Social media has taken hold of our imaginations when it comes to marketing ideas. That’s good in some ways… not so good in others. Now that people are using their cell phones at least as often as their computers to check personal emails and receive marketing messages, are you really getting your entire brand or business message across on a screen and maybe a very tiny one? Is the best way to connect with your customer really found in the middle of reminders for appointments, notices from cell phone carriers and pictures of other peoples’ kids and pets? Of course you have to participate in social media but it should not be the only marketing program you have. It should not be the only way your customers and you connect.
Keep in mind that some of the easiest and most popular marketing tools can come from your home printer or through a local or online print shop. Putting something real, right into your customers’ hands is still very important. Here are a few ideas of tangible items that you can hand out and from which you can reap many rewards – the first of which might be a smile and a thank you!
Business cards – Let your customers in on a secret… your name.
Refer a friend cards – Reward existing customers and attract new ones with an incentive by handing out a card that helps everyone mention you by name and send new business your way.
Frequent buyer cards – Reward dedication from your customers by giving them a reward for coming back to your shop over and over again. Reward each visit or reward hitting levels of spending. Your choice. Their loyalty!
Magnets – If you want to be remembered at home… get up on the refrigerator with a magnet where your name will be seen many times a day!
All of these things are low cost – but high touch — and for small businesses that depend on local traffic, repeat customers and an intimate connection, that “tangibility” can be worth its weight in gold!
Several storefront businesses in Boston’s Main Streets districts are now participating in a special consulting program designed by the City’s Office of Business Development and Retail Visioning to provide technical assistance in retail best practices. It is called the Retail Visioning Technical Assistance Program. Over the course of the next year and a half, 40 storefront businesses across these districts will receive FREE and ongoing consulting services from Christine Moynihan and her team at Retail Visioning to help improve the positioning, presentation and promotion for these shops, restaurants or service companies. Chris’ background in retail marketing and store design will help your store attract more customers for you and generate more revenue from the ones you already have! She has already helped over 350 urban retail, restaurant and storefront businesses improve! If your business is situated in a Main St District of Boston and you would like to take advantage of this FREE guidance on how to have the best business possible… then contact your Main Streets Executive Director and fill out an application called Request for Growth Services. The first 4 businesses that were selected are located in Hyde Park, Washington Square and Egleston Square but businesses across the entire City of Boston are sought.
Most entrepreneurs think about “being independent” when they strike out in business on their own, and those who decide that their entrepreneurial spirit will be fulfilled by owning a store or salon or restaurant are certainly among them! Being independent comes with certain benefits for sure. It is the chance to define what success is for yourself and your business… the chance to make decisions and act on them…the chance to grow at your own pace… the chance to adapt as you see fit based on your view of the world. Most people would agree that being independent is great!
But on this day when we reflect on and celebrate independence, don’t forget that in fact we are never really on our own out there in our work. Independence does NOT mean being solitary, isolated and alone. Sometimes however, with long hours invested in one place… on a very personal dream…this can be hard to remember.
But, if you think about it, we need our customers and vendors, our landlords and employees to help us BE independent retailers. We need to know what our competition is up to and what our business colleagues are experiencing. We need our friends… really good friends… to tell us what we are missing in our stores because in our “independence” sometimes we can be too close to notice. We need advice from professionals whether they are lawyers or accountants or designers to help us advance. We need others so we can be independent!
So, may I offer a little advice as we celebrate independence? Listen, learn and be open to the contributions of others … and you’ll be the best independent retailer you can be. Happy 4th of July!