Tricks of the Trade

From time to time I come across small nuggets of gold that, in and of themselves, really don’t lend themselves to a full blown column. Here are a couple of them.

The Importance Of “Why”
When I was in journalism classes at college back in the dark ages, the professors drilled students on the five “Ws plus How”. That stands for “who”, “what”, “when”, “where”, “why” and “how”. It made sense for good, accurate reporting.

It is also important to utilize these “honest serving men” in your retail business…especially the “why” component.

I have written on the importance on getting to the why in the selling process a number of times for FTR and don’t mean to re-plow the same field; still, getting to the why is also important in determining an advertising and marketing strategy, and it is all about why people buy from you.

Think of your own shopping habits and why you choose to shop where you do. Is it because you need something now and price isn’t as important as convenience? Is it because you know they will have what you are looking for?

The other day my wife had a need for pre-cut celery in water. She told me to go to a specific store which is normally a bit more expensive and further away than its competitors. Being the cheap skate that I am, I asked her why I couldn’t go to a closer store and get it at a better price. And why does it have to be pre-cut and in a water-filled container? Can’t I just get a stalk of celery?

Her answer? “Because I want it in a container (anyone married knows there are some things you don’t question), I don’t care what it costs or how much further away the store is. Just go there because I know they will have it.”

Now keep in mind that we’re only talking about a couple of bucks difference and only maybe a half mile travel distance for the celery but the “why” in this scenario is that she knew exactly what she wanted and that she knew that store would have it and…end of story. She didn’t care how much it cost, how much further away the store was or whatever. If mom is happy…everyone is happy.

Don’t Forget About The Lowly Postcard
While television, cable, and radio advertising may be glitzy, and social media and email are now mainstream, when it comes to promoting your store, don’t forget about the simple postcard.

While not overly exciting, mailing postcards to your existing customer data base or outside lists is still an effective, relatively inexpensive way to spread the word about your store in general, promote upcoming events and sales, and feature current products.

How cheap is a postcard mailing? It depends on what type of sized postcard you are going to send out. Here is a general breakdown.

Design: You or one of your staff can create a simple design using a click art program, manufacturer advertising slicks, downloaded website graphics, or work with one of the on-line postcard/flyer services for creative help. The cost is low, depending on how complex your design is. You can work with your local high school or community college to have students work on a design or, if you plan on using a local printer, tap into their expertise.

Estimated cost – $25.00

Printing: With high speed quality copying services easily accessible, producing a postcard isn’t expensive. You can purchase online 250 standard postcards (4 inches by 6 inches), 4 color one side and black and white on the other, for under approximately $45.00. If you increase the size to a 6 inch by 9 inch card, it jumps to around $95.00.

Estimated cost – $45-$100.00

Labels and Mailing: If you maintain your own customer list all you have to do is print them off on pressure sensitive labels and apply them along with stamps.

Estimated cost – $20.00

Postage: Postage for regular postcards is 32 cents each which for 250 would equal $80.00. For the oversized postcards, it is 45 cents each or $112.50 for the lot. If you decide to mail third class bulk, the postage is cheaper but there are some sorting charges involved.

Estimated cost – $80 – $112.50.

Grand Total – $170.00 – $257.50 per mailing.

And you say you can’t afford to advertise?