In most small businesses it’s unlikely you’ll find a team member dedicated to marketing. Any business needs to reach a certain size before they have dedicated staff focused solely on marketing, but that doesn't mean marketing isn't important for the smaller organisations. Although traditional perceptions of ‘what marketing is’ might inspire visions of TV advertising and outdoor media campaigns costing millions, a business with little or even no financial budget should still allocate time to marketing. As an independent retailer, there’s already a little bit of marketing in everything you do, and we encourage you and your team to explore new ways to reach new customers and convince existing ones to return. Here’s 9 steps you can take for free to market your business...
Allocate some time to look at the next 12 months and decide on themes, promotions and events to make the upcoming year your best ever. Share your plans with your suppliers and ask them how they can contribute to a joint success.
Make sure your external messaging is regularly updated and changes in accordance with your marketing plan. Get suppliers on board to help with posters and materials to support you. Build inviting and engaging displays that jump out and encourage new customers to come in and see what you’re offering. Consider whether ‘statistic and invitation’ posters would work for your business – these feature a headline message – ‘85% of local people think xxx’ or ‘feel xxx’ followed by ‘come inside for more information’ or similar.
Have something happening regularly in store, including product demonstrations, sampling, tastings, talks, advice sessions and any other kind of event that fits with your product offering. Make sure it’s clear to the outside world that it’s happening and it’s free. Better yet (if the weather is suitable), do it outside!
Make sure you’re aware of all the data available to you. If you have EPOS you will be surprised at the amount of data that is being recorded. Usually EPOS systems are able to provide reports on what’s selling and what isn’t, your average transaction value, busy time periods and much more.
If you don’t have an EPOS or aren’t able to review trends consider keeping more detailed records using a marketing dashboard, and in a few months you’ll be glad you invested the time in recording data. If you have a website you can use google analytics for free to find out how your visitors found the site and what they did once they got there. Facebook also offers free analytics, known as insights, which will tell you lots about your online fan base.
Use all of the data available to highlight where you would like to improve and set goals with your current position as a benchmark.
Print flyers on your office printer with information on upcoming promotions or offers and include them in the bags with all transactions. Identify quieter times and use incentives to encourage customers on these days / times. Feature your social media channels prominently on all literature and encourage your customers to follow you online to get regular news, offers and updates.
Collect email addresses wherever possible from your customers, remembering to obtain consent to send your informative updates, and use a service like mailchimp or mailerlite to create monthly newsletters to send to your customer base. Keep a reasonable balance of relevant news, updates and special offers to maximise engagement and check back on the metrics of previous campaigns to see what worked and what didn’t.
Even if you don’t have a website, make sure you’ve taken ownership of your store on Google’s ‘my business’, ensure that all information is correct including location, opening times and contact details. Encourage your customers to review your business and take time to read what people are saying about their experience.
Use a tactic employed by supermarkets and many other large organisations. Your customers might be used to your layout and in many ways this can be great but it’s a good idea to mix it up occasionally, moving the popular items to the back of the store therefore meaning shoppers see more of what you’re offering while walking to their favourites. It's also a great opportunity to have a good clean and can help make you aware of what isn't selling.
Create profiles on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and Instagram for your business. Use a good quality version of your logo that is uniform across all platforms. Get busy with the camera and take lots of photos of your store and your product offering. Spend a little time once a month scheduling content for the month ahead using Facebook’s schedule function or Hootsuite for the other channels.