Freshly graduated from university in Brisbane (don’t hold the Aussie thing against me), I was proud to be a part of a team which pioneered world famous local store marketing. World famous in Australia anyway.
Eagle-Boys-Dial-A-Pizza was a very distant number 4 in the Australian market. Our defensible point of difference was that we were cowboys with no money, blessed with a lack of inhibition and a hunger to rule the world.
A challenger brand, Eagle Boys was one of the country’s fastest growing franchise businesses. We were nimble, innovative and favoured guerrilla tactics. The self-appointed gurus of local store marketing, we didn’t allow a shoestring budget to hamper our vision and set about getting to know our local store catchments better than anyone else.
I dressed in a giant pink Eagle suit and waved at the traffic heading home at rush hour. I wobbled my board in electrical storms, hail and blazing sun. I visited local motels and dropped off free “Do not disturb” door hang signs that prominently displayed our phone number and a menu. We gave free pizzas to the local pub an hour before closing time and as the only joint open after 11pm we did a roaring trade til 2am Thursday to Saturday.
Free pizzas were dispatched to the local school’s staff room for occasional Friday lunch. We held pizza drives (like a lamington drive but with pizza). We did party planning guides. We had bite sized samples ready for commuters as trains pulled into suburban stations at the end of a cold day.
We thanked customers by throwing ‘all you can eat ’ annual store birthday events, never forgetting the free balloon for kids.
But it’s time to take a step back because before the promotional activity, we’d laid the foundations by developing catchment maps and compiling all the useful free statistics and information we could. We talked to everyone “in the know.” Local business owners, community groups, the local press, taxi drivers and rubbish collectors (you can find a lot about the community from the last two). Then we tried, tested, failed and had resounding successes. But most of all we learnt from experience. And we never stopped. We lived local store marketing.
Eagle Boys gave me my first taste of successful local store marketing, the engine that propelled the company’s success. In the twenty years since, I have been involved with some of NZ and Australia’s largest retailers and experienced first -hand the damage to market share that challenger brands and smaller competitors can inflict with smart local store marketing. ‘Local’ is the golden nugget which guarantees you have superior understanding of your shopper. It keeps you fresh, relevant and engaged at the right level.
The well worn analogy of the Chinese bamboo tree springs to mind. Used in numerous contexts from raising children to developing a business, it also works for retail local store marketing.
Do you know what happens after you plant the seed of a Chinese bamboo tree? Nothing.
Absolutely nothing. Not in week two or after 20 weeks or even at the end of year two. If you didn’t know anything about the tree’s life cycle it is likely you would give up on it and move on. You’d probably conclude you had bad seeds or the soil was poor or you planted it in the wrong place when in fact, out of sight, a HUGE root system was growing underground. Year after year, the foundations were being laid. After five years the massive tree is exposed and grows rapidly to over twenty five metres tall!
The early stages of Local Store Marketing programmes work in the same way. You begin by reaching out into your local community. You meet people along the way, good people. These people get to know you, like you and trust you. At the end of the second month your enthusiasm and expectations are high. You sit back and prepare for an early windfall from your activities. What happens? Very little. Is a picture emerging?
Developing an ongoing LSM programme will strengthen your business by building traffic and sales for the future. Every connection, every phone call, every LSM coupon will come back to reward you many times over. Keep going. Success won’t be instant, but it won’t take 5 years!
Sure fire ideas
Know your shoppers. Build a database – there is power in knowing your shopper (current, prospective and lapsed) and gleaning insights to make your offer more compelling and relevant. Nowadays tools such as Survey Monkey mean you collate insights in a professional looking manner. I’m baffled when my local gym sends emails asking about my class preferences and seeking verbatim feedback. Why not send a simple online survey and have the analysis completed at the touch of a button? www.surveymonkey.com
Talk to your shoppers. The power is in transforming what you know about your shopper (current, prospective and lapsed) and having a relevant dialogue with them. Exclusive offers, previews, new news. It’s easy to spark up communication but remember to keep it relevant and customer focused. Tools such as www.mailchimp.com make communicating simple and cost effective.
Recognise shoppers. Reward loyal behaviour. Good ideas can fail because of poorly thought through execution. Adopt the shopper’s point of view. Do I want this person for a quick sales fix or as a life long advocate? Weigh up the emotional response a $5 gift voucher to use against anything in the store would give you against $5 off when you spend $50. Authentic, real reward and recognition will be paid back many times over, especially through positive word of mouth. Surprise and delights don’t have to be grand gestures, just something to say, “Thanks. We think you are special.”
Social media. A wonderful opportunity for two way dialogue but many, many retailers don’t get the opportunity it presents. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Foursquare, the list is long. But this requires a full article.