Marketing Strategies for Local Retail

Written by Jeremy Howlett

Jeremy is our chief marketing pro. He has over a decade in marketing for brands and retail outlets. He loves helping companies grow and succeed by using a variety of marketing strategies and tactics.

February 11, 2020

Today, I would like to share with you some tips and marketing strategies for local retail and service businesses. Recently I was in visiting with a local fly fishing shop. These guys are great. It’s a great shop to visit with a very knowledgeable staff that wants to do right every time. We got talking about what I do and then got into a little discussion about some marketing tactics. Thus, I was inspired to write the following post.

Marketing Strategies for Local Retail

As a local retailer, you have a lot of options and opportunities. There are many ways to outdo big box and major online retailers. As easy as online is, customers still value personal interactions and will purchase from you if you give meaningful service. If the service is not there then you will be showroomed. Here are some tips to get them in your store and keep them coming back, but remember customer service is key.

In marketing your store I would recommend avoiding the traditional media buys such as TV and billboards. These are struggling avenues anyways. You have a lot more leverage through online mediums anyhow. You may not sell online or make it a focus, but you can still dedicate your marketing online. Content creation tends to be the most difficult on the surface, but you can usually find some ambassadors to create that for in-store discounts. I will point out a few key marketing strategies for local retail that can enhance your local business presence.

In-Store Events

The key to in-store events is not so much what it is, but it is how consistent it is. I’ve seen running stores do very well with this in turnouts from 30 to 100 depending on the activity. Mostly because people know when to plan for it. Host an educational night, a mix and mingle, an activity, a giveaway or a contest night. Make it fun and engaging and most importantly consistent. Whether it’s every week or once a month just keep it the same. Nights are valuable to be with family, but if you do something 2 or 3 nights a week split it up between managers so that only one of you is there a night. You can even reach out to your vendors and have them send a rep to bring a demo set to get people to try and use it at no cost to you. Many manufacturers, will provide these to retailers the majority of the time. It brings value to both brands.

Also, DON’T CLOSE THE REGISTER. The number one problem I have seen with in-store events is that the store closes down the register and people can’t buy from you. They are in your store, they will buy if you let them. Read more about hosting events in our previous post.

Email Marketing

Customers come into your store because they value what you have to say. They want to hear from you. Are you reaching them? Do they know you are doing a clinic night? Do they know you are having a sale? do they get to learn from you? Use this medium to build a list and keep your key customers informed. They would love to hear from you.

Email continues to be one of the most valuable mediums for marketers. Social media (as discussed below) is valuable, but it is controlled by the platform. With your email list you continue to own that customer data. It is yours. The only way that it can be controlled is how email clients tag spam. Use this medium religiously. Have a way to gather customer email addresses. These will be one of the biggest drivers of repeat customer business. Use your list wisely. With the knowledge that you have of your customers, there is no reason to spray and pray. Build out segments based on purchases, behaviors, demographics, and more. This allows you to target your customers more intelligently and personally. I will write a more detailed email marketing post in the coming weeks.

Direct Mail Marketing

Many tend to believe that direct mail is a dying medium. We have found it to be the opposite. We see most of our customers using this wisely getting over a 25% response rate on a direct mail piece. The real value of this is the tactile touch that you have with a customer. The average response rate of a social media post is less than 1%. Yes, of all of the impressions of your ad only 1% are actually clicking on that ad, and that does not even equate to a sale, just a click. Even a good email campaign still only gets a 12-18% open rate, meaning that over 80% of your customers never even saw the email content. Text messages have a 95%+ open rate but tend to have low response rates.

Direct mail that is targeted is seen by your audience as they sort through their mail on the way from the mailbox to their door or recycle bin. Your company is being seen. If the piece is specific to your customer then they are going to think twice before discarding it. This is why we see such high response rates. It is an offer, service, or product that is relevant. Use this medium to continue bringing customers back in your doors. Feel free to contact us to know how we are able to leverage direct mail.

Local Events

Get involved in the local community. One of the ways to improve all of your other marketing strategies for local retail is to take your shop to the people. There may already be local events that you can sponsor or partner with. You may have community events to get involved with. Find a way to do so. However, if those events do not exist then you may want to go out of your way and create something. Maybe it’s a competition or even a service project. People will come out. Maybe just a little at first, but keep it consistent. Use local mediums to get the word out. If it is service-related this is usually a good way to get free press from a community paper or newsletter. Keep involved in your community.

Maintain a Blog

You probably went into business because you love the hobby, sport or activity that you sell goods for at your shop. This means that you must know a thing or two about the topics within this passion. You also likely associate with others in this arena as well. You can write content and recruit these others to write content for your store blog. The best thing that you can learn is to be the authority in the avenue that you serve. If you are a running store then be the authority in running, a fly fishing shop then is the authority in fly fishing and tying, or if a scrapbook shop then in creativity and crafting and so on. Share this passion and knowledge with all of your potential customers. You can then use this content to share on your social platforms.

Social Media

There are a few key items that you can incorporate into your social media tactics. First and probably most important is to LISTEN! There’s nothing more important that you can do in the social sphere than to listen when your customers are talking. The biggest mistake I see is when a Twitter, Facebook or Instagram question or comment goes unnoticed or unanswered. People want to be heard or they will stop talking, stop sharing and worst of all, stop buying. If you’re not listening then close the account. Also, don’t direct link your accounts unless you are going to pay attention to all of them. Here are some basic pointers on each social sphere.

    • Facebook
      • Use this to keep fans informed and educated.
      • Convert Facebook fans to email subscribers by asking them to join your email list. Give them a valuable reason why they should.
      • Facebook is great and easy to accumulate more fans. Don’t be afraid to spend some money here. This medium can be much more valuable than Google ads because you can target location, demographics, and interests. Also, don’t focus just on your city, remember that people from neighboring towns drive-through and may need your product.
      • Be top of mind relevant.
      • Please listen and answer when people comment or post.
      • Keep your events updated.
      • Watch your analytics data. One of the key metrics is engagement. Keep this high. Do so by sharing good information that gets likes, comments, and shares.
      • Store contests can go really well. Often you find a solid brand that is lesser known to give you free product for a promotional contest. Use some fan gating to get likes and leads.
    • Twitter
      • Personally my favorite medium, but can get noisy.
      • Listen, listen, listen. I can’t emphasize this enough. Your customers will stop paying attention and stop talking about you if you don’t listen.
      • Post regularly. Because of all the noise, a post can become irrelevant very quickly. Make it valuable posts. You can share articles from news outlets that you enjoy or just simple updates or images with inspiring quotes.
      • Have your staff submit posts.
      • Use a scheduling app. I personally like Buffer because it posts at the best times for my followers.
    • YouTube
      • Take the content you created for your blog and make a simple 2-minute video about it.
      • Take a GoPro on your outings and capture those. Use the GoPro app or some other basic video software to create quick video content to share.
    • Instagram
      • Do what you promote. Post your personal photos. Have every staff member send theirs to the Instagram lead.
      • Have customers send you photos or better yet tag and hashtag your store then you repost those with a reposting app.
      • Make pictures stop the scroll. Have content that people want to see and make it relatable to your industry.

By following these pointers for each medium you should see some lift and success.

I hope that these marketing strategies for local retail can help your business find improved success and efficiency in your marketing tactics. If there is something I may have missed that you find valuable, please share it in the comments.

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