Fields of Failure: Build it and They Will Come January 1, 2012Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Uncategorized.
Tags: business growth, business strategy, David Dirks, dirks on strategy, marketing strategy, promotion
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Local business owner decides it’s time to make a capital investment into their business and expand it one one fashion or another. The banker is called in and they evaluate the loan package. The banker’s first pass: will they be able to pay us back for the loan? Of course, this is a good question for any loan. All the ratio’s are calculated and analyzed in depth. Cash flow calculations are made and discussed throughly. The numbers are crunched and the loan is deemed approved by the higher powers at the bank. All’s good right?
In most cases the answer is no, things are not good. Why? I can’t tell you how many businesses have been loaned money only to see the expansion fail and the loan gone defunct. What could go wrong when all the right ratio’s where calculated and the cash flows necessary to pay the loan back deemed appropriate?
Plenty. First and foremost, how much of the loan was set aside for marketing and promotion for the new expansion? In too many cases that I’ve observed, there was little or no appropriation for marketing and promotional expenses.
Build it and they will come? Not.
You spend time, effort and money on expanding your capacity to conduct more business and no one will know about it. So focused and intense was the effort to make sure the expansion gets built right that marketing and promotion is pretty much an afterthought.
If your banker isn’t hounding you about what your marketing and promotional plan is for your great expansion, they aren’t doing their job. If you don’t dedicate a healthy amount of your loan proceeds for marketing, then you aren’t doing your job.
Here are two takeaways:
1. Every project, expansion or new build, takes longer to build and usually costs more than we plan for. We end up with a finished project but with little or no money for marketing and promoting it.
2. As a rule of thumb, look to allocate and reserve at least 15 to 20% of your capital investment for marketing and promotional expenses. If you end up spending that allocation because of cost overruns, you’d better figure out how to get the promotion done on a shoe string.
3. Develop your marketing and promotional plan before the project work for the expansion begins.
What Did You Do Today? April 14, 2011Posted by David Dirks in business strategy.
Tags: business strategy, buzz marketing, David Dirks, dirks on strategy, Global leadership, market differentiation, marketing strategy, promotion
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On my way into lower Manhattan each day, it seems that the Girl Scouts are everywhere. Not that Girl Scouts are hanging around the Path train station. Rather, the signage of their current branding and recruitment campaign is everywhere.
You just have to love this campaign. It positions the Girls Scouts as a modern looking, leadership bound, outside experience, and girl power organization while at the same time it works as a recruitment tool for both potential scouts and leaders.
What did you do today? Just the line itself pulls you inward and makes your think…just what did I do today that helped me and my community? It’s a powerful use of both imagery and words that strikes a deep cord…at least to me and perhaps many others who trudge everyday into the bowels of Manhattan…spending hours each week just moving in and out of the Big Apple.
I particularly like the global image being projected here. That the Girl Scouts are not just a USA thing. The Girl Scouts embrace world cultures and religions. It’s a statement of both openness and a welcoming nature. It’s a celebration of women, both older and younger, sharing in the spirit of learning, community, leadership, ambition, and experience.
From a branding point of view, this campaign is a textbook example the simplicity and power of imagery married with meaningful, powerful statement. Clean and simple.
What did you do today?
PS: They cleverly launched this campaign during the annual Girl Scout cookies sale. Very clever indeed.
Promotion 101: Educate Your Customers March 18, 2009Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies.
Tags: buzz marketing, promotion, promotional strategies, retail promotion
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I always like to review my local paper to see how businesses are handling their display advertising. I almost all cases, most ads are of the plain vanilla type that your eyes just gloss over. However, there was one ad that caught my attention. It caught my attention because it was offering to do something more than sell me something.
What was this ad? It was from a local paint store called Gervic Paints (www.gervicpaints.com). They were promoting a seminar called “2009 Colors for Your Home”. They were promoting something other than the ‘sale of the week’. They offered door prizes and refreshments. I later found out that my wife and one of her friends had already signed up for this event.
I’m willing to bet that there will be many interested customers (and potential customers) there and many will walk away with some great insights and ideas for painting their homes. That’s the idea. We’ve been telling this story in this blog for a while now. Sell your expertise in a way that is meaningful and valuable and people will buy your product.
It’s refreshing to see a local business actually promoting itself by promoting it’s expertise.
