Podcast | 27 Jun, 2024

Episode 9: The Evolving World of Retail and the Impact on the Language of Retail Communications with Shelley E. Kohan

Lisa Spira

Host

Lisa Spira

VP of Content Intelligence at Persado

Shelley E. Kohan

Guest

Shelley E. Kohan

Top 100 Global Retail Influencer, Professor, Podcaster, Retail Pundit, and Speaker

In this episode of “Motivation AI Matters,” host Lisa Spira delves into the evolving landscape of the retail industry with guest Shelley E. Kohan, Associate Professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Executive Producer of Retain Unwrapped at The Robin Report, Senior Contributor in Retail at Forbes, and CEO/founder of her own consulting business. Together, they explore the dynamics of the retail industry, how leaders should think about implementing Generative AI technology, and how silos continue to plague innovation. Whether you’ve implemented Generative AI into your strategy or not, this conversation offers valuable insights into leveraging language, technology, and human ingenuity to inspire action and build meaningful connections with your audience.

Episode Transcript:

0:03:

Welcome to Motivation A I Matters A podcast designed to help you channel the power of language to inspire action.

0:12:

I’m Lisa Spright here to explore the language that drives business outcomes through the lens of what makes that language good because words matter.

0:22:

Today’s guest is Shelley Cohan, an expert in all things retail.

0:26:

She’s an associate professor at the Fashion Institute of Technology, executive producer of retail and wrapped at the Robin Report, senior contributor in retail at Forbes and CEO and co-founder of her own consulting business.

0:41:

She’s a leading retail influencer and I’m excited to chat with her about how this industry is changing and what that means for the language of retail communications.

0:52:

Welcome, Shelley.

0:53:

Thank you so much for having me.

0:55:

I’m so excited to be on your podcast.

0:58:

I introduced you as a retail expert and a retail influencer, but you are also a self-proclaimed retail warrior.

1:07:

What does that mean?

1:09:

Oh my gosh, Lisa, that’s so exciting that you pulled that up for me because I think you’re the only person that’s actually asked me what that means.

1:16:

I’ve been in retail for, I’m supposed to say over 25 years because that’s supposed to make me look younger.

1:22:

But I’ve been in retail for like four decades.

1:25:

Shockingly, I started when I was 18 years old and I worked my way up through various positions, merchandizing sales.

1:32:

I did buying, human resources, operations, marketing on and on.

1:36:

I’ve worked on the front line.

1:38:

I’ve worked on docks.

1:39:

I’ve opened stores.

1:40:

I’ve closed stores.

1:41:

I’ve been in the trenches.

1:42:

I have downsized and I have been downsized.

1:46:

I am battle worn, but I’ve always championed two things for the industry employees and customers.

1:52:

So, when I say I’m a warrior, I eat, drink, sleep retail every day.

1:57:

I’m a cheap problem solver.

1:59:

And my whole role in life is to serve the industry.

2:03:

So that’s what I mean by warrior is, I’ve been there, I’ve done it.

2:07:

I’ve worked it and that’s what it means to me.

2:10:

I love that.

2:11:

Yeah, I was just really drawn to that word and I wanted to ask you about it.

2:15:

This is a part of who you are and you’re championing this industry as a warrior who’s been in the trenches for it.

2:21:

We often leap to conclusions about influencers imagining Gen-Zer’s posting videos of their lives on TikTok and YouTube.

2:31:

But we learned in our last episode of this podcast that influencer marketing is so much more than that.

2:36:

How would you describe your role as a retail influencer?

2:40:

That’s so interesting that you say that because when I tell people outside my industry.

2:46:

Oh, yeah.

2:46:

Well, you know, I’m a retail influencer.

2:49:

Their first assumption is they jump to that Gen Z?

2:52:

Oh, you’re on TikTok and you’re so, I’m like, no, no, no, no, I’m not that type of influencer.

2:56:

I’m different.

2:56:

Are you on TikTok?

2:58:

I am on TikTok but in a very small way, it’s a lot of time, it’s very time consuming to be on TikTok, honestly making the video.

3:05:

It’s a lot of work.

3:06:

So, I give credit to all those that do it constantly.

