50 Marketing Ideas for Retailers
By Shari Waters, About.com Guide
Do you have a marketing idea? At the end of this article, you can Share Your Ideas with others.
Small business owners can easily get too involved in the day-to-day operations of their retail stores to spend any time brainstorming marketing ideas or promotional events2. Some retailers worry that marketing is too expensive, others may find it too time consuming. Without announcing who you are and what you sell, how will anyone know? Here are 50 marketing ideas for retailers.
1. Create a calendar for customers with your shop’s name and address on it.
2. Print the products you sell or services offered on the back of your business cards.
3. Always carry business cards with you. Give them freely and ask permission to leave them in places your target market may visit.
4. Join a trade association or organization related to your industry.
5. Have a drawing for a product or a gift certificate. Use the entry forms to collect customers’ mailing addresses.
6. Develop a brochure of services your shop offers.
7. Conduct monthly clinics about a product or service you offer or schedule semi-annual seminars on related “how-to” information for your industry.
8. Print a tagline for your business on letterhead, fax cover sheets, e-mails and invoices.
9. Develop a website to showcase your products, services and location. Use a memorable URL and include it on all marketing materials.
10. Include customer testimonials in your printed literature.
11. Promote yourself as an expert by writing articles or tips on topics related to your industry.
12. Submit to the local newspaper, trade journal or other publications.
13. Host an after-hours gathering for your employees and their friends/relatives.
14. Provide free t-shirts with your logo to your staff to wear.
15. Send newsworthy press releases as often as needed.
16. Create an annual award and publicize it.
17. Develop your own TV show on your specialty and present it to your local cable station or public broadcasting station.
18. Create a press kit and keep its contents current.
19. Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing messages such as business hours, location, website, etc.
20. Join a Chamber of Commerce where you can network with area business owners.
21. Hold an open house. Invite prominent city officials and the press.
22. Get a memorable local or toll-free phone number.
23. Place ads in publications your market reads. Be sure to reach the non-English speaking market as well.
24. Distribute specialty products such as pens, mouse pads, or mugs with your store’s logo.
25. Advertise in creative locations such as park benches, buses, and popular Web sites.
26. Improve your building signage.
27. Get a booth at a trade show or expo attended by your target market.
28. Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.
29. Sponsor an Adopt-a-Highway area in your community to keep roads litter-free.
30. Donate your product or service to a charity event or auction.
31. Have a Yellow Pages ad listed under your main industry and in related categories.
32. Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.
33. Create a loyalty program to reward existing customers.
34. Create an opt-in email or print newsletter for your customers. Fill each edition with specials, tips and other timely information.
35. Send hand-written thank you notes to important customers every chance you get.
36. Use brightly colored envelopes and unique stationary when sending direct mail pieces.
37. Show product demos or related videos on a television on the sales floors during store hours.
38. Book a celebrity guest for an event at your store. Use people in your industry or television news anchors or local authors.
39. Create window displays in locations away from your shop. Airports, hospitals, and large office buildings occasionally have display areas they rent to local businesses.
40. Team up with a non-competing business in your area to offer a package promotion.
41. Pick the slowest day of the week to hold a one-day sale.
42. Create a warm, welcoming waiting area for your customers.
43. Provide extra customer service training for your staff.
44. Sign up for a newsletter or join online discussion groups in your industry.
45. If possible, loan your facilities to other groups for a meeting place.
46. Create a unique lapel pin based on the products you sell to wear at meetings.
47. Choose a regular customer to spotlight as a Customer of the Month. Create a brief write up to submit to the local newspaper about the customer and be sure to give he or she a copy of the article as well as have one framed to hang in the store.
48. Pair up slow moving items with related products and repackage as a special buy.
49. Start a blog. Write about your industry or detail in-store happenings.
50. Offer your customers discounts for each referral they provide.
Marketing is most effective if done in coordination with other exposure. Enhance the above efforts with additional signage, newspaper ads, displays and radio ads. Remember to tailor each event for your target audience. If your message isn’t being delivered to the right person, it may be a wasted effort.
