3 Truths for Main Street Success in 2019

3 truths for success-web

It’s a New Year. Time for a new way of marketing your store. Let’s get started.

As we begin the New Year, it makes sense to focus on three keys areas where I see opportunity for retailers to succeed on Main Street.

1. Marketing to your strengths

Let me begin by defining what a unique selling position is. Simply put, your marketing messages should tell the customer why it’s smarter to buy from you than to buy from one of your competitors down the street.

Remember, your selling position MUST include exclusive-to-you reasons why you are the customer’s best option.

For example, our core marketing message in my stores is: “At Gardner’s we help you wake up happy. Sleep is powerful and a new sleep system from Gardner’s helps you to be a better you. Our 7-Step Wake Up Happy Promise is a simple step-by-step process to help you find the perfect mattress and your happiness is guaranteed with our 120-Night Wake Up Happy Comfort Guarantee. If you’re not the best you after sleeping on a Gardner’s Mattress & More sleep system we will happily exchange it with absolutely no fee to you.”

I share with you here our 7-Step Wake Up Happy Promise, a document that not only communicates our unique selling position but also governs our advertising and selling processes. Do you have something similar in your store?

Now let’s suppose you have a solid marketing message. How is it amplified through your advertising? Does your advertising support your marketing message, or does it undermine the years of hard work you’ve invested in your marketing message?

If our advertising only spoke of deep discounts, pictured simple photos of white mattresses and touted “buy today, pay later” financing offers, the foundation of our marketing and the reason we’re in business — to help our customers sleep better — would be missed.

Nothing about traditional advertising supports our marketing message. I’m not saying those ads don’t work because on some level they do. But they won’t project our marketing message and call people to our doors.

Advertising limited to price, product pictures and discounts would weaken our marketing message and slow the growth and success of our stores. Is this happening in your business?

You can improve in 2019 by refining your marketing message so it conveys your unique advantages. Then you can use your advertising to reinforce and amplify your marketing theme so that you truly connect with your store’s customers.

2. Do more with less

Let’s face it. The Internet is here to stay. That said, we should remember that online commerce still represents just one in 10 purchases, according to the National Retail Federation.

It seems as if some retailers feel the online number is nine in 10 purchases, and our showrooms only exist to support online sales.

I once heard a well-known marketing consultant say, “The success of your business directly correlates to the number of offers you make in your business.”

With that profound statement in mind, how many offers can you truly make? You might think the only time you get to make an offer and sell something is when there is a customer in your store, but that is incorrect.

You invest dollars to drive eyeballs to your website, and you absolutely need to make offers to those leads who visit your website, using CRM technologies to collect the names and email addresses of those visitors. Then you can reach out to them with your marketing pitch via email with the goal of bringing them into your store.

Savvy retailers see upwards of 6 percent of online visitors being added to their lead lists via smart experiences on their website. Then these retailers make offers, systematically and automatically, to draw these potential customers to their stores. These same retailers then see upwards of a 12 percent conversion to paid customers from the list of names and email addresses.

Suppose this is your website:

  • 5,000 monthly visitors
  • 5 percent opt-in for email offers
  • 250 leads begin receiving offers to visit your store
  • 17 of those leads become paying customers each month
  • 233 leads remain open to market to

What would a new paying customer every day visiting your store do for your business? Suppose you had a solid grasp on these numbers and a defined funnel that produces leads, turning them into customers. How would this change your advertising spending and mix?
Now apply this same kind of thinking to those who have visited but have yet to buy. Are you solely eating what you kill in your store today rather than hunting for tomorrow? Isn’t it time to implement steps along the customer’s buying journey by emailing regular offers to visit your store and complete the purchase?

Another example:

  • 500 monthly store visitors
  • 30 percent closing rate
  • 150 customers
  • 350 prospects remain (which most stores simply ignore — in other words, eat today what we kill today)
  • 20 percent of those prospects, or 70 new customers, come back to buy again
  • Raising your effective closing rate to nearly 50 percent

What could these follow-up offers do for your closing ratio? Remember, as store traffic dwindles year over year, there will be a point when you have no choice but to adapt and make more offers to the people who enter your store.

3. Understand digital advertising

The first thing to understand is that digital advertising is just that. It’s not marketing, it’s simply an advertising medium. There was never a time when a Yellow Book marketer called on your store. Neither did a radio, TV or billboard marketer ever call you on the phone to do business. They were all called advertising sales reps.

Digital advertising is an advertising medium. The rules have not changed simply because the medium has changed. No matter what the gurus, experts and snake oil salesmen try to tell you, it is just advertising.

I will add that the way people engage with digital media is different than how they once consumed traditional media like radio, TV and display advertising. Today, digital media offer a connection experience; however, it is still money you are investing in your business, and at a minimum it should incorporate these core elements of all effective advertising:

  • A compelling, attention-grabbing headline — it should snap the neck and stop the reader in her tracks
  • An offer — lately, “buy this, get that” offers seem to work well; think cellphone service, free streaming TV or free smart home devices with a purchase
  • A call to action — what’s next? Click this, give an email here, call us now
  • A deadline — without a deadline, there is no reason to respond now

Beyond these core elements of effective advertising, you also need to be sure the media you buy support your goals.

If you have a website that is set up to collect names and emails, and those are converting into paying customers, it is perfectly fine to buy digital media advertising that simply drives eyeballs to your website.

But if you do not have such a website and sales funnel in place, you have no business buying eyeballs, because eyeballs alone do not pay the bills — at least not intentionally or reliably.

Before you spend another dime on online advertising, you should invest in a website that converts leads into customers who come to your store ready to buy.

If you see opportunities in these three fundamental truths and take action, you will have a great chance to be successful in today’s Main Street economy.

About the Author

Jeff Giagnocavo
Jeff Giagnocavo is owner of Gardner’s Mattress and More in Lancaster, Pa., a multi-unit destination boutique mattress store. He also co-wrote the book Mega Mattress Margins and Retail is Dead and created the industry’s only turn-key, done-for-you, sales-and-marketing machine called Automated Mattress Profits that creates, captures and converts prospects into paying customers.