Our Blog

The Power Of Print In Your Media Mix

by Bill Napier

Posted on June 24, 2016


Why is it ... everyone thinks the print insert is dead... when it most certainly is NOT!

I'll bet you're wondering why I'm writing about this, when virtually all of my Retail Rants on my website www.social4retail.com are about why and how you must focus on your on-line marketing strategies in this digital age. That's because these three fundamentals still exist across all platforms, no matter what your marketing strategy is:

It started with an email from "Think with Google", which I subscribe to. BTW, everyone should. The information that was sent was how consumers reacted to the Super Bowl Ads. The article was titled:

 How the Big Game Played Out on the Second Screen
Click the image to read the article

Here is a quick summary of the research:

​ Commercials during the Super Bowl don’t just make us laugh or cry—they also make us search. This year, there were more than 7.5 million searches for the brands advertised during the game. This searching represents a 7X response rate compared to a typical TV ad, even after normalizing for audience size. Second-screen searching—whether it’s to re-engage with the ad, to learn more about the product, or to purchase—is a powerful indication of brand interest. For brands, that means a presence on the big screen isn’t complete without a strategy for the small screen, too.
Click the image to read the article

​ OK, I know it's the Super Bowl, but after reviewing the article, I became curious about how traditional marketing and digital interact when it comes to engaging consumers on their pathway to purchase.

​This is what I found...and it WILL enlighten you:

According to a study b e-Marketer:
​ U.S. adult consumers who had used newspaper inserts, or FSI's - Free Standing Inserts -cited deal-related benefits. Fully 70% said they checked the inserts to find out about sales and savings, while 62% said the fliers saved them time and money—and 56% had clipped coupons from a newspaper insert in the 30 days prior to polling. 
Click the image to read the article

Interestingly, a majority of respondents enjoyed looking through newspaper inserts just because; with 57% browsing even when not in the market for an item and 56% doing so simply because it was a part of their routine. - See more at: http://tinyurl.com/gt6xtx5

But the proof that inserts do work, doesn't end there. Consider this research:

Two-thirds of newspaper readers either always or regularly look at inserts, according to Coda Ventures' Triad research, a Nashville-based research firm specializing in newspaper research. Coda Ventures recently reported that fewer than nine percent of newspapers readers state that they "seldom or never" look at inserts.

And, most important to advertisers, newspaper inserts drive action. Nine out of ten newspaper readers report that they take one or more of a broad range of specific actions after reading or looking at inserts.

Other recent research by Research and Analysis of Media (RAM), an international media research company, confirms the crucial role newspaper inserts play in consumer marketing. Data shows that nearly nine in 10 of media consumers use newspaper inserts. This is much higher than the usage of direct mailers.

I could literally bore you to death with statistics and research; So I spent the weekend doing that for you and pulled out the most relevant, for this quick read.

When I contacted Valassis for their information about my article, the two charts below they sent me below really stood out:


BUT, I am NOT extolling using newspapers as your primary delivery vehicle. Subscription rates to newspapers are dying a slow death, except the Sunday editions where people look for your inserted promotions.

In some of the larger markets, subscriptions may still be relevant; however, in most markets, I suggest you use delivery vehicles like the Valassis Red Plum, delivered in the mailbox, if it's not delivered in your local paper. AND don't just rely on a "print-only strategy"; you have to integrate your promotional print program with digital too, because:


 A survey conducted by Valassis found that within 30 days of viewing a newspaper inserts, 30% of people went online to get more information. Just one of many reasons you MUST have a robust website with tons of content for consumers to shop.

Additionally, in the Wall Street Journal, they also substantiated the good news that newspaper inserts drove more retail shoppers than digital ads and are, without a doubt, the most powerful drive-to-retail media available to marketers.

So, how do you get started to take advantage of a fully integrated selling strategy with this information?

Step One- Only work with a company that knows this industry, unless you do it all in-house.

