(in a positive way)
Businesses never ask "how can I blend in so no one notices me". Businesses want to stand out, get noticed, create "buzz" and encourage that all important "word of mouth" advertising. But how? With trends changing quickly, a busy population and a cynical public, how can a modern business cut through the marketing veil and reach their targeted customers? More importantly, how do you realistically get noticed on a budget you can live with and resources that are at your disposal? Below are a few simple business upgrades or techniques you can use in your business right now to Get Noticed!
1. The Window to your businesses soul- Your windows give passing customers insight into what you do and who your are. Take asecond and look at your store front. Go ahead…. This article will be waiting for you when you get back… Now, what does your window say? If you didn't know anything about what products or services your business carried, would your window successfully inform you? We will have an entire article dedicated to window design later in the year, or you can CLICK HEREfor a past article. The basics– windows must be clean, uncluttered and represent the products/services you provide in an interesting way. Well lit windows that contain motion and a "story" of complimentary colors, products or themes work best. Repetitive products in windows subconsciously indicate volume discounts, and singular or "featured" items indicate upscale exclusivity.
2. Shock and awe- Too many times the first point of contact in a business introduce themselves with "what can I help you with today" (or worse, they don't say anything at all), and customers respond with the obligatory "I'm just looking", even when they aren't. I've heard people automatically respond "just looking around" even when they are in a service business, just out of force of habit. Disarming someone with "that's a cute purse" or "welcome to our air conditioning!" requires a different response and starts a positive conversation. Working product or service knowledge into the conversation, showing how you are helping save time/money and using the customer's name frequently (even a title and last name) makes the customer feel more at ease. The process of "selling" goes beyond sales. Remember to thank customers at the close, and give them a reason to come back.
3. Flytrap atmosphere- You would think that poor little flies would learn not to get too close to a Venus Flytrap, but they just can't help themselves! That's the attractive atmosphere you want to create. Find a signature conversation piece to draw customer's attention that has something to do with your business. For example, Moon Abstract has abstracts almost as old as Lyon County. What a cool piece of history, and when framed these abstracts would make a great conversation piece! A family friendly location may have balloons, candy or some sort of "play" item for kids. A clothing store may have a funhouse "skinny" mirror just as a conversation piece. A facade should enhance the building's architectural integrity and create the aura the business want's to portray. The correct floor plan for your business type can ensure efficient and effective sales. Atmosphere stimulates all senses, so appropriate background music and scents add to the customer experiance (car dealerships often use the scent of chocolate chip cookies to stimulate sales). Even your color choice in a business can stimulate the type of business environment you want to create. These atmosphere details can help pull people in and make them remember "the place with the _____" when they need your product or service again.
4. Social Solutions- Lets face it, social media is here to stay. It may take different forms, and businesses may use it in different ways, but ignoring social media is like trying to work with one hand tied behind your back. You could do it, but why? It's not enough to have a Facebook account, a twitter handle and/or a Pintrest Page, you have to know how to use these tools to further your brand image and interact with your customers. And, you need to allow some time each day for Social Media. I'm not saying "let Facebook consume your day", but I am saying: check your page in between projects or before you leave for breaks. For a primer on Facebook, Click HERE.
5. Stop, collaborate and listen- Sometimes businesses can become an island simply because they get totally consumed by their daily operations. When you talk to other business people at committee meetings, socially or on-line, you can find ways to refer customers through collaboration. What businesses in town compliment yours? What competitors can you actually work with? When you find business partners, remember to listen. Collaborative relationships only work long term when everyone wins in an equal environment. When partners needs are ignored, bad things happen. Balance your needs with others and everyone wins.
6. Party people!- Have you ever wanted to hang around someone because they were fun and had a positive attitude? Conversely, have youever wanted to hang around people because they were constantly negative? Don't be "over the top", but a positive attitude goes a long way in promoting your business. In addition, businesses that are "joiners" in fun events typically can draw more interest. A musical instrument store typically doesn't carry a lot of "impulse buy" items, but they can open for late night shopping events because the "lookers" they generate will turn into "buyers" down the road. People that don't participate often have consumer's ask "why". And, in today's gossip laden world, "why" is filled in with speculation rather quickly (and it's rarely positive). Click HERE for tips on creating a negative free zone in your business.
7. Resource wranglers– Remember when we said that businesses can get totally consumed with what's going on within their four walls? Well, that mind set can put you in an awkward situation with customers. If you are downtown during a large event and a consumer asks "what's going on", greeting them with a blank stare may make them wonder what else you don't know. If a customer asks about area resources, places they can eat, other shopping locations, upcoming events or other common questions about the community, your staff can enhance a customer's experience simply by knowing what is going on. If you don't have a product, you should have some local options in mind (and by local, I mean in proximity to your business), if someone asks for an item that you don't carry and don't have a substitute for. If you send someone out of town, guess where their next shopping trip starts?
8. That was sooooo easy- People are busy. If you want to stand out in someone's mind, make their day as easy as possible. "Let us take care of that for you" should be in every business person's vernacular. Shipping, wrapping, research, ordering or simply finding a quick answer to a customers question can make someone's day easier. When you take the time stress out of customer interactions, you can build a solid vocal advocate for life.
9. Follow up!- So, you've done all the things listed above and you still are having a hard time breaking through to customers. Have you ever thought about contacting them? Keeping a detailed customer list can help you contact your customers with new products and services. Creating frequency helps develop customer loyalty and increased sales. Some of my favorite businesses contact me before my anniversary or a couple of weeks prior to my wife's birthday with a list of "thing's she will love". Where do you think I end up shopping? Banks can personalize investment options for customers with growing families. Attorneys can call in business clients for a "check up" on different services they can offer to help a business safely grow. Restaurants might call a patron when something extra special comes on the menu (or they may send a personalized e-mail with pictures and recipes.) The point is that your customer list is your most valuable marketing tool to increase traffic and generate more sales IF you follow up. Making the extra effort to contact customers individually makes your business or organization stand out. Don't have a customer list? Start one today!
Did you notice that not one of the suggestions included price? Creating strategic price points is important, but if your "go to" moveto attract customers is discounting, you will attract people that want discounts. Instead, look at some other options and ways you can compete! Choose something, anything, from this list and make a plan to implement it this week. We all get swamped with the everyday aspects of our business, but if we make the commitment to do a little extra on a weekly basis, we can create a situation where we have more customers, more sales and we can start to get off the "lack of resources" hamster wheel. What are you going to do this week to improve your business? Do you have suggestions that aren't part of the list? Share your favorite ways to "get noticed" with Emporia Main Street and we will recognize your tips in future issues (and place a link to your business in the process). Simply send your tip to [email protected] .