This Week in Business and Brands: The Human Touch, Earning from Errors, and More

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Retail Redemption: Winning with Best Buy’s Big Bets

Just when you thought Amazon was putting another nail in the coffin of brick-and-mortar retailers, it looks like one big blue electronics store still knows how to “Best” the online competition with a few key strategies. First, match the low prices of your peers, so in-store shoppers aren’t tempted to leave empty-handed in search of a better deal. Next, give the customer the one thing a website can’t: the human touch, enhanced by exceptional service, investments in employee benefits (discounts are back!), and free pre-purchase consultations to help buyers discover exactly what they need. Finally, embrace the digital age: combining the physical with the virtual, shoppers can now order in-store but get their wares shipped after them. It’s been a long road to recovery, but Best Buy is paving the way for other retailers to follow suit and stay strong in our ever-expanding e-commerce world.

Enterprise Evolution: No Parity for Platforms

At Vivaldi, we’re quick to point out the attractive growth opportunities offered by platform thinking. But just one look at Airbnb and Uber can show how some network-effect businesses will thrive where others simply survive. This week MIT’s Sloan Management Review offers three keys to keeping your firm in high-gear for the future: first, dominate your minimum viable market share as Airbnb has done, outpacing competitors up to 3x (compared to Uber’s more humble slice of the ridesharing pie). Next, quickly captivate your customers by fostering loyalty at the start, especially in an age when the internet has made comparison shopping second-nature. Finally, depend on your data not only for insights, but for its proprietary worth, and make it known (compare housing reviews to driver ratings and you’ll see which actually provide lasting, useful value).

Talking Tactics, Tête-à-Tête: Courting Engagement

Ready for a refresher? Grab a seat in the classroom of Vivaldi Advisory Board member, and Dartmouth Professor Kevin Lane Keller, who offers some helpful marketing insights in this podcast Q&A with Here are a few key takeaways:

  • On corporate causes: “Purpose works best when it’s tightly linked to the particular value creation associated with that brand. The mistake is when it’s just slapped on and disconnected from that fundamental value.”
  • On real power: “I always say the customer ultimately owns your brand, but that’s different from saying the customer is in charge. Just because customers are empowered in our digital world does not mean they’re enlightened nor engaged. There’s a lot of people who have “zero” engagement – but they may be your biggest fans.”
  • On why you can still stand out: “It drives me nuts, because you can always differentiate something – that’s a fundamental tenet of marketing. Maybe you can’t differentiate the product per se, but there are so many ways to fulfill the promise of benefits and satisfying needs – the product could be just a small part of that.”

Strategic Serendipity: Earn from Your Mistakes

Before you kick yourself over your company’s latest product gaffe, consider this delightful discovery from the Harvard Business Review: marred merch might make more money. In this latest reminder to keep your finger on the pulse of what really makes consumers tick, it turns out that those very blemishes are what make products unique – and unique means more value in the eye of the customer. That’s why photos with flaws draw higher bids from amateur art collectors, and a chef’s batch of “accidental” chocolate can cause some serious salivation. So resist the temptation to avoid disclosing mistakes during creation – by embracing the human hand in production, highlighting the error can indeed increase interest in concrete conversions.

Bonds in Branding: Testing Logo Love

That’s all for this week! We’ll leave you with this funny look at brand presence that begs the question: how well do you know your logo?