Canadian Retailer - Spring 2015 - 24
Mystore retailer'S Guide VOl. 11.2: marketing
get out there
The advice a true friend might give to a
heartbroken friend works in retail, too: Get out
there! Meet people! Wear a conversation piece.
Make yourself available.
Publicize what makes your business unusual. Unusual is good. Take stock of your
business and determine what makes your business worth talking about. It could be something special about the owner (she's published
a book), the product (the store is an exclusive
provider of a particular SKU) or the store (the
location is a heritage building). What makes
the store different from the competitor across
the street that carries the same product? It
might be something in the store's personality.
Getting involved in business groups (whether the
BIA, the chamber of commerce, Retail Council of
Canada or another industry association) can help
you build contacts with colleagues and mentors
who can help you out during difficult times.
Write press releases. Social media is great,
but newspapers, magazines and some bloggers
still rely on press releases to learn about what's
happening in the community. When you have an
event, or when you have something to say about
your business, put it in a press release. A good
press release: 1) explains the story to the journalist in plain, clear terms; 2) explains the relevance
of the story to the publication's audience; and
3) gives the journalist all they need to write the
story without much effort. Include clear, usable
photographs that the publication can print.
Send handwritten thank you notes. One way
to stand out is to send personal, handwritten
thank you notes. Write a note to thank a customer for making a major purchase or to welcome a new customer to the neighbourhood.
Handwritten notes are rare these days, and so
the recipient of your letter will know you're serious when you say thank you. Write the note
with a good pen on store letterhead and attach
your business card. Include a special discount
if you think you need to give them another reason to visit you again.
Get awesome business cards. What makes
one business card awesome and another so-so?
At the minimum, start with firm card stock,
bright colours, and sharp, high resolution images and fonts. What makes it more awesome?
An unexpected design (vertical instead of hori24 |
canadian retailer | SprinG 2015
zontal landscape), a cut-out or shaped edge,
and anything else out-of-the-ordinary is bound
to stand out. And, carry them everywhere.
Ask suppliers for lots of samples. Sampling
can help you win customers with new products
and can also help you deliver something more
to them with each purchase. Make a push to
ask suppliers for samples to your best-selling
products and new, untested products. Dispense samples like proverbial candy because
everybody loves something for nothing. Include samples in any shipment you make.
Become involved in business groups. Internet wisdom says that independent business
owners should be involved in two or three community or business groups. Driscoll agrees. She
says that getting involved in business groups
(whether the BIA, the chamber of commerce,
Retail Council of Canada or another industry
association) can help you build contacts with
colleagues and mentors who can help you out
during difficult times. Joining local groups, like
the local holiday parade committee, can give
you access to new groups of customers.
Make cold calls. Many customers are cool
on cold calls. They can be intrusive, especially
at dinner time. Cold calling can work if you
build a couple conditions into them. First, ask
customers if they mind you calling them to
tell them about new products or a sale item.
If they don't mind a call, call them. Time on
the phone can help you build a relationship
with individual customers. And second, call
potential customers who might have come to
you through a referral. If you can connect with
a new customer through an old friend, the call
isn't so cold.
Practice how to approach a customer outside the store. If you attend free community
events, like street festivals, look for opportunities to mention your store as you circulate. You're there to enjoy yourself and make
friends, but also to tell people about your
business. How will you approach strangers?
What's the pick-up line? It's hard to say; every
situation is different. But we know that a warm
smile, eye contact, a firm handshake and listening to the other person helps to build rapport. As you leave, invite the person to shop at
your store. Leave them with a business card or
For more Retailer's Guides offering tips and
tools for small businesses, visit www.retailcouncil.org/research/publications.