As a fresh university graduate in Brisbane (don’t hold the Aussie thing against me), I was proud to be a part of a team who pioneered some of the world’s most famous local store marketing. World famous in Australia anyway.
The company. Eagle-Boys-Dial-A-Pizza. Our position. A very distant number 4 nationally. Our defensible point of difference. Cowboys with no inhibitions or money, ready to rule the world.
Not only were we a challenger brand, we were one of the fastest growing franchises in Australia. We had to be nimble, innovative and guerrilla in everything we did. Bugger number 8 wire, we were the Einstein’s of LSM. We had less money than anyone else but we had a vision and got to know our local store catchments better than anyone else around.
I have dressed in a giant pink Eagle suit and wave at the traffic in the rush hour home. I would wobble-board electrical storm, hail and shine. I went to local motels and provided them free “Do not disturb” hanging signs that prominently had our phone number and a menu. We gave free pizzas to the local pub an hour before closing time and as the only joint open until 2am in the morning we did a roaring trade from 11-2am Thursday – Saturday. We sent free pizza to the local school’s teacher staff room on the odd Friday lunch. We Wobble-boarded, did pizza drives (like a lamington drive but with pizza as a fundraiser). We did party planning guides. We had teams of pizza drivers with small samples of pizza as the trains pulled into local stations at the end of a cold day. We did store opening and birthday events every year where you could come for all you could eat plus a balloon for the kids simply to say thank you.
But it started with developing catchment maps, collecting all the free statistics and information we could get. Talking to everyone “in the know.” Local business owners, community groups, the local press, taxi drivers and rubbish collectors (you can find a lot about the community especially from the last two). We tried, we failed and we had resounding successes. But most of all we tried, we experienced and we built a continual loop of learning. And we never stopped. We lived it.
That was my first taste of the success of local store marketing. It was the engine that super-charged Eagle Boys success. Over the past twenty years, having been involved in some of both NZ and Australia’s largest retailers, I can also say that I have seen our market share lost through challenger brands and competitors doing local store marketing. It is the golden nugget which ensures you engage and know your shopper better than your competition and it keeps you fresh and relevant.
I have actually stolen this analogy from someone else famous. I can’t actually remember who but it has been used from everything to so with raising children and now to retail local store marketing.
There is a connection between the Chinese Bamboo Tree and Local Store Marketing.
Do you know what happens after you plant the seed of a Chinese Bamboo Tree? Nothing.
Absolutely nothing. Not in week 2 or 20 or even in 2 years. If you didn’t understand how the whole thing works, you would probably give up or forget about the damn tree and move on. You might conclude you got bad seeds, that the soil was wrong or the location was terrible. You would conclude you have wasted your time.
In fact, underground a HUGE root system and foundation has been growing, year after year. After year 5 the massive tree is exposed and grows to over twenty five metres!
The beginning stages of a Local Store Marketing program works in the same way. You begin slowly reaching out into your local community with programmes. You meet people along the way, good people. You get these people to know you, like you and trust you. Enthusiasm and expectations are high. After the second week you are prepared for a windfall from your activities. What Happens?
Nothing, or very little. Is a picture emerging?
As a retailer developing an LSM programme will make business happen for you. Every connection, every phone call, every LSM coupon will come back to reward you many times over. And it won’t take 5 years
Quick start Ideas
Know your shoppers. Learn their names and greet them personally. Sign them up to your database and talk with them. Exclusive offers, previews, new news (relevant stuff).
Recognise shoppers. Reward loyal behaviour. Send them a free gift card for special occasions.