January News: Navigating the Future
By Mark Brock
Specialty retailers who would like to gain insights into how to succeed in a fast-changing world should plan to attend the International Casual Furniture Association’s “Navigating the Future” conference set for Scottsdale, Arizona, on February 14-16.
“‘Navigating the Future’ will give our members educational content that they can put to work immediately in their businesses and provide networking opportunities across our industry,” said Gary McCray, president of Klaussner Outdoor and 2016 chairman of ICFA. “In keeping with our focus on participation, the event was planned by our conference committee of retailers, sales representatives, manufacturers and suppliers with an eye toward actionable content presented in a very inviting setting.”
Marcia Blake, Merchandise manager with Glen Raven Custom Fabrics, and Debbie Stegman, president of Elegant Outdoor Living, are co-chairs of the conference committee.
“The program will combine expert speakers along with group breakout sessions,” Blake said. “Our goal is to provide rich educational content for business practices, marketing, technology, sales and recruiting, while also facilitating collaborative discussions among retailers, manufacturers, sales reps and outside vendors.”
Here’s a listing of other important educational opportunities at “Navigating the Future.”
- Swim Like a Shark by Michael Parris DuDell
Video: Meet Michael Parrish DuDell
- Selling Across Generations by David Stillman
Video: Meet David Stillman
- Digital Marketing by Tony Franklin
- 60 Ways to Grow Customer Engagement by Tarsha Polk
- How to Sell Millennials and Boomers by Ed Tashjian (see article below)
- Business Succession Planning by Terry and Lee Resnick (see article below)
- Sales & Recruiting by Steve Bennett
- Retaining Retail Associates by Karen Galindo
The agenda also offers a golf event and retail tour of area outdoor specialty stores.
For more information and to register for the conference, visit the ICFA website at www.icfanet.org.
Different, Yet Similar: Selling to Millennials & Baby Boomers
Mention the terms “Millennials” and “Baby Boomers” to most specialty retailers and you’re likely to conjure up in their minds beautiful visions of sales and profits. At the same time, you’re also likely to inspire visions of the frustration in reaching those two diverse generations in ways that create store traffic and generate sales.
“When it comes to marketing, Boomers and Millennials have more than just a generation gap of years, they have an experiential gap,” said Ed Tashjian, a principal of Tashjian Marketing, a strategic marketing and business development consulting firm in Hickory, North Carolina.
“Massive changes in technology and culture certainly separate the two generations,” he says, “but they’re both pretty much the same emotionally, as human beings with a need for meaning, status and belonging. Perhaps the greatest challenge is in understanding that the symbols of meaning and status, and the ways of belonging, are dramatically different between the (two) generations.”
Tashjian’s experience spans senior marketing positions with several leading national brands, including Sara Lee and Century Furniture. In addition to his consulting practice, Tashjian is an adjunct professor of Marketing at Lenoir Rhyne University, and has also held a faculty position in marketing at the University of Southern California.
The importance of the Millennial and Baby Boomer generations to specialty retailers is certainly easy to understand when you look at the U.S. Census. Millennials, defined as those who were ages 18-34 in 2015, and numbering 75.4 million, recently surpassed the74.9 million Baby Boomers (ages 51-69).
Millennials are forming their own households, while Boomers are also on the move, downsizing and spending more time in second home vacation residences. Both lifestyles translate into opportunities for selling outdoor living products.
According to Tashjian, Millennials and Boomers have a great deal to learn from each other, and specialty retailers who want to cultivate them as customers have a lot to learn about both generations.
“The first lesson for specialty retailers is to know that digital media is the new frontier; it’s growing explosively and it’s here to stay,” he said. “There are no rules except that you need to choose the medium that best reaches your target audience and delivers a message about how you’re different and better (than the competition). Making this challenge especially difficult is the fact that dozens of new digital mediums are introduced or go commercial every year, and only a few survive.”
While digital media is increasing in importance each year, television is slipping, particularly among Millennials. While Boomers are still tuning in to the networks, as evidenced by all the pharmaceutical ads, viewership among the younger generation has dropped by 30 percent. Where are Millennials going for news, information, entertainment and shopping? You guessed it, to their smartphones.
“Nearly two-thirds of Americans own a smartphone and 19 percent of Americans rely on a smartphone for accessing online services and for staying connected,” Tashjian said. “Mobile is expected to overtake desktop for U.S. search ad dollars this year. If retailers are not thinking mobile, then they are leaving huge opportunities untapped, especially with Millennials.”
With so much focus today on digital media, it’s easy to lose sight of the human element of marketing, the fundamentals of storytelling and the importance of differentiation in the marketplace, regardless of generation, according to Tashjian.
