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As Strong as The Weakest Link
By: Cindy Wendland
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Marketing execution is where the rubber meets the road. This is where all those grandiose ideas dreamed up at marketing meetings get implemented. In a retail setting, this is where the planograms, pricing, signage, and display features come to life. This is also where things can go astray.

I recently took a merchandising job to gain additional experience at retail level. The pay is peanuts but the experience is invaluable. For a major retailer, I am responsible for merchandising jewelry and sunglasses on a weekly basis. As a newbie, I wonder why things are what they are and in due time, I will learn. At this stage, I was taught to make the section look full and fill in where necessary. I’m excited to take ownership of the area and to make it look and perform as best as possible. To accomplish this, I will be talking with my manager to understand why there is not as much merchandise available as it seems there should be. There is some psychology that consumers do not want to take the last product on the shelf or peg. When there is more stock, people are more comfortable purchasing. In this situation, we need to increase the stock. I wonder what the marketing execs had in mind.

At a fashion department store, we had an interesting experience with a kiosk. The in-store kiosk is used to order merchandise not available in the store either due to out of stocks or other reasons. Ordering in store allows the merchandise to be delivered to your home with no shipping charge. That is nice. The only challenge is in using the kiosk. We are used to fast shopping and responsive touch screens. Neither of those things happened in our experience. The kiosk was cumbersome, slow, and not touch responsive. It worked, but fortunately my friend had a lot of patience.

The point of all this is that no matter how great the marketing idea, the execution at the lowest level will determine its success. It is the same as the saying that a team is as strong as its weakest link. So, to improve execution at the lowest level, test and then get real-world input and test it yourself. Then test some more.

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About the Author
Cindy Wendland has a background in marketing and finance. She is the creative director for an online men's health magazine, BrainBrawnBody.com, and she gets to write their leisure/travel blog. She is also a web designer helping her clients with online community engagement, websitesbywendland.com. Prior to her web years, she worked in pharmacy consulting.
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