By combining her love of gadgets with her love of marketing, this savvy rockstar chick created a unique business to educate customers on how a product will add value to and benefit their lives.
We’re talking to Amy Roche, the Chief Rockstar/Director of Retail Rockstars (www.retailrockstars.com.au) on the Word Style File today. See why she’s ace…and why you need to stand out and create an “experience” for your business besties (ideal clients).
Tell me about your biz. What do you do?
We provide innovative cooking and technology shows for appliance retailers. I collaborate with all kinds of industry “experts” from food bloggers, authors, nutritionists, Paleo aficionado’s, smart home engineers, IT consultants you name it. Together, we put together amazing and interactive live shows in-store. In addition to the shows, we also develop all the marketing and promotional materials, handle RSVPs and managing the event so retailers can get on with what they do best.
What does your role entail?
Well, I get to work closely with retailers like The Good Guys, Harvey Norman, Myer and Winnings, as well as each of the experts, or “Rockstars”. We also have a seven-week implementation program called Rockstar Academy, that focuses on Theatre-style training, Sales and Product Bootcamp training for our up-and-coming Rockstars. The Academy ensures shows connect with customers emotionally. Our ultimate goal is to get them excited about gadgety, fun appliances and technology, which in turn produces favourable results for retailers.
Why is marketing important for small businesses?
Marketing is important for any size business. Whether you are big or small the most effective marketing today helps people. By focusing on strategies and tactics that add value to your customers lives – you start to establish yourself as a trusted advisor, not just a price and sales machine. Marketing is your outlet, your golden opportunity to tell the world why your “XP11 Dominator” is different and why they should care. Without a clear value proposition, people – your potential customers – won’t know “why” you are the best match for them. More importantly, they might not even hear or find the message because you sound exactly like everyone else who sells “XP11 Dominators”.
What is experiential retailing?
In its simplest form, it is an experience given freely by a retailer that creates value for their customer. It may be educational, technological, emotional, fun, entertaining or just involve them trying/experiencing the product itself. However, like everything, just because it’s “experiential” doesn’t mean it will be effective in converting sales, engaging your customers or raising awareness. One of the most critical aspects to experiential retailing is that it must also be a positive and memorable moment for the customer.
For instance, simply giving out meatballs cooked on a grill may allow a customer to physically “experience” the meatball taste, but if you are selling the grill, it doesn’t really allow the customer to experience anything other than it cooked something it’s supposed to cook. If there was nothing memorably notable about the cooking process, the story of why or where or how it was developed, the design, packaging or the way or manner in which it was delivered, it has failed. There are a few other examples in a blog I recently wrote.
What’s one cool example of it?
One of our most popular and oversubscribed shows is on Discovering Paleo. Our resident paleo expert, Leah Williamson is head honcho of Brisbane Paleo. Primal eating has been all the rage for quite some time now, and Leah takes her audience through her own personal journey and her somewhat accidental devotion to the Paleo template through finding a cure for her illness. She discusses nutrition, lifestyle and the dietary changes humans have experienced in such a short time. A big part of success in paleo is having the right tools to prepare fresh food from scratch. Our busy lives would make it nearly impossible without specialised appliances so she clearly demonstrates how easy it is with the right tools. She educates, interacts and gives everyone a free copy of her latest e-book chocked full of recipes and paleo tips. This showis paid for by the retailer and free for their customers to attend.
Why do you specialise in this area of marketing?
Well, I love gadgets – especially appliances, cooking and technology and I’ve combined that love with my passion for marketing. I grew up watching old advertising movie classics with my parents like Lover Come Back (1961) and later What Women Want (2000). By the time I finished university, I was head over heals into branding and advertising, working with agencies like Leo Burnett and working for big US companies, with even bigger marketing budgets like Maytag.
As with all things marketing has evolved, today, cheesy and manipulative marketing campaigns are about as attractive as Mums smoking while pregnant in the 70s, and about as effective too. Marketing has changed because we have changed. Effective marketing today is about helping people solve real and meaningful problems – not tricking or manipulating people into buying things.
I’ve owned a successful appliance store for more than eight years and I set out to change the way people thought about appliances. I began organising shows for our customers and I saw them light up and get excited and realised that “normal” people don’t get excited about cool appliances, well certainly not like I did. They only got excited about the cool things they could do with them and many just didn’t understand the opportunities and new trends out there. Experiential marketing and retailing is a fun way to demonstrate all the amazing things possible with technology and appliances in a super helpful way.
I specialise in this area because I get to do what I love doing, but also get to see it help people on a daily basis.
How does it fit in with a small business’s marketing plan?
It’s a tool, a strategy within your overarching plan. Your experiences should reinforce your passion for your business and should clearly demonstrate why you are different and why they (your customers) should trust you with their money and time.
Can anyone do it – or is it specifically for retail?
I can’t think of any business who shouldn’t be concerned and proactive about planning their “experiences” – whether you are an online business, retail or service based. How a person perceives your experiential clues is how they perceive you and your business.
In basic terms there are three experiential clues; human, mechanic and functional. Functional clues are how your service or business operates functionally – for instance if you are an online business it’s how quick your website loads, the safety and speed of your payment facilities. For instance in retailing, it’s things like; your stock availability, your eftpos facilities, your store being clean and ticketed appropriately. In our climate these are expected functions that your business must have to run efficiently.
Mechanic and human clues are both governed more by emotion and perception. Mechanical clues are things like the design of your facility or website, smells, sight, sounds, layout these things are largely the brand and marketing elements of your business and how they come across. Whereas the human clues are the people in your business how they convey courtesy, empathy, knowledge, attitude and appearance (dress) to your customers. Mindfully designing your experiences creates emotional connections with your guests or customers.
Top marketing tip?
We now know that 90 per cent of our purchasing decisions are based on non-rational or emotional reasons. Traditional marketing works off of features and benefit,s which is the rational decision process for buying. If we know that 90 per cent of our decisions are based on non-rational part of our brains, why do we spend so much time in rational features and benefits marketing?
Tap into what emotional benefits your ideal customers get from your product or service. Survey your top 5 per cent of customers (larger if you have a small customer base) on their favourite benefit of your product/service and then ask them, “how does that benefit make them feel”? Then, come up with an experience or a customer journey that helps them and the rest of your customers feel that way again…do it freely, do it without worrying too much about reciprocation, measure and see your sales soar!