“I decided to move to a new location, in a town nearby where I live. There are (25,000)? people who live within 3 miles of the town and I am the only women’s apparel store here. Located across from the train station. I mailed out postcards to nail, hair and spas in the closest 3 towns, handed out postcards at the train station and again at our First Friday?event. I have also handed out postcards at my old location with each sale for the last 3 months. Posted on my web page and Facebook and Linkedin. I have signed up for an advertising campaign in a local “what’s happening” marketer. I have been open for 30 days and traffic is slow to come. Any ideas that won’t break the bank. Help!”


I love this question because it represents so many small business owners and especially retail businesses. You want more traffic and more customers, so you start DOING all these marketing activities. But if you are DOING all these things and not SEEING results you want. Step back and take a really good look at your customer to product connection.

Here’s what I mean by that. There’s a marketing phrase out there that goes — you don’t have a traffic problem, you have an OFFER problem. Your offer is the ideal match of customer to product to desire. So for example, Domino’s matches fast pizza delivery to hungry, time starved people. See how that works? So how would you create a sentence like that for YOUR business?

You have a women’s clothing store — for WHAT women? Teens, Fashionistas, plus size, busy women? Really take the time to think about what clothing you have and what kind of woman is MOST desperate for what you have.

Here’s a quick way to get you started. You can do this in a Word document — OR even better, use index cards and create the following categories.

1. Customers who want what I have most desperately — describe them.

2. What is it that they WANT? Not what you SELL, Not what they might NEED — what they WANT….Remember in the Dominos example, they don’t necessarily want the best TASTING pizza, they want pizza FAST. So what is it that your customers want. Step outside your store and just WATCH the people walking past the train station — what might they want What’s missing that if you had it would BLOW THE ROOF off their experience? Is it comfy shoes? Is it panty hose? Is it HATS? Just LOOK at your ideal customers and think about what YOU can provide that’s missing from their experience.

3. What do you OFFER that meets those wants? ?One thing could be LOCATION? ?This is where you might insert some specific products or services — features of your store – like you’re OPEN late when the last train gets there? Is it unique gifts or flowers or cards that folks FORGOT to buy because they were late to get to the train? What if the trains are late or you miss a train — can you offer them something to do to pass the time? Are there regular customers who are on the train every day? Can you offer some kind of “membership” thing —

4. Why is this good for your customer — now list all the ways that your customers would benefit from your offer – saving time? Looking good?

5. Now — what cool idea or thing can you offer that would just BLOW people away – that they’ve never seen, that will make your place a must-see location?

You mentioned you did postcards and mailings — If you have a local business – one of my favorite strategies is to send a PERSONAL letter with a REAL gift certificate to your store. Yes — a REAL gift certificate (NOT NOT NOT a coupon).

Say this certificate is for $25. Notice that it’s not some stupid measely amount — it’s a REAL amount and this is for a really GOOD reason. Remember, you don’t “spend” the money until they COME to your store.

In the letter you TELL THEM THIS IS AS GOOD AS CASH – and that if they spend less you WILL GIVE THEM CHANGE. This will drive traffic to your store and guess what people will do? ?They will spend that $25 — and then some. After all, that’s a FREE $25 – so you can spend another $25 or $50 — this is an ideal promo to run for the holidays.

They will have a great experience – they might bring their friends – and (assuming you are on top of things and provide a great experience) you will have loyal customers for life.