Smart advertising separates the eagles from the ducks.
Each year during the SHOT Show I talk to hundreds of retailers. The successful ones (the high flying eagles) are almost always well informed about industry trends and always anxious to learn new ways to increase sales and profit margins through more effective methods of merchandising, marketing, advertising and promotion. The ones who are unsuccessful and probably doomed to remain that way (the lowly ducks) could usually give a rat's backside about learning anything new about anything. Like my dad used to say: If it walks like a duck and talks like a duck, it's never gonna be anything but a duck.
So, for those of you who prefer to soar like eagles rather than waddle like ducks, allow me to share with you a few random thoughts about advertising and promotion -- thoughts that just might help you become a more successful retailer.
The growth of co-op advertising.
I've been known to ramble at length about the unwillingness of shooting sports retailers to take full advantage of co-op advertising. But, it looks like the benefits of using co-op are finally starting to penetrate the cranial cavities of more and more dealers. More manufacturers are offering co-op programs and most report increased use by their dealers; more retailers tell me that co-op is becoming a major part of their ad planning. On the other side of the coin, a lot of retailers continue to fumble the ball on co-op by being unfamiliar with the programs and procedures. Just read, fellas -- you'll find out how it works, what your deadlines are for filing claims, and the methods used by individual suppliers for paying claims. There are rules to every program, you know, but it's up to you to familiarize yourself with them and follow them if you hope to fully benefit.
Simple promotions still work best.
Butch Dominicki, proprietor of B&B Shooting Supplies in Bettendorf, Iowa is some kind of genius at putting together simple, low-cost promotions that work. I've reported on Butch's highly successful "Longest Pheasant Feather Contest" before. Now he's got a new one. His supplier of shotgun wads had been giving him small quantities of free hats with the company's logo to give away. But when Butch found that the hats were in higher demand than the wads, he weaseled more hats from his supplier, started selling the hats for $.50 more apiece than a bag of wads, and throwing in a free bag of wads for each hat purchased. He's actually selling the damn things by the carload and moving a ton of wads in the process. That's creative sales promotion at its best.
How much advertising is too much?
It's an age-old question in advertising: How much advertising is enough, too little or too much? Unfortunately, there's no simple answer. But most professional media buyers agree that a "three-plus" frequency level (that is, a target prospect being exposed to an ad or commercial at least three times during a campaign) is a minimum level. There are a lot of variables involved in determining just what it takes to achieve that level, but the one constant is the absolute necessity for any advertiser to understand the media data available to him so he can be better informed before he selects his media. Successful advertising is no accident. It takes a strong commitment on the part of the retailer to become a more knowledgeable advertiser.
Help for newspaper advertisers.
Looking for a source of information on newspaper advertising? Try contacting the NAB (Newspaper Advertising Bureau). It's a fully departmentalized national organization with an extensive menu of services which includes everything from providing all kinds of research data to the proper use of co-op advertising. For more information contact:
Newspaper Advertising Bureau, Inc.
1180 Avenue of the Americas
New York NY 10036
We all have our problems.
So you think gun dealers are the only small business owners who face the problems of "backyard dealers" and discount stores? Wrong-o pal! A small appliance dealer was telling me the other day how his business had been hurt by small in-home repairmen who were special ordering appliances and reselling them for just a couple of percentage points over cost -- and by big discount stores that sold major appliances for several dollars below his own cost. Talk about deja vu! But, by changing his methods a little he's still doing just fine. First, he's specializing in just a few well known, high demand major brands and he's completely eliminated those items from his inventory with which he just couldn't be price competitive and profitable at the same time. In other words, he narrowed his market and made his inventory more specialized. Then, he increased his advertising on the few brands he still sells (it's easier to promote three or four lines than it is nine or ten, and since his volume purchases from those few remaining suppliers are pretty substantial, his co-op allowances are also quite generous). He also promotes his superior service after the sale and his exceptional product knowledge. Listen and learn, fellas; this guy is the voice of almost thirty years of successful experience. If he's able to adapt, so can you.
The cable revolution.
Why are so many shooting sports retailers advertising on cable TV? Probably for the same reason so many major national advertisers have directed more ad dollars into cable: it's cost effective and it works. In a recent study published in Advertising Age Magazine, national advertising revenues on cable had increased 38.9% during the first half of 1989 compared to the same period the previous year. To put that in perspective, national revenues on commercial television both at the network and station level were up only 1.9% during the same period, and newspaper income increased by just 2.7%. Data like that is real food for thought.
So, for those of you who read the first part of this column with one eye open and the other half closed, I'll repeat a line I used earlier: Listen and learn, guys...listen and learn.
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|Title Annotation:||gun shop marketing and promotion|
|Date:||May 1, 1990|
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