Sunday, January 16, 2011

Take Two Steps Forward After Each Step Back

This last week, Kenneth Cole Productions announced they’re closing nine of their retail fashion stores during 2011. This follows the closure of eight stores and other cost-saving measures to take account of the realities of the Great Recession.
     At the same time, Kenneth Cole Productions is showing a forward-thinking, forward-moving optimism that’s produced results. Namely, five consecutive profitable quarters. Optimism facilitates retailing success. It’s a particular kind of optimism, though. It’s not a belief everything will turn out fine, no matter what. Instead it’s a conviction that you are capable of using the strengths of your business to achieve high profitability. How do you identify those strengths? You learn from the past. How do you mobilize those strengths? You focus on the future.
     This means you face the realties. In a recent article, marketing media expert Thom Forbes wrote that Kenneth Cole likes to say, “Today is not a dress rehearsal.”
     Know when to welcome all sorts of input, realizing it’s always easier to tame down an unrealistic idea than to try to make the same old ideas exciting. Know when to change to the “work your plan” implementation stage. It is a stage of determined action. And in these uncertain economic times, stay alert to a need to quickly change course, systematically closing down stores or departments or product lines until a crisis is resolved, for example.
     Monitor how you’re doing, but be careful that the monitoring does not itself get in the way. Psychologists at University of Minnesota and Texas A&M University found that when a retailer carefully monitors results toward achieving long-term goals they’ve set, time seems to pass more slowly for the retailer. And that, in turn, makes the goal seem more distant.
     This points out the importance of perseverance and creativity to add to the optimism. Which brings us back to Kenneth Cole. In his article, Mr. Forbes recounts the tale of how the company got the name Kenneth Cole Productions, of all things, in 1982: To help launch his shoe business, Mr. Cole decided to display at an upcoming NYC trade show, but to save money wanted to park a truck on the street outside the venue. Can’t do that, he was told…except you can if you’re a movie production company. Voilà! Kenneth Cole Productions was formed to film “The Birth of a Shoe Company” and show off the product to passersby.

Click below for more:
Bind Yourself to Your Plan
Learn From the Past for the Future
Monitor Your Progress Toward Objectives

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