Car dealers, why the prehistoric advertising?

Dear Mr/Ms Car Dealer,

I’ve worked on quite a few Automotive advertising accounts, at national level and local. I’ve even had the pleasure of promoting marquise brands as well as your bargain basement family movers.

I thought, we , together had changed the way we would promote the way you sell cars.

You see, I’ve been looking for a new car now for 6 months. The one thing that ‘sticks out’ in all the advertising is that to be honest, nothing ‘sticks out’ and grabs my attention.

I, as well as everyone else knows, the advertised price isn’t the final price and more times than not, is usually a start off price that by the time you upsell me, will be double the budget I had.

Different car brands are all looking the same, even at the Corporate Brand level. (Sorry, you know who you are)

I cant decide on what car because no one is standing out. No one is grabbing my attention. Do you even know what I’m REALLY looking for? And i don’t mean the car model.

Do I still buy a paper? Is price an issue? Have you ever bothered to ask?

So, why is it that car dealers continue to do the same type of prehistoric advertising?

Doing our bit for small business

getting a business off to a quick start

It’s September and it’s Small Business Month. I was reminded that by a phonecall from a client who rang to ask about retail consulting for her business.

This young lady expressed her difficulty in getting her new business off the starting blocks, and the constant feeling that she was vulnerable as a small business and simply wanted some answers & direction.

I liked her confident, direct approach when she simply came out and asked “What are you doing for small business?”

Firstly, I was a little surprised by her question but it got me thinking. We continued our discussion and she quite rightly, presented her case.

She had checked out my website, read some of my articles and felt I only dealt with bigger businesses. She had seen the corporate logos, some of the examples of advertising campaigns I have done and she had come to the conclusion, that I wouldn’t talk to her because she was simply a small business.

Well, let me now state, that many of our clients are and have been very small businessowners.

But let me also say. The same techniques & strategies to building great brands apply, if you are a one owner business or a multi chain national retail corporate. The only difference is, the size of the budgets.

But as we have shown, you can also build a memorable brand on a shoestring budget. There are many strategies a small businessowner can incorporate that won’t cost you a cent! Maybe only your time!

So, to do our bit for small business during Small Business Month, we’ve reduced our consultancy fee to only $395. That’s usually $750.

What’s that include? You get a session with myself and you can ask all the questions you’ve wanted answers to, but have been too worried how much it would cost you. Whether you want an on-the-spot analysis of your current business, review your marketing, recommendations, new ideas, media suggestions – I will make those recommendations, right there for you to take away and start building a successful brand and business.

I understand how tough it is to kickstart a business and I also see many businesses going down the wrong path, spending unnecessary monies to achieve unrealistic goals and objectives. I pride myself on providing the right strategies, and let me emphasize affordable strategies, to get businesses coming out of the starting blocks quickly & strongly, to run a long and sustainable race.

So for the month of September, no matter the size of your business, here’s your chance to kickstart your business.

Retailing, you’ve been caught out.

I’m going to admit it, but YES I do shop online. From overseas. It’s simple. Certain cycling and equestrian products are cheaper online. That doesn’t mean I don’t shop instore. Infact I am very passionate about walking into a store, and believe ‘bricks & mortar’ shopping is still the ultimate shopping experience. I love the excitement, hustle and bustle of shopping centres. But, I refuse to pay exhorbitant prices for a product I know is cheaper elsewhere. Worse is, when I feel I’m not receiving any added value for paying that extra cost. It’s a fact that most retailers are still struggling with & as a result, online will continue to be a thorn in their side.

Does it mean, that Australian retailers can no longer compete? Yes they can. Sorry for sounding like a certain US President, but retailers can compete if they’re smart and choose to do so on other benefits, rather than just price.

See, no longer can importers and distributors use Australia’s isolation and distance as an excuse, for providing exclusive products at inflated prices. In the past, the only option for competitive shopping was to travel overseas and buy it yourself. Yes, there were import taxes and duties, but it was the only option to grab a deal.

This, in my opinion is why retailing has been caught out.

Online has opened retailing worldwide, at the click of a mouse. You now have options. The same product here selling for 3 times the price anywhere else, has only started customers questioning why? All year round sales and clearances have also added to the distrust. Customers are asking “Well if you can sell that to me at 70% off, why would I pay full price ever again?