Beating the Recession Webinar Now Available! January 2, 2009Posted by David Dirks in A New Webinar!, business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Increasing Your Profitability, Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Public Relations Strategies, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
Tags: business growth, business profitability, business stability, growth, marketing, marketing pr, marketing webinar, promoting your business, promotion, public relations, recession strategies, revenues, sales, sales webinar
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You’ve asked for it and now we’re offering it…
If there was one webinar that you could attend and spend a few bucks on, this is the one. With business conditions as they are, you can either choose to ignore it or do something about it. This 5-hour webinar is designed to help you impact those marketing and sales issues that you can control…and there’s a lot you can control!
We’ve designed this webinar to be jam-packed with actionable marketing and sales strategies that are designed to move your business forward and keep it moving in any economy!!
For registration information, go to:
Note: There is a significant discount for those who sign up before 1/23/09…don’t miss out on that.
Retailer Strategies: Beating the Big Boxes December 20, 2008Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
Tags: beating a recession, business strategy, increasing revenues, market differentiation, marketing, promotion, public relations, sales, sales strategy, Sales Tactics
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A regular reader of our blog, a marketing director of a two-store retail operation, recently sent me this note:
“I have stumbled across your site via Google, and have found many useful tips, and ideas to use in our day to day operations with my previous employer in the retail industry.
I am now in the retail world, and although similar in the “customer focused industry”. I am finding it harder to come up with ideas to draw in foot traffic for our unique, upscale home & garden boutique. We capture e-mails & information, send out mass e-mails with flyers, intimate wine & cheese events that have a store wide sale during that event. I’m in the process of creating a newsletter for launch Jan 1, and our owners are constantly running a sale of some sort (which I think devalues the product if there is a 15-25% off sale every day).
Do you think you can help? I need something that will create a buzz quickly, our owners want fast results…”
I called her and we had a nice chat. For the most part, she is doing many things already that will pay bigger dividends as time goes on. She’s new to the retailer she works for now and has some excellent marketing skills. After our conversation, I sent her an email recapping some of my thoughts.
I thought you might find them helpful, so I’ve added my summary to her below:
Thanks again for taking the time to chat with me today. We’re glad that you’ve found the “Running with the Big Dogz” blog helpful to you.
I thought it would be good just to quickly recap a few items we discussed:
- It seems that you are already creating additional customer value by developing your newsletter and adding other ‘event’s’ to your store schedule.
- Increasing the number customers that are added weekly to the customer database will become more critical as time goes on. I would recommend capturing all customers, even those who are from out of town. You can still send them an electronic version of your newsletter if the newsletter is packed with tips & advice on gardening, basic skills, etc. The out-of-town customers will be your internet customers of the future.
- Your strategic advantage against the big box competitors in your market is your ability to drill down to the customer level. The big boxes have no customer level tracking whatsoever. If you capture POS data for every customer, you’ll soon have a treasure trove of demographic and buying data that will help you refine your product/service set as well as target very customized offers to your customers based on their historical buying habits.
- Web-based sales should be a high priority and acceleration of for expanding sales/service via the internet is key. You indicated that they had already begun some minor commercial expansion of the website but I would make it a much higher priority than it is. Internet sales may or may not overtake your in-store sales but the goal is to add incrementally profitable revenue streams.
- Your ‘girls night out’ program sounds excellent and we discussed creating a similar package for the men too.
- I highly recommend reducing or cutting completely any marketing spend on flyers or ads in free distribution periodicals. As I noted, it might be better to spend that money on more ‘one-to-one’ marketing programs like your demographically target events, targeted direct mail offers, and more investment in commercializing your website.
- We also discussed the alternative of possibly empowering your sales team to offer an instant X% discount for buyers who need just a slight push to make the sale that day. It may be a much more constructive way to offer a discount ONLY IF NECESSARY to keep a customer from walking out. It might be more effective than the constant “gotta sell everything today at a discount” mentality. The caveat is that if the “deep” discounting works and your profit margins remain stable, then it may make sense to keep doing it.
- To get more mileage from your PR marketing efforts, especially for your special events, I’d call and develop a relationship with the business editors at the major paid circulation newspapers and other periodicals.
