‘Marketing is easy, anyone can do it!’

Local marketing: Industry experts share their views on why it’s important for retailers to capture the attention of the customers right on their doorstep.

Part 2: ‘Marketing is easy, anyone can do it!’… Is that right?

By Paul Laville, Director of T21 Group

A quick trawl through social media and business-help websites and you would be forgiven for thinking that marketing is easy.

The internet is bursting with articles such as: “[Insert number here] Steps to Guaranteed Marketing Success” and “How to Create a Successful Marketing Plan with no Money”. There are “Four Ps”, “Nine Ps”, “Seven Ps”, “Five Cs” (depending where you look) and a seemingly infinite number of trendy acronyms purporting the myth that anyone can become a marketing expert in just a few days… Credit cards and PayPal accepted.

The self-help guides are fine up to a point, but their reach is wide and their approach generalist. Marketing only really works, in my opinion, if the strategy behind it is specific to your business, if it is measured properly, aligned with your sales strategy (as opposed to someone else’s) and targeted to achieve the results YOU want.

I’m also a believer that anything your business does can be marketed, and that the question we should all be asking ourselves when considering whether something is worthy enough to fuel a new campaign is not “Can I market this?” but actually “How do I market this?” – the answer to which is: “In the best way that both reaches and attracts your customers”.

I know that sounds flippant but therein lies the hard work – figuring out how your customers and potential customers interact with media. It’s so worthwhile trying to learn what promotional methods they prefer; after all, there’s no point holding an in-store demo if nobody’s interested. And do they respond best to social media ads or a printed flyer through the letterbox?

If it’s social media, find out which platforms people spend the most time on so you can focus your campaign where it’s likely to gain the best traction.

There are so many things to think about. But without the information on how and where you need to engage your market, you’ll at best be spending time and money on a campaign based on outdated presumptions, which means you could fail to generate high returns for your efforts.

However, once you have that information you’re ready to start shouting. Whether you’re running in-store promotions, cooking shows, supplier-sponsored launch events or limited deals, you’ll know crucially if you need to broadcast your campaign online or offline, on radio or TV, using flyers or online blogs or social media… or indeed if it’s best to assemble a choir and sing about it in the town centre on a Saturday morning! Now there’s an idea…

So once your activity is underway, measure it. Analyse its effectiveness and quantify your return. That means not just counting the people who turn up but tracking what they buy and the amount they spend. If you’re offering a free pair of headphones with every hi-fi unit, record all the other products and services your customers buy when they show up waving their voucher codes. That way you’ll gain essential knowledge for the future which could help you negotiate support for future events with suppliers and other partners.

Also – and this is really important – make sure your sales teams are fully prepped and ready to do their bit. Get everyone involved and motivated to actively upsell and cross-sell during the campaign because if your staff aren’t onboard, you could be wasting your efforts.

Finally, whatever it is you are marketing, make sure that it aims to create a tangible improvement to your business. Personally, I believe that every in-store event and every promotion and freebie you market should be aimed at raising sales and customer loyalty. There’s something to be said for creating an ‘awareness campaign’ – just letting people know who you are and what you do, but there’s no harm in cutting to the chase, being direct and telling your customers exactly what they will get, and when, as loudly as possible.

Be adventurous, be bold and be brave. Have fun with your promotions and events and always do your research. Ensure your staff are motivated and, crucially, always record the results.