Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Two Children of Black Friday

Black Friday is a huge money day for retailers in the United States.  You can tell how much retailers rely on Black Friday sales just by looking at the amount of sales circulars that come with the Wednesday paper (the day before Thanksgiving.)  Retailers spend lots of money to get our attention for this Holy Grail of retail sales.  They rely on consumers getting caught up in the hype of Black Friday and spending money, even money we don't have.  This year I was not surprised that retailers have decided to invade a traditional family holiday with their offerings of retail sales: Thanksgiving day sales.

Target, Wal-Mart and Kmart all had Thanksgiving day sales beginning at 8pm for Kmart.  The deals were tempting, but I kept feeling bad for those employees who had to work on Thanksgiving and Black Friday.  What about family, what about sitting at home with all your crazy relatives, love them or leave them, on Thanksgiving for these people?  

Sure, I know that many people are just happy to have a job after having experienced one of the worst recessions in history.  Yet, all money ain't good money.  Family and family values should still matter.  Business should never take over what is really important in life.  Maybe I'm just old fashioned because I value my family and the time I spend with them.  But from a business standpoint, does having Thanksgiving day sales (which you know will get bigger next year and continually grow) cause resentment among the employees who must work this holiday?

According to an article on the Harvard Business Review, employees don't like working on Thanksgiving.  "One group is definitely worse off: retail employees. Customers can pass on Gray Thursday, but employees are stuck. They often have to show up several hours before opening. And they don't like it! Casey St. Clair, a Target employee, was so upset that she set up a petition on change.org to "save Thanksgiving" and go back to Friday morning opening. By midday today more than 370,000 people had signed it."

To what benefit is it to retail businesses to forgo employee happiness?  Apparently, the recession has made businesses more callous and less concerned about employee happiness or unhappiness.  The pool of eligible and available workers is plentiful, and if a group of employees decide they don't want to work on Thanksgiving, well, there are many who will.  

Of course, ethically, that doesn't make it right, but from a business standpoint, earnings are earnings, and nothing will get in the way of a good opportunity as the one that has emerged for retail sales on Thanksgiving.  Black Friday has birthed two children:  Cyber Monday and Thanksgiving Day sales days.  

From an ethical standpoint the HBR article further states:  "And when retailers make decisions such as opening stores on Thanksgiving, without even a clear benefit to the companies or their customers, retail employees are once again reminded of how little their companies care about their lives and well being. What difference does it make if a household with two working parents or a single-parent household hardly ever has time for a big family gathering? What difference does it make if a joyful family tradition has to be cut down to size? That's not a business matter. Is it any wonder that Walmart associates and community supporters were mad enough to protest about bad jobs in front of Walmart stores on Black Friday?"

I guess it's true that desperate times call for desperate measures, and the retail industry is desperate.  

What do you think?  Did you have to work Thanksgiving?  And if so, how did that make you feel?

Friday, November 23, 2012

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Saturday, November 3, 2012

How to Sell without Selling

Everyday in my line of work, I have an opportunity to sell something to people.  Perfect strangers allow me access to their homes, their lives and their personal space, yet I choose not to sell them anything.  However, I am one of the most successful reps in my market.  How is it that I am successful at persuading people to do something they have very little knowledge of, and not be a salesperson?

Because I work at being me.  It's The Power of Attitude 

Selling is hard work.  You have to memorize scripts, memorize and remember the right things to say at the right roads of objection.  When you're being yourself, it's so much easier to have a natural conversation with people.  They trust me more that way.  I get in the door 65% of the time, and my closing ratio is 54%.  Yet, I do not sell anything at any time to anyone.

When I leave a panel members' home, they feel like they can call me with any problem, and they do.  At all hours of the day or night, and that's okay.  I tell them I am always accessible, and I am.  See, the one thing I learned in this business is that people don't buy a product because it is the greatest thing since sliced bread; no they buy a product because they like the person presenting the product.  They trust that person, they can identify with that person.  Who you are is who you will be.  When I approach the door of a household, I let them know I'm not trying to sell them anything, only that they have an opportunity to participate in something that most people would love to do.  They are unique and special.  Then I let them know what it is that I have for them.

