By Callie Wolverton
While this may sound like a vague resolution you’d make filling out a Match.com profile, the truth is: If you’re a retailer in the shooting sports industry, attracting more women to your business should be high on your list of resolutions for 2018.
Hopefully by now you know while men may make the big, once-a-year purchases, it’s women who will build the foundation of many businesses by making smaller, more consistent purchases throughout the year. Research has also shown when the matriarch of the family is involved in a hobby or cause, there is a greater chance the whole family will be involved — thus broadening your customer base and creating brand- and business-loyal repeat customers.
With the rise in social media marketing, satisfied female customers have also positioned themselves to be the most vocal and persistent social media users in the last few years, handing recommendations out daily. These women are capable of intense community influence, and they have the ability to make or break sales based on their recent in-store or online experience.
Considering all of the power female customers wield, shouldn’t 2018 be the year you resolve to do everything in your power to secure their consumer loyalty? Maybe you’ve been nodding along so far, saying, “Yes, Callie, I know all this, but I how do I get started?” No worries, as long as you have a solid sales background (if you’re working in retail, this should be the gold star on your business profile), targeted marketing can always be learned — because it’s always evolving! Remember the joke about filling out a Match.com profile? Well, attracting new customers can be a lot like dating, and here are three easy tips to reach those customers before they even set foot in your establishment.
Pacific Flyway Supplies’ Tim Anderson stocks products like the Yeti Tundra 45 (Sea Foam) and Rambler Mug (Tahoe Blue)to appeal
to women customers. Simply offering products like this is a nonverbal cue your store keeps women’s preferences in mind.
1: Showcase The Goods
A surefire way to increase the number of female customers is to focus on aesthetics and display. Women-centric displays can ease retail insecurities and entice a potential customer to open your door. A welcoming storefront sets the tone for your female shoppers. Consider a clean, well lit (and obvious) entrance — a new customer doesn’t know to go around to the back alley, knock three times and say the password to Jimmy before they can enter your store. Window displays are another way to attract attention as potential customers pass by. Appealing colors, tailored cuts (if you’re displaying clothing) and even a more feminine- type font can catch a woman’s eye and persuade her to at least look around.
Case Study: Tim Anderson, owner of Pacific Flyway Supplies in Dixon, Calif., works to attract more female customers with a women’s only wall and window display in his store. He uses this space to display women’s apparel and accessories, specifically focus-ing on Girls with Guns Clothing and the pink and seafoam Yeti accessories, both in-demand brands in the local area. By giving female customers their own space to shop, Tim is using the display to nonverbally communicate his store is a welcoming and inclusive outdoor retailer.
2: Be Available
You probably wouldn’t want to go out on a date with someone who is never available, and the same can be said for a business that doesn’t go the extra mile to help out a potential customer. As an expert in your field, go beyond the high-pressure sales pitch and start offering value-added services to attract those customers — especially women, who might be hesitant to approach your store. There are plenty of services and advice you (as an expert) can offer to provide value to someone new to the industry, and won’t hurt your bottom line.
Case Study: Down Range Indoor Training Center (Chico, Calif.), one of the largest indoor ranges in Northern California, goes above and beyond to provide invaluable support to new firearm owners. The center’s “Try Before You Buy” firearm rental program allows new shooters to receive one-on-one assistance when selecting their ideal firearm, and then gives them an opportunity to use the indoor range to test-fire an unlimited amount of firearms within their rental hour. Between this program and Ladies Only basic pistol and CCW classes, Down Range gives the women in their community a safe and nonjudgmental place to come and learn about firearms. The trust built through this knowledgeable and value-added service easily translates into a higher conversion rate on the sales floor.
3: Get Social
Social media isn’t just a fad or trending app; it’s a valuable marketing tool here to stay. It isn’t enough to take out local radio and billboard ads anymore — younger customers (especially women) use Facebook to find local retailers, read Yelp reviews before they shop so they know what to expect and share their experience on Twitter and Snapchat. Because social media is relatively free and easy to use, broadening your marketing campaigns to include more female-friendly content is an easy way to convince this demographic to come visit your store and potentially spend their hard-earned money on your products and services.
Case Study: RMI Outdoors, a mid-size store in Eureka, Calif., carries everything the typical outdoorsman would need to shoot, hunt, boat or fish. The majority of RMI’s Facebook and Instagram posts reflect the needs and wants of its largest customer base — men. But one in every five or 10 posts includes something unexpected from an outdoor retailer: a pretty, feminine display of women’s apparel and accessories, with a short status on what brands are currently being featured and any ongoing sales. Something even more unexpected is the amount of men who tag their wives or girlfriends in the comments, letting them know about something they might like, and usually encouraging the couple to take a trip (together of course) to RMI and check it out.
Thanks to the power of social media influence and networking, women who didn’t even “like” RMI’s page to begin with are seeing the posts in their timelines and newsfeeds. This engagement increases RMI’s social media reach. Because the posts are geared toward RMI’s female customers, more and more women now know RMI carries something that might interest them and they’re more apt to follow the page. Recent social media statistics reveal a customer is more likely to be a loyal and repeat customer if they follow and engage with a brand on social media. This alone should be enough to convince you to hire someone to manage your social media profiles!
For those in the industry who have been around long enough to witness the shift in consumer demographics, they understand the value in diversifying a marketing plan to include new ways attract and retain today’s broader customer base. Women — especially those new to or considering entering the shooting world — may require additional customer service on the front end, but based on spending habits and their influence on other retail shoppers, the extra effort will pay off in spades.
What are some of your store’s New Year resolutions? Join the conversation! Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org