The Art of Differentiation in the Face of Adversity  4/30/2020


In these challenging times, there are two options. You can freeze in fear, and do nothing, or you can take action. David Brier is all about taking action. He’s a branding expert and Creative Director (and Chief Gravity Defyer) of DBD International, as well as the author of Brand Intervention: 33 Steps to Transform the Brand You Have Into the Brand You Need, a book that was lauded by the likes of Daymond John and Grant Cardone.

He also has a huge social media presence, and is well known for his One-Minute Wednesday videos which range from inspirational to hard-hitting, and even downright hilarious – look up his Valentine’s Day Slow Jam video to see what I mean.

During our interview, we discuss how brands can take action and differentiate themselves in this tough environment, so that they set themselves up for success in the new normal that we will all be a part of once the pandemic passes.


Listen to the podcast here (See below for the YouTube video):


PODCAST TRANSCRIPT:

ECRM: Good afternoon everybody. Joe with ECRM here and I have with me today, David Brier. He is the Creative Director and Chief Gravity Defyer for DBD International. He's also an author of this awesome book Brand Intervention, which everybody on the marketing team at ECRM has devoured and mine is well thumbed and outlined in there. Today, we're going to talk about the impact of the coronavirus on brands and what they should be doing, what they shouldn't be doing and who's really going to “rise above the noise” as David often says. So David, thank you so much for joining us and how are you holding up over there?

Brier: Holding up just fine. I mean, it's just, you see I'm in my office where I'm practicing social distancing and being quarantined while we're doing this.

ECRM: We were actually supposed to be physically together last week at our Store Brands leadership summit where Dave was going to be a speaker. So unfortunately I was bummed that that wasn't able to happen but glad we're able to get together today. The other thing is Dave's got a huge social media presence and he does this One Minute Wednesday video every Wednesday and today's was really, really hit home with me. But before we get into that, could you give a little background on who you are, what you do, what your overall branding philosophy is, and then we'll jump into the one minute Wednesday video because that's a good way to roll into the discussion.

Brier: Totally. Well, I'm as you know, I'm a native new Yorker, Brooklyn born and raised in Queens, a little stint on Long Island and then started my career in Manhattan. I mean as of this year, I've actually been doing this for 40 years amazingly. And basically what I do is I work with a very, very, very wide spectrum of clients and geographically, size wise and industry wise, which gives me a very, very neat advantage. That was always my intent because I didn't want to be pigeonholed. But what I help companies do is, companies too often are so micro-focused on their own, we're the best blank or we're the greatest blank or we're the first this and that. And it's all about us, us, us, us, us. Oftentimes I'll just say, "Look, if you went on a date, on a blind date and the first thing that came out of the person's let me tell you all about me. It's like it's just me, me, me, me, me. It's like you couldn't get the check fast enough to get the hell out of there. There would never be a second date. 

And that's the way that I kind of look at it, I look at the fact that how do we basically take a brand and one, have it engaged in a way that exciting, that's visually exciting, that’s visually arresting but unlike everyone else. So my whole philosophy is one of the factor of differentiating. It's not the factor of trying to out feature and have more promises and more benefits and non-GMO this and organically grown that and locally sourced or pulled from the rectum of an exotic animal over in Africa. That only goes so far. So that's what I do is I help my clients basically rise above the noise and really create their empires. I mean, literally, I mean there are companies around the world that their empires are built based on the stuff that I've done for them.

ECRM: That point of differentiation is so important. I see this a lot especially in the CBD industry where you have so many of these new startups and buyers are saying that everyone is telling me they're the first at this, or they're the best at this. But they can’t all be the first or best. I actually made that the topic of a video, where I said, "Guys, stop saying you're the first or you're the best. Because even if you are, nobody believes it anymore because they hear it all the time. Tell us how you're different."

Brier: That's right.

ECRM: So now we'll get into what's happening now and that One Minute Wednesday. Give a little background on that video.

