July 3, 2013

If only we lived in a magical place where shelf space was unlimited and inventory budgets didn’t exist. A retail dream.

Unfortunately in the retail world, space is limited, very limited, and only allows for the real ‘winners’ to secure a piece of that coveted shelf space real estate.

As a retailer, you’re doing your best to select only the top, most sellable, pet products for your store. But, with increasing competition in the marketplace, it can be difficult to know which brand is not just the best for your customers’ needs, but is also going to produce real sales results for your store.

One important aspect that retailers should not dismiss when selecting inventory is the public relations efforts of their merchandisers. In some respects, a company’s commitment to ongoing promotion efforts ranks just as important as their other sales efforts, as it should.

Seldom now does a product or company attribute the majority of their success to retail placement alone. It’s the buzz, the need and the attention generated that helps drive customers to stores.

Start Asking Questions

Now more than ever, you need to be asking manufacturers about their public relations strategy.

Some beneficial questions include: What are you doing to build the power of your brand in the eyes of the end consumer? How are you interacting with your audiences online, through traditional media? What about any recent media coverage successes?

Basically, what are you doing as a company to position your brand and products above the competition, and how will that plan evolve over the next year?

If the brand is savvy, they should have their marketing and public relations efforts outlined to you in their sales presentation, answering these questions before you even have to ask.

If you’re not immediately satisfied with their answers, go ask their top three to five competitors the exact same questions.
While this may seem like added work or measures to take, in the end, I’m confident that your research will help you arrive at the best brand, and product lines, to attract customers to your business.

At the same time, those manufacturers who are truly committed to building their brand awareness, and implementing real public relations and marketing strategies deserve your attention, support and business.

Their investment in their own company ultimately is an investment in your business as well. It’s a 360-degree approach. We’re all working towards a common end goal, and our collective efforts will produce the very best results.

Kerry Sutherland is the principal of K. Sutherland PR, a boutique public relations, social media and branding agency specializing in the pet industry. With offices in Irvine, Calif. and Reno, Nev., Kerry and her team produce innovative and personalized campaigns for pet brands to help their clients stand out in a cluttered market, and grow business. Contact her directly at [email protected] or visit www.KSutherlandPR.com.

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