by Brendan Morrissey
One question that online marketing companies often get is, “Isn’t this just for companies that do business online?” The short answer is “no.” When done properly, online marketing raises awareness and can dramatically increase offline sales opportunities, not only for large companies but also for smaller, independent businesses. In fact, online media can actually enable a small business to compete on equal footing with its larger competition.
In previous posts, I discussed the importance of adding an online component to your marketing mix and what questions to ask when engaging an online ad marketer. Now I’d like to present a real case study from an independent audio-video retailer.
Wright’s Sound Gallery has been doing business in Shreveport, LA, since 1973, although it can actually trace its history back to a paint store opened by Harold Wright in the 1920s. Over the years the business added furniture and appliances and eventually evolved into an AV company owned today by Tom Bartle. With a complete installation department, Wright’s focuses on home AV, theater/media rooms, car audio, and home automation, serving North Louisiana as well as parts of Texas and Arkansas.
Feeling the economic pinch of the Great Recession, Bartle researched ways to drum up new business, including online marketing services. At first he was skeptical about using this medium for a local brick-and-mortar business, thinking that online marketing would be too expensive, only suitable for online businesses, or not focused enough on driving sales opportunities.
Dipping his toes into the online marketing pool, Bartle initially committed to a $500/month advertising expenditure. Within 90 days of launching its original online campaign, the traffic to Wright’s website had tripled.
Now it’s one thing to drive traffic to a website but if those prospects don’t convert, you don’t get a return on your investment. That’s not the case with Wright’s, however, as Bartle explains:
“We made countless sales from the online exposure and advertising — in the first month alone we closed $14,000 in new business from it. None of those new customers had ever heard of our store before.”
So these prospects not only discovered them online, but subsequently visited them and gave Wright’s their business.
Encouraged by these results, Wright’s increased its online marketing budget multiple times. “To date we have made over $300,000 in sales from customers who found us online through search or display ads,” Bartle said. “Not bad for an investment of $1,000 a month.”
In 2010, Wright’s added to its search campaign by running display (banner) advertising in its market co-branded with manufacturers such as Bowers & Wilkins, Integra, and others. This bolsters credibility for a small business by associating them with well-known national brands. The ads run in a targeted local area and are served on national websites that are aligned with audio, video, home theater design, etc., or targeted to key demographics. When viewers click on these ads, they are taken directly to Wright’s website. The display ads also have the effect of driving up their search performance.
Bartle also likes that he can see up-to-date detailed reports of his campaigns, including the top categories of searches that are driving visits to his website. With that knowledge, he is able to make ongoing decisions about the campaigns for maximum impact.
Online marketing currently drives 100,000 highly targeted ad impressions and more than 500 targeted search visits to Wright’s website each month, all qualified based on specific products and services.
At 103 years old, Harold Wright may not know much about the internet, but he does know that the store that bears his name is still thriving in Ark-La-Tex. When he visited Wright’s Sound Gallery in March, he gave a Bartle a firm handshake as if to say, “Ya done good, kid.” Thanks to online marketing, Wright’s Sound Gallery may have as much staying power as its namesake.
Brendan Morrissey is CEO of Netsertive.