Remaining relevant is a challenge for any independent video store that has to compete with subscription-based companies like Netflix. Next Door Media, an ad network of hyperlocal sites, took on that challenge with Scarecrow Video in Seattle, adding its sites to the store’s traditional mix of weekly newspapers, free magazines, and public radio stations.
Scarecrow’s marketing coordinator Jen Koogler notes that Scarecrow has started promoting on Foursquare as well, but in the end, print coupons have delivered the most verifiable foot traffic.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: The answers to the first two questions included in a previous version of this interview, about Scarecrow Video’s hyperlocal advertising, were found to be incorrect. They have been cut.]
How do you market your store, outside of hyperlocal sites?
A couple of different ways. We have regular weekly ads in The Stranger, it’s a local alternative free publication. We also will occasionally do an ad in our other alternative free weekly, the Seattle Weekly, for the bigger events and the bigger issues that they have. We do advertising in a monthly free magazine called City Arts. Then we do underwriting on a local public radio station, KEXP, that streams online. That is a non-profit, and we offer their members a [discount] here. We are right near the University of Washington, so we advertise in their paper once a week and then on their website, as well. We’ll go in other places here and there, but that’s our regular roster of places, along with Next Door Media.
How do you decide where you’re going to put your focus, in terms of ad dollars?
I really try to just go for the largest audience that I can, but keeping it as local as possible. KEXP is really great. KEXP has listeners all over the world because of their streaming, but obviously the majority of [people] listen here in their cars or at work on the radio. That gives us a wide audience that’s mostly local. The Stranger is a very popular free publication in town and it has a very wide distribution, and we’re in there every week. We put the new movies in every week with what’s on sale, that kind of thing. So we have found that people do follow those ads weekly so they know what to look for and what’s going to be low-priced.
Which mediums have given you the best return on your investment?
Print really has. It sounds weird in this day in age, but print works well. These things are really hard to track, but when we put a coupon in an ad, for example, people will actually come in with that coupon clipped out of the paper and say, “I saw this was on sale.” That’s where we find we get the most return. KEXP is interesting because we offer their members a two-for-one rental, so we can easily track how many of their members come in. We get pretty good returns from that. I can tell you that we’ve had 15 [KEXP members come in] this month.
For some perspective, is 15 customers a month from KEXP a good number?
Fifteen is good. If we get one or two a day it’s perfect.
I also saw that you have a check-in deal on Foursquare. How did that come about?
In thinking about those kind of deal sites like Groupon, it’s really hard for a business like ours that has product with a slim markup to offer any kind of Groupon-type deal. We can’t offer $100 worth of product for $50 without losing a lot. To try to tie into that — and to see if people actually want to check-in here and be the mayor — I thought Foursquare would be a good opportunity. We could offer [the special] to people specifically who come here, so we’re rewarding that. Right now we just have the one [deal]. The first time you check-in you can pre-pay for 10 rentals for $35. That’s saving $10 overall. We have also had mini-offers, like the mayor gets a t-shirt or every third check-in you get a free rental.
How are people responding?
It’s not great. We don’t really get a lot of check-ins. We maybe get one or two a day. We’ve advertised, “Hey you can check in on Foursquare and get something.” It’s not like crickets, but we’re not seeing a ton of returns on that.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.