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This question has been answered, and points have been awarded.
Print Advertising Vs Online Advertising
12/17/2012 at 1:21 PM ET
We took over a consignment furniture shop 14 months ago. We are rolling out a whole new way of doing business...a new markdown strategy, a new look to the store, new pricing, new signage (this is a box truck & a 20' banner saying we accept furniture). I don't come from a marketing / advertising background and I am wondering how is the best way to reach people in the community / surrounding areas, to get the most impact. My background is in corporate purchasing and I now own a retail shop.
I have FB business page, Twitter acct, Pintrest (I'm getting that up and running), & I use Craigslist to post ads. Right now, we don't have a blog. Idk if the effort I would put into a blog would actually be beneficial.
On the advertising side, I've heard pros/ cons about mailing lists. What do you all as the pros think? I also have the information of about 300-400 people who are either customers or consignors....I have some mailing addresses, email addresses and / or phone numbers. I will obviously reach out to them using the information that I have on file. Also, someone approached me about text message marketing. Hiring a service to do this... I get it. Do you all think it is worth it? I'm using ChimpMail for my emails to clients. I have about 70 people on my email list so far.
What forms of marketing: online & print would you suggest? I've thought about: postcards to give out at business / mail to customers, brochures (tri-fold), flyers to post on local companies bulletin boards / break room areas. I'm near a large lake, so someone recommend advertising in the lake magazine. When I do advertisement, do you think I should add a coupon? I've done it a couple of times but I haven't seen a return. Idk, if I'm not reaching the right people, if my coupons aren't compelling enough to bring people in or what else the problem might be. I'm trying to draw new people to the store and I'm having a hard time figuring out how to do that. I want to do all of this so I can grow the business long term.
It seems obvious that I should use this to announce the new us: colors (any suggestions right now we are using pink as one of our colors), logo (if we decide on one), name change or not (seems this group is against the name change), new markdown policy, and maybe just introduce ourselves.
Creating all of these take time and money. I'm willing to do the work and spend the money. I wanted to check in with a group of professionals to see what you think is actually viable. Honestly, since my background is in something completely different feel free to dumb it down for me. Any tidbits, ideas, or concepts that you think I might have already thought of assume I haven't. Also, if there are any articles, blogs, or groups you can recommend for me, please do. Thank you so much!! Hillari
12/17/2012 at 2:57 PM
Hi again Hillari
The first point to realize with online marketing is that many of the techniques are out of the direct mailing of the 20s and 30s. The internet is faster and cheaper. Now: the point is that using the US postal service is still an excellent marketing tool. Only fine-tune your message online (fast, cheap) and then use that info on your flyers, postcards and bills.
It is far harder to get feedback from mailings than it is online, it isn't impossible - and it has been done. Online is simply faster.
I am glad that you have an email newsletter account. I would strongly suggest continuing and building it as it bolsters any messages that pop through the door. Some people prefer it, others not.
Do you have an auto-responder series targeted at your very best customer? (Okay, I've been here before ... ) Have you used Adwords? Both Perry Marshall (
) and Howie Jacobson are v. good at this (Adwords for Dummies in paperback
). The point of paid advertising online is that it is scaleable, the metrics are relatively easy to track through and you can discover your very best client's likes and dislikes pretty quickly (ahem!).
As to coupons (or any offer) try split testing. See if people want this offer - or something else altogether.
Hope this helps. M
12/17/2012 at 3:19 PM
With just the information you've provided, my gut reaction is to suggest an Adwords campaign, geo-targeted to your community. There are a number of advantages, and it seems like it would integrate well with your other marketing plans. The really good part is that you only pay for the clicks you get (to your landing pages), and you can set limits and budget, change them whenever you want, and pause or modify the campaign on a moment's notice.
You can do this yourself (using Perry Marshall's excellent book on the subject --
), or you can hire someone to plan and manage the whole thing. (Let me know if you want a recommendation.)
Peter (henna gaijin)
12/17/2012 at 3:49 PM
I guess part of it is whether the people in your (specifically those who are potential customers) area are online. If you target a college town where a lot of students look to get their furniture used, and sell at the end of the year, then online would be good. But if you are in a rural area with low internet penetration, then online may not be the way.
