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Andy Malis: Advertising Your Store on TV or Radio in 2016? Good Luck!

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Election year requires a shift in marketing strategy.

This article originally appeared in the January 2016 edition of INSTORE.


Andy Malis talks advertising strategy

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An improving economy, a presidential election and the Olympics. All in the same year. It’s the perfect storm. And not in a good way for advertisers.

What does it mean for your advertising plans? Trouble. Lots of it. It means higher rates and tight inventory. It means making plans and then seeing your ads bumped for endless campaign commercials.

Who can you thank for this mess? The politicians. They passed a law that guarantees all broadcast TV and radio commercials sold to candidates must be at the station’s “lowest unit rate” during the 45-days before a primary and 60-days before a general election. Well, guess what? The “lowest unit rate” will not be that low. And you’ll pay a lot more if you can even get on the air.

Even conservative estimates predict that spending by all candidates in the 2016 presidential election will surpass $5 billion, double the level in 2012. Add in all state and local races, plus issue-based advertising and the total will be $10 billion.

Who wins? The media. Who loses? Just about anyone who relies on TV and radio advertising to drive traffic to their stores.

If you don’t have a proactive plan in place to deal with this, start now. Here are five things to do today to protect your sales in 2016.

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1 Love your customers like never before. Make sure you have their email addresses. Remember their birthdays and anniversaries. I’m not a huge lover of direct mail (it has the highest cost-per-thousand of any medium), but this year I am. Use it. Plan more events like private sales and market them directly to your existing customer base — direct mail, email, social media, personal contact, etc.

2 Shift some of your budget from TV and radio to online. Social media advertising works and it’s cheap. Review your search engine marketing program and make sure it’s performing. If not, get a second opinion. Make sure your website is up-to-date and that you have a mobile version.

3 Completely avoid the 45- and 60-day windows prior to the election. In most states, there will be nothing but political advertising running during this time. In 2012, people started to deliberately tune out. They started watching more on-demand and online programming. This is particularly so for millennials, your best bridal clients. They’re watching 23 percent less TV than just five years ago.

4 Leverage volume and relationships. The TV and radio stations know this party will end on Nov. 8. If you’ve been a regular advertiser, they’ll say they’ll try to look out for you. But, don’t kid yourself. The stations are gorging on this money. If you don’t use an ad agency or media buying firm, this may be the year. Because they represent lots of advertisers in the marketplace, the stations will be a lot more concerned about them than they will be about a single advertiser. Any good agency will know the daily inventory situation and be able to get the best deals.

5 Trust but verify. If you use an agency, find out how they monitor your buys. Many agencies track commercials as they air. That way they know if your spot was bumped immediately and can ask for a make good.

Is there a silver lining? Yes, save as much as you can for the 2016 holiday season. Starting Nov. 9, own the retail jewelry category in your market. Prices will still be high because of pent-up demand, but if you plan right, you’ll get through this. Good luck!

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Andy Malis is CEO of MGH (www.mghus.com), an integrated marketing agency based in Owings Mills, MD. He can be reached at amalis@mghus.com.

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Commentary: The Business

Put Yourself First and Cultivate Your Own Brand

Concentrate on custom and healthy vendor relationships to succeed in today’s jewelry retail environment.

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It’s time for independent jewelers to create their own brand identity by partnering with brands that respect and honor their relationships, and by doing whatever they can to build loyalty with custom design, whether or not they have in-house shops.

Larger stores possess the volume needed to buy branded products and the showcase space necessary to display them. Granted, branded products and their retailers have a rarefied environment, with packaging, advertising and a built-in national customer affiliation.

But Pandora truly changed the dynamic of the vendor/retailer relationship in the last decade by building their brand off the independent’s efforts. They demanded higher sales volume and reorder numbers, then removed underachievers from the supply chain. Many independents lost the branded customer base they had acquired.

Worse, once Pandora identified the larger established consumer markets, in a checkmate move, they established their own stores, thus selling directly to the consumer. Many retailers suffered serious financial losses with non-returnable inventory and had their reputations damaged with unfulfilled customer service requests.

