As Senior Vice President of Marketing for Tractor Supply Company, Christi Korzekwa leads the company's integrated marketing efforts across multiple channels. Central to this strategy is the celebration of “life out there” and the unique role Tractor Supply Company plays in its communities and customers. We sat down to talk about her efforts on Out Here, starting the new Neighbors Club, and why working on the agency side has made her a better leader.
David Knox:Let's start with Tractor Supply Company. It's an intriguing business that has doubled in size over the past decade, but it's under some people's radar despite being a Fortune 400 company. Can you tell me a little more about the tractor supplier company?
ChristiCap:Many people are surprised by the size of Tractor Supply. We are a national retailer with over 1800 stores in 49 states. We're 81 years old, almost $9 billion in revenue, and a Fortune 400 company. But what we really like to think about ourselves, because our customers are talking about it, is that it's my Tractor Supply. So instead of saying we are 1,800 companies, let's say we are one company in 1,800 communities.
Knox:Tractor Supply is a leader in what is known as the Farm and Ranch Channel. How has this retail channel changed in recent years?
Cap:Tractor Supply serves a unique part of the Farm and Ranch Channel as we are more of a lifestyle farmer and rancher. They can be called amateur farmers. They usually have another way of earning income and their real passion is in small farms and ranches, usually between one and five acres in many cases. But we're discovering even more now that you're seeing these farm and ranch shoppers in the suburbs. Therefore, we serve a single segment, not the industrial farmer. And it's growing and thriving, and Tractor Supply is catering to that lifestyle in a way that many retailers don't. So we are very unique and differentiated.
Knox:In connection with this celebration of the neighborhood farmer, one of your key messages for Tractor Supply is to celebrate what you call “here”. Tell me about what it means to you here.
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Cap:It means many things to many different people. You can translate literally, it means I live here, I live in the countryside, in rural America. I could use a little more land. I can have animals like chickens or goats. But it can also be ambitious. Or it could be a frame of mind where you're just looking for the values of authenticity and the ability to really get back to your roots. And that's why we see it as a very real and authentic way for people to live their lives. This very independent lifestyle.
Knox:You recently launched a loyalty program, the Neighbors Club. What led you to adopt this approach?
Cap:It has been an interesting journey. We consider our customers as our neighbors. Our branch managers know all of their customers. Our team members know all of their customers. And we found that our customers came to Tractor Supply and used it as a community hub.
And the more we saw, the more we thought, how do we somehow connect this community? And we started having this idea of a neighbor's club program, which then evolved into, well, maybe it's more of a loyalty program. And it's a way to connect that community. And then we thought, "Well, that could happen too, if we're able to connect them and get to know them better, then maybe we can serve them better." If we knew more about them, what their needs are, we could talk to them more often and understand what we might not be doing, what we need to do. And so it was born to serve our customers and brought many benefits from the beginning.
We feel very responsible for bringing this community together. And this responsibility makes us want to offer more to our customers, with this personalized experience. If we know you own a horse, or we know you own a cat, or we know you own a dog, we should be able to better serve your needs.
But we also try to offer our customers real and significant added value. Last year, we introduced 5% off your entire purchase if you're a Neighbor's Club member and have a personal credit card. We also started publishing the Out Here digital magazine to provide these members with content relevant to their lifestyle.
Therefore, we try to value them for being part of the programs. Personalized communication on our part, tailored to your needs, is another value we can offer because you are in this Clube de Neighbors community.
Knox:Out Here Magazine is your gateway to content creation. What void did you see that led you down this path?
Cap:We try really hard not to think of ourselves as editors because it's such a tough business. What we like to think about why we create Out Here content and the digital magazine for our customers is that we like to be a trusted resource for them. And to give them the information they need to live this sustainable lifestyle, this life here on their terms.
So how can we continue to provide information and content that can help them? So what we really think is that they don't just want to get publicity from us. Not only do they want rewards from us, but what can we give them more than that? And that was part of that thought process. And we will continue to develop this content. Perhaps later there will be more podcasts than a written digital magazine. So we're really thinking about how we can help them.
Knox:How is technology changing the retail experience at Tractor Supply Company?
Cap:Technology is really important to allow convenience for your customers. So what we think about first is how our customer wants to interact with us. And the backbone of our Tractor strategy, which we call "One Tractor", allows our customers to connect with us anytime, anywhere. And that's exactly what technology allows.
Sometimes our customers want to buy online and pick up in store. Or if we don't have everything they need in the store, we take them to the computer kiosks. Or, if we know they need something that's a specific part that might be out of the store, they might buy more than eight times the number of SKUs on our website that are out of the store.
So let's think about how we can make this more convenient and easier for them. So technology makes that possible in everything we do. Whether it's the technology that underlies marketing personalization, or whether it's the technology that forms the basis of the website, or whether it's the technology that forms the basis of the service button, located at the customer service counter so someone needs to provide something there, we know that, and we can send a team member there. Everything we do is about how we make it easy and convenient for our customers because their time is so valuable.
Online collection at the store was fundamental for us from a technological point of view, because we realized that our customers like to come to the store. But they are an on-demand customer, they need to make sure the product is there when they show up. They can't make the 10-30 minute trip into town to get what they need and they don't have it there. So buying online with in-store pickup has really helped them to be sure that this journey will be worth it. And when they get there, they can do more shopping at the store.
Knox:His career spanned both the agency side and the brand side. What did both sides' experience as a marketer teach you and make it easier for you to lead your team?
Cap:Well, one of the things I didn't know early on in my career is how much it was going to skyrocket for me on the agency side when I switched to the corporate side. I didn't have that foresight or insight. My point is, one of the things you find in the agency world is that you work on so many different projects and clients. And it allows you to sync creatively and more strategically, I think, even than being in a store.
And it also teaches that idea of legendary service, customer service, because you're serving a customer on the agency side. And those are the two things that I think I learned the most on the agency side that I didn't even know I was learning until I got to the corporate side and realized that my strategic thinking skills were potentially greater than they would have been if I had just been in one store. . And then came this idea of servant leadership on the agency side, which I don't think would have developed as much on the corporate side.
Knox:Tractor Supply has extended its relationship with Roadie - a collaborative delivery service - to 100% of its stores, enabling same-day or next-day delivery from the store. Could you tell us more about this expansion?
Cap:Now more than ever, our customers rely on us to deliver their most important assets on time so they can continue to care for their families, homes, property, pets and animals. We were able to work with Roadie to grow that offering from around 20% of our network to the remaining 80% or 1,462 additional locations within three weeks. Now, if you need dog food, llama food or a lawnmower, we can provide it for our customers without them having to leave their homes. This is a great example of Tractor Supply expanding our capabilities to be more relevant to our customers.