What’s Wrong with Lowe’s and Home Depot?

What’s Wrong with Lowe’s and Home DepotOur friend, Mark Mitchell, is a whizard at helping building materials companies solve their tough sales & marketing problems.  Like us, he shares his views on how to win in the marketplace with his Whizard Strategy Blog.

Not too long ago he wrote a post on What’s Wrong with Big Boxes?  He points out that big box retailers like Lowe’s and Home Depot are playing not to lose – instead of playing to win – and that is creating opportunity for you to shine in your sales and marketing efforts.

He starts his blog off by saying: “If the goal is to maximize sales, margins and customer satisfaction, there’s a lot wrong.  There’s a lot of missed opportunity for both big boxes and building product manufacturers.  Anytime someone is as successful as big boxes are, they start to avoid risk and blind spots develop.  This results in big boxes settling for growth that is lower than what’s possible in category after category – including yours.”

Gaps that seem as obvious as the nose on your face

as obvious as the nose on your faceHe shares eight glaring gaps that seem as obvious as the nose on your face.  Of course, these blind spots are all opportunities for you to capitalize on and help grow their sales while growing yours as well.

He wraps up with: “If you change your mentality from “those big box stores are killing me” to “how can I change the game by growing their business”, you will be rewarded with more sales, new product placement and, ultimately, higher margins.”


Be sure to also check out the Channel Instincts post 5 Tips to Succeed with Big Boxes for more tips on how to win with Lowe’s and Home Depot.


Are You Stuck In a Rut?

Doing the same thing over and over again

Since many good things (and some not so good) traditionally come in threes, we thought we’d follow the lead set in our last two blog posts where we spoke of service and value and talk about a third old fashion thing. 

Let’s talk about tradition, which can be a blessing or a curse.

Traditions stand for continuity and stability

Socially and in business, some traditions are extremely positive.  They stand for continuity and stability, the often needed and comfortable status quo.

Blessing, Curse Green Road Sign Over Dramatic Blue Sky and Clouds.But sometimes, they’re negatives that translate into, “That’s how we’ve always done it and, right or wrong, that’s how we’ll go on doing it.”

For example, I’ll bet your company has always been based on quality, service, and value.  And that it’s a tradition you’re proud of.  On the other hand, your mind must always be open to new ideas as well as new needs and demands from the markets you serve.

As America emerges from the Great Recession that has hurt so many builders and remodelers, burdensome traditions will fall like trees in a logging camp.

It’s time to challenge the status quo

Meanwhile, until that much discussed but painfully slow emergence occurs, some tradition-bashing may well be called for.  For you, that should involve asking yourselves and your customers how you can do an even better job than you think you’re doing right now.

That's the way we've always done it

How about your traditions?  When was the last time you reminded your customers that part of your job is to help them sell their customers?  Are your sales teams making full use of all the sales, marketing and training tools you have invested in?  Or are they relying on the same old tricks that worked in the past?  It’s the basis for the often quoted saying “insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.”

If your answer to any of these questions—or others you come up with yourself – is, “We don’t work that way,” or “We never have in the past,” or “We never had to before,” or something more colorful, it may be time to join in a quick sing-along of TRADITION, then immediately switch to a chorus of an oldie called THERE’LL BE SOME CHANGES MADE.

The best tradition is being profitable

Time For ChangeA very wise old business philosopher once said, in business, the best tradition is being profitable.  With that in mind, it may be the perfect time to sort out the positive traditions, get rid of those that hinder more than they help, and start creating some new ones.

Channel Instincts: Top 10 Posts of 2013

Channel Instincts Marketing Blog - First PostChannel Instincts posted its first blog on February 16, 2013.  Since then, the site has had over 15,000 views. 

No one has been more surprised than us and we truly thank you for your interest and comments.

But not all of you have been with us for the entire journey and while we have our own favorites, your clicks have let us know which posts struck a chord and were your favorites.

Here are the best of the best as selected by you: the 10 most widely read Channel Instincts posts of 2013.

#10: The Marketing Audit: Finding the Reason for Your Success

Content-AuditWhy is your company doing so well? Why is it experiencing some difficulties?

What are you doing right? And, more importantly, what are you doing wrong?

Effective marketing requires a plan, with objectives, strategies and tactics for reaching goals.

After these steps have been taken, a review of their effectiveness should be undertaken on a planned basis. This review is called “the marketing audit” and is one tool for determining your current level of success.

#9: Is Marketing the Sales Prevention Department?

Street SmartTo hear sales tell it, marketing says “no” more often than they say “yes.”  Marketing has become the poster child for how to not be responsive to the customer’s needs.  In fact, we’ve been called the sales prevention department.

