I’ve just finished watching Brad Bird’s movie, Tomorrowland, on board a 747 heading from L.A. to Brisbane. What was great about this film was the beautiful story of hope and how dreamers of the world (whether in Tomorrowland or here and now) make the biggest and most positive impacts on all our lives. It’s a lovely reminder of the importance of hope and the far-reaching power of losing hope altogether.
In the movie, a young girl named Casey has a special relationship with her engineer father, who works for NASA. These two gifted individuals have a little dialogue on-screen.
“If there were two wolves, one representing darkness and despair and the other representing light and hope, which one lives?”
Casey knows the answer: “The one you feed.”
In the world of retail, we often have this strange battle between the futuristic/technology driven side and the — “ahhh,” cue for the yawn sound — humanistic and sales driven side. Since human interaction is a building block of our success and therefore a basic survival need, any customer-facing investment is money well spent.
So while technology is certainly more sexy and appealing, human interactions in any form trump customer interaction with technology hands down. Yet, we still find ourselves so busy with procuring the next BIG thing, that I’m sure our customers feel we are missing the point entirely.
Darkness & Despair Wolf
While the retail statistics are only days old and just released, it seems the bad news is still looming and even picking up speed like a once tiny snowball that’s been rolled down a snowy hill. Why do we wait for economists to tell us how “confident” the consumer is and therefore predetermine how successful we might be in reaching our budgets? While I still study and read the reports, I also feel they are somewhat of a self-filling prophecy for others.
According to the latest statistics, there is still 0.2% more in the retailing pie than there was the previous month. Figures just released also show there was 24 billion dollars in retail spending, which is up 4.4% from last July’s figure. I really struggle to see the negative, bad story here.
In the movie, due to time travel, the future has decided there is nothing they can do; they’ve abandoned the project to prevent the earth’s destruction, and they’ve given up hope. The director is not disparaging climate change or other dangers. What he’s saying is that our society has become so comfortable with the vision of apocalypse that we’re not dreaming up solutions.
In retail, it’s easy to blame our failures on the “fickle customer,” focusing not on what we’ve done to be remarkable, but rather how disloyal and self-centred our patrons have become. Or better yet, we let the financial retail reports tell us why we had a bad month or quarter. But the best indicator of success is how busy your store is. Do people want to hang out, learn more, and spend time there?
Light & Hope Wolf
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi.
If we don’t offer customers a reason to believe we can help them improve their lives, why should they spend their portion of the 24 billion dollar pie in our store this month?
Einstein was quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world, he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution. Try some of these problem solving solutions with members of your team to brainstorm experiences that would help solve your customers’ problems in profound ways. What problems and issues can you help them with?
Give yourself 30 minutes a day — preferably first thing in the morning — to dream big. What ideas can you come up with to fix your relationship with customers, gain their trust, or make it even stronger? Embrace your inner dreamer and think of experiences that would inspire, educate, or motivate your customers in meaningful ways.
When I allow myself to dream of retailing bliss, I envision a bustling crowd of engaged and interested individuals attending classes, understanding the impacts of eating healthier on the body and how greener products help the environment, and learning how to utilise appliances to save time and money, and of course, to impress their friends and family! I see them coming in not just when they need stuff, but to actually hang out and learn from us. I imagine that because these people have walked through our doors, we’ve somehow helped them and the greater good in some way.
So now that I’ve shared my big dream, here are two questions for you:
- Are you feeding the Dark Wolf or the Light Wolf?
- When you allow yourself to dream, what do you see?