This post addresses a few of the sales-building steps we share in our program, “Neutralizing Your Competition: Stealth Marketing Strategies to Help You Stand Tall in a Crowd of Competitors!”
In this competitive retail world of ours, one chain store does something unique for their customers, and the others quickly follow suite. The leading independent retailer introduces a new service and the store across town adds it, too. Pretty soon every retail store is doing the same things to build sales – and customers barely even notice. When every store in town is doing them, services and conveniences that were once considered cool become just ho-hum, business-as-usual, to customers.
With so much sameness out there the question is this: What are you doing in your store that makes it special? What are you prepared to do for your customers that no other competitor can knock off? It’s import to establish who you are – identifying your store’s unique brand. Your brand is more than just the name on your store or your product, and it’s much more than what you sell. Marketing comes after you have established who you are, and marketing is a day-to-day job that never ends. Here are four surefire ways to help you identify and establish your brand:
1. Write Your “Store’s Story”:
Your “Store’s Story” sets your brand apart and tells customers why your store is different from all the rest.
Set aside a block of time and write a short story about who you are, and what makes your store unique and dramatically different from every other store that sells similar product. List your passions. Tell the reader why you got into this business in the first place. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize winning quality, you just have to get your story down on paper so that it can be told the way you want it to be told. Your story is the foundation for all of your future marketing. You may also want to ask your store associates to give you a hand by challenging them to write their version of your Store’s Story. Then you can blend them all together.
2. Now, it’s time to turn your Store’s Story into “Story Selling”
Your advertising and marketing efforts should also reflect your Store’s Story. It has much more impact then just item and price. Wal-Mart’s television advertising campaign is a good example of Story Selling. Viewers relate to, and remember, those 30 to 60 second commercials – stories – because they touch something inside of them or evoke a memory. Each one of those mini-epics connects Wal-Mart to its customers. And when you break it down, Wal-Mart’s secret isn’t the big ad dollars they spend, it’s that they use customer testimonials to market their message. You can do that too, and you don’t need a big ad budget.
Customer testimonials are so effective because of the simple fact that customers believe what other customers have to say about your store before they believe you, in fact a customer testimonial is 10 – 20 times more believable than what you say about yourself. That “word of mouth” advertising tops the list of reasons new customers come to stores. Make sure that you give your customers an opportunity to tell you how good you are, then use their quotes in all of your marketing efforts.
2. Create a 60 Second “Elevator Commercial”
Have you ever been in an elevator at a networking function when someone asked you what you do, only to find yourself suddenly speechless? We all have. You won’t miss another marketing opportunity if you turn your Store’s Story into a 60 second synopsis of what you do. Write it down and memorize it. Then make sure that everyone in your store memorizes, too. Test them every once in awhile to make sure they really know it and understand why it’s so important to get it right.
3. Create Unique Experiences that Connect Customers to Your Store!
Shoppertainment! That wonderful intersection where shopping and entertainment meet. Shoppertainment is a powerful tool that builds loyalty by connecting customers to your store. Why buy what you need at a boring store when you can buy it have fun at the same time?
You should have a Shoppertainment event planned for each and every month of the year. Open houses, demonstrations, events that focus on holidays, a simple “guess the number of jelly beans in a jar” contest, even hot coffee and donuts on a cold day, all fall into the category of Shoppertainment. Low-cost and no-cost events are the best, and we have personally tested thousands over the years. If you are fresh out of ideas or just want to brainstorm, drop us an e-mail and we’ll send you enough Shoppertainment ideas to make your head spin.
4. Consistently Tell the World How Cool You Are!
Other than word-of-mouth, the cheapest way to market your store is through public relations. That’s why you need to send out a press release for everything of interest that that you do. The media wants – needs – your input! Did you know that nearly 80% of the stories that appear in your local medias came from a one-page press release sent by someone like you who had a story to tell? So, for the cost of a stamp, fax, or a quicker than you can hit “send” e-mail, your store could become famous. E-mail us for our easy-to-follow “How to Write a Press Release” instruction sheet.
If you are too busy to handle the public relations by yourself, then choose one person and promote him or her the exalted position of “Director of Public Relations”. Buy your new director business cards with this important title printed on them. This person will be your media contact. Your Director will collect the names of local editors and reporters, get to know their preferences, then write and distribute your press releases. Your Director can even be your store’s ambassador at local functions and Chamber of Commerce events, and more.
And while we’re on the topic of PR, it’s a good idea to carry a notebook and a digital camera with you everywhere you go. How many future PR or marketing opportunities have you missed because you didn’t have a camera? Invest in small camera you can put in your pocket or hang around your neck, then whenever something cool happens in your store you’ll be able to capture the moment. Use the photos in future marketing efforts.
Neutralizing Your Competition is all about turning occasional customers into loyal customers. And loyal customers are not created simply because you sell neat stuff or have killer customer service. Nope, a retail study showed that 70% of your current customers will go somewhere else to shop if that somewhere else is more fun. So, write your Store’s Story, spice up your sales floor with events that connect customers to your store, and get the word out about how cool you are, and your competition will never know what hit them!