Having stellar products or a beautiful store means nothing if no one knows about them. The true success of a retail brand also relies on strong marketing and PR that gets the message out to current and potential shoppers and convinces them to shop.
While large retailers have the advantage of million-dollar budgets, smaller stores have to be more conservative with their cash-flow. At The National Retail Federation's BIG Show, BJ Bueno, founder of The Cult Branding Company, and Dave Ratner, president and CIO of Dave's Soda and Pet City, shared these top five tips that all businesses can implement, no matter how big or small your budget.
1. Don't try to market to everyone. "Only a small portion of the population is interested in what you're trying to sell. You can't be everything to everyone," said Bueno. Whether you have a single boutique, or operate a chain of stores nationwide, it's important to choose a target demographic and do your best to connect with those customers directly.
2. Define your vision. Many small retailers pour so much time into the logistics of running a business—such as finding an accountant, managing the phones, hiring employees, tracking inventory— that they forget to define and communicate a clear, concise mission statement. "You have to be your brand. If you can't clearly portray what your business is about, no one else will, either," said Bueno.
3. Spend your marketing budget wisely. Bueno suggests that retailers start out by spending 8 percent of total revenue on marketing and PR. Once the budget is set, it's also critical to track your ROI as time progresses and make adjustments accordingly.
4. Get involved in the community. "Figure out what is important to your customers and get involved in causes they care about," said Ratner. "The community cause will do your advertising for you." Ratners shared a recent example of how his pet supply business helped raise money for a new printer at the local library. His store printed small fliers to hand out at the library, and for everyone who shopped at his pet store with one of the fliers, 5 percent of their purchase would go towards the cost of the library printer. In response, the library sent out a slew of notices to local schools and book clubs in the area asking them to shop at Dave's Soda and Pet City using the fliers. In the end, the library was able to purchase the new printer, and Ratner's business got a ton of free press in the process.
5. Become an expert in your industry. "Learn how to talk about your business," suggests Ratner. "You need to be an expert in your niche industry so when the press needs a quote, they will come to you. That's a form of free publicity." People love to hear from speakers, so find local seminars, conferences and meet ups in your area and volunteer to sit on a panel discussion. "This is another way to make people fall in love with you and your business."
Click here for more FierceRetail coverage from Retail's BIG Show hosted by the NRF!
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