise your income at this time. Bring part-time staff in during the lead up to Christmas in plenty of time so they are sufficiently up to speed for the rush.

Speedy Gonzales – Have your quickest people on the tills and on wrapping duty – remember Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean) in the store in the movie Love Actually!

Exchange policy and vouchers – make it as easy as possible for customers to buy by removing obstacles such as “What if they don’t like it?” objections.

Gift wrap – for the guys this is an absolute must as long as it doesn’t take too long and interferes with sales. Pre-wrap fast selling items where possible.


Entice them to return in the New Year

This is the one area that for some reason wasn’t covered in any of the websites, which really surprised me.

Accepting that many new customers visit your store in the Christmas period and many of the other shoppers may just be customers for special occasions, give them a special reason for returning earlier than expected.

New Year Initiatives such as invitations to a special VIP Customer “sale day” or a unique voucher that can be redeemed with purchases in the New Year might achieve this. Brainstorm ideas with your staff to encourage early New Year visits for customers.

Running competitions can be another clever way of building a fresh customer database at this time as long as it doesn’t create delays at the till!

I hope the Christmas tips have been helpful and serve you well into 2011 when we have to do it all over again, Merry Christmas!

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications



What Wagner and X-Factor can tell us about Marketing!

November 6, 2010
Wagner - X Factor

Wagner - X Factor, My Hero!

Every week (and not by choice I promise  you – I blame Dee!) I watch X Factor along with half the country and we all wonder how Wagner is still in the competition. I am writing this as I am watching the programme on Saturday, 6th November 2010..

I keep banging on to the crew in Fuzion that no matter how bad he is he will still not get voted out, at least not for a while yet. I threatened to write a blog about it, before he does actually get voted (Mary Quille warned me that I should get my blog written sooner than later!) out so here goes, while my theory is still valid!!

My simple theory is ..

If you are not capable of being the best, it is better to be totally different, offer something that no one else is offering than being one of the many.

The thing is there are one or two really good acts on the show who compete at the top of the tree for the votes but after that there are a whole bunch of “me-too’s’’ battling it out for the same votes.

Wagner appeals to a niche, admittedly I am struggling as to who they are but there are clearly more of them than those voting for the “me-too’s”.
So, until the “me-too’s “ are totally eliminated he has a great chance of still being there (please don’t let me down this week!)

Seth Godin talks about the importance of being different to succeed, The Purple Cow, this year in X Factor it is Wagner, last year it was Jedward.

Are you totally exceptional at what you do, are you a ”me- too” or are you a Wagner?

(P.S. – I’m just after seeing his performance and I could be eating my words!)

Watch the video –  A really funny response from the really cool team at

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Buying with a PR Objective

October 12, 2010

When anyone in the retail sector is doing their purchasing they already have many objectives in mind such as:

  • The Margin that is available on the stock
  • Credit terms
  • Reliability of supply
  • Resulting Price points
  • Range of stock
  • Storage
  • Returns policy
  • Ability to compete versus competition
  • Will it sell!!
Buying with a PR Agenda

Buying with a PR Agenda

I know you probably have enough on your plate but (the famous but!), I would strongly encourage every purchasing manager to also include a definite “PR Agenda” as part of the criteria when deciding on which suppliers to buy from and which stock to choose.
If your purchasing is approached in this way then there will be opportunities for valuable Press Coverage, which will be terrific for awareness and for attracting shoppers into your store.

So.. what exactly do I mean when I say purchase with a PR Agenda? – I have a few tips that may help you as follows..

Look for suppliers that have a pro-active PR resource – what will they do to promote the stock you buy from them?
When choosing a supplier look for one that is actively engaged in PR, which when operated properly will result in your store being mentioned as a stockist in Press coverage that is achieved in your locality. Don’t be afraid to ask for evidence of this including copies of press clippings for other stockists etc (make sure your supplier also includes your details on their website as a stockist)

Choose suppliers that have timely press images available of the stock that you are purchasing
If the supplier does not have a PR resource the next best thing is that you are able to do your own PR in your locality and beyond. This will be made a lot easier if the supplier can provide you with timely, good quality, attractive (high resolution) images. With these you or your own PR firm can issue your own press releases. (another tip – include these images on your Facebook page)

Choose products that are exclusive and unique
When deciding on which stock to purchase, try to secure brands or ranges of stock that will be exclusive to your store. A second point here is to purchase “unusual” items that will by their very nature turn heads and achieve coverage. You may be tempted to play it very safe with stock and avoid unusual items that may not sell – take a risk here, even with a small quantity of “PR Stock”. Get this one right and the PR value will well exceed the cost of the stock purchased.

Frequency of PR
Try to plan your buying so that you have new stock and the ability to issue an interesting Press Release as often as possible during the year. The Press will write about your store quite often as long as you have a new story to tell.

National versus loca
Achieving PR is really valuable for your store as we have discussed – will your plan achieve local PR or is it possible to achieve national PR? Try hard to have something that will bring you attention with the press nationally. As discussed already this will be down to you being the “exclusive stockist of unusual items”

For example at Fuzion we have achieved national coverage for small stores as a result of them having quite unusual stock items in their range – this will generate curiosity with customers and press as well as a national reputation for your store.

