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What’s In Store? Advertising Insights

Furniture World Magazine


Interview with Tom Liddell, Planned Furniture Promotions, Inc.

Getting back to basics will be the secret to advertising success. Here are ways to make your ad spend more effective.

The January/February edition of Furniture World included an enthusiastically received interview with Tom Liddell, titled “Predictions & Insights: What’s in Store For 2023.” Liddell is the senior vice president and director of Planned Furniture Promotions. If you missed it, visit www.furninfo.com/furniture-world-articles/4039. Here are some additional observations he made during that interview regarding retail advertising.


Liddell encouraged Furniture World readers to focus on creating loyal customers with every single ad they place. “I believe it’s important for most retailers to come up with effective advertising strategies that help customers to become fans of their stores.

“Despite hearing over and over again that price-and-item doesn’t create long-term loyal customers, most retailers still focus on it to this day, some almost exclusively. The endless cycle of sales has left consumers exhausted. They don’t know what to believe. Although fast-growing Bob’s Discount Furniture does advertise price/item, it has never had a sale. They sell value, function and fun.

“Other retailers come up with innovative ad campaigns but don’t stick with them long enough to give them a chance to succeed.”

Media Choices

“Another problem is that very few stores properly distribute their ad spend. They invest a little here and a little there. Ultimately, none of it is effective. Better to focus on three or four places. We recommend choosing one or two video media options such as pre-rolls on YouTube, commercials on social media, and cable or streaming services.

“Cable and keywords are arguably the most effective way to bring people into stores. And in most cases, it’s a smart idea to find a good Google partner to help buy appropriate keywords and understand how to get the best return. You don’t have to make a big ad spend to get results.

“Direct mail,” he continued, “is making a comeback and email marketing has been effective for retailers that have taken care to develop good opt-in mail lists. Never buy an email list or you will get tagged for spamming which will hurt your longer-term ability to communicate with customers. Find ways to get every single shopper to sign up in-store and online. It’s an effective strategy for building your list, won’t run afoul of new privacy regulations and is almost free.

“Furniture stores often lose sight of the value of in-store advertising and display. I go into a lot of furniture stores. Some have excellent signage, but most do not. Always consider your customer’s first impression. The space needs to be neat, clean and well-signed with your best groups up front. The impressions shoppers get first when they enter can also be an effective advertising message.”

Social Media Ideas

“Retailers hear all this talk about how great social media is,” Liddell observed. “So they snap a few photos and put up a few posts. Then, after six or eight weeks, they don’t see the benefit and give up.

“A small furniture retailer in Tennessee recently used social media to promote a contest giveaway. Nearly 100,000 likes were received after just one boosted post.”

“Stores that manage to build a large number of loyal social media followers reap huge rewards. They don’t do it by showing their products with prices, commercials or ads. Instead, they feature initiatives such as their support of local fundraising for charitable groups and they use humor and memes about furniture. Tie posts in with your customers’ interests—anything they might enjoy. Offer to let people use your store for association meetings and clubs. That will bring folks in who aren’t necessarily looking for furniture. When they need furniture, maybe they’ll think of you first.

“A small furniture retailer in Tennessee recently used social media to promote a contest. The offer was a free recliner giveaway to one lucky person who ‘liked’ their post. Nearly 100,000 likes were received after just one boosted post. Website traffic exploded and the cost was minimal.”

Other No-Nos

Liddell noted that there are a number of practices that sabotage social media efforts. “Support the police and fire department, honor local citizens but avoid politics at all costs. You’d be shocked how many furniture stores put political posts on their business Facebook pages. It’s true that it will encourage some people to interact, comment and like your page, but it will alienate others.

“All this can be done so posts don’t appear to be commercially written. They should reflect your store’s personality. Don’t post more than once a day because Facebook’s algorithms penalize you for doing that. Ideally, post every two or three days. Remember that once you have an organic audience built up, paying to boost posts is still necessary because Facebook doesn’t care about helping you to promote your business unless you pay to play.”

Where to Find Great Ideas

“Many retailers don’t spend enough time mining ideas from other businesses’ social media,” he added. “Check out L.L. Bean’s Facebook page. It’s one of the best I’ve ever seen. Their intro message is, ‘Welcome to the official Facebook page for L.L. Bean. Follow along for inspiring outdoor stories and photos, expert tips and advice, and a community devoted to helping make the most of every moment outside. #being an outsider.’ It doesn’t say ‘A great place to buy coats.’ It’s everything but a selling platform. It’s all about branding and familiarity. Use a lot of hashtags to show up in searches more frequently.”

Back to Basics

Liddell concluded his remarks by suggesting that retail furniture stores get back to basics to bring in shoppers and build long-term customer loyalty. “You’d be surprised how many retailers don’t follow that protocol,” he pointed out. “Furniture World readers shouldn’t just take my word for it. I recommend they visit websites and social media pages of every furniture store they’ve read or heard about. That’s exactly what I did. I was shocked by the lack of relevant, meaningful content retailers are putting out there that shoppers would be interested in seeing.”



About Tom Liddell: Tom Liddell is the senior vice president and director of Planned Furniture Promotions a company that provides a variety of approaches to successful home furnishings sales promotions. Direct questions or comments can be directed to Liddell at editor@furninfo.com.


Russell Bienenstock is Editor-in-Chief of Furniture World Magazine, founded 1870. Comments can be directed to him at editor@furninfo.com.