1947. That’s how when Miracle on 34th Street came out…
…and it demonstrated one of the BIGGEST lessons in business (and really in life).
Something that is literally worth MILLIONS — if not more, when utilized correctly…
…yet 75 years later, most people in business still can’t wrap their heads around it.
It’s costing them BIG time — and will be an absolute game change for you if you implement it in your life and business.
Let’s dive right in.
If you’ve never seen the movie, fear not.
I’m going to summarize the important part of it (the business part IMO) without ruining the ‘Christmas part’ of it for you.
So feel free to rent it, stream it, illegally download it, whatever you want — but make sure you watch it after reading this post!
Basically, the movie features a man named Kris Kringle, who believes he is the OG Santa Clause.
He’s hired by a woman in the movie that works directly for Mr. Macy (yes, the founder of the retail giant Macy’s we all know today).
To play Santa Clause and hand out gifts to kids at Macy’s in New York of course.
But there is a catch…
…before heading out on the floor to assume his post in Santa’s big chair, he is tapped on the shoulder by one of the managers of Macy’s.
This is where it gets interesting.
Kris is brought up to speed on the current inventory levels of Macy’s toys, and is instructed on which ones to promote to the kids coming through the exhibit…
…all so Macy’s can sell more of what they have too much stock in.
Sounds like a good ole’ fashioned Corporate America Christmas right?
Kris Kringle decided to IGNORE those orders.
So when a little girl comes up and asks for a toy that’s out of stock at EVERY Macy’s in NYC, how do you think Mr. Kringle responded?
He, much to the dismay of the girl’s mother, said that the girl COULD have that toy for Christmas.
When the girl walked away, her mother angrily reminded Santa that she’d looked EVERYWHERE for the toy, and no Macy’s had it, and scolded Kris for setting her up for a Christmas morning failure.
HERE is where the tables turned:
Kris Kringle kindly informs the mother of the girl that the toy she wants isn’t available at Macy’s, but that it’s available at a COMPETITOR’S store.
The Macy’s manager was FURIOUS. At first…
Later in the scene, the woman re-enters Macy’s and makes the manager aware of what happened, and says:
“I want to congratulate you and Macy’s on this wonderful new stunt you’re pulling. Imagine, sending people to other stores… Imagine a big outfit like Macy’s putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It’s wonderful. I never done much shopping here before but from now on, I’m going to be a regular Macy customer.”
Are you starting to see where this is going?
Fast forwarding the story a bit, Mr. Macy is THRILLED and spearheads a campaign to be the SOURCE of all department story inventories…
Mr. Macy describes the new plan in the movie as follows:
“I admit this plan sounds idiotic and impossible. Imagine Macy’s Santa Claus sending customers to Gimbels, but gentlemen, you cannot argue with success. Look at this. Telegrams, messages, telephone calls. The governor’s wife, the mayor’s wife, thankful parents expressing undying gratitude to Macy’s.
Never in my entire career have I seen such a tremendous and immediate response to a merchandising policy. And I’m positive if we expand our policy we’ll expand our results as well. Therefore, from now on, not only will our Santa Claus continue in this manner, but I want every salesperson in this store to do precisely the same thing. If we haven’t got exactly what the customer wants, we’ll send him where he can get it.
No high pressuring and forcing a customer to take something he doesn’t really want. We’ll be known as the helpful store, the friendly store, the store with a heart, the store that places public service ahead of profits.”
Becoming the bonafide ALLY of the consumer.
Macy’s put together books of all the advertisements of all their competitors, and when consumers in Macy’s were looking for something in particular, the Macy’s employees whipped out that book and sent the consumer to the nearest store — be it their largest competitor or smallest — to help SOLVE their problem.
When this happened in the movie, I was blown away…
…not because of their ability to make such a pivot and go against the grain…
…not because the money came back to Macy’s 10 fold…
…not because it forced all of Macys’ competitors to do the same thing…
…but because this 75 year old lesson STILL hasn’t landed on today’s business culture.
Ask yourself — how many companies that you’ve bought from in 2021 would employ such a strategy?
My guess is less than 5% — and that’s being generous.
I’ve discussed in a recent post the value of customer service and how you can make customers fall in LOVE with you as they reach deep in their pockets…
…but this lesson is one that deserves its own post.
You’re NOT in the business of selling merchandise, food, services, or whatever it is you do — you’re in the business of solving problems.
Now — you’ve heard that before, but this is where people get it twisted.
You’re not just into solving the problems your customer has that YOU can solve…
…you’re there to solve your customers’ problems: PERIOD.
If someone reaches out to you asking where to buy an apple pie to bring to their in-laws for the holidays…
… and you’re in the business of selling merchandise or whatever it is you do…
Congratulations! Today you’re the proud owner of an apple-pie-buying concierge service.
Does that make sense?
IF you employ this strategy wholeheartedly, you’re going to see people come back to you in SPADES.
They’ll be telling all of their friends and family how grateful that they are for you solving their problem that day…
…and this one-time non-purchaser is going to transform into a repeat customer and one of your biggest affiliates right in front of your eyes.
I use this example as just that — an example… but you get the point:
Stop playing SELFISH in business, and remember why you’re there:
To solve your customers’ problems: PERIOD.
Imagine you’ve got Kris Kringle himself on the front lines of your customer service or sales team, and ensure ALL of your team adopts this methodology.
Weave this ‘spirit’ of putting customers above all into everything you do — and forget about your own inventories, product lines, etc…
…if you CAN recommend something from your product/service lines — that’s awesome.
But if not, you have an unwritten obligation to your customer to find a competitor or someone who CAN offer what they need.
It’s your duty as a successful business owner or business leader.
Adopt this wholeheartedly, and your business will go parabolic in 2022 if you do.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays,
PS: Go watch the movie and see what I’m talking about!