A couple weeks ago I met with a guy who owns a discount store. It didn’t take too long to figure out this guy has pretty good head for business, so I enjoyed talking with him.
As we discussed his advertising, he said something that has stuck with me, and so I want to share it with you. He told me
he was sick and tired of all the advertising salespeople telling him to use coupon advertising to promote his business.
“I run a discount store” he said. “People come here because they know everything is already priced at a discount Why would I discount things even more?”
(It’s important to understand too that the selling points of this store are that they have quality products, a good variety, low prices and a nice clean store people feel comfortable shopping in.)
I had to agree with him. When you looked at it that way it didn’t sound like a great strategy. In fact, as I think about this conversation, a couple lessons come to mind.
Use the Right Tool for the Job
Using coupons to promote this discount store was simply the wrong approach. There are many ways to promote any business or product or service. But too often we get focused on only a few methods that seem to work in a lot of situations. We get lazy and we stop being creative. That’s when we start using a screwdriver to pound nails.
No matter what you do, don’t try to fit everyone’s problem or need to one simple solution. Every person, every business and every situation is different. You need to use the right tool for the job. To do otherwise wastes time and money and may brand you as less than professional.
Understand Why the Salesperson is there
If you buy from a lot of salespeople (as many of us do) find out why they’re working with you. Too many salespeople are there primarily for a commission. And they expect to earn that commission by selling you what they have available, whether it’s the right tool for your job or not (see above comment on tools).
I’m not suggesting all salespeople are this way. Thank goodness they’re not! But, if the salesperson you happen to be working with is primarily there to reduce his or her inventory (and reduce your bank balance at the same time), then be careful how much faith you put in what they say. Their motivations do not parallel yours.
The advertising salespeople mentioned above were selling what they had to offer. They seemed more focused on reducing their inventory of ad space than on helping this storeowner accomplish his marketing goals. As a result, they did not make a sale and the storeowner had to keep looking for ways to promote his store.
Fit Your Marketing to Your Business
This seems too obvious to mention but I’d be remiss if I did not. I’ve seen way too many marketing pieces and advertisements that either conflict with or do not connect with the business they’re promoting.
The discount store mentioned here is a classic example. Why would this storeowner want to promote his discount store by further discounting his products?
His value proposition is quality products, good variety, low prices and a nice clean store you feel comfortable shopping in. So, his marketing messages should reflect his value proposition.
Remember one of the basic rules of local marketing: use the strengths of your business (or your “value proposition”) to develop your message. Sell to your strengths!
Well that’s probably all the lessons we need to draw from this encounter. Don’t worry though, we’ll have more real soon so don’t stay away too long!