With all the hoopla about the internet, the good, old-fashioned newspaper still serves as the basic forum for beverage alcohol retail advertising. Advertising in a newspaper allows retailers to target a small community, and for those concerned about cost, newspapers also offer relatively affordable ad space.

Beverage Dynamics offers several ideas to help you to plan and create effective newspaper ads that will bring customers in the door and profits to your store.

* Create a Budget and a Schedule

A one-shot ad may work in the short term, but it will never have the positive long-term effects of a planned ad schedule. Depending upon the amount of resources you want to devote to advertising, develop a seasonal, quarterly or annual plan, in conjunction with your staff and the newspaper’s account executive. Promoting your store’s positioning, its service and merchandise in the minds of consumers takes time and its effects are often cumulative. A schedule also allows you to purchase ads at contract rates, which are more cost-efficient than open rates.

*Promote Your Strengths

Before deciding on any campaign or long-range schedule, retailers must have a clear image of their stores and clientele. Are you a large-volume discounter, a high-end merchant or somewhere in between? Do you run a single outlet or a small chain? Are you located in an upscale neighborhood in a city, a shopping center in the suburbs or a small town? What is the profile of your average customer? Is your customer base drawn primarily from a local area, or does it also include neighborhoods, communities and towns outside of your immediate location? Decide what audience you want to appeal to in your ads. Also, decide what services you want to promote, such as free gift wrapping or delivery. Remember to create and maintain an image of your store, whether it be a value-conscious warehouse-type operation, a specialty store that focuses, for example, on bordeaux or superpremium spirits, or an all-purpose outlet.6806DEPT1

*Focus on a Goal

Establish a theme for your ad to summarize the direction in which you want to go. For example, you may want to highlight two dozen of the best wine bargains under $15 in the store, or you may want to feature a lineup of white spirits for a summer weekend sale.

* Make Your Ads Recognizable

Try to make your ads different from those of your competitors. Give them a distinctive look with consistent typefaces, art and design. Make it easy for your customers to recognize your ads at a glance.

* Stress a Specific Theme or Benefit in Headline

Keep the headline short and punchy: for example, “Good Times At Great Savings,” to appeal to customers who see the social/entertaining benefits of beverage alcohol products as well as those looking for a bargain; and “Pick of the Liter,” promoting liter-size bottles. Essentially, you have to give consumers a good reason to want to go to your store, whether that reason is price, selection or service or a combination of the three.

* Specify Branded Merchandise with Product Illustrations Where Possible

The reader’s eye is automatically drawn to product illustrations that are interspersed throughout an ad, so take advantage of this to tout those products you’d like to heavily merchandise with available line art.6806DEPT2

* Keep It Simple

Try not to overcrowd your ad with too much type or too many graphic elements; however, if you have a lot of products you’d like to feature, try to compartmentalize them in sections of the ad. For example, one section could be devoted to a listing of single malt Scotches, while another part could highlight your best deals on Italian wines. Using descriptive copy, include ratings, reviews and food pairings. Items often sell more briskly if a line or two of text accompanies the listing. The best ads utilize a mixture of “laundry lists” and showcased items, accompanied by copy, labels or product art.

* Give the Ad a Sense of Urgency

Set sales dates clearly. Phrases such as “This Week Only” and “While Supplies Last” give customers a reason to beat a path to your door.6806DEPT3

*Don’t Forget Basic Information

Remember to include the store’s name, location (with cross streets and nearest public transportation, if applicable), phone and fax numbers, e-mail and/or web site address, credit cards accepted, store hours and any special services offered, such as gift wrapping, delivery, gift baskets and quantity or case discounts. Many consumers are influenced by more than price and inventory.

The bottom line? Keep newspaper ads simple, neat and readable. Present a consistent look and theme, especially when highlighting different sales or product categories. Ultimately, the details remain up to you, your staff or the ad agency you use. By following these guidelines, you can develop a credible newspaper advertising program that will bring more customers to your store and add profits to your bottom line. — Richard Brandes


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