As 2015 was winding down, you probably stopped to take a look at how your business performed. Regardless of last year’s results, the New Year is a great time to reevaluate your business goals and what you can do to reach them.
One way you can increase sales is through marketing. Marketing can be a simple, constructive way for a business to demonstrate they are the right choice for their customers. Done appropriately, it can be beneficial to the customers as well as the business. Here are three ways to improve your business’s marketing strategy in 2016.
First, consider what your customers want beyond the products you sell. If there is a way you can help or guide your customers, it will show them your business is more than just a place to sell merchandise. This concept is called thought leadership and can be a huge differentiator for any small business. If you own a hardware store, an example of thought leadership would be helping a customer with advice on home remodeling or, better yet, a demonstration about how to complete the project. If customers benefit from such help, they will see your store as not only a place to purchase products, but also a place where they can learn. This will lead them into your store more frequently and keep them coming back.
Second, focus on differentiating your products from your competitors in ways other than price. When you communicate the distinct qualities of your product, it shows customers that your product is the right choice, regardless of the price. One way to accomplish this is to have a business website. With today’s technology, nearly everyone has a computer in their pocket and many consumers look at a business online before they decide to go there. It isn’t enough just to have a website—keeping it up to date with your business and product information is extremely important. Search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo! look at your site to see what type of information it contains. When someone searches for terms related to your site, you get a chance to appear in the search results and drive traffic to your website, which has the potential to drive traffic to your store. The process of maximizing the number of visitors to a website by ensuring the site appears high on the list of results returned by a search engine is called search engine optimization. If you have an up-to-date website displaying the products that you sell and your competitors do not, you will have a distinct competitive advantage.
Finally, getting the word out on your store and product through advertisements is a way of informing or influencing your customers to grow demand for your products. Since people don’t watch TV ads or read newspapers like they used to, marketing strategies have also had to change. Email marketing can be an effective way to get the word out about your products. Setting up a newsletter for your store and sending it on a consistent basis with coupons and information about new and existing products and store announcements or events will keep people engaged with your business and coming back for more. Sending coupons via text messaging can also be effective as 90 percent of such coupons are read within three minutes of receipt, and they are redeemed more frequently than email coupons.
Setting up a formalized marketing plan can give you a road map to help achieve the goals you’re setting for the year. Sometimes combining a number of different strategies and marketing mediums will yield the best success, so if you have any tips or advice for other retailers, feel free to comment below.