furniture retail

Monday, October 20th, 2008

Recession Survival Kit, Part II

If you’re in High Point, come find out what’s working for other retailers during this “economic downturn” tomorrow at 2:30 pm in the 12th floor resource center.

There are actually six things- no, seven things your family business can do in a recession. The first is to understand that there are two types of shoppers, transactional shoppers and relational shoppers. Yesterday I explained to traits for transactional shoppers. Today let’s talk about the relational consumer.

  1. Relational customers consider today’s transaction to be one in a long series of many future purchases. They are looking less for a product than for a store in which to buy it.
  2. Their only fear is of making a poor choice. Relational shoppers will purchase as soon as they have confidence. Will your store and your staff give them the confidence they seek?
  3. They don’t enjoy the process of shopping and negotiating.
  4. Relational shoppers are looking principally for an expert they can trust.
  5. They consider their time to be part of the purchase price.
  6. Confident that they have found “the right place to buy,” relational shoppers are very likely to become repeat customers.

Sound familiar? If so, you are most likely a relational advertiser!

Stop by the seminar or give me a call if you’re wondering what your next promotion should be. We can tell your story better than anyone else.

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Sunday, October 19th, 2008

How to survive a recession

This week in High Point, North Carolina, furniture retailers from around the country will be asking, “How do I survive this recession?” Come find out what’s working on Tuesday at 2:30 pm in the 12th floor resource center.

There are actually six things- no, seven things your family business can do in a recession. The first is to undersand that there are two types of shoppers, transactional shoppers and relational shoppers. Together we will explore both, and I’ll post more about them later this week.

Here are five traits for transactional shoppers.

  1. They live for today’s transaction and give little thought to the possibility of future purchases.
  2. Their only fear is paying more than they have to. Transactional shoppers are looking for price and value. (PE-P=V)
  3. They enjoy the process of comparing and negotiating and will likely shop at several stores before making their decision to purchase.
  4. Transactional shoppers do their own research and don’t need the help of an expert. Consumer Reports are published primarily for the transactional shopper.
  5. Because they enjoy the process, transactional shoppers don’t consider their time spent shopping to be part of the purchase price.

Sound familiar? If so, you are most likely a transactional advertiser!

If you’re wondering what your next promotion should be, contact me. R&A Marketing has the best solutions in the furniture industry.

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Saturday, October 11th, 2008

Social Media

Foul language shouldn’t be needed to make your position clear.

No one has ever accused me of of being a prude. In fact, just the opposite is more likely the case.

The use of bottom rung slang is no longer my style. Today’s post is an exception because, after an exhaustive search, I’ve not been able to find another way to better explain this new style of marketing.

Today I met with Rex Williams and Keith Miller to discuss Keith’s website, book store and most importantly his upcoming book. We talked at length about ideas.

Thanks goes out to Rex WIlliams for the courage to finally make the post. I’ve been saving it for weeks because of the foul language.

As for the bad language, I’m truly sorry. Get over it!

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Saturday, October 4th, 2008

Retail Downer

After reading the September newsletter from furniture guru Jerry Epperson I wondered if death were a better option than retail.

Jerry is typically easy on the ears and his market presentations, while interesting, are typically a rewrapped repeat of his previous words of wisdom.

The industry clamors to hear him speak.

His newsletter didn’t talk about the meteoric changes sweeping through the industry. It wasn’t chock full of nuggets of research data to act upon. It didn’t provide a single ray of hope for small business owners. Depressing!?

To me, he suggested only the lucky will survive and the rest will simply be gone.

His diatribe makes me think about something more basic, something that feels to me like eternal, ancient wisdom: the age-old, secret formula for success in customer relationships and communication.

This long lost secret is kept alive by powerfully portraying situations with carefully chosen words. Someone once said, “This price of clarity is the risk of offense.” Words start wars, and end them. Words create love and hate alike, they make us double over in laughter, and crawl deeply under the covers all alone to sob.

Get your “word” act in order. It’s important. Don’t just say or write things for the sake of filling the space or the time; speak to change the world, even if it’s one life at a time.

Face it. As far as the vast majority of customers are concerned, it’s all about the bottom line. Their bottom line – not ours.

There used to be an old media equation of placing advertising in appropriate places, with appropriate budgets, hoping someone will see it, hear it and read it. This just doesn’t cut it any longer. Retailers know this. Retailers want marketers, and customers want stores, who are able to speak their language, understand their issues and fight the good fight right next to them in the trenches to gain sales, share and market dominance.

I wonder, in this day and age of communication, why people of great influence don’t spend a little more time choosing their words.

The pink shaded sky seen through rose colored glasses won’t help stores pay their bills, but as Bill Cosby said, “”Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept on working.”

Want to take on the world? Call me!

