A Toolbox for Specialty Shops

A Toolbox for Specialty Shops

Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide

Best Practices by Lou Dzierzak, Lkdcom@visi.com

lou_dzierzak_90x110SnowSports Industries America (SIA) has launched the Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide (RMG) to help snow sports specialty retailers create successful marketing campaigns for the 2012/2013 season.

rmg_guide_1_sm Retail to Consumer Marketing Guide

The guide is supported by the SIA Retail Advisory Committee (RAC), National Ski and Snowboard Retailers Association (NSSRA), Board Retailers Association (BRA), Industry Buying Groups and Rep Associations. Offered in print and electronic forms, the marketing guide features 24 campaigns, divided into bi-monthly seasonal segments. Each campaign offers a variety of messages that can be used in print, radio advertisements, social media postings, HTML emails, or in-store.

Adrienne Belk, account director, Sage Island, who worked with SIA executives to create the marketing resource materials reports, “The guide offers a gamut of different communication styles, tools and messages so retailers can tailor the marketing for their specific locale.” The range of tools will benefit retailers with limited in-house marketing resources as well as more experienced managers. “If they don’t have someone that is really strong with marketing, it can be a huge challenge for small retailer. Marketing managers can choose from alternate messages and audiences. There are hundreds of options to choose from,” says Belk.

“The first time someone looks at it they may be overwhelmed because there is so much information. SIA is being proactive in trying to help the smaller retailer have access to that information without having a marketing department or background in that area,” reports Tracy Gibbons, co-owner & COO, Sturtevant’s, Bellevue, WA.

Tony Anasenes, owner, Windward Board Shop, Chicago, IL, has a background in digital media but acknowledges keeping up with new marketing tools can be daunting for retailers. “Social media can be overwhelming for people to keep up with. It just changes so fast,” says Anasenes.

rmg_seminarTo help you better navigate the RMG, SIA and Sage Island are hosting a webinar on October 2, 2012 at 4:00P EST. The 30 minute learning session will be a thorough review of how to use and take advantage of the guide. Retailers can sign up now to participate.

“The marketing guide is a great tool to review the basics of marketing. I think it will be great for small shops that don’t have the time, resources or know-how to develop their own marketing strategies,” says Tracy S. Wilson, Peak Performance Ski Shop, Killington, VT. “Retailers can also use the guide to see what tools the industry is suggesting.”

By suggesting marketing messages across the full 2012-13 season, retailers can create appeals appropriate to the consumer’s interests. “The guide can be an at your fingertips reminder to put marketing on a higher priority this season. It breaks down the barrier of where do I start?” says Belk of Sage Island.

“It’s nice that the guide is broken down by month. Where I might have not focused on marketing on one of these sections, with the bi-monthly breakdown it really helped plan my marketing strategy a little further along than I would have done without reading the guide,” says Christine Duval, Andy’s Sport Shop, Fitchburg, MA.

Strategies presented also assist retailers in creating a consistent season long plan versus a more scattered hit and miss approach. “The guide helps you integrate marketing into the daily routine,” says Wilson, Peak Performance Ski Shop. “Certainly there are changes along the way based on weather and customer needs, but if you have a general plan in order ahead of time it’s a lot easier to follow through and really focus on the stuff that matters when it matters.”

Hiram Lewis, co-owner, Alpine Ski Center, Banner Elk, NC says, “The graphics are useful and list of topics are good marketing reminders. As you look through the guide it does focus your attention on those products and times of the year that should be included in your messages.”

A quick view index allows users to search the guide for the specific tools type of tool that fits their needs. “The quick view index is a simple and straightforward and easy for me tool,” says Gibbons of Sturtevant’s. “With a little bit of time, a person who isn’t well versed in marketing has got a good tool to become comfortable with YouTube, Facebook and other tools.”

In addition to traditional advertising tools like print and radio, the guide also helps retailers incorporate new social media tools like Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest. Staying current on appropriate strategies for social media can be challenging for some retailers.

“It used to be television, radio, newspaper and magazine. Now, people use media in so many different ways,” says Todd Brewer, Hoigaards, Minneapolis, MN. “You have to learn what’s the most effective way to talk to them. The good news is it’s a lot more efficient and cost effective if you really know who your customer is. There are just so many more affordable ways to communicate directly with your customer than we’ve ever had before.”

The guide’s social media support helps retailers get up to speed on new communication tools. Duval of Andy’s Sport Shop says, “It’s extremely challenging to keep up with new tools. No sooner than you think you have Facebook, YouTube or Pinterest figured out and a new tool pops up that you have to be savvy with. It’s so much more time consuming than it used to be. You used to sit down for a half hour to put together an ad for a newspaper. That happened a couple of times a month and you called it a day. Now, the time I spend on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube trying to keep up with things is phenomenal. The marketing guide has been a huge tool helping me with social media.”

