Business Tip: Think Macro, Act Micro

Understanding larger industry trends as well as local demands will help you serve your market.

Business Tip: Think Macro, Act Micro

Ultimately, we are all in the dream business. Helping customers realize their dreams is what it’s all about. But it’s easy to get lost in the details of day-to-day challenges and lose sight of the big picture.

Socialist globalists long have espoused: Think globally. Act locally. That concept is valid, regardless who is saying it.

Amazing how it works. It’s necessary to see the big picture in order to make the smaller things work, yet it also is necessary to have the little things in line in order to see the big picture. Call it the circle of success, if you will, because most certainly there is spiral of failure if one is not careful.

The overall economic landscape across the country is a patchwork of good, bad or indifferent these days. In some areas, sales are relentlessly red hot; in other areas, steady and flat; while still other areas are stone cold, with the temperature dropping.

These phenomena affect the big fish in the pond, ranging from major manufacturers to mass marketers. No one is immune from economic realities. The secret is in how these realities are interpreted and what is done as a result. As the famous song suggests: Every hand’s a winner and every hand’s a loser …

The big operations are good at what they do and will take care of themselves. What they offer and how they offer it is academic for the most part in this discussion. What will be available on the open market and how the consumer base interprets it is, for practical purposes, beyond the purview of the retailer. But by looking at that big picture and then acting locally, it is possible to tap into the buzz and energy that is created at those other levels of the industry. Kind of like a form of judo, so to speak.

The secret is in how those realities are interpreted and acted upon. By thinking globally and understanding how that bigger picture likely will result in both challenges and opportunities locally, it is much easier to have the right stuff at the right time for the local customer base coming through your door.

Here is where the acting locally comes into play. The last thing anyone needs is to have stagnant or slow-moving inventory taking up space while orders for customers who want the latest, greatest stuff become backorders.

To a degree, the various incentives offered by manufacturers, distributors and the like can help keep any retailer on the straight and narrow. But they can’t do it all for the retailer. In the end, it is about closing sales across the counter, having the cash register ring loudly and often, and moving inventory out the front door at acceptable or better margins.

As much as the hotshots at the macro level do what they can to create and/or read the appetite of the consumer, it is just as important to follow suit at the micro (local) level.

What does the local economy look like and what is it likely to be for the remainder of the year? If it is good, then logically it is prudent to follow the most aggressive advertising and marketing directions of the macro folks.

If the local economy is steady, or even lackluster, follow the macro in segments where that makes sense locally, but be ready to insert at least a little creativity to motivate those in the local customer base who have funds to spend, but who might be a bit hesitant to take the plunge at this time. It’s “let’s make a deal” time.

Although initially it may seem like the biggest of all challenges, if the local economy is on the skids, consider it to be a full-on opportunity. That’s right. Clouds can have silver linings.

Laser focus on what the local customer base can afford is paramount for success in this scenario. The harder times are, the more customers dream. To wit: the Great Depression when the country went to the movies in unprecedented numbers to watch silver screen illusions of the idle rich in all their overindulgence. Similar situations exist now in everything from the types of video games certain economic demographics play to the “statements” that certain clothing items make. Some might suggest that even the types and complexities of tattoos fall into this general arena. Dreams and self-identity are inseparable.

Stocking at least a minimum of dream products will keep the dreamers coming back, even if both the retailer and the customer both know that customer isn’t going to actually buy the dream product.

We all know, though, that on those repeat visits, the customer will buy what the customer can afford at that moment. That’s where Dreamland intersects with reality. And that’s when and where the cash register rings.

I have observed the same phenomenon repeatedly and predictably in places as disparate as Southern California and Arizona — which economically are as different as one can get. Murphy’s Guns in Tucson, Arizona, has taken that theme to even higher levels by segmenting would-be “dream guns” at several places around the store. Repeat customers learn to know in what area the guns of their dreams will be displayed — in ways that also expose the customer to the many other kinds/price levels of guns and gear. Literally, it becomes more than just shopping. It is an experience.

The point is that, whatever the “dream” items are locally, they can serve as magnets to draw traffic back again and again. Maybe it is a full race gun, maybe a fully tricked-out long-range rig, maybe a fancy sporting shotgun with a five-digit price tag. You get the point.

The really exciting thing is that once the dream items have served their purpose, they also represent profit because regardless of the local situation, there will come a time before too long when it is right for one or more of the customers to realize his or her dream.

Yes, we are all in the dream business. We have our own dreams, too. Maybe this is the year to realize them.


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