Top 10 Marketing Tips for Bricks & Mortar stores.

Top 10 Marketing Tips for Bricks & Mortar stores.

Are you a retailer?  Do you need some tips on marketing?

Here is a recent tutorial I put together to help you guys out....


Here is the tutorial in written form, incase you want to pull notes from any particular section....


So you open a store, you have a grand opening and you have some amazing initial buzz…. but then it dies down, and you are left with the daily grind.  OR perhaps you have been in business for many years…. how do you keep the momentum going?

It's hard to keep inspired, isn’t it…. I know…. because a major part of my job as Designer of West Indies Wear is not just designing…. I also need to think about the marketing, and since I am on the other side of the world from most of my "island friends", what I try to do is to keep in touch with my tribe, by writing my stories and sharing my love of the islands.  So often when I come to the trade shows in Florida, people say to me “I love your stories”…. And quite honestly that is what keeps me going, because otherwise I am sitting here in Australia, on the other side of the world…. sharing my sailing stories or stories about my life in the islands….and wondering who even reads it….. whereas you guys have that one on one -  face to face contact with your customers who come into the store.


Now I follow various marketing experts, because I am always trying to get ideas on marketing, and apparently what they call “HOPE MARKETING” is not really going to get you far. So that “build it and they will come” mentality is not always the way things work for RETAIL.  


So in doing my own marketing research, I have learnt so much about how important marketing is, even for you bricks & mortar stores.  Ok you might pay premium rent to be in a prime traffic location, but you can also do things to get your regular customers coming back often.


You guys can also use marketing strategies to promote your store, attract people to your store and hopefully drive sales.  Now traditionally that meant, taking out newspaper ads, well-placed signage around your town, perhaps doing fashion shows and local events.  These days you also have the internet to add to it, and there is absolutely no way you should not be getting into that too.  They have a thing now called “Bricks & Clicks” meaning you guys with a bricks and mortar store should also have a website.


Do you think that online businesses are stealing all your brick & mortar customers?  Here is the cold hard truth….


Only 10% of all retail sales are made online each year….. yes 10% !!! That means that the other 90% of all transactions are still taking place at the brick and mortar level.


So if you are struggling to attract new customers, it has nothing to do with online businesses stealing your customers, and it is GREAT NEWS because it means you have thousands of customers waiting to pound down your door. 

AND in addition to that, what is stopping you guys from getting in on a little piece of the online action?  Its actually not that hard to set up a website - you dont need to be a really techie person.  If you go to sites like Shopify, you can create a website for as little as $30 a month and you get a free 14 day trial, so you can use that time to set it up.

They have incredible templates all set up - so that all you have to do is drop your photos into it and change the wording …. Next you buy your domain name and enter your inventory.  It takes time, but it is something you could be doing on your quiet days instore.


As you get more set up - You can also attach your accounting software to it, and if you already have a POS system you can probably link that up too, so that you don't have to manually update your inventory.

I have also seen on a site called upwork that you can hire shopify experts to set up your site for you - you can hire people for lower rates than you would normally pay if you went to a website guru in your town, as they do the job as a contract.  


I have worked with some people on upwork that are living in the Caribbean and they are are so good at this - so its a way of helping the Caribbean economy too (even though I am in Australia) you can enter a filter and search for people in a specific country…. or the Caribbean region for example… or you might want to only look at people in the United States - they are there too.


So if you are complaining that online sales is taking your business…. have you heard that saying “if you cant beat em - join em”  that might be an Aussie saying …. but you get what I mean.

So now we just got to come up with some ideas of how to attract those customers….

So what are my top 10 marketing ideas for you to use?


1. EMPHASISE YOUR ADVANTAGES – so what are the advantages your customers have for shopping with you?  Think about it…. What advantages do you have over shopping on Amazon for example?  They can feel the fabrics  - they can try it on and see how it looks and how it makes them feel.  They get your personal advice…… amd that is GOLD.  Don’t you think as women get older they lose their confidence in knowing what to wear…. I feel like that myself and I am a Designer who has made FASHION my business for 27 years…. So I think a lot of women feel like… So this is a HUGE advantage for bricks and mortar stores to have store attendants who can tell the customer what looks good or what would look better – what sort of shoes to wear it with… all sorts of advice like that.  Perhaps you do gifts, your store attendants can advise what sort of gifts are popular with men or for men to buy for their wives…. When you are doing your social media posts or signage or talking to your customers, let them know that you offer a personal styling service… you can show them what to wear to a special event, or what to pack for a Caribbean vacation or how to wear a sarong, or what sort of gifts to take home for their 8 year old Granddaughter….. your advantage is that you have one on one contact with your customers, so you need to use that to its full advantage.

2. CUSTOMER SERVICE - A massive advantage you have over the big retail chains and online sellers is your opportunity to offer awesome customer service.  So use that to its fullest.  Make sure your staff are well trained and ensure that they are knowledgeable about your products.  You might be doing the buying, so you are visiting shows, and learning product info from your vendors…. make sure you pass that information on to your sales team.  When I was working as buyer and General Manager for the chain of 16 gift shops, I would have a big staff meeting night with refreshments at the beginning of each season, and I would have a bunch of new products laid out and I will go through each, giving my insights about why I liked it, why I bought it, how to use it, and what I thought the customers would love about it.   Customers are craving a unique instore experience, so you need to make sure you give it to them.

