As retailers across the country navigate coronavirus, masks, and lockdowns, it is still important to focus on how to attract customers.
I get it, businesses across the country are struggling. While 72% of small businesses have received Paycheck Protection Program loans, the ones that have survived have had to pivot quickly and change their operating models.
Retailers are asking me what to do and what I tell them is that the only thing you can control is how you approach your business - not business conditions.
Blaming it on anything else won’t get you anywhere.
You can’t lock the doors of Walmart, unplug Amazon, best Best Buy, or cover the Target.
You can only control what you have the ability to control.
All of your focus has to be on how to attract both potential and existing customers into your retail store, keeping them there by offering a great customer experience, selling them something, inviting them to come back, and marketing to them afterward.
9 ways to attract customers to your store
1. Evaluate your store operations. Ask yourself what you are doing right and what might be going wrong in your shop. Go beyond Covid-19 cleaning and mask enforcement. Evaluate your processes, allocation of labor, training programs, and marketing materials. Make a list of at least five things that are working and five that aren't.
Now be even more honest - think about what a potential customer sees. Make a list of five things that you think they might love and five that they won’t.
2. Prioritize and decide to change those things that aren’t working first. Some of these might be tough, like firing someone you know has to go, having a mammoth clearance sale of dated merchandise, or moving your entire store around and upping your visual merchandising game. Now notice how much better you feel. Taking action with purpose to make your business better makes you feel better.
3. Focus on your associates. If you make your employees feel good, they’ll transfer that feeling to your shoppers. Happy customers buy more and that makes your day. Find a way to connect with your employees, not as a best friend or business owner but as a person. That means you have to find common ground. Notice something they are wearing, take a moment to inquire about their family - not just when someone is hurt or sick, send a card or gift to their family during the holidays to thank them for putting up with the demands of working in your store, give them praise in front of others. In short, find a way to make your employees’ day first, then your customers’ day, and then they will make your day.
4. Market to people who already know you. Do whatever it takes to get the word out about your store. If you have an email marketing list already, skip to #5. If not and you have an old mailing list in a dusty file cabinet, or a list in your PC, copy all of your physical address information along with loyalty rewards, special orders, sales books, and other information into a new database.
Once you have your email list, use it in a personal way. Personally invite customers into your store with something specific they might enjoy. Even just thanking your best customers for their business in a personal way brings them back in. When they do come in, thank them personally again.
Come up with a compelling subject line that promises benefits – not free, discount, or coupon. What do you want them to do upon reading it? Come into the shop, tell a friend, join your Facebook or other social media page, follow your livestream, join your loyalty program, create a gift list, come to a socially distanced event – you decide. I share more ideas on what to say in my popular book, The Retail Doctor’s Guide to Growing Your Business.
5. Use retail sales training so your crew can sell your merchandise. As stores reopened after the coronavirus lockdowns, many relied on heavy discounts. While that helped move old merchandise, it allowed your crew to simply clerk people who wanted to buy. You have to train them how to sell. But that's not enough. You have to lead your employees in role-playing their new skills toward the front of the retail space. Nothing attracts and is more inviting than people seeing other people shopping. Next, create a store sales goal; breaking it into bite-sized goals.
6. Become a student of Facebook. Cultivate an online presence and learn as much as you can about attracting fans via social media, engaging them with live videos, and keeping them buying from you with livestreaming. A well-structured marketing strategy must include all of those and be open to newer platforms like IGTV and even Tik Tok. To help you learn about creating Facebook fans, first check out these five ways small businesses lose them.
7. Fill your parking lot with cars. With more people working from home, it is likely fewer are driving to your store. But If your parking lot is empty, it may look like you are closed or worse out-of-business. Remember, shoppers attract customers. You know that when your store is full, it gets fuller, and when it is dead, it is deader. Same with your parking lot. Here's how to solve it. If you’ve always told employees to park in the back, have them park near your storefront to look busy, then have them move them when you are packed.
8. Stop talking to failing businesses. If you hang out with five successful businesses, you'll be number six. If you hang out with five failing ones, you'll be number six as well. Stop asking other shop owners how their business is. If it’s great and yours isn’t, you’ll feel worse. If another business owner's is worse, you still won’t feel better. Instead, ask them one good thing they did yesterday.
9. Fill up your Google My Business page. Most consumers start their purchase journey online so don't forget potential online customers! Use video, updated business hours during Covid-19, and add a virtual store tour. Go even further, create posts on that page that announce your social distanced events, new products, or promotions. And while it should go without saying, focus on getting more positive Google reviews as they are crucial to winning the top of local search. In fact, 72% of consumers that did a local search visited a store within five miles.
See also, 11 Retail Selling Tips
If you want to focus on how to attract customers to your brick-and-mortar retail store, you need to look at the energy you are creating – or not creating – in your store and then work to make someone else’s day so they can make yours.
To get help converting all those shoppers you attract, discover my online retail sales training program SalesRX.