How many of you have been in a Macy’s recently? For me, the brand went the way of The Gap a long time ago – off strategy in terms of its merchandise, focus and direction. I haven’t stepped foot in either for years.
By now most everyone has seen Macy’s huge TV ad campaign featuring celebrities such as Martha Stewart, Usher, The Donald, Jessica Simpson and a bevy of other Hollywood types hocking their wares. Actually the ads are quite good and the fun environment they promise customers made me want to check it out. And so I did.
For any of you who recently took a step inside a Macy’s store because of the TV ads, you probably found the same thing I did – the same old dingy store with lackluster staff and an altogether dead feeling inside. Sure, the bigger Macy’s are a little more glitzy (but they always were) and those are few and far between.
So what happened?
THE REAL WORLD RETAILING TAKEAWAY
Macy’s decided to have a whole new strategic marketing direction. But no one told the rest of the company. So the merchandise, the visual merchandising, the operations and store employees all remained the same.
It’s the classic putting lipstick on a pig – it doesn’t make the pig any prettier. And so it is with Macy’s – a fresh, spunky ad campaign that doesn’t reflect what the store experience is really like.
As a small retailer, if you’re going to launch a new brand, change direction inside your store, or otherwise give your customers something different or new, then you have to make sure you’re ready to throw the party. Don’t invite people to your party unless you’re ready to receive guests.
Here’s a few ways to avoid the trap.
- Make sure your employees are informed and well-trained. Whether it’s a big sale or the launch of a new brand, well-informed employees make for well-informed customers and ultimately, increased sales.
- Don’t promise what you can’t deliver. Whether it’s Macy’s promising a celebrity-studded experience or Six Flags promising to be more of a family theme park, don’t make the claim unless you’re able to deliver. You’ll only end up disappointing your customers who will think twice before visiting again.
- Operate with intellectual honesty. While Macy’s certainly couldn’t advertise their store experience as it is (who would want to visit after seeing that in a TV ad), someone should have stopped the campaign and shelved it until the store experience caught up to what the ads were promising. But somehow everyone on Macy’s executive team must have been so enamored with the ad concept that they let it cloud their judgment. Be really honest and ask the tough questions of yourself as it relates to any type of experience you’re promising (and then answer them honestly). Doing so will help you avoid the pitfalls of over promising and under delivering.
I think it’s best summed up with a tenet the Walt Disney theme parks operate under – it goes something like this: