Marketing guru: Great planning will be vital in 'empty' 2013
A view from Will Harris

Marketing guru: Great planning will be vital in 'empty' 2013

'Unlucky' 2013 will be a battle of the planners, particularly in categories that have gone a bit stale, such as furniture retailing.

Q: Is there a way of marketing my furniture retail brand to overcome the predictable sense of anti-climax after the Olympics? I keep hearing the phrase 'unlucky 13' or 'empty 13' in reference to next year.

A: By the very fact that you willingly embarked on a marketing career in furniture retailing, I can tell you relish a challenge. Whatever next year holds, surely it can't be anything more than a small bump in the road for someone who has been peddling fire-retardant fabrics and wipe-clean surfaces year-in, year-out?

Next year will be a battle of the planners. Those clients who find a way of innovating around how they sell their (leftover Olympic) stock will be the winners. If you can ramp up the nation into a frenzy of furniture retailing, then the world will be yours.

Consider this example I saw while 'running' along the West Coast Highway in Manhattan yesterday morning. It was for a self-storage company, nestling just on the edge of the ruthlessly trendy Meatpacking District. The headline read 'Bury your rivals, not your desk', and there followed an evocation for low-cost storage options.

Through the general miasma of pain (my long-time running companion), I recognised the light touch of a brilliant piece of planning. Drawing a link between the ruthless pursuit of the American Dream and somewhere you can stash your clutter is genius. You need to seek out a similar link in your pursuit of relevance in 2013.

Stale category

Surely if ever there was a time to rethink the furniture-retailer format, this is it? The category has atrophied to such an extent that the FMCG 'two Cs in a K' format looks positively fresh compared with the 'two Cs in a furniture showroom' standard we have now.

Here's an idea. Why not make the case for why we need to invest in furniture? Tell us what it says about us when the neighbours come over and decide to stand, rather than risk sitting among the pizza stains and crayons. Show us a life with new soft-furnishings, and how buying a sofa will save us money, because we'll stay in more.

If ever there was a time to be investing in great planning, it's now. Only time will tell if 2013 is the year of the furniture retailer.

Will Harris is a former marketing director for Nokia in the UK and Asia region. He was the first marketing director of the Conservative Party and launch marketing director of the O2 brand.