Brier: Well, what spurred it on was, I've talked about it previously over the years, but what spurred it on recently was I was speaking to an entrepreneur and, we went over what their company was and it was a good space, they could do a lot, had the opportunity to really make a big dent and give them the right position that they need to be in. And this is a newer entrepreneur, a startup scenario, and what happens is they end up checking with their financial advisor. And then after the weekend he said his financial advisor told him to wait, to make sure that I have what I need in terms of available resources and dah, dah, dah, dah... 

So I said, let me tell you a little story about my financial advisor. My financial advisor, this is going back probably 18 years ago or so. I think it was just around the time when Apple just started to come out with the iPods. So before the iPhone, before the iPad, was the iPods and they've come up with the Nanos and it was like basically the digital sort of equivalent of what the Walkman did for Sony. And it was like really like all of a sudden there was like giving new life, new breadth to everyone, discovering Apple on a different level. It wasn't, they had to buy one of their Mac book pro or a full computer. It was like all of a sudden it was like a new space and they had the iMac and the iPod.
So I was watching this and I was looking at it from my standpoint as a branding guy. I look at how do people engage in it? How does the culture interact with it? For example, the most recent reference that everyone will know about, when I started hearing, "Hey, I binge watched blank, blank, blank," and everyone now knows what binge watching is. Well there's one company that's responsible for binge-watching, that's Netflix. And that's because Netflix had a totally different distribution model. Netflix, instead of doing what the TV networks had done for years, which is for decades they would drop an episode a week. Instead, Netflix would literally take the entire freaking season available! And now you'd be like, "Shit, I'm going to freak. I'm going to binge watch."

So when I start hearing that kind of stuff, hitting mainstream where everyone knows what you're talking about. You can't say binge watch to somebody and they go, "What do you mean?" So that's what I look at. So I look at cultural adoption and penetration. So I'm looking back at Apple, and what happened was my financial advisor, he says, "David, yeah, they're doing really well now, but historically what happens when they go up is then they go down." And that's what happens historically. This is what he was trained in school to look at past performances, past patterns. And so every year when we would sit down and have our organizing meeting, looking at past and future, he would say, "When we had that conversation, Apple stock has continued to go up," and he's going, "Yeah, I know. But when it goes up it goes down."

And this guy went on like that for like four years and after I think it was somewhere in the fourth year, I said, "Screw you. I'm investing." Now, I lost about $70,000 with what I wanted to invest if I had invested when I saw that it made sense. Now, Apple is still been a good company to invest in and they're still rock solid and still continue. They're well managed, et cetera. But that was my thing. So I told the entrepreneur, look, financial advisors and accountants, they're only looking at what's been done. What have we done in the past? What revenue have we generated? What money do we have in the bank? And that's it. That's the only thing they know how to manage. They don't know. You can't talk to an accountant about entrepreneurial aspirations here.

Let's talk about how you’re going to disrupt an industry. We got a way to innovate. We're going to change the freaking world. We're going to change this entire category and bring these to people. He's going to go, "What are you talking about? Here's what's in the bank." That's all he knows. So I said, "Your choice, but I just want you to know an entrepreneur and an entrepreneur's vision, those who are capable of changing the world are very different than those who are capable of merely counting the beans after they've come in." And that's what inspired today's One Minute Wednesday.

ECRM: And you're absolutely right because these entrepreneurs, if they're on the right path, they're actually doing stuff that's never been done before.

Brier: Exactly.

ECRM: So how do you kind of use the past when you're breaking new ground? And this whole thing that's happening with coronavirus, watching that video made me feel kind of proud of ECRM in what we were doing with our pivot to the virtual meetings. Because we saw three things going on. We saw for the buyers, the retail and food service buyers, one, they can't travel so they can't do the face to face meetings. Two, they have no time. They are just either busy  dealing with out of stocks or helping their colleagues with supply chain issues. And then on the supplier side, on the brand side, they don't have access to the buyers. Yet everybody still needs to source products. So we were like, what can we do? And all the SVPs got together, the leadership team and decided to create the Efficient Supplier Introductions platform that was ready to go literally two weeks into the quarantine when they launched it. It’s a virtual meeting with 20 buyers, 10 suppliers, two hours each, and each supplier gets 10 minutes to present. That was so successful that based on the feedback where they also wanted something more like our face to face sessions, so we we are launching our first virtual sessions in May. But what we've been seeing, like you mentioned, is this whole world changed and people are so used to virtual meetings now, they are an everyday occurrence.

