It's a Name You Don't Mention Enough In Your Advertising.
This is a tremendous time to be a furniture dealer. The early Winter season includes home furnishing's top selling months, or months that should be. There is pent-up demand for new product. There is money from the holidays. There is television waiting for you to use it and tell the prospective buyers that you are in business to sell them what they need for their homes. And you have just received that new product... or will shortly, from the October Market. How are you going to reach these people with your story?
How about a big splash about the new product? The catchier the headline the better. The louder the voice over on television, the better. But what are we selling?
The first lesson in business is not to sell the wrong product. First you must sell yourself. Have you done that? Or do you think that by selling someone else's product, you will be able to jump over that first lesson of business?
Too often dealers complain about the lack of success in one of their recent advertising efforts. They say that they ran a large newspaper advertisement or were on television over 150 targeted gross rating points during a certain flight, but were unsuccessful. And they place the blame on the product they were advertising. Too often this includes pricing or a financial offer, such a skip cycle. But the real problem was the fact that the dealer failed to sell the store to the general public. Introducing a new product is not the answer. In many instances, dealers have never taken the time to tell their specific buying public who they are, what they have to sell, why they should buy from them, where the dealership is located and what are its hours of business.
In an age when information is king, and during a time when there is a thirst for knowledge, furniture dealers are attempting to be just middlemen... merely the conduit between the furniture factories and the general buying public. With this mentality, dealers will not be important a year from now... two years from now or five years from now. Why shouldn't the general public just buy from whomever? Why should people select you to purchase furniture from? Why should they trust you to sell them when everyone is claiming to have the best price? Being a conduit between the factories and the general public makes you no better or no worse than a wholesaler. You really aren't a furniture dealer. You really don't understand furniture. You really don't have the time to educate your public about home furnishings. You really don't care.
How long has it been since you devoted the time and energy to tell the public who you are and how you stand alone in your marketplace compared to other dealers? One year... two years... a decade or more? In all likelihood, it has been over three months. And that is a mistake.
The public will forget your message unless you remind them. It has been proven that the public's ability to retain information is decreasing at an alarming rate because they are exposed daily to massive amounts of information. It has been proven that the public must be exposed to at least twenty-one different impressions in order to absorb your message. And that retention only comes when you tell them over and over again during a precise period of time.
Remember, the public can only absorb so much. So you have to repeat your message over and over again. Repetition counts.
It takes twenty-one times for the mind to absorb and really understand what you are saying. Oh sure, there are instances when this number can be cut down, but in general, that is the number. Between the first and seventh message, people can or cannot hear what you are telling them. Remember, we did not say understand... only hear. Between the eighth and fourteenth time we tell them, people can probably hear what you are telling them, but few understand and comprehend everything you are saying. Between fifteen and twenty-one times, people begin to not only hear what you are saying but also begin to understand. After twenty-one times, then and only then do people hear what you have to say, understand what you are telling them and become able to respond to your message.
This underscores the reason for message repetition. Thus, cable can play a vital role in providing adequate frequency at a favorable cost. Then, broadcast is used to not only reinforce that specific message but also in establishing a broader base of communication between the dealer and the targeted buying public (Broadcast is defined as the over the air stations in your marketplace, network affiliates and independent stations. Cable is defined as the general out-of-area networks and stations that come into your market only through the use of cable).
The big question now is, have you given the specific buying public the necessary impression base needed to penetrate their minds? Or have you blown away that theory as superfluous and non-relevant? Of course, it is easier to just run that old newspaper ad and pretend none of the new math exists. You can do exactly what your fathers did before you, because if it worked for them, it surely can work for you. Or, you can begin to start your future today and begin to build a solid base with your specific target audience and tell them who you are, where you are, what you have to offer that no one else has in your market place, why they should select your store and when they can come in to visit you.
This is an extraordinary time to tell the specific buying audience about the values you have... not just the financial values of the furniture you are offering, but the values that make you unique as a furniture dealer.
In truth, the newspaper is not bad. It is only limited. Television is constant and always there in front of the prospective buying public. It can be used to reach a specific buying audience with programming that is unique to that specific audience. It can be used to reach the targets when they can be reached, not when they are in a non-information mood. It can begin to build your message base effectively and efficiently.
Regardless of your advertising bent, if you do not tell the people, they will not come. If you continue to tell them about price, they will not respond. Everyone tells them about price. There is no differentiation on price. If you continue to tell them that you have this product and that new product, they may or may not respond because again, you have not told them why they should select you over their previous choice. Certainly the home furnishings dealer that tells the specific buying public their name rather than a product's name will win in the long run. Your name is the most important product that you have to sell.
Lance G. Hanish is the President of Lance Benefield & Co., Inc. Worldwide, a leading marketing communications firm serving home furnishings retailers. Questions on any aspect of television media management or production can be direct to Mr. Hanish care of FURNITURE WORLD Magazine at firstname.lastname@example.org.