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A new advertising approach for the new decade.

So, here we are at the dawn of a brand new decade. And what a difference ten years makes. In 1980, the Berlin Wall was still intact and the lines were clearly drawn between East and West; today, the "Wicked Empire" is crumbling and Americans are proudly sporting Soviet army watches. In the firearms industry, we've seen several mainline manufacturers either go belly-up, change hands or reorganize during the past ten years, and we've all seen the paramilitary surge of the early 80s become a highly charged "good gun/bad gun" issue just ten years later.

Even marketing and advertising have changed during the 80s, from the first tentative experimentation with television commercials for feminine hygiene products to the current plethora of TV ads for tampons, douches and even birth control devices. Hell, I heard the other day that some dude in Texas is beginning to market red, white and blue condoms in a package that looks like a stealth bomber. Now that should be an interesting TV commercial.

What's the object of this history exercise? Just this: times change. And if a retailer hopes to prosper during the new decade, so must he change, too. The attitudes and practices that worked during the 80s might not be viable anymore. Paramount among the methods a retailer might look to change or at least reevaluate is the way he or she handles advertising and promotion. I'm not advocating change for the sake of change, nor am I suggesting anything as revolutionary as offering free Stealth condoms with each firearms purchase. What I am suggesting is the cultivation of a more open-minded approach toward the way you promote, how much you promote, how you create your advertising materials, and where you run your ads. In line with that new open-minded attitude, here are a few random thoughts that might help determine which areas of your advertising need changing and that might provide an inkling about how those changes can be affected.

Keep Your Copy

Conversational

Most retail advertising copy is deadline boring and agonizingly stilted. When you write your ad copy, try to imagine that you're speaking to just one customer right across the counter. You want your copy to read just like a one-on-one conversation, not like something out of a tech manual or a high school English text.

Beware The Desktop

Monster

The amazing new desktop publishing software, together with the excellent laser printers and scanners that are almost daily becoming more affordable, can be both a boon and a bane for retailers. "Desktop" provides retailers with an outstanding opportunity to bring more of the advertising creative function in-house, thus controlling both cost and content a little better. But, only if the user understands both the system and the basics of sound advertising design. Without the knowledge of how a good ad should look, what kind of typefaces should and shouldn't be used together and what font is the most readable, even the best desktop package can't make a poorly designed ad look good. In other words, garbage by any other name is still garbage. That's all easily remedied, though, with proper schooling in the use of the equipment and some classes through a local community college in basic advertising design. With that training, a good computer and the right desktop publishing software can open all kinds of new opportunities.

Just Say "Thanks"

Want a simple promotional tool that's guaranteed to build customer loyalty? Every day, call a couple of your customers on the phone and say: "Thanks for your business." So simple, it's scary, isn't it? Thank them for their recent purchase, ask how that new rifle or shotgun worked that they bought a year or so ago, or remind them that you've got a good stock of factory ammo, reloading equipment and accessories. Be sure to tell them about new merchandise you have in stock or about any specials you're currently running. Call in the evening if necessary, but make your couple of calls every day. It means a little extra effort on your part but it really works ! Rewrite, Rewrite,

Rewrite ... Then Rewrite

Again

Want to make sure your ad copy is clear, concise and free of errors? There's no such thing as too much rewriting and proofreading. Noted author James Thurber rewrote each of his pieces as many as eight or nine times before submitting them. When you're proofing copy, check for words like no and not, and scrutinize the text for similar words used incorrectly like to and two, its and it's, then and than, your and you're. It could save you some embarrassment.

More Help With Co-op

Yes, I do push the use of manufacturers' co-op advertising programs ad nauseam. But I only do it because I really believe in the value of co-op for local retailers. Becky Maddy of the NASGW National Association of Sporting Wholesalers) noted my advocacy of co-op advertising in a couple of my columns, so she sent me a sample of the co-op directory published by her organization and a very nice letter asking if I would apprise my readers of its availability. Okay, Becky, I'm doing it. This really is a very good source book for any shooting sports retailer looking for available co-op funds. It lists almost two hundred manufacturers that offer co-op programs, and it provides a thumbnail sketch of each. The CO-OP DIRECTORY is available for 10 from:
 NASGW
 PO Box 11344
 Chicago, IL 60611
 (312)565-0233


Better Direct Mail

Sending a simple monthly newsletter instead of a sale flier can make your direct mail efforts more successful. A newsletter is more personal, creates more of a feeling of urgency, and allows you to include more newsworthy information in the same amount of space. Try it and see. While you're at it, make sure you distribute copies of your newsletters in your store as well as through the mail, and be sure all the outdoor editors and shooting and sportsmen's clubs in your area are on your mailing list.

A Contest With A Payoff

A couple of months ago I told you about the "Longest Pheasant Feather" contest sponsored by Butch Dominicki at B&B Shooting Supplies in Bettendorf, Iowa. Butch got great mileage out of this simple promotion. A recent Sunday newspaper featured a nice photo of Butch awarding a Remington 11-87 to the contest winner with an excellent accompanying article. For the cost of a shotgun and some simple fliers, Butch received press coverage that was worth a great deal more than what he actually spent. Now that's a good promotion ! I recently saw the results of a survey of shooting sports retailers in which most respondents indicated very little interest in trying any new kinds of promotion or advertising. Of the dealers polled, 20% said they didn't advertise at all. I'd like to see current figures on the number of gun dealers who go belly-up each year. I'll bet it's at least 20%.
COPYRIGHT 1990 Publishers' Development Corporation
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1990 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:gun shop advertising
Author:Grueskin, Robert
Publication:Shooting Industry
Article Type:column
Date:Mar 1, 1990
Words:1161
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