The Stereo Advantage Experience

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Over the past thirty five years our Stereo Advantage retail and commercial customers have come to recognize us as their favorite resource for technology in WNY.  Nevertheless, our challenge has always been to stay relevant.  Since 2004, we have been aggressively restructuring and retooling the Stereo Advantage for life after the commoditizing of the consumer electronics business.  We’ve left the carcass of that world for Best Buy, WalMart, Costco, and the internet to fight over.  While they’re busy bloodying each other, we have been hard at work creating a more desirable and sustainable identity to build our future on.  We no longer have retail, wholesale, and commercial sales.  We have the Advantage Experience.  All of our customers, employees, families, suppliers, associates, and community are part of this unique and magical experience.

The old Stereo Advantage provided our retail customers access to entertainment through a well-developed and easily understood matrix of products; while our Commercial Division provided a concierge approach to selling the same entertainment product awkwardly positioned for business use.  Audio/Video provided a recognizable banner for product choices, and it led to a revolution in retail.  Big Box retailers effectively combined disparate categories into an effective sales environment: blending home appliances with audio/video, car audio, computers, and software.  Today, technology has rendered the old matrix unrecognizable, as it has blurred the lines that conveniently separated the categories that we once sold with simplicity.  Additionally, the mass merchants and internet have compromised the old, easily definable categories, by commoditizing them and eliminating their profitability [rendering retailers such as Circuit City and Best Buy insignificant… and we know what happened to Circuit City].

Just as we ushered in a new era in consumer electronics retail with our Home Theater and SmartLink mall concepts in the 90’s, we are now embarking on yet another game-changing venture.  The new Stereo Advantage provides our retail and commercial customers with the resources necessary for effective technology integration by developing system architecture specific to their needs.  We now provide our customers the components, installation, programming, ongoing support, and service required to maximize the potential and effectiveness of their fully integrated system.

Since 1978, the Stereo Advantage’s challenge has always been to provide the type of product and service that our customers need in an ever-changing world of technology.  Today, it is up to us to integrate computer technology with home entertainment for our customers.  Furthermore, we have to make it universally accessible.  Whether it’s in the living room, office, or online – it’s up to us to seamlessly integrate our customer’s access to all of their information and entertainment resources.  No one is better equipped to provide the myriad of expertise necessary to deliver the whole package.  The Stereo Advantage is indeed the Smart Center.

The new Stereo Advantage offers consumers, businesses, schools, institutions, and the government complete technology integration, security, and entertainment solutions, providing the finest brands, Lifetime Service, and system architecture professionally designed, programmed, and installed by The Smart Squad and Advantage TI.

Advantage TI also offers consumers, businesses, schools, institutions, and the government complete technology integration and video-conferencing solutions, and provides them with the professionally designed system architecture, solutions, programming, installation, and ongoing support, security, and service necessary for effective and extraordinary performance.

This revolution in our industry is just getting started, and the new Stereo Advantage has the opportunity to lead the way.  We are uniquely equipped to facilitate the Advantage Experience for everyone we come in contact with.   Eventually this enabling will go beyond the sales and integration staff at the Stereo Advantage to potentially include every Advantage employee, every former employee, and every jump-site associate.  It’s the Advantage Nation.

2013 TW&Co Marketing Strategy.

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Posted by: Tony
Date: January 6, 2013
To: TW&Co Staff
Subject: 2013 Marketing Strategy

Over the years, I have been very specific about our advertising strategy.  At its very core it starts with word-of-mouth promotion.  We have always depended on our customers to be our enthusiastic and sincere advocates.  As a practical matter, however, I recognize that additional promotional activities could be advantageous if executed effectively and efficiently.  With that in mind, here is a quick breakdown of our marketing activities for 2013 [in their order of significance]:

