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Dan Minor

Where Did They All Go? Why communication with the customer is a vanishing artform

September 7, 2012

For many years, retailers and manufacturers have used traditional methods to advertise or promote who they are and what they do. Most retailers have an advertising budget that allows for a weekly ad in the local newspaper, and maybe something on the radio or television when something big is happening. Direct mail and email blasts have been incorporated over the last decade as an effort to get caught up with the times. Manufacturers have used shelter magazines along with launching websites to tell their story and position their brand.
Traditional means of advertising has been decimated over the last 10 years. The rapid growth of the Internet and online media has also destroyed the primary source of getting the message to the end consumer through advertising.
With continual news feeds on all kinds of platforms to give us up-to-the-minute details on what is happening in our world, there's no longer a need for people to subscribe to a newspaper that tells yesterday's news. Satellite radios, which offer a subscription service for commercial-free listening, have taken over the airwaves. Most homes have televisions with up to 1000 channels, so choosing where to advertise on TV is very difficult and extremely expensive. Shelter magazines are rapidly ceasing to publish, again because the content is not relevant and generally it's old by the time it hits the newsstands.
All of these changes culminate in the fact that the message from the retailer and manufacturer is never reaching the end consumer, and therefore, she does not know we exist.
In the meantime, also because of the availability of information online, she (the customer) has changed her shopping habits. With an unlimited stream of choices at her fingertips with her smart phone, and the ability to do all of her shopping from the comfort of her own home without being limited to store hours, she can has changed the way business is being done. Statistics show that more than 90% of all home décor purchases begin online.
So how do we get in front of her? We MUST be where she goes to find her home décor solutions! (That's online, in case you've missed it). Your website needs to be interactive, with suggestions and tools to improve her online shopping experience, and you should be heavily involved in all of the major forms of social media, communicating regularly with your customers and fans through that medium. You should partner with third party websites that will promote your brand and your story. You must also have a source to move the past season or clearance product from your stores, so that when and if she does arrive, she only sees your best.
Do what you do best: great design, innovative looks, up-to-date styles and quick delivery, but do it in front of her, online. Rethink your advertising budget, and spend your time, money and resources in the right place. This will bring her to you, and give you the chance to win her business.