Although some retail business owners are very marketing savvy, a lot of retailers don't know where to begin. Others simply don't have time to do the marketing in addition to their other responsibilities. For those business owners, I offer my Top 6 Marketing Tools for retail businesses:
1) You need a website, no matter how simple. It can be a blog like this one, or something more elaborate with your business name as the domain name, www.mariehaggin.com, for example.
2) Advertising. When times are tight, people often stop their advertising but this is the time when you most need to advertise. If your advertising isn't working for you, try a different publication or a different market. You need to consistently reach the right market with the right message.
3) Networking. This can include membership in organizations like the Chamber of Commerce, your local downtown association, or the local chapter of a group like BNI or it can be an online network like LinkedIn or Biznik. Network with like-minded professionals and share referrals.
4) Rewarding customers. The 80/20 rule tells us that approximately 80% of our business will come from 20% of our customers. That's why every business should have a customer referral program to reward its very best customers. It could be including them in a special monthly promotion, posting a customer of the month photo on the wall of your store, or recognizing them with a Client Appreciation Event. Make sure they feel appreciated and they will continue to shop with you and refer their friends to your store.
5) Community involvement. Like networking, community involvement is a great way to meet other members of your community and to spread the word about your business, even if it is only subtly. Try sponsoring a local sports team or relevant school club, volunteer at the local Food Bank, join the PTA or a local church organization. When feasible, volunteer your time or your services.
6) Shout your news to the world. At least 3 to 4 times a year, issue a news release (also called a press release) to let the community know what you've been up to. Anything that's newsworthy will do - a business anniversary, addition of a product line, a new professional certification, key staff hire, upcoming event, or participation in a nonprofit organization. I recommend you submit the release to your local media, relevant industry-related groups and online. You'll be surprised at how affordable it can be to get widespread coverage and to keep your name "time of mind."
To your success,