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Wednesday, August 27th, 2008

A Tale of Two Brains or Three?

It has been said men likely think with their head, rarely think with their hearts, and sometimes even think with their…

I wonder which brain locks in on the same-old-same-ole advertising ideas. Who’s run this? Have you seen this somewhere else? What terms make it work best? Should the warning signs be yellow, or should we use stop sign red?

These are NOT made up questions. These are asked weekly.

Below is the response to a real client situation. Hang in there. You might get a really good idea.

IQ- Impact Quotient is simply an ads power to deliver its intended results. The impact quotient of an ad is certainly affected by outside issues. Ads don’t deliver in a vacuum. (You know this.) A few things to keep in mind are product purchase cycle, media delivery vehicle, share of voice, etc…

Here is an example of each:

Restaurants verses furniture stores is the first. We humans need three squares a day at least, and we buy a new set of bedding once every 10-15 years. Regardless of the quality of message visa vies IQ the impact of the restaurant ad will happen quicker. It is not likely a person is going longer than several hours without food, but even if your mattress is bad you’ve slept there for years and another several nights won’t matter.

The store has to decide between newspaper and radio. They decide because they read the newspaper each day, “their customers do as well.” But we know the customer only reads the special food section on Thursdays and advise radio as the best option for the campaign. The radio campaign would start Monday and play 4x per day 6a-5p. (We know MMJ is a radio listener of course.) So by the weekend the NP ad has made 1 impression if the entire customer base read the paper, while the radio would have played 20 times and probably reaches a 3 or 4 (impressions) in the market.

Share of voice is the last example I’ll give you. Hometown Furniture decides they are going to run their annual ½ off the warehouse sale next week. The event if studied closely has been losing sales volume each year for the last 3 years, but the volume is better than thinking-up some new event that might be untested, so they just keep on running it. Cool! But the same week the competition decides they are going to running a store remodeling event at the same time. The store remodeling company spends 20% more than Hometown the same week and although the events both feature terms, and discounts the 20% extra promotion drowns out the ½ off warehouse promotion.

Urgent messages making “a limited time offer” raise the impact quotient for customers who are currently consciously in the market for the product, but the lower the impact quotient for customers who are not currently in the market. The brain is a very smart organ. It refuses to store information that isn’t relevant. Therefore, you cannot establish a long-term brand position with a series of short-term “limited time offers.” The only thing that will be remembered long-term is “never buy from these people unless they’re having a sale.”

Also remember the eyes and ears are not only separate organs, but also connected to entirely separate parts of the brain that gather, process, store and retrieve memories in entirely different ways. One commonly held myth is that we remember “more of what we see than what we hear.” In fact, the opposite is true. Visual memory is fragile, but auditory memory is involuntary and long-term. This is why we can sing along with more than 2,000 songs we never wanted to know.

Far more important than your choice of media is your choice of message. I realize as an old advertising guy you might believe research into the “right” media is as important as message. I simply disagree. A furniture store can only handle a maximum of 120 ups per sales person per month. So in the case of a store like Hometown that might have 15 salespeople on the floor, they only need 1800 visitors. I believe a well crafted message is far more likely to get Ms. Jones to the store. Hype terms and discounts combined with limited time offers, or mass flight TV or radio schedules, or double truck newspaper ads won’t move a person an inch who isn’t already interested in the product.

Regardless of the offer Ms. Jones isn’t going to jump up and suddenly decide she must have a sofa this weekend! The right message delivered over the right buying cycle results in long-term growth of sales.

As you can see, there is no perfect answer. The choices that yield the greatest results today will likely yield the lowest results long-term. And the most monotonous thing in the short run is the most powerful thing in the long run.

But that’s just how life is, isn’t it?

Writer’s note: The information here has been gathered over the past 11 years studying at The Wizard Academy in Austin, Texas. If you’re feeling drawn to learn more and want to get it straight from the horse’s mouth, check out the Magical Worlds Communications Workshop. For $3,000 plus travel you’ll be able to experience this study for yourself. I’ll tell you one thing; life sure begins to look different once you understand these principles.

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Monday, July 28th, 2008

Business Unusual:

This evening seems simply surreal. I’m in Las Vegas preparing to speak to a number of independent furniture store owners at World Market Center.

Generational transfer is the topic of the presentation. While reviewing notes it was striking to re-read the results of the watershed Raymond Institute report on family business planning.

Here are three percentages on the same subject that show a real lack of understanding; 19% of family business participants have not completed any estate planning other than writing a will; only 37% have written a strategic plan; and over 60% are very positive about their company’s future.

These small percentages combined with the pie-in-the-sky “very positive” outlook seem fitting for Sin City. The gamble these business leaders are taking is mind boggling. It’s about as funny as Wayne Brady in “Making It Up.” You’ve got to be %@#* me!

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