Does that leave sales with only smoke and mirrors?  Heck no.  Marketing should always be trying to show sales and the customer that we’re trying to profitably grow their business.  We can prove it in many ways.

#8: 5 Tips to Succeed with Big Boxes

How to Sell Lowe's and Home DepotMaybe you already sell either Lowe’s or The Home Depot or both.  Maybe you eat channel conflict for breakfast.  But it’s been my experience that the continuous competitive clash between orange and blue is something that is tough for many manufacturers’ to figure out.

Selling one or both of the home center big boxes is a great way to drive volume.  Each, however, works hard to differentiate themselves from one another.  That makes it had to sell both of them when you have a commodity category.  But it’s still possible to do this without being a major consumer brand.

#7: 7 Steps to Writing an Internal Communications Plan

Communication-PlanCommunication is critical within any business setting, but most importantly within a manufacturing facilities − where the right communication can really impact change and translate into business success.

What’s the best way to communicate?  How much should you communicate?  How do you make sure your messages are heard?  This guide will take you step-by-step through the communication process.  It has simple, practical, easy-to-follow information you can put to use immediately.

#6: Are You Making It Too Easy for Your Competition?

knowing your competition better than they know themselvesHow well do you know your competition?  My guess is you are feeling pretty good that you do.  But your goal should be to know the competitor better than they know themselves.

Every day your competitors are thinking about the moves that will make them a huge threat to your business.  Would it be easy for them to grab a huge share of your business just by giving your key retailers an alternative that they can use to leverage you for pricing and other things?  All they have to do in test is be “Good Enough.”  They don’t have to do better.

#5: Are You Pricing for Volume or Profit

Are You Pricing For Volume or Profit?Your costs are rising and your margins are declining.  Worse, your retail partners are demanding greater margins and it’s a scorecard measure.  You need a price increase but you run the risk of triggering a line review or losing placement.

Let’s start with a basic premise: our job in Sales and Marketing is not to merely generate volume but rather to generate gross margin.  How then can we overcome pricing issues?

Profitability without growth will only serve to create an environment with no opportunity.  Growth without profitability only serves to create a poor performing large company.  Profitability without growth will only serve to create an environment with no opportunity.  Understanding the balance between volume and price is your job!

#4: The 4 P’s of Marketing Aren’t Enough Anymore?

4 Ps of MarketingEveryone knows the 4 P’s of marketing…

  • Product
  • Promotion
  • Price
  • Place

But Gino Biondi, vice president of sales & marketing of Zenith Products, has suggested that the 4 P’s of marketing aren’t enough anymore.  Instead, he believes it takes a baker’s dozen of P’s to represent the many facets of product, channel and brand marketing.

#3: 10 Product Marketing Blogs You Need to Read

10 Product Marketing Blogs You Need to ReadFind insight and benefit from the thought-provoking blogs of these product marketing experts.  Each tackles the problems and issues that we all face as product marketers from their unique perspectives.  My top 10 list, in no particular order, includes:

  1. Shardul Mehta – Street Smart Product Manager
  2. Jeff Lash – How To Be A Good Product Manager
  3. Marlon Davis – Connecting.Some.Dots
  4. Ben Rees – Focus Product Marketing
  5. Cindy Alvarez – The Experience is the Product
  6. Stewart Rogers – Strategic Product Manager
  7. Chris Cummings – Product Management Meets Pop Culture
  8. Nils Davis – Wait, I Know This One
  9. Teresa Torres – Product Talk
  10. Rob Berman – Rob Berman’s Blog

#2: What Does “Your Price Is Too High” Really Mean

What Does "YourRpice Is Too High" Really Mean?It could mean, “I don’t like you, get out.”

It could mean, “I am testing you. I have nothing to lose.”

It could mean, “You haven’t shown your value to me.”

It could simply mean, “I’ll get a better price by saying this.”

It could mean, “I am only doing what you as a salesperson have trained me to do.”

#1: 10 Marketing Thought Leaders You Need to Follow

10 marketing thought leaders you need to followLook no further than these 10 marketing thought leaders for inspiration and insight.  Each one has a unique perspective that is worth your attention.   My top 10 list, in no particular order, includes:

  1. Steve Farnsworth
  2. Mark Mitchell
  3. Heidi Cohen
  4. Graham Robertson
  5. Michael Gass
  6. Timothy Carter
  7. Kim Garst
  8. Peg Fitzpatrick
  9. Mike Brown
  10. Jeff Bullas

There you are, our top-10 list for 2013.  We hope you’ve enjoyed our posts over the past year, and we invite you to stay in touch in 2014 by following us on TwitterLinkedInSlideshare or Google+.