Overall Review of your purchase plan
Once you have made the bulk of your purchasing decisions in terms of suppliers and stock sit back and review this to ensure that the plan has sufficient “PR Ability” applying the PR criteria as discussed above: PR Resource, PR Images, Exclusive Stock, Wow Stock, Frequency and National versus Local.

Maybe you need to make a few changes or add something into the mix to achieve your PR Objective?

Customer “Wow” & Word of Mouth
Not only will the unusual items of stock help you to achieve Press Coverage but they will also achieve valuable “Word of Mouth” with customers. Help this along by displaying unusual items prominently in your store and by distributing the images on your Facebook pages. Customers could well make the assumption that if you can purchase usual items in the store, then surely there will be a great selection of “other” stock?

At a time when budgets are very tight (or anytime to be honest!) bringing a PR “agenda” into your purchasing criteria could play a very valuable role in attracting new customers to your store as well as  building your reputation as being quite special.

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Bill Gates and his last dollar

July 4, 2010


Bill Gates

“If I was down to my last dollar I would spend it on PR” was the famous quote that Bill Gates made and one that many of us in the PR industry use when we are trying to draw attention to the importance of our services.

Ironically many of us are nearly down to our last dollars, or Euros and you might question does this piece of advice really hold water, how applicable is it and is this really what Bill Gates meant when he made the comment?  Was he ever down to his last dollar? – I wonder..

Does he really suggest that when a business is really tight that it spends its income in such a way?

When the recession kicked in how did you react in your business? What overheads got the chop? I’m suspecting that Marketing & PR budgets were given the scissors treatment – was this the right thing to do? How did this affect your business and the attitude of those working there?

Positive Attitude, Positive Activity and Positive Spend

Not knowing Bill I can only guess but this is my interpretation of what he meant ..

PR is as much an attitude, a process, a set of beliefs, a way of behaving positively as much as it is about Press Releases and actually employing a PR resource.

PR or Public Relations is all about Managing your Reputation– protecting, maintaining, building and managing your reputation. Even if you are down to your last dollar you need to keep investing or doing this.

There is nothing more valuable as a good reputation and this is about a lot more than employing PR companies or about issuing press releases. Your reputation is every single aspect of how your business relates to the outside world, your customers, your prospects, the general public and the media. This applies equally to a self employed candlestick maker as it does to a large multinational.

Ok, how about 16 Tips for improving and managing your Reputation (PR) for €1

1.    Answer the phones politely and helpfully
2.    Return missed calls promptly
3.    Return email enquiries quickly
4.    Deliver a good service to customers
5.    Handle complaints fairly and efficiently
6.    Deliver products and services on time
7.    Ensure your billing is correct
8.    Be polite, fair and efficient with your suppliers and staff
9.    Keep customers and prospects up to date with new products, features and services
10.    Treat your suppliers fairly
11.    Treat your customers with respect (even if they are experiencing difficulty and are under financial pressure)
12.    Ensure that all correspondence is well laid out, with correct English, is easily understood, professional and properly reflects your business
13.    Ensure your premises and vehicles are kept neat and tidy
14.    Ensure the attire of your staff is in keeping with the standards of your business
15.    Ensure your staff always talk up your company and do not air grievances outside of the four walls with external people – make a pact to sort things out internally
16.    Talk up the achievements of your company and the staff working there – their talents, skills and achievements

This is not an exhaustive list – have a think about it and add another 5/10/20 points to improve your reputation even more. Even better get your team to help you with this task.

Ok, all of this is good for your business reputation, it didn’t require the intervention of third party consultants and oh yeah, it didn’t really cost a shilling – you still have your €1 left!

So far we have looked at some housekeeping reputation issues.

Positive Attitude

As we mentioned PR is in essence a positive attitude – first and foremost you need to declare war on this recession and ensure that you and everyone in your business understands the importance of your reputation and a Positive Attitude towards your business. You will thrive in this environment and if you are alert you will not only survive but you will be in a position to seize on unique opportunities that may arise.

Back to the job of spending our last €1..

Communicate that you are going to invest in positive activity for your business – You have been in Retreat mode and now you want to invest funds in forward mode – you want to “Storm” this recession. Your staff must understand that every €1 is vital, that you want maximum return from it and challenge them to achieve this. Show and positively display the faith that you have in the business and communicate that you and your team are adopting “attack” mode!

This positive mind shift is essential for the business.

Where do we spend our €1?

–    Refresh your Website – review and refresh the text, besides being new and positive it helps your Search Engine ranking
–    Optimise your Website (do a Google search on this and you will learn find how to do it for free)
–    Update the News items on the website – announce new customers, products or services
–    Set up a Facebook business page, it’s free – take the time and build a following for your business online. Ask customers to sign up, email them, ring them, tell them..
–    Start using the other social media sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn to build your contacts and spread awareness for your business, products and service. If you’re not sure how to do this – Google it .. there are plenty of articles and tips available online
–    Prepare Press Releases about your company or services . Do you have anything interesting or new happening in the business? – let the press know.
–    Advertising: maybe you have an advertising campaign running with the local papers or a trade publication – negotiate that you get some free editorial to support these adverts (keep it interesting, they won’t print boring stuff!)

