June 22, 2020

Speaking of Patterns

Here's what a typical day looks like ....
  1. I write some code.
  2. I run the code
  3. It might take 5-10 minutes for the code to run.
  4. I look at a curated list of "pundits" on Twitter, searching for themes among their missives.
  5. 8 minutes go by and my program finishes running.
  6. I analyze data.
It's in the eight minutes that a program runs that I look for patterns. I look to see what the pundits are saying. Are there themes in their comments? Is there news that they're responding to? Where are the pundits being led astray?

Pundits are always being led astray. The "news of the day" constantly pushes and pulls pundits in odd directions.

CNBC will report that Neiman Marcus is going bankrupt ... and the pundits respond with a "THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS" publication. It's almost never "what it really means", but it fills the void and allows the masses to feel like they're being strategic.

You've always got to look a few levels past what the pundits are saying. When a retailer goes bankrupt, you want to think ahead 3-5 years. Will the retailer still be in business? If the retailer is still in business, has anything fundamentally changed? Will the customer base change? Will the merchandise change? Will the expense structure change? Will the management team change? Is the fundamental flaw in the business model being addressed? What happens if the fundamental flaw in the business model is addressed but the competition fails, causing less traffic overall? These are questions you ask yourself ... you don't wait for a pundit to publish a "THIS IS WHAT IT MEANS" article!

Once you answer the question for yourself, once you develop your own thesis, you'll notice that there are patterns that are lying there, ready to be discovered.

You'll notice that A-level malls are likely to thrive ... while marginal malls are finished.

You'll notice that there are affluent customers who will keep affluent brands afloat.

You'll notice that there are lower income rural customers spending $250 a square foot at a Dollar Store ... and that pattern will reappear over and over and over again ... and you'll start asking yourself what that means ... not to Macy's or JCP ... but what that means to Target and Walmart? And you'll quickly realize that the darlings of 2020 ... Target & Walmart ... have issues in 3-5 years. You'll investigate 10K statements and figure out that Dollar Tree / Family Dollar do nearly $24,000,000,000 a year in net sales, and produce gross profits that are equal to or better than Target / Walmart, and that will cause you to really start thinking, because the pundits told you to focus on Amazon when you should be been focusing your thoughts elsewhere. The Amazon thought will lead you to the truth that these dollar stores didn't embrace e-commerce and therefore force the customer to shop the store and you'll immediately understand the feckless nonsense of the omnichannel thesis. Hmmmmmm.

You'll realize that these stores are being opened in areas where there isn't necessarily a nearby Walmart or Target to compete against a dollar store. You'll see inventory turns of 4x/year and then you'll think even more about the fact that you can't move your own merchandise that fast.

You'll realize that in an 83 page annual statement (click here) they mention the word Marketing one (1) time. Once. Won't that disappoint all of the digital marketing pundits out there?

You'll realize that the world changed and that the pundits almost never talk about dollar stores and you'll realize that the pundits are missing the story and you'll figure out the pundits don't really know what they're talking about.

That level of pattern detection will cause you to become a detective.

And by being a detective, your co-workers will perceive you as being "strategic".

Once you're perceived as being "strategic", doors will open.  

All because you are detecting patterns.

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