an Active Media Platform in place you are just pouring money into a bucket full of holes!
If you’re a retailer like me, you've probably had some bad experiences with some consumer-facing media buys and media salespeople.
Sometimes ad campaigns fail despite having great components. And, when this happens, you may feel like a victim. But let's face it. Failed advertising can be the fault of the media company, your message, or both. In our industry there's no shortage of home furnishings retailers that don't have great messaging. If you are stuck in the past with "me too" ads and price/item offers you can't always blame the ad reps!
So maybe in 2019, give yourself a break and establish a beach head from which you can make your advertising more effective.
Retail marketers once looked at media as if it were a river. Ad spends flowed easily down an ever-moving stream. If retailers remained part of the flow long enough and with enough frequency, it was assumed that customers would come to stores and purchase.
This model, of course, has changed. Today's home furnishings business needs to craft unique messages that compel customers to connect, and then to buy. It’s advertising that should set them in motion, get them off their couch and through your front door.
It’s your job as a retail marketer to manifest a lake, provide a lawn chair, and sit them down in front of you all while entertaining them and satisfying their needs and wants.
Marketing and Advertising
Despite what many retailers believe, advertising and marketing are not the same thing. Great marketing efforts always answer the one question your customers really want to know. “Why should I do business with your store out of all the options available to me, both on main street and online?”
Advertising amplifies marketing messages via the media you choose to buy. It’s the vehicle by which you attract customers to visit your store.
Before you choose specific media or even answer the "Why should I do business with you?” question posed above, you should first consider these three questions about your market, message and media choices.
"Why should I do business with your store out of all the options available to me, both on Main Street and online?"
Market: Who is the “who” you need to reach, and how do you connect with most profitable “who's” you can possibly do business with?
Message: What message is likely to motivate these potential customers? What needs and wants for these targets can your store satisfy? How can you showcase how your store can satisfy them better than all of their other available options?
Media: What media is this group most likely to consume? Where can you place your marketing messages to reach your target for maximum results?
Active and Passive Media
Think about your media buys as active and passive.
Passive Media is the bucket that holds your traditional broadcast -type media. Active Media is the bucket that holds your “in the moment” media.
Passive media includes:
- Direct mail to cold lists (not your house/customer list)
Active Media includes:
- Google AdWords
- Re-targeting ads
- Facebook & Instagram ads
- Google My Business listings (learn more at www.business.google.com)
- YouTube channel(s)
- Your website
- Your review platforms on Google, Facebook, Yelp
- Your social media content
Your Active Media Platform
Today, virtually every retailer that wants to be in business five years from now needs an Active Media Platform. Envision three legs that support a successful Active Media Platform. They are comprised of your search media, website and social proof.
Leg #1- Search Media: Online search media includes platforms like AdWords, Facebook, Instagram and fully claimed and optimized Google My Business listings.
Online ads (like any kind of ads) must have the following ingredients in order to be successful:
- An attention-grabbing headline that snaps the neck and puts the attention on your ad. Make it connective and be sure it provides the answer the customer is looking for.
- An effective marketing message that properly communicates why you, out of all others, are the perfect fit for your target customers.
- An offer, because without an offer there is no interest and nothing to motivate the customer now
- A deadline because without a deadline there is no reason to get up, leave the house and drive to your store. Your offer will just be there next time when they are ready.
Leg #2- Website: Your website cannot be just a digital catalog and business card. It should be the hub of your business marketing, the place where you first meet customers and have the opportunity to set forth just how different your business is from all others. It must also be a conversion machine adding people to your email, mail and cell phone contact lists. Websites need continuous attention and monitoring.
"In my stores it is priority #1 as we complete customer orders and go over our store policies. Subsequent texts and emails are sent immediately upon completion of the sale to remind them to offer a five-star online review."
They should include these basic ingredients:
- Invest time, focus and investment in your SEO efforts. SEO is important and real.
- Every site can be analyzed using free tools from Google (learn more at www.analytics.google.com) be sure to pay attention to the following three analytics. The time spent on your site, the longer the better. Your page views, the more the merrier. Your bounce rates, which need to be low. Keep people on your site and make sure the page they land on is the most relevant and connective to the search which brought them to your site in the first place.
- Make sure your site is mobile friendly. Ensure it responds correctly to desktop viewers, tablet viewers and cellphone viewers. Along with this, make sure your site is secured with a proper security certificate, you’ll know if your site shows up in your web browser with https:// as opposed to just http:// - the “s” is for secure. If your site isn’t secure, your website provider is asleep at the wheel as Google began penalizing site visibility in July 2018.
- Establish a path to success. This should mirror your market, message and media discussed earlier in this article. That way your ideal customer can connect with you and your store on a deeper level as opposed to a merely transactional level.
- Most importantly, you are leaving massive amounts of money on the table if you ignore the opportunity to collect names, emails and addresses from your website via numerous opt-in opportunities. To experience this, simply visit my website www.GardnersMattressAndMore.com to see exactly how we employ a precise path with opt in opportunities along the way.
"The social media snapshot is what a customer can learn about your store by reviewing the last ten days to two weeks worth of social media posts."
Leg #3- Social Proof & Social Connection: Social Proof includes online reviews and social media presence.
Social proof and social connection are key, and they are two distinctly different actions.
Social proof are store reviews like those found on Google, Facebook and Yelp that help to cement your position in the market. To be successful at obtaining social proof you must have a system in place to ask for and remind customers to give you a positive review online. In my stores it is priority #1 as we complete customer orders and go over our store policies. Subsequent texts and emails are sent immediately upon completion of the sale to remind them to offer a five-star online review.
Social connection is the snapshot you give your potential customers as they review, view and engage with your social media efforts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. Of course, this entire publication could be filled on social media tactics, but if you choose to focus on what I call “the social media snapshot” you’ll find success. The social media snapshot is what a customer can learn about your store by reviewing the last ten days to two weeks’ worth of social media posts.
You don't want them to just see pictures, prices and discount offers. You do want them to discover a company they can connect with. You want them to understand that there is a different experience available to them when they visit your store. And, find out how your store shares their values by supporting the community and cares about people.
Think about this snapshot concept of social connection every time you post.
Engage Your Ad Partners
Retailers often make the mistake of not engaging their media reps in an open discussion of advertising strategies and messaging.
For example, recently upon engaging in robust dialogue with Gardner's Mattress & More's Google AdWords partner, a massive light bulb was turned on. As an aside, this light bulb moment was only achieved via our “mini think tank” hour of discussion in person, in my office devoid of distractions. It never would have happened in any other moment.
About Jeff Giagnocavo: Jeff Giagnocavo is co-owner of the retailer Gardner’s Mattress & More and the co-creator of Mattress Retailer Weekly. Mattress Retailer Weekly is shared with you every week so you can get new customers, stay ahead of your competition and increase your sales tickets. Get your FREE subscription by visiting www.RenegadeMattressRetailer.com or text MRW to 484-303-4300.