3. SIGNAGE - ok this may seem obvious, but it is important.  Now this needs to include everything from our outside signage to the directional signage instore (eg. fitting rooms this way or signage to separate your sizes) to the price signage.  Try to keep the theme consistent and no.1 is that the signage needs to be HELPFUL - make it easy for your customers to shop in your store.  If you get a lot of the same questions, then think about doing a sign to address that question. Try to be classy with your signage.  You don't have to spend a lot of money, you can buy yourself a color printer and a laminating machine for under $100.  You can use basic word software to create signs with prices or product information and then print and laminate.

4. LOCAL MARKETING - now this is a bit of a broad one. 

You need to  spend some time making sure your google My business page is updated, set up a facebook page for your store, and include a nice description, some photos, your address and opening hours, as this listing will often show up in a google search.  Also look into Bing, Yelp and any other free online profiles that make your business stand out.  Search for your own business, and see what shows up.  Have your friends or family interstate search for your business and see what they see.... and then work towards improving that.

Next try to get involved in your local community, join the Chamber of Commerce, and other business networking groups, sponsor local events, sell at local markets or festivals… get yourself out there and be seen.

Try to leverage “word of mouth” marketing by offering incentives to your customers for referring their friends to your store.  Perhaps a free gift, or discount or promo to encourage them to spread the word.

Run ads in the local paper, or local publications, this can be expensive but it’s worthwhile to grow your tribe by inviting people to upcoming events etc

Run locally targeted online ads through either facebook or google ads, where you can enter your zip code and get your store in front of your actual community. Facebook ads can be really targeted so they can be really effective for bricks & mortar stores as you can you enter a specific area or type of person and FB knows everyone’s personal info! Where they live, what their interests are etc

 5. SOCIAL MEDIA - use your social media to show off your amazing customer experience and mix that in with product posts.  Show your displays, close ups of your products or displays work great.  Do videos that have in-store demo’s, if you host events, then show lots of photos of your customers enjoying the events.  Try to take photos of your customers instore, so that people want to be a part of your social world.  Think about highlighting the ”experience” more than the individual “products”

6. EMAIL LIST - did you know that email has the highest Return on Investment of all marketing channels.  Its apparently 40 times more effective than Facebook & Twitter together.  Encourage your customers to give you their email addresses, perhaps in exchange for a loyalty card, or a future discount.  Once you have their email addresses, you can keep that stored in an email marketing platform like CONSTANT CONTACT or MAILCHIMP.  You can create templates for newsletters in there, and do an email out to your customers weekly or monthly keeping them up to date with what is happening instore.  If someone wants to unsubscribed they can just click on UNSUBSCRIBE and it will be taken care of…. you don't have to manually keep your list tidy.

7. VIDEO – use video to connect with your customers on a weekly basis – give them a tour of your boutique, show them what is new instore this week.  Have them watch you unpack new shipments, let them see you pricing your items or working on your displays.  You don’t have to be a professional, you can use your cel phone to create video and put it directly onto your facebook page…. How often do you receive new shipments ?  Do you get something new every week… Let your customers know about it – so they are encouraged to come and visit you.  What about doing video’s showing demo’s of how some items work.

8. INSTORE EVENTS - as part of creating a fun shopping experience in your boutique, think about having instore events….. if you have local clientele, consider inviting them to a wine and cheese night when the new collections drop.  If you have more of a tourist clientele, think about having an interesting local character instore that could be demonstate something…. how to hand paint coconut candles ?  how to pour coconut candles? Someone playing pan music on your busier days.  Think about what are some shared interests that your customers might have?  Perhaps you could hold a class ?  a wine tasting class ?  are your customers interested in crafting - perhaps you could run macrame lesson?  Do you sell skin care products ? perhaps you could offer testing?  AGAIN you can use your email list to send invitations to these events, as well as promote in your social media channels.  Also think about what you could be doing for the each of the different retail seasons  for example....Christmas season…. what about inviting your customers to bring their kids for a Santa meet & greet - you could dress Santa in tropical attire….or having a Christmas party for your regular customers with Free bubbles and snacks…. but the event must be instore where they can also shop.  What about creating a TOP 10 Christmas Gift Idea table…. to help them take the pain out of their Christmas shopping.

9. COUPONS – yes it’s a bit IKKY but they do work… lets face it, everyone does love a deal… coupons can now be a little more classy…. You can offer personalized promotions since you know your customers WELL…. Or you could offer coupons to your MAILING LIST customers only – then they get something exclusive, that makes them feel part of the club.  

10. CUSTOMER LOYALTY PROGRAM – well these are HUGE…. You know all the big chains have loyalty programs, with everyone offering anything from your 10th coffee for free to discounts.  The most important thing is to make your special customers feel a part of something special.  Reward them for being regular customers.  Perhaps you want to let them accrue points, or perhaps you just want to reward them with surprise PERKS…. You can bet they will always remember and talk about the unexpected gifts or perks you gave them.  Even if it is as small as a free cup of coffee or perhaps send them a handwritten card thanking them for being a loyal customers.  Simple, inexpensive and they wont forget it.  Perhaps you could make an arrangement with your local coffee shop that you could buy your customers a coffee after their 10th purchase, the coffee shop might give you a special half price rate, if they know you are also sending customers their way.  If the coffee shop does a good job, they might just retain your customer too.  Think about those reciprocal agreements with other stores in your area.


So that’s it guys, I hope you got some fresh ideas out of that.  Even if you go away with just one thing that means you are ahead of the game.  I hope you have had an awesome holiday trading season and a wonderful Christmas with your family.

2020 is going to be an amazing year.... so let's make it even more amazing with some structured marketing.

I am leaving on Monday 6th for the long haul trip to Florida for Surf Expo.  Hopefully I get to see you there.  Drop in and say HI.... we are in booth #2563.


One love x


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