I was privileged enough to have had the opportunity to represent MK and John Wilson at the world’s largest sports trade show https://www.ispo.com/en/munich for the fourth consecutive year. Each year I look forward to this event for numerous reasons. The number one reason is that it’s a great chance to reconnect with our customers and work on improving relationships. Secondly, I find great joy and am fascinated watching how other brands invest money in their exhibition appearance. Lastly, the feedback we receive helps us drive the company forward.
One thing I found insanely fascinating was how many retailers claimed that our commitment to creating great social media content was driving sales within their stores. We’ve noticed a significant increase in the number of retailers who are now taking this seriously. While creating engaging content is necessary for any company today, improvements can be made to foster sales. I had a chance to speak with the retailer in our industry who has the largest Instagram following. Her blade sales are 90% online vs. 10% in-store. While the following she has is impressive due to her pledge to post regularly, I don’t think she’s been able to capitalize on her presence to convert followers to sales. I asked her, “have you ever considered selling through Instagram?” She was baffled. While the industry is changing every day, companies in skate sales haven’t considered capitalizing on this very important sales tool. The ability to target an audience based on geography, interests, gender and age can lead to massive increases in sales in the market of your choosing. I hope to see retailers in figure skating take advantage of this after the Olympic games as interest will peak more than ever!
The largest takeaway this year which came from our customers is the challenge to continue improving the quality and consistency of the products we make. While the customers admitted that we have made significant improvements over the last three years, we can still push further.
Before I left for ISPO, I took my fiancé to the movies to watch The Post with Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. The film covers The Washington Post’s rivalry with The New York Times leading up to the Watergate scandal and the pursuit of increased profitability. Meryl Streep’s character writes “quality drives profitability.”
The changes I have planned for the business will ultimately require improved time and could subsequently decrease our profit margins. The challenge will be fully reviewing other processes to find ways to make up for the loss of profit within the business to off-set the increased cost needed to improve quality and consistency. We are only as good as our product and improvements to our blades should create further brand loyalty and long-term sustainable growth.