Bill Swanston

Frederick Swanston has been successful in retail marketing since before handheld electronic devices and the Internet. And while overtime technology has changed, the ingredients that compose an effective retail marketing campaign then are essentially the same ones that work now:

You have to have a compelling marketing strategy that appeals to a major market segment and is impossible for competitors to replicate.

Retail Customer Experience identified Eight Characteristics of Successful Retail Concepts:

  1. Have a clear vision
  2. Evolve offering
  3. Execute
  4. Develop a strong culture and set of values
  5. Deliver emotional and self-expressive benefits
  6. Address a real unmet need
  7. Scale
  8. Integrate social and environmental programs into the brand

Let’s look at one very successful retailer and manufacturer – Ethan Allen Inc.

Ethan Allen’s retail marketing strategy has successfully appealed to a broad range of middle-income consumers with one simple concept – “We want to help you have the home you’ve always wanted.”

How have they approached this overarching marketing plan? In addition to following the eight steps for a success retail campaign, they also:

  1. Strategically place stores to be convenient for customers
  2. Staff retail locations with trained associates who can help customers with solid decorating and design recommendations
  3. Evolve product offerings to fit customer preferences and marketplace demands
  4. Train designers to take advantage of the in-store design center
  5. Educate employees on the annual marketing strategy and the important role each individual plays in reaching the agreed upon objectives
  6. Assure customers get their furnishings on time and in good quality through a broad network of plants in the USA and overseas

This marketing strategy has helped Ethan Allen evolve from couple of wood plants in New England under the Baumritter label, to the second-largest home furnishing manufacturer/retailer in the United States.

The Ethan Allen marketing example is great because it’s a successful organization that’s maintained the same overall marketing objective for years notwithstanding the vast changes to the technology landscape. And they will undoubtedly stay the course and continue to see successful results from their diligence and commitment.