I had intended to get part II of this series out much sooner than now but I haven’t. So I think our best option is to go on the assumption that some of you have done some marketing and some have not. Being the middle of October, those of you who have put off doing marketing could be in need of more expedient measures so I’ll start there.
As of today, there are 68 days left before Christmas. If you are a local business, do yourself a favor. Don’t make these days any more stressful than they already are. If you decide to do some promotions or advertising, try and have a little bit of fun with it. Use it as a little creative break from the chaos. Here are some things that are realistic if you can do some writing.
- Make a list of promotions you are going to run each week from now until the week of Christmas. Decide if it is a discount, bogo, whatever. If you have a website, make a page for your promotions and put this week’s promotion on there and invite people to print out the page and bring it in. Change the page every week. Do the same thing on your Facebook page. Use the “Create an offer” feature. If you have an email list, send the weekly promotion to them too.
- Take pictures of your store in it’s holiday glory and post them to Instagram and every other social media account that you have plus your email list. Try for pictures with plenty of customers. Have someone else get a shot of you helping a customer and one of you ringing a customer up at checkout.
- If you have a local online publication, see if you can get a story or promo in there. Look for other “chamber of commerce” type publications that might help stores in a particular shopping area.
- Write three stories about things that happened in your store that are feel-good type stories. Put them on your site and your Facebook page. On your Facebook page, “Boost” your story to get a bigger audience. It’s usually between $20 and $30 for a week.
- Consider Facebook Ads. They can be more expensive than just boosting a story, but you can make a real ad that gets you a wider audience. If you don’t know how, ask someone to help you. Chances are, you children or grandchildren can do it.
For those who are underway with your marketing plan, how are things going? If you’ve done some stuff, you may or may not have made an effort to see how well they did. If your answer is “Meh, it didn’t seem to do much.” or “I think it did really well.”, you don’t really know. You have to know with a degree of certainty if you did better than you would have if you hadn’t done marketing at all. If it’s working, ride that bad boy! Run it until it doesn’t work.
Try and build in some way to account for your marketing efforts. If you use coupons or promotion codes, then it’s pretty easy. If you are getting people to buy stuff online, you probably already know you need to have analytics code on your ads or promos or whatever so you can say, “Hey, that ad got us that sale.” Facebook likes are nice but sales are better. The same goes for visits to your site but window shoppers.
If you run the register, ask people what brought them in. Ask them if you can send them promotions in email and get their email address. Back in the 90s, my Mom got people to add their addresses to an honest-to-goodness guestbook. Her list grew to more than 5,000 people. Then, twice a year, she handwrote personal notes to every one of them on postcards on cool paper pre-printed with her store mascot (a little red hen). Talk about building loyalty.
But that goes to show you that there is still ample room for creativity in retail. Selfies with the store owner with a Santa mask. Get together with neighboring stores and hire a small musical group to walk around playing carols. Brownie points if you get them to dress in DIY Victorian garb or some other costume. Hire a local graphic artist to do some signage to spiff up the store.
Next week, I’m going to post some fun stuff other small retail owners have done to attract holiday shoppers.