How about some common sense marketing?


Lately I’ve been noticing a lot more marketing work out in the wild where brands are just talking to themselves. You know the kind of thing that I’m talking about. Instead of truly trying to connect with consumers, you’ll see brands just regurgitating corporate speak that doesn’t make much sense when you actually think about it. A former manager of mine used to call it smoking your own exhaust.

It happens all the time in the retail industry where stores tout their unbelievable “one-day only” sales. These “one-day sales” actually last two days because they just happen to have an extra day that is called a special “preview day.” I’m sure you’ve seen these and probably are just immune to them by now. They are the “can’t miss” or “once a year savings event” that somehow magically repeat themselves by the same retailers month-after-month-after-month. (I’m looking at you Macy’s.)

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Quick hitting case study: Fluevog Shoes

Earlier this fall, Leslie and I were doing the “be a tourist in your hometown” thing and decided to check out some stores that we don’t normally frequent. One of the places we visited was Fluevog Shoes in the Uptown neighborhood. They only have one location here, and it has been open for just about a year. Before visiting the store, I really didn’t know much about the Fluevog brand, but Leslie was familiar with it and promised that I’d like it. As usual, she was right.


One foot in with a Fluevog

Fluevog shoes feature a classic style with a bit of a rock ‘n’ roll edge. They somewhat remind me of more sophisticated Doc Martens. When I was looking around the store, I spotted a pair of their Andrew Oxford shoes and fell in love with them. (I have to admit that I’ve developed a soft spot for cool shoes the last couple of years. It’s the hipster in me – I know.) Leslie saw how I was fawning over the oxfords, and she bought them for me as an early birthday present. Continue reading

customers and the moment of truth


One of the parts of my gig that I enjoy has to do with on-campus recruiting.  I usually spend my time meeting with current graduate students and talking to them about what my role is like or how the hiring process works at Best Buy.  More often than not, students ask what it’s like to work for a retail brand.

For the most part, I’ve found that MBA programs spend a lot of time talking to their students about a variety of industries such as consumer packaged goods, financial services, consulting, etc., but retail brands don’t always get a lot of exposure.  (Now I will say that this is somewhat different for business schools located here in the Twin Cities because both Best Buy and Target are headquartered here in town.) Continue reading

all hands on deck


We’re past Halloween as the calendar hit November this week.  If you have ever worked in retail you know what that means: HOLIDAY is here.  In a previous post I had written about what it is like to work in the environment where my calendar and sense of the season feels perpetually off kilter.   Now in my job we have shifted gears.  We’ve moved from the seemingly endless process of planning the Holiday campaign and instead now focus on managing the work as our marketing and merchandising plans comes to life.

Working at a retailer, I have found the Holiday shopping season to be both nerve wracking and energizing.  For most retailers, much of the annual sales occur during this time of the year. At my job it is no different.  Now is the time when we find out if all the all the hard work pays off.  The next 10 weeks will determine if we have a good year, a great year or a year that doesn’t meet expectations.  Almost every work conversation that I have or every meeting that I attend revolves around our Holiday efforts.  To a certain extent, tunnel vision is taking place. Continue reading

what the world needs now: yet another blog post about Apple


I admit I’m a bit behind my own schedule when it comes to this week’s posting.  I’ve been shooting for getting things up at the beginning of the week but that hasn’t been the case this time around.  But we’re in the middle of a torrential downpour right now in Minneapolis and I’ve got some good tunes going (Earlimart’s “Treble & Tremble” if you’re interested), so I figure there’s no better time than to crank this out.

I want to focus this week on a brand that is almost omnipresent in the marketing world…make that the world in general: Apple.  (And yes I realized that I could just be adding to the overkill.)

There are different ways that I could go with this thing. There are a couple angles that are pretty centric to my job: Apple as a collaborator AND a competitor.  Apple as a retailer with an amazing sales performance.  (Check out the crazy sales per square foot numbers that are quoted in this Wall Street Journal article.)  Or I could take it from the standpoint of hiring employees that truly are your brands’ biggest fans and advocates.  (Yes, chalk me up as a firm believer in that philosophy.)  But I’m going to take this back to the idea of being just another consumer, kind of like I talked about doing in my post-vacation write-up. Continue reading

Let’s do the (retail) time warp again!


The sunsets are starting earlier and earlier these days, and even though the summer humidity is still with us, I can sense that autumn is not too far around the corner.  It seems like the warm season here in Minnesota is flying by.  Before I know it, I’ll be counting the number of days that I can still hit the links or go for a run without bundling up.  But at work, it is a whole different story.

For anyone that works in retail, you know what I am talking about.  Right now everything is focused on HOLIDAY. Continue reading