If you always do what you have always done, then you’ll always get what you have always got. OK, so this may, or may not have been uttered by Henry Ford, or Mark Twain, but it’s been around for at least four decades. This statement, along with, “If it ain’t broke, then don’t fix it.” has always provided a positive reinforcement for inertia.
In business, this has perhaps worked well for the last 50 years, where change has often been slow to make itself known. In 1992 an incredible, enabling tool changed the way that the world would work. The internet has enabled changes in communication we could hardly have imagined and with the Internet Of Things now sweeping the globe, offering simplified management of heating, lighting and security, to name but a few. This disruption has brought, dependent on your perspective, more flexible accommodation provision with AirBnB, transportation with Uber, or business threatening challenges.
Nowhere is the wind of change being more keenly felt at present than in High Streets across the UK. Challenged by out of town shopping and shopping centres, since Brent Cross opened in London in 1976, the clear establishment of online shopping led by Amazon and grocers moving to the provision of not only food products, but clothing, pharmacy, optical and technology has continued to erode High Street sales. This change, followed by a financial crisis that left many consumers far more price conscious than for many years, has heralded change.
With simple, mobile enabled, provision to price comparison websites and online alternatives, the consumer has been empowered in a way we’ve not seen before.
So what to do? Nothing? Well, it’s an option, but not a very compelling one as consumers today are more sophisticated than ever before.
How to differentiate your business from others.
- Competing on price – probably not the smartest move given the structural advantages of new competitors.
- Adding value – Focusing on service and experience can make all the difference in an otherwise vanilla world.
It’s not just the High Street, but locations too. Perth an ancient market town that has thrived for hundreds of years is facing a significant challenge. Dundee, Perth’s long-term friendly rival has faced down the challenge and has responded by focusing on design, winning the V&A, as well as becoming UNESCO.
It’s not a single aspect that’s going to save Perth, as not many people visit purely for shopping and it’s not blessed with a single major attraction, like Stirling or Edinburgh Castles. People visit for a variety of reasons, and other opportunities enhance their visit. What Perth does have in spades is an ample opportunity. Not only does it still have an (admittedly depleted) selection of great independent shops, but an array of interesting, high-quality visitor attractions. These include three castles, some great restaurants backed by an enviable natural larder, increasingly rich cultural events and it is the gateway to adventure in a similar way to Queenstown New Zealand, offering mountain biking, rafting, bungee jumping, canoeing, mountain sports. Local golf courses, which attract high-value customers and we have the ability to attract the burgeoning Asian market.
While there are structural changes that can be made to the operation of key services, such as parking and management/sharing of information, what Perth needs, urgently, is to develop it’s offerings and promote these effectively, to increase footfall. Fortunate to travel with Emirates in 2015 and 2016 we were a target audience for Lyon’s promotional campaign, highlighting the wide range of reasons to fall in love with Lyon. This sustained campaign has certainly been targeting the type of customers that Perth so desperately needs, for over 12 months; actually, the campaign has been running since 2013. Perth has a unique and eclectic range of attractions, but they’re not yet being used to attract and engage potential visitors.
Do what you’ve always done, OK, but you’re unlikely to keep getting what you’ve always got. Establishing how you can add value, working with others, to cross-sell and help visitors (whether residents, business people or holiday makers) to have a great experience and being alive to opportunities to promote Perth is a practical approach to helping rebuild Perth’s fortune.
Our team has worked with a range of organisations, providing practical business-focused marketing activity, growing both footfall and sales. If you’d like to talk through how we can help, why not call us on 01738 237 850.