5 Creative Ideas to Promote Your Retail Store
Guest blog post by Cloe Matheson
As we approach 2020, we find ourselves split between physical newspapers and breaking headlines on our phones. We experience new ideas through @mentions vs. word of mouth, and online messaging vs. meeting up at the bar.
In this digital age, brick and mortar stores must work harder than ever to compete with online retailers — and each other. While online stores may have an upper hand with ‘convenience,’ they fall behind when it comes to the all-important personal touch that only real-life interactions can bring. Here are 5 ways to maximise that physical advantage to make your store stand out and turn casual window-shoppers into loyal customers.
1. Mastering the Art of Store Displays
We’ve all seen stores let down by cringe-worthy visual merchandising. Even the best merchandise in the world can be devalued by ineffective displays and bad lighting. Impulse shoppers in particular, who do not necessarily research their purchases, tend to make major judgements based on what they see. This means that the quality of your window display will likely be reflected in your sales figures. Some consideration of aesthetic values regarding displays and layout can go a long way when drawing in customers and making sales.
The famous advertising executive Morris Hite said, “Advertising moves people toward goods; merchandising moves goods toward people.” For physical stores, the window display is the front line of the retail battle. A good window display tells a story: an appealing snapshot of your brand that draws in your target market, allowing the store interior to deliver on the window’s promise and turn casual shoppers into customers.
You can now find innovative software available to create digital renders of store displays and layouts – the days of painstakingly hand-drawing mockups are over! MockShop allows you to design or remodel your store digitally and then preview the customer experience in 3D to optimise flow, navigation and product visibility.
2. Holding Classes or Events
Holding special one-off or regular events in your store is a fantastic way to cultivate community while also boosting sales. Early bird sales events are great for building buzz around the launch of a new product. Offering an extra treat for the first few people in line is a nice way to sweeten the deal while increasing numbers.
Depending on the specific niche and customer base of your store, you might consider inviting a relevant expert or luminary in the field to give a talk, product demonstration or workshop. If you sell handmade goods for example, consider inviting one of your makers to give a workshop on their craft. A regular product demonstration or tasting event or a meet-up linked to your store’s theme is a brilliant way to increase footfall and gain loyal customers.
3. Ramping Up Your Social Media Strategy
Even if all of your sales are conducted in a brick-and-mortar store, a social media presence is crucial for promoting your business and fostering brand engagement. It is standard practice for modern businesses to run Facebook and Twitter pages as a bare minimum, but you can add even more value by creating content on other visual platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and a blog.
The tone of your social media posts will reflect the character of your brand, so use these platforms to post relatable content that will engage your target market, as well as more traditional advertising. Running prize draws with entries offered in exchange for likes and shares can be a good way to build your business’s online following and secure potential future customers. The great thing about social media is that once you build an audience, they will happily promote your business to their own followers, essentially resulting in free advertising!
4. Promoting Your Business at Local Fairs
Not everybody uses social media, so getting out and about is still vitally important to building brand recognition and a great reputation. Trade fairs are an ideal way to get your business out there and face-to-face with potential customers, suppliers, clients and contacts.
Local business fairs and wider industry events are also useful for scoping out the competition, noting what’s hot and what’s not, and perhaps even borrowing a few ideas here and there. Be observant: which exhibition stands are attracting droves of people, and which are attracting tumbleweed?
5. Giving Back to Your Community
In a world dominated by monolithic corporate entities, people love to support local businesses that are conscientious and civic-minded. Giving back to the community that sustains your business is an exercise in feel-good factor for all concerned, as well as being a wholesome way to cultivate positive PR.
Hosting charity events to benefit local causes, launching promotional offers with a percentage going to charity or even something as simple as having a collection box at the point of sale are all lovely ways to give back and show an altruistic side to your business. Or consider supporting grassroots local artists and artisans by selling their wares in your store. Shopping locally is an increasingly popular choice for both economical and ecological reasons, so local products are always likely to attract eager buyers and repeat customers.