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Low Cost Marketing Ideas For Retailers
by Debbie Allen, CSP

Believe in YOU. Effective self-promotion begins with a strong belief system IN YOU. Believe in your ideas, concepts, products and services, but most of all believe in what you have to offer others. Strive for continuous improvement and always do your personal and professional best.

These words of wisdom will benefit you and your customer. The advice will increase your self-esteem and confidence, empowering you to approach customers with the confidence to let them know how your products and services can benefit and improve their lives.

Self-promote to serve others! You help others by promoting the benefits they will experience by using your products and services.

Promote the "benefit of your product or service" to the customer. For example, a store that sells hair or beauty products can say, "We help people look their best and feel their best." Repeat the benefit in your selling conversation and in ads, brochures, business cards and all other marketing materials. It's not self-serving or pushy to promote your products and services. Instead, you are providing superior service when you explain the features of a product and how it will be useful to the shopper or let customers know about newly arrived merchandise.

Discover your core essence. By knowing your purpose, vision, mission and uniqueness, you will discover the foundation on which all your marketing should be built.

Identify your store's area of expertise. Also known as your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP. Carry it through on all your marketing efforts. People have so many choices when they walk into a retail center. You must identify what you do that makes you and your store uniquely special. Differentiate your store from the competition.

Your USP should be reflected in all marketing efforts. Feature it in your catalog, on your website, and so on, to let shoppers know that it is your store they want to visit when they are seeking certain items. Leave shoppers with no doubt about what you sell.

Example: A women's clothing store that sells glamorous, high fashion apparel should promote this image in their ads, on the entire floor and window displays so that when a women is seeking that look, she knows to visit that particular store.

Be passionate about what you do. Passion builds commitment. Commitment leads to success. Being passionate means caring about your customers. Make new customer contacts each day.

It's vital to get customer contact information before a customer makes a purchase. This will ensure that you get the addresses of browsers as well as purchasers. When requesting the contact information, tell the customer how the information will benefit them, such as "If you like what we have, we'll let you know about upcoming promotions." You can also offer them a free gift, such as a candle, for adding their name to your mailing list. Do not sell or distribute the contact information to others and let the customer know that you won't.

Stay in touch! Send at least five handwritten thank-you notes a day. Write them during downtime. It will make your customers feel that they are important to you. Personalized notes also stand out from mass-produced marketing materials that most retailers rely on to draw shoppers.

Example: Promote special events, such as book signings or fashion shows, by sending invitations, calling or e-mailing your top 20% VIP customers to let them know about the forthcoming event. It's important to keep a list of shoppers' likes and dislikes so you can contact them about events that are of interest to them.

For example, a lover of mystery novels will appreciate having advance notice of the appearance of a popular mystery writer at a book-reading event.

Business success is about relationships, and relationships take time. Build relationships with customers, prospective customers and other retailers in your center.

Know what the competition is selling. Let's say you outfit a shopper with an ensemble of slacks, blouse and jacket, but you're missing the correct slacks' size. If you know that a nearby competitor sells the same slacks, you can make a call over there to find out if they have it available and then send the shopper over if it is. It's a three-pronged winning situation: You make the sale of the blouse and sweater, the customer will get the ensemble she's seeking, and now you have a relationship with the competitor, who may send you tons of business in return.

Ask for referrals. Find out if the customer has friends or relatives who may be looking for your products. If they do, give them several of your business cards or marketing brochures that they can hand out. Sometimes a referral may come about unexpectedly. For example, a customer who has redecorated her home may get compliments from guests on her décor and requests about where she bought her items. If you've given the customer business cards or brochures, she could give one to her friend and say tell her I sent you. People love to do this.

Example: Ask customers for their opinions on your products and services, such as, "Would you like to give us a testimonial for doing business with us?" Testimonials express what customers like about your store and are terrific to incorporate in your marketing materials.

Refine your 15-30 second commercial. Write out your personalized commercial and define what you do in terms of benefits for your customers. Once you have your commercial written out, practice it until you have it down cold. Try this at your next staff meeting. Ask each salesperson to write out their unique and personalized commercial – then open the conversation for discussion and review.

Example: A salesperson should not state that they are simply a salesperson – but instead inform how they help customers and offer benefits. They might do this by calling themselves retail consultants, product specialist or retail expert and then expand on the benefits of what they sell.

Promote value, not price. Your customers and potential customers are looking for value and they believe you can provide it. Your challenge is to promote and sell the value of your products and ask your visitors to take action to receive the value.

Add an effective signature (text message at the end of an email) to every email you send. Your signature should include your complete contact information, a hyperlink to your website, an offer of something for free on your website to increase online traffic and your unique selling proposition.

Bio: Debbie Allen is one of the world’s leading authorities on sales and marketing. She is the author of five books including Confessions of Shameless Self Promoters and Skyrocketing Sales. Debbie has helped thousands of people around the world attract customers like crazy with her innovative, no-cost marketing strategies and secrets to sales success. Her expertise has been featured in Entrepreneur, Selling Power and Sales & Marketing Excellence.

Copyright Debbie Allen. All Rights Reserved.

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