3:09:

But you know, I’ve been honored to be selected as a top retail influencer by rethink retail.

3:15:

I’m a brain trust member at Retail Wire, as you mentioned, executive producer on the RM report writing for Forbes.com.

3:23:

So, what that means is that I have the ability to influence or add value to the industry through written words or verbal conversations.

3:34:

So that’s what when I talk about influencing and I want to positively influence others, I want to help retailers be better retailers and it also means mentoring future leaders, our students.

3:49:

So, one of my big secret powers I’ll share with you is that I’m very good at connecting the dots so I can take complex information, look at a lot of complex information and just connect the dots.

4:03:

That is a superpower when you say that your influence is maybe in connecting the dots.

4:09:

Is that something that you do through the podcast?

4:12:

So that listeners have a better understanding of the industry.

4:16:

Like how does that tangibly turn into influence?

4:20:

Because I think as you said, this word influence people just misinterpret it.

4:24:

Yeah, it really depends on the audience.

4:26:

So, the audience in my retail unwrapped podcast that I do with Robin Lewis, it’s a very sophisticated sea level audience.

4:34:

So, there’s no explaining that needs to happen there.

4:36:

Most of them who are listening have already been there, done it.
4:39:

They too are retail warriors so to speak.

4:42:

So there, I’m just bringing to light current relevant issues that are in the retail marketplace that the top C level should be thinking about when we talk about influencing students.

4:55:

It’s really doing the basic connecting of the dots.

4:58:

Here’s a concept, here’s what the textbook says, here’s how it happens in the real world.

5:02:

So, I think connecting the dots at a more basic level.

5:05:

So, I kind of gave you two ends of the spectrum there, right?

5:08:

And everything in between is just I really like to bring to light conversations at our port and I’ll give you a great example.

5:16:

So, I write a lot of articles about diversity equity and inclusion.

5:20:

It started because I learned a lot a year or two years ago with Sephora’s racial bias and retail study and I wanted to get that out to everyone.

5:30:

So, I wrote about it in Forbes.com.

5:33:

And so that’s a different type of getting the word out it’s sharing what great practices are being done in the industry and why that’s important.

5:42:

That’s great.

5:43:

You have all of this experience as a retail warrior over the years.

5:48:

So, let’s focus on retailers, the industry, you know, best, great across the longevity of your career in retail.

5:56:

What has been the biggest change specifically in retail marketing language?

6:02:

Because I know retail across the board has undergone all sorts of changes.

6:06:

But if we dial in on marketing language, what’s changed the most.

6:11:

Well, there’s a couple of things that have changed a lot.

6:13:

And one, I love the term mark tech, which is marketing and technology kind of woven together.

6:19:

It’s a big term I’ve heard recently.

6:22:

And I think when we look at retail, the retail industry in the past has been very siloed.

6:28:

So, you have marketing, you have operations, you have merchant, you have buyers, you have human resource, everything’s in their little buckets and that’s what they do.

6:34:

I think one of the greatest changes is that marketing is not a single function, it’s not a department that sits at the end of the hole and does quote unquote marketing things.

6:45:

Real marketing is really brought in at the beginning of product development and marketing has to go through that whole process.

6:55:

You can’t get to that end marketing campaign without having gone through everything in terms of product development, putting everything together, doing the assortment and getting it out and then marketing it, you’re there the whole way yet.

7:09:

He is a great example of real kind of marketing and marketing starts at the beginning in that company, it starts at product development.

7:18:

So, I think one of the biggest challenges or changes that have occurred is making marketing a cross functional initiative that touches every single part of the organization.

7:28:

And when you do that, then the marketing language can change with that because they’re there at the beginning.

7:36:

So, the language becomes more authentic, the language becomes true to the products that are being sold to the consumers.

7:44:

What I think about immediately when you said MarTech is better data for the marketers, more data on the customers and the audiences and the channels and how we’re reaching it.

7:56:

And also, I think as you said, more data on the product, more knowledge of the product.

8:04:

Is that what you were thinking about with MarTech?

8:07:

That’s right.

8:07:

So, a couple of things that have really changed is that we’re going to see a lot more investments in MarTech.

