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Four Secrets to Getting Results in Today's Retail Environment

Retailing experts blame over development of retail outlets and popularity of buying on-line as the reasons. Yet some retailers find great success in these changing times. Why? I'm not a financial expert nor do I have a wide view of all the factors that make some retailers successful, while others fail. What I do know is marketing and advertising! Let me share my ideas of how to generate success in today's retail world.


Seek to understand your core customer base. What makes a good customer? Go beyond demographics. Take into consideration their lifestyles and attitudes. Does location matter? Are your store hours desirable? Do you have a clear understanding of the products and services they want or need? Do you provide them useful information about your products and services? Where is your expertise? Do you share this knowledge with them? Your existence is based on meeting your sales goals, but stay focused on meeting your customer's goals. Observe your customers as they shop. What are they looking at or saying? What are they NOT saying? Their actions speak louder than their words.
So often companies do surveys or ask their clients for feedback. This is asking much from them because you are looking for an objective answer rather than understanding their emotional involvement.

Get to know who your repeat customers are. How often do they come in? What products and services make them happy? Do they buy on every visit? Get involved with them. Ask them if they had heard of the product or service before visiting your store. Did they come in with the intent to purchase the specific item or did they discover while they were shopping? How can you expand your products and services to enhance their shopping experience?

Again, I want to stress that you seek your answers through observation. Sometimes you can learn more from the non-buyers . How many people walk out without buying? How do they look; what do they say? Are they angry, bored, uninvolved? Did they stay long and then leave, or was it in and out? Did they come in to find something specific or were they 'just looking'? Did they speak to a sales consultant? If they were doing research, what information were they seeking that you could not provide? What were they expecting but failed to find?


Sam Walton built his retail empire with the philosophy to greet every customer! Even with all his success, he would visit stores and bag the items at the cashier or walk through the parking lots to greet people. He understood the need to make his customers feel welcomed!

With the ability to find anything and everything on-line, why would anyone come into your retail establishment . The reason is a pleasant shopping experience. People want to be liked and they want to feel special. It cost you nothing to be appreciative of their patronage.

A perfect example of how this makes a difference: I was looking for appliances for a rental house and several stores were having seasonal sales. I visited a store and found exactly what I needed. The sales clerk took time to show me different brands and explained the differences. The clerk took into consideration that it was for rental property and not my personal use and told me what was most popular and why.
Wanting to see if I could get a better deal, I went down the street. Prices and brands were the same. When I asked the sales clerk for help, he was busy moving inventory and gave me quick answers but didn't even stop what he was doing. Not saving any money but appreciative of the attention I got, I went back to the first store to make my purchase. And, I returned twice to consult on other products.


Now that you know who you are wanting to reach, build a marketing plan to accomplish your goal. Start with your unique purchase proposition. What makes your retail business different than others; what can you offer that will be attractive to their needs? Don't always assume it's the price! Too often retailers drop prices, when there are so many other factors that influence retail choices. It might be availability (we have it in-stock now!); color or size choices; product knowledge; product exclusivity; luxurious treatment; etc.
Build your creative message and make sure you have a strong call to action. Make sure your call to action is appealing to your core customer base rather than just generating mass response but then having to deal with unqualified prospects.

Before selecting your media mix, determine your advertising budget. Best methods are either percentage of gross sales or investment spending with anticipated results. Once budget is established, then select media which achieves the best cost efficiency.

Develop a strategic media plan in which all media works together. For example, use mass media to reach the greatest amount of prospects and add digital media to reach those prospects closest to a purchase decision. An example would be television combined with paid search (pay per click or Google Ad words). Another example would be television with digital pre-roll videos, reaching both the heavy and light television viewers.

Most importantly, understand that ALL mass media works or they wouldn't be in business. Whether it is broadcast television, cable, radio, outdoor billboards, magazines, newspapers . . .all have their audience. By understanding your core customer base, you can easily match to the medium and trigger the best results.

Then match the mass media with digital based on your desired results. You may be seeking advocates to help build your brand, so social media may be a better choice. Or, you may want to build frequency of message, so retargeting and remarketing may be a better digital option.


Regardless of your media plan, always establish how you are going to measure results. Obviously, total sales , cost of sales (COS), and return on investment (ROI) are of ultimate importance, but what are your steps in-between.

Most people will visit your website before coming to your store, so Google Analytics, which is a free service, can provide a wealth of information. Review your results monthly, looking beyond total visitors. Take into consideration time spent on your website, pages viewed, new or return visitors, and bounce rate (those that come to your website and immediately leave it). Look at source/medium to learn how visitors are accessing your website and which are providing the best results and conversions.

Make revisions to your plans as results come in, but also don't over-react. Give your plan time to work.

At Media Power Advertising, our specialty is RESULTS! For over 30 years we have provided thought-leadership to our clients in developing strategic marketing plans. Our clients are reporting growth and strong return on investment during a time when so many retailers are closing their doors. To learn how we can help you, call Barbara at 704-567-1000 or email to [email protected].

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