Developing a Local Store Marketing (LSM) plan for your business doesn’t require you to be a marketing expert. However, it does require that you invest a bit of time and effort. You’ll need to do some homework and preparation, if you want to ensure that you have created a solid, strategic plan that is on target to achieve your objectives.
I’ve always broken the planning process down into four steps, which can also be called the G.A.M.E. method. The G.A.M.E. method helps ensure that you are efficiently and effectively targeting the best opportunities in your local trading area. These are opportunities that can immediately impact your bottom line, as well as build long-term community relationships. Follow these four steps and your LSM plan will be tailored specifically for your location.
The G.A.M.E. method takes you all the way from start to finish in a thoughtful approach. Here is the process:
STEP ONE: Gather Information:
This step is the foundation of your efforts. It’s where you collect information on your business results, sales and product mix and gain an understanding of what opportunities can be found in your trading area.
This step involves gathering your sales reports and detailed information, such as which products sell best in your location? What days are best for sales and what days are worst? When are your transaction counts highest? You’ll also want to gather any research and customer behavior data.
STEP TWO: Analyze What You Know:
Now that you’ve gathered the data, you will need to sift through it to identify the best opportunities. You’ll want to identify trends and compare your data against benchmarks such as year-ago sales, what’s typical for similar businesses in your area and how your data compares against corporate benchmarks. You’ll also identify objectives and measurable goals. This is one of the more challenging aspects of planning, as you need to pinpoint your objectives and be specific. Many local marketers set goals that are too lofty or broad—which makes creating a plan more difficult.
STEP THREE: Make a Plan:
Here’s where you turn your analysis into action by developing your plan. Think carefully about the strategies and tactics that you will include in your plan. Always start with your objectives. Many marketers start with an idea and then force fit it to meet their objectives. That’s like finding a shoe that’s two sizes too small and forcing it to fit—eventually it’s painful.
Be detailed and make sure you’ve selected a tactic that will achieve your objective. Over the years, I’ve seen a lot of LSM plans that confuse strategies and tactics. The easy way to think about this is that strategies are how you will achieve your objectives and tactics are what you will do to accomplish your objectives. For example:
- Objective: Increase sales by 2% this month
- Strategy: Obtain new customers from the subdivisions surrounding my location
- Tactics: Distribute an email blast with offers and host a Family Fun Event at my location
Thinking through each strategy will help ensure you’re taking actions that will achieve your objectives.
STEP FOUR: Execute and Evaluate:
Step Four is where you take the time to implement your plan and refine it for the future. Don’t take this step lightly, as poor execution can be a plan’s downfall. Remember to evaluate the results of your efforts against your measurable objectives and make note of these results. These results will help you understand what works best for you and what you might want to repeat in the future.
In addition to these four key steps, you will also want to think about the timing and duration of your plan. In general, I recommend that every two months you create a new plan and that each plan lasts for six to eight weeks. Always prepare in advance so that you have the lead time required for proper implementation of each tactic.
Equally important is the amount of money you invest in the success of your plan. A general rule of thumb is to devote 4% to 5% of sales to your marketing efforts. This includes contributions to national and market-wide plans, as well as your LSM efforts. In my opinion, LSM spend should be no less than 1% of sales and no more than 5% of sales—it just depends upon the amount of support that you may be receiving from national, co-op or market-wide initiatives.
LSM Streetfighting provides a strong foundation for the success and growth of your business. In the upcoming weeks, I’ll outline the details for each of the G.A.M.E. method steps, so make sure and check back in to get a better understanding of how you can improve upon your LSM planning process with strong sales building ideas.