 

8:13:

For sure, companies are really looking at how can we drive improvements and content creation.

8:19:

I just wrote in Forbes.com, an article about a great study, a CMO Council study with Zetta Global and they did a study on CMO’s and it’s really interesting, I won’t bore everyone with reading them the article because they could do that themselves.

8:34:

But just a couple of key points in that is that 60% of marketers view this investment in MarTech as one of the most important and relevant ROIs.

8:45:

And if we look at what’s gonna happen with artificial intelligence in marketing, we’re talking about content creation as an example in content creation.

8:55:

We used to say, OK, let’s make a marketing video and six weeks later, here’s the marketing video right today, I can say, hey, Lisa, let’s make a marketing video and in four minutes, you could have an edited version ready for market.

9:09:

So, this speed of which we can create content has a definite positive.

9:14:

And plus, so we’re going to see lots of improvements in getting word and content out there quickly.

9:20:

The flip side of that is you can’t be too fast and you gotta make sure the content that is being created in four minutes is relevant, authentic and meets with the brand ethos.

9:30:

So, we have to really think about that.

9:32:

The other part when we talk about more tech is if you could take technology and use it to take away a lot of the redundant tasks, you then free up the creative space for people to be more creative.

9:47:

So, if I can take away all the boring dry stuff that no one likes to do, and I can focus on the creative aspect.

9:53:

Think about how more relevant, how more personalized, how more creative the content output may be from that, that’s 100% how I think about it and I love that you called out MarTech because that’s where Persado sits and we have this technology for marketing.

10:11:

Therefore, MarTech, maybe that’s not how we often talk about ourselves.

10:15:

Maybe we should, but we are providing this tool that allows you to create content more quickly.

10:24:

So, it’s everything that you just said is changing the industry.

10:27:

So, thank you.

10:28:

Yeah.

10:29:

Oh no.

10:29:

And I didn’t even thank you.

10:30:

I hope I was like true to what Persado does and how I described it.

10:36:

Yeah, absolutely.

10:37:

And I think that we’re experiencing a lot of the same things you brought up as challenges as well because Persado helps companies bring content to market faster by using generative A I to create the content.

10:50:

Our platform is for creating content that’s going to perform better in markets.

10:53:

So, adding that data aspect that comes from a platform like Persado, but of course, when we’re moving quickly and creating content so quickly, someone has to review that and look at it and be like, is it authentic?

11:06:

Is it relevant?

11:07:

Is it actually the right piece of content for me, for this audience for this moment?

11:11:

So, I agree and I’m really big into the human and A I partnership, human and machine working together?

11:18:

I agree.

11:19:

I think the other area that’s really interesting to me is when we talk about marketing, we’ve always talked about micro segmentation as this super expensive, very difficult it’s tough to manage.

11:30:

It’s tough to create.

11:31:

But now when you think about generative A I, you think about micro segmentation, oh my God.

11:36:

With all this content, you could really deliver highly, highly personalized content to a variety of different customer segmentation.

11:45:

So, I think it’s very exciting in that way.

11:49:

That’s something that my team at Perso is working on right now.

11:53:

If you’re talking about a very specific segment that you want to reach, how do we make sure that that content is super relevant to that segment?

11:59:

And Persado is going to be rolling out the segment’s feature over the summer.

12:03:

And so, we’re really excited about that capability that generative A I is giving to us all.

12:09:

I would love to see a demo on that.

12:11:

I didn’t know that that’s fantastic.

12:13:

We can do that for you.

12:15:

Absolutely.

12:16:

I think the other big challenge when you talk about MarTech and you talk about retail specifically.

12:22:

So, I mentioned all the silos that we’re at.

12:24:

So, one of it is breaking down the cross functional silos that we’ve always lived our whole retail lives in.

12:31:

But the other piece is now, you also have to break down the online and offline.

12:36:

There is no such thing as online and offline.

12:38:

It’s one unified commerce, it’s one big thing.

12:41:

And so, you have to really think differently in terms of those marketing investments because you really want to be super-efficient agile and customer centric across every single touch point.

12:54:

So, mobile e-commerce physical, that’s a big task.