Brier: Everyday.

ECRM: They are expected now. In fact our SVP of retail did an interview with a Yesway's chief merchandising officer, Derek Gaskins. And Derek had a great quote. He said, "Innovation is becoming expectation." So everybody is innovating by jumping on the virtual things. But now that's going to be a regular course of doing business. We're seeing that happening. So now what I wanted to pick your brain about what are you seeing in the branding world? How is the pandemic impacting brands? What should they be doing? What's the situation right now as far as branding goes?

Brier: Well, a few things. First of all, the whole Coronavirus pandemic situation is going to be an event. It will change how we do things after it. But I think we reached this peak of everyone talking about coronavirus, COVID-19, dah, dah, dah. I think there was about a three or four week, like freaking out kind of what the hell was happening. And now it's kind of like, okay, everyone's ready to fight back. Everyone's like, that's what I'm seeing is the rise of the people. And companies are willing to fight back. I'm seeing a few companies that are being very, very, very conservative. I think they're going to be way behind the eight ball. This is going to show who are the true leaders as brands, who are the, let's wait and see companies as far as brands go, and they're going to be struggling. They're going to be followers. They're not going to be leaders.

Right now there's an opportunity, so how do you rise up? And one of the questions that I've asked some clients as we're going through this, is, what if this was the new norm? I asked them that question. So what if right now this didn't change for the next 10 years? Are you still going to be waiting or are you going to be, "Holy crap, what adapting and pivoting do we need to do right now to become more relevant, to change how we provide our service to customers?" I mean, because obviously a lot of B2Bs, they're really, really making Zoom video calls and that's as integral to their business now as a phone call or texting or whatever. Those that are more B2C, the landscape has changed and they don’t have a great answer for it.

I mean you ask, "Okay, what are the airplanes going to do? What are hotels going to do? What are restaurants going to do?" I think restaurants have it the easiest of all those because you can't take a plane to go. You get in a plane or you don't, but you can take a meal to go. So I think that that's that kind of thing. So I think that that's an opportunity and I mean because literally I've heard one pizza place has been crushing it because they've been super proactive. Everyone wear masks and everyone wearing their gloves and they're doing this and stuff like that. And being really just very, very, super helpful at all kinds of stuff. And others have been kind of, I don't know, kind of just licking their wounds going, "What happened?" Well, you're going to be out of business by the time you figure it out if that's your mentality.

ECRM: Yeah, we've seen some great examples of proactive restaurants. In my neighborhood alone, I got a strip of like 30 bars and restaurants right down the block from me in Astoria. So there was one restaurant on the corner, it’s an Italian restaurant and within the first few days of quarantine they shifted to a marketplace. And instead of selling meals, they was selling their pasta, their sauce, all of the ingredients separately. And they changed their seamless account to reflect that and they're selling out by the afternoon every day. So those are the guys that are going to do well and come out of this. But the others that are just haven't figured it out will have trouble. The other thing, like you've talked about in your book, packaging and product design and all that is a very important part, a component of the branding. In this environment now where, when people are in stores, they're really just focusing on the essentials and what they need. I'm guessing packaging may not play as much of a role because look, if they're out of hand sanitizer A and hand sanitizers B is there, I'm going to get that anyway.

Brier: True but let me interject on that particular point. What you've just given as an example is a commodity. In other words, right now there's not a single hand sanitizer, maybe other than possibly Purell, that actually has name recognition. So the real opportunity, how do you become a name brand in this highly commoditized space? See, that's the kind of thinking you need to take, because what you say is right. I mean there's going to be, well if you don't have that toilet paper, I'll get that toilet paper. They don't have that hand sanitizer, they can have another brand. But the thing is as, in a segment where everything was a commodity, all of a sudden you had a brand. Why? Because they did stuff differently. They positioned themselves differently. They look differently. They spoke differently.

