Reverse Engineering

Scott again. I did it! Two blog posts! This one I’ll title “Reverse Engineering.” This is totally not the point of that term, but it sounds good. I decided to ask one of our most successful Partners, Krisan Lewis (Plato’s Closet Columbia, MO) some questions. The ‘reverse’ part comes from the idea that she’s killing it, which is the end result. This Q&A is an attempt to back up, or reverse, from there and see if we can learn a few things. What follows here is the entirety of our exchange with maybe a couple of editorial comments dropped in. No editing, no taking things out of context.

(Pretend this a riveting podcast)

Scott:  I’ll be honest, my motive isn’t good science where I ask you open-ended questions and you reply and I see if that supports my hypothesis. My motive is to find the ‘truth’ when it comes to at least a little bit of that magical intersection between marketing and retail results. And my motive is also to try to dispel the myths of (rhymes with Spindark) and some of the stuff they preach.

Without further adieu:

What have your sales increases been the last two years?

Krisan: 2016 +5.3%    2017  +15.1%

Scott: How is 2018 trending?  What is your goal for 2018?  On track?

Krisan: YTD +20% BUYS +11.5%. Need more buys but what’s new at this store! 2018 goal is 2 million. Which is about 11.2% increase. It won’t be easy as we get in to these bigger months but not impossible.

Scott:  Buys?

Krisan: 2016 +2.2%    2017 +17.8%

Scott:  How many Instagram followers do you have?

Krisan: 4,353.

Scott:  Do you use the Instagram “hold” program?  If so, how do you do the holds?

Krisan: We utilize a texting feature to text for items off Instagram. Everything is time stamped and can be handled once the customers in-store are taken care of. All holds go in a bag with a hold slip with a “date until,” name, and phone number.

We do create wait lists for items and text them back if it becomes available. We hold until the same the day, however later in the day we give them until the next day. We are not super strict about this with the exception of the order people texted for items. We really try and work with everyone to keep it fun and happy. We have yet to have a problem wtih it and always have time-stamped messages to fall back on.

Scott:  *****How do you feel about Instagram posting frequency for your store?***** In your own life and the brands you follow?

Krisan: Professionally and personally, I want to see a couple really good posts per day. I don’t like being bombarded with crap and have unfollowed a lot of PC stores for that reason. While I am viewing them for different reasons than other customers, Instagram is all about cool photos, I want people to be excited about my posts, not a quick sigh and scroll because we already posted 5 mediocre photos that day.

(Scott editorial comment: My highlights from her last response – “A couple of posts a day” and, loosely paraphrasing, “crap is bad” and “mediocre is bad” and “cool pics excite people”.)

Scott:  Tell me about your success with promotions. Do they work?  In general, what do you do to make them work?

Krisan: Yes, promotions work and are successful for different reasons. Some of them drive an item and provide great sales days (ex. dress and boot). Others are more of a fun thing for customers to get a discount and have a good experience. While my sales aren’t as big those days, those are the ones that I personally think keep customers coming back.

I try and do something special for almost every event. Giveaway, food, henna, special display and balloons. Something to make it feel more like a special day in store. Part of the success is, how well did your staff talk about it at the counter prior to the event? The more excited they are about the event, including the extras and the fun things we do, the more excited the customers get.

Scott:  Besides Hipbone Marketing, what other marketing do you do?  Any local store marketing?

Krisan: Radio.

(Scott add: Her store is in Columbia, MO, which is a single-store, college-town market conducive to having radio impact at the right price)

Pandora, but switching to spotify this month. Phone charging stations in schools. FiveStars. LSM like crazy! I am very committed to becoming a good community partner and to be seen as a small business. To do this I donate to almost everything asked. Donate money for going bagless to local charities. Fashion Shows. Host buying and shopping events. Donate money to school trips. Gift certificates available to schools. Sponsor athletic programs. AND 2018 bringing the scholarship program back!

Scott:  If they only had time for one thing, would you rather one of your staff put out a bin of back stock or take 5 pics for Instagram?


(Scott editorial comment:  Yeeeeesssssssssssss!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Scott:  OK, I know that is a lot. I think you and your store are a model for well-rounded and balance. Your 4-walls are tight, you have a mix of marketing from Insta and FB to Google, remarketing, trying local things, nailing promos, etc. It’s the way a store ought to be run. I believe you wouldn’t have the success you have without the totality of your marketing efforts and I KNOW that no matter what marketing you do it wouldn’t matter if you didn’t nail stuff at the store level. (And I know Instagram isn’t what makes or breaks you!!!)

Krisan: Thanks. If I missed something, let me know. Computers are crashing so… duty calls!

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