All of this is positive – have you ever noticed that you like being around positive people? In business we are no different and we like dealing with positive, successful businesses. Behave like one of them.

Build your reputation, shout it from the rooftops and make this a clearly understood activity in your business.

Big problem… we still haven’t spent that €1

Print a few posters and put them around your business “We are Storming the Recession”

If you have more than €1 to spend feel free to give Fuzion a call and we will help you achieve the maximum from your Marketing & PR budget.

Bill, thanks for the PR thumbs up ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Accountants and Marketeers Working Together?

May 11, 2010

Can these professions actually work together pro-actively and deliver excellent results for a client or for a business?

Tug Of War

Accountants and Marketeers pulling together?

At the beginning of 2009 when fear had totally gripped the whole business community I was staggered by the amount of clients ringing to cancel their Marketing activities – Advertising, PR and even some suggestions to get rid of their websites!

As someone who is a reformed accountant it made me cast my mind back to those days in practice and I had to question myself – when I was wearing those shoes is that the advice that I would have been giving my clients?

The logic is simple – Remove “unnecessary” expense to protect the bottom line.

With my marketing hat on I always question where current and future sales come from and I ask why did the business conduct these activities in the past?

Is attracting customers less or more important in a downturn?

Ok, we have to extract the best value for money, be extremely careful as to where every single euro is being spent and make sure that every euro must work hard in delivering value. However we just can’t cut out the activity totally.

Is this how accountants generally view Marketing?  Many of them don’t but I wonder do many think this way?

How about a scenario whereby the Accountant and the Marketeer work together for clients in devising proactive but yet prudent solutions that protect the business in the short term and the long term?

We have only ever once met a client with their accountant – Should this be the case?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Get Results – Complain Online!

March 1, 2010

This is just a very simple follow up piece on an issue that I was having with Eircom, which was dragging on and on forever.

Basically I was pretty much getting no satisfaction, I was being passed from pillar to post and getting nowhere fast.

In the meantime I read an interesting article about how many years ago a guy in the States blogged about lousy service he had received from Dell Computers. Once he had blogged the post was noticed online and soon there was an avalanche of people with the same problems & eventually Dell spotted the commotion, reacted and more importantly took the issues on board and sorted out some serious issues they were having.


Eircom Business

I took the same approach and put my frustration on my blog (I circulated this through Facebook & Linkedin) and found that while no one in Eircom was listening through the normal channels the story online was quite different!

Within hours I had a guy onto me directly from Eircom responding to my blog post. The issue that had been dragging on forever was sorted within a week (well hopefully, when I get the credit I will know it is sorted).

On the positive side the issue was sorted, on the negative why did it take an online post to get a reaction?

The power of online media ..

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Have we less to say to our Customers?

February 15, 2010
Billboard Advertising

Billboard Advertising in Ireland

I am amazed by the amount of empty billboards that I am seeing around the country at the moment.

In what I consider to be quite a good location quite close to where we live there are three billboards and they have been empty pretty much since the start of the year – eventually this weekend two of them were filled.

There are clearly huge cutbacks going on by the big mainstream advertisers.

Why did we advertise last year? The year before?

Is now a time for advertising less?

Is now a time for not talking to your customers?

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications

Eircom Business Customer Service!

February 4, 2010
Eircom Business

Eircom Business

I am sure that I am not the first to have experienced lousy customer service but I just have to blog about Eircom. At a time when we are all busting a gut to get by, delivering excellent customer service it astounds me how some companies can get away with the total opposite.

Without going into the blow by blow of the story they made a total shambles of a simple leasing agreement on a phone system and put us on a careless business tariff that had us paying about €300/400 too much every month. This went on for over a year – I was offered a credit of €200.

Read on …. the text of my last email to them (lets see if they are listening to their customers online: I will circulate the blog on LinkedIn, Facebook & Twitter)

email: 4th Feb 2010

Hi Padraic,

This is going from bad to worse ..

In response to your efforts to get this sorted on your side I received a call yesterday from a ‘Debbie’ in Eircom.

While very pleasant and courteous she seemed to be quite junior. She politely explained that her credit jurisdiction did not extend beyond €200 and if I wanted to achieve something more than this I would have to make an ‘official complaint’!

Aaaaaahhhhhhh …. what in the name of god is going on at Eircom.

In fairness to Debbie she saw the funny side and acknowledged that what was going on and my steady flow of correspondence did qualify me as ‘a complainer’. She totally empathised with me and promised that someone with some sort of authority would call me back in half an hour.

I needn’t tell you that I never received a call from anyone.

Officially ‘This is a complaint’ to Eircom and not me writing for the fun of it.

I would appreciate some action please.


Greg Canty

Greg Canty is a partner of Fuzion Communications