Give customers a reason to come in

Gerald Giles in Norwich won Independent Marketing Campaign of the Year at the 2015 ERT Awards. Managing director Paul Giles looks at how best to market your business, including in-store promotions and social networking campaigns

We have a structured, but flexible approach to our marketing. Acting on research into market trends, understanding who our best and typical customers are – and their needs – then planning and coordinating our marketing activity, works well for us.

We also ensure that our customer service is as good as it can be, so customers remain loyal and recommend us to their friends and family.

When it comes to key marketing activity, sporting events always generate an uplift in TV sales, so it’s important to have suitable marketing events geared around them. In 2014, we ran a successful campaign to push large-screen TV sales centred around the Fifa World Cup.

Early in 2014, we looked at GfK research that showed that although the flat-screen TV market was fairly saturated and in decline, consumers were clearly demanding larger screen sizes. So there was an opportunity to encourage consumers to upgrade their existing TV to screens 42in and above.

I believe that a crucial part of our marketing success is working with a local, specialist marketing company. Someone outside of the industry can be a benefit to your business, as they offer an alternative, outside perspective and a creative approach that can help plan and coordinate marketing activity and secure PR coverage.

Gerald Giles world cup A6 postcard ad
Gerald Giles world cup A6 postcard ad

Working with them, we developed the ‘Big Screen Trade Up’ promotion. The campaign proved to be highly successful, encouraging existing and new customers to trade up their old TV for a bigger size, in exchange for a trade-in of up to £200, depending on the model purchased. We promoted this by email, online, newspapers via a website and Facebook competition and distributed postcards to city centre pubs.

In today’s world, people are bombarded with hundreds of marketing messages each day. While the use of mobile phones and the internet is starting to dominate consumers’ media consumption, we’ve found that reaching customers at different touch-points, with a coordinated campaign, using a consistent, creative approach, simply works.

Our city-centre location gives us the opportunity to hand out offer leaflets to shoppers, containing our physical, website and Facebook addresses where they can engage with us.

With the European football championships and Olympics on the horizon this year, along with the improved picture quality of 4K and UHD TVs, there’s a great opportunity for electrical retailers to approach existing and lapsed customers with upgraded TV offers again.

While regularly highlighting offers and promotions is key, it’s also crucial to demonstrate expertise and customer care as a real point of difference, while remaining competitive and playing to your strengths. A crucial part of our marketing is the experience we give our customers, from being greeted with a smile by a friendly, knowledgeable salesperson to delivering and installing their purchases in a timely, efficient manner.

We send out customer questionnaires to request feedback to help improve our service and recently signed up to an online review service that helps us measure our performance.

One key activity that helped us win the ERT marketing award was the in-store cookery demonstration events in our Miele Centre. We’ve run various in-store events over the years and one thing we’ve learnt is to avoid is running them for the sake of it. You have to give customers a reason to come in.

For example, we recently ran small, exclusive cookery demonstrations in partnership with Miele and a top chef to showcase steam oven technology. These intimate events help us develop good relationships with potential customers for these high-ticket items, which tend to be more of a considered purchase.”

Last year, Gerald Giles launched a new, mobile- and tablet-friendly e-commerce website just in time for Black Friday and we are already reaping the benefits of that change, with online sales and click-and-collect steadily increasing.

If you’re looking to update your website, now is the time to do it as mobile and tablet usage is booming. We employ a digital and marketing coordinator to look after our site. This has been key to keeping the site fresh with new manufacturer offers and promotions. It’s absolutely vital that your website accurately reflects your business and all its offerings – it is your 24/7 shop window.

For 2016, we have used a new search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign to boost the website’s ranking and have plans to use the power of Facebook’s advertising platform and build on recent Google Adwords campaigns that have successfully brought in new customers for us.

We also plan to blog more regularly as we find this can work well for Google search results and it’s a useful format to demonstrate our expertise.

Your business must be prepared to deal with consumers through all channels and embrace all media. Today’s customers want to deal with retailers in the simplest, easiest and most convenient way possible and we must respond to that challenge.