​Work only with a company that specializes in the furniture category for your creative design, print and distribution for your print program. I recommend Imagine Advertising. They've been doing this for over 15 years and have dropped over a billion...yes with a "B", print inserts for thousands of retailers. And they have a contract with Valassis, too, which is critical so that you get the best rate available.
Be sure to have a call to action, a coupon offer or something that you can track your promotion's effectiveness, AND be sure that this call to action is done digitally with integration on mobile and on your website. Using geography-based targeting is key to increase your ROI, delivering relevant, localized messages to high-opportunity consumers via desktop, mobile or tablet. Yep, you've just about covered every marketing medium that is relevant today. 

Step Two - Create a budget.

Typical advertising budgets retailers should be looking at are between 5%-10% of sales. Be sure you take into consideration the key home furnishing shopping dates in the fall, spring, summer and winter so you get maximum engagement.

The average cost just for the print portion runs between $.08-$.10/each as a delivered price, which should include everything: design, print, and distribution for the printed insert. But there are a variety of options to consider: Red Plum wrap, ROP ads, solo mail options and more, and this is why you need to deal with a company like Imagine Advertising. They know all of the available options and can recommend the best platform based off your store's profile and budget.
Step Three - Know your target audience.

Have a target market profile created by Valassis for your retail location(s). This will highlight the areas you should be focused on based off your store's information. This will include zip codes, income levels, market indices - propensity to buy, and more, so you can develop a "plan."
​ I suggest you test different offers to different demographics in your area. If you're targeting Boomers, you may want to focus on mattresses, recliners and other products your CRM/POS software shows are most likely to engage that demographic. The same with younger Millennials, maybe beds/bedrooms...that's the first item people buy when they move out of Mom & Dad’s, apartment living, etc. Again, pull your data and marry it up with the data provided by Imagine & Valassis.
Step Four - Track Everything.

Don't assume anything. Ask consumers how they heard of you, what brought them to the store, website visits before and after the promotion drops, what they bought vs. what was promoted and more.

You need to gauge effectiveness, so start with the basics and wok with your CRM/POS programs to fine-tune this strategy.

Step Five - Analyze, fine-tune and REPEAT at least monthly - Bi-monthly if you're in a competitive market.

Knowledge is power and information creates knowledge. Fine-tune what you know and then put it to good use by repeating this process over and over. REMEMBER, "Water dripping on a stone leaves a mark."

Remember the 3 pillars of marketing:

So why is it that everyone thinks printed inserts are dead when in fact, they have been shown to:

1.Have demonstrated dynamic and lasting effectiveness
2.Have the ability to target specific days of the week – such as Sundays (and you can't beat Sunday Shoppers)
3.Reach a large, influential and "targeted"  audience
4.Make the overall shopping process easier for consumers

The Impact Of In-Store P.O.P. As A Key Influencer In Purchase Decisions

by Flora Stopher - Original Article on LinkedIn

Posted on October 23, 2015

Today everyone is so focused on "digital", as we are too, as the means to attract and engage consumer shoppers, yet they forget that "IN-STORE" is where the final purchase decision is actually made!

There is no question that websites, mobile and more influence consumer store visits and product interaction, BUT when it comes to making the final purchase decision, it's at The Point Of Purchase where decisions are ultimately made.

Are you displaying all of those key product attributes, options and more to help your customer make an informed decision? If you have a sofa that comes in different colors other than brown, are you showing it? If you have a package deal, are you showing it? If the bedroom set comes in different wood or colors, are you showing it? And So on.... Think about how you shop for anything, and what information you are looking for before you make that final purchase decision...use that process to influence your consumers in your store.

Research into the effectiveness of POP Advertising has focused on answering three key questions:

  • Does POP generate a sales lift?
  • Do consumers recall POP messages?
  • What type of POP generates the best results?

Studies have found POP displays to be effective in increasing sales when used effectively. When consumers are at a store, or point of sale, they are more likely to purchase a good than at any other time or place. When at a point of purchase, the buyer’s mind is in shopping mode, and at it is at this time that POP signs are best at influencing their valuable opinion.

Read More

How to Beat Amazon at It's Own Game

by Bill Napier - Original Article on RetailerNow

Posted on August 5, 2015

How your retail store can be like Amazon: In 3 Difficult Steps (I bet you were hoping for 3 easy steps)

Yesterday it was cold and rainy all day so I was channel surfing and came across a one hour documentary about Amazon;

Amazon's Retail Revolution Business Boomers BBC Full documentary 2014. You can watch it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6UhrIEUjtwI.