12:58:

That is a big task.

13:00:

Yeah, we work so much at Persado in the digital, but we’re always talking with customers about how does that translate into the in store experience so that it feels like it’s all part of one hole and one brand’s voice and ethos.

13:15:

Yeah, that experience, I also wanted to ask you, we know from the diversity of our retail customers at Persado that the industry isn’t homogeneous.

13:25:

It’s one thing to say like, OK, retail MarTech has come in and helped with retail marketing.

13:30:

Great.

13:31:

But I would love to know a little bit more about trends when you pull different segments of retail apart, maybe how they market or how they communicate.

13:42:

I was thinking about maybe the difference between a luxury brand and a cost-conscious brand or a brand for a cost-conscious consumer, but maybe those aren’t the right ways to cut this up.

13:54:

How would you talk about different trends that are happening for different types of retail brands?

14:01:

It’s very interesting because there’s so many factors that are involved in retail and when people that are outside the industry, we say I’m in retail, they think, oh OK, you get a product, you put it on a shelf, you sell it.

14:15:

How hard is that?

14:16:

It’s actually so complicated.

14:18:

So, let me just walk through some of this, some of the things that have to be considered.

14:22:

So, brands in the luxury market are going to speak to doing these very exclusive products desire.

14:28:

If you think about a brand that’s really targeting cost conscious, the marketing has to center around attributes, features, benefits, cost and value is what I think is more important than cost.

14:40:

So, it’s not about always being the lowest price.

14:43:

It’s about value is what you’re offering at the value that I’m willing to pay for that.

14:50:

So, I think those are two different ways that retailers are addressing two different markets, but that’s just the different market segments.

14:59:

Let’s talk about weather, for example.

15:02:

Ok.

15:02:

It just got really hot here in the northeast in the last week.

15:06:

And so now consumers are thinking tank top and shorts.

15:10:

I have to get them right.

15:12:

They weren’t thinking that three weeks ago when we had a hailstorm, right?

15:16:

So even things like we impact the consumer psyche, and these are things that should be measured.

15:23:

Monitor looked at on an ongoing basis.

15:26:

So, it’s not just segmenting by how consumers purchase, and I’ll add one more kind of, this is a very complex idea in terms of consumerism.

15:36:

And that is when we look at how consumer shop.

15:39:

If you said, hey, Shelley, do you go into a store and shop?

15:42:

Well, I can’t say yes or no.

15:44:

We don’t have online shoppers and physical store shoppers.

15:48:

What we have is people do all things all the time.

15:52:

Today, I’m gonna be an in-store shopper because I want to go and experience the store.

15:55:

I have time tomorrow.

15:57:

I gotta run to my son’s baseball game.

15:59:

I want to do curbside pick-up.

16:00:

I want it fast.

16:01:

I don’t want anything else.

16:03:

Right.

16:03:

The next day I might wanna do online purchasing because I’m busy and I can wait.

16:08:

So, this idea that consumers do one thing or another, that’s so in the past now, consumers are everywhere and the way that marketers can best meet the needs of today’s consumer is to be there in that moment when they want to make that purchase, whether it’s I’m sitting in the buy online pick up in store parking spot.

16:32:

I am in a store online.

16:35:

That’s what really is important today.

16:38:

That makes so much sense to me.

16:40:

I listened to your weather episode which was so interesting of your podcast.

16:44:

But I also think about how many people I see standing in a store searching on their phone for that product.

16:50:

People are doing it all at once.

16:53:

They really are.

16:54:

Yes.

16:55:

So, Persado is a Generative A I solution that writes marketing language that is proven to motivate action for marketing KPIs such as opens and clicks and conversions.

17:07:

So, in my role at Persado, we’re constantly tuning the solution to balance performance with these KPIs against brand voice and balance relevance with creativity.

17:19:

We want to push the envelope and have it, give you more creative language.

17:22:

But of course, we want that creative language to be relevant to your product and your audience.

17:27:

And as you said, where that person is at that moment?

17:30:

Are they in the store?

17:31:

Are they on their phone in the store or wherever they might be?

17:35:

I would love to get your take on Generative AI.

