Byline: Subira Shaw

An effective advertising campaign begins with creating a definitive image, said Dallas-based retail consultant T.J. Reid at her October AmericasMart lecture, “Developing Your Best Advertising Image.”
A specialty-store owner must cultivate an image visible in the store’s exterior, interior, dress of the staff and packaging of products. “You want an image that can be identified out of context,” she said. Once established, the image must remain consistent. For example, a store that’s trying to project a high-end ambience should not have 50 per cent-off sales scattered throughout its racks.
Advertising typically falls into two categories: Ads that help build the store’s brand and ads that set out to communicate a special store event, for example, a sale or a trunk show.
“Image ads are not so much for response as to reinforce an image,” said Reid. It is more realistic to expect ads to drum up interest in a store rather than create a sales frenzy. For the best results, ads should be focused and simple.
When an ad is designed to sell specific products within a given time period, this urgency should be emphasized. Such messages should be supported by follow-up flyers and in-store signs indicating goods advertised.
Like the image, the theme of the ad should remain consistent and not riddled with too many messages. For instance, ads proclaiming 30 percent off handbags and 15 percent off shoes can be confusing and difficult to follow, said Reid.
While less is more, in terms of how much text is used, Reid recommends the use of color and graphics to get attention.
According to Reid, a reasonable advertising budget for a small store is 4 to 5 percent of total annual sales. For a new store seeking visibility, the figure rises to 7 or 8 percent.
Of the various advertising mediums available, she highly recommended newsletters because they can be distributed in-house and don’t require postage. They allow space to tell the story of the business and give credibility to the store.
“One automatically gains respect with a printed name,” said Reid.
Since people collect newsletters more often than newspapers, they provide an opportunity to hold readers’ attention with useful information like trend lists or articles that showcase a featured designer or in-store event, along with ads that support the event.
Newspaper ads generally work best in small towns, she said. In larger areas, there are too many variables that could prevent the ad reaching its desired market.
“You have to know that your potential customers are reading the right section of the paper on the right day. Then they have to find the ad and care about it,” said Reid.
Ads in the yellow pages pose similar problems; these offer the best results in small towns or resort areas. Reid suggested posting ads in areas frequented by target customers, like nail salons, and using community sponsorships for events such as marathons and parades as advertising venues.
Store promotions are also an effective way of generating interest and maintaining client relations.
Many of the promotions detailed in Reid’s book, “52 Promotions — A Year’s Worth of Profit,” involve direct-mail programs aimed at dedicated clients. Instituting a “VIP Club” program lets a store reward customer loyalty, with exclusive promotions and discounts while simultaneously boosting sales.
T.J. Reid will be holding a newsletter seminar Saturday and a talk on “Special Events for Bridal and Formal Wear Retailers” on Sunday. See the Market Calendar on page 4 for details.