  1. Word-of-mouth promotion.  While it is easy to dismiss this as simply a by-product of better satisfying the customer, to do so would not only miss the point, but rob us of our most productive and least expensive form of promotion.  For starters, we have to actually ask for our customer to promote us.  It is a necessary call-to-action.  To simply expect them to promote us because they had an enjoyable, or even remarkable experience is not going to get the job done.  We need specific and easy to deliver, administer, and track promotions.
    1. I would like to start with our Cento Club members by giving them a $100 Gift Certificate to someone they know who hasn’t shopped at TW&Co.  It will be a good start, and it will lead to similar inducements.
    2. Another program could possibly be for all customers that spend over $300.  They would be able to send a friend of theirs a Gift Certificate for 10% of their total purchase.  These are two specific programs that would encourage our customers to promote us.  We would be even more advantageous if we gave them the opportunity to say something nice about TW&Co in the email that we send to their friend with the Gift Certificate offer.  Nothing beats a sincere testimonial from a friend.  The possibilities are endless.
  2. Fliers.  While I recognize that they are a nuisance for everyone, I remain convinced that there is absolutely no better form of promotion.  Period.  The customer is in the store, now what better target audience for a promotion is there than someone who is already in the store?  It is our way of alerting them to What’s New and What’s Going On.  Of course, if we do not include incentives and a specific call-to-action, it will remain just a useless waste of paper, ink, time, and effort.  We can promote in a the newspaper or on billboards or in emails or in direct mail or in magazines, etc, but we will always struggle to hit our target audience with a bulls-eye [except with Janet Snyder].  However, a flier never misses its mark.  It’s something that can be personally, enthusiastically, and directly delivered to our customer who is already in the store.  Just as a focused, attentive, and engaging manager can increase sales dramatically; so can an effective mailer and in-store promotion program.  Our fliers need to be more creative, timely, and effective.  AIDA is the cornerstone on which our flier program must be built.
  3. In-store merchandising and POP.  It’s remarkable how much a simple ‘new’ tag can have on a customer’s impression of a product.  Imagine if we actually had a story to go along with it?
    1. Our merchandise lacks a story.  It is all presented in a dry and lifeless setting.  We need to ad a story and character to every brand and every collection.  There is a patient and curious customer that will read, enjoy, and, more importantly, repeat the tale.  We have an incredible selection of brands,  product, and services – it’s a shame we don’t tell their story.
    2. While our wall display posters have dramatically enlivened the store, they have done little to illuminate or promote the product they serve.
    3. Our complete lack of effective video presentation in the store belies our developing expertise and savvy in video production.  We need strategically placed TV’s throughout the retail space that deliver our promotions, programs, and identity.  It’s in-store entertainment.
    4. At least hand out the catalog.  It is by far our best effort ever and most customers can’t believe it’s free [and even though it cost us $4 per copy to publish, it is free to our customers].
  4. Programs, Events, and Promotions.  While we had a hit and miss affair with our programs, events, and promotions in 2012, nothing was as debilitating as the demise of our Fashion Board and Fashion Shows.  Nothing spreads the word to an appreciative customer better than the Fashion Shows, and it gives us a great foundation for our community and charitable activities.
    1. I expect to have a Fashion Show every week in 2013.  Yes, we are off to an atrocious start, but with the proper leadership, I think we can embark on a successful program of community events that will enhance our standing in the community while effectively promoting our product, services, and cache.  I believe we should include Gift Certificates and other incentives and charitable contributions in all of our shows, and we should track them as part of our ongoing effort to recognize and improve our offerings.
    2. Having our customers more involved in Runway Wednesday, Fashion First Friday, Gift Giving Registry, Web Wardrobe, Travel Club, What’s Mackenzie Wearing Today?, Monday Morning Madness, Two Girls One Deal, Corporate Shopping Nights, Courtesy Program, Cento Club, Trade-Ins, Private Shopping Parties, Birthday Club, In-Home Consultation, Tent Sale, etc. is essential to our connection with our customer.  So, before you start worrying about our radio ads, billboards, tv, magazines, etc., pay particular attention to our everyday promotional activities and we won’t need any other form of marketing to increase our business dramatically beyond what I have already detailed so far.
    3. Of particular concern is our complete lack of enthusiasm for my Modern Luxuri Guarantees.  In 2013, I want to build an entire brand, RiOT, around such guarantees.
    4. We need some instant promotions at the time of purchase.  I tried to jump start this with Derek, but I was completely dismissed.  Of course, my dessert tray is just one of the many initiatives that has fallen on hard times.  So it goes.
  5. Emails, blogs, websites, and social media.  Where do we begin?  Well, for starters, we need a schedule.  This constant blasting of ill-conceived gibberish that we unload on our customers at random is simply not effective.  All of our emails, blogs, websites, and social media must be coordinated with our events, promotions, and agenda.  I’ll spare you the usual AIDA rap, but I can not spare you the necessity to get organized.
  6. Traditional Media.  Radio, TV, newspaper, billboards, magazines, and bumper stickers all have their place.  To me, however, they are a last resort.  I believe they would be superfluous and unnecessary if we focused on the more cost effective marketing tools I’ve detailed above.  However, there is no denying that in certain instances they can all prove effective, especially with Janet.  Nevertheless, our buckshot approach that is further compromised by little or no association with our other marketing activities is an expensive distraction.  Once again, we need an organized and well-coordinated program that runs seamlessly throughout all of our marketing activities.
  7. Direct Marketing.  Last, but not least.  While you have no intention in participating in anything that even remotely approaches a direct marketing program, I am committed to developing an effective direct marketing program for all of our merchant activities in 2013.  In this regard, I will have to go outside the company to hire someone who is not predisposed to ignore this opportunity.  I’ll keep you apprised of my progress.

Of course, as we all know, nothing is more effective than a simple attentive smile.  A smile that says I am here for you and I look forward to making this a truly remarkable experience.  It’s cheap and effective, but, at times, very elusive and in short supply.  We need to teach it, promote it, encourage it, and demand it.  Start with yourself.  Nothing is better than a great example.  Try it, and I guarantee you sales will increase dramatically if we have everyone faithfully participating.

So, that’s a quick look at our marketing plan for 2013.  While our sales increase in 2012 was surprising considering all the renovation and expansion we undertook throughout the year, I can’t help but believe that we will put that unexpected increase to shame in 2013.

Be big, be a builder [and a great marketer].