Our proprietary Tribune Publishing Furniture Study research shows that the typical in-market furniture shopper will visit an average of 3.6 individual stores as part of their decision-making process. It takes building strong overall awareness to become a part of that consideration set, but it can be more daunting to try to determine exactly when a shopper may even be in-market to buy.

To help capture non-routine activities like furniture shopping, a combination of sustaining media alongside extra efforts during tentpole events is crucial. Sustaining strategies refer to a retailers “always on” push messaging to in-market customers. These strategies relate to a retailer’s consistent strategies — how they keep their brand relevant and deliver ongoing messaging throughout the year to keep customers engaged. Tentpole marketing is largely event-based, designed to pull shoppers in around key holidays. For furniture, this is often around key “hero holidays.” The “tentpole” in tentpole marketing actually refers to the pinnacle of buzz generated before and after an event as highlighted by a curve on a graph that looks similar in shape to a circus tent.

Tentpole marketing in the furniture category is an important strategic pillar of overall strategy. Ideally, building tentpole strategies for the year for multiple different events will allow you to optimize and perfect your media elements and overall media mix over time. These strategies should augment — not compete with, you sustaining, ongoing elements throughout the rest of the year.

So, what are some things that should be a part of your checklist as you build a tentpole marketing strategy? Here are our key factors to consider if you’re building these programs for the first time.
• Know how long the event will last, and what the peak interest moments are to optimize push timing.
• Most users don’t come back after their first engagement, so define an onboarding strategy to keep them around beyond the apex of the event.
• Employ multichannel messaging, which has been proven to increase retention.
• Utilize email, push, and owned messaging for multiple touchpoints to keep new shoppers around.

Each tentpole program should ideally be two to three weeks coinciding with the holiday or event. The program should include targeted media elements, including email marketing, targeted display (including wide-reaching local publishing sites like our own, plus reach extension networks. Additional targeting through social media placements and Connected TV can extend your message further. Since we know that shoppers aren’t always ready to make a purchase the first time they see your message, be sure to also incorporate remessaging techniques—including retargeting users to your site, as well as consumers who may have engaged with previous tentpole marketing plans. Our data management platform allows you to build targeting segments based on your historical events to reach shoppers who may have already clicked or engaged with your message previously. Finally, especially around tentpole events tied to major holidays, high-impact placements like takeovers and full pages and spadeas in print can help break through the noise of busy retail calendar time periods.

A simple way to tie all of these elements together is to weave in an online contest or sweepstakes. Your media can drive to a page that encourages users to enter to win a gift card or other incentive. Because of the nature of tentpole events, we can create simple, templated options that are easily customizable by event. You can give away a standard gift card each time, or customized furniture or lifestyle packages relevant to the holiday. Through programs like this, you build engagement with your brand while also capturing consumer data.

No matter the tactics you decide to include, organizing your marketing efforts through the lenses of sustaining and tentpole strategies will help ensure that messaging and platforms are aligned throughout the year. Building an overarching program with your media partners also can build optimization platforms to enhance media elements throughout the year. As you begin looking at your overarching strategies, our team of resources here can help assist with media placements, creative messaging and program organization, ensuring that your brand becomes part of every furniture shopper’s journey.