17:38:

How is Generative AI impacting retail marketing and communications.

17:44:

Well, let me just say it is probably one of the most impactful things that we’ve had in our retail industry since the evolution of ecomm.

17:56:

I think it’s so tremendous and big and I’ll give you some great examples.

17:59:

So, a year ago, it was literally a year ago, it was, I think it was last June.

18:04:

I remember sitting at a marketing conference and I’m sitting at the marketing conference with the smartest marketers in the world and CMOs marketing VPs whatever and all of them are asking themselves is Gen AI gonna take my job.

18:19:

What’s gonna happen to me?

18:20:

What does this mean?

18:21:

And so, when we think about retail, we think about AI and the impact it’s significant, but it can be very positive.

18:28:

Yes, there’s some negative aspects of it as well, but let’s just talk about some of the positives of AI impacting marketing communications.

18:37:

And so, I’ll start with very simple ones.

18:39:

So, a lot of retailers have already started doing this, but there’s companies out there that help with consumers finding the right product.

18:48:

So, if you go and you’re doing a search and you say I want a green dress before it would just bring up any green dress out there.

18:56:

But now you can use Generative AI to say, oh, great.

18:59:

Where are you going?

19:00:

What’s the function?

19:02:

What’s your style?

19:02:

Do you want long sleeves, short sleeves?

19:04:

Do you want a V neck?

19:04:

Do you want a round neck?

19:06:

How long do you want a slit?

19:07:

Do you want a zipper?

19:08:

Do you like button?

19:09:

I mean, we can just continue this conversation and then present the customer with three fantastic dresses that meet their needs.

19:16:

So, a lot of retailers are using this in what I would call the prep purchase part of the customer journey.

19:23:

And I think that’s great because you’re in that moment and you need help finding something.

19:27:

Think about these sophisticated chat bots.

19:30:

The one like I just described, I was just gonna ask you if you were talking about a chatbot there.

19:36:

Yeah, very sophisticated though.

19:38:

So, I don’t like using the word chat bot because I say chat bot and most people are thinking, oh, ok.

19:43:

Where’s my order?

19:44:

Ping?

19:45:

When’s it gonna be delivered?

19:46:

Ping.

19:46:

That’s the old chat bot.

19:48:

This is almost human chat bots.

19:49:

But another thing.

19:50: So, IBM is doing something really interesting.

19:53:

They’re using this area to help their customer service people be better customer service people.

19:59:

So, a customer calls in and says, oh, I had a problem with this product X Y and Z, the service person pulls up the chat on says, what do I do about this problem?

20:09:

What are the solutions?

20:10:

And so now all of a sudden, this customer service person that maybe has six weeks of training, maybe new on the job, maybe encounters a problem.

20:18:

They’ve never accounted before, can now actually help solve this problem.

20:23:

And that kind of speaks to what you said earlier about how marketing isn’t isolated at the end of the hallway; customer service is a big part of this.

20:31:

Absolutely.

20:33:

And the other area in which a lot of retail aren’t here yet, but there’s some kind of forward-thinking retailers that are doing a lot with this and that is the virtual selling assistance.

20:42:

So having virtual assistance, I’m sure you’ve seen virtual influencers, but they look and feel like real people and they’re there to help, especially in a digital world with styling with product selection, explaining Estee Lauder using a virtual styling assistant.

21:02:

So, I think we’re going to see more of that coming down the pipe as well.

21:06:

When you say that you’re thinking about some virtual assistant that I interact with, who is virtual, who is helping me and not the technology where I upload my body dimensions to have a me try on clothes or something on a website I was thinking of the first, which is, yes, you’re sitting there, you’re talking to Susie and Susie is a virtual person and Susie is gonna help style you out.

21:30:

I think the difference between the chat bot is you’re seeing someone, you know, you’re seeing them talk and act and they look almost human.

21:37:

No, it’s really cool.

21:39:

So, thinking back to that conference that you were at a year ago, do you think that those people who were really worried about their jobs or maybe not their own jobs?

21:49:

But the jobs in their org are still worried?

21:54:

Well, I think what’s happened is is that a big light bulb went off in everyone’s head.