Are you targeting people who are looking to sell furniture? Or people who are looking to buy? Or both?
12/17/2012 at 4:51 PM
I'm targeting people who want to buy and people who to consign (sell). I can separate ads or market to both groups in one ad. Depending on your suggestions.
I don't have an auto-responder series targeted at your very best customer. I don't know what that means yet, either.
I'm not currently using Adwords.
I think my customers are mix of online savvy and not online savvy (or maybe mainly emailers, facebookers, & pintrest users). It seems (without knowing much about online advertising), that if I target websites or search engines that people typically use or people in my area use I would have more success. I am near a private college and not far from the mountains and retirement communities. I will read the articles and books everyone recommended.
@Mgoodman - could you send me a recommendation? I will look into completing this task both ways. If it is simple for me to do this, I wouldn't mind doing it myself. I have some friends who can help me create a landing page.
Thank you all again for your assistance! Much appreciated :)
12/17/2012 at 5:04 PM
One more note...I don't have an e-commerce site. I've asked around about it and I've been told it probably isn't the best idea for me right now. The store is ~2,000 sq ft with an ever changing inventory. I am working on improving my webpage and posting furniture on it so people can see what is new and what else is available.
12/17/2012 at 5:10 PM
My suggestion is, whatever you choose, measure the return on your investment. When people come in or call, ask them how they found out about you (and keep track). Do more of what's bringing in customers. Do less (or none) of what's not working. But don't make yourself crazy trying to do everything.
Do you have a website (if only a single page site)? If so, make sure the home page clearly states where you're located, what you specialize in, etc. If not, get one. It's an inexpensive investment that you control (as opposed to a FB page, which technically, FB controls).
Next, add your store to some good websites: Google Places (
) to list your business for free and Yelp (
) (and ask your "good customers" to rate you on Yelp).
And to draw in more people, figure out what you offer that's not easily found elsewhere. Great dresses for holiday parties? Inexpensive furniture for first-time renters? Incredible selection of books & DVDs? Then, your mission is to tell your uniqueness to those that care. Perhaps flyers in apartment rental offices, or on student bulletin boards, or in the local community center. PPC ads (as Michael suggested) may be great as well - but make sure your ads dovetail well with your website's landing page to increase the likelihood that people will actually become customers.
12/17/2012 at 5:52 PM
I think those are great ideas Jay. I actually have a website hotconsign.com. I don't like the url and I'm having some friends completely redo the site. We are on Google places with one review and we have a yelp page, as well.
So far most people I've asked have found us through: Craigslist, our sign, and their friends who shop or consign with us. My goal is to have a good website that I can drive traffic to, get and retain customers, who will purchase goods and tell their friends. This seems like a normal goal to me though, so I hope to find some great ideas out there. :-)
I really like the idea of creating a niche of who we are in the community and capitalizing on it. I need to figure out more of exactly what that is and implement it.
12/17/2012 at 5:53 PM
You ask about your best customer. I can only echo what Jay says:
"My suggestion is, whatever you choose, measure the return on your investment. When people come in or call, ask them how they found out about you (and keep track). Do more of what's bringing in customers. Do less (or none) of what's not working. But don't make yourself crazy trying to do everything."
Because your best customers will fit all these. They will bring the best return on investment, they will be the nicest to deal with. This applies equally to Adwords advertising too - which is relatively easy at a basic level. Howie Jacobson's book takes you through it from beginning to end and is written in an easy style. I doubt if a small campaign such as yours would be very expensive to run (so ask Mr. Goodman's recommendation what the options are).
To your success, Moriarty
12/17/2012 at 6:09 PM
I agree with Michael: consider local PPC advertising on Google within a range of nearby ZIP codes and for specific, well searched for terms related to the material you're selling will help drive traffic to your site. As for pulling folks in through the door, consider local advertising in the form of door hangers within specific ZIP codes, flyers in local newspapers, and related leaflets left with local businesses (a favor that you can offer to repay in kind).
