When the economy began to slide in late 2008, Banner Marketing began to see more and more retailers become distressed about the lack of customers walking through their door. While some had individual concerns about how to drum up business in a slow market – many were simply frustrated by the fact that the advertising program they’d used for years was not generating the sales spikes they once experienced.
We advised retailers to take a hard look at their overall marketing strategy. When the market changed, retailers were hesitant to change with it, which resulted in less than stellar sales. While the economy is showing signs of improvement, it’s certainly not back to the glory days. But all is not lost in a down economy, below are five tips for getting customers in the door and improving your bottom line.
1. Watch who walks through your door. This means more than just casual observances – pay attention to the details and create a profile of the customers visiting your store. When they enter your establishment, which direction do customers go first? What types of items draw their attention? What do they purchase? Are they coming back multiple times to make a decision? Do they bring others with them to assist with decision making? An important note here is that females make the vast majority of purchasing decisions when it comes to home décor. Keep this in mind when establishing your customer profile, and cater to the women who enter your store.
After you’ve identified your target customers, make sure that your price points and product mix are meeting the needs of your target audience, and that the most sought after items are in stock.
2. Rank your best sellers. It may seem obvious, but it’s extremely important to know what items are drawing in your target customers. Focus advertising promotions and showroom displays on your best-selling categories. As the economy improves, customer preference will shift from needs to wants, and you want to make sure that those customers are coming to you when they are ready to purchase.
3. Don’t just sell products, solve problems. Many customers may very well want to make a purchase when they enter your store, but if something is holding them back, it’s important to help them find a solution. On the logistical side, it may be creative financing, a bundling of products to provide greater value, or offering a service that people need to stretch their budget. But it’s also important to tap into the emotional side of the often female buyer. Help her visualize the piece of furniture in her home, engaging in activities that make her happy. Help her choose the colors that best fit her home. Does she need her old furniture removed? Does she need a delivery made same day? Anticipate his or her problem and help find a solution. In short – train your sales staff to help make the customer’s life easier.
4. Make them offers they can’t refuse. When the market is slow, customers are looking for greater value, savings, service, warranty and guarantee protection – and overall more incentives to justify parting with their money. Use traditional advertising and time-sensitive offers to entice them and direct interested customers online to download the offer. This allows you to collect information about your target customers. In your next promotion, connect with them directly by mail or email to send an offer or personal invitation to your sale.
5. Continue to advertise in good times and bad (and integrate your advertising!) Advertising is about reaching your target audience with consistent messaging, and eliciting an emotional response from the recipient. A structured advertising plan enhances buyer confidence, top of mind awareness and identifies brand preferences. An integrated program repeats the messages across mediums – an absolute must when trying to reach hard-to-get customers.
Shirley Griffiths, the vice president of sales, is one of Banner Marketing’s longest tenured employees with 11 years of experience with the integrated marketing company. Griffiths is responsible for overseeing Banner’s sales, creative and operations departments. She can be reached at email@example.com or (800) 843-9271.
Banner Marketing helps businesses grow through integrated marketing; a combination of digital and traditional marketing strategies that reach a company’s key consumers and inspire them to buy. In business since 1983 and based in Spokane, Wash., Banner develops creative content to support its client’s brands – from traditional circulars to cutting edge Web sites – keeps that content up-to-date, tracks program results, and provides reporting to refine and adjust strategies for even greater success.