Circling Vulture Part 2

A couple days back, I wrote a half-formed rant on the current state of department stores (Picky Customer or Circling Vulture). This morning, while skimming my blogroll [opml] in search of a pick-me-up, Hugh McLeod 1) knees me in the groin 2) points and laughs. He did both in his Cheapest or Best post.

First, his enigmatic business card cartoon:

“if the f’r doesn’t cost you your life, it isn’t a quest.”

Hugh, thanks, I needed the reminder. Today especially.

Second, the post reads like a better Picky Customer, with fewer words. Actually, I should just replace that post with these 2 thoughts from Hugh:

  1. “You have no automatic right to revenue.”

  2. “We are now moving into a world where you have two basic survival choices:”

    1. “You can be the cheapest.”
    2. “You can be the best.”

    “There is no middle option.”

Amen. Why are department stores, commercial radio stations, hub-airlines, and advertising agencies failing left and right? In Hugh’s list of survival options, they are neither.

Choosing either cheapest or best will give people a reason to do business with you more than once. As an added Free Prize, it will inspire passion (positive and negative) all around – in customers, employees, the press. Passion always means people care and that’s why we’re all here.

UPDATE: Brand Autopsy dissects JC Penny’s Missing Middle strategy. While McLeod and current market conditions are promoting cheapest (Wal-Mart / Target) or best (Neimann Marcus / Nordstroms), JC Penny’s is firmly planting themselves in the middle. Short term, it seem to be working for them (year over year sales up 3.3%), long term it sounds like a strategy to be bought by Kmart’s real estate arm.

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