Little did I know the most important thing I would learn growing up would be how to throw a great party! My dad loved entertaining, and our house was filled with all kinds of people—some were customers, many were strangers. There were special events at our house. These included holiday celebrations as well as informal, Friday night tea hour, large barbecues and even workshops on how to stop your toilet from running. My mom also liked to entertain, and despite her moaning and groaning about how much work it was, she was unfailingly at the door with her giant welcoming smile. You always felt welcome.
Bringing people together and making them feel special is an art and an important business tool. I had no idea at the time how it would be so valuable in growing my business. Dad was always marketing himself. I asked my him why we had so many dinners and cocktail parties, and he said it was important to make sure his customers knew how special they were, and he didn’t want them getting friendly with his competitors. My father’s customers were loyal. When my parents eventually bought a house in Florida, many of his clients moved with them to the same neighborhood. They considered my dad more than their handyman; he was a friend.
Why am I telling you this? So many businesses worry about selling and product knowledge when they should be marketing. I was doing retail training recently, and several customers stopped in while I was training. We invited them to sit in. When asked how they shopped for flooring, they said they usually checked online before buying. When I asked why they decided to buy from this particular retailer, several said it was because they were great people to deal with and were recognized in the community.
Many retailers are good at selling stuff but not so good when it comes to staying connected with customers, particularly the sold ones. Owners, managers and sales reps are usually friendly and helpful, but once they wrap up the sale they tend to forget about the customer. When it comes to achieving long-term success, it’s important to generate repeat business as well as sales gained through referrals.
Following are tips to stay top of mind with your customers.
1. Update your database and start sending weekly newsletters. These may include tips on how to buy flooring, fun recipes or an invitation to an event.
2. Plan a party and find a local partner to increase your customer base. How about the nearby store that sells cabinets? Select a partner who’s prominent in your neighborhood and has a good social media presence. Choose someone who knows how to use social media and can post frequently.
3. Hold a meeting with your staff and brainstorm what they like to do. Find out what is going on in your community. For instance, is there something special you can connect to and build an event?
4. Think ahead. It’s not too early to start thinking about the holidays. Do you have a big parking lot where you can do some serious marketing? Maybe you can organize a local farmers market in your parking lot? Invite vendors to display their wares. How about an arts and crafts event?
These are just some ideas to generate foot traffic while building consumer interest. I know some retailers might not have the space to accommodate large groups of people. The main idea is to get creative with your promotions. It’s time to get your marketing strategies going before a competitor steals your thunder.
Lisbeth Calandrino has been promoting retail strategies for the last 20 years. To have her speak at your business or to schedule a consultation, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.