Following in hot pursuit, several popular companies decided they could dictate to their retailers how much they had to spend and restock in order to keep their brands. But in the end, many of these demanding brands will diminish because trends and styles change!

The goal of a supplier-retailer relationship is to be both transparent and mutually beneficial. There are many companies that go the extra mile for their retailers. Find those, buy from them and remain profitable.

It’s also time for the independent jeweler to do everything possible to create their own following in the custom-jewelry wars. The popularity of custom has created a multitude of manufacturing jewelry stores showcasing their own products and increasing their own brand diversity.
Great local and online presence, along with professional training and an engaging and well-informed sales staff, allows your store brand to flourish. Self-branding, shameless advertising and polished elevator speeches help us gain and maintain our status in the community as the go-to jeweler.

 

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Dave Richardson

Here’s a Training Exercise to See How Well Your Team Knows Your Clientele

Here’s the fastest way to see how much your team knows about the customers they serve.

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Knowing Your Customer is Critical

WHY IT IS TRUE: Selling used to be about transaction; now it is about relationships. How many customers are in your database and what do you know about each of them?

PLAN OF ACTION: On a sheet of paper, ask your salespeople to write down the names of your top 50 customers. Ask them to write something they know about that customer, their spouse, hobbies, etc. Train your team based on how well they know your clientele.

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Shane Decker

Four Sales Tips to Make It Your Best Christmas Yet

To deliver an unforgettable holiday experience, you have to be on top of your sales game.

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There are four areas you’ll need to focus on this holiday season to be successful: store floor awareness, add-on sales, “wowing” clients, and shopping environment.

1) Store floor awareness: Based on closing ratios I’ve tracked over the years, your team’s closing ratio can go up 70-80 percent during the holidays. No client is “just looking”; they’re looking to buy. Clerk sales and impulse buys skyrocket. If you haven’t increased your sales staff or prepared for the rush, you will lose sales.

We all know that some clients will walk out if they’re not waited on immediately. Some come in only during the holidays, and if they don’t feel we meet their expectations, they will become clients of our competitors.

Store floor awareness deals with everything that is happening on your floor. Is the “sweet spot” covered and is everyone greeted within five seconds? If everyone is helping someone, clients need to be greeted by someone who isn’t about to close the sale.

Don’t let busy work get in the way of helping a customer — nor apathy or fear. When clients say they’re “just looking,” too many salespeople reply, “OK, look around and if you find something you want, let us know.” That’s a sale killer. If you’re not present, they’ll walk and give another salesperson in another store your money.

During the holidays, your sales teammates’ needs become very important. Don’t leave anyone stranded. They may need help closing or team-selling (an assist can raise the closing ratio by 50 percent). Never be too busy to help.

2) Add-on sales: During this time of year, the average Christmas buyer buys 15-20 gifts. The average jewelry salesperson sells them only one. Then the client goes to several other stores and buys the remaining 14-19 gifts. When a client has chosen the item they’re looking for, instead of walking to the cash register, use a lead-in line and say, “How many others are on your list?” He may say, “I have a 12 year-old daughter.” Then you reply, “You know, her first set of diamond studs should come from her dad. We have great studs for your young lady right over here.”

“Wow” your clients: Get a high-ticket item in each client’s hand before they leave. You can change it based on the client, your inventory, “wowing” smart and visual observation. Most clients have never had the opportunity to have an awesome item in their hand before they walk out.

Sometimes they buy it. Remember: it’s Christmastime, the time for giving. Not to mention, this will separate you from your competition.

4) Shopping environment: Make sure the store looks, smells and feels like Christmas. Offer coffee, cinnamon rolls, cookies, mulled cider, whatever a client may want. The longer they stay, the higher the closing ratio. Remember that the experience is even more important than the product they will purchase.

Lastly, show every client respect, patience and a great attitude. Tell them you were so glad to see them and wish them a merry Christmas with a smile. Small and large sales are all important. Gather information so that you can follow up, and remember not to mail thank-you cards until Jan. 15; you don’t want to blow the surprise!

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