How Smart is Your Local Business Marketing?

Local market

Every weekend without fail, my local electronics retailer runs a flyer in the local newspaper. It highlights special offers and discounts and proudly displays “This weekend only!” in the header.

The flyer’s nice and bright and there’s a huge collection of images, from large-screen TV’s to computers to video games to smartphones and more.

Great, you might say. Can never have enough advertising or marketing, right?

Wrong.

You see, every weekend the retailer puts out his flyer, it’s always the same. Same products. Same discounts. Same busy flyer with image overkill and small text.

Because it’s the same, customers now wait until the weekend to buy anything. They sit by their breakfast tables waiting for the newspaper to be delivered, grab the flyer, and drive on down to the retailer to maybe buy a new TV, or phone, or games console.

While this is great for weekend traffic, the store’s pretty empty during the week. The busiest it gets is when one of the sales associates gets the vacuum cleaner out and does a round of the store.

Sure, you could say that the retailer must be doing alright, as the weekend business covers the quiet week, right? Possibly. But think how much better it could be.

Mix It Up a Little, Mix It Up a Lot

With very few exceptions, the retailer’s flyer has the same products and offers on sale every weekend. Now, this could be down to the fact that he has less of a relationship with suppliers than the bigger outlets. But he could still make his offers more selective and therefore more effective.

  • Carry out an audit on what’s the most popular product, and then who the most popular supplier of that product is. Then look at what accessories are available for that product. Contact the supplier in question and show them your information and what that relates to in hard sales figures. Then offer to promote the heck out of their brand for a weekend. Better still, have a manufacturer appreciation day during the week to show off their products, with offers only for that day.
  • Take the “less is more” approach with the flyer. The human being is primarily a visual person – it’s how we’ve communicated through the ages and it’s still true today. Instead of assaulting the eyeballs, though, highlight one great product per page and then have four or five smaller additions to complement. The litmus test is how your eyes are drawn to the information – if they go where you want the eyes of the customers to go, you’re on the right track.
  • Stop the regular weekly offers. When something becomes a regular fixture, we know when it’s going to happen. This takes the edge of it, and lessens any impact. Change the advertising up. Compare a weekday ad instead of the usual weekend ones, and tie it into a truly unique offer. The promise of the sexy sale that day will beat the sameness of the weekend flyer – try it.

Take It to the Masses

The beauty with an electronics retailer is that you can pretty much guarantee the audience – male, 18-45, gadget-friendly geeks (and I say this with nothing but love, as I’m one of these geeks).

The great thing about that demographic is that they’re very web-savvy too. They’re hanging out on social networks, online forums and blogs. So take advantage of this.

What People Are Doing - Inside Innovation - Business Week

Do the research to see where your audience is. Then market to that audience accordingly. If you find you have a lot of potential customers on Facebook, consider running an ad on there specifically tailored to your audience. The great thing with Facebook ads is that you can really drill down into your target audience.

Or try banner ads on forums and speak to niche bloggers about special offers that their readers can benefit from (obviously this works better if you offer e-commerce options as well).

I’ve used my local retailer as an example here, but you can swap the ideas for your own business. Yes, social media is international, but so many businesses forget that their local customers are online too – it’s not all down to simple local advertising. And if you’re unsure of how to market effectively online, speak to a company or agency that can help you.

The thing is, local businesses tend to market locally and with the same approach. A flyer in the weekend paper and maybe some radio ads, and with the same offers week in, week out.

This definitely works, and weekend sales might be all you need to get by. But do you really want to continue just getting by at weekends, or do you want to be a business for every day of the week?

image: Kodak Agfa

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