The small independent retailer has to be a jack of all trades and there’s something irresistible about that. Is it the challenge of biting off more than you can chew? Being outside your comfort zone? Learning new skills? Whatever our motivations nobody likes to fail, especially when it’s obvious or avoidable. So here’s the top 5 marketing fails that should certainly be avoided.
- Thinking that just being there is actually marketing
Too many new retailers believe that merely by opening a shop they are marketing themselves. After all, there’s a big sign above the window with your name on it so why bother with anything else? Unfortunately, consumer awareness is not the same as motivation – and that’s assuming they remember you.
- Blowing the marketing budget on the launch
Remember that saying: ‘A dog isn’t just for Christmas’? Neither is marketing – it has to be regularly fed if it’s to be effective. All too often the budget is blown at the time of launch in the belief that once people are aware of a new shop they will simply keep coming back. They wont.
Marketing is an ongoing need so, whatever your budget, it needs to be spread across the year even if it’s focussed on the highlights of your trading pattern.
- Confusing word-of-mouth with Chinese-whispers
Word-of-mouth is a powerful marketing tool, but a two-edged sword because customers pass on bad experiences as well as good ones. And if you rely purely on word-of-mouth you wont be setting out how you’d like your business image to be communicated – you’ll be putting it firmly under the control of your customers. And that’s when it becomes Chinese whispers. So always be sure to have other marketing activity that clearly communicates how you want your business to be perceived.
- Believing that online marketing is just for big companies
Online sales continue to grow rapidly – 13.2% of all retail sales in 2016 – and it’s important to recognise that small businesses need an online presence, even if they’re not actually selling online. Many small retailers see online as a threat because of ‘showrooming’ – customers seeing something in a shop that is then bought cheaper online. But the reverse is also true – customers research online for things that they then buy in a shop. A new poll by Harris in the US saw 46% ‘showrooming’, but 69% actually doing the reverse, so it can work in your favour.
- Misunderstanding customer loyalty
‘It’s easier to get business from an existing customer than a new one’ is a cliché because it’s generally true. So it’s important to be in a loyalty scheme, right? Wrong, because small scale loyalty schemes don’t really work. They mostly reward your existing customers for what they were already doing.
ClubCard and Nectar are only successful because they can analyse and use the massive amounts of data they collect. Real customer loyalty isn’t about ‘collecting points’, it’s about giving good reasons to keep them coming back to you.
David Tallon – MyStreet
David Tallon is a founder partner in MyStreet which helps small independent retailers compete with the major multiples by marketing themselves more effectively. MyStreet is a unique combination of phone app and monthly marketing advice and tips where everything is ‘done-for-you’ by experts. He has worked for more years than he cares to admit in retail marketing and advertising and wants to see more diversity in our high streets shops.