I mean when you and I were growing up, I grew up on Converse and Keds and and Puma and Adidas a little bit, and then all of a sudden bam, there was Nike and Nike spoke like nobody else. But look, it was all a commodity. So I think the opportunity that you just outlined perfectly is look, that's right. If it's not this one, it's that one, dah, dah, dah, dah. Any place that there is someone saying, “if it's a not this one, it’s that one,” that is an immediate red flag that you are having a commodity space and it is ripe right now to create a brand. How do you create a brand in that environment? Because people need and want that. How do you bring it on with that opportunity? I think that's a great opportunity.

ECRM: I agree. Especially for emerging brands that maybe didn't get that much space and now they're just put on a shelf because they were the only brand that actually had supply and now they can take advantage of that. I think this kind of segues into that then you mentioned in your book about what you do after the sale, that other 33% of the relationship.

Brier: That's right.

ECRM: Can you talk a little bit about that? Because that is kind of an important part here in this commoditized space.

Brier: It totally, totally, totally is. So the thing is, what you're referring to is basically what I call the 66% rule. There are three phases to branding. There's pre-sales branding, there's during the sales branding and then there's post-sales branding. Most companies, like the majority of like 80% plus of companies all do the presale, which includes the promotion, marketing, the Facebook ads, whatever, whatever they do, pre. And during the sale can be anything from what's the package look like if I'm on the shelf and is that engaging me as a shopper -- that's during the sale. Or it could be something, if you had a salon for example, during the sale is actually during the service. It's like you're getting service that's part of the experience, the transaction.

But keeping it specifically to products that you'd find on a shelf. It's like, well, the during the sale it's like, how are you courting me? How are you seducing me? How are you engaging me as a prospective buyer? Now, of course, if now all of a sudden it's gone from the shelf to online presence, you still need to have a package and branding that's distinctive because it still is going to be in the home. It still is going to remind and reinforce. But now your during the sale branding might be a video and other aspects, other stories, et cetera but those are the two common ones. The last one is the post-sales brand. That's after the sale that some companies do it. I mean Amazon has done it for years where it's like, "Hey, Oh we see that you bought blank, blank, blank." And they send you an email.

That's an example of after the sale. Someone actually taking the time to write a hand written note – not a freaking email, actually a hand written note in the mail with a stamp and you get it and you go, "Holy crap.” That's an example of post-sales branding. There's plenty of other aspects, but there's like, I'll give you amazing, amazingly simple stupid example. My wife and I, we redid our kitchen a couple of years ago. We got Cambria quartz, countertops, and it’s all nice and use this particular sort of granite. It's sort of this, it's made of, it's like ground granite. Our sink is made of all this stuff. And we found that after we purchased it, while it was highly recommended, we were noticing there were some white spots we were going, "That's kind of weird."

And we looked online and we were finding quite a few people were bitching about that, saying, "What the hell are these freaking white spots. This stuff's not inexpensive." And then my wife is like, once she gets a bug, like a bee in a bonnet, she's like is just looking and looking and looking and she finds this one woman who on YouTube talked about this sink and says this is what she's actually worked it out and all it involved to fix it, and this is the ridiculous part -- It's a perfect example of overlooked post-sales branding. So what it was is she found food grade mineral oil. You take it and you wash the sink like maybe every couple of weeks you do that and you wash it, you wash the sink and then you actually put on this mineral oil and you leave it overnight.

It restores it back, all of that white stuff gone. Now, wouldn't it have been nice first of all, if the company selling this would have told you about it in advance, and then provided you with the mineral oil? I think it probably would have cost them a big 59 cents or something out of their pocket. That would have been a great gesture. Cambridge did a brilliant thing that was a great example of post-sales branding. You know how in your sink you always have to have the countertop and they have to cut out the big hole for the sink part. Now, usually they just throw it away. These guys were smart. What they did is it that it was big enough so they actually made a cutting board out of it, put legs on the bottom of it and like about two and a half, three weeks after the installation, they sent that to us as a thank you gift.

