Graham, a friend of mine, went to a local electronics store to buy a microphone. The young sales associate took him to the microphones and then stood there silently hovering over him.
The associate wasn't helping with anything. In fact, my friend didn’t think he knew anything about microphones. Finally, my friend told him, “I’m fine.” The clerk replied, "I only get a commission if I stay here."
It so enraged my friend, he said he’d never be back.
And if he told me, someone who lives about 2000 miles away, I’m sure he’s also told a bunch of people who live nearby.
That leads me to the first of seven ways to bring more retail customers into your store -- that many businesses underutilize. If you’re struggling with how to get customers in the door, both new and returning, start here.
7 Ways to Get Customers In the Door
Customers must be motivated to put on a jacket, find their car keys, and make the trip to your store. Even deciding to stop in when they’re already in the area requires you to earn their attention. Make these seven changes to get customers in the door and keep them coming back.
1. Deliver an exceptional customer experience
It’s the old saw but it’s true ... brick and mortar retail is all about the experience customers have at your store. It’s not about the products; just trust me on that.
Creating that takes more than saying you provide customer service, it takes retail sales training, a relentless focus on going out of your way, and having an open heart as you engage each shopper. Engage shoppers in-store, and they’ll come back ... and send their friends.
2. Get their contact information
A customer who buys something and leaves without any way for you to contact them leaves as a ghost. You need a system of collecting information that isn’t intrusive, robotic, or dependent on deals -- are you listening, Walgreens?
You could use a kiosk in your store, a QR code to scan, or even an old-school form. Your best marketing should be aimed at people who know you already.
3. Keep in touch
A simple set of emails for new customers or a monthly newsletter keeps your name front and center. Whether they need what you feature in that email, newsletter, or publication is irrelevant. They regularly see your brand which keeps you top-of-mind. Without using the information you collect, you are now a ghost, forgotten by those shoppers.
4. Create great window displays
If you have display windows, and you’re not using them correctly, you are not taking advantage of one of the most powerful marketing pieces at your disposal. You can either capture the attention of passersby with a thoughtful, focused display, or you can load it up with lots of junk and watch those passersby ignore you.
Take the time to discover the scrumptious outfit, the tricked out electronics package, then add a great sign and voila. Note, a best practice is to change them twice a month.
5. Use Facebook sponsored posts
The numbers on Facebook are still staggering which is why their sponsored ads and posts are so popular. Did you know you can actually select a competitor’s followers as a group to aim your ads at? I didn’t think so.
Yes, they cost money. You have to use money to make money. And the more keywords or emails you use to form custom audiences, the better.
Like any marketing, you can't just post an ad and do nothing else. You have to monitor, track, and A/B test the heck out of it. That said, I know of nowhere else you can drive your message to shoppers within your own trading area so easily.
6. Face the reality of online pricing competition
There is a perception that a smaller store will, by nature, be overpriced. Do you want to get buzz and attack online competitors head-on? Come up with a policy you’re comfortable with that offers your in-store customers an opportunity to stay, buy and return. Hear me out. We all know that Best Buy has about eight online retailers they will price-match … including Amazon.
Your margins won’t allow you to go there. But when price matching becomes an issue and your customer is about to walk out, offer them the difference in a gift certificate for future purchase, an upgrade, or something of equal value.
Wouldn’t it be better to save that sale by making those offers than letting them leave and buy from someone else? And won’t that buyer leave happy and most likely return? Of course, but it takes a very forward-thinking leader to make it happen.
7. Have convenient store hours
If your hours are for your convenience and not your customers’, say closing at 5 pm on weekdays and staying closed on Sundays, you are actively telling a group of customers who work, “we don’t need your business.”
The three highest traffic times in retail stores in order: Saturday 11-1, Saturday 2-4, Sunday 1-3. Retail is not a hobby business; you have to be open when shoppers want you to be.
The key to attracting paying customers
Truth be told, getting profitable customers in the door is tough.
And it gets really tough when no one is thinking and speaking out for people who are already clients. At that point it looks as if you only care about dollar signs.
You can get bodies through your doors by hosting free events, sure -- especially where there will be food or even better, drink. You can destroy your margins by offering a half-off sale. But getting shoppers in the door who will pay your prices and become customers requires some deep thought on your part.
What kind of customers do we want? What is our ideal customer looking to solve when they walk in the door? How can we do things differently than our competitors?
When you answer those questions, you’ll naturally consider who your consumer is not and why they won’t find anything in your store to fit their needs. And understand ... that is OK.
When you try to be everything to everyone, you often are seen as bland and boring.
The bland and boring retailers are on the run now. They’ve been judged, and their shoppers are sitting on the sidelines.
To get your share of customers …
Remember, you can only control things within your own four walls; you cannot control the economy, politics, Amazon, or your competitor down the street.
Make sure you are doing these seven things along with claiming your business name on both Google and Facebook, and you’ll be taking charge of your business.
And you’ll never experience a guy like Graham, who walked in all excited, yet walked out enraged and then told all of his friends … who will now never walk through the door.
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