For convenience operators who doubt that effective advertising can be done affordably, just show us a sign.
By Jim Callahan, Contributing Editor
Ever wonder why Many large corporate brands like Coke and Duracell spend millions on advertising?
The answer: It works.
The convenience store industry doesn’t spend nearly that amount on advertising as other industries. Then again, It doesn’t really need to because of a high visibility factor. Because c-stores are on many community corners and roadways, they just need effective messaging and a good place to put it.
This belief is based on our visible fuel pricing signs and in-and-out locations, which do a good job of advertising for us. Indeed, if one prices aggressively enough only a negligible amount of retail advertising is necessary.
That said, a bit of clever internet, newspaper, radio or billboard promotion can round out the job for you by bringing in those hard-to-attract customers.
This column is allotted to advertising ideas that are easy to implement and are affordable to boot. In other words, you can effectively promote products, engage customers, without breaking the bank Here are a few suggestions:
• If you have a reader board/marquee on your premises, close to the highway traffic, consider using it. I’ve found, over the many years that a short, hard hitting, message changed two or three times a week does the job: “Fresh, Hot Coffee 24 Hours A Day- $1.29.” “Coke 12 Packs. Three For $10.99.” “Free Lighter With Tobacco Purchase.” “Free 16 Oz Pepsi With ATM Usage” (This type of special promotion might require some vendor feedback).
• To make the reader board message all the more effective, repeat the same message at the fuel dispensers and in the forecourt.
• You can place messaging at all the counters.
• Perhaps a button or badge can adorn a staff member. Then have employees repeat the promotions to customers.
• Simple signage on displays or the area where the advertised product is housed can be effective.
• Yes, you can utilize available space in your restrooms, where you have a captive customer for a limited amount of time.
Most companies have some type of signage program on their computers that you can use to make effective and colorful advertising signs. By investing in a basic laminating machine you can use the signage and buttons/badges over and over for the promotions that work the best.
Placing the actual promoted item at each pay point is a “silent suggestive selling effort,” and can also be effective in getting your merchandising message across to departing customers. This works extremely well if you can match the promoted item with an occasion. One example is displaying windshield washer after a melting snowfall or featuring gloves and toboggan hats when the temperature starts to dip below freezing.
All are easy strategies to promote deals and better engage customers.
INSTAGRAM IS INSTANTANEOUS
Those who inhabit the social media world know tweets with images get more engagement. We’ve known for a while that photos on Facebook get more engagement. Even images on LinkedIn get more engagement—if you are promoting a new store location or a charitable cause, for instance. Three of the “newest” social networks—Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, are based entirely on images.
So why aren’t you leveraging images of product and store activities when promoting your deals?
Everyone from boomers to Gen-Y and even Gen-X are all now using the combinations of mobile technology and social media. Millennials have also proven that they prefer to research products through YouTube as compared to more traditional sources. Video is a must-have for retailers who want to sell more.
These are slam dunk, proven ideas that are very inexpensive or basically free advertising for your store. I would wish you good luck but, luck isn’t part of this equation. Instead, I wish you the discipline and effort necessary to make every campaign you pursue a successful one.
Jim Callahan has more than 40 years of experience as a convenience store and petroleum marketer. His Convenience Store Solutions blog appears regularly on CStoreDecisions.com. He can be reached at (678)485-4773 or via e-mail at [email protected].