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How to advertise a retail campaign

The fundamentals of retail advertising are rooted in the fundamentals of retail.

You have to start with the customer.  What are they looking for, what motivates their custom with you, and what are the most effective ways to reach them.

Contrary to popular belief, it isn’t just about price.  But.

First fundamental – make sure they know the price.

Price is important.  For most retailers, being ‘good value,’ ‘cheap,’ ‘lowest,’ ‘the discounter’ and so on can drive foot traffic.  Ramping up discounts for a limited time is a great way to increase consumer interest. 

But for purveyors of higher value goods, for instance, designer clothes, price is equally important as an indicator of exclusivity and prestige. This is why brands like Boss, Gucci and Versace look to promote a sense of exclusivity and specialness about their products. It justifies the price and they know that your wearing of the brand gives you a sense of being part of that exclusive club.  And should brands like these ever be discounted for a limited time, the impact of this is much greater; because it’s unusual, it has more impact. 

Second fundamental – build retail properties.

Retail is cyclical.  It runs on a 12-month calendar or some equivalent set into periods of time that make sense to the retailer.  Within this cycle, there are usually perennial sales periods, themes and properties that the retailer can build their marketing calendar around.  There are the obvious ones like Christmas, Easter, school holidays, public holidays etc.

But you can build your own.  Whether it’s a ‘Famous Sale,’ a ‘Bi-Annual Super Sale’ or the old favourite, the ‘Birthday Sale,’ there’s lots to choose from. Smart retailers create their own and make their calendar much more varied as a result.

Third fundamental – make sure they understand the range and more.

A danger of everyday retail advertising is to focus on advertising the most favoured discount ranges and not get into the wider range.  However, the perils of this are that people know you are discounting ranges or products but little about your wider range. Sometimes, this is the stuff that can make you more interesting.  What are you advertising – discounts or what you actually sell? The best strategies for advertising will achieve both, assuming you are employing a discount strategy.

For those not wanting to focus on discount, the opportunity is to widen awareness of range, quality, service, experience.  For some retailers this is what will drive foot traffic.

Fourth fundamental – make it work online too.

Online experience and information can now make a huge difference.  It doesn’t have to be about being the best ecommerce site.  We’re seeing a new piece of marketing jargon – ‘webrooming’ – which is the simple activity where shoppers have already done their research on the retailer’s website before coming to the store.

This is as opposed to ‘showrooming,’ where shoppers look online after being instore, so they can potentially get a better price elsewhere having had the tactile experience.

What is interesting is that a US study from Accenture found that 78 percent of US shoppers had webroomed in the last 12 months, while 72 percent had showroomed. The proportion of shoppers who engaged in webrooming for consumer electronics and home improvement purchases increased significantly from 2012 — from 39 percent to 48 percent, and 25 percent to 35 percent, respectively.

What this means is if get your information right online, it will help your sales regardless of whether you actually sell online.

That said, sell online too and it stands to reason you will capture the business that wants to act now, rather than wait.  Which is a growing market.

Fifth fundamental – communication.

TV and radio remain the most powerful channels, not least because they have massive reach and are great to drive urgency and tell stories.  But online, websites, social, digital advertising, email, and mobile are all growing in importance and are more cost effective.  Press is good and historically has been powerful, but is losing its punch as readership drops.  Magazines are not good for everyday retailers, although great for niche, specialist and branded retailers.

Many retailers are now trying to widen their communication channels beyond the ‘bought’ channels to include as many ‘owned’ as possible. Email has become a very powerful retail channel, and social media like Instagram, Twitter and Facebook for some brands.

Sixth fundamental – loyalty programmes work.

There’s a reason why so many retailers have loyalty programmes.  They deliver sales, customer insight, increased margin, reduced churn. 

In this era of big data, loyalty programmes give you the customer connected to the sales data.  So you know who is buying what, what each customer is worth, and can drive strategies around that. It’s not just a mailing list of customers, it means you actually know who is of value, and can differentiate communications to them based on their relative value.  But you can be so much cleverer! You will know when they buy, do they buy at full margin or always on sale, you know what they like, you can even get clever on their sizes, styles, features, brands.  With the right communication tools, driven by great insight, you can be highly targeted and responsive on this – provided you have the range to support it.

A loyalty programme connected to your POS allows you to genuinely measure the effectiveness of much of your comms too as you can see their response to both targeted and untargeted communications. 

This can make your comms programme much more efficient.  Staying connected to your POS allows you to genuinely measure the effectiveness of much of your comms too as you can see their response to both targeted and untargeted communications. 

This can make your comms programme much more efficient. 

Seventh fundamental – Bring it to life instore.

Whatever you are doing in comms, the store is where the rubber meets the road.  Campaigns should live instore not just in the outside world, and having enticed shoppers to your store you want to give them an outstanding experience in terms of presentation of the range, the way the POS and merchandising highlights this, staff engagement, even down to post purchase.  Making it work hard in this space should drive repeat visitation and word of mouth endorsement.

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