If students buy from you, advertise on campuses, in student related publications (campus newspapers and such), and via posters with tear of tabs, the like of which pepper college campuses all over the country. I'd avoid coupons in this case: I don't think they pull enough. If there's one near your location (1,000 feet or closer, and on a highway with decent traffic flow) I'd consider a billboard with six words on it and really simple directions. Otherwise, don't bother. Local press ads MIGHT help, but if your stock rotates swiftly, the costs of artwork might rack up against you.
Door to door legwork in the guise of leaflets dropped into mail boxes could also help, but get the skinny on local laws about doing so before you go ahead. There might be local laws against flyers being distributed in this way. Another way is to push leaflets into customer's hands and into bags as they pay for their gear or as thy leave your store. Thank them for shopping with you, tell them you look forward to them coming back again, and ask them to tell their friends about you. I know that these tactics sound hokey but they can really help to drive home the message. Try it and see.
I hope this helps. Good luck to you, and good luck with whatever your decide to do with your name.
I say, full steam ahead and damn the torpedoes!
12/18/2012 at 12:17 AM
Your answer can vary based on the area. For example, in some areas print is dead, I live in one where it is very much alive. So the answer is, do you know your customer well enough to know what they habits are regarding obtaining this info? Cause whatever that answer is, that is what you should be doing.
You need to prioritize. There is a different message to clients than to consigners. If you just want to make it a newsy, "check me out as new owner" message, save your effort. What do you want to focus on first?
Your list is small, I'd hand pick some and start making some phone calls. You are already paying for the phone, and as per your last post, there may be some fences to be mended. Your personal touch will go farther and will be most effective.
I would not text without permission. Unwanted emails just go to the trash, texts can cause extra charges. And when I didn't have unlimited text, that was a huge peeve of mine.
You also don't know the quality of the data. You could be totally spinning your wheels.
My best advice is start to make some personal contact. Talk to them, what did you like about the store, what didn't you like. Do you have suggestions for improvement. Just a conversation. They will walk away with a very good impression of the new owner, one that makes them feel "this guy cares about my business"
Sell Well and Prosper tm
12/18/2012 at 8:51 AM
Basically, you have to do a mix of online and traditional marketing. Do the social media thing, build your email list (you might be able to co emails with an established non competitive company), and pick some local print media to try. You can also print postcards and get them distributed in other stores in the neighborhoods you think have your best customers. Get your new store name out on the Internet via a digital footprint effort. That is, you find the web sites, directories and bloggers interested in what you sell and build a relationship with them. The point is to get them to write about you.
I would also build a public relations plan. Of all the tools that can bring in sales this is generally the best, especially for a new store. Of course, it is important to have a newsy angle, such as a portion of your sales goes to charity or you are helping the environment by recycling furniture. That is something you must figure out.
Not sure if you are ready for Google Ads yet, but if you have the funds you can do a local ad run.
What it boils down to is that you have to try everything and see what works best for you. Later you can hone in on the most valuable marketing tools. Right now you need to get your brand name out and people visiting your store.
12/19/2012 at 11:18 PM
I would recommend a blend of print and online ads.
Do PPC ads, with geotargeting on Google, Yahoo and Bing. Set up for keywords targeting your inventory or niche.
FaceBook ads are another good idea targeting antique interested demographics.
Both these media are great for prospecting for potential customers.
Set up a Facebook page to gather contacts. Mini-blog on Facebook.
I think setting up an ecommerce site would be a good thing to do. People are seeking unique pieces from all over, and you might be able to pick up extra sales from your web site, and at premium rates. Lets face it, there is a big wide world out there, and its a much bigger market than your immediate market area. Online buyers tend to pay premium rates for rare hard to find items or if you have exactly what they want.
I assume that you will have a solid point of sale system that will enable you to capture every customer's name, address, and even email address. You may want to consider using direct mail to bring in customers who are in your customer list and are slipping inactive. Or, you might want to use a nice welcome letter to customers who make their first purchase with you. Perhaps you might want to have a special event for just your best customers. Print campaigns to find customers are, frankly, very expensive, but print (direct mail) to proven customers with a spending history are VERY powerful.
I hope these suggestions help you.
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