By: M.L. Stein
WHEN SHOE STORE owner Philip Bencivenga wanted to open another retail outlet but wasn’t sure where, he got help from Lesher Communications Inc. ad representative Lisa Evans.
The new store had to be in the right location and have the right customer base and growth potential.
LCI, which publishes four dailies in the San Francisco East Bay region, has that kind of information for its customers.
“He was looking to expand and needed information on potential new markets,” Evans said. “He wanted to investigate which area would be best suited to support a specialized shoe store.”
Bencivenga’s store, the Shoewalk, specializes in shoes for people who spend a lot of time on their feet ? nurses and waitresses, as well as those just interested in comfort and support.
Using data from LCI’s market research department, Evans recommended the rapidly growing Antioch/Pittsburg area. One of the resources she consulted was the 1993 Belden Continuing Market Study (CMS), which provided such facts as the frequency with which adults in the eastern part of Contra Costa County buy men’s, women’s and children’s shoes, demographic profiles of the purchasers, and specific demographics of the entire market.
Evans also culled data from the Association of Bay Area Governments’ Projections ’93 report, which showed that east county’s population growth, household size and employment is expected to double that of the county as a whole, making it a prime candidate for fresh retail outlets.
“It was wonderful to see what the total population was, along with age and salary breakdowns,” Bencivenga said. “It was especially helpful to see the trends of the area and where the business is going.”
Based on Evans’ information, the businessman has decided to open a new store this year, probably in Antioch, and may even look for a second new location.
Evans, who has an account base of 200, said in an interview that customers “want the most for their dollar” and that is what she and other LCI ad reps try to get for them.
Recently, she was able draw on LCI’s market research sources to assist a sporting goods store in finding a more profitable outlet for its inventory of snow and water skis.
Evans was able to pinpoint California’s Delta region, where there is lots of water and close proximity to ski country. And LCI publishes a newspaper there.
“It meant a lot more advertising for us,” she commented.
Evans, who has been selling ads for 11 years, has aided several other businesses ? including a beauty supply house and a store dealing in oak furniture ? with location data.
“A lot businesses in this area want to spread to other markets, and that’s where we can help,” she said. “We look hard at their situation and find data applicable to it.”
Evans and other LCI advertising representatives also work closely with their accounts in producing effective ads by stressing teamwork between the rep, the graphic artist and the customer.
“It’s essential that we work together,” she said. “This is one of the ways LCI keeps competitive ? by providing a higher level of service.”
First, she explained, the rep meets with the customer to discuss ideas for the ad.
“We learn that the customer either knows what he wants and needs little assistance, knows something about what he wants, or knows nothing about what he wants,” Evans said.
The ad person then meets with the artist, who produces a draft ad. In special cases, the customer will come to the paper to meet again with the rep and the artist.
“It’s a challenge to try to guess what the customer will like and need,” said graphics artist Sherry Gumbert.
Creative services manager Terry Donahoe said research has shown that ad campaigns or series of ads are more effective than single ads.
“If you repeat a series of ads with a similar design and theme, people will start to instantly recognize it,” she explained.
Donahoe conducts a half-day LCI ad seminar, which has attracted hundreds of customers since its inception four years ago.
“Because more products are competing for consumers’ attention, many advertisers feel they have to shout louder or look different to get attention,” Donahue said. “But the trend has reached the point where much advertising is not as effective as it might be because it has lost sight of its mission ? to move consumers who have little time to read to action.”
The seminars stress advertising in which the art captures the reader’s attention and telegraphs the product’s message, Donahoe said, adding, “The headline provides the benefit to the reader, the copy supports that message, the reader is called to action, and the advertiser is identified in good logo type.”
She pointed out that LCI ad reps also attend the seminars to help them work effectively with their customers.