The Shop Keeper

DSC00139The head of marketing for a major clothing brand imparted a metaphor to me that struck a nerve. He called himself a “Shop Keeper”.

Daily he would consider his customer – what are they interested in? What makes them unique? What do they want? What would inspire them? Why would they be interested in his product?

He told me he would spend most of his day creating beautiful and exciting products for his shop anticipating and celebrating the uniqueness and individuality of his potential customer.

After this conversation I asked myself what do we do in safety to engage our organisations? It put me in mind of TV advertising. There I am sitting at home trying to watch my favourite show and every three and a half minutes I am interrupted by three and a half minutes of stuff I neither want nor care about. Contrary to the ad campaign I do not want a Jeep!

I record, rent or download to avoid TV advertising. I am not the only one. TV advertisers are struggling. The average public has too many choices and not enough time and they do not trust advertising.

So why is safety any different? What does the safety shop look like? Would I want to walk into it….willingly? How do we occur to our people? Do we celebrate the uniqueness and individuality of our customer? Or do we tell them they have to do it because it’s good for them, like a doctor serving up bad tasting medicine.

I believe we have banked on the capital of authority and in a lot of cases fear for a long time. How long can we continue to bank on this capital? People have more choices, are more educated and have completely different expectations from the generation before us. They want more, expect more and they know what good looks like

Like the discerning TV watcher this generation does not want to be manipulated, interrupted, forced, persuaded or frightened into buying a product, and this includes a safety message. They want to choose it because it’s cool, it expresses who they are and it works for them.

If safety wants a stake in the future of this highly individualised, discerning, savvy generation we need to renovate our shop now. I think as ‘shop keepers’ we are already looking tired and out of touch. With the advent of things like Ted Talks, smart phones and Facebook we are steadily progressing from tired and out of touch to Fred & Wilma Flintstone.

In the next ten years what will a safety shopkeeper look like? Below are five things I would start with:

  1. Don’t push stuff onto people. It’s not working and it creates safety zombies. Find a better way
  2. Stop standardising. It’s lazy and ineffective. Find the people who are listening and individualise the program to meet their needs and self-expression
  3. Average products for average people doesn’t work anymore. Be remarkable
  4. Foster creativity and innovation. Stop cutting and pasting – yes that means good old faithfuls like toolboxes, pre starts, LPO’s, vision zero etc. It’s been done. Find a better way
  5. Find out what you and your business are passionate about and build your shop around it!

One thought on “The Shop Keeper”

  1. Hi Loren. I really like your post and completely agree. The onus sits with us to work out the best possible way to support people. This includes taking the time to understand our ‘target audience’, modifying our style & approach, and coming up with the best possible solution that is tailored to suit their needs.

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