The competitive landscape for retailers has become much more vast and volatile with the constant onslaught of e-tailers coming to market. That said, there are still tons of tactics available for retailers that can help combat this threat. Here are 30 that are cost effective and will dramatically help your small business stay competitive (not in any particular order):
- Have a drawing for a product or a gift certificate. Use the entry forms to collect customers’ mailing addresses.
- Conduct monthly clinics/workshops about a product or service you offer or schedule semi-annual seminars on related “how-to” information.
- Develop a website to showcase your products, services and location and include it on all marketing materials. While this sounds like a “no-brainer” I’m still amazed at just how many retailers still don’t have a website!
- Promote yourself as an expert by writing articles or tips on topics related to your industry and send the article to local newspapers (in a press release format), trade journal as well as publish to your blog (which in itself is an important marketing tactic) and social media (again, another important marketing tactic).
- Host an after-hours gathering for your employees and their friends/relatives.
- Create an annual award and publicize it.
- Develop your own TV show on your specialty and present it to your local cable station or public broadcasting station (sounds daunting, but ask your local college/university for some help, you might be surprised to learn they’re always looking for new material for their interns to work on).
- Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
- Join a Chamber of Commerce where you can network with area business owners.
- Distribute specialty products such as pens, mouse pads, or mugs with your store’s logo. In addition, create t-shirts with your logo and give to friends and family as part of their birthday/holiday presents! T-shirt advertising has been around forever because it works. Think of it as having a dozen walking billboards!
- Advertise in creative locations such as park benches, buses, and popular websites.
- Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
- Donate your product or service to a charity event or auction.
- Create an opt-in email or print newsletter for your customers. Fill each edition with specials, tips and other timely information.
- Send hand-written thank you notes to important customers every chance you get.
- Show product demos or related videos on a television on the sales floors during store hours.
- Create fabulous, interesting window displays (sounds easy enough, but why do I pass so many boring display and/or ones that haven’t been updated in months! This is essentially free advertising that MUST be used to the fullest degree possible! A fantastic example is Hudson Vintage (pictured above), located in Hudson, NY, their windows are always creative, informative, fun and exciting!
- Team up with a non-competing business in your area to offer a package promotion.
- Pick the slowest day of the week to hold a one-day sale.
- If possible, loan your facilities to other groups for a meeting place. Creates goodwill, can bring in a little extra money while also creating free advertising!
- Choose a regular customer to spotlight as a Customer of the Month. Create a brief write up to submit to the local newspaper about the customer and be sure to give he or she a copy of the article as well as have one framed to hang in the store.
- Pair up slow moving items with related products and repackage as a special buy.
- Offer your customers discounts for each referral they provide.
- Offer a loyalty reward program. Punch cards are always a good option – once their card is punched 10 times, they get something for free or half off, etc…
- Completely differentiate your customer experience. Focus on training your sales staff in the ways of customer service and attentiveness. This will go a long way in repeat business and word-of-mouth “free advertising”.
- Always remember to conduct research to make sure you’re understanding what’s working and what’s not (e.g. what services/products are selling best/worst? What’s your competition doing? How satisfied are your customers? Etc…)
- Make sure you have at least a Facebook and Twitter account and are actively posting important/interesting updates daily. The key is to not only post relevant content and deals related to your store, but to also comment on, like, and share posts within your industry and complementary industries.
- It doesn’t cost much to sponsor a local theater production, a float in your town’s parade or a Little League team. The signage or uniforms emblazoned with your store’s name and logo will be seen by crowds of people.
- Create a flyer that tells about your upcoming retail event and put it in your customer’s bags when they leave. Also, make sure whoever is on the register will be telling your customers about the upcoming event as well.
- Use your answering machine as another great advertising vehicle! Mention your planned special event or promotion on your answering machine message.
As always, we encourage questions and comments and are…Always happy to help!
Danielle Foley, President ~ http://www.FoleyMarketingAdvisors.com
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