If you own a retail store that is not part of a major chain, you are likely on a much different budget than the big box stores. While your budget for marketing is probably much lower, getting your name out there is extremely important. So how do you maintain your customers, get new business and remain profitable with a more limited marketing budget? Here are a few ways to keep your store top of mind without breaking the bank on advertising.
Get online. Even if you only plan to sell your merchandise from retail shelving inside your actual store, customers are likely to look you up before visiting your shop. Your company should be listed in online business directories so that when someone searches your industry online they find your listing. You’ll want to take advantage of sites where customers can share feedback about your store, especially if your products are not available online. Good resources for this include: Angie’s List, Yelp, Google Places, Yahoo! Local, Bing Local, City Search, and more. Sites like these essentially provide you with free word of mouth advertising.
Now that you are online, think even bigger. Consider starting a blog, email list or social media account for your store. This is a great way to show that you are an expert in your industry as well as easily promote a big sale, a new product or other exciting news. People love pictures, so images of your products, store displays, and coupon codes will go a long way. It keeps you connected with your customers as well as pulling in new ones. Offer incentives for signing up for your email list, like a new sign up promotion, if you are having trouble building a customer base.
Without an online store, customer testimonials are extra important. Request, compile, and display customer testimonials wherever you have a good following, whether that is your website, Facebook, or email list. Add a testimonials page to your website and this free marketing content will be searchable on Google. You can also share a few testimonials under your email signature or have a “customer spotlight” email or fan page on the site that thanks and points out your loyal customers.
When you run a retail store that is both offline and a smaller, non-chain business, word of mouth marketing is the most effective and inexpensive way to advertise your business. Regardless of whether or not you sell merchandise online, customers will likely try and look up your store before they visit. If they are met with glowing customer reviews and enticing social media assets, they are much more likely to visit your store.