Yesterday — for the first time in years — I set foot inside J.C. Penney.
To my surprise, I came away impressed with the retailer’s customer experience.
Shortly after walking into the store, my wife and I were cheerfully greeted by two J.C. Penney employees. What’s more, the store featured wide, inviting aisles … neatly presented merchandise … and warm, friendly lighting.
Best of all, we were introduced to the retailer’s new pricing strategy which gives shoppers everyday low pricing. For example, I bought a pair of name-brand shorts for just 12 bucks! No coupon clipping. No “Memorial Day Sale.” No hassles.
But here’s what’s most revealing: While checking out, I asked the sales associate for feedback on what other shoppers thought of J.C. Penney’s new pricing.
A little of love … and a little bit of hate.
See, about half of the retailer’s customers respond positively to the new, best-foot-forward pricing, while the other half long for coupon-clipping days gone by.
Long story short, J.C. Penney’s pricing transition has been painful for the company. Overcoming its sales addiction is gonna take faith, patience and staying power. And it sounds like some investors are already getting twitchy.
While I applaud J.C. Penney’s recent in-store improvements and new pricing strategy (although I’m disappointed the retailer is STILL competing primarily on price) … my focus isn’t on helping corporate America. My focus is on helping YOU — the Main Street business builder.
So here’s what you can learn from J.C. Penney’s difficult pricing transition:
Overcoming your addiction to sales events — switching from event-driven marketing to a long-term branding campaign (winning your customer’s heart long before she needs your product) — can be incredibly painful. Like J.C. Penney, you’re gonna need quite a bit of faith, patience and staying power.
“Good advertising is painful at first because you don’t see immediate results.” — Roy H. Williams
To smooth out this transitionary period, I recommend that you ween yourself from sales events by temporarily straddling BOTH advertising campaigns.
Here’s what I mean: Use a passive medium like newspaper to advertise your sales events while you continue to leverage your broadcast ads to build long-term brand awareness. Roy H. Williams, my partner, even recommends that you “anonymously” advertise your newspaper-advertised sale by burying your company’s name in the fine print.
Similarly, avoid changing your “religion” all at once when moving from one advertising medium to another — especially when transitioning from a passive medium like newspaper to an intrusive media like radio.
Although I would typically encourage you to concentrate your forces and place every penny of your advertising budget into a single medium, I realize that transitioning from one medium to another can sometimes be as painful as transitioning from event-driven marketing to a branding campaign.
To lessen your discomfort, it’s often a good idea to maintain a small presence in the medium your moving FROM — at least until you begin harvesting the seeds planted in your new advertising medium.
Yes, I realize that straddling strategies such as these require that you maintain two separate ad campaigns, which means your advertising costs will be higher.
But remember, this is only temporary and your company will be much healthier in the long-term if you stand firm and refuse to chicken out during this difficult transition.
Best of luck!
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