“Advertising is a racket, like the movies and the brokerage business. You cannot be honest without admitting that its constructive contribution to humanity is exactly minus zero.” F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote these words shortly before his death in 1940. It is a gloomy view of commercial business, to be sure, but is it true? Does promoting your business have to be a “racket” from which people struggle to escape?
Not necessarily. Sure, if you follow the typical strategies of blaring commercials and neon ‘Sale’ signs, people are going to view your advertisements as noise. Some advertisers even count on this. They write jingles and repeat phrases in excess so that it becomes impossible to tune them out. But other businesses take a different approach. The smartest advertising campaigns are the ones that sneak into our heads and stick there, without us even realizing we’ve been caught!
It’s not as nefarious as it sounds, trust me. I’m simply suggesting that perhaps it is time for us to tune down our advertisements and tune in to our customers’ needs. Here are some simple ways to amplify your impact on potential customers without making a “racket”:
1) Show, don’t just tell! If you’re having a great sale or making an exciting change to your business, don’t just tell people about it with loud print ads or obnoxious commercials. Show your customers the great deals they will be getting by putting special items front and center in your dollar store. Make the best deals easily accessible, so your customers can’t miss them. At Kole Imports, we constantly update our home page with “Dollar Store Deals of the Week” to allow customers one-click access to incredible deals.
2) Merchandise, merchandise, merchandise. Keep your store fresh and appealing to the eye. Change your store window once a week and take some time to make it unique. Don’t just stack boxes of merchandise in your storefront, arrange items so that they tell a story or evoke a mood in shoppers. You don’t want customers to see the same, tired merchandise gathering dust. You want people to feel as if they need to check in with your dollar store regularly to see what exciting changes are happening at the moment.
3) Don’t be afraid of making a “theme.” Use holidays, changing seasons and neighborhood celebrations to keep your store salient. For example, when the weather starts heating up, try making a special “Summer Grilling” section in your dollar store to play into customers’ natural inclinations. We have some great grill accessories at Kole Imports like BBQ Scrapers (HL041), Gingham Table Cloths (HZ084) and Plastic Cutlery (HM107). Items like these catch people’s eyes, making them desire things they didn’t even know they needed!
4) Make Your Dollar Store Make “Cents.” Items should be grouped according to their uses. Items that work together should be placed near each other on the floor. Think of a grocery store: salad dressing is next to the lettuce, coffee is right by the creamer. Use the same principle in your dollar store. If you have tools and hardware, make sure they’re grouped together! If you carry gift bags, place them next to the gift bows!
5) Appeal to Impulse. Every dollar store should have small, lower-priced merchandise displayed within an arm’s reach of the cash-wrap. Such items should be “add-ons” like pens or candy; things that enhance a customers’ purchase without adding too much cost to it. Kole Imports’ PDQ countertop displays are excellent examples of impulse buys. A breeze to set up, they can fit on your countertop within the sight line of customers checking out. Take the Scented Bubbles Tray (SI003): Irresistible!
6) Know Thy Merchandise. I can’t stress the importance of this enough. Have you ever tried shopping in a store where you feel like you know more about the merchandise than the staff? It’s difficult, not to mention aggravating. You will build customer trust and be your own “advertisement” if you can be give customers suggestions or ideas that no one else can offer. By paying attention to your customers’ needs and sharing your knowledge and experience, you gain the most valuable and “racket-free” form of advertising: Word-of-Mouth. One good customer review can do wonders for your in-store traffic. People trust their peers, and if one of them highly recommends your dollar store, it is extremely likely that others will follow their advice.
There you have it: advertisement minus the racket. And who knows? You might even be making a “constructive contribution” to the lives of your customers by satisfying their needs and providing answers to their questions. How’s that for making advertising count, Old Sport?
[Merchandise Photos by Marat]