The Nationwide Marketing Group General Session in Houston, TX blasted off the four-day conference beginning with Tom Hickman, Nationwide’s president and chief member advocate, delivering insights into what member success looks like in 2020, followed by a inspirational keynote by former astronaut Mike Massimino, a veteran of two space flights and four spacewalks.
“We’re looking at what is perhaps the strongest economy ever, in the history of our economy…you are thriving,” said Hickman to the members gathered Monday morning. “The independent retailer is thriving. We’ve been talking about Sears for years. It’s over. We’re going to stop talking about it. You’ve already capitalized on that opportunity. We’re going to talk about different opportunities as we grow.”
Touching on four key points in his address, Connected Home, Outdoor, Digital Marketing and Connect, Hickman repeatedly encouraged members to engage and take advantage of the opportunities NMG offers its members to help find the success they work so hard for.
“We are in a race, a big race,” said Hickman about Nationwide’s 2020 push to help members profit from connected home. “I believe, and the team believes, that connected home is not going to be sold at big box…and we are in a race for that 490 billion, so I need you all to engage. It is the future of retail. If you want a customer every seven years, keep doing what you’re doing. If you want a customer every 17 weeks, come talk to us. We’ll help you…just engage the team.”
Another opportunity for members at PrimeTime 2020 is the possibility to explore the outdoor category, which continues to be Nationwide’s fastest growing category at 55 percent year-over-year. Three years ago, there were approximately 10 outdoor vendors at PrimeTime, with 27 vendor partners being added since then.
“It’s incredibly profitable,” said Hickman, “it’s the same driver of footprints. When you have Traeger in your store and customers are coming back to get pellets every 30 days, buying sauces and rubs all at high margin, you guys have to dip your feet in this category. You must. It’s really critical that you diversify your portfolio, and we believe in it so much we’re going to have two days of intense outdoor [category] training.”
While nearly 300 store locations were opened by members in 2019, approximately 130 member dealers across the country closed their doors. Why? “70 percent of those who closed, didn’t have a website,” explained Hickman, “but the scary thing is, there are a bunch of people who still don’t have them. You’ve got to get in the game. 96 percent of the businesses that went out weren’t engaged in advanced digital marketing, they weren’t doing social. We talk about it so much because we know it matters. It will change your business.”
Drawing from his successes, failures and experiences of becoming an astronaut and training to step out into the void of space to work on the Hubble telescope, Massimino encouraged NMG members to become better leaders in their industry by learning to care and admire the people on their teams.
“The only way you’re going to solve complicated problems is to open up the doors to as many people that can help, different opinions, different points of view. Complicated problems can only be solved with different types of thinking,” said Massimino. “This may lead to a little bit of conflict, because you may not agree with what the other person is saying. If you find someone that you don’t like, don’t think of it like that, think of it as that you don’t know them well enough. Take the effort to get to know them and sometimes that can blossom into an amazing relationship.”
Amidst stunning images and video of his time in space, Massimino happily admitted his experiences wouldn’t have been possible without the support teams at NASA, and he encouraged Nationwide members to recognize who their support teams are and to commit to teamwork to find success.
“The Control Team was like Nationwide,” Massimino explained as he related the importance of getting to know and work with each of the multiple teams at NASA. “It was what kept us all together. Whenever we needed help, whenever we needed advice, whenever we needed information, they were there to help whenever we needed it. We were a big team! And you trust each other, and you build that trust through working together.”
In closing, Hickman recognized the incredible efforts and generosity Nationwide members gave in partnership with No Child Hungry in 2019 – in particular passing the one-million meals packaged goal. “I can’t think of anything more meaningful than handing food to a starving child…and what you’ve done is nothing short of remarkable. I’d like to thank you for your generosity and for your commitment to serve others.”