As the proud father of two darling little girls I have spent many hours in the queue to see Santa. My wife and I have strategised as to the best approach to minimize the queue time to see Santa. I have even waited outside the front doors of major retailers at the crack of dawn elbowing Grandmothers and staring down little kids for prime position. All of this to still have to wait between one and two hours to see the big guy.
You can imagine my Christmas cheer this week when my family were ushered in to see Santa without a queue and without a wait. Let me repeat that …I was ushered in to see Santa without any waiting time!
At first my wife and I did a secret high-five but deep down I knew something was wrong.
Santa was great, charming chap who could do with a wardrobe update. It was the Magic Cave that had lost its charm.
In total we spent five minutes having a delightful time with Santa and then spent approximately 30 seconds doing a tour of the half a dozen exhibits that were part of what used to be the Magic Cave.
When Cost-Cutting Hurts your Brand
This experience prompted me to ask you to stop to give consideration to any initiatives intended to cut costs or increase efficiencies. Double-check the impact that such cost-cutting initiatives are having on your brand.
My message is: Please make sure you double-check the impact on your desired Brand Positioning and your Customer Needs before you make changes
Please understand that I appreciate the important and time-urgent need to increase efficiencies and cut costs.
Reducing Costs is Critical
Make no mistake, I am a believer in the need for business owners to continually look for areas in which to reduce their costs. I encourage our clients to implement regular (at least annual) cost-cutting initiatives to ensure they take advantage of changes in negotiating power, advancements in technology and other efficiency improvements.
Reducing costs can help you delight your customer!
Getting good at reducing costs and increasing efficiencies allows you more resources to allocate to improvements that help increase the overall experience that your customer enjoys. It lets you allocate resources to things like increased customer service, quality improvements, innovations, after sales service etc.
Is it a case of ‘All or Nothing’?
When I walked around the new slim style Magic Cave it occurred to me that for a number of small business brands it is important to get some aspects completely right or to not do them at all.
David Jones is a major retail brand with years of successful trading, customer service and brand loyalty to benefit from. I suspect that many customers might be surprised and perhaps a little disappointed with this years Magic Cave presentation. However, I doubt that the negative impact will be enough to reverse all of the goodwill that has been developed over past decades. It may even have some positive connotations in these times of austerity measures.
Sometimes a small to medium sized business is better doing nothing at all rather than a half-hearted attempt
However, for a small to medium business their brand may not be established enough to withstand the inconsistencies created by such a visual display of cost reduction measures. A low-key or half-hearted attempt at an external branding or promotions initiative may do more damage than good. The small to medium sized business should consider the implications of the cost-cutting measure in addition to the implications of doing nothing at all. In other words consider an ‘all or nothing’ approach.
For more on Customer Needs analysis and Brand Positioning please visit The Baker Marketing: 2014 Marketing Summer School (Part 3) and The Baker Marketing: 2014 Marketing Summer School (Part 6)
Getting it Right for Your Brand
Naturally each business and particular situation is different and the savvy business owner will need to consider factions such as:
- Overall objectives of the initiative
- Band Strategy and in particular Primary and Secondary Target Markets, Customer Needs and Desired Brand Positioning
- Other alternatives for executing their promotions and sales initiatives
- Overall resources and how best to allocate them
If you are thinking of spending time giving consideration to the above then The Baker Marketing: 2014 Marketing Summer School (Part 1) could be a good place to visit to start reviewing (or preparing) your marketing plan.
Of course it is important that the business operator defines the mechanism by which they will monitor and measure outcomes. This way they will have an understanding of whether they made the right decision and will be better informed when making similar decisions next time.