follow us
Jim Green's blog

Uncommon Common Sense #1

August 19, 2011

Sometimes I sit on my sofa reading the newspaper or watching TV and scratch my head in wonderment. I read furniture ads in the paper or watch furniture commercials on the tube and just question, "...who in the world is making the decisions to put this stuff out there." Certainly, not every promotional effort falls short. First, I only have access to the one market I live in. Obviously, there is far more out there I don't see than I do. Second, some retailers really do have something worthwhile to say in their advertising and I applaud them. But, there is certainly enough substandard marketing out there to write about.

I just have to ask: "What happened to common sense?" In a past life in the retail furniture sector, I was a pretty darn good promoter and marketer. The reason why was that I realized early on that marketing just isn't brain surgery. It shouldn't be so complicated. Advertising costs are a major percentage of the dollars a retailer must spend to sell furniture. The Payroll line will generally be greater. Occupancy may be the same or more, but the fact remains that, particularly for promotional furniture dealers, it will generally be in the top three of operating expenses. Yet, from my observation, it is sometimes monies largely tossed away with what must be marginally acceptable results. It seems to me, if there isn't something worthwhile to communicate, why spend the money. It's just common sense.

In this blog, I would like to point to 10 examples of what I mean by common sense marketing or the lack thereof. The examples are in no particular order. Again, I base these observations on only one market that I am intimately familiar with and not every furniture dealer in that market is bereft of common sense. These remarks may not even apply to all markets. I just wanted to throw them out there because a) they may touch a nerve b) they may be the impetus for an audit of the way things are done and c) they may spark ideas. None of these results can be bad. If the reader believes that none of this is applicable to their individual businesses, I tip my hat to them because they probably use a good deal of old fashioned horse sense in his/her marketing efforts. If the reader thinks that one or more of these examples are inaccurate, fine. I got you thinking.

They tell me that blogs are supposed to be reasonably short...that they should be readable in just a few minutes. For this reason, I will post the 10 examples every few days or so. I hope you read all of them.

Common Sense Example #1 Clearance Ads. I know that a very basic principle of marketing lies in training the customer. When a potential customer is exposed to the marketing of a particular retailer repeatedly he/she should be able to identify the ad or commercial as being from that retailer, without reading or hearing the first word. The feel and presentation should automatically suggest that dealer. I subscribe to this notion, completely. In my view however, the one exception is in a "CLEARANCE" promotion. I have observed repeatedly, retailers that have spent thousands of dollars in print ads that look and feel exactly like their normal weekend promotions. The ads are headlined "clearance" but perhaps 5-10% is devoted to merchandise that has been "drastically reduced" to sell. Instead, merchandise that was advertised as being ‘on sale' a few weeks prior and may be again a few weeks after is shown. There may be a few boxes in the ad that states ‘Odd Headboards', or ‘Dining Chairs' but the fact remains that no excitement has been conveyed with what can be a hugely successful event. Advertising is meant to convey a message that will entice a potential customer to visit the store, website, or other place of business. A little common sense might suggest that the message should be bolstered by the presentation.