22:00:

The conference was in June and then over the next few months it kind of unfolded that, oh, wait a minute, we could actually get more content out.

22:08:

Wait a minute, we can actually get rid of some of the redundant tasks.

22:12:

We can actually spend more time being creative.

22:15:

So, I do think it’s gonna impact some jobs both in retail and in marketing.

22:21:

But I also think that we are also going to be able to elevate that customer experience because we have more information, more data more quickly.

22:32:

So, I think it’s actually a plus in the long run.

22:35:

What would you say to an executive who is in retail and is thinking, I feel like I should be using Generative AI, I feel like it’s a good tool.

22:45:

For content creation, but I don’t know what to do.

22:49:

What’s their first step?

22:51:

Well, that’s a really good question.

22:54:

I would first determine that based on where they were in the organization.

22:58:

So, a merchandiser, I might give different advice.

23:00:

If it’s someone in marketing, I would give maybe different advice.

23:04:

Operations, generative.

23:05:

AI can do a lot of things by function.

23:08:

So, if someone said to me, where do I start?

23:10:

The one advice I would tell them is what not to do.

23:13:

Don’t do everything, don’t run out and just try everything.

23:16:

Just ask yourself in my organization, what’s the most important thing for me?

23:21:

So, let’s say if you’re a cosmetic brand and the most important thing to you is get across that.

23:26:

Your company has products that are leaping bunny certified and you’re a B Corp and your products are good and there’s not the harmful seven or eight products, then spend time on developing marketing content that relays that message because that’s your brand ethos.

23:44:

That makes so much sense to me.

23:45:

And we work with a lot of brands who really come to us with.

23:48:

This is my ethos and every content piece that we create has to feel like us because that’s why our customers are our customers.

23:56:

So, that’s been a really great challenge for me and my team working with Generative AI saying, we’re gonna create all this content, but it has to sound exactly like the brand that wants to use it or it’s not a fit, no one should use it.

24:10:

That’s right.

24:11:

And that’s so true too.

24:12:

You have to stay true to your brand ethos.

24:15:

Always.

24:16:

Do you think that brands have more success when they’re very upfront about social causes or when it’s more subtle in the background, messaging what I think is most important for brands and what really is going to be relevant is you have to be authentic.

24:35:

And so, the one thing I will say is this generation, they just have this lens of no BS goes, they can see right through stuff.

24:44:

They’re very smart, they can hear someone talking and see what they’re doing and if there’s misalignment, they are going to call it out.

24:52:
So, whatever a retailer brand does has to be authentic.

24:56:

And there’s some brands that are very great at being authentic from product development to consuming you.

25:03:

Talk REI, Patagonia, EverLane.

25:06:

Those are the stalwarts of the industry in terms of brand ethos and corporate social responsibility, but you have other companies that do great things too and they’re not doing it because they’re trying to get customers or they’re not trying to do things to try to change the messaging for their consumers.

25:26:

I’ll give you a great example.

25:27:

REI.

25:28:

They recently in the past year started their path ahead ventures which helps by park owned businesses in the outdoor space and then they’re not doing it so they can create this marketing thing.

25:42:

They’re doing it because they recognize that only 1% of outdoor vendors are by Park brand owned businesses.

25:49:

So, they’re really trying to make a difference.

25:51:

And I think that’s the authenticity that these consumers are looking for.

25:56:

That makes so much sense to me.

25:58:

You can’t just talk about it.

26:00:

You have to walk the walk; you have to do it and care about it for it to resonate with consumers.

26:04:

Consumers are going to see through any sort of non-authentic play, especially in a social space like sustainability or diversity.

26:15:

Yeah.

26:15:

And I’ll give you another example.

26:16:

You know, Madison Reed, do you know Madison Reed?

26:19:

It actually started as a home color, home hair color and the owner Amy Ret, she wanted to build a brand where women could be empowered to change their hair color.

26:31:

She uses a lot of technology and now they have salons all over the United States.

26:36:

And one of the things that she was very passionate about is ingredients, not using the bad ingredients, making sure that she was leaping bunny certified.

