Industry Views

Pending Business: Still Learning

By Steve Lapa
Lapcom Communications Corp

I think it was the great Michelangelo who said, “I’m still learning.” Three simple words that can make or break any of us in marketing.

I am still amazed at the success and customer loyalty at Trader Joe’s. Why is it that a homespun marketing approach develops loyalty, when I have found more competitive prices and sometimes higher quality foods elsewhere?

Yet there I was lost in the regular South Florida Sunday crowd, standing in line, basket-to-basket, ready to check out. I have never heard or seen an ad for Trader Joe’s, yet the store was packed. The scene at the 59th Street store in Manhattan was quite similar last year when I spent three months in the city, or the one in D.C. close to my daughter’s home, even the Trader Joe’s in Sandy Springs, Georgia near my other daughter’s home was slammed on a Sunday three years ago.

Too much information for a column on sales and marketing?  Believe it or not, I still can’t figure out how with no frequent buyer program, super discounts, or incentive marketing I became such a frequent shopper. I guess just like Michelangelo, I’m still learning.

Here is what I have learned from Trader Joe’s that connects the dots to our sales and marketing world.

— Keep it simple. Ever notice how the prices are clear, easy to read and seem to present a perceived value? How does your presentation packaging stand up? Does it take an IT expert to understand how to interpret your computer driven proposals?

— Everyone has something positive to say. I have never heard any of the folks at any of those locations say a negative word, even when parking was a game of musical cars. How about you? Are still blaming the boss for higher pricing or tighter credit?

— Variety is in the eye of the customer. Other stores with more square footage have greater variety. Sometimes you need it, most of the time you don’t. How many times have you thought to yourself, “There are just too many options in this pitch.”

— Got a complaint? We can fix that. Somebody please show us a local radio station training for excellent customer service. It just isn’t a long-term commitment. Maybe a perceived unnecessary expense in our business.

— Consistency. Like every successful enterprise that is public facing, consistency and dependability build trust and customer loyalty. How about us?

Sales and marketing are a dynamic process that is always adjusting to the competitive landscape and the needs of the customer. And that is why we should all follow Michelangelo’s lead and never stop learning.

Steve Lapa is the president of Lapcom Communications Corp. based in Palm Beach Gardens, FL. Lapcom is a media sales, marketing, and development consultancy. Contact Steve Lapa via email at:

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