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On February 1, 2012, the department store giant JCPenney introduced a new strategy tailored by its’ new CEO, Ron Johnson.

The strategy was certainly bold;  attacking the core concept of its’ business model (deep discount driven sales and clearance markdowns) and seeking to remake itself in a crowded market.  The strategy even included a new look to incorporate a boutique shop feel; which was anticipated due to Johnson’s former job as the chief for Apple’s retail store’s look.

Pricing strategy and new look combined, the effort was meant to revolutionize the JCPenney brand; to lift it from the depths of boredom and irrelevancy and have it ooze trendiness and style.  In short, they wanted to compete with the younger crowd that cares less about price tag shock and more about style and shopping experience.

It was and is a great idea.  Appealing to a younger, more style conscious crowd ensures that the brand will continue to be relevant for years to come.  It also greatly influences its’ bottom line;  allowing the brand a greater profit margin by getting out of the deep discount game and in to the higher end designer price tag game.

And then the real-world intervened.

Rather than embracing the new branding effort, the market turned hostile.  Most loyal customers despised the idea of doing away with JCPenney’s trusted coupons, and many shoppers found the new store layouts to be too crowded, confusing, and conflicted.  The market responded, loudly, that they didn’t much care for the new JCPenney brand.

And isn’t that what happens when we have big dreams?  Too often the real world intervenes, reminds us of our dissatisfied place, and rebukes us back into shape.

Well not anymore.  Here’s what you can take away from JCPenney’s mistakes and evolving story:

  1. The vision may be perfect, but the execution matters most.  JCPenney’s execution was off.  If they were serious about rebranding themselves as a trendier and more style conscious brand, they should’ve aggressively lured new brands to fit that image. They had a big idea, but only half-acted on it.  If you’re serious about chasing your dream, it’s time to get serious about executing the necessary steps to get there.  Determining a plan to live out your dream is a hard, boring, arduous process but it’s the most vital step to taking your dream from fantasy to reality.
  2. Those who disagree will always seem to have the loudest voices.  There are plenty of people who see the potential in the new strategy;  who are willing to endure the first steps and mistakes that JCPenney will make at the outset, and who are excited about the new JCPenney brand.  Most analysts actually agree that the strategy will prove effective for JCPenney’s long term goals.  However, the dissenting voices are the ones who are getting the press.  Whatever your dream, those who disagree with you will be the loudest and most persistent voices you hear.  Your task will be to determine if their shouts deserve air time.
  3. The “X” factor for your dream is your courage.  Say what you will about their new strategy and their execution, but JCPenney didn’t just talk about revolutionizing their brand – they took active, bold steps to actually do it.  It’s time to stop talking about when, how, and why you want to live out your dream.  It’s time to be brave enough to actually start putting action behind your words.

Don’t let the real world disrupt the adventure of chasing your dream.  Plan obsessively, listen to the right people, and execute courageously.  You may make some missteps along the way; but at least you’ll be moving rather than staying still.

Comment below and tell me;  what do you think is your own personal “X” factor toward living your dream?

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