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This post is one in a series of tips designed to guide small business owners through the challenges of today’s startup environment and is sponsored by Canon MAXIFY the printer lineup designed to help small business owners increase productivity so that they can focus on everything else that matters. For more information about the Canon MAXIFY printer lineup visitCanon MAXIFY?
I run a small retail business that has been fighting for its life. I’m in a great location, but I just don’t know how to compete with the big box stores. I’ve tried advertising in the local paper and some direct mail. And lately, I’ve had marketers contacting me about my online marketing. I just don’t know where to turn.
I’m so busy running the store and I know I need to do marketing, I just don’t know where to start and how to get the best value for my marketing dollar.
HELP! Can you give me some advice?
This is the summary of a much longer email that I received last week. Come to think of it it’s a pretty good representation of the kinds of emails I get regularly.
Now that retailers have a few minutes to take a breath after the holiday shopping rush, I thought I’d share some retail marketing trends and tips to take advantage of them for 2015.
Trend: Focus on customers so you can sell them things
There is an old marketing quote that says ?Most people sell things so that they have customers, we have customers so we can sell them things.
You aren?t just competing with big box stores who have expanded to create a one-stop shopping experience; you are competing with online distributors like Amazon. And this means that you will want to choose a specific customer niche to serve so that these ideal customers will come to YOU instead of another, more generic retailer.
[Tweet “Marketing tip: Focus on the customer so you can sell them things. #MAXIFY #Quote “]
Tips to help you focus on customers
Most retailers view their customers as familiar buying units who come to their retail establishment when they need something that you are selling. There is very little predictability there.
What if you viewed your customers as a community and created events and reasons for them to regularly come to your store. Here are some suggestions:
Offer membership packages. This has worked with restaurants as well as financial services. Customers can purchase specific products and services that they receive monthly. This drives them to your location and encourages them to bring friends. You benefit by literally getting paid TWICE; once for the membership fee and another time when they purchase items using the coupons included in their membership.
[Tweet “Even retailers can offer membership packages – see how #MAXIFY”]
Create special events and promote them
Author and expert small business marketer Nikolas Allen (@Nikolas_Allen) recommends giving your customers a reason to come.
- Have a Scavenger Hunt. Hide coupons or gift certificates around the store and advertise a small window of opportunity to find and implement the savings. This doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive. You can print these off on a desktop printer such as the Canon MAXIFY.
- Make It a Party. Feature DJs, solo musicians, magicians, to amp up the instore party vibe. Heck, have a butler dressed to the nines serving sparkling cider to shoppers, or offer free shots of espresso to everyone who makes a purchase over $15.
- Promote Featured Guests. Whether they specialize in chair massage, manicures, makeovers, cooking demos, or fortune telling, invite experts who compliment your primary offering to share their skills with your customers.
- Take photos and videos (short clips of DJ in action, interview with fortune teller, in your social media,
[Tweet “.@Nikolas_Allen shares his tips on how to creatively drive traffic to your retail location #MAXIFY”]
Trend: You still have to please Boomers
Every 8 seconds someone in the US turns 50 and yet, so many retailers are focusing on young people. A study by Credit Suisse First Boston found there are 7,700 clothing chains in the US selling to the teen market but only 1,800 targeting baby boomers.
Don’t be fooled by the growth in Millenials Boomers are still the big spenders and they are online savvy to boot! Just look at some of these statistics
- 195 million US internet users are over 50
- 75% of Americans over 50 buy from etailers
- 72% of adults 55-63 and 47% aged 73 and over shop online
This means that your marketing will have to be both online and offline and working seamlessly with your customers? purchasing habits.
Tips to attract Baby Boomers to your store
Postcards are the perfect marketing tool for retailers. I love this tip from Joy Gandusa, CEO of PostcardMania.com (@postcardmania):
[Tweet “.@postcardmania says postcards are perfect marketing tool for retailers #MAXIFY”]
?The Direct Marketing Association has shown that a postcard with an attached magnet is read?52% more often?than a postcard without a magnet. And what’s more, adding a magnet to a postcard can?increase response rates by over 73%. Adding the magnet means your prospect can see your card, become interested, and stick it right on the fridge.
A cost effective way to print your own magnetic postcards is to simply purchase magnet sheet paper and use your desktop printer (such as the Canon-MAXIFY) to print directly onto the magnetic sheet.
Trend: Cater to the Slactivists?
Trendwatching calls this Brand Sacrifice and journalist Dana Milbeck calls consumers Slactivists?. Both of these trends refer to the idea that consumers want the companies they do business with to reflect their own values. So rather than sacrificing themselves, they will pay YOU to make the sacrifices for them. Then via the transitive property of modern marketing, by buying from you, they are making a statement and doing good.
This may seem ridiculous to you, but it’s working for a lot of brands out there it can work for your retail business as well.
Tips to show how easy it is to be green
Shel Horowitz (@ShelHorowitz), author of Guerrilla Marketing Goes?Green: Winning Strategies to Improve Your Profits and Your Planet, says:
?One easy way to bring people into your store is to emphasize the green aspects of your business: your own green practices and those of your suppliers, manufacturers.
At first, you might not think that your business is all that ?green?, but if you stop and take a closer look, you might surprise yourself;
- Use compact fluorescent or LED lights
- What about your printers? If you have the new Canon-MAXIFY printer, you’re using less ink and fewer cartridges over time.
- Use eco-friendly paper when you print
[Tweet “.@ShelHorowitz recommends turning up the volume on how green your business is”]
Main Street Businesses Have Competitive Advantage
If you’re a Main Street retailer, it’s easy to get caught up in what the big box stores are doing. Instead of looking to compete with them, focus on your customer and creating offers and experiences that will bring them closer to you.
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Canon will be spotlighting several small business owners on its social media channels throughout the next several months, so be sure to leave a comment and share your thoughts on this post using the hashtag #MAXIFY in order to qualify. If you are a U.S.-based small business owner (1-9 employees) and have faced a unique business challenge in your first year on the job, let us know! We’d love to hear what line of work your small business falls within and what you feel is the most important takeaway from this post. We’ll also be rewarding select small business owners with a prize pack including the Canon MAXIFY MB5320 printer as well as other essentials to help you run your business more efficiently. So don’t forget to leave a link to your website or social media pages that way we can see how well you’re marketing your business and get in touch!