–Erin Allsman, APR – Managing Director
You know the story: retail is dead. News headlines chronicling this tale of woe leave us with visions of tumbleweeds rolling through Main Streets nationwide while shoppers click, tap and swipe away from their living rooms. Retailers are implementing new technologies, deeper data, better personalization, recommendation engines, social integration and all the bells and whistles today’s discerning consumer expects just to stay afloat.
The irony is that those getting ahead are navigating through the complexities of media, technology and our always-on lifestyle with a very simple approach: they know who they are and how their products or services enhance their customers’ lives. The rest is just distribution.
We know that consumers choose brands that enrich their lives, and those that provide a unique experience. The magic happens when we find the intersection between enriching lives, creating shareable experiences and offering the right product, at the right time, for the right price. We must adapt the conventional retail strategy to the digital age. It’s not an exact science, but there can be a method to madness:
Step 1: Build the brand. The old-fashioned way: stand for something that only you can claim. Distribute that message via broad-based, awareness-building, multi-channel media.
Step 2: Know what time it is. By layering in culturally and seasonally relevant time pegs across an annual calendar, you can capitalize on the triggers that make your customers more likely to engage (hint: it’s more than Black Friday).
Step 3: Up the ante. Align offers and promotions with the time pegs, incenting immediate action. Digital channels are key to driving consideration; clear demonstration of your brand’s lifestyle benefits within through digital storytelling will increase the likelihood that they will take action in-store or via e-commerce.
Step 4: Organize fun. Chances are, your product and promotion might still need a little push to make consumers come to you and share your content. Nothing says selfie like a special event, replete with rewards for social sharing and everyone’s favorite: free stuff.
Step 5: Act like a local. All of your hard work at the brand level will be for naught if it’s not clear that you understand your audience – your drilled-down, local trading area, “live-within-driving-distance” audience. Tailor your store and event experience to each area while keeping within your brand promise.
Step 6: Reflect and repeat. Use the data you’ve gathered to derive insights that will inform the next iteration of the program.
This programmatic approach will allow you to flex to new channels and technologies while not losing sight of the rigor and process behind a layered and nuanced communication plan. And perhaps spare your store an unwanted tumbleweed on its doorstep.