The Double-Edged Sword

By C. Ainsley Beeman

As a consumer, have you ever missed out on a great deal simply because you were unaware there was a sale going on in the first place? Perhaps the promotion surrounding it was minimal or held in a venue you seldom, if ever, visit. You regretfully had no clue, but I guarantee the seller regrets missing the sale even more.

Running my own marketing firm, I know the value of effective marketing to a tangible marketplace for clients. Frankly speaking, the adage “ignorance is no excuse” is a double-edged sword for both the buyer — and seller. Options abound to get your customers’ attention well before the sale even begins.

Let’s break down a few simple (but key) components to increase foot traffic in your store.

Starting Point: Acknowledge The Need

Increasing in-store traffic starts with solid promotional footing. Whether you’re the business owner or store manager, you must take the initiative and acknowledge the need for marketing. A common rebuttal is “we’ve got more customers than we can keep up with.” That’s wonderful, but let’s make sure you maintain them. If you ever get to a place where there’s no competition, it’s a dangerous place to be. It always amazes me when people refute marketing opportunities with “that’s just not our customer base.” (I’m reminded of a verse from scripture, “You have not because you ask not.”)

Solicit new business efficiently and consider every new customer a bonus. The only way to stay ahead of the curve is, simply, staying ahead — any way possible. Recognize the need for marketing and develop a new business plan, then determine a budget. Only you know how much you can afford to allocate for marketing.

Once the budget is determined, enlist a professional — as they can help avoid some common pitfalls of DIY marketing. They often lead to one, some or all of the following:

A Lackadaisical Approach: These companies frequently find themselves having the same conversation six months down the road about finally getting started on a plan of attack. A professional should be eager to begin working with you and and construct a plan of action for timely implementation.

Mismanaged Budgets: Not knowing when and where to allocate marketing funds is a precarious place to be. Allowing a professional to assess needs vs. budget will help them advise the most efficient allocation of funds to meet your objectives.

The Big Picture: Nothing in marketing should be short term. Everything should always be working in favor of marketing your business long term. However, if you don’t target a long-term goal with every effort, strategies will often fall short of their potential.

Hiring a professional, at least for a consultation, will help avoid negative issues and construct a plan of positive growth. Always feel free to inquire or mention a topic you’d like to explore. Weigh each answer and ponder every suggestion, while realizing the service provider excels in marketing strategies. (However, your product/industry knowledge and input is crucial to increased sales.)

Tools At Your Disposal

Here’s a quick checklist to see if you’re utilizing all the available resources to attract potential customers:

Website: First things first, what does your online business card (aka website) say about you? Is its design updated with accurate information, easily navigable and does it reflect your business effectively? Until this is established, it’s very challenging to move forward: Everything should point back to your website — the informational hub of your store or range. Speaking of everything pointing back to one location, you may have heard the phrase “Search Engine Optimization” (SEO). I strongly encourage clients to pay close attention to these three little letters. Enlist SEO services to make sure all of the material works to keep you ahead of the competition.

E-Blasts: When done correctly, email marketing can be one of the most successful forms of engaging with an intended audience. It can be scheduled months in advance, and along with high-resolution graphics, can be just the thing to conveniently grab your customers’ attention. A professional will know the best times for dissemination, frequency, subject lines, content and design to entice an in-store customer.

Social Media: You’ve likely heard this 100 times before from others, but I’ll say it again: Get social. There are too many platforms out there for a storefront or range not to reap the rewards. Did you know in 2017, 81 percent of the population in the United States had a social networking profile?1 According to estimates, the number of worldwide social media users reached 2.34 billion and is expected to grow to some 2.95 billion by 2020. That’s a lot of people whose eyes could be seeing your messaging. When done consistently, it can be perhaps the most effective way to spread a message to the masses.

Graphic Design: Don’t skimp on graphics. A clean, professional message reflective of your branding goes a long way.

Print: Some say print is on the decline — however, I strongly believe
it remains a viable option to connect with customers. Magazines, newspapers, flyers, coupons, etc., still have their relevancy. It’s a mistake to think there isn’t a demographic (both old and young, I might add) that still enjoys the tangible.

Radio: If the goal is to target members of your community and the surrounding areas to come into your store for an event and/or sale, radio is a very efficient option I encourage clients to always explore. Most likely, there’s a way to spread your message via radio within the budget.

Community: Attending local events, occupying billboards, sharing events with other businesses, etc., are all ways of communicating to those in your area. Contribute to your community; don’t just occupy an address.

Incentives: Everyone loves a good incentive. Coupons, discounts, giveaways, etc., are invitations to shop in your place of business.

Catch Their Eye

In all things, be creative! If you’re having an event, allow your marketing team to implement ideas sure to garner attention of the passerby. When creating a design, make sure your graphics are clean, professional and clearly project the message. The possibilities are endless!

1. www.statista.com/topics/1164/social-networks

C. Ainsley Beeman is the principal of Purposed Communications, a full-service marketing firm based in Baton Rouge, La. She can be reached at ainsley@nullpurposedcommunications.com.


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