The challenges faced by the high street are almost daily news with stories of declining footfall, store closures or businesses going into administration. More cafes, hairdressers, barbers and beauty salons are opening on the high street, reflecting things that people can’t do online but there are still opportunities for thousands of independent retailers up and down the country, the small business owners who live and work in their local community who have a loyal following and make a huge difference locally.
While there are many strategic changes required such as regeneration to adapt to how towns and cities are being used now and in the future, as well as an urgent need for fundamental reform of the business rates system, there are steps that high street businesses can take now to focus on their marketing, connect with the local community and attract new and repeat customers. Here are our top tips:
What makes you different?
Many nationals have struggled because they aren’t clearly differentiated from other businesses and there isn’t a compelling reason to buy from them. Spend some time, or even better ask your customers, what makes you different and what they value about you. It could be the products you sell, the advice you offer, the warm welcome and great customer service. Being able to offer something that isn’t available online or anywhere else locally is something you need to shout about.
Do customers and potential customers know you exist?
Can you be found on Google? Do you have a Facebook page? For most high street businesses these are essential and what’s more they’re free. Make sure you have a Google My Business listing and, if you can identify at least one thing a week to post about, set up a Facebook page for your business. Depending on your target market, other considerations include marketing activities such as using Instagram or advertising in local magazines.
Make it easy to do business with you.
Online shopping has been so successful because it is so convenient. People can find what they want online, order it and get it delivered, all at the click of a button. Are your products, with photos, listed on your website? Do you offer click and collect? Are your opening hours on your website, and correct? Are you working on your website to make sure you can be found on Google? An e-commerce website or online booking system may also be an option, but make sure you understand the requirements and how it impacts your business before making the decision.
Do you connect with your customers?
‘Experience’ has been a buzzword for many years and how people feel when they are with you and buy from you is key. People buy based on emotion so connecting with customers and potential customers should be an important aspect of your marketing plan. Do you celebrate the people behind the business – why you founded it, why you are so passionate about what you do, the great staff who work for you? Social media makes this easier to do, particularly when you interact with your customers. Loyalty schemes and regular emails also help you to connect with customers and encourage them to return.
Everyone loves an offer.
Larger stores build offers into their business model and you should too. Offers are a great way to attract customers but don’t need to be discounts (although these can work well) – how about offering added value, a free gift, bundled products or upgrade. Do make sure you build into your business model or your marketing budget, otherwise you risk eroding your profit.
About Sixth Sense Marketing
Sixth Sense Marketing provide busy business owners with a skilled and experienced marketing resource, a ‘head and hands’ marketing service providing strategy, planning and implementation to improve the effectiveness of marketing by using the right message, at the right time to the right people.
We have significant experience working with town centre organisations and high street businesses. If you’d like to know more about helping grow businesses, or just want to bounce a few things around that have been in your head, feel free to get in touch. Call 01252 213131 or email email@example.com.