Last month, I travelled to visit my son at the University of Colorado. One of the unexpected highlights of the trip included a tour of a recently legalized marijuana store.
It was quite surreal to see clear jars of marijuana openly for sale on a glass retail counter labeled with names like Purple Kush, Chemical Dog and Sweet Deep Grapefruit. Smiling, knowledgeable and helpful sales people were on hand to explain the finer points and attributes of each strain as if customers were buying fine wines or expensive cheeses.
What was more surprising, however, was to hear the story of one very enterprising 13 year old Girl Scout who set up her cookie stand outside a medical marijuana store in San Francisco and sold 117 boxes of cookies in just two hours.
Hmmm. People who use marijuana tend to get hungry. Hungry people love Girl Scout cookies. That’s one smart Girl Scout!
In essence, she did two things that we should all do in the course of running our companies:
- Continually seek out grassroots information relevant, as well as tangential, to our business. In her case, information that could help her sell more cookies.
- Deploy lateral (out-of-the-box) thinking to associate these pieces of information with actual business needs to improve the strategies used to increase revenue. In her case, realizing that marijuana users have a higher desire/need to buy cookies so selling near a marijuana store would have a higher likelihood of greater sales.
It reminded me of when I was the head of Walt Disney Records and we noticed that sales of our CDs at Toys R Us where lagging other retailers. I went into a few Toys R Us retail stores on a business trip, and noticed that much of our product was out of stock. Product categories, like children’s music, that are driven by impulse purchases, lose significant sales when the product is not on display.
I took a trip into the stock room and asked the clerk if he had received any recent shipments from us. He replied that the shipment came in a few days ago and was in the massive pile of brown boxes in the back, and he was planning to get to them, and stock the shelves, at some point.
I performed some lateral thinking, and thought if we changed the color of our shipping boxes from brown to white, our box would stand out and have a higher likelihood of being selected first for restocking. So, we did. The result – our out of stocks diminished significantly and CD sales at Toys R Us, as well as other retailers, showed immediate improvement.
What are you doing to continually receive grassroots information that is relevant to your business? Are you giving yourself the benefit of free-associating that information with your business needs to make more money?