The smart retailers, aware of world trends & customer behaviour, have realised the effects of online and have implemented the right strategies. Those, that have stood by providing niche products at a FAIR and competitive retail price on the world (not local) market, exemplary customer service, created memorable brands and resisted entering the discount price war, are the ones who are sitting back, rubbing their hands together, enjoying success.

I’m sure there will be those who will raise the GST, high rents case etc but if you have investigated this, you would realise, even if you added these costs to the overseas market, their identical products are still cheaper.

I think this current turmoil and competition is a good thing for both the retailer and the customer. Retailers, you have the opportunity to become competitive here locally and you can now tap into a growing market of overseas customers. The customer, the levelling out of what I call ‘realistic pricing’ & the re-emergence of the advantages of customer service and memorable shopping experiences, you will soon be enjoying the benefits of ‘bricks & mortar’ shopping again.

Retailers, don’t succumb to the fear tactics

With ‘doom & gloom’ headlines, so-called retail experts proclaiming the industry is in a state of disarray the future of retail sure looks bleak. It’s no wonder retailers are in a state of panic. But these fear tactics are nothing more than a dismal attempt to scare retailers into making changes, that may be more beneficial to the providers of these changes, rather than the the retailer themselves.

Yes, I’m a Retail Consultant and I’m basically fed up with this continual barrage that retail is in decline. Well let me tell you it isn’t. There are plenty of ‘smart’ retailers out there who are very successful and continuing to show strong growth.

Yes, the ‘BIG BOYS” ARE struggling. They no longer benefit from bulk buying purchases, discounting, imposing retail spaces and most importantly, are still dragged down by continuing to rely on their dinosaur strategies – why is it that they are considered by many, the benchmark for the retail industry as a whole?

They simply are not anymore. Until they learn to be innovative & keep up with the times, the smaller competitive retailer will continue to claw back marketshare a lot quicker than the juggernaut retailer will.

Online is important but not the saviour for retail as I have expressed in another blog. Retailers need to be smart, roll up their sleeves and get back to basics. Price wars & discounting are the ‘dumb retailers’ strategy and it amazes me how many continue to think this method of selling, is the way forward. It isn’t.

I’m appalled to read recent articles from so-called retail experts, who I would assume, have never worked or been near a retail store in their life. Their scare tactics to drum up business is just as pathetic as the diatribe of marketing jargon they’re attempting to sell.

Retailing isn’t rocket science, but the more I deal in this exciting industry, the more I realise just how smart, a successful retailer needs to be.

How UNIQUE is your business?

Is your business unique? Do you stand out amongst your competitors?

Being unique, in my opinion is the most important decisive factor of any business. In retailing, it needs to be THE only factor.

These days, too many retailers are offering similar products and the only measure for competition is price. So why is it, that retailers don’t look to be unique. Not only in the products they sell but the way they sell them.

I can think of only a few retailers that stand out and all of them offer unique products in a niche sector that I know I cant find anywhere else. Wait, let me rephrase it. I don’t want to go look anywhere else.

One retailer in mind, when you walk in, you’re met with smiling faces, amazingly presented products and their knowledge and selling techniques are second to none. To be honest, I haven’t even bothered to investigate whether they’re online or if they have a cheaper competitor.

I’m simply not interested. You see, they have found a product that customers want and need, and they know what the customer is willing to pay. They have then communicated the benefits and found a loyal base of customers that is growing and proving successful.

The stores are wonderfully designed, attract me through innovative POS and the pricing, is well, what I’m willing to pay. Convenience is a big factor for me but just as importantly is the shopping experience.

They have a unique Brand of who they are and what they do, backed by a unique brand that they stock. It’s an unbeatable formula. Being savvy they’re always being innovative, so if a competitor wants to take them on, all I can say is they better be smarter, NOT cheaper.

So as a business owner ask yourself:-

1. Is my business unique?
2. Do I offer a unique product or service?
3. Who are my competitors/do I have any and can I offer more than just price?

Online is not Retailings’ saviour

Lately, all I’m hearing is that any retailer embracing an online presence is bound for success. Online is being portrayed as the second coming of Christ. How wrong is that.

