I did a bit of work for a local retailer a few years ago and while they were trying to embrace new social media practices, it seemed as if there was never any real commitment to add this new form of marketing to the mix of advertising expenses. Every week or two we would meet to discuss what was working and what was not working. They spent a large (make that gigantic) amount of money into the local newspaper. The philosophy was that since the big brands took out big ads, they needed to do the same to look as big as them. But, you can’t fool the public. Once they enter your store and see your 1,800 sq. ft. facility they know you don’t have as many choices as the 10,000 sq. ft. facility you compete against. And you are trying to make yourself equal to their status. Why not promote your local status and emphasize your longevity in the community and your amazingly satisfied customer testimonials? But, they informed me – people buy based only on price.
So, each week they run large ads in the weekend papers and rely on the few people that still actually read the newspaper to see his ad and come into the store. We added a few social media channels but he was never convinced of the reach and connections the sites were making online. In other words, there was no one walking into the store telling him that “hey, we connect on Facebook and I like your posts and love what you have on sale!” People are quiet in stores where a big purchase is likely to commence. They don’t want you to know if they like something too much for fear you will jack up the price on them. We’ve all had it done to us (cars) so we tend to be a bit cautious in revealing too much about why we stepped into your store.
Craigslist is another Platform that Continues to Work
Craigslist was an amazing channel for this retailer as they had specific deals and prices only exposed on Craigslist. When someone walked into the store and mentioned that specific price we knew immediately they were coming from an online platform. While this was great and he was pleased, it did not always generate the type of dollar amount he needed to achieve each sales day. But with consistent postings and great images and a good sales teaser, we saw huge increases in store traffic.
I no longer work with this retailer, although we have a good relationship. One year after I left they are trying digital ads for the online version of the newspaper. While I am excited to see these new changes and a stronger digital presence they are still not convinced it will do anything to increase sales. It became difficult for me to come up with contest strategies, specific brand postings, press releases and other creative online marketing concepts because nothing would ever compare to the weekend newspaper ads that worked “the best” for this business.
This past Mother’s Day I drove over to my Mom’s house just in time to see 3 of her neighbors take their wet soaked Sunday newspaper and throw it in the trash as it was unusable. Your marketing did not work because it rained.