Q: I'm thinking about opening a children's fine clothing boutique, and I have several great marketing ideas. A new hospital just opened less than a mile from the proposed store. Can I make some type of advertising offer through the maternity ward? Is it bad marketing to distribute fliers in my large competitors' parking lots? I'm also planning to contact the PTA at nearby elementary schools for a fashion show and fund-raiser. Any thoughts or other suggestions?
A: First and foremost, it's important to make the way you promote consistent with the image you wish to project. Unlike megastores that offer low prices to the masses through hundreds of outlets, your unique boutique must draw from a carefully targeted market within a small geographic area. Instead of fliers on car windshields, which would cheapen the image of your "fine" apparel, create an upscale direct-mail campaign to households with the right qualifications within a 5- to 10-mile radius of your boutique. Support your direct mail with advertising in local publications that reach parents and have appropriately targeted subject matter.
Since you plan to offer fine clothing for children in your new boutique, develop a creative marketing message uniquely different from that of your major competitors. Devise a slogan or theme for your store's campaign to carry through into your advertising and promotional activities that focuses on quality, value and the finer aspects of the apparel you offer.
Lastly, special promotions are a great way to build awareness for your new boutique. Your fashion show idea sounds like a winner. While you probably can't advertise in the local maternity ward, you may be able to offer a gift to new mothers that's accompanied by a gift tag with information about your store. Join local organizations whose memberships consist largely of parents-if the groups are focused on children's issues, so much the better-and get involved with membership drives and contribute door prizes. Set up in-store promotions that build repeat business, such as forming a "Grandmothers' Gift Club" to give all grandmothers a special discount and notices of upcoming sales. When new members join, you can record their grandchildren's birth dates, then mail friendly reminders with gift suggestions.