August 11, 2013

2008: Fix It!

Five popular songs from 2008:
  • "Low" - Flo Rida featuring T-Pain
  • "Bleeding Love" - Leona Lewis
  • "No One" - Alicia Keys
  • "Lollipop" - Lil' Wayne featuring Static Major
  • "Apologize" - Timbaland featuring One Republic
Fun times!

Your house depreciated by 20% over a two year span (with another 20% to come).  By the end of 2008, comp store sales were mired in a fifteen months slide.  The Dow Jones Industrial average dropped nearly 800 points in one day in September 2008.

A plan was hatched to fix the problem.  The Troubled Assets Relief Program, or TARP, would provide $700,000,000,000+ of support to keep the banking system afloat.  With 110,000,000 families in the United States, each family was essentially being asked to contribute just shy of $7,000 to make banks whole.

On Saturday Night Live, commentary looked something like this:

In the world of consulting, things weren't necessarily all that different!  Business leaders wanted consultants to "Fix It!"

Like in the video, it's easy to identify a problem.

In the real world, it isn't always easy to solve a problem.

I worked with a company that figured out how to Fix It!  They had a customer acquisition plan, and they had a merchandising plan that integrated with the customer acquisition plan. Combined, the integrated plan (no, not channel integration ... an integration of new customer acquisition strategy with a merchandising strategy) yielded significant growth during a time frame when the global economy was in meltdown mode.

On Twitter, you'll get a veritable plethora of advice similar to that described in the video (step one = identify the problem, step two = fix it).

In my 6+ years of consulting work, there is one common theme, a theme with three elements, a theme that consistently yields positive results.
  1. A strong (and inexpensive) customer acquisition plan.
  2. A strong new merchandise development plan.
  3. Integration of marketing and merchandising plans.
2008 was the first year I observed a company doing all three things well.  In the teeth of an economic catastrophe, as everybody else yelled "FIX IT", this company silently grew.  

They had a plan.

Today, we're knee deep in mobile, and it's retail cousin, "omnichannel".  Don't let lust for channel dominance delude you ... focus on inexpensive customer acquisition, a strong merchandise / new item plan, and integration of marketing and merchandising plans.

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