The reality for retailers is that customers can get what they want, whenever they want, however they want it. They’re receiving information via newspaper ads, circulars, items in their mailbox, television and radio. But in addition they are gathering information and comparison shopping online. Today’s customer is armed with technology and often obtaining information on-the-go. Although it may seem like the best approach is to cover each and every channel with various messages to make sure something gets through, a shotgun strategy is not the answer. Instead, retailers need to focus on who is most likely to be interested in their products and services, then use consistent shots of advertising to get their attention.
The most successful advertising strategy is a well-planned, well-integrated strategy: each element reflects and reinforces the other, creating a cohesive and clear image of a product or brand. Again, each element needs to be geared to a highly targeted audience, speaking to consumers most likely to be interested in what the retailers have to offer. By concentrating on the market most likely to buy, retailers can make the most efficient and effective use of their advertising dollars. Of course, an integrated strategy doesn’t happen by chance; it takes significant thought and planning in terms of why, who, where and how.
Define Your Objectives:
Advertising can require significant effort, not to mention expense. When developing a plan, first articulate what you want it to achieve. An increase in sales is certainly likely to be chief among your goals, but what else could your organization stand to gain? With the right elements in place, an advertising plan can build awareness of a brand, drive online traffic and engagement, and even help build a database of prospective customers for long-term relationship building. Identify the Target Audience. Once you know what you want your advertising plan to achieve, the next question to ask is: who is the target? The answer can’t possibly be everybody, as not everybody will have a need for the particular product or service you’re selling. Instead, think about who would be most likely to purchase the product or service advertised, as well as who might influence the purchasing decision.
For example, Banner Marketing specializes in developing effective marketing campaigns for retailers. Banner knows that women are the driving force behind buying decisions, so women are the target. However, drill down and determine which age category, income level and lifestyle is most appropriate.
The demographic of women aged 25 through 54 may be considered the target. A 54-year-old woman is almost always different from a 25-year-old woman in terms of income and lifestyle. Put some thought into which age demographic is most likely to make a purchase and make that the primary target. In this instance, women 36 to 54 could be primary and women 25 to 35 could be secondary. Make the primary audience your priority, and if budget allows, talk to the secondary market as well.
Know Where and How the Audience Listens.
After a target market is defined, learn where and how they consume information and shop. Given the fast pace of technology and its adoption in the marketplace, today’s customer is a moving target. Consumers spend ample time online researching and comparing products and services before they ever set foot in a store. Some may do so from the comfort of their homes, but with the increased adoption of smartphones and tablets, many are doing so while on-the-go.
A website is a business necessity and it’s important to keep a site fresh and current, showcasing the latest products as well as tying in other marketing elements. Circulars, direct mail and broadcast advertising may all have a place in an advertising plan. For instance, in many markets, circulars in local papers still work brilliantly; in others, declining readership may be offset by layering in a more direct approach. By adding a form of direct marketing, such as direct mail, targeted circulars in the mailbox and email marketing can maximize your response . Keep in mind each element is be part of a larger, more impactful strategy.
Because consumers spend so much time online, help them find your organization. Incorporate your website address on all printed materials. Consumers want specific information at their fingertips, so consider using QR Codes to drive customers to a particular URL. Scanned from newspapers, circulars, direct mail, in-store signage and other print media, QR Codes allow smartphone and tablet users to access your message instantly and provide you with an opportunity to share pertinent information, capture valuable contacts and measure the impact of your advertising.
Wherever and however you choose to communicate with your audience, be sure that your message is consistent throughout your advertising efforts and reflects what they’ll find in your store. When changing inventory or running promotions, take care to update all marketing elements.
Start Planning for 2012 Now
The fourth quarter is the perfect time to analyze strengths and weaknesses in a marketing strategy and make adjustments for next year’s plan. Consider these three key areas:
Consistency is Critical. It can’t be said enough: be consistent. Consider your advertising to be like a train. Keep it moving. Pick up speed or slow it down if necessary, but don’t stop inviting your customers. Use your momentum to keep your brand visible to achieve top-of-mind awareness and improve cost efficiencies.
The methodology of advertising has changed in the past decade - have you? A little planning, some forethought, and firing a consistent message from a variety of platforms will deliver the impact you need in today’s crowded marketplace.