How to Set Your Retail Business Apart in a Competitive Industry
If you do what everyone else is doing, you’ll get the results everyone else is getting. But, if you think outside of the box and get creative in your marketing journey, then you just might do something that sets you apart, makes you special and gets customers to truly want to do business with you.
I’d like to share with you several ideas to help inspire you to get creative, think differently and set your marketing apart from the pack.
First, identify your secret sauce.
While there is more than one company out there selling breastfeeding supplies, for example, yours certainly has a secret sauce to it. Maybe you have particularly stellar customer service or your expertise is above par for your industry. Identify your secret sauce and run with it.
Some business owners have told me they have no idea what their secret sauce is. To help them figure it out, I encourage them to interview their customers. Ask them why they chose to do business with you. This process often leads a business owner into an “ah-ha” moment. For the first time in their business’s life, they will have clarity about what truly sets them apart and how they are helping people in ways they never dreamed possible.
Next, brainstorm how you can communicate and demonstrate that secret sauce.
It’s one thing to tell everyone you’re great, it’s another to show them. Let’s go back to the breastfeeding supplies retailer. The owner may be a lactation specialist with 20 years of experience—someone who may have helped thousands of moms successfully breastfeed in their lifetimes. How should she go about showcasing her expertise to gain credibility and increased sales for her store? Sit down and brainstorm. Have a meeting of the minds with your staff, friends and family members. Some ideas might be:
Write a Blog
What better way to share your knowledge and expertise with your customers than through a blog. It will help your SEO too and grow your business beyond what you thought imaginable. A word to the wise: Stick with it! A blog needs at least 52 blog posts and regular commitment to make a long-term difference for your business.
Write a Book
A book is another way to demonstrate your expertise and show to your customers that you are a knowledgeable and recognizable force in your industry. Imagine a book, authored by you, at the front counter of your store for all your customers to see you showcase just what an amazing expert you are. If a book seems too daunting, write a short e-book and invite your customers to go online and download it for free.
Host Classes or Webinars
You know your customers are dying for information about how they can become successful at breastfeeding. Why not host a class in-store or on-line to show what you know and engage your customers all the while? If you’re not an expert in what you do, partner with one!
Send tips to your customers regularly demonstrating just how much you know about breastfeeding. Perhaps you send out daily Tweets or Facebook posts – or you set up an email campaign that emails a new breastfeeding tip every day for several weeks.
Videos are a wonderful way to add a personal touch in-store and on-line. Create a “how to” video and have it play in-store as your customers are shopping. Host it online too for visitors to check out when they stop by your store. Everyone knows the value of video, but few retailers do them.
After brainstorming ways to demonstrate your secret sauce, it’s time to go into publicity mode.
How are you going to promote these special activities that demonstrate what makes you unique directly to your customers? Another brainstorm is in order, right? Right!
Ask your staff, colleagues, advisors, family and friends how they think you can go about spreading the word about your creative ideas. You might decide to put flyers in the window of your store and other like-minded stores your customers patron as well. Or you might devise a PR or advertising campaign to elicit buzz on popular blog sites or on Facebook. Further, you might host a sweepstakes or contest online (use Facebook apps) to help you grow your fans. Then, once you have a solid base of fans, you have a captive audience to market your unique ideas to on a regular basis.
Remember, creativity is the spice of life and the lifeline for your business. I have seen too many stores do too many “me too” promotions with little success. While great ideas can work for more than one retailer, why not be an industry innovator and come up with your own ideas that others haven’t done, and customers haven’t seen?
Only you know your secret sauce and have the capacity to demonstrate your uniqueness to your customers. Good luck!