With the decline of traditional media, many bricks-n-mortar retailers have become desperate to reach new customers – and remind old customers that they still exist. Shops who built their business on phone book, newspaper, radio or television advertising are paying a premium to reach a smaller and smaller audience. This smaller audience means fewer people visiting or telling others about their store and fewer sales. It also means that retailers aren’t adding as much value to the brands that they carry.
Rather than turning to digital media, however, many traditional retailers have resorted to old, old school tactics – reminiscent of carnival barkers or pre-printing press promotions. Once proud retailers now have swarthy looking folks waving signs on the side of the road, tempting those driving by to make a U-turn and rush into their store. Some put signs on vehicles and form a caravan, which travels 10 miles below the speed limit at rush hour to reach/annoy potential customers. It’s both comical and sad – serving as a testament to the marketing crisis faced by retailers.
Why? Why do retailers run away from the cheapest, most targeted and effective way of reaching new customers – towards becoming a sideshow in their local markets? Why do they avoid people who are actively looking for what they have to offer online – who just need to know they exist? Where does the reluctance to embrace digital marketing and e-commerce come from?
For some, it’s a result of misinformation about digital advertising from traditional media outlets and agencies. Since they make more money from traditional ad spending, many have made it a crusade to slander the effectiveness of online marketing. Traditional media has persuaded many to avoid reaching out to online consumers. They’d point to the complexity, early results of untargeted display ads and a multitude of other real or imagined issues to discourage online spending. Ironically, this viewpoint has brought many retailers and their media partners to the brink of bankruptcy.
For others, the fault for not engaging consumers online lies with the “digital marketers” that interact with brink-n-mortar retailers. In this young profession, there are those who profit from and depend upon your lack of knowledge. There are those who were drafted from the IT departments to generate online sales – who know nothing of marketing or sales. There are those who are skilled at selling their services to you but not your products to consumers. Over time, this has caused poor results and frustration which has turned off retailers who would otherwise succeed online.
Those who know how to effectively engage and convert online consumers, however, aren’t likely to fit into the price structure or culture of most traditional retailers. Many have started successful e-retail businesses or do quite well working with web-only retailers. They understand online markets and how consumers behave online. Armed with knowledge, processes and skepticism of common wisdom – they’re working to put even more pressure on retailers who reject new media. This work pays well! With each conversion, they are giving consumers one more reason not to visit your store.
Where can traditional retailers turn? One option is to start with planning and analysis developed by those who’ve actually built and managed profitable e-retail businesses. Find realistic opportunities contained within your local markets, broader markets and product niches. Then, get a detailed plan on how to engage these markets and generate profitable revenue. These professionals know what to expect and what to avoid in meeting your online goals. They understand e-retail technology and processes – along with business objectives and consumers. They’ll provide a blueprint that can be implemented and managed by lower cost professionals.
Analysis and planning for e-retailers is what we do. We’ve helped clients to become Top 500 and Top 1,000 e-Retailers. We’ve accomplished this with companies selling products for those least likely to be online. We’ve done it during a recession and we’ve done it within narrow, highly competitive niches. We can help your company to do great things. If you want to get serious about engaging your online markets, we’d welcome the opportunity to speak with you.