If you are opening a new retail business, there are 7 key tenets that must be adhered to with no exception.
- Build a brand. In order for a business to thrive, you must have a brand identity which includes a logo, slogan and one singular unique selling proposition. The unique selling proposition USP or unique selling point is a marketing concept first proposed as a theory to explain a pattern in successful advertising campaigns of the early 1940’s. The USP states that such campaigns made unique propositions to customers that convinced them to switch brands. The term was developed by television advertising pioneer, Rosser Reeves, of Ted Bates and Company. What is your USP? Take the time to make certain that you have one, otherwise think twice about opening a new business.
- Establish a target demographic. In marketing, you can’t be all things to all people. You must decide who is an ideal customer and then develop a plan to target that particular demographic. You may want to target millennials as they will have more spending power than baby boomers in 2017. You may want to target women as they tend to be the decision makers for most products and services. You may want to target specific household income levels because your product has a higher price tag. Once you have a target established, then selecting the appropriate media becomes easier.
- Media Selection. All media work, however, some are more effective than others depending on your target. It’s tougher to reach millennials than baby boomers because the habits of baby boomers are fairly evident – radio and TV with less emphasis on print. In order to reach millennials, you have to consider social media and radio but certainly not print or television. And of course, your budget impacts your media selection. You will not be advertising on television unless you have a minimum budget of $ 250,000. And I’m not a big fan of print, however, local community newspapers still have merit. And billboards are hot right now but you have only 7 seconds and 7 words to garner attention so don’t create a busy billboard ad. Social media is important but cannot build a brand. Can you name one brand that was built with social media? I cannot.
- Budget. This is the big question, but there’s actually a very simple answer. You old invest 5% of your annual revenues in advertising. The range goes from 2% for a conservative company to 10% for McDonalds. And if you are a start up, hopefully you have allocated some budget to put yourself on the map. Each media can be purchased differently, for example, you are better suited to buy billboards last minute to get a great deal; radio stations will always negotiate; television is expensive but there are certain day parts that are affordable. And social media is free, right? Well, not exactly. Social media takes time and although it’s nice to have thousands of Facebook likes, it does not mean that this is translating into customers. Remember, people shop where they are invited.
- Frequency trumps reach. Once you have decided what media to purchase, make sure that you are making a solid impact. Often, people are happy to just be on a radio station with minimal frequency but it won’t work. Or just but one ad in the newspaper and hope for the best. It’s like going to the gym, you not go once or twice and suddenly have a six pack – it takes time and so do advertising. You have to commit to a plan and have the patience to let it work. Rome wasn’t built in a day.
- The creative. The most critical part of any successful advertising campaign is the creative message. Always make sure to talk about benefits to consumers instead of features of your product or service. Remember, a good ad is about the consumer and a bad ad is about the advertiser. Or you can use the Alvin Eicoff approach to advertising which is simple – create a problem and solve a problem. Alvin Maury Eicoff (June 8, 1921 – March 2, 2002) was widely recognized as the founder of direct response television advertising. You can use many different approaches including straightforward, humour, testimonial or my favorited which I developed for Mount Royal Commemorative Services – the edcational approach. Without getting into detail, and perhaps to tease my next blog, the essence of educational marketing is providing information to consumers while positioning your company above the competition by not getting into the price battle. More later.
- Tracking. The final part of the puzzle is tracking. You need to know what is working and what is not. Unfortunately, no one tracks well especially retailers who have a large amount of store traffic. There are ways to track advertising, for example, at Mount Royal Commemorative Services, we were on 5 radio stations so I gave each station it’s own phone number which enabled us to track the cost effectiveness of each one. Or you can run a special offer on a specific media and you will know whether or not it’s working.