UPDATE on Feb. 22, 2017:
If you’re a store owner selling goods online, or a company offering their services, understanding your consumer’s behavior within a digital landscape is pivotal. You have to familiarize yourself with the various online channels, programs and software. See 19 Experts Share Ecommerce Digital Marketing Tips.
This guest post is written by Mallory Whitfield, a proud resident of New Orleans, LA. She has been blogging at MissMalaprop.com since 2006 and her book, How to Make Money at Craft Shows, is available on Amazon.* * *
I recently discovered a great post here at The Publicity Hound about 6 ways to promote your retail business before you open. It really struck a cord with me because I am currently working toward my dream of opening a brick and mortar boutique.
Rather than taking out massive debt to make my dream happen, however, I’ve decided to bootstrap and build my brand first before paying rent on a retail storefront. I’ve come up with four more ways to promote your retail business before you open:
1. Set up a website or blog, or both, prior to opening to start building buzz for your business.
This is exactly what I’ve been doing, and it has been instrumental in building brand recognition for my business. The earlier you launch a website, blog or even an online storefront before opening your retail space, the sooner you can start connecting with potential customers.
The early adopters who find you during this phase are likely to become your best customers later on, so take good care of them. You can also start connecting with them via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media outlets prior to opening your new store.
Share with them the behind-the-scenes action of your store build-out, the new products that will be on your shelves, and other news to build excitement before opening day.
2. Connect with your local Yelp community.
Local businesses CANNOT underestimate the value of Yelp these days. Many businesses even fear getting on the bad side of Yelp reviewers.
Avoid problems down the road by connecting early on with your local Yelp community. Be sure to take advantage of all of Yelp’s free tools and features offered to business owners, including Yelp Deals.
You can go one step further and seek out the local Yelp Community Manager and Yelp Elite. You can often find these folks milling about in the Talk section, a message board within Yelp. These are the movers and shakers on Yelp, and in many cities the Community Managers work with local businesses to throw parties exclusively for Yelp Elite.
How about throwing a pre-grand opening party, giving your Yelp Elite an exclusive sneak peek at your new business? It’s sure to create lots of buzz!
3. Create an eye-catching store window prior to opening.
Go one step further than simply putting up a banner or sign about your new business.
Create an appealing storefront window display to catch the eyes of potential customers and give them a glimpse at what you’ll soon be offering in your new space. A “Coming Soon” banner can take center stage, with colorful products and clever props surrounding it. Be sure to also include your website address as part of your Coming Soon window display.
You could even incorporate a QR code into your window display, and have it send visitors to your website or a link where they can sign up for your mailing list.
Need help creating a brilliant looking window display? Check out this Design*Sponge article on Creating Great Window Displays, written by a former Anthropologie display coordinator.
4. Participate in local festivals and other events with a booth promoting your business.
Getting the word out to your local community about the existence of your new business is key, and what better way to do that than face-to-face at local events like festivals?
Most of these events offer up booth space to local businesses, artists and food vendors. They can be a fun and affordable way for you to connect with customers and show them what you have to offer.
For retail stores, you can bring a small sample of what you sell.
Service-based businesses can also benefit. Hair stylists might offer simple yet festive services like hair braiding or feather clip extensions. Massage therapists are also popular at these types of events when providing brief chair massages as a way to promote their regular offerings.
Think creatively, and consider your target market when deciding what types of events will work best to promote your business. Maybe teaming up with another local business for a trunk show at their location is the way to go? Or perhaps if you sell comic books or video games, you could seek out nearby sci-fi and fantasy conventions?