By Mike Hayes, email@example.com
Well, it’s election week. This year, as with many non-presidential election years, the story has been about control of Congress. Though this is presented on the news networks and political websites as a national issue, Congressional districts are, in truth, relatively small areas with clearly defined boundaries. The winning party, therefore, must solve the trick of being relevant to the local voters in many different and disparate districts. The maxim “all politics is local,” is more relevant now than ever before. Politicians need to know what’s top-of-mind, understand how their target thinks and craft messaging that resonates in a way that inspires voters to act.
Sound like a familiar process? It should, because politicians are masters of local marketing; constantly driving to a specific action at the local voting booth. Just like the local political arena, the game of retail is won block by block and store by store. This fall, I’ve gathered a few pointers that retailers can take away from our local politicians to translate into greater success at the register.
Strategy One: Focus your dollars where they matter most: Whether they be Congressional districts or Aldermanic wards, politicians have clearly defined boundaries where they focus campaign efforts. They know precisely the areas that they must invest in to win the election. They also know the areas that they’ve got in the bag. The questions they need to answer are: Where can I pick up undecided votes? How much time should I spend shoring up my “base?” And is it worth it to spend money in areas where my opponent is solid?
Retail marketers also must make these choices. If you’re a major retail marketer, you should be making strategic investment decisions based on where you’re strong and where you’re not. With budgets the way they are, which 200 store neighborhoods do you need to win to hit your national holiday revenue goals, and which ones are a lost cause? Are you thinking about where you should turn up the heat for Easter? With new targeting and insight technology, national marketing can work even harder when paired with a performance-driven, geography-based store strategy.
Strategy Two: Be In tune with neighborhood realities: Nothing hurts a politician more than being considered “out of touch” with voters. The same holds true for marketers and their customers. Politicians, no matter where they’re running, focus on the hot button issues for their electorate, and those issues are likely to be different for each local neighborhood. In the Bay Area of San Francisco, people are hotly debating the issue of medical marijuana and gay marriage. While in the Lakeview neighborhood of Chicago, people are concerned about tax hikes and corruption.
Retail marketers also need to be in-tune with the local customer realities. It’s extremely important to know -- with absolute certainty -- the issues that are important in each area (which can vary greatly, neighborhood by neighborhood). These variations can range from micro-economics such as recession status, job market and home sales, to demographics and psychographics such as lifestyle, family structure and brand affinity. Retailers have the opportunity to craft marketing messages to align with those local differences to gain a competitive advantage. Missing that critical information, a marketer runs the risk of sending out the wrong message, at the wrong time, to the wrong people. They’ll appear out of touch, and they’ll lose sales at the register. There are over 2,000 data streams available for every zip code around your stores. Using available local market insight to enhance performance is what gives marketers (and politicians) a leg up.
Strategy Three: Layer local tactics based on response. Once you’ve defined who’s going to make the register ring, how do you inspire them to act? Even within a single neighborhood, Politicians layer a myriad of strategic grassroots efforts that they know will collectively shift the vote. Politicians have figured out that a personal appearance might drive the vote for some neighborhood voters, while a social media effort on Twitter and Facebook might inspire a different set of voters. They have the art of local marketing perfected, with all local tactics working in alignment to drive voters to their local polling station.
Advanced technology now enables marketers to understand the media receptivity differences by neighborhood and by target. Just as different voters are swayed by different media (one may appreciate a booster going door-to-door while another just views it as an annoyance), shoppers take action based on different media triggers. One shopper may respon