Monday, February 1, 2010

How to Be Found

How do you make sure customers and prospects will find you in a competitive marketplace? I used to think the marketers at Wegmans, one of the best supermarket chains in the country, had that figured out.

But that was before I saw the full-page ad for the chain's liquor store, Century Pittsford Wines, in Saturday's daily newspaper.

The ad tells us that the store, which is about a year old, is ditching the daily newspaper in favor of e-mailed ads. As my cousin Nancy used to say when we were kids, "Icky doo."

Here are four reasons why this is both disappointing and unwise.
  1. I already get way too much e-mail. In fact, I made a conscious effort already this year to unsubscribe from as many lists as possible. I'm trying to cut down on the inbox clutter not add to it. And do I want to get e-mail that reminds me that I have a vice (merlot...)? I think not.
  2. This strategy assumes people know the store exists. You aren't going to get people to your Web site to sign up for e-mail messages if they've never heard of your business.
  3. Many of us cluster our errands geographically. I can get my groceries, buy my wine, fill up my car, and get my tall-extra-hot-skinny-vanilla-latte at Starbucks all in one block just a mile from my home on a Saturday afternoon. I'm not going to remember that I can do much of that five miles away in Pittsford and take advantage of the good prices at Century Wines because I don't even remember to stop for gas half the time. Unless...unless...I see the store's full-page ad in my Saturday morning paper and I'm reminded that the prices are lower there. I have to be reminded. (And see point # 1 about e-mail reminders.)
  4. Daily newspapers across the country are suffering. Ours is no different. It needs advertising support to survive. Withdrawing this weekly ad feels like a betrayal to my newspaper. Based here in the Rochester, NY, area, Wegmans is an exceptional corporate citizen. The philanthropy coming out of that company is remarkable. I see the newspaper ads as an extension of that community service. But I also think they're necessary for marketing purposes.

You need to stay top of mind with your customers, especially if you're in retail. Remind me, remind me, remind me -- and then remind me again. And remind me on my terms, not yours. You can't convert me from my preferred reminder system -- that weekly Saturday morning ad -- to yours -- e-mail. It just doesn't work that way. Before making this kind of change, be certain you know how your customers want to hear from you -- and then listen to what they tell you.


Unknown said...

Good advice. I am always taken aback by people who meet me, take my business card, and assume that means I want their e-news letter. If I want that, I sign up for it. Otherwise, I delete what comes across my desk. And I know who asked me and who didn't. That's too bad that stores are doing that. They're making it way too easy to say no.

Marcia Layton Turner said...

Excellent points. Email is a great marketing tool for keeping in touch with existing customers but not so great at reaching occasional customers, like you, who forget they're out there. Email also can't reach potential customers who haven't yet asked to be added to their email marketing list. That's where advertising works. I'll be interested to see what impact this has on their sales, and whether they make it to their second anniversary.

Sandra Beckwith said...

It seems arrogant, unfortunately. The ad says "We will continue to have an online weekly ad at (URL)." In other words, "It's up to you to find us -- it's not up to us to find you."

This reminds me of the Tiger Woods media relations strategy -- don't push your statement out there, just post it on your Web site and wait for reporters to find it. Makes sense for Woods, but doesn't make sense for a liquor store.