I came away with a few key points that all retailers MUST adapt to – or you may become irrelevant, Especially with Gen X & Gen Y.

The First Step is:
Have a vision and the passion for that vision, plus the unwavering commitment to implement that vision.

Essentially you need to be a 2015 disrupter! You can’t be a complacent thinker who only thinks about acting, you need to be a visionary who acts themselves into thinking.
Jeff Bezos recognized that internet technology would change everything. He imagined a destination where people could shop and purchase millions of products; quickly simply and efficiently. More on this later.

His first step was to study retail and look for a complacent model that he could exploit with his vision. That model was the neighborhood/national book store chains, a $16BN industry. Why? Because he knew that a typical 5,000 - 10,000 sq ft brick and mortar space had a "very limited and finite area" of titles/options a consumer could shop. He asked himself:

"What if consumers could shop all the millions of titles that have been printed, and purchase them on line, at one location; quickly & efficiently"?

He knew that by offering a virtually unlimited amount of titles, someone would buy "one of something". That's the definition of "The Long Tail".

What is "The Long Tail"?

Your Social Guide

designed by Chris Jadatz - Download the PDF

Posted on June 30, 2015

What Makes Millennials Tick?

by Robert Bell - Original Article on RetailerNow

Posted on June 29, 2015

The answer, of course, is you.

For years, Baby Boomers were the gravy to the home furnishings retailer’s train. Like clockwork, they’d waltz through your front door every seven years or so—sooner if that big promotion came through or they finally bought that lake house—looking for a sofa or bedroom group.

Only now that gravy train is slowing down. Baby Boomers are downsizing. Those 3,500-square-foot homes are now (gasp!)1,800-square-foot townhomes. Even worse, Boomers have grown accustomed to that 16-year-old recliner so there’s no sense in changing things now.

Millennials—consumers born between 1980 and 2000—are the demographic every home furnishings store is chasing and with good reason: With almost 80 million of them, they’re the nation’s largest population segment. That $170 billion in annual purchasing power they wield isn’t too shabby either.

And they’re only getting bigger. One Accenture study believes Millennials will come into their own by 2020 when their spending in the United States will grow to $1.4 trillion— that’s trillion with a T—annually and represent almost a third of total retail sales.

One more thing: Millennials want furniture. They spent more than $27 billion on it last year, according to Furniture Today’s Consumer Buying Trends, compared to $11 billion in 2012. They account for 37 percent of all furniture and bedding purchases. The back-of-napkin math doesn’t lie: That’s a 142-percent increase over two years. Those same two years saw Baby Boomers’ furniture spending drop 17 percent.

MILLENNIAL MYTH: We Don’t Buy Furniture
One of the most accepted truisms about we Millennials—easily the most overexamined generation in history—is that we don’t want our parents lives of a house and furniture. That we value our free time and don’t want to be burdened with possessions.

Except that furniture sales to Millennials has more than doubled—from $11 billion in 2012 to $22 billion last year according to a recent Furniture Today Buying Trends report. We may not like mom and dad’s 12-piece dinning room group, but we have our own tastes and desires for home furnishings. And we’re willing to pay for it.

Marisa Peacock knows the importance of retailers hooking up with Millennials and has spent the past several years playing matchmaker.

Click Here to Read More

Win Gen X and Gen Y Shoppers at the Zero Moment of Truth

by Bill Napier - Original Article on Social4Retail

Posted on May 27, 2015

Generation X & Y, totaling 112,000,000 are the new demographic for home furnishings and they are "wired for the internet."

Today’s consumers do not drive their father's Oldsmobile. They know virtually everything about your products before they come into your store. They find incredible detail online from every possible source, about the brands and products that matter to them. They search for, tunnel, explore, visualize and master their information requirements, and then they’re ready to visit your store and buy with confidence. And what they learn, and the experience they go through, they share with others.

Digital technology gives your consumer the "power" over everything. Consumers are smarter and more informed than ever. With a few simple keystrokes or screen tap, shoppers can find anything and everything they want to know about products, services, prices and reviews. No longer is an advertising "promise" enough, now it's all about delivering on what consumers define as your promise.

