Take a look at this place in Nashua, NH. It's cold, it's miserable, and I end up talking to a guy (age 65ish) who is waiting for his cheeseburger. Guy: Isn't it great that they're open? Kevin: Sure. Guy: You know, the big chains aren't open on a day ...


Kevin Hillstrom: MineThatData - 5 new articles

Tradition / Nostalgia

Take a look at this place in Nashua, NH.

It's cold, it's miserable, and I end up talking to a guy (age 65ish) who is waiting for his cheeseburger.

Guy: Isn't it great that they're open?

Kevin: Sure.

Guy: You know, the big chains aren't open on a day like this.

Kevin: Burger King isn't open right now?

Guy: What I am saying is that this place is always open. You're probably too young to remember the blizzard of April 1978. This place was open during the blizzard of April 1978. That's what I love the place. They're always open, no matter what. 11-9. Every day. Even when it is pouring rain and 38 degrees like it is right now.

Kevin: Alright.

The guy scooped up his cheeseburger and off he went.

I got my hot dog with cole slaw and cookies 'n cream ice cream and off I went. Notice that the hot dog is wrapped in thick slice of white bread.

This was 2:45pm in the afternoon. And after I snapped my photos and began eating my lunch in my rental car, another fifty people walked up and got their fix of less-than-healthy food.

Food that is just a bit different ... and TRADITION.

If you struggle with online marketing and you cater to a 65 year old customer, then capitalize on the one competitive advantage you have ... TRADITION! Play it up. Use it to your advantage.


Online Sales Tax

Over the past decade, Amazon made a transition. Early on, they did not have a physical presence in your state. So when you purchased something, you purchased it sans sales tax. Retail brands howled how unfair this was.

Today, Amazon has a physical presence in many states. Much of what you buy from Amazon is subject to sales tax. Retail brands still howl about how unfair it is that Amazon (and you) do not have to collect sales tax.

Have you ever noticed that Amazon grows, virtually unfettered, regardless whether they collect sales tax or not?

Sales tax is one of those topics designed to generate page views. It's virtually irrelevant to your business. If you sell something that the customer wants, sales tax is a minor inconvenience.

The problem happens when we are selling stuff that the customer doesn't care about ... at that point, discounts / promotions / sales tax become important.

So maybe instead of focusing on sales tax we focus on what matters ... and what matters is what we sell.


More Cheese On The Nachos

Have you ever noticed that no matter how much cheese they put on your nachos, they still call 'em nachos?

Now, you're allowed to personalize your nachos ... more peppers, more cheese ... but they're still called nachos.

What is your strategy regarding new merchandise?

Adding a button to a dress shirt still leaves you with a dress shirt ... to the customer, the item isn't fundamentally different, is it?

It's not easy to identify new merchandise, is it? It's hard work. And too often we're just making modest changes to existing merchandise. When we have success, we truly invent new items. We don't simply put more cheese on our nachos.


Write A Bonus Plan That Actually Leads To Growing The Business

Assume you had a $50,000,000 company like Gliebers Dresses. You write two bonus objectives that look something like this:

Now assume that your team EXCEEDS each objective. Now you have to pay people.

You probably run forecasting simulations that tell you what your business looks like at the end of the year if you grow new customers and increase annual demand, right? Right? Your Finance Team added up the sum of all cash bonuses and realized that the total cash to be paid out was $1,300,000.

In the case of Gliebers Dresses, assume that we have an $8,000,000 increase in demand and the increase leads to a $2,500,000 increase in profit. In essence, the profit is being shared ... half goes to the employees that caused the profit increase, half goes to the brand.

If you write your bonuses in a smart manner, you essentially create a profit sharing plan ... a REAL profit sharing plan.

How is that a bad thing?


Show of hands ... how many of you work for a retail brand or e-commerce brand or catalog brand that pays healthy bonuses?


Pay 'em!

I finished presenting slides, including a series of slides outlining shared bonuses. Bonuses that are written identically for all salaried employees.

A woman stops to see me, and offers a phrase I've heard often.
  • "I love the idea of bonuses, but I'm never going to pay them to my staff. My team needs to be self-motivated."
In other words, she didn't love the idea of bonuses. She loved the idea of people working together for the good of the organization, regardless of reward structure (or absent of rewards, to be more honest ... the employees should do 'what is right' while Executives and Vendors get paid).

I worked with a company that had a good year, a really good year. Going into the next year, employees enjoyed paltry 2% "cost-of-living" increases. Vendors however, well, those folks got paid. The marketing budget grew by 15%, which meant that marketing vendors were getting 15% more pay. Paper / Printing / Postage / Email / Search / Social all "reaped the rewards" of company success. The person who managed those vendors earned 2% more pay.

What in the name of Don Libey are we doing?

In the past ten years, we decided to treat our own employees worse than the vendors that our employees hire.

Please pay your employees. I simply don't understand why your vendors deserve to share in your success but your employees don't get to? Why do you prioritize your vendors over your co-workers? Seriously? I'd like to you to "join the conversation" and explain why employees are treated so poorly but vendors get to rake in coin?