- One of the best ways to help ‘sell’ a marketing proposal is focusing on the benefits (not the features of the program) and use real examples from other high performing businesses to demonstrate that the concept has a track record of success.
Based on what I heard today, you are on the right track and are doing the things that will provide you with the recession-resistent flow of business. It will take time but it will come. Keep up the great work!
Have a burning marketing and/or sales issue? Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and see if together we can come up with some ways to solve it.
Driving Retail Sales: Groo’s Shoes October 22, 2008Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, Local Brand Development, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
Tags: cross promotion, driving sales traffic, marketing, marketing strategy, promotion, retail sales, sales, sales strategy
If you read this blog long enough, you’ll get the hint that creating a growing and profitable business comes down to creating a business that can differentiate itself from the competition. If I had one key word to describe the process of marketing and selling, ‘differentiate’ would be all the word I’d need. The Big Dogz know how imperative it is to keep creating and refining the ways you can differentiate your business from the crowd. The only crowd you want is the one that will beat a path to your door.
I make it a habit to scan my local paper, The Times Herald-Record (www.recordonline.com) to see what kinds of advertising creative and marketing campaigns are out there. Just today, I found a local shoe retailer who’s been in the business for many, many years with their latest ad. When I saw it, I immediately said to myself, “That’s the kind of event that helps to position a local store like Groo’s Shoes in a different light with its customers.” And create new ones.
Like many local hometown stores, Groo’s has to compete successfully against giants like Kohl’s and Target. Groo’s probably knows that it cannot compete soley on price against the giant chains. What the ad below shows is clearly an effort to create the kind of shopping experience that you can’t find in the big boxes.
So here is a local store that gets it. As I scanned the pages of the newspaper, this ad just naturally popped out. It was located in a sea of similar sized ads but stood out and looks to be a great event that might just create traffic to their store. The point is, they are making the right effort to create differentiation in a tough retail market.
While that is all good, there are a few things missing here. The website doesn’t promote the event! To get the most mileage from your advertising, you’ve got to integrate all of your marketing together. Your ads promote not only the event, but should push customers and prospects to the website for more information. Maybe a special offer only available on the website but connected to the “Girl’s Night Out” would have been a great way to leverage the marketing tools that Groo’s already has available.
Other than that, this is a classic example of creating unique events to drive store traffic. The enticement of free High School Musical 3 movie tickets is a great tie-in. If they keep on track and continue to create events like these (not like the usual ‘sales days’ crap you see most often), they will continue to build their local brand. Good stuff.
Beating a Recession – 5 October 1, 2008Posted by David Dirks in Recession: How to Beat It!.
Tags: beating a recession, business promotion, marketing, outdoor shops, promotion, public relations, recession, sales, sport shops
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Every person who owns and/or runs a small business should take a marketing/public relations course. Why? Quite frankly, most just can’t or don’t take advantage of a multitude of marketing pr opportunities to help promote and grow their businesses.
Let me pick on one group in particular here: Sport shops. You know, the kind that sell fishing supplies, hunting rifles, ammo, and other outdoor equipment you need. Most are the first to complain about how the ‘big box’ shops have hurt their business, blah, blah. Or they complain about the economy or how state regulations have hurt their business and on and on. It’s enough to make your ears bleed.
You know what the truth is ? They don’t do anything to really promote their shops. They don’t hold any educational seminars at the shop or elsewhere. They don’t create public events that would promote their shop and drive traffic. They just sit there waiting for the angler or hunter to drive up and hopefully buy something. If they do hold public events, they fail to tell anyone. It’s quite pathetic.
What the ‘big boxes’ have learned to do is to create events that educate and draw the public into the store. They hold a multitude of educational seminars and bring in expert speakers to do so. The ‘big boxes’ know the value of marketing public relations events. They seek to create something so that not a week goes by that there isn’t something going on that appeals to one outdoor group or another.
How do I know these small sport shops, which are scattered all around the landscape of this great country, stink at creating these kinds of opportunities? Well, I write an weekly outdoor column (I turned a hobby into a business and another marketing opportunity!) and I can count on my hands how many times I’ve been approached by a shop with an idea. Or how many times I’ve received a press release or flyer from a local sports shop. How many times? I only need one finger on one hand to count them and I’ve been writing this column since 1999.