26:47:

And so, her whole brand ethos is one message, but that message is clear on her app in our store online.

26:55:

And so, when you think about the marketing and you think about the messaging, it doesn’t start at the marketing, it starts with the product development.

27:03:

She makes sure that those products are made with the right ingredients and then the story falls through production and then to the consumer.

27:11:

So that’s another example of you just have to be true to your brand ethos.

27:15:

You can’t market something in hopes that you’re gonna back into some great CSR initiative.

27:23:

And then the next step for her, I would imagine is making sure that she segments those audience communications so that she’s targeting Gen Z and Gen Alpha or she’s targeting in any other way, the people for whom that is one of the most important aspects of the buying decision.

27:41:

Exactly.

27:42:

Yeah, it all fits together like that.

27:44:

What are the biggest challenges facing retail marketing executives today?

27:50:

I think one of the biggest challenges is because our industry, you know, has always been very siloed.

27:56:

I think one of the biggest challenges is really opening up those silos and thinking differently and bringing marketing into the aspect of retail much earlier than OK, we’ve created this product, it’s in the stores, you market it.

28:12:

That’s just so old school thinking.

28:14:

So, I think that’s probably one of the biggest challenges is to get marketing there up in front when products are being developed to get their input as well.

28:23:

And think about what that impact will have on the consumer.

28:27:

That’s probably one of the biggest challenges, the other challenges with marketing and I hate to say it but I’m gonna say it, OK, and that is you have to have the talent, the talent to be able to think about Generative AI and using a more tech stack, right, you have to have that ability.

28:46:

And if you look at marketing executives today, you know, do they have that experience, do that have that ability?

28:53:

So, I think experience within markets is very important and I’ll add one last thing and I think you’re gonna appreciate this one.

29:02:

retailers in the past have always tried to take things in house and build them in house.

29:08:

But today, it’s virtually impossible for any retailer to bring in house.

29:12:

All of these different technologies beyond marketing, all the technologies that they’re currently using.

29:18:

So, a lot of technology companies are now headless and compostable.

29:24:

Here’s what I say.

29:25:

Don’t try to figure out Generative AI marketing, get an external software company like Persado because that’s what they do for a living.

29:35:

They’re experts.

29:36:

You’re a retailer focus on retail, don’t focus on this other thing.

29:40:

So, I would say brand partnership with great software companies is key to success today.

29:47:

Retailers just can’t move that fast.

29:49:

We can’t learn that fast.

29:51:

I so appreciate you saying that.

29:53:

Of course, that’s how I feel working for a technology vendor, a Generative AI company that like is in the weeds building this stuff on your behalf.

30:03:

If you’re a retail marketer out there and what I always say, and I say this internally at my company, but also externally is I always think about each person’s expertise.

30:15:

And I respect you as an expert in your field and I want you to respect me as an expert in my field.

30:20:

So, yeah, if you’re a retail marketer, you know, so much about how to craft a message, how to reach your audience, who they are, what the product is.

30:32:

And don’t learn the tech stack necessarily.

30:35:

We’re here to support you.

30:37:

You’ll tell me your expertise and we’ll have a great partnership.

30:40:

It’s so true.

30:41:

So, I don’t know if you knew this, but I actually worked for a technology company for about seven years called Retail Next.

30:47:

And so, it’s funny because I’m not really technologically advanced, but I’m a retail expert and they needed help with expertise in retail.

30:54:

So, I get that.

30:55:

And the other thing I will say is that when we think about retailers and what we just said, OK, so now what you’re saying is I’m a retailer.

31:05:

I used to run marketing myself, but now I have to manage 30 vendors.

31:10:

OK?

31:10:

Wait, that’s a totally different skill set.

31:13:

So, you gotta have people in those jobs that then can manage.

31:17:

And when I say manage, I don’t mean like the vendors need to be quote unquote managed, but you have to think about what’s the blueprint of that infrastructure.

31:26:

What’s it gonna look like?

31:28:

How are all these Software’s gonna work together?

31:30:

How can we best implement software that gives us the best ROI and then you always have to think about the consumer.

31:37:

How does this impact the consumer?

31:38:

Is it right for the customer?

31:40:

Totally.