So did it cost them any more? Maybe the labor cost them 10 bucks, whatever the hell it costs them but that left a lasting impression. Wow, right? Because here's the special component of why post-branding works: post-sales branding works because it's beyond expectation. We live in a society where the transaction is like, oh yeah, you pitch, you close the deal, you get paid, done deal. Thank you very much. You shake hands, you're waving goodbye, whatever the hell. And probably, normally, the only next time you hear from them is when it might be coming time for you to purchase again, the lease is up or this or that. Or there's a new model or there's the latest iPhone or whatever the hell it is. 

That's a lousy business model. That's crap. It's like usually I'm like, "Well, I haven't heard from you in two years. I'm not interested in doing business with you. I'm just a paycheck to you." So they're used to the one two punch but now you come with the three expectation, without asking for anything, adding value, and you stand out remarkably. So that's an example and it's a powerful, powerful tool and it totally aligns with expectations.

ECRM:  And it matches the rest of the countertop too.

Brier: Perfect. I mean, it's fabulous. But what a great way to use a remnant from something that would have otherwise gone in the garbage.

ECRM: Definitely

Brier: And right now we are in the Coronavirus remnants sale. You got to look at the remnants that you're leaving on the table that you're taking for granted that you've previously ignored. That's what I would tell anybody listening to this. That's what's going on.

ECRM: Well, I'm a big fan, I know you're a big fan of this, of delivering value without necessarily asking for something in return. It builds that trust. They know that you're looking out for them. Now, in communications, brands and retailers in their communications with their audience during this time, one thing that kind of rubs me the wrong way is I'll see on somebody's Instagram post, they're posting something that's completely out of context with this time and irrelevant. So can you talk a little bit about that? The importance of being relevant to the context and kind of, especially during a time like this?

Brier: It's vitally important. The bottom line, the worst you can do is right now be tone deaf. That's the simplicity of it. I see two spectrums. One is that there's companies who are literally tone deaf and they're just plotting along going about business. I would say that many of the car companies are very, very tone deaf, especially ones who are going in light of today's circumstances. It's like we're taking purchases for no money, no money down, no interest dah, dah, dah, dah for 50 months and dah, dah, dah. But right now in today's scenario, depending on where you're at financially, it's like you're inviting me to make a $50,000 purchase and put off interest and like that's the best you got. That's it.

So that to me is a poor example. And then there's the other spectrum where they're just getting ridiculous. I think they're being opportunistic and trying to appear really humane and try... That's like when someone tries to be authentic and tries to be transparent and tries to be sincere. No, either you're sincere or you're not. If you have to try, this hole is much deeper than the one that you've dug. So those are a couple of things. For example, my One Minute Wednesdays are very usually like very in your face. It's like, here's the deal, bada boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. Okay, but when we were all shut down -- I think it goes back five weeks now -- I looked at what we had in the can, and thought, I couldn't do it. To me it would have been suicide and so I then pivoted big time and I just started to talk about things that were relevant, like talking about working from home, talked about the different things going on. I never went down what I call sappy lane because I'm not going to feel sorry for anybody. 

The bottom line is look, circumstances may not be ideal or we all may be hustling in different ways and having to work our asses off a bit. That's fine. But I'm not going to feel sorry for someone. I will be empathetic, but I will not be sympathetic. I'd rather say, "Look, you know what? You still have it in you to actually get something done. You still have it in you because your ingenuity did not get sick. Your ingenuity is not in the intensive care. Your ingenuity is right there. I'm looking at your freaking eyeballs and you better freaking understand that your ingenuity is right there with you, with me right now. How the hell are you going to use it?" That's been pretty much the way I operate.

ECRM: It makes a lot of sense. In out industry you have your products, you have all your essential items, but then you also have the non-essentials and some of those brands might think, "Well, we're not as important right now." And they get into that panic or frozen mode but when you think about it, there are a lot of opportunities for these, "Non-essential items" if they communicate right. I had a conversation with the NPD group about school and office supplies and toys and things like that. If you didn't think toys were essential, well, if you've got kids you can pretty damn sure toys are essential items right now after what, 47 days of quarantine.

