retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, I'm Kevin Coupe and this is FaceTime with the Content Guy.

I have some thoughts in this first FaceTime of the new year about the resolutions that I think marketers ought to be making for the new year. Now, I'm not particularly big on resolutions, so let's call them something else: strategies and tactics.

Here are six suggestions.

Authenticity. Now, this is a term that gets tossed around a lot, and I suspect that a dozen teams of consultants would come up with a dozen definitions, and charge you a lot for the information. So let me give you my simple definition, and I won't even charge you: Figure out who or what you are, and then be it. It is that simple, and that difficult - you have to figure out what your essential value proposition is, and then work that for all it is worth. Everything you do has to support that authenticity ... or it won't be authentic.

E-commerce. Again, there will be lots of stories and studies about this, but I don't think it requires a Master's degree to understand that the next generation of shoppers has a fundamentally different approach to obtaining products and services than most of us. It isn't monolithic, it requires constant monitoring, and it can be influenced. But as I said in a different context earlier this week, retailers and manufacturers have to understand that offering some sort of e-commerce option to consumers is about as important as having bar codes on the products and scanners at the front end. if you don't have them, you risk looking irrelevant. Hell, you risk being irrelevant.

Celebrate the front lines. I don't care what kind of retailer you happen to be. The people working in your stores are your most important and differentiating asset. Treat them that way. Find a way to make them feel like they are an asset, not a cost. In fact, make sure that they actually are an asset ...

Define your differences. If it is true that 90 percent of what is in your store can be found in any competitor's store, then you'd better make sure that the other 10 percent is special. Really special.

Trackability, traceability, and transparency. I think that this is what people want and expect, even if they don't know it or cannot put it into words. If you are a retailer, you are responsible for everything you sell. So do what you need to do to know everything you can about the products you sell, and then communicate your knowledge, confidence and approach to your shoppers. Remember the old Latin proverb: Trust, like the soul, never returns once it goes.

Finally ... Tell your story. Again and again and again. If people walk into your store or pick up your product and don't instantly know that it is uniquely yours ... if they don't know your story well enough to tell other people about it, then you are missing an enormous opportunity.

At least, that's my story ... and I'm sticking to it. As always, I want to hear your story.

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