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Good can result from negative thinking in positive times

marketing 101

We all know that in negative times we have to think positively. But according to one of my favored personal development coaches, Jim Rohn, not many people understand that in positive times it’s important to think negatively.

Our industry has experienced many robust years with high volumes of merchandise being sold at retail enabling consumers to make their houses a home. Everyone’s business was good and most everything sold. How many people during those good times thought to themselves: “You know, this can’t last forever and I’m going to be smart with my money so that when the next downturn hits, I’ll be prepared to come out with guns loaded to gain market share with an aggressive advertising, marketing and public relations campaign.”

Based on our perceptions of the size of our industry’s respective magazines, occupancy rates at the market centers, print advertising in local newspapers and other quantifiable measures, I think perhaps Rohn is correct; not many people practice the smart behavior of thinking negatively in positive times.

OK, currently we’re not experiencing positive times so the order of the day is to think positively. We have to believe business will improve in the future, correct? While it is important to have a positive attitude; it is vital that we are able to distinguish “positive thinking” from “lulling oneself into believing” things will return to the way they were. That simply isn’t going to happen. Too many things have changed and I’m not talking about subtle things, I am speaking of major paradigm shifts.

America is so overbuilt with brick-and-mortar retail at the same time that consumers in mass are changing buying habits and incorporating the Internet into their shopping experience. Two opposing trends result in vacant retail space in shopping centers and strip centers, empty parking lots at most retail locales, etc., all over this country. If a visit to your store isn’t a positive experience for your customer, you will continue to struggle to get them in and keep them coming.

Think differently about your advertising and provide a more positive customer experience when your customer responds. Both are paramount to your store’s success. Look for a cost effective method to reach your customer where they live. Employ the best “E_Smarts” you can to nurture a relationship with your customer.

There are many start-up companies having great success this past year or two, some of which are totally taking advantage of the negative times. One such company is hired by the banks to do House/Home maintenance on foreclosed properties so that the banks can unload for the highest possible price.

Another company, where my 16-year-old daughter began working this summer, is a terrific concept not so much related to the poor current economic conditions, but one that relates to our industry and us. The store, called Latte Fun, is a coffee shop/restaurant (fine catered sandwiches-salads-desserts, etc.) filled with quality comfortable overstuffed upholstery, occasional furniture, lamps and accessories and relaxed conversation areas, maybe about 2,000 square feet maximum. Partitioned behind glass windows, double-doors and mostly soundproof is an indoor playground with in-ground trampolines, bounce houses, slides, etc. They charge a daily fee for the children (who must have a parent or guardian on the premises at all times) and additionally make their money on the products they sell. In business a little over a year, the niche retailer is opening its second location next month 50 miles south.

How many women would love to meet, have a place for their young children to be safe while burning off some energy, while they had coffee, a light lunch and a leisurely opportunity to shop to make their houses a home?

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