Different segments will be attracted to different aspects of your store. "One segment, like Jennifer, might buy into your store's design and the ability to help her with the design of a photo book or greeting cards so she doesn't have to spend the time doing it herself," says Delis. "Another segment might buy into your quality more so than anything else. Not every store will be able to service every one of those segments-you have to concentrate on a few segments you think you have an edge on. That's what we'll try to do-bring out the product and service attributes that reflect value from the eye of the consumer, and tell the retailer which attributes they should highlight and which they should add to attract new segments or service their existing segment better."
Reaching Out to the Masses
Reaching out to the local demographic takes a little ingenuity, creativity, and persistence.
Take The SMART Group and its initiatives. "What we are doing is working with scrapbooking, photo, and framing retailers to have more market synergy with each other," says Dennis Conforto, chairman and CEO of A-Z Media Group and The SMART Group. "To do that, many photo retailers who do photo processing are placing savings coupons in the bag of the printed photo[s] that comes from the scrapbooking store. And the scrapbooking stores are placing savings coupons in their bag for the photo store. That part is simple and easy. Many photo retailers would like to do more printing of photos, and scrapbookers print photos; the more scrapbookers, the more photo printing gets done."
The big push, however, is to create a photo style section in every newspaper, much the way theater, auto, and real estate have their own unique categories. "When newspapers create sections, they write local stories and report on national trends," says Conforto. "The section will have 40% content, or editorial, and 60% advertising that the retailers are doing anyway. When you have a section like that, readership goes up 200%; these retailers now can have a 200% increase in ad exposure, and it doesn't cost them a dime more."
TV advertising is also making inroads, and it seems to be the most useful medium at the moment for retailers who want to target their local base. Spot Runner, an internet-based ad agency located in Los Angeles, specializes in creating targeted, affordable TV advertising. "What we do is commercial production, media planning, and media buying, much like a traditional ad agency, except what we've done is we've used a lot of technology automation through the whole process, making it a whole more affordable, faster, and easier for businesses of all sizes," explains Rosabel Tao, vice president of communications for Spot Runner.
Retailers who go onto the Spot Runner site simply enter pertinent info about the company, or search by keyword to find already-created commercials for thousands of difference business categories (there are currently about a dozen ads in the library geared specifically toward photo dealers). Once a retailer has selected the ad he wants to use, he can then personalize it with his specific information. "You might want to put in your address and phone number, even maybe a special offer like ‘mention this ad and get 20% off,'" says Tao. "In many cases you can upload photos, like a logo, storefront image, or product image. No two ads are ever exactly alike."
The retailer also receives exclusivity for the duration of the ad campaign (and for a certain amount of time afterward) in his local market. "No one else can use that ad for that time period," says Tao.
The next step in the process is media planning. "Spot Runner has a proprietary media-planning engine that basically takes in all this info you've given it, as well as a bunch of other research we've input into the engine, and it will create a recommended media plan for you," says Tao. "So, for example, it might recommend 60 spots on CNN, or 100 spots on Lifetime."
And cable TV does seem to offer the best localized marketing, according to Tao. "It's the most affordable and the most easily targeted," she says. "We can advertise on broadcast, like NBC, but it's more expensive and reaches a much larger audience. For example, if your store is on Long Island [NY], you likely won't want to advertise on NBC, which probably reaches the entire NY tristate area. It's really expensive, and people probably won't be driving from the Upper East Side to Montauk. Cable is more affordable, and you're able to target demographics much more effectively. If you know your demographic tends to be a much older audience, you might want to advertise on CNN or FOX News; if you want to reach a female audience, Oxygen or Lifetime might be a good bet."
Once you've approved the media plan, simply pay for it by credit card, and Spot Runner takes care of all the behind-the-scenes logistics. "We manage all the work, negotiate time for you on all the networks and cable channels, and traffic your ad," says Tao. "Once it's finalized and approved, we'll get it to the station; then you'll get a report after it's run: when it ran, what time it ran, etc. For the client, it's a very seamless process."
Of course, in the end, it's imperative to search for the right medium (or media mix) to determine what works best for your store. "We always recommend for every business to use a mix of media," says Tao. "We advocate really leveraging online advertising and TV advertising together, because they're very different tools. One is a push mechanism, and one is a pull mechanism. Online advertising is great if I'm specifically looking for a store and I'm doing a search online. But if I'm not thinking about it, that's the great thing about television advertising-it helps build awareness of brands and store names and ideas. It's also very effective in visually displaying your business in a way that you're really able to sell an emotion or very different kinds of messages that you can't do with a flat, 2-D process. There's not one media that works the best for everybody, so we need to find the right mix for each business."