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Ask INSTORE: December 2009

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Hiring actors for your commercials, help for your redesign, marketing to Latino families, and more.

[h5]MARKETING[/h5]

[h3]High-end Fliers[/h3]Ask INSTORE 12-09

[dropcap cap=Q.][h4][b]I have been using the same two companies to produce my Christmas fliers for the past few years, but I want to go higher end. Can you suggest anyone? It seems vendors aren’t supplying them like they did in the past.[/b][/h4][/dropcap]

[dropcap cap=A.]There are several companies that produce higher-end catalogs for the holidays such as Harmon Catalog, Brown+Partners and Goldmark, notes Ellen Fruchtman, president of Fruchtman Marketing in Toledo, OH, adding that most of them, however, require a minimum order of several thousand, so you’re looking at a pretty heavy outlay. While the costs involved in using manufacturers’ fliers are obviously lower, they display only the vendor’s product, so for the holidays, it may not show your customers the depth of your inventory.[/dropcap]

Manufacturer fliers also feature items you may not carry. Fruchtman suggests that if you need a printed piece in smaller quantities, you may be better off securing photography (shot on white) from your vendors, contacting a local designer and producing your own. “Many printers also provide design and layout. Can’t afford printing or postage and have a website? Consider having a catalog designed and putting it online.

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[componentheading]ADVERTISING[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I’m considering renting billboard space to advertise my store. What should I look for?[/b][/h4]

This is not an easy medium to master. By their nature, billboards target a broad customer base — the general public. If your strong point is a niche, there are more cost effective forms of advertising. With the average consumer being bombarded by more than 5,000 messages per day, you also have to be special/surprising/different to stand out, so be prepared to bring in an advertising pro to help — DIY billboard messages don’t have a good record. Finally, as most of your prospective audience is on wheels of some sort, you need to get to the point very quickly. The rule of thumb is to include your business name, address, website, an image and no more than eight words. For inspiration, check out the collection of billboards at www.toxel.com. These outdoor masterpieces highlight the three things any billboard should have: huge visual impact, an instantly recognizable core message, and hardly any words. If you decide to go with a billboard, be sure to test-drive the location. Small things like tree branches or side of the road can make huge differences in visibility.

[componentheading]SURVEYS[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I want to have a satisfaction survey in my next e-mail newsletter. Any tips?[/b][/h4]

The No. 1 thing is: Don’t waste your customers’ time, so keep the survey as short as possible. Second, don’t ask vague questions with vague answer options. You want to elicit answers that will allow you to take an action in response. Third, be aware that you shape people’s perceptions with the way you phrase the questions. Asking, “Which do you hate more, telemarketing calls or SMS spam?”taints both. Finally, marketing guru Seth Godin advises, try to make at least some of the questions entertaining; you don’t want this to seem like work.

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[componentheading]THEFT[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I’ve discovered a shrinkage problem at my store but when I contacted the local police they didn’t seem that interested. What do I do?[/b][/h4]

You’re going to have show the police you have a good case and that, as Detective Richard Milburn of the Mesa (AZ) Police Department told a recent National Retail Federation event, you understand the difference between “Probable cause”and “Probably cuz.”Be sure you contact the right agency, and that you have anticipated the need to establish evidence (What will be needed to pursue a case? Do you have video or other evidence?). You may also have to “re-sell”the case to another law enforcement agency if the first declines. The key takeaway from all this? Never forget that safeguarding your goods starts with you and the processes you use to track and protect merchandise.

[componentheading]VENDOR RELATIONSHIPS[/componentheading]

[h4][b]I have a brand-name line that’s underperformed and am thinking of discounting it. Are there legal risks?[/b][/h4]

It nearly always comes down to the contract you signed with the manufacturer, says Barbara Mandell, of Dykema Gossett PLLC. Mandell notes there are three kinds of pricing programs. The first is minimum advertised price (under which the manufacturer states it will sell only to distributors who advertise resale prices at $X or above. Typically, these programs do not restrict the price actually charged). Second is co-op advertising  (which also restricts price advertising, but only on those ads paid for by the co-op funds); and third, “Colgate”policies, in which manufacturers set a floor resale price and announce that they will sell only to dealers who abide by it. Punishment for violating any of these programs is usually termination of supply. If you have concerns about your wider relationship with a vendor, you may want to seek legal advice.

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[span class=note]This story is from the December 2009 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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