Why You Should Have a Contingency Media Budget for Your Retail Marketing

OpportunityIf you're a retailer who advertises, you probably have a weekly or monthly budget for how you place your media. You have weekly or bi-weekly or big monthly retail marketing pushes. But, what if an unexpected marketing opportunity comes along? Are you prepared for it? Can you take advantage of it? You can, if you plan for it. 

Just yesterday we were presenting a media plan to a retail brand who has marketing factors that come up randomly throughout the year that create a lot of buzz about their brand along with a huge spike in sales. The problem is, you never know when those factors are going to align. The solution? We hold out a portion of the media budget expressly to cover those contingencies. The plan is to have regularly scheduled event flights, but hold back enough media money to be able to run a significant media push behind 6 – 8 of these marketing opportunities each year. 

How do you get decent media buys when they come up suddenly like that? You negotiate with the stations ahead of time, so they know they're going to get the money, as long as they stick to pre-negotiated rates and make airtime available to us when we need it. If you've planned for it in advance, you can make it happen at a reasonable cost.

What if your retail sales don't have a regular influx of marketing opportunities like that? You should still have some contingency set up to take advantage of any opportunities that might arise. Just that fact that you have that contingency budget set aside will make you more diligent in looking for opportunities you might not have seen before. It keeps your strategic skills honed, watching for any opportunity to take advantage of something your competitor may not have seen or may not have budget set aside for.

Winter storm carPlanning this way also give you the opportunity to fix unforeseen retail disasters. There are many factors that can adversely affect sales that you have no control over nor could have seen coming. This last winter, one of our furniture retailer clients had a big advertising push set up for what normally is one of their biggest sales of the season. But the weekend of the sale a massive winter storm swept through their area. Not only did the storm keep many potential shoppers home, it knocked out the power to a number of stores, making any sale impossible. Fortunately, we were prepared. We launched a winter storm sale in the aftermath of the storm. Spots talked about how the storm had knocked out one of our biggest sales, leaving us with tons of unsold inventory. We were able to create a believable spot with all sorts of urgency and get it on the air right away. It didn't completely make up for the sales they lost the previous weekend, but sales were way up from the same week the previous year.

So, if you're a retailer, do some forward planning. Make sure you are able to take advantage of any retail marketing opportunities that come your way. This also allows you to mitigate potential disasters when they occur. Either way, you will be able to get an advantage over your competition. 

Buffy O'ConnorBuffy O'Connor, Director of Media Services, who always prefers working with a net.

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