As a small retailer, how do you stay ahead of the competition? Just how do you engage your existing customers and find new customers? Cool-jams Inc started in 2007and has grown to be the largest wicking sleepwear company in the US. It wasn’t easy, but we have discovered that it is possible to grow a business even during tough economic times.
Whether you are a brick and mortar store or you sell your products primarily online, there are many strategies that you can implement on a daily basis to grow your business. The suggested tactics won’t break your budget, but will take a consistent daily commitment of time. Here are several tips and strategies from the Cool-jams marketing team to help ensure your retail success.
- Increase visibility in your community: Certain types of visibility will give your business a positive image in your community. Join local organizations to include local women’s clubs or auxiliaries relating to your business. Volunteer for a large charity. Consider donating a percentage of your sales to a charity related to your business this is a surefire way to generate customer loyalty.
- Reward existing customers: Offer an exclusive incentive to your regular customers. Notify them via e-mail or personal phone call with their discount or offer. This will encourage repeat business. Keeping your current customers happy is the easiest way to generate more business.
- Provide free, helpful information to your customers: We do this through our company blog and Facebook. Write weekly articles with your favorite recipes, helpful info about menopause, night sweats, sleep tips and other related subjects. We also provide a complimentary cooling sleep meditation download which helps to engage both new and existing customers. When customers are engaged, they are loyal and come back again. Visit our Cool-jams blog to see what we talk about in our blog articles.
- Send out Monthly Newsletters: Be sure to have a way for customers to enter an email address on your site or provide you with their email at time of purchase. Send out a monthly newsletter with articles, promotions or any newsworthy tidbits about your store or website.
- Offer Referral Incentives: Offer an incentive like a freebie to customers who bring in a new customer who makes a purchase. Customers love freebies and giveaways. Create buzz by talking about this incentive on your blog or newsletter.
- Spruce up your Web site and/or store: Stale websites and stores don't attract business. A nice looking store or website builds confidence with a customer. Have a critical eye and make sure your sales process is smooth and easy. Keep things uncluttered and simple.
- Submit information to blogs: Blog writers are always looking for content for their sites. Target appropriate blogs and send them press releases or articles relating to your business. There is always something to talk about ( courageous customer stories, awards received, your involvement in charities, new products you are offering, stories about what you do to help people etc. etc.) Be sure to include your bio and a link back to your store or website.
- Link Exchanges: A link exchange is much like a putting a business card on a bulletin board at your business. The more links your business has to its website, the better your search engine placement will be. Create exchanges with high ranking relevant websites to be most effective.
- Share Your Knowledge: There are many ways a retailer can appear as an expert or voice of authority in a certain industry. One way is to host classes, seminars or workshops in-store. Another way is by signing up to teach related continuing education courses at the local college. You can also create a few YouTube videos about relevant topics. Include a link to your store in the YouTube description. The video does not have to be fancy. Create a simple informational video with the camera on your computer. This can bring lots of traffic and visibility. Visit the Cool-jams YouTube page to see how we do this.
- Use Downtime for Marketing: When times are slow, keep employees busy contacting customers. Create e-mail marketing documents to make it easy for your employees to engage with customers. Personal contact with customers gets results. Go for quality contacts rather than quantity.
- Visit your own website frequently: Look for ways it can be improved. Too often, small business Web sites load slowly, are poorly organized, and are difficult to navigate.
- Get active in the online community: Encourage employees to do the same. Don't spam discussion forums or other social sites, but don't be afraid to use signature lines containing links to your website or store.
- Check out your suppliers’ websites: Add links on your site to informative and helpful content on those sites. Many corporate sites offer instructional videos and other material that can inform your customers and lead them back to you, ready to do business.
- Get a toll-free phone number: It makes you look more professional and encourages business—and the fees aren't as high as you might think.
- Launch a blog on your site and update it daily: Nothing reads "I don't care" like a blog whose most recent entry is days old. Assign this task to employees who can write and spell—an illiterate blog is worse than no blog at all. Introduce people to your company and its staff. Highlight products. Run contests, announce specials and upcoming new products. Establish a "customer-of-the-month" tradition and do regular write-ups. Surely there's something you can say to your customers daily.
- Use Facebook, Pinterest and Twitter: Having a Facebook page may not earn you any new business, but not having one may cause customers to ask why you don't. Take some good pictures of your store, your employees …put a more human face on your identity. Twitter and Pinterest are relatively new and it seems that everyone's scrambling to figure out useful applications. In the meantime, let your customers at least follow you, and implement a strategy similar to what you're using in your blog. Visit our Cool-jams Pinterest Page, Cool-jams Facebook Page, Cool-jams Twitter Page for examples of best practices for social marketing.