Let me give you an example. Not long ago, a gun shop changed hands with a new owner. I only knew that because one day I noticed the sign had changed from “Bob’s Gun Exchange” to “Rix Gun Exchange”. Bob decided to retire and sell the business which he had run for many years. Now, here I am, the outdoor writer of a weekly outdoor column…do you think the new owner would reach out and let me know that he’s the new owner? Nope. Not a call or an email. Like duh (as my teenagers will say)? How can you be in an outdoor sports business…selling guns in this case…and not call or email the outdoor writer? How about telling the outdoor writer you are hosting an event? I don’t know if he has hosted an event. I just don’t get it. Are they waiting for me to come into the store? I doubt it. Perhaps business is so good that they don’t need any promotion. Possible. I don’t know. What I do know is that I haven’t heard from them since they took over two years ago. Like duh.
The ‘big box’ stores send me updates on events they are hosting every month. Those get into my column each week.
I don’t mean to pick on sports shops only. You could substitute just about any other small business and still make the same point. If you’re in business, who should you be talking to that can help promote your business? What kinds of events can your create every month to promote your business? Don’t just sit there, do something!!!!
PS: My outdoor column is published weekly in the Times Herald-Record or you can view it online at http://www.recordonline.com and go to the Sports section and find me there.
Making Promotional Signage Work June 5, 2008Posted by David Dirks in Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
Tags: marketing, marketing collateral, marketing signs, promotion, promotional signage, signage, signs
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The other day I’m driving to work and slow traffic had me passing by a series of promotional signs stuck into the side of the road. You know the signs…they are those small type of ‘election’ signs you frequently see around election time. I call them ‘roadside signage’. As I slowly pass the sign, I strain to read what it says. I can’t. And there’s enough copy in the sign to create a book chapter.
Here’s the challenge: someone spent probably a few hundred dollars on signs with the idea that they could cheaply promote their business to the thousands of cars that pass by that intersection every day. The only problem is that no one can read them. I have no clue what kind of business it is or even the name of it. I could see that it had a phone number at the bottom but again, I couldn’t read it. And who thought I would have the ability to write it down if I could see it?
What I’ve just noted above is not uncommon. Years of observations (marketers are always on the lookout for marketing collateral) have led me to believe that nearly 95% of small roadside signage is poorly thought out and executed. The other issue I have is that roadside signage is clearly mass-market oriented, with no targeting of customers whatsoever. You have absolutely no control on who sees your signage or not.
What attracts business owners to this medium is the idea that, for a few hundred bucks, you can place signage at highly traveled locations and everyone will see them. What they see is a blur to them. The truth is, only on the rare occasion will you get even a call from that kind of signage and usually when they can stop and get out of their car to write down the phone number.
This morning, after dropping the kids off at school, I pass a little fenced-in sports complex that some coach is building a sports coaching business on. He provides your tike with additional soccer, baseball, softball, teeball, etc. coaching to make them better athletes. He signs, although larger than the election sign, was handwritten with either crayon or marker. Oh, and almost impossible to read as you drive by.
So here’s a business owner who decided to go the cheap route and have one of his kids make his signage. Cute but highly ineffective for his business. It’s also a poor way to represent your business to those that may actually be able to read the sign.
So, here are a couple of summary points on roadside signage:
- If you can find a more effective way to target your customer base, then do it and skip roadside signage. Just because its relatively cheap and gets you in front of lots of cars doesn’t mean the phone will ring. More than likely it will not make the phone ring or at least not often enough to justify the time and expense of creating them. For the sports coach, probably passing out special offer flyers to parents attending their kids baseball, soccer or other games would probably be much more effective. That’s a better way to target those who would be most interested in his services for their kids.
- If you insist on doing roadside signage to promote your business make sure people can quickly read the info. Keep it to what your services or products your selling and a phone number. Less copy is much more effective. Why people feel they have to cram as much copy as they can onto a small space that speeding cars will not be able to see anyway, boggles my mind.
- Whatever you think you saved by using roadside signage to get to the ‘people’, you lost when you do the math on how much actual business in brought into the door. While there is the rare exception, generally roadside signage doesn’t deliver the results to justify the cost.
There are much more effective ways to market and promote your business than a roadside sign. Direct mail, public relations promotions, and alliances or partnerships with other businesses who already cater to the types of customers who buy your product or service are examples of this.