Trust me, I’m seeing many businesses online and they’re failing miserably.

Online is just another medium. Another tool. I’m sure when colour TV was invented, it was proclaimed to change the face of communication and it did. The Digital age was also proclaimed as the new frontier and now that we have social and online mediums, the art of communication is changing again. How many comings is Christ planning?

But as we have seen, there is poor useage of television, print, POS even the bombarding of emailed newsletters and the like is proof, any medium, if not used well can fail.

So why will online be different?

Why will it be safe from ‘poor execution’?…basically it wont.
And that is what retailers need to be very careful of. Make sure you have the basics right. It definitely needs to be a part of your marketing mix, but it’s not the be all & end all for every business.

Here are the basics:-

1. KNOW your customer. What they WANT and NEED.

2. Stock the right products (UNIQUE PRODUCTS) at the right price (FAIR PRICE). Don’t compete on price. Cover your costs and make a fair margin. I’d rather sell 20 products and build loyalty rather than 1 product that is exposed for discounting from my competitors.

3. Most importantly, deliver memorable service that creates loyal customers, instore or online. (WORD OF MOUTH IS PARAMOUNT).

It’s no use having a presence, whether storefont, online, digitally or any other medium if your customers aren’t coming back.

Give them a reason to come back.

So instead of focussing on Christ’s coming, think about your customers comings & goings.

Now this is a testimonial. I’m humbled to work with such amazing clients.

I rarely ask clients to write testimonials, but when you receive one like this, it reminds you why we do what we do.

Stephen Rinaldo was recommended to me by a teacher at a web marketing course, who had used Stephen’s services and was very impressed with the results that he had gained for him.
Stephen was contracted by Buttai Barn to create a new image, which included designing a new website and logo, organizing a facebook page, creating radio and TV commercials, and overseeing production of our T.V commercial, including sourcing talent as well as negotiating with NBN sales personnel to obtain the best possible advertising rates.
The result of Stephen’s expertise has been a remarkable turn-around of our Saturday night trade by increasing sales by 100% on most nights, compared to 2010 figures and great forward bookings for Christmas functions as well. Our new website has generated many more enquiries than our old one ever created and we can capture these enquiries for our data base for future marketing opportunities.
One of the things that really impressed me about Stephen, was his absolute integrity in passing on savings that he had secured in advertising rates and in not insisting that we continue to use his services once his job was completed.
Gary and I were very impressed with Stephen’s friendly, professional approach to changing our image and dragging us out of our complacency regarding building our business.
This man knows marketing!

Marilyn Maddison
Buttai Barn

The state of retailing in Australia

Reading all the headlines of doom & gloom for retailers over the last few months, I just have to say my five cents worth. Maybe it’s because I’m passionate about all things retail and the fact that my earlier years were spent as an advertising executive at Grace Bros, the retail juggonaut of the 80 & 90′s.

No, I’m not stuck in yesteryear but when it came to a well-oiled retail machine of strong branding, great offers, value added promotions, aspirational merchandising, clearance sales &a diverse range of the right products at the right price, Grace Bros set the retailing benchmark.

But something has changed since then.

Retailing isn’t the exciting, competitive battlefield it once was. The top five retailers were constantly protecting their marketshare through innovative advertising campaigns & instore promotions all selling why they deserved your loyalty. Yes, customer loyalty? What’s that?

It’s just that, nowadays, no retailer in my opinion even comes close to dominating the retail frontier.

Confused branding & market positioning, poor customer marketing and not to mention this discounted price war, leaves me to think that retailing in Australia, is basically lost in the wilderness.

I was always taught, enter the price war and the only winner is the customer.

So, where are the retailers who understand the importance of  niche product ranges, a fair & competitive price mix?

Where are the retailers who know how to market to their customers wants & needs?

Retailers have lost their confidence & innovation to market themselves as individuals to promote their benefits.
It just seems that this new age of retailing, the only point of difference is price.

Branding your product

Before you go to market ensure your branding communicates the right message to the right audience.

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To Discount or Not to Discount

To discount or not to discount? That is the question on all retailer’s minds as they prepare to battle the post-Christmas sale season.

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