Back in the 1970's when we first noticed that people were paying less attention to print media and to the ads placed in them, we encountered resistance convincing retailers that they should move more of their advertising dollars out of print and into the "new" media of TV and even radio. Many furniture retailers disagreed and continued to place their advertising in the daily newspapers' furniture sections on the so-called "best furniture day", among a mass of competitors. We frequently heard the "tire ad story" as a key rational for sticking to this strategy.
What is the tire ad story? The tire ad story refers to those ubiquitous tire ads that have been placed in the sports sections of daily newspapers since time began. Said furniture retailers were certain that "everyone" knew about this assemblage of tire ads. To hear a retailer tell the story, he would relate that he never looks at tire ads (and often may not even have time to read the newspaper) until he needs to buy tires. When the time comes to buy tires, he will get the newspaper and turn to the sports pages, totally confident that he will find the best source of major tire competitors all advertising their latest promotions. The tire ads needed to be there every week to compete for that week's percent of the market that were shopping for tires.
So too, the furniture retailer reasoned, would it be wise for him to place his ads consistently in the furniture section of the newspaper. He was certain that "everyone" knows about this assemblage of advertising, too. When the time comes to buy furniture, the first place consumers will check is the newspaper, on the best furniture day, to read the sale ads.
Forty years ago, newspapers reached about fifty to sixty percent of the households or more. Unfortunately, those days are long gone - even though there are many furniture retailers who continue to place ads in this morass. But the world has passed them by. Today, most daily newspapers reach fewer than thirty percent of households (and even a lower figure as one tracks out into suburbia), and the figure has been steadily dropping for years. We are at a point where an entire generation (over 20 years) has grown up without depending on a newspaper for anything.
So if newspapers are missing seventy percent of the households, where do people find tire stores these days -- or furniture stores, for that matter?
They certainly don't use the Yellow Pages books. It takes too much time to find the books, un-pile all the junk piled on top of them at the bottom of the closet, lift them, leaf through the alphabet of listings, and read the small print in the ads or listings.
Even radio and TV have lost value as ipods, TIVO, satellite, video games, and other options have siphoned off listeners/viewers while rates have increased for the sake of keeping station profits high.
Today's savy retailers have discovered a new version of the old tire ad story and that version is located online. Today's savy consumers just grab their handy computers, click into Google or Yahoo or Super Pages or one of hundreds of convenient search sites and type in t-i-r-e-s, or in our case
f-u-r-n-i-t-u-r-e, and the name of your locale. Millions of consumers do this every day. Instantly they are connected to a list of convenient retailers, many a click away from finding even more information on their Website about their store, including specials designed to motivate customers to visit right now. Today's smart advertising money should be devoted to making sure that when consumers are searching for furniture online, your company is found quickly, easily, and near the top of the list.
Gone are the days when print media were the primary source of locating news and promotional information. Putting ones advertising budget there is as outmoded as typing on a typewriter - unless your target market consists of consumers 65 years and older, certainly not the growing end of our demographic universe.
Forty years ago consumers had confidence in one or two print media as THE go-to places to find information about things to buy. They do today as well. But times have changed and the go-to medium of the times has changed. Today's furniture retailer needs to write a new version of the tire ad story, online, with your own furniture store as the star.