©2010 About.com, Inc., a part of The New York Times Company. All rights reserved.
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You said it! Write! “But write what?”, you may ask. The answer to your question is (yes, we are reading your thoughts): write articles! Let me emphasize that again. Write articles!
Of course, as a business owner you will also ask, “Why should I bother?”, or, “Why would I do that?” Well, simply because your customers need to see that you’re an expert in the product that you sell to them.
If you are trying to sell me a pair of shoes and I ask you, “Which kind should I wear for basketball and which one should I use wear for running?”
Put it this way, you better have an answer for me! Otherwise I will go to your competitor who knows a bit more about shoes and about which type of shoe I should wear for each activity.
But you may also say, “I give them that kind of advice when they ask for it, why should I bother with the articles?”
Well, if you have a Website and you sell online, how else are they going to know that you’re an expert? Post them articles on your Website and you will see the sales rolling in baby!
We thought you may ask that. Here’s the beauty about this whole article-writing phenomenon.You do not need to be an actual expert--depending on how you define the word ‘expert’.
Here’s the second beauty: If you are in the business of selling shoes, for example, then you probably know enough to answer the most questions customers tend have about shoes.
Heck, you could write an article on ‘how to make your shoes last for 3 years’; the opportunities are endless!
The trick is to start writing articles on the most important topics first, and then learn more about your products as you move along. For example, you could start out with a topic on ‘what shoes to avoid wearing for running’.
You do all of this while you periodically, and consistently write articles on the important topics that you do know and the topics that you learn more about as you roll along.
But where shall you get your topics from? The Internet, of course, has got lots of information on your products through online forums, articles, blogs, etc. So do your research and come up with cool topics to write articles on.
Eventually, after you have written 100 or even 50 articles, let’s say at the rate of two or even one per week, you will by then have done what most of your competitors don’t do. And you will stand out as an expert in your customers’ eyes.
These are all questions that are inevitably going to be asked. You’re convinced on the whole idea, and are not discouraged by writing one to 1-2 articles per week, but how the heck do you write them and where do you place them?
We have only one answer to both of your questions and that is, stay tuned to this blog! This has three hidden meanings, which serve as the answer to both questions.
1) This blog is a live example of how you should write good articles.
2) We will write more articles on fail-poof article-writing tips and techniques for you.
3) After you have had read this article on our blog, have you still not figured out where you could place your articles too?
Let’s face it, not everyone can afford to have the same amount of returns and refunds that Wal-Mart can have and still succeed beyond all bounds. And it doesn’t help that the holiday season’s high sales is followed by lots of returned merchandise in the new year. If you think about it on a per-purchase level, it is actually costing you money without a monetary return. You sell the product, then process the order, then wrap up the product, and then ship it. Later on, the customer decides to send it back and then you have to repackage it and put it back on the shelf. Tough, isn’t it?
Here is a fact: as long as you have a refund policy, then refunds are inevitable. Customers will return products for all the reasons in the world. But here comes the diamond in the rough: if you ask the customer the reason for the return then you are sitting on a goldmine of information that help you improve your product pages on your site.
Just like with negative reviews, showing the reasons for return on your product pages shows the customer that you are open and are not trying to hide anything with them. Rather, you are trying to help the customer make an informed purchase decision. You can include the reasons for return into the description of your product or slap it under one of the tabbed boxes (as we discussed in previous blog entries).
Sure, why not. One way of doing it is how Shoeline displays a Return-O-Meter for every product page. This is a great way of showing the shopper just how often the product gets returned.
Or you can do it the traditional way and just display the reasons for return as text just as you do with customer reviews, which of course would entail more details and would naturally provide more useful information for the shopper. Furthermore, if you really want to excel in customer service, then you can respond to reasons for return by providing other solutions or recommending alternative products. Here is an example that was provided by Lindas Bustos of GetElastic.com:
“Reason for return: Brought the desk home and it was not the right white for our daughter’s room. Drawers also a bit too small.”