“Whether reaching out to Millennials or Boomers, specialty retailers must have a difference that makes a difference,” he said. “How you differentiate yourself in the marketplace must be meaningful, and the benefits must be so clearly understood that it breaks through the clutter and demands engagement.
“Marketing has always been about storytelling,” Tashjian continued. “A good story presents and then resolves conflict, and in storytelling about your product or service the consumer must be the hero of his/her own story. It all needs to be explained in language your target audience uses every day. This is one fundamental that hasn’t changed among people and it never will.”
Understanding the differences and similarities between Boomers and Millennials, and crafting stories for each, is ultimately about marketing segmentation. It requires empathy for your target audiences and value propositions tailored for each.
“If you can’t define your quintessential target and deliver more value, then you don’t have a business proposition,” he said. “When you have multiple segments, such as Millennials and Boomers, you must have multiple messages and channels and the ability to differentiate yourself from the competition in each segment.”
The ultimate goal, he says, is to work toward a deep understanding of Boomers and Millennials and how the two generations can learn from each other.
“The management guru Peter Drucker said it best: ‘The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service sells itself. Effective marketing should render selling unnecessary.’ This fact of life hasn’t changed in the last 50 years.”
Assuring a Legacy: The Key Is Business Succession and Estate Planning
You’ve worked hard building your business with more than 30 years of long days and nights and more ups and downs than a roller coaster. As a result, the business has grown and thrived over the years, and you can look back with pride on building your brand, taking good care of loyal customers and supporting your family.
Now it’s time to step away, enjoy more time with the grandkids, maybe play more golf, travel and do all the things that you could never fit in due to the demands of running a business. But how do you step away from the family business and assure that your legacy continues for your employees, customers and your family?
“This is a common situation that virtually every family-owned business will face some day,” said Lee Resnick, a partner with Resnick Associates, a firm specializing in business succession and estate planning. “When you look at the statistics, however, it’s not very encouraging. Only two of three family-owned businesses make it to a second generation, and only one in six make it to a third generation. The missing element for so many of these businesses is effective business succession and estate planning.”
Specialty retailers who are interested in assuring that their businesses continue to thrive with future generations will want to attend a session on business succession and estate planning that Lee Resnick and his brother and partner, Terry, will present during the “Navigating the Future” conference.
Resnick Associates is a nationally recognized estate planning, business succession and life insurance advisory and implementation planning firm with offices in Overland Park, Kansas, and Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Lee and Terry have written extensively in the national news media, and worked with numerous trade associations and their business-owner members throughout the U.S.
According to Lee, the greatest barrier to effective business succession and estate planning is simply one of neglect.
“Business owners are extremely busy and have tremendous responsibilities; we understand that,” he said. “But we also know that owners of family businesses are dedicated to their families and to creating a legacy that lasts for future generations, while other types of business owners may want to create maximum value for a future sale to an outside buyer. This is where business succession and estate planning is crucial.”
There are several elements that are essential for successful business succession and estate plans, according to Terry.
“You start by considering the state of the business, the family situation and the goals of the owner,” he said. “From this input, the plans must include solid legal documents that typically include wills, trusts, buy-sell agreements and a formal valuation of the business. One of the most important considerations is the liquidity position of the estate and the business, which will be essential to implementing the plan. This is where life insurance can play a central role so that the plan actually works as intended.”
When creating business succession and estate plans, a business owner will want to involve a team of advisors, including attorneys, accountants, valuation experts and liquidity specialists. Given the complexity of business succession and estate planning, including tax liabilities, it’s important to tap into the expertise of specialists.
“Business succession and estate planning are highly technical endeavors, which is why business owners will be well served to include specialists in the process,” Terry said. “There is an expense involved, but the alternative of ‘saving money’ by not doing the proper planning can put the family and the business at significant risk with the possibility of losing the business as well as other assets.”
After an initial business succession and estate plan is complete, many business owners make the mistake of letting plans sit unattended for many years while the business and family situation changes.
“Business succession and estate plans should be reviewed at least once a year and at any time there is a significant change in the family, business or tax law,” Lee said. “Even if the plan doesn’t require any changes year-to-year, it’s an important exercise to remind the business owner of the details of the plan.”
The other essential ingredient in business succession and estate planning is communication among family members. Everyone in the family, whether they work in the business or not, should be on board with the plans for succession and the estate.
“With effective planning and open dialogue among family members, there is so much that can be done to assure the legacy of a business owner,” Terry said. “It’s always gratifying when we can help business owners pass along a business they built with hard work, pride and passion to a next generation.”