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Everything Old Is New Again

Sometimes the newest way of doing things is actually the old way!

“We do not make changes for the sake of making them, but we never fail to make a change when once it is demonstrated that the new way is better than the old way.” Henry Ford

What Henry Ford didn’t contemplate was that sometimes the newest way of doing things is actually the old way! This is being demonstrated every day and has been propelled and amplified by the Covid19 pandemic.

For example, Shopping at Kroger, the nation’s largest supermarket company, provided shoppers with cavernous facilities with exciting displays, compelling marketing offers, wide selection of merchandise, fully stocked floral shops, banks, coffee shops, medical clinics and more. It was an experience, not just a shopping trip. But it wasn’t always this way.

Prior to the early 1900s, shopping for groceries and most other things had customers standing at a counter as a clerk pulled the order together. The clerk using the customer’s list or verbal instructions, gathered the merchandise and came up with the total cost then helped the shopper to her buggy! In 1916 that all changed. Clarence Saunders, a grocer in Memphis TN, rearranged his grocery store so that shoppers could walk up and down the aisles selecting their own purchase and eventually arriving at the “check out”. The purchases were added on an adding machine and the paper strip became the first sales receipt. Clarence Saunders was the founder of Piggly Wiggly and the modern supermarket.

Today, as a direct result of Covid19, I go online to the Kroger website, I select my purchases, check out on the site and give the clerk time to pull my order together. Then when I arrive at the store and text what parking spot I am in, the clerk brings my order and places it in my car. I no longer interact with the store staff, walk the rows of goods for sale, partake of the coffee shops or banking. Except for the technology, things are much like they were before 1916.

It is not just groceries! From Amazon and Walmart to eBay and Carvana there is little that can’t be researched and purchased without ever having to leave the home or office. Where does that leave us – the promotional products media industry?

We are and have been an industry based on relationships. We have helped our clients create relationships, maintain them and profit from them. The last six months have also had us helping our business clients deal with Covid19 by supplying the needed PPE. But now it is time to get back to the “media” part of promotional products media. Delivering messages about social distancing, hand washing, mask wearing or discount plumbing services, the need to deliver durable messages has not changed. Employers still need to reward and retain employees. Banks still need to find customers who need to finance their new cars. The pause caused by the pandemic did not alter the needs, only the way people access those things.

I’m not suggesting that we go back too far. What I am suggesting is that you back up past the computer and find your telephone! Talk to your clients and prospects. Use websites as tools to further the discussions, not a substitute for them. If you enjoyed a friendship along with doing business, make some “non sales calls”, simply asking how things are with your client. Don’t sell anything unless they ask.

Use our own amazing industry to build business. Don’t wait to send a holiday gift to your clients or prospects. Send your holiday greetings to coincide with Thanksgiving Day so your clients still have time to get things together for the year end holiday gift giving they certainly should be doing.

You may find that some of your clients still want to meet face to face (or mask to mask!). Suggest that a nearby park bench or outdoor coffee shop might be a pleasant change from their office and allow everyone to maintain the guidelines from the medical experts. Bringing a new fresh individually bagged mask for your client, with your logo on it, is also a great way to start a meeting!