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Why Brands Are Needed To Drive Store Traffic
Charleston, SC January 27, 2000 -- Today, the key is getting your customers' attention. And it's getting harder all the time! Advertising effectiveness is more critical everyday because consumers are being impacted by more advertising forces. It's no longer just newspaper ads, it's newspaper ads and newspaper inserts.

It's no longer just TV, it can be TV and the Internet. It's no longer just direct mail, it's direct mail and/or e-mail. And the list goes on and on. How do you win? The answer is simple - do it right the first time. How do you get a customer's attention? By making sure newspaper ads have all the elements working together to impact the reader. This is why strong name brands are critical. A store has a core of past shoppers. A store location is known as either convenient or not. A price point featured in one ad can be compared to price points highlighted in competitor ads.

All of these are important, but so are featured brand names in ads. Strong brands have loyal customers. Crest has more loyal customers than Gleem. A retailer featuring Crest will drive more shoppers than a competitor running Gleem toothpaste ads. A store featuring Maytag, a 40% brand, will get more shoppers than a competitor advertising White Westinghouse, a brand influencing 17% of shoppers. A Maytag ad featuring a $499 washer will drive more shoppers than a White/Westinghouse washer at $399. Maytag's 4:1 brand impact leadership will make W/W run an ad price point from $249-$269 to attempt reaching the same level of shoppers. As expected, strong brands names and a strong retailer combination produces higher shopper levels than a strong brand/weak store combination or a strong store/weak brand combination.

And the best formula for maximum shopping levels is a strong store advertising low price points on the top name brands, creating "incredible values." A 25% brand "married" to a 25% retailer is a merger of two powerful market forces. Competitors would need a 30%+ factor to compete so either another brand or the store would have to be at 30% or higher impact mark. The sum total means the competition would have to reach a 60% impact reading to guarantee stronger store traffic. In the eyes of shoppers, $249 on a La-Z-Boy brand recliner is more effective than $239 on a Berkline recliner. Even $10 lower, Berkline loses big time because the La-Z-Boy brand name rates a higher premium than $10 over Berkline. La-Z-boy would have to be double of the price of Berkline for the Berkline ad to drive shopper visits.

When strong brand names exist, never lose sight that many brands have as many loyal users as the store has loyal customers. Further analysis of the most effective ads often reveals shopping levels were divided between customers who wanted to buy from that store and customers who wanted to buy that brand. People feel more comfortable spending more on the brands they know. So brands can help to make or break a newspaper ad - the 'right' entry-level price point coupled with the 'right' brands offered by the 'right' store is how great newspaper ads are made. More than 59% of buyers look first for brands in ads. When they see "their" brand, more people say; "That speaks to me. That's my store."

1: Never act defensively
Whenever corporate decisions are based on protecting the base rather than expanding the base, your marketing strategy is limited by two-thirds the number of available options.

Also, the message it sends to your employees is demoralizing. The true test of marketing is driving the customer most likely to buy your product or service into your business. In your soul you must decide: Do you only want to drive those who have been there before, or do you want all targeted buyers in the marketplace to experience what you have to offer?

Many times companies never identify how to effectively affect potential customers, so they believe all future marketing efforts will fail. With this attitude, they never experiment with new approaches and ultimately rely on existing customers to generate sales. But, this limited and defensive strategy always has the same result: death!
2: Always act decisively.
Too many companies agonize over a decision for days, even weeks. Often by the time they act, the customer has moved on the a different place so this inability to quickly react to changing consumer need makes this late decision a detrimental action. You need to know that those on the front-end of a consumer trend become tomorrow's leaders, but remember the marketplace is moving twice as fast today as two years ago, so you must make decisions faster just to keep up.

Without fully knowing your customer, it is impossible to be the first to react and to lead. Look at home theatre, a product where shoppers went from wanting to see three working systems on showroom display to five systems. Woe to the furniture store trying to sell home theatre with only two or three systems featured!

Overnight, the consumer moved away from furniture stores as a preferred distribution channel to audio specialist where more floor space was dedicated to the category.
3: Create an environment for open exchange of ideas.
No one has all the answers and certainly no one has all the right answers! With little or no exchange of ideas from the front line, you are doomed. How could you win a war without counter-intelligence to detect the activities of the enemy ? How could you run a business by shutting off the spigot of information from your front-line staff ? Always keep in mind those people talking to your customer become a resource of information of your company. Their comments may not be completely objective, but not soliciting or welcoming their input places your company at an information disadvantage. In today's changing world an information disadvantage means you can become isolated, working with old, out-of-date data, always lacking new ideas. Executives have egos, but the best executives put their egos in check long enough to learn how to make their workplace more open. They must become willing to listen and then act on comments from their employees. But remember, listening, but never acting, can do more harm than good.
4: Always understand the cause of the problem rather than dealing with the symptom.
Doctors can bring down a fever, but if the cause of the fever is not addressed, the health problems will persist and potentially kill the patient. My salespeople are no good, exclaims one retailer. My response is, Who trained them? Too many problems never get solved because 90 percent of the effort is on the symptom with only 10 percent on curing the disease. Without quality research, companies wander around, trying this or trying that to solve a problem. It is often the case that they compound their problem because experimentation without supporting data to recommend an action may fix what was never broken. Identifying the exact cause may also be difficult because a key person may not be doing his or her job and you may not consider him or her a source of the problem. For example, you might be getting the right type of people calling, but the person answering the phone could be driving the potential customer away, as I found out years ago when a dentist had an effective advertising plan but the receptionist had no empathy in her voice, making the caller say, "Do I really want to go here for my dental work?" After she was replaced with a softer, more gentle voice the number of new appointments grew four times. This person was a loyal and hardworking employee, putting her above reproach. Only researching the issue thoroughly identified the cause. Not knowing the customer for this dentist meant wandering around in the desert, guessing why the advertising campaign was not working.
5: Respect your customer
Every company claims to respect its customer, but do your company policies truly reflect an attitude of respect? Or an attitude of respect only when it's convenient to you? Unless you know your customer's expectation, how can you prioritize your company's customer-oriented policies? A company that respects its customer properly trains all the staff, advertises truthfully, qualifies the customer rather than prejudges them, and gladly accepts their returned merchandise because it asked for their money. Respect is a commitment to total customer satisfaction, even when the demands seem excessive. Consumers rate their needs differently today from 1995. Are your store's policies keeping up with these changes? Not understanding today's consumer is like driving only using the rearview mirror.
6: Remember, the other guy can think, too.
Just like the customer who is not planted in stone, the competition is not going to stand there and let you beat their brains in. Today's competitive marketplace demands that strategies evolve and adapt to market conditions. Your competitor may become more responsive to his customer and thus put you into a defensive position, reacting to his new, on-target approach. Never let your company be put into this position, because every marketing decision should be based on current data. The only way to always put the other guy in a defensive posture is to know your customer better than he knows his. Quality research will provide you with that competitive advantage. Net: Fewer Wrong Decisions.
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