July 02, 2008

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While I'm Thinking About It

Mostly I Just Wanted To Post That Link Near The End

Generally speaking, Roger didn't spend much time or money on advertising Pilgrim Discount Book and Bible. Mailings were his big thing, but given that his only mailing list was his own, consisting of current and former customers, the phrase "preaching to the choir" seems somehow appropriate.

The problem--from my point of view--with that approach is that each mailing, even if only done once a year right before Christmas, will be a little less effective. People move away. They die. They come into other circumstances that preclude their continuing to buy even relatively inexpensive luxury items like books.

Roger looked at advertising as a way to get specific people into the store for a specific purpose. It seems to me that advertising's real purpose is to let new potential customers know about the store and its offerings. You need to replace the customers who have gone bye-bye, and those potential new customers are never going to be found in your current customer database.

So, place a few ads. There are a number of Christian radio stations in the Portland metro area, both music and news/talk. There's a freebie, ad-supported monthly newspaper. Even the smallest ad tells people "Hey, here we are. This is what we do."

Otherwise, you're limited to word-of-mouth to drive business. And, quite frankly, that can be risky. Pilgrim's word of mouth stunk. Read the first review on that page. How many other people witnessed that sort of exchange? Even if they didn't post it online, how many told their friends and family about it?

The saddest part of all this? As recently as January, we were the largest Christian BOOK (emphasis Roger's) store on the West Coast.



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