By Alexandra Sheehan
You’ve opened your retail store. The grand opening was a success. Tons of new customers, sales, press, and social media posts surrounded the event.
But now that the initial excitement has died down, so have foot traffic and sales numbers.
How do you keep the momentum going?
Brick and mortar marketing can keep the conversation going about your store, attract customers, and promote your products. Below, we’ll dive into what it is, why it’s important, and ways you can use it to promote your store.
What is brick and mortar marketing?
Brick and mortar marketing (also called retail marketing) is when a retailer uses marketing strategies and tactics to promote their store, attract foot traffic, and drive sales. Though traditionally, the term mostly referred to in-person exchanges, brick and mortar marketing can happen both online and offline — and the most successful retailers use a combination of both.
Marketing has come a long way over the years, especially with the advent of the internet. While billboards and print ads still have their place, they’re complemented and sometimes even replaced by advanced targeting made possible with digital marketing — or “bricks and clicks.”
As more and more retailers sell online in addition to at their storefronts, an omnichannel approach to your retail marketing strategy is becoming more critical.
The value in brick and mortar marketing
Brick and mortar marketing fuels both customer acquisition and retention. It can put your brand in front of new customers, increase awareness, create a community, differentiate your brand from competitors, and attract foot traffic. With existing customers, you can forge and nurture relationships that lead to brand advocacy and word-of-mouth marketing in the long run.
As mentioned earlier, the most successful retailers use digital and offline channels simultaneously via an omnichannel approach. More than 90% of retailers have an omnichannel strategy or plan to invest in one soon, and 87% agree that it’s critical or very important to success.
10 brick and mortar marketing ideas to promote your store
Provide great customer service
Though this should go without saying, we can’t understate how important it is that you work to provide a seamless, positive, and memorable in-store experience. One that accurately represents your brand and puts your customers first.
Consumers share negative and positive experiences equally, so you want to make sure they’re saying the right things about you. “Small independent retailers can compete with the giants by providing great customer service, or an imaginative experience,” says Carlos Castelán, managing director of The Navio Group. “Customers crave unique, creative and memorable in-store experiences.”
He points to a few examples of retailers doing this right:
- “Our Generation dolls created an event within Target stores to “pierce” the dolls’ ears and host “Adopt a Pup” events where kids bring their dolls to the store and receive a free six-inch plush dog to adopt and pose for photos with friends. This is a very smart way to encourage in-store traffic word of mouth marketing, provide additional value to customer and all while adding a big opportunity for purchases of additional product.
- Restoration Hardware has created massive showrooms with unique experiences meant to draw people to the store with cafés that serve espresso drinks and wine as well as snacks for customers to enjoy their shopping experience.
- Stew Leonard’s, the Northeast supermarket chain, offers dozens of in-store customer experiences, including costumed cows walking the aisles, a small farm for the children, in-store dining, free samples, and culinary classes.”
Looking for more tips and examples of retail experiences done right? This article gives you the lowdown on the following brick and mortar experiences:
- Treasure hunts (e.g., discovering a cool product or an amazing deal)
- Face to face customer service (e.g., having knowledgeable associates explain products)
- Constant reinvention (e.g., coming to a store and finding new things or experiences)
- Community (e.g., attending classes or events)
- Product-building (e.g., personalizing items, building products or purchase bundles)
- Services (e.g., coming in for a makeover or personal shopping advice)
- Retailtainment (e.g., finding attractions or entertaining experiences)
Signage and displays
Though it’s an old-school tactic, you don’t want to overlook the importance of your store’s signage and accompanying visual displays. From the banner on your storefront to the wayfinding signs throughout your store — and everything in between — each of these is a chance to make an impression and tie into your larger brick and mortar marketing strategy.
Things to keep in mind:
- Consistency is key, both visually and with your voice.
- Stand out from your surroundings. Draw extra attention to your storefront and to the sales promotion ideas you want to prioritize.
- Be helpful, especially for pricing and product information and wayfinding signage.
To be fair, “local marketing” is kind of vague. And that’s because there are many ways to go about making your presence known in your local neighborhood.
- Claim your local listings, including Google My Business, Facebook, Bing, Yelp, and any other profiles. Add captivating descriptions, photos, business hours, address, and other pertinent information to attract visitors to your store.
- Get involved in your community. Join your local Chamber of Commerce and other networking groups, partner with complementary local businesses, sponsor or host events, and sell at local markets and festivals.
- Leverage word-of-mouth marketing. Incentivize referrals with discounts, free gifts, or other promos to help spread the word.
- Run locally targeted digital ads with Google Ads or paid social ads. Choose local zip codes and parameters to get in front of your community.
- Run ads in the local paper, print publications, and online hubs.
We touched on social media ads above, but you can do more on social than the pay-to-play tactics. Castelán recommends retailers use social media to show off the stellar customer experience they deliver.