But also little things like you have people outside in my neighborhood putting chalk designs on the floor, making rainbow designs, putting them in their windows. There's a thing which I didn't realize, but it's a thing where people going around taking pictures of people's rainbow art and they're tagging them. But what does that involve? Construction paper markers, paint, whatever. But I don't see any of these brands saying, "Hey, let us help you come up with ideas for this rainbow thing."

Brier: Brilliant.

ECRM: Are you seeing this with brands, where they are just being reactive or just not doing anything?

Brier: There's a lot of not doing anything. But there are a few that are being kind of inventive. I thought it was very impressive and this is one that definitely caught my attention. The fact that Dyson jumped in and I think in 10 days, they churned out, 5,000 or 10,000 ventilators. Basically tapping into their talent pool of engineers and designers and fabricators and did something great. Stuff like that is I think very, very, very commendable. And obviously some of the restaurants have been great. Some of them have been very, very ingenious how they've done stuff. 

Here’s a great example. So movie theaters. No one's going to movie theaters right now. But there is a chain of movie theaters, maybe about 10 to 15 of them here in the Midwest called Mann theaters. So no one's going in the theater. So what could they do? What could they do? This is where the ingenuity part comes in. What they did was they were like, here's the deal. I think it must've been like about a 10 pound or 15 pound bag of popcorn that you drive by, you call up, you place your order. You can either, if you buy a $25 gift card for future performances, then you can get the popcorn for free. If you don't want to do the gift card, you can come and you can buy the popcorn for 15 bucks. 

But the bottom line is like they are moving product and that was a good gesture. People are watching their entertainment now at home. They still enjoy popcorn. So that was a smart idea. Making themselves relevant. But the bottom line is as we all know, where the restaurants make their money, they make their money at the bar and where movie theaters make their money, they make a movie at the concession stand. So all right, so it's at least it's moving some product. I'm sure they can upsell them. Say, "Hey, you want some Twizzlers with that too?" But at least they becomes relevant in that way.

ECRM: And what's ironic is they can actually like use the Netflix and chill saying when they're selling that kind of like a jujitsu against Netflix and say, "Hey sure we know you're going to binge-watch Netflix, but come out to out theaters and pick up your concessions to do that."

Brier: Yeah, or they can say, "Hey, binge watching, we got the perfect snack."

ECRM: I think that's a key point. It's just that adaptability. I mean, I think brands need to kind of figure out, okay, maybe they're not going to be selling and marketing the way they have in the past and it may be completely a different way, but something like that is going to keep that brand in front of their consumers in a relevant way and they're getting the tickets so you know they're going to come back anyway. So I think that was a great idea. What are you seeing in the online space? Because what we're seeing, especially with fast moving consumer goods, people are buying traditional staples online that they would have normally gone into the grocery store for. A lot of that is being bought online now. Your pastas, your canned goods and stuff. And a lot of that's going to continue. So what are you seeing with brands and what do you recommend? How would they make that flip to like addressing those consumers?

Brier: Well, I think it's a one two punch. I think it's a combo platter. I think the brands are going to need to literally shift their mindset as supermarkets are our partners. They have to. And they have to now go, you need customers to come in, as we get through this and start reopening. We need customers to buy product. This is what we both need. This is how it needs to change up. And the bottom line is, I've been saying this for years. I talked about actually, even the book I talk about iTunes, and how iTunes became relevant because of the fact of that, well music stores no longer had people who gave a damn about music.

You didn't have someone who's into it. In the past it was like, Oh yeah, you're getting that Led Zeppelin album. Have you seen the Bootleg? Dude it's straight here. That whole interaction, which you could only have in the store, was gone. Well, there was at that point that it was just, its days were numbered. So right now I think literally the bar is going to be raised and I think that's good. I think that's the healthy part of this. I think the bar is going to be raised. How do you change it up? Because look with us both being from New York. I mean Zabar's isn't what it was 30 years ago, but Zabar's it was an experience, right?

