Your Customers Are the Osbournes
Not that we needed any reminders, but two Super Bowl commercials made it clear that the latest consumer electronics revolution has little to do with TVs or high-end sound systems. The revolution is all about mobile technologies and how related products connect to personal and corporate lifestyles.
Independent and specialty dealers looking to differentiate their offerings, attract new customers and drive profitable services can borrow a few tips from the ads.
Start with the one from Staples. It featured flying notebooks, walking tablets, hopping displays, rolling software boxes, and running mice. "And they're all looking for the same thing, the one place that makes technology easy. Staples" the ad stated.
The ad makes it clear that Staples is no longer about, well, staples and all the other traditional office products the business was built on. The ad's closing lines says it all: "With highly trained tech experts and tech centers Staples makes finding the right technology just the way you want it. Easy."
We're not saying Staples will live up to its promises, but with an ad that sends this type of message during the most-watched event of the year we can say that thousands of consumers will see what the chain has to offer.
Of course smaller dealers don't have the budget for this type of campaign. But they do have budgets and they do have traditional and new media marketing campaigns. They also have something the big boxes like Staple don't have: A database with the contact info of loyal customers that have relied on them in the past for their CE needs. Those same clients are the ones who have recommended you to their family, friends and neighbors throughout the years. And there's always a new generation, a new demographic that's hungry for those recommendations.
Now is the time for dealers who are selling new technologies and services to let those customers know (through email, social networking and traditional marketing campaigns) that your store is the one that makes it easy to choose and buy the right products, solutions and services at the right price.
Those new products can include just about anything in a hot category: headphones, tablets, wired and wireless networking gear, home surveillance solutions, smartphones, etc. Services should include installation, repairs, consultation and connectivity. In terms of connectivity, it's difficult for dealers to form partnerships with carriers, but it's not difficult to partner with a sub-contractor. It's better to be able to tell customers you can provide them with all their technology needs, even if a piece of it is through a sub-contractor, than to lose business by saying you can't help them.
Despite all the information available to consumers on the Internet, the majority of them still need the help of knowledgeable and trusted dealers to help them make the right decision. Most consumers won't question the price when they know a sales professional has gone out of his or her way to take the time to explain confusing technology and offer the solution that best fits a need and a budget.
That was the point in the second ad, from Best Buy, that caught our attention. It features Ozzie trying to hawk 4G. A few seconds after he starts, he's interrupted to pitch 5G. "How many bloody Gs are there?" he asks in frustration. The tagline "Technology Moves Fast" pops up. Justin Bieber then shows up to save the day with 6G. The camera then focuses on an equally confused Sharon Osbourne, who asks, "What's a 6G?"
The ad promotes Best Buy's new Buy Back Program. "You buy it now, we buy it back when it's time to upgrade." It works. Consumer technologies have moved so fast in the last six months (think tablets, 3G, 4G, Android, 3D, wireless streaming, iPhones connected to head units, the list goes on) that many consumers are frozen in the headlights. They're afraid to buy the latest product today because they know the new one is a few months off.
Future-proofing technology through a retail buy back program, when sold correctly, is one step in giving consumers the confidence they need to buy something they're wary of. Smaller dealers can easily take a similar strategy. Customers will start asking for it and will appreciate the service when it's offered.
Remember, the majority of your current and potential customers are the Osbournes; they're confused and somewhat addled with all of technology choices being thrown at them. But they're also willing to play in the revolution. They just need a little help.
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