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Fast-Forward

Marketing 101

Eric Bauer -- Casual Living, May 29, 2009

In our first article in the April issue, we stated solid fundamental sales and marketing techniques that worked in the past, still work today only if those techniques are updated and applied for the changing world in which we live. Now let’s fast-forward to 2010 and get right to it: What you need to do to be successful in the coming year. Let’s begin with your advertising.

I attended an informative seminar in the NHFA Resource Center, while at the High Point Market in April. Presented by a representative from Google, the title was “Capturing Customers in a Down Economy Using Google.” There may have been nearly 100 people in the audience, most of whom were furniture retailers, and we all gained some important information. It was an hour well-spent, and I highly recommend attending the next one.

In our April column we asked you if you have begun shifting your ad dollars to online resources. I’m going to assume the majority of you really haven’t made great strides in that area. Further assuming Google’s numbers came from folks just like you; you spend about 45% of your ad budget on TV, 20% in magazines, 25% in newspapers, 5% online and the other 5% in miscellaneous ways. Please read this next statement very carefully: Google’s research indicates that 81% of people shopping for home furnishings cite the Internet as their top source of information and more research is done on specific retailer sites then general comparison sites.

Isn’t it amazing how such a “disconnect” triggers a bright white light to go off in our minds? Again, we asked you in April what you were doing to bring traffic into your store.  We asked if your advertising has begun to shift online, when was your Web site last updated and what kind of “E_Smarts” do you have?

Google’s information presented at the April High Point Market indicates 34% of home furnishings shoppers use search engines four or more times before purchasing, and 10% use them 10 or more times before purchasing. Consider them well-informed shoppers. Further, 53% are looking for savings and discounts and 46% for coupons … no big surprises here. There is more data and stats that I can share however, you can go to: www.google.com/advertisers for the additional information. If you’re going to be in Chicago in July, Google is presenting another workshop on Monday, July 20 at 4 p.m. This one is titled, Reach New Audiences and Target Your Ideal Customer.

It is time for you to get serious about the “disconnect” between the dollars you invest in media placements and the media that is being used by the majority of your customers. Update your Web site, put some time and money into good SEO, create your e-newsletter with savings coupons, build your data base and disseminate to your customer’s e-mail addresses and don’t forget the disclaimer. Start reaching your customers where they live today and stop focusing on trying to reach them where they lived 10 years ago. Parallel efforts are necessary today. In my seminars, I teach “Customer-based Marketing, the Art of Selling People the Way They Want to Buy” -- not the way you want to sell. The same is true for your advertising and marketing as it is for the salespeople. 

I am reminded of the story of the clergyman who continually prays to win the lotto as his house of worship is in such dire need of art supplies for the children’s classes, new prayer books, benches and more for the chapel. Finally one morning while praying outdoors, the skies flashed with lightning, a loud crack of thunder was heard and from above he heard a voice that said, “I can’t help you if you don’t buy a ticket.”

Keep in mind, 81% is a pretty large target and shouldn’t be hard to hit if you will at least take aim.

Eric Bauer, CEO of Eric Bauer Marketing in North Palm Beach, Fla., is a 30-year furniture industry veteran. His agency specializes in sales training, advertising, public relations, graphic, catalog and Web design, as well as getting E_Smart.

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