Leveraging Your Brand

December 18, 2019

With the holidays behind us and the Superbowl around the corner, it’s still a great time for beer, wine and spirits.

But as an “old school” marketer, I have a few problems with how many other retailers are now handling holiday shopping. Amazon has been a game changer, just like Wal-Mart 25 years ago. And with the advent of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning it is only going to get worse. (Or better depending on your perspective!)

Did you shop at a big box store on Thanksgiving? Or did you shop online while eating your Turkey and enjoying a beverage of your choice? How many emails, tweets and text messages did you receive between November 15th and December 25th?  I think many retailers have gotten out of control with trying to “one up” each other with Black Friday and Cyber Monday. In my opinion, the holidays should be spent with friends and family, not worrying about getting the best deal.

I am however a big fan of “Small Business Saturday” as this supports everything I covered over the last few blogss regarding your Brand Strategy. Most of the readers of Heady Times are small, family businesses that should benefit from this day.

So how can you get a “Retail Edge” from being small?

What is your differential advantage? In other words, what do you do better than the bigger competitors? You may not be able to compete on price, but that is also the least defendable position regardless of size. You can certainly compete on the product, promotion and place, which are the other three “P’s” of Marketing.

Think of your “product” as:

  1. All of the physical things you sell
  2. Customer Service 
  3. Hours of operation
  4. Convenience  
  5. Local
  6. Family Business

Each of these can be used as a competitive advantage. You can tailor your products to fit the neighborhood and local customers. If you have family running the business, use it to your advantage! (My guess is that you know many of your customers on a first name basis. If you live near the business let them know that too. The money you make stays in the neighborhood.).

Do you adjust your hours based on customer demand, day of the week, or time of the year?

Convenience means easy to shop. (Leverage the benefit that your customers can get in/out quickly, or maybe they want to “hang out” on the way home.) We are all short on time, so use this to your advantage.  Local means close to home or work, use it to your advantage. If you have Millennial and Gen Z customers, know that they are willing to spend more money to support local business. They should be your two primary targets for new business.

Being a small business, you also have the benefit of speed. Do you adjust your strategy based on the weather? How about leveraging local events like food, music or art festivals? Do you sponsor any local teams? Did a new office building open nearby? Are you near a college? Grass roots event marketing should be a big part of what you do, as the bigger companies can’t do these types of things. If you are using social media, these are the types of things that get the best response.

Of course, if you are like me, in addition to social media marketing go “old school” with flyers, call them on the phone or talk to them in person. This is your best weapon against larger competition. This is the “R” in CRM or Customer Relationship Management.


In the next blog we will discuss marketing planning.

Marketing is a race with no finish line!

George Latella teaches Food Marketing at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Food Marketing which is the largest major at Saint Joseph’s University recently celebrated its 57th anniversary. George is also a partner in Beacon Marketing group which provides Marketing planning, research, and e-commerce/direct marketing communications for food and beverage companies. George can be reached at glatella@sju.edu or 610-660-2254.


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