Windward Board Shop uses Twitter and Facebook to drive online traffic as well as encouraging snowboarding enthusiasts to visit the store. “We’ve created a community to keep in touch with local riders,” says Anasenes.

Wilson of Peak Performance Ski Shop notes, “Each of those social media marketing opportunities target a different persona and you have to utilize that accordingly. If I want to reach women 25-44 I’m posting on Pinterest. If the target guys 16-30 it will be YouTube videos. We’ve been having great success with Facebook reaching 50+ customers. We try to figure out what’s the best way to reach each marketing persona. We don’t try to do everything with just one or two tools.”

With the variety of advertising messages available in the guide, retailers can create messages that resonate with different segments of their consumer audience from baby boomer alpine skiers to their snowboarding grandchildren.

“You have to start with a good understanding of your target customer. You have to clear about who it is you are trying to draw into your store,” explains Brewer, Hoigaards. “Once you identify who that is, its easier to say where do these people go for information, what are their media choices, what’s the best way to interact with them.”

Wilson agrees,” If you get to know your customer inside and out and create customer personas in your marketing you will find there are different ways to reach these people that don’t overlap,” says Wilson. “You can’t think that Facebook or Twitter is the answer and you can talk to everyone.

While skiers of across demographic profiles share of love of winter sports, they way the describe their enthusiasm shifts across generations.

“My messages range from groovy to stoked. I don’t want to sound like its only younger kids working here,” reports Duval. “We mix up the messages by posting vintage ski videos but also X-Games footage or younger generation stuff. I’m covering everything at different moments in time. I get better response when the messages educate the customer rather than announcing a sale.”

“You have to make choices about who your best customer is and who you are trying to target,” explains Brewer. “The nice thing about these communications options is that you can tailor the messages based on the type of media you are using. You know who typically follows Twitter or Facebook and you can adjust your marketing. You have a better ability to target the messages than ever before.”

In addition to tailoring messages, the guide also helps retailers decide the appropriate communication tools to reach different audiences.

“We can see different demographic groups coming into the store. We try to use a similar fun down-to-earth tone of voice tone that will appeal across demographics. We haven’t seen any negative feedback from the hardcore snowboard guy who might expect a different kind of message,” explains Anasenes.

“We could do a better job of tailoring our messages to those audiences. Right now we are working on tailoring how we reach those audiences and not changing our messages a lot,” reports Gibbons. “How we get the message to them is more important right now than changing the message. We could certainly tweak it one way for the other to make it more effective. We’re spending more of your time making sure we are reaching them let alone reach with the right twist of the message.”

Lewis notes that the choice of media is important in delivering advertising messages. “From our standpoint, you address the different demographics through your media buy. The choice of words is subtle and may need just a few different words,” says Lewis. “We tailor messages and media for different genders and age groups. We do talk to them a little differently. Certain things and timely can be more important. Younger people are more ‘right now’ and don’t purchase until the snow is on the ground. Older people may consider purchases and make them earlier.”

Available to download, the Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide offers snow sports retailers with valuable marketing resources that can attract new ski enthusiasts to their stores. “The guide is a great tool,” says Wilson. “In the old days, people would drive past a shop on the way to the mountain and they would stop in and buy something. They don’t do that anymore. You can’t wait for people to walk in the door. You have to engage them and motivate them to stop in the store. A lot of shops may not be utilizing all the strategies we do and this will give them a jumpstart and a plan to go by.”

Be sure to sign up for the Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide webinar, October 2, 2012 at 4:00P EST. Learn how to better navigate this guide that offers content that ranges from traditional print and radio advertising to digital copy, HTML templates, social media campaigns from Instagram to Pinterest boards, and is a great tool to help refresh your outreach as you prepare for the season to begin. Please share the RMG with your staff and join in on the webinar. SIGN UP HERE.

For more information on SIA’s Retailer to Consumer Marketing Guide, visit the page or contact Mary Cecile Neville, SIA’s Associate Director Marketing & Communications, at MCNeville@snowsports.org or 703.506.4201.

Best Practices
Managing a successful snow sports specialty retail store requires expertise in an ever-changing array of business operations. Human resources, event planning, marketing, product selection, social media and e-commerce are just a few examples. Lou Dzierzak has written about these topics for over a decade. Best Practices will shorten the learning curve by offering case studies, resources and how-to tips from experts in specific fields. If you have suggestions for future topics, please feel free to contact Lou at Lkdcom@visi.com.