It’s Not About Perfection

Every year brings change to the advertising business. In fact, the only constant in the advertising arena is change itself!

Just as our business has been altered, so has business for your local retailer. As individuals, parents and families react and adjust lifestyles, so, too, does your local retailer react and adjust to changing shopping needs (and opportunities) of consumers and customers.

Most likely your market’s economy is undergoing significant transition. It’s evolving! Whether that evolution is short-term (30, 60, 90 days) or long term retailers feel its pinch. Business is tough to get.

During times of rapid change, your local retailers question common practices and routines — the so-called conventional wisdom. They’re reexamining values and priorities. More likely than not one of those areas being reexamined by your local retailer is the importance of advertising.

Let’s briefly polish off some time-tested truths about the value of teaching your retailers and advertisers to keep their name in front of the shopping public. Let’s take a second look at the importance of advertising.

Some of your community’s retailers may cut back or even eliminate their advertising due in part to slow sales. They feel they cannot afford to advertise or that everyone knows about their business — what they carry. They convince themselves that word of mouth is their best advertising vehicle. They delude themselves into a passive posture, waiting to see what their customers will do. Wrong way to go!

The truth, the whole truth, nothing but the truth . . .

  • In good times or bad times, fast or slow, retailers need to maintain a constant presence in the community. This can best be achieved through advertising, which in essence is simply creating a public awareness of who you are and what you do, what goods and services you sell! Every day of every week there is a relatively small number of buyers in the market for a particular product or service. AND this group of buyers constantly changes — individuals who are actively seeking a particular product or service and those making unplanned purchases and service requests. Because this group of consumers changes, it’s important they be familiar with a particular retailer or service provider. It’s called “top-of-the-mind awareness.” Remind your advertisers that these buyers are looking for guidance, not just goods and services. And that guidance is an important part of the buying process. That guidance in the form of advertising comes either from your retailer . . . or a competitor.
  • Once a consumer decides to commit to purchase a product or service, she begins seeking information about that product or service, its value and price, plus its availability in your community. She needs information, information that helps her make intelligent, informed, safe (safe to invest) choices. ALL of this necessary information coupled with motivation comes through advertising. That advertising comes either from your retailer . . . or a competitor.
  • Just as individuals enter and leave the buying arena, so do existing customers and those all-important new customers. Existing customers may go away inasmuch as they no longer need your retailer’s products and services. Likewise, former customers have known your retailer, but may have forgotten his competitive advantages. Something as simple as street address or store hours requires reinforcement. Last but not least, your retailer may think that because of his many years in the community he sees little value in regular advertising. Remind this “old timer” that your community continues to change. It’s forever evolving with new residents. And existing residents relocate and with their relocation shopping habits change. It’s exactly these residents who offer your retailer the opportunity to replace lost customers with new potential for growth. Creating top-of-the-mind awareness through advertising comes either from your retailer . . . or a competitor.

When your retailer first opened his business or began offering products and services, name recognition and top-of-the-mind awareness came only as a result of a consistent advertising program. Advertising is an investment in the growth of your retailer’s business. Advertising creates awareness by distributing information and pre-selling your retailer’s business. Eliminating or cutting back on the advertising investment, whether during good or bad times, surrenders your retailer’s growth potential to other retailers in the community.

In both good times and bad times retailers bid for a portion of your community’s attention (awareness), time and available dollars. Don’t allow another retailer to outbid you and your retailer!

Helping the retailers in your market create a public awareness of who they are and what they do or sell helps your community, your retailer, your newspaper and you GROW. Your newspaper best represents your community. Through a local news menu and advertising your newspaper becomes your community’s marketplace. Introduce your retailers to the benefits of regularly participating in your marketplace!

 © Murray & Nau, Inc.

Chuck Nau of Murray & Nau, Inc. is a Seattle area-based publishing consultant, sales and management trainer. He has been a speaker for and conducted advertising, marketing, management and sales training workshops with newspapers, niche publishers, publishing groups and press associations, throughout North America.

Comments and questions are welcome and may be directed to Chuck via or at (425) 603-0984.