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Does Your Biz Have A Wow Factor?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Does Your Biz Have A Wow Factor?(GIFTBEAT)When you and your store have that "wow" factor, your unique signature style puts you on the map and makes your shop a household name. This month Robyn Spizman, New York Times best-selling author, discusses ways to wow customers—based on her book Where's Your Wow? 16 Ways to Make Your Competitors Wish They Were You! (co-authored with Rick Frishman).

Q. What are the best "wows" you're seeing in the industry these days?

A. Retailers with wow are also moving displays around, keeping them fresh and staying on top of new trends. They know what colors are hot, see shifts in the marketplace and new ways for their customers to save time or energy. It's about understanding customers' lifestyles and what they value.

Q. Conversely, what "unwowable" mistakes do you see store owners making?

A. Stores that would be called "unwowable" are not speaking the language of marketing. They're not [calling attention to] the additional benefits they provide. If they're already delivering at no additional charge or have complimentary gift wrapping, they're not talking about these benefits.

You have to have foot soldiers out there that encourage customers. Every bag, every staffer should be encouraging customers to come back—and making them feel appreciated. [Some store owners] don't know their customers' names, and have no connection or familiarity with them. At the end of the day, do you know the names of customers' dogs or cats? Do you remember what a customer purchased [in your store] last time? If you do, you might be able to sell them something else this time.

At larger stores, long-time employees are encouraged to call customers. They're in communication. [Other retailers] forget to reach out, to say "hello" first and call customers by name. It's not just what you sell, it's how you relate to people and make them feel. It's an emotional experience in your store that makes people feel at home.

Q. What "wow" tactics can you offer Giftbeat readers?

A. [Retailers need to] understand their stores' unique wowness proposition. What do they deliver to customers that delights, thrills or surprises them? That makes their lives smarter, better, brighter? Your business really is a gift!

When you deliver your marketing message, customers want to know what's in it for them. You must fill a need—the bigger, the better. You must provide something completely new that consumers do not even realize they need but will understand and appreciate and, ultimately, desire.

Wow is also about putting yourself and your next-door neighbor on the map. Make sure everybody in the neighborhood knows you. The dry cleaner next door should know what you do. His customer might bring in pillow shams to be cleaned. You sell pillow shams. Doesn't it make sense that you know each other? Everyone is a customer, and everyone should be doing public relations for you.

Look at yourself as an ambassador for your store. You have to be your own best public relations person, or pied piper. It's like saying "Come see my new baby!" When you have a new gift item, you should be that excited and want to tell everyone to come see it.

One of the secrets to success is to be interested instead of interesting. Let people know you will take care of them whether they have $10 or $100 to spend. Be interested in what the customer is really looking for. If a customer says she's not looking for anything, how can you entice her? Talk about the top 10 items in your store, show her where they're displayed and suggest she take a look at them before she leaves. Train your staff to be so friendly and excited about what they do that it's contagious!

Q. How can better store branding help store owners elevate their wow factor?

A. A person can only hold one thought at a time [in his or her mind]. What one thought would a person hold about your business? With branding, you try to create an emotional connection, to get customers excited about your category.

You have to have a grand brand to have a grand slam. You have to think big, recognize that special something you have, and share it and be proud of it. Be prepared to do an "elevator speech" in one sentence that tells what you stand for, like "We sell chocolate, from white to bittersweet to milk" or "Anniversary and birthday gifts, from people to pets" or "We will make your baby the happiest kid on the block."

I have a branding exercise on my website,, that retailers can access. It offers a list of categories [that can be used to brand your store], or retailers can create their own categories.

Q. How can retailers increase their stores' word of mouth reputation?

A. Stores have to do something [to create word of mouth] that they can afford. If need be, choose one thing and do it well. There's so much social media now, so stores can Twitter. Retailers should keep a good database and send emails. People repeat stories, so tell customers a story about a fabulous candle you've ordered. Say, "Let me know if you want me to hold one for you."

Suggest three or four great ideas for graduation gifts. Build alliances with people who make your products even more valuable, such as a monogrammer who picks up and delivers [items at your store]. Give customers creative ideas for decorating with less money, like the floral designer I recently met in a home décor store.

Remember that "tell and sell" is the mark of a great employee. Your best employees have additional skills and talents. They might be able to merchandise your product or teach your customers about store products. People send people places. You have to give them something good to talk about!

Q. What advice do you have for retailers who are struggling in today's economic environment?

A. Take one day at a time. Take baby steps, and do something productive. Make one call to a local newspaper on a fundraiser you're doing. If you do nothing, you'll get nothing. You have to get out there, ask for help, and talk to people. Be an ambassador of goodwill. Remember that positive attracts positive. People don't want to shop at a place that's not upbeat and uplifting. They come shopping to avoid thinking about their own problems.

Note: To purchase "Where's Your Wow? 16 Ways to Make Your Competitors Wish They Were You!," visit your local independent bookstore.

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  • Summer/Seasonal
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  • Stationery Accessories
  • Non-Jar Candles
  • T-shirts
  • Fashion Accessories
  • Reorders
  • Personal Care

While coloring books and related products were all the rage in Stationery Accessories last year, this year it's back to basics: note cards, journals and planners.

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