By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., www.graycatenterprises.com.
In today’s tough economy, the fight for share-of-customer by retail stores to effectively capture sales has never been fiercer. Retail stores that sit back and wait for the economy to improve will have a very long road to recovery. Aggressive retailers that go after sales by working the critical three-mile business radius surrounding their retail store will not only survive in the short term but will prosper when the economy turns positive – and it will!
Local Store Marketing (LSM) should be a critical, constant component for driving retail sales. In many cases, it forms the building blocks for your customer “point-of-differentiation” and many LSM tactics can be executed by your existing staff for very little money. Retailers should look at the following ideas to prop up their sales:
• Improve Visibility: Has your store become part of the landscape? Have you become retail wallpaper? Create excitement outside of your four walls to draw attention to your retail store. A-frame boards at the street; cold-air balloons on your roof; mascots waving in crowds; search lights; etc. all create and increase visibility.
• Nudge Your Customers: For those retailers that have customers’ lists – reach out to your customers by emailing or calling — inviting them back to your retail store. All it takes is a friendly reminder to keep your retail store top-of-mind. A customer list is only powerful when it is utilized.
• Create Customer Loyalty: Introduce a customer loyalty card and provide incentives for your core customers to visit your stores more frequently. Use these same loyalty incentives to turn casual customers into core customers.
• Start Product Sampling: Want to entice trial of your core products? Deliver product samples to surrounding businesses in the three-mile radius around your retail store. Be sure to hand out flyers with your product samples, and then watch the sales roll in.
• Create New Customers: Establish new relationships in your three-mile radius with local businesses by offering gift packages of your proprietary products; contact local hotels and businesses to promote your products to hotel guests and business people; and set up meetings with the local chamber and surrounding schools or churches to hype your retail store as a great venue for their next event.
• Launch Special Recognition Days: Everyone wants to be recognized, so create an event at your retail store that recognizes and appreciates certain groups of customers such as specific businesses; age groups (i.e. kid’s day); or student specials.
These are just a few proven LSM tactics a retail store can begin to implement immediately for little or no cost. Local Store Marketing is critical to your overall marketing strategy and a must in today’s tight economy. The most successful retailers win the battle for customer traffic because they make an operational commitment to local store marketing. They know local store marketing captures the entire customer base in the critical three-mile radius surrounding their store. In addition, they know that implementing local store marketing is low cost or no cost. Successful retailers effectively infuse their year- long promotional campaigns with local store marketing, building a strong sales foundation for sustained and long-term growth—and you can too!
The decision is yours: you can either choose the passive route — letting your success or failure be predicated on customers opting for your store–OR you can aggressively maximize the sales opportunities within your three-mile business area. Prudent store operators take control of their marketplaces with LSM to maximize every sales opportunity.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.