Here’s how you can be part of the new consumer’s buying process, instead of being part of the demise of the small and medium retailer to the large on-line retailers like Overstock, One Kings Lane, Houzz and others.

Consumers today go online, everywhere asking for recommendations and referrals. They’re not only asking for names and phone numbers, they're asking for websites, they’re having conversations with other people, they’re looking up reviews to see what experiences others had with you, they're checking out your products and your prices, just to name a few, assuming they even find you.

Click Here to Read More

Signage is Important in the Sale

by Thomas Lester - Furniture Today

Posted on May 20, 2015

Signs can break the ice and introduce deals. During March’s Furniture/Today Finance Workshop, Progressive Leasing’s Blake Wakefield talked about how sales reps wearing a simple button saying “You’re Approved” prompted conversations about the retailer’s no credit needed program and really boosted the store’s sales.

Last week, we took a glimpse into the rug retail world and asked a handful of producers for tips to better promote rugs in store. In addition to his thoughts that ran in the story, Harounian Rugs International Senior Vice President Greg Jordt also had a few takes on signs.

Jordt said a level of consistency is needed, and every rug in a swing arm rack should have a printed tag that is hung in a plastic sleeve at the same level on each rug. He said each tag format should include rug name, design, color, size and price, country of origin, fiber, construction and other sizes available with pricing.

From there, Jordt said the only brands that should be on rugs are the retailer’s. The point is that as a retailer, you want to build your brand, not the supplier’s. By doing so, a retailer can all but eliminate the probability of being showroomed — the consumer practice of visiting a store to see and feel the product up close, only to buy it elsewhere online.

So do this, don’t do that. How do you use signs?

Hubspot Releases a Guide to a Mobile-Friendly Website

by Bill Napier - Original Article by Hubspot

Posted on May 6, 2015

Regardless of the device a visitor uses to access your website — be it a desktop computer, a laptop, a smartphone, a smart TV, a tablet, a phablet, or even a (very advanced) toaster — your goal should always be to provide that visitor with a stellar user experience.

If a visitor has to repeatedly pinch and zoom and scroll in order to read your website’s microscopic text or to tap on its awkwardly placed links and buttons, there’s a good chance that visitor is going to bounce from your site. And there’s also a good chance that visitor will end up associating his or her poor experience with your brand or business.

Poof! There goes a potential lead, a potential customer; all because you failed to provide a mobile-friendly website experience.

With more and more people turning to mobile devices as their primary means of accessing the web, being mobile-friendly is no longer a “nice to have,” it’s a “must have.”

Here's what's in the report:

  • Introduction: Why Mobile-Friendliness Matters pg. 3
  • What Was Google’s “Mobile-Friendly” Update? pg. 5
  • How to Analyze Your Site’s Mobile-Friendliness pg. 8
  • Google-Approved Mobile Website Configurations pg. 10
  • 10 Tips for Optimizing Your Site for Mobile pg. 14

Click here to download the report and read more.

Fox's Latest Reality Experiment Has Couples Live in Fixer-Upper Homes

by Bill Napier - Original Article by Entertainment Weekly

Posted on April 29, 2015

Fox’s latest reality TV experiment puts a new twist on the home makeover genre: EW has learned exclusively that the network has ordered Home Free for a summer launch.

The set-up: Nine do-it-yourself-er couples who need a new house are each given the chance to earn an ultimate dream home when they agree to live in a series of dilapidated fixer-uppers that they must renovate. Each week, they face challenges and twists, and the couple that didn’t “perform up to code” is eliminated. The remaining couples will have to live together in the house they’ve worked on—so the more work they complete, the more comfortable they will be.

Eventually, only two couples will remain, and they will fight to win a lavish house.

The eight-part series is hosted by camera-ready professional contractor and Canadian TV host Mike Holmes (Holmes on Homes), who will push the couples to produce top-quality work. It’s produced by Home Edition veteran Tom Forman.

The Fox series breaks ground on Wednesday, July 22. Home Free comes on the heels of CBS ordering a series yesterday in which needy couples are tempted to keep or give away a briefcase full of cash.

