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Was anyone really shocked about Radio Shack closing over 1,000 stores?  In a move that shocked no one, the electronics retailer recently announced a downsizing of almost 20% of their retail stores.

Radio Shack was like that family member who after going down the wrong path for years finally tells you they’ve decided to stop trying to get rich pushing pyramid schemes.  They’ve waited too long to make a much-needed detour and now it’s way too late.

Radio Shack was the “bomb” back even before the bomb was a cool thing to say.  But when was the last time you went there?

It was probably either on Christmas Eve when you realized your cousins were coming for dinner and you needed to get some remote control cars for their little boys, or you needed something in a pinch and remembered it still existed in the strip mall you rarely go to any more.

Radio Shack really had almost everything it needed to survive:  name recognition, lots of stores in a lot of locations and merchandise that could have been tailored to fit a distinct audience.

But what it failed to do is adapt and clearly define its brand.

One of the hardest things in the world is to get back to cool. Radio Shack was cool, back when people built their own speakers for their “stereo systems,” when CB Radios were still popular, and when there was no competition from big box stores like Best Buy, Walmart, and Target where you could by batteries, DVDs, and an in some cases, an outfit.

If Radio Shack was to come back to cool, it would have to distinguish itself like no other.  It would have need to become combination of The Apple Store with a knowledgeable staff, Starbucks with a product that loyal fans would pay more for and the Ritz Carlton, where customer satisfaction is the number one priority.   But instead, it settled for outdated looking stores that don’t sell anything we can’t get someplace else.

I spend lot of time helping people develop their brand images and Radio Shack is the perfect example for getting it all wrong.   If you’re going to make it as a business you have to get most of it right.

1.    You have to know who you are and who you want to be to your audience or clients.

2.    You have to blow people away with your product or service and give them reasons why you can meet their needs better than anyone else can.

3.    You have to make each visit and experience so special that it makes them long to come back again and again.

4.    You have to either offer prices that are super competitive or a product or service so unique that people are willing to pay little extra.

5.    You shouldn’t give yourself a name that can become dated.

Radio is my business and I would never imply that it isn’t still relevant. But when was the last time you shopped for one?

Imagine if Apple had called itself  iPod Inc.  Sure the iPod was a popular item for the company but they wouldn’t want people to think iPods were their main product.  It gives the wrong perception and in marketing and advertising, well…perception is everything.

It’s easy to point out a company’s mistakes when we’re not the ones investing in it or facing the stiff competition it’s had for the past few decades.

Change, however shouldn’t make us sad. It should make us excited about being part a new way of doing things. Most of all it should make us wonder how we can be part of it.

As African-Americans our ancestors survived first slavery, sharecropping and Jim Crow laws that made it almost impossible to get a fair shake.  From there, they’ve had to figure out a way to market some thing to sell to a client base they understood better than anyone else.  It was the start of black colleges, beauty shops and barbershops, restaurants, entertainment and the list goes on and on. Even if we had the money to start businesses reaching a mainstream audience was another huge challenge.

With social media, for the first time we’re starting out on the closest thing to a level playing field than we’ve probably ever had.

Now we have to take advantage of the resources, the training and the opportunities we need to write our own chapters for success.   Turn your vision into a business plan that offers something to tomorrow’s consumers and lead the way!

Turn Radio Shack Into a Template for Success  was originally published on