Learning from the best

We just want to be America’s favorite store. We don’t have to be America’s flashiest store; we just want to be America’s favorit store.

Ron Jonhson, CEO, J.C. Penny

Retail genius Ron Johnson joined J.C. Penny as CEO, and without even realizing why, I started loving the JCP marketing efforts. I like the spin they put on the new pricing structure. I like the choice of Ellen Degeneres as spokesperson. I’ve like the products they carry for a long time, so all these factors dovetail into a really nice marketing effort, as far as I’m concerned.

I’m vaguely aware of some activist organizations protesting the selection of Ellen Degeneres as spokesperson because of her sexuality. But from a marketing perspective, she is an excellent choice. Beyond lending her face, voice, and humor to JCP’s marketing efforts, Degneres has also shared JCP’s new marketing vision with her own audience. She is a well-established, and frankly, well loved, brand. It’s not easy getting another brand to evangelize your own brand.

I had a great call today during which I got excited about the power of getting another brand to evangelize your brand. Sorry … that’s marketing speak for saying, “anyone with influence who is willing to refer you is good.”

Ron Johnson has a unique combination of marketing savvy (getting others to promote his brand), and eye for customer service. His design for the layout of Target stores was eventually copied by retail giant Walmart — to the extreme! Walmart changed its logo, store facades, and made drastic changes to the square footage it devoted to departments.

I must appreciate Ron Johnson as the inventor of the Genius Bar. I’ve spent many hours at them. What a remarkable move toward improving customer service! I would think moving toward “free” additional support and customer service would seem threatening to the bottom line, but Apple has proved the opposite. Brand loyalty is worth billions.




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