Why Automating Weekly Circular Ads Is Every Retailer’s Secret Advantage
Large retailers are in the midst of a difficult transition period. Those weathering COVID, the Great Resignation, inflation, and supply chain crises also still have to find innovative ways to make their brand successful. As a result, the demand for creativity has never been greater. With so many challenges and channels to master, good marketing creative directors need every edge they can get. One such edge is the humble – and often marginalized – retail circular or flyer.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, printed retail circulars are still a powerful engagement tool, according to survey data collected by Vericast. Weekly circulars are a key sales driver, with 62% of consumers studying a circular’s discounts and promotions before going out to shop. Research also shows that 87% of shoppers read circulars the same amount of time or more than they did the previous year.
One reason for the enduring popularity of circulars and flyers is cognitive ease. Print materials, including mailed circulars, take 21% less cognitive effort than do their digital counterparts, according to Vericast. So, the question is: Why aren’t retail circulars more top-of-mind for creative marketing directors?
With so many challenges and channels to master, good marketing creative directors need every edge they can get.
An Undeserved Bad Reputation
There are several reasons why circulars can become marginalized in the complex world of multichannel retail marketing. For one thing, print circulars and flyers consume a substantial share of a retailer’s marketing budget. Some of this is due to uncontrollable factors, such as the cost of paper and postage, while other factors – like production labor, regional versioning, and distribution – only seem to be uncontrollable. (More on that later.) Shrinking or constrained marketing budgets have tempted some retailers to scale back their circular programs, but with disastrous results, including millions in lost revenue. According to Vericast, “Reducing your grocery circular budget by even 5% could end up shrinking your bottom line due to lost sales that you can’t regain through other media.”
Circulars are highly functional, as their continued bottom-line impact has proved, but it’s hard to produce a piece that stands out from the crowd.
Another reason for the circular’s undeserved bad reputation is the perceived “sameness” of the format. Of necessity, every circular includes a mix of many featured products, special promotions, discount coupons, and limited-time offers. Such a complex combination is very labor-intensive. (Again, more on that later.) But because so much information has to be included on a fixed number of pages – under relentless deadline pressure – breakthrough design has to take a back seat all too often. The results are highly functional, as the continued bottom-line impact of circulars has proved, but it’s hard to produce a piece that stands out from the crowd.
How To Make a Big Splash
As it turns out, there is a way to reduce the cost of this valuable marketing medium and open new opportunities for outstanding creative design – automation. A creative marketing director can achieve greater cost-efficiency with the right automation strategy and make this essential channel more memorable to promote the retailer’s brand. It’s the design version of having the best of both worlds.
Automation starts with removing tedious and repetitive data-centric tasks, which plague all modern businesses. Retailers deal with data in frustratingly fragmented data sources, including product information management (PIM) systems, digital asset management (DAM) systems, pricing and inventory systems, customer relationship management (CRM), and other proprietary systems. The juggling act required to produce a single marketing circular campaign can be prohibitively expensive. Add to that the need to create separate, regional versions of a circular and you can begin to see the mountain that only automation can scale.
Fortunately, Comosoft LAGO can do precisely that. By connecting all those data sources into a single, collaborative workflow, LAGO’s circular production automation process overcomes these challenges to facilitate both scale and speed – with no compromise in quality or version diversity.
Outstanding design is also made possible by automation. If the complexities of choosing and managing the vast array of product data are reduced, designers can focus their energies on what they do best—design. The fact is that shoppers trust brands that have high-quality, well-designed ads. Only designers who have been freed from the burden of managing data, however essential, can produce compelling visual content to meet shoppers’ expectations.
LAGO allows creative marketing directors and their teams the opportunity to make a big splash with customers—and with senior management.
Again, Comosoft LAGO fills that need, allowing creative marketing directors and their teams the opportunity to make a big splash with customers – and with senior management. With LAGO Layout, you can connect multiple data sources (as directed by the company’s marketing management) to the mainstay of modern print design production – Adobe InDesign. Data-intensive circulars and flyers can thus receive the full creative energy of skilled designers, even when producing multiple regional or demographic versions.
The Marketing Multiverse
Of course, the printed circular is only part of an ever-expanding number of marketing channels, each one vying for shoppers’ attention. Studies have shown that a coordinated campaign, sharing a consistent blend of messaging and visual appeal, is far more effective than any of its components can be on their own. Thus, when information from one medium can be transmitted to another effortlessly, it results in a marketing “splash” that can be achieved at net cost savings.
This “splash,” too, is a benefit of LAGO. When a circular is prepared for print, including multiple versions, the promotion data and visuals can be automatically exported to web-based or mobile applications, making it easy to orchestrate a timely multichannel campaign. Rather than struggle to execute such a complex campaign on a one-off basis, the marketing and creative teams can do so comfortably – on a weekly basis.
In today’s ruthless competitive environment, a retailer’s content, assets, channels, and campaigns are growing exponentially, even while their resources and budgets remain stagnant or decline. As a result, The need to make a big impact has never been greater. But with LAGO, a savvy creative or marketing director can do precisely that.