Independent retailers have a variety of tools they can use to encourage customers to visit their businesses. In some communities, taking out an ad in the local newspaper or a radio spot is the best way to market their business. However, some retailers might be looking to adopt a more omnichannel focus, shifting from traditional marketing mediums like radio and print to outlets like social media, email marketing and more.
During the recent True Value Fall Reunion in Chicago, Dave Elliott, senior vice president of marketing for the company, announced a new marketing program that will take True Value’s efforts to the next level, no matter the medium.
Hardware Retailing sat down with Elliott for more information on the new program, some background on his industry experience and how True Value retailers continue to have the power to make choices that make the most sense for them.
Hardware Retailing (HR): Can you tell us about your background and what you hope to bring to True Value?
Dave Elliott (DE): Before joining True Value in April, I had spent the past seven years as the general manager of marketing for Mitre 10, the leading hardware and home improvement co-op in New Zealand. While there, I implemented many different strategies to drive growth and profitability for our independent retailers.
Some things I’ve done in my past role might make sense here at True Value, yet ultimately, my role is to make sure the brand is relevant for consumers. Times are changing, and retail is a reflection of the culture, which needs to be translated to our brand.
There are surprisingly few differences between the U.S. and New Zealand. To some extent, in Western culture, home improvement consumers act in similar ways. Value segmentations, demographic age segmentation, these are all more similar than they are different.
HR: Can you give us a rundown of the new 2018 marketing program, what it entails and what retailers can expect?
DE: The big news is that we are eliminating our national advertising fee for our retailers and shifting to a more digital and localized approach. The key objective from this new program is that our focus is on consumers rather than the channels. In some markets, print still remains a viable solution. In other markets, digital may be a better medium.
I think it’s a matter of having a range of options available, being focused on the member locally and giving the power back to the member. If they don’t see the need for some aspects of marketing, we empower them to take that and put it back toward the business and its bottom line. I believe this will distinguish True Value retailers as the leaders in each of their individual markets.
With the power back in the members’ hands, we leave the money with them and offer a range of programs for them to choose from.
HR: How does this new marketing program differ from the previous program? How can it help retailers attract more customers and strengthen their businesses?
DE: Our new marketing program differs quite dramatically—it removes a widespread universal marketing program and instead allows the retailer to decide how they want to implement marketing in their local market. True Value retailers have been asking for a more effective way to reach their local customers. Our new program will offer a new unique-to-market tool, allowing retailers to better engage their customers through new digital and customizable marketing programs with more locally relevant products and campaigns.
It’s really a partnership that allows us to be more flexible since no two stores are the same. The program allows us to be different things in different markets because we need to be and it maximizes profitability.
HR: Do you have any tips or advice for retailers looking to get started?
DE: The 2018 marketing program will launch in April, so we’ll have another Reunion to talk about it before it is available. We wanted to give our customers the signal early about this new shift in marketing rather than rush or bombard them, because we know it is a big change.
The great thing is that this program offers a wide range of options. They can stick to traditional media or opt to get away from traditional media, or they can do a little bit of both.
HR: What has the response been from True Value retailers?
DE: Since our announcement, I’ve had several retailers tell me how happy they are about this new approach to marketing. One retailer told me he had never implemented marketing before and now he can. The marketing booth at the Reunion was very busy, and we’ve been answering lots of questions, which we’ll continue to do.
We’ve prepared a very comprehensive communications program on this that they’ll get online. We’ve prepared a customized 2018 True Value Recommended Marketing Plan and Estimated Budget for each specific store—that’s what we’re starting with. Then a team of our people, the marketing advisers, can talk about it further with retailers.
Our main takeaway is that this allows retailers to go even more local. It puts control back in members’ hands and focuses on being effective on that basis.