“By promoting in-store customer experience on social media, shoppers will not visit your store and buy, but will tell others via word-of-mouth or take your message viral with online praises and mentions.” – Carlos Castelán, managing director of The Navio Group
“Retailers that market their strong customer experience on social media and promote a shopping experience that doubles as a medium of entertainment will attract and win shoppers and boost sales,” Castelán says. “Market the shopping experience more than just buying a product, but think about the experience that accompanies visiting a store like in-store demos or events that showcase products and entertain shoppers.”
A wonderful example of a retail doing this well is Cositas, a furniture and gift shop in the UK. Cositas’ Instagram feed has a healthy mix of posts, including picutres merchandise, event photos, and more.
In some posts, storeowner Emma Bustamante steps in front of the camera to demonstrate how some of her products work.
View this post on Instagram
Get some more tips on using social media for your retail store:
- Social Media Lessons for Retailers: The 3 Best (and 3 Worst) Things You Can Do On Social Networks
- 27 Social Media Tools Retailers Can Use to Boost Influence and Sales
- How to Use Social Media in Your Retail Recruitment Strategy
Build an email list
With email, you own your list — sure, you might keep it in your email service provider (ESP), but you can export those emails at any time and use any ESP to connect with them (as long as you’re compliant with laws and regulations around email marketing).
We’ve heard for a while now about the importance of creating an experience, something more than just a transaction. And research supports this: One study from Harris Group found that 72% of Millennials prefer to spend money on experiences rather than tangible things.
In-store events are one way to create those memorable experiences that are the foundation of meaningful customer-brand relationships. They also give customers extra incentive to visit your store — there’s a sense of urgency and the “fear of missing out” will encourage them to attend. And ideally, this will also lead to shopping.
Stratagem Cards & Games in Australia does a great job here. Stratagem regularly hosts competitive events in-store, and they’re a big hit with customers.
Improve the checkout experience
On the note of creating an impressionable customer experience, sometimes this means a few minor enhancements aimed at making checkout more convenient for shoppers. In fact, convenience is one of the top reasons consumers choose to do business with direct-to-consumer retailers over big box stores.
Improvement ideas include:
- Self checkout
- Mobile pay
- Buy now, pay later
- Payment plans
- Mobile POS
- Contactless pay
- In-app checkout
Olly Shoes, a kids’ footwear store Canada recently reinvented the store’s checkout process by implementing iPad POS systems. “Most of the shoppers at Olly Shoes are moms and dads with kids. And for those types of customers, the checkout process can be cumbersome, because they have to bring all of their kids to the back of the store where the cash desk is to pay for their purchases,” shares Jim Trebilcock of OLLY Shoes.
“We’re looking to be more mobile so we can bring the register to the customer and complete the sale while the parents and kids are sitting on a bench (putting all of their shoes back on) without having to get them to move around.”
Yes, traditional, but still effective. Who doesn’t love a good deal? In fact, 36% of Millennials and 29% of Gen Z use coupons.
Plus, coupons have become more sophisticated since the early days of clip and save. Now, you can use your email list to distribute coupon codes, offer personalized promotions, list your offerings on third-party coupon sites, and more.
Create a customer loyalty program
We’re big proponents of the customer loyalty program — and it’s catching on industry-wide. Adoption of loyalty programs grew 13% from 2018 to 2019, and they’re an effective way to incentivize customer retention.
Looking for a place to get started? Check these five key ingredients to a winning loyalty program to get inspired.
Optional: Hire a dedicated brick and mortar marketing team
Depending on your resources, it could make sense to hire a team dedicated to marketing your store. Along with someone to oversee and coordinate everything (marketing director, manager, or coordinator — depending on your budget and needs), you might consider hiring the following positions:
- Visual merchandiser: This person will make magic happen in the visual sense in your store — everything from signage to displays and other design elements in the physical space.
- Product manager / product marketing manager: Though different, these two roles are closely intertwined and are focused primarily on the product and its development, positioning, pricing, and promotion.
- Promotions specialist: This individual is focused on getting in front of the local community through in-person networking, sales promotion ideas for retail, activations, advertising, and other tactics.
- Market research analyst: The analyst will tell you anything and everything you need to know about your industry, competitors, target market, positioning, and more.
If you enjoyed this post, be sure to check out Vend’s guide to increasing sales. This handy resource offers 10 proven tactics for boosting retail sales and improving your bottom line.
Specifically, you will:
- Discover how to turn savvy shoppers into loyal customers
- Learn how to add real and perceived value to each sale
- Discover the most effective ways to set yourself apart from your competitors
Moving forward with your brick and mortar marketing
Putting the word out about your store is crucial to attracting new customers and driving repeat purchases from your existing ones. The tactics that are best for you will depend on your audience, your store, your location, your budget, and other unique circumstances for your business.
In getting started, it’s okay to experiment with a bunch to find out what works — and then optimize and double down on your efforts where you have the most traction.
About Francesca Nicasio
Francesca Nicasio is Vend's Retail Expert and Content Strategist. She writes about trends, tips, and other cool things that enable retailers to increase sales, serve customers better, and be more awesome overall. She's also the author of Retail Survival of the Fittest, a free eBook to help retailers future-proof their stores. Connect with her on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Google+.