The show will be filmed in Atlanta, Georgia

About the Show:

This is a brand new, unprecedented home makeover show, from the creators of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition. Airing on Fox in July 2015, this is a feel good, family friendly series that will change the lives of all the cast members. In each episode our DIY families will compete against one another and renovate one home, working on rooms individually or as teams. One team will be eliminated each episode, but with two fantastic twists, this show is unlike any other. Everybody wins when each newly renovated home is given to a deserving family!

There are several ways we could create integration opportunities.

The series goes into production on May 12th in Atlanta. The show has an aggressive timeline, and offers a great deal of exposure for Heritage Home Brands by this innovative premise.

Fox Summer Programs traditionally have a strong following, dating back to the launch of American Idol and So You Think You Can Dance. With an estimated 5 million + viewers per episode, straddling the key demos on both sides, this show looks to continue this trend.

The Opportunity:

There are 9 houses total that need to be furnished, starting with smaller houses and going up in value and size incrementally in each episode until we give the grand prize, which is a brand new dream home.

All these properties will be in the Atlanta area. This would allow you to work with several of your retailers to gain exposure locally, as your brand(s) would get the national exposure.

How it works:

Usually the designer would go through your catalogs and pick the items they want to use to furnish the homes.

After these items are picked, you would have them made and shipped to the local retailer for delivery and setup. We could set budget limits for each show.

The option could be, you do this as a corporate branded program and have the items delivered on one of you corporate trucks

Next Steps:

We need to know very quickly if you are interested so we can negotiate on your behalf what minimum exposure your brand/retailers would receive. We would not make any final commitment unless we agreed the trade-out was beneficial to Heritage Home.

Why You Want To Do This:

Of course this could be a huge PR and brand opportunity, especially if they reach 5MM+ viewers, translating to over 45MM+ impressions for Heritage Home Brands.

We could negotiate show elements show casing your involvement and give those video clips to retailers to promote tune-in's/as seen on for the show to promote your brands.

We could incorporate a great social media campaign integrating your involvement.

We could use the items for in-store with POS/hang tags: "As seen on" , etc.

And much more! Call or email us if you are interested in this sponsorship!

Google Penalizes Non-mobile Responsive Websites Starting April 21

by Imagine Advertising

Posted on April 17, 2015

Google announced that on April 21, 2015, a new algorithm update will roll out, effectively lowering the ranking of a mobile-unfriendly website. Giving priority to your mobile competitors in search results. This means that potential customers will not be able to find you if you do not have a mobile-enabled website. This could equate to lost branding and revenue for your store. (Read the article here - http://www.bostoninteractive.com/about/news/2015/03/google-to-penalize-your-non-mobile-website-on-april-21)

Nonetheless, every Imagine Retailer Website is 100% mobile friendly and optimized to display properly on any device. This means an Imagine Retailer Website, complete with eCommerce for $199, stands no chance of getting ranked lower in the search engines because of its mobile responsive Website design. Look at how an Imagine Retailer site displays in Google's test:

Is your Website 100% mobile-friendly? Click on the link below to find out and see how Google views your Website:


Plus, click on this link to read Google's mobile responsive requirements:

What’s Your Store’s Zero Moment of Truth?

by Bill Napier

Posted on January 6, 2015

Back in 2002, PriceWaterhouseCoopers warned about changes coming to our industry.

“If retailers do not recognize and embrace the changing nature of the consumer, they will not just be punished, they will be punished with impunity.”

Even now, 13 years later, this remains true. It astounds me that many home furnishings retailers are still reluctant to embrace the dynamics as to how consumers shop today. Take one example I hear all the time from my colleagues who build and maintain websites for retailers: It’s too expensive! Retailers still think the investment in designing and maintaining a great website is too expensive, so either they forgo having one or they build a cheap website, with a few pictures that no one ever finds while searching. With that said, let’s take a look at some statistics from Google THINK and Google COMPETE.

In 2012 Google examined consumers’ shopping habits in a study called “The Zero Moment of Truth.” Essentially, Google found that the old model retailers used to engage consumers—advertise a product to get consumers into the store, buy the product and then share their experience with friends—was lacking a key element. That element was search the web, read reviews, watch videos and more, before visiting the retailer. The Zero Moment of Truth!

