Say No to People

A large scale pet store sells over 6400 items in their shop. Is it a good choice?

December 10, 2019

My mom is a sales rep who works with pet store retailers. Some small and some large. She told me recently that a store she visits has over 6400 items on sale. 6400!

But that means they sell a lot of stuff, right? They probably need all of those items. Still, my curiosity wasn't satisfied. I asked, "why sell so many?"

Apparently people are more picky about their dog's food being gluten-free, paleo, with/without certain ingredients than most people are with their own nutrition. In short, they are trying to please everyone by having all of those needs met. No matter what pet you have, no matter what its needs are, they are trying to sell it.

I can't know for certain, but I'd imagine 80% of their sales comes from 20% (or less) of those 6400 products.

When Steve Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, the first thing he did was strip away 70% of Apple's products and got them focusing on what really mattered. Surprisingly, despite getting rid of a bunch of products, Apple turned its first quarterly profit the following January (see timeline for comparison). Apple didn't even have 50 products and they still struggled to keep their head above water. Can you imagine the crippling weight of 6400 products?

In-N-Out, the most successful burger chain on the west coast, sells cheeseburgers (with varying amounts of meat/cheese), french fries, shakes, and soft drinks. Each store does about $4.5M in annual sales and they have over 300 across the country. When people come to In-N-Out asking for a change to a menu item, they say "sorry, this isn't for you."

By turning away some people, they have a streamlined business offering and they become known for it. It exudes confidence and even people who can't or won't eat a cheeseburger respect that. The same could be said of Apple and people who want to change their offerings.

In the words of Seth Godin, have the courage to say, "this is not for you, but it is for someone who believes this."

More you say?

Cliche Branding No-No No. 1

A common phrase that you should exclude from your branding.

1.8.2020

It's hard to understand how some fads become established. Across all levels of business, I've seen a formulaic headline being used in ads, on websites, and anywhere else copy is used.

It goes something along the lines of this:

"Our (insert service/product here), your (insert benefit here)."

Most recently, I saw it in a Hootsuite ad that stated "Our social media tool, your success," to provide a concrete example.

There is something about this that feels off. Partly because it feels like I'm being lead by a carrot on a stick. Use our tool and all of your dreams will come true, they say. The thing is that no one actually believes these kind of statements because they know the real meaning behind them is sales. No one likes to be sold to, it seems needy.

What makes this distaste for a "salesy" ad even greater is when it's used over and over again in the form of a cliché. Think about it, how many times have you seen an ad that touted a similar phrase?

"Our team, your peace of mind."

"Our social media tool, your success."

"Our burgers, your satisfaction."

The list goes on and on and on, and for what? In the hopes that someone is going to feel something from a plug-and-play slogan, they've heard four times in the same day?

This phrase is for companies that don't have anything better to say or the courage to be authentic. Don't let that be you.

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A Lesson in Gratitude

Being rebellious is not an excuse to forget your blessings

11.28.2019

Rebels,

Though you may believe the world can be a better place, though you believe there is much that could be done differently, though you seek to be an advocate of change, never forget that there is plenty of good all around you.

Take today to reflect on what you have been given. A true rebel remembers their blessings.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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