The majority of them are just as excited about participating once I tell them this, and they let me in their homes, offer me dinner, and some want me to come to church with them.

Being yourself is important when you're marketing a product or service.  It makes you less nervous or anxious.  

Share some of your tips for success below, do you work at being you, or do you sell a product?

Friday, November 2, 2012

Hurricane Sandy has Retailers Planning Online Sales

It's never too much, too late or too soon for retailers to take advantage of a situation and turn it into a revenue generating marketing tool.  Well, Hurricane Sandy or Frankenstorm as it has been called as well, has some retailers either catching flak for poor marketing taste, or other retailers making money off Hurricane Sandy.

Retailers were hoping shoppers who were hunkering down inside their homes would be online shopping, if not shopping, at least looking.  But, how do you shop when now your home has been destroyed, or you're homeless.  Now Christmas gift shopping isn't high on your agenda.  Having a place to stay for you and your family is now first priority.

American Apparel was on the hot seat the other day because of a Tweet they published: "American Apparel's Hurricane Sandy promotion, which read, "In case you're bored during the storm, 20% off everything for the next 36 hours - offer available: Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, North Carolina, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virgina, Maryland, Rhode Island - Just Enter SANDYSALE at Checkout."   Of course, this is one of those marketing messages that will go into the hall of shame of advertising as bad timing, poor taste, and quite frankly should have been better thought out.

But, are we living in a world where successful online marketing belongs to the most outrageous, shocking, viral messages in order to make sales?  Have we become desensitized so that it doesn't matter what advertisers promote or how they promote it?

Let's hope not.  Hurricane Sandy is a terrible natural disaster that has left many dead, homeless and lives uprooted.  At this time, it is not known if online merchants will be impacted this holiday season due to the after effects of Hurricane Sandy.  I guess retailers will have to wait to see if consumers will forgo online holiday purchases in lieu of getting their lives back together.

What are your thoughts, do you feel that online retailers like American Apparel lacked class by posting that Tweet?  Let us know how you feel below.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Rumor Has It: Facebook to Offer Classifieds?

There is a rumor floating around that Facebook will offer its own brand of classifieds.  You may say that Facebook already has Marketplace...well Marketplace was sold to Oodles and it hasn't lived up to the expectation of mass integration.  Marketplace is similar to throwing an ad against the wall and letting it live there to see if it sticks.  However, the almost one billion Facebook users didn't believe the hype, so Facebook may be looking to make their own Craigslist-style classified ads.

Craigslist might not like it, according to CNET, "Craigslist presumably won't be too happy if Facebook does head in its direction, though it's unclear how much it can do about it. The company has been fiercely protective of its own listings, and in July Craigslist sued PadMapper and the data harvester it uses, 3taps, for "unlawfully and unabashedly mass-harvesting and redistributing postings."   By contrast, Facebook is purportedly building an entirely new classified network.

This should be interesting, because the Facebook classifieds will be in the timeline/news feed of users.  Again it will be targeted, to geo-location, behavioral targeting, et al, to make the ads as relevant and transparent as possible.  So, if you're in St. Louis, Missouri, and there is an apartment for rent, you may see this classified ad in your timeline.  Those seeking to post classifieds will pay a fee if they are selling something, while those who are posting apartments for rent, for example will not.

But, right now Facebook won't confirm nor deny if they are developing such a product.  As usual, stay tuned to your Facebook page for further changes.  We all know Facebook changes so much that it's hard to keep up.  Facebook classifieds will probably be coming sooner than you can finish reading this post.

What are your thoughts?  Will you be happy to see a Craigslist-style classified ad product on Facebook?  Post your responses below.