Traditional media can often be too expensive for local retail stores. If you’re in a large metro area, the radio, local TV and most print publications will cover the whole metro area. If your store only draw from a local area you end up paying for a lot of exposure that you don’t need.
Cable TV can be geographically targeted better, as can a local newspaper but they can still be costly. And they cover a general audience, many of whom might have no current interest in your product or service. If you use these media you want to make sure you have a big enough marketing budget to accommodate these ads plus other, more targeted marketing.
If your store has a very specific audience, you can get a better return on your marketing dollars if you focus on this audience, rather than paying to reach everyone in your community. So, you need to find ways to reach people who are in the market for your services.
Here are some ideas:
1. Partner or collaborate with other businesses that serve the same people.
Most businesses have complimentary businesses. An auto dealer is complimentary to a car wash or auto accessories store. A travel agency might be complimentary to a tanning salon. Put yourself in your customers shoes and ask yourself what other products or services might you buy at the same time. Or, ask your customers. Find out what businesses are in your area that are related to what you sell. Then get to know the people who run these businesses and create ways to work together so you can all benefit.
2. Build a Referral Group of Customers
Find ways to stay in touch with your customers so they refer your store to their friends, relatives and co-workers who might need what you sell. Use email, postcards and newsletters to keep your customers thinking about and involved with your store. Provide them with helpful information related to what you sell. Host events like coffee talks, “lunch ‘n learns”, round-tables, “meet the expert” sessions or mini-workshops. Find ways to help them get involved with your business by connecting to their interest in your product or service.
3. Build a local online community
This is a longer term strategy but it can position your store as the first place to go when local people need what you do. Use web technologies likes blogs, events calendars, articles, forums and bookmarking to provide a one-stop resource for learning about what you sell. Get your staff involved, invite customers and other community members to participate. Of, course, you want to include the other complimentary businesses in your community. Over time this can become a valuable information resource as well as a local hub.
4. Publish articles in your local media
Not all publications will do this but some will. If you advertise in a local paper or magazine, ask them to publish an article written by you or one of your employees about how to buy or use what you sell. Of course, the article needs to be well-written and needs to meet their publication standards. If that’s not practical, ask them to interview you or so a feature story about your store.