Bertolucci's was an experience, even certain Dean & DeLucas. So the thing is that the experience part, they're going to really have to raise the bar and realize that they're almost in a little bit of now the theater, literally the customer experience in the theater of the shopping and it's what do you discover? Because if it's only a matter of fulfilling, right now, online shopping is pretty much, a lot of it is fulfilling a shopping list. It's not the discovery. It's not, "Oh my gosh, I just sampled that. That was amazing." What can you do? So I literally think the entire relationship, if you are a brand and if you are a supermarket or a grocer or a gourmet deli or whatever, you need to literally, you need to rethink your freaking model right now. You guys are in partnership, otherwise you're all going to freaking perish. You're going to perish.

ECRM: And now you can't have that in store experience at this moment.

Brier: That's right. And it's going to be amazing. Look what's going to happen? Shally is going to tell Phyllis, "Oh my God, this is the first time I went shopping in two months and when I went there, they had this and I tried that and they had this and they had that." And it's like, holy crap. So I mean, if you ignore that dynamic of word of mouth and that whole thing and realize that is your opportunity right now. The bar has been raised, your in store experience is going to have to be amazing and it's going to not only have to be amazing in terms of what the store is doing, but also what brands are doing. How are you going to offer more? Is there something that they can see that maybe in displays or whatever that will change the amount of information, the amount of education, the amount, all these various things. I think that literally the whole space is going to shift dramatically.

ECRM: So talking about the future, the post COVID-19 world, obviously a lot of things are going to change permanently. But what are your recommendations for retailers, for brands on how to kind of gear up for what that world is going to look like. I would imagine a part of that is marketing and messaging as such so important now digitally because it's going to be hard to do an in store environment until people start getting back there. What do you see happening and how would you recommend they gear up for that?

Brier: Literally what’s needed right is examining what previously was the bar that was the acceptable level of customer experience, and realize that it’s no longer the case. They literally need to take inventory. I mean some stores are great, some stores suck. I mean, let's get real. Some stores you don't say hello to anybody. I mean, some stores are so bad. I mean there's one place I refuse to shop anymore because I honestly, I feel if I had a heart attack and died in an aisle, I might not be found for three days. You can never ever find anybody who worked in the place to ever help you. So you're like in a freaking desert. Vultures might come and find me sooner. So it was unbelievable. 

But some places are great. They have the rule: someone comes within 10 feet of you, you look in their eyes and then if they come within five feet of you, you look in their eyes and you say hello. Those are the places that at least have a better performance level. Now, the thing is that what I've just described is no longer going to be enough. How do you make it exceptional? Don't do the bandaid stupid short term, thing. Take this time as an opportunity. Take it as an invitation to be remarkable but do not take it as an invitation to put on a bandaid. The bandaid approach is going to be stupid. It's going to be short term. Assume that there's no downside to assuming this scar and this mindset is not going to change and it's just going to be with us. Is there a downside to having that viewpoint? No, because then you're going to be over-preparing, over-delivering an overriding value and over-performing. It’s kind of like this. If you were playing full court basketball and all of a sudden they switched one of the team members on the opposing team and it was this big, seven-foot-four dude who could jump, he could leap over a skyscraper. Now, you have two options. One is you go, "Oh crap, we're dead. Let's lie down and we lose." Or you go, "Wait a second. How are we going to outsmart this dude? Are we going to like climb on each other's shoulders? What are we going to do?" We're right now in that situation, what are we going to do? You have to go, okay, you just have had the seven foot four dude who's shown up, who can out jump anybody, out muscle anybody. And you got to go for us to win, one survive the game and two actually win it, you got to freaking be smart. You got to be resourceful. You got to have ingenuity. That to me is ultimately what it comes down to.

ECRM: What a great way to wrap this up. I think that's perfect. Ingenuity and take action, that's what everybody's got to do now. And that's going to come in a lot of different forms. But like you said that's where you want to be creative and start exercising those creative muscles in your brain and kind of do unusual things. So Dave, this has been awesome. A lot of fun. I look forward to doing more of these with you and since we are going to have a virtual sessions, there's going to be other opportunities to work together. So stay safe and we will get together again soon.

Brier: Perfect.



 

Joseph Tarnowski

VP Content
ECRM

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