• December 2, 2020

“I’ll Take TouchPoint360 for $500”

I really miss live sporting events. I miss concerts, and I especially miss planning a vacation right now. I’ve also missed a few weddings that have been postponed. One thing I don’t miss at weddings is “the question.” The last wedding I attended was in Texas. “The question” came up a lot as it does anytime you meet someone new. The groom at this wedding was a ballplayer so most of the exchanges went something like this:

“Hi, I’m Gregg, I’m from Chicago.”

“Nice to meet you Gregg, I am Johan Oviedo, and I’m from Miami.”

“So, what do you do Johan?”

“I’m a pitcher for the St. Louis Cardinals. How about you, Gregg, what do you do?”

“Well, you see Johan I work for a company named TouchPoint360 and we serve the retail industry so are often asked to help our customers with various projects and initiatives that typically relate to re-branding and shopper marketing objectives (at this point I’m seeing that blank stare so I realize it’s time to pivot) how bout’ them Cubbies Johan, are you ready to face Anthony Rizzo?”

We can all relate to this encounter; how do we explain what we do in a way that is understandable to a perfect stranger? What aspects of our profession are more universal and relatable?

Years ago, about the time Rob Sniegowski was starting with our company, I was working in sales for Avis Car Rental in Ohio, and one of our customers was Huffy Bikes. They had a division named “Service First” that spent more on travel than any other division yet was relatively new. When I met their president, I asked him “the question”, “what does Service First do?”

“We do all the things retailers don’t do anymore because they don’t have enough people.”

That was succinct, not entirely informative, but it addressed a fundamental truth in business – payroll is the highest cost for any business, non-essential payroll always gets reduced or cut to stay competitive.

Years later, about the time Dan Vander Molen joined us, I met with a guy named Gerry who had worked for Blockbuster Video. The demand was so high they were building a store a day, employees could stock the movies, but they really struggled getting the fixtures and displays put up correctly. “We hired contractors in each market which was a challenge until one of them offered to send trained teams to other markets. They did such a good job we gave them the contract for the entire country.”

Sound familiar? Retailers want to run their stores; they don’t want to spend time finding vendors and especially contractors. If one solution works everywhere, they love it. Blockbuster is also a cautionary tale for retailers that do not adapt. (As a side note Gerry later became president of that soon to be national contractor, he must have seen Netflix coming).

More recently but still pre-pandemic, I was attending an industry event for retailers and retail service providers, some very similar to TouchPoint360. One of the people I met answered “the question” for me:

“I help people get their steps in.”

“Excuse me?”

“Yes, I am a step-creator.”

“I’m sorry I’m still not understanding what you mean…”

“Our company does experiential marketing and many in-store events. We are the reason people get off their computers, out of their chairs, and physically go visit the stores to check out what’s new. These events are a lot of fun, stores need us now because that’s how they compete with Amazon”.

This exchange was a little weird, but it was a unique way to make the point – retailers can’t be “vanilla” if they hope to attract shoppers so they rely on companies like ours to help differentiate and create added excitement and engagement for their shoppers.

Are these three exchanges helpful for answering the question “what do you do?” Perhaps, more importantly they speak to some governing dynamics that are very hopeful for us.

Retailers need help. They do not have enough people. They need help with basic tasks as well as complicated projects. They need help now persuading shoppers to visit their stores rather than choosing to buy online. They need the services we provide especially now as we transition back to a normal economy. Together we can share this hopeful expectation for the possibilities ahead.

I want to express my sincere gratitude to all of you working on the front lines this year for our company. Thank you for your commitment to our many customers. We expect to see the high demand for our services continue into 2021. For now, take time to be thankful as we head into the holidays, and please share this gratitude with your loved ones!