True Value's marketing chief embraces simplicity

In his first market presentation to True Value retailers, the co-op's new VP marketing and chief customer officer Blake Fohl laid out a plan for -- what else? -- improved marketing. 

He also promised improvements to True Value Rewards (TVR).

One key to the co-op's marketing campaign is going to be building brand awareness, one store at a time, he said during the True Value market event in Orlando, Fla., this week. To help spread the word on national television, the co-op intends to use its own retail members to tell their story in front of their own stores. In fact, one of the events on the market floor was an open casting area where retailers auditioned for the commercials.

Print advertising will also be more targeted and more local. The co-op eliminated its national print program, but it doubled the amount of co-op dollars that members have to spend on advertising. Fohl added: "So, I implore each one of you to build and create compelling offers for your stores and then use the co-op dollars available to you to advertise them." 

Fohl, who replaced Carol Wentworth in December, said systems have to be simple to implement, monitor, measure and adjust, while at the same time offering retail members the flexibility they need.

"We understand the limited amount of time you have every day to dedicate to marketing, and it's not a lot," Fohl said. "So, we understand that we have to build programs that are simple to implement."

Describing TVR -- True Value Rewards loyalty and marketing program -- as a disappointment, he told retail members the co-op has identified the issues with the data, which are expected to be "cleaned" by the end of the first quarter, and he promised changes.

"By the end of the second quarter, we will begin providing additional reporting, which will allow you to analyze each campaign on a net profit basis, which will allow you to better manage your program," he said.

On a positive note, Fohl said retailers staying with the TVR program in 2012 will see the cost reduced from $1,800 to $900.

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