Mr. Selfridge’s Philosophy is Timeless – And Still Valuable

Photo: PBS.org

Photo: PBS.org

Thanks to the PBS Masterpiece series Mr. Selfridge, viewers on both sides of the pond have been introduced to the world of retail marketing and merchandising innovator Harry Selfridge.

In 1909, Harry Gordon Selfridge launched his eponymous London department store Selfridges, which today is an iconic landmark.  The store revolutionized the shopping experience for British consumers, and observers credit it for helping to propel major societal changes in pre-World War II Britain.

The current Selfridges store pays homage to its namesake founder:

“Harry Selfridge was the first in the UK to allow customers to touch and interact directly with the store’s products and the first to sell a broad mix of inexpensive and extremely luxurious items under one roof.  Effectively, he wanted for every customer to feel welcome at his store.  He was also the only one to relentlessly use his store as a theatre, an exhibition space and a playground to delight customers with unexpected experiences.  Retail theatre was born.”

While the TV series is outstanding, I’ve especially enjoyed learning about the business philosophy that underpinned how Selfridge operated the store.  More than 100 years later, his breakthrough thinking remains spot-on and valuable to today’s marketing and business practitioners.

In 1918, Selfridge published The Romance of Commerce, in which he articulated his philosophy and explained his business ideas.

Photo: Adams Media

Photo: Adams Media

Last year, Adams Media released an abridged and updated version, from which I’ve selected and organized some of his timeless marketing and business ideas.

Take a few mid-summer reading minutes and soak-in the timeless wisdom of Harry Selfridge.

 


Leadership

  • This ability, therefore, to organize, to breathe into others that fire of enthusiasm, that quality of judgment, that spirit of progress, has long been considered by thinking men of commerce as the final and greatest of all qualities, the test of supreme commercial genius.
Photo: Selfridges.com

Photo: Selfridges.com

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Pro Teams Score with Direct-to-SportsFan Marketing

Increasingly, professional sports teams are taking their important communication messages directly to fans.

Powered by the ubiquity of the Internet and fan tethering to social media platforms, direct-to-sportsfan (D2SF) marketing offers pro teams an unprecedented, and unfiltered, communication vehicle to their fans and season ticket-holders.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

Brooklyn Nets Head Coach Lionel Hollins. Photo: Brooklyn Nets website.

What is direct-to-sportsfan marketing?

D2SF is a hybrid marketing strategy designed to enhance the relationship, connection and relevance between teams and their fans, especially season ticket-holders, via the creation and direct sharing of special access, customized content.  It’s a combination package of marketing communications, content marketing, public relations, customer engagement and social media marketing.

Tactics include:

  • In-house Broadcasting.  Teams create their own reporting and broadcast content, typically with their own, paid journalists.
  • Coach-To-Fan Communication.  This takes the form of letters, short videos and recorded telephone messages.
  • Owner-To-Fan Communication.  Public letters, season ticket-holder messages and tweets are commonly used.

Communications expert Ivy Cohen, president and CEO of Ivy Cohen Corporate Communications, provides some perspective to help understand this developing marketing philosophy:

“The fan-team relationship is a symbiotic one.  Teams need fans to establish the value of their brands and keep the franchise flourishing.  Fans want to connect with their favorite teams for the psychic rewards of competition, winning, belonging, and a variety of benefits that come with entertainment, love of sport and following a season.”

Cohen adds:

“When player contracts were long-term, fans felt strong ties to individual players, the team brands were represented by a steady player roster and fans had strong team brand loyalty and player attachments.  Since that system eroded, fans need more and meaningful ways to feel an ongoing connection to a team.  Fans want to feel connected to their team and are seeking a persona to contribute that.  Owners and coaches can be strong representatives for their teams.”

Overall, as a targeted sports fan recipient myself, I like to see what the coaches or owners have to say unfiltered.  It’s a nice supplement to all the sports journalism.  And, as a marketing observer, it’s interesting to note what and how teams decide to communicate.


Let’s look at two examples from the past few weeks.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans.  Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd Letter to Bucks Fans. Posted 7/7/2014 to Milwaukee Bucks website.

Jason Kidd is the new coach of the NBA’s Milwaukee Bucks, having controversially orchestrated his departure from the Brooklyn Nets sideline. You can read his letter of introduction to Wisconsin fans:

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Make Your Mission Statement Actually Mean Something

A book search on Amazon.com for “mission statement” produced 29, 303 results.

Wow!  I suppose that means there’s a lot of interest in the topic – or a lot of help needed!

Cartoon: tomfishburne.com

Cartoon: tomfishburne.com

For sure, companies devote precious time and dedicate significant resources on a variety of strategic identity work, including mission statements.  Some is well-spent, others not so much.

A mission statement should be a catalyst to drive the organization forward in the same direction.  To do that, it should be: Continue reading

Coke Turns Used Soda Bottles into Fun Tools in Vietnam

What if you could turn a used soda bottle into a paint brush, pencil sharpener or water squirter?

You can.  In Vietnam.  Thanks to Coca-Cola.

The soda giant has launched a simple, yet brilliant marketing promotion that combines environmentalism with brand building.

Coca-Cola 2nd Lives marketing program in Vietnam. Photo: Ogilvy & Mather China.

Coca-Cola 2nd Lives marketing program in Vietnam. Photo: Ogilvy & Mather China.

Coke is giving away a series of 16 special caps that screw onto used soda bottles and transform them into fun and useful objects. Consumers get the caps for free upon product purchase.

The program is called 2nd Lives, and is part of Coke’s sustainability efforts. Continue reading

Customer Treats: AMC Transforms Movie-Watching Experience with Power Recliners

Our strategic objective is very straightforward: we intend to be the customer experience leader. (AMC Theatres)

As a customer, it really is fun when your expectations are completely blown away.  That’s what happened when my Dad and I went to the movies last week.

AMC Theatres Logo

Logo: AMC Theatres.

You see, the Military Capital of the American Revolution has a new, state-of-the-art movie theatre complex.  In early May, AMC Theatres completed a total transformation of its 40,000 square foot Headquarters Plaza 10 in Morristown, NJ.

Anyone who remembers the theatre under previous ownership will be pleasantly shocked. However, it seems to be mostly a secret.  More on that in a moment.

Transformation Features Power Recliner Seats

The entire complex has been given a total makeover:  new theatres, concession areas, bathrooms and lobby.  The transformative highlight is the installation of comfortable, power recliner seats, in AMC red of course.

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Golf Ball Sized Apples Bring Easy, Healthy Snacking Innovation

Photo: Havelock North Fruit Company.

Photo: Havelock North Fruit Company.

A New Zealand company has come up with a new, innovative concept to market a product that’s thousands of years old:  the apple.

It’s a combination of agricultural technology and smart marketing.

The Havelock North Fruit Company developed the capability to grow mini apples that are just 1.5 times the size of a golf ball (via cross-breeding selected varieties).  Next came packaging inspiration that put five apples into a hand-held , transparent tube.  The concept was tied together with an attention-generating brand called  Rockit™.

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How NOT to Engage Customers: NY Mets Strike Out with Fan Letter.

Talk about a wild pitch!  Last week’s fan letter and call-to-action produced by the New York Mets baseball team is bad marketing.

However well-intentioned it may have been, the letter is a misfired effort at fan engagement and boosting game attendance.  Note that I’m a big Mets fan, so I take no joy in writing this post.

Source: NY Mets website.

Source: NY Mets website.

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There are so many missteps that I hope the marketing department was forced to implement this idea.  Let’s break it down.

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