And guess what? Everything above involves the World Wide Web. But the most stunning element about Google’s Zero Moment of Truth with the home furnishing category relates to the following:

But that’s only the beginning of the story. Take a look at these statistics that offer insight into a shopper’s mind.

Retailers MUST Embrace Technology NOW Or Become IRRELEVANT

by Bill Napier - Original Article by Retailer Now: Mike Luna

Posted on October 10, 2014

I found this snippet of advice years ago when I was trying to get retailers to advertise their stores to increase their sales velocity. In today's home furnishings' retail environment this has become even more relevant with one word driving the path towards retail failure or liquidation...TECHNOLOGY.

Technology before the sale, Technology during the sale and Technology after the sale. We call it the Brick to Click Solution.


Many manufacturers in our industry have hundreds, if not thousands of SKU's they sell. In the old days...and even today, they use catalogs to show a picture and then the sales rep would "write an order" and probably call it in or Fax it in. Sound familiar? Manufacturers need to standardize and "push out data" to their retailers, who in turn can push it out to the 75% plus of consumers that are "looking for it" online, every day. This is a process that should be done daily, weekly and/or monthly. The data should be updated and "cleaned", eliminating discontinued product, adding new product, specials and more to make the "total" selling process "easy", from rep to retailer to consumer. They haven't done this and it's killing our brick & mortar retailers!


If you don't have a great website, loaded with brands, products, pictures, content and an e-Commerce platform allowing consumers to buy online as well and in-store, you will fail in today's wired economy because... 75% of consumers will NOT even know you exist!

But to have a great website, we need to go back and start with the manufacturers and how they have not embraced TECHNOLOGY. But this is only the first level where TECHNOLOGY has changed everything. Consider these facts where TECHNOLOGY drives every aspect of the retail pathway to purchase. Don't forget, and search engines do not see pictures...just words/content so pretty websites that lack content, fail miserably.

  • 15% of furniture sales are made online. This is expected to grow to over 32% in 5 years (Business Insider Intelligence (March 2014)
  • “71% of customers expect to be able to view in-store inventory online.” (Forrester)
  • 75% of consumers exposed to home furnishings' traditional advertisements later look-up the advertiser "on-line".
  • 76% of home furnishing shoppers rely on the retailers website.
  • 65% of home furnishing shoppers were NOT sure what retailer they would purchase from when they searched products/brands.
  • 70% use mobile phones in-store to research and accompany their shopping experience. (Google)
  • 77% of smartphone purchases happen in the store, not later online.
  • By 2016, 86% of all digital shoppers will be mobile shoppers as well
* Items 3-8 are from (Google). Information is at the bottom of the article


Once you've attracted the consumer, now the real hard work begins. How do you manage the complete selling process? Do you have a POS program that manages the complete supply chain process?

I'm not talking just about placing orders and taking delivery, I'm talking about having complete control of your business...knowing what's happening, when it's happening, where it's happening and how it's happening...instantly. That requires TECHNOLOGY.

Knowing your business - 24/7...instantly;

  • Purchase Orders; Expected deliveries, in stock, out of stock, custom orders
  • Vendor Management; product info, orders, returns, balances
  • Shipping & Deliveries: Tracking shipments and delivery dates. Maintaining control of back-orders.
  • Employee Management: Employee scheduling, commissions, team activities
  • Customer Management - CRM; Organizing your customers, tracking, negotiations and sales. Managing appointments, email marketing and more.
  • Omnichannel Marketing; where consumers are coming from, where they spend the most time and how to maximize that channel on your website, social marketing and more.

And then we start the cycle all over again, every minute of every day. That's how we compete with online retailers like Wayfair and Amazon...TECHNOLOGY!

And if you don't embrace TECHNOLOGY in every aspect of your business, you will become irrelevant- sooner rather than later.

Think Levitz, Blockbuster, Montgomery Wards, Borders and countless others that were comfortable with their business model and got ambushed by the new consumer who embraces TECHNOLOGY in everything they do.