31:41:

And you have to learn how to hire people who don’t look like you because you’re hiring a whole host of skill sets to put this whole machine together so that the machine functions as efficiently and as well as it possibly can.

31:54:

That’s so funny.

31:55:

It’s so true.

31:56:

I wanted to ask you one last question and talk a little bit about your personal communication style because I’m super interested in how people use words.

32:05:

You’re a professor, you’re a consultant, a keynote speaker, a podcast host, you have a lot of experience communicating.

32:12:

How do you change your language or communication style for different scenarios?

32:18:

One of the most important skill sets that I have learned is reading the room.

32:24:

And I think that’s really important.

32:26:

And so, when I’m podcasting, I have kind of one way of communicating and it depends on the different guests I have.

32:33:

But you have some guests that like to be very structured.

32:36:

You have other guests that like to wing it.

32:37:

I like to play into the person that I’m podcasting with in terms of my communication style.

32:43:

If you’re asking in a keynote, I’m gonna be there to deliver a message, key points, key takeaways.

32:50:

Here’s why it’s important.

32:52:

And when I’m in the classroom, it’s pretty structured.

32:56:

I don’t use any PowerPoints in my, any of my lectures.

32:58:

I just talk like I’m talking to you.

33:00: Now we pull up an idea.

33:03:

I do some visuals and stuff for students, but sometimes you have to change that.

33:07:

So, I’ll give you a great example that recently happened.

33:10:

So, you can imagine walking in my classroom, I’m very structured.

33:14:

So, you gotta have your work done.

33:15:

You sit in your chair.

33:16:

OK.

33:16:

Let’s get going on a lecture.

33:17:

I get complaints that I run the class for the full three hours, but I did give them a break.

33:23:

No.

33:23:

But so, we’re in the middle of our semester and we’re trying to get a lot of content delivered and done.

33:28:

And it was right around all the protests that were happening in New York City and around the world.

33:33:

And I walked into the classroom, and I just sensed the stress level of students.

33:39:

So very, unlike me, I walked into the room, I sensed it.

33:44:

And unlike me, I took a chair, I turned it around.

33:48:

I sat in the middle of the students in a student chair, and I said, what do you think about what’s going on?

33:54:

So, it was a complete shift of here’s this professor is very structured, very honored.

34:00:

Has a game plan, has a lesson plan, has a board plan.

34:03:

It’s just sitting there saying, so what’s happening, how you feeling?

34:06:

But that needed to be done at that moment.

34:09:

So that’s what I mean by kind of understanding and reading the room, you have to change the way you communicate.

34:15:

I think people have to see you as human.

34:17:

I used to, early in my career when I was doing trainings or teachings or speaking, I wanted to make sure I hit every point I’d wanna be perfect.

34:27:

I wanted to make sure I, I nailed it.

34:29:

But I think today it’s more important for me, for people to see.

34:33:

I’m human.

34:34:

I’m a person.

34:35:

I care.

34:36:

I agree.

34:37:

And I love your reading the room technique and also just as a tip for anyone who’s trying to be a better communicator in any way, really connecting with that audience and feeling what they need is so important.

34:51:

I think you have a degree in language, don’t you?

34:53:

I do.

34:53:

Yes, I knew it before I wrap this podcast.

34:57:

Where can our listeners find you and your work?

35:01:

Well, the best place to find me is on the retail Unwrapped podcast, which is on Spotify Apple, everything.

35:09:

It’s also on the RobinReport.com and also read me on Forbes.com.

35:14:

You just put in Forbes and my last name, Kohan, and I should pop up there.

35:19:

And if anyone has any ideas for podcast or articles, just reach out to me at [email protected].

35:27:

Wonderful.

35:28:

Thank you so much.

35:29:

And thank you for coming on this podcast today and being a guest.

35:33:

Thank you for having me it’s a great honor to be on your podcast.

35:36:

So, thank you.

35:39: Thanks for joining us.

35:41: We’ll catch you next time here on Motivation AI Matters until then, make sure you’re subscribed and learn more about how to find the right language to motivate your customers and how Generative AI makes this possible by checking out the resource library at Persado.com.

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