Staff tip: “This desk is a very creamy white (a bit of a yellow tint) and may not look right if your walls are white-white or the decor has bluish white or grayish white in it. Looks good in rooms with pink, yellow, orange and other warm tones. The drawers are 8×12×6″ which holds items like crayons, CDs, jewelry and small toys but may not be suitable for larger toys or books.”
You tell us. Or should you go visit Amazon to find the answer to this question? We will give you a hint: “What Do Customers Ultimately Buy After Viewing This Item?” Does that sound familiar? If you guessed this same feature that Amazon provides on their site, then you are on the right track. This feature is a cross-selling strategy that can help customers avoid buying the wrong product based on the actions of past browsers of the same product. Have a look for yourself.
It’s simple, isn’t it? The more open you are about why customers returned a certain product, and about what customers bought after viewing that product (as in Amazon’s case), the more trust you will build with your customers. Therefore, they will favor your business over others and make many happy returns to your site, because they know that your site is set up in a way that can help them make more informed purchase decision. It’s a win-win situation!
There are numerous studies that suggest customers expect and demand free shipping. Just have a quick look at the following stats:
According to David Bell, marketing professor at the Wharton School, free shipping that saves the consumer $6.99 instead of a discount that saves them $10, is more appealing. We still don’t know the exact reason why. Probably something that has to do with psychotactics or some other psychological reason on how the brain works when consumers are making a purchase decision.
But according to Linda Bustos of Get Elastic, there are a couple of theories for why consumers prefer free shipping over discounts:
The desire to win could be what draws these shoppers to prefer free shipping over discounts. Shopping online provides advantages over shopping in-store, where shopping online allows consumers to compare prices, find the lowest prices, avoid parking lots and lineups. The shipping charge seems to reverse that advantage where it raises the total price paid and is perceived as being a “convenience tax.” A dollar discount is possible to find in-store, so finding one online doesn’t necessarily justify the shipping cost.
The consumer may think that since the product is already marked up, it’s easy for the retailer to slash on the price and thus offer a discount. But dropping the shipping charges costs the retailer money, and indicates to the consumer that they have “won.”
According to Dr. Flint McGlaughlin, dollar discounts devalue product, and the perceived value of the incentive can never exceed $X (where X is the amount of the discount). However, the value of free shipping could be much higher depending on what the customer imagines shipping costs would be.
So, with all that being said, should you offer free shipping or a discount? The answer with a shopping cart that only allows one of these methods is more difficult, but with the Halixo shopping cart the answer is a lot more easier since you are able to offer either both or test each one out separately to see what brings in more sales.
Some of our clients offer both discounts and free shipping, but put a minimum price on the total sales value in order to qualify for free shipping. This way, you are getting the best of both worlds but with a safeguard to prevent free shipping on small orders. So, the point is, you should test it out to see what works best for your customers.
If your site does not allow shopper to make informed decisions on your site, then they are most likely to go to your competitors. But what does it mean to help them make informed decisions or purchases? One of the best ways to help your shoppers make informed purchases is to help them compare products in an easy manner on your site, using a tool such as a comparison matrix or chart.
Let’s take a look at the below screen shot to see what a comparison chart looks like.
You will notice that the two products are side-by-side, with a full comparison and contrast of the features for each product. This was the result of merely clicking on a button next to the two products that read “add to compare”, and voila, you’ve got a comparison chart. With the Halixo shopping cart, this feature is fully functional and is at its best in terms of usability and relevance. We have added it to ensure that you help your shoppers make informed decisions when they are making purchases on your site, because if you don’t, then someone else will!
This is especially the case when you have many products and categories and each category has products that, although belong to the same group, have many differences in pricing and specifications. However, this sort of tool will not make sense if you’re showing “cross-sells” of related products that you hope the customer will buy in addition to the product being viewed. You shouldn’t compare headphones to mp3 players, for example.