Retailing in 2012 – Tips on Communication

It’s a difficult time for retail just now.   The turn of any year is a hard time for retailers as people realise how much they have spent over the Christmas period and the sales and tighten their belts.  But this year if you are a retailer it may feel like a mountain to be climbed.  Particularly as each day brings more news of big brand shops closing down and gloomy consumer prospects.  Smaller shops are not immune.   I was in Galashiels at the weekend and noticed at least two small retailers who are closing their doors shortly.

So how do you promote yourselves in tough times?  Well you don’t have to spend a fortune doing so but I would advise that you communicate as much as you can.  And who best but to focus on  your loyal customers that visit you on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on your business.

Here are some ideas that are cost-effective but will allow you to communicate with your existing customer’s and get some new customers.

Enewsletter – If you don’t already capture email addresses I would advise that you do.  So that you can send out enewsletters to your customers.  If you don’t  have email addresses you can easily start  by simply asking customers for them when they purchase from you or incentivise it with a competition and have leaflets available in store.

If you do have a list of email addresses or once you build up a list send out a monthly enewsletter letting people know about products you have in store, new products to come in.  Give them exclusive insights and make your customers feel special and encourage them to pass the enewsletter on to their friends and family by giving your customers a special discount if their friends and family sign up for your enewsletter or if they buy from you.  Use enewsletters for special messages as well as newsletter such as clearance sales, a new product or to publicise a special event you are holding.

There are lots of enewsletter tools available in the marketplace from ones that are fully comprehensive and give you insights into your customers to products that are free to use such as constant contact.

The important thing though is to use them and communicate with your customers.  Give them a reason to come in and see you more often.

Social Media – Facebook and Twitter are a great way to communicate with your existing customers and also reach new customers.  Use Facebook to speak to your existing customers, again tell them about what the business is doing, showcase your products and encourage feedback from your customers.

Use Twitter to target as many tweeting folk in the surrounding area of your store and let them know your story.  Don’t sell, sell it won’t work.  Just simply tell your story, join in the chat and let people know more about your business.

Social Media is free to use and is a great way for retailers to communicate their story to existing and new customers.

Events – run special customer evenings a preview to a sale or let customers know about your spring range or get an expert in.  For example if you are a food  retailer get a local chef in to showcase recipe ideas with your product.  All it takes is a little bit of thought but it allows you to make your customers feel special and gives them an excuse to talk about you to their friends and family.

Say Thank You – Now is the ideal time to say thank you to your customers for their custom.  My hairdresser gives me a voucher every year in January and February with £10 off my next hair cut.  It works and gets me to his salon every year quicker than I would  if he didn’t do this.  Especially when it’s handed to me with a thank you for my custom.

People want to feel valued money is tighter just now and we all want to know that businesses appreciate our custom.  So say thanks to your customers, give them a reason to return again soon and make them feel special.

So that when your customers get paid at the end of a month, need to buy your product or want a special treat.  They think of you as you have communicated with them, made them feel special and thanked them.  Be Pro active in communication and not re active I promise you it will reward you!

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About fionadranesblog

40 plus mum of two married with a mad cocker spaniel. Along with two colleagues run Bright Light Marketing a rural marketing agency who specialise in getting rural businesss noticed. www.brightlightmarketing.co.uk. Live in St Boswells in the wonderful Scottish Borders. Love books, walking and living life to the full here in the Scottish Borders though its sometimes a juggle!
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