“Advertising moves people toward goods; merchandising moves goods toward people” is a great quote from businessman Morris Hite. As independent retailers, we know the importance of offering an inspiring selection of merchandise displayed in an enticing manner. But deciding about the most effective way to spend advertising money can be more puzzling.

There was a time when print advertising — even in the Yellow Pages — was the primary tool retailers used to reach potential new customers, and to bring existing ones back into the store.  Printed direct mail was also a key component of many advertising budgets.  And while our shop does still run ads in local magazines and newspapers from time to time, and sends out postcards and a small print catalogue to our mailing list, we are realizing that social and online media are of major importance today.

We boost posts on Facebook and Instagram regularly, but this represents a very small percentage of our advertising budget.  The fact is that social media and email blasts are relatively inexpensive, and in fact are often free.  Many of us put a very small amount of money towards boosted posts, however it would probably be a good idea to consider allocating more dollars in this direction.

One way to do this is to partner with a local newspaper, magazine or TV station that allows you to pay to piggyback on their social media.  Madison’s weekly Isthmus has a Facebook following of 22,000, and offers the opportunity to do a shared “with” post. Their Word of Mouth email blast goes to 90,000 subscribers, and for a fee a business can insert brief sponsored content with a hyperlink to more information. Our local glossy magazines and daily newspaper also offer the opportunity to buy banners and advertising on their websites. With more people reading articles online, this might be a good place to place an ad.

Google AdWords, discussed in a recent Specialty Shop Retailing blog post, is another way to allocate some of your ad dollars online.  And while he may not be an impartial observer in this case, Bill Gates may be right when he said “The future of advertising is the Internet.”

Happy Retailing,

Carol “Orange” Schroeder