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Marketing Your Retail Store in the Recession - A Retailer's Survival Guide

Sep 13, 2008
The newspapers and media are full of bad news about how the economy is in a recession. They actively promote how bad times are, which only makes it worse for the retailer. As the general public become "convinced" that times are so bad, their impetus to shop is lessened.

As such, in times like these, retailers must work hard to get their marketing in place. Now, more than ever, marketing budgets need to be optimized, and in many cases increased, to stimulate the demand for products that get consumers out of their house and into the store.

Below is a "top ten" list of marketing activities that can be applied to any retail business, to ensure its success in these times.

1. Email Marketing - Don't use your own emails, market via a service. Make sure you can measure the stats of the campaign so that you can see what does and doesn't work.

2. "Meaningful" Events - Survey your customers to find out what would bring them into the store, and then get your vendors to cover the costs. Not every trunk show will bring out your big spenders. Find out what will.

3. Better-than-average Website - Shoppers want to see what they could see if they were in your store, without having to spend money on gas. Make sure your website reflects your best side, and shows significant amounts of merchandise. Even if you don't have an e-commerce site, you have to show your products.

4. Direct Mail - it still works. Make sure the artwork matches your website and emails. Try mailing gift cards, especially as the holidays get closer.

5. Get on the Phone - call your customers as goods arrive. Never think of it as selling them. Think of it as doing them a favor - as if you were calling your best friend because you saw something they'd like. Develop the relationship!

6. Press Releases - find a newsworthy event, and broadcast it. Come up with reasons such as exclusives with vendors, anniversaries, special sale events (tie it to the Meaningful Events in #2) and announce it to the free PR sites on the internet.

7. Article Marketing - article directories exist on the internet, and they are dying to get your content! Write articles that contain the information an informed consumer would have, when buying your products. These lead people to your website, and to your store.

8. Pay Per Click - Despite what you've heard, it is possible to make money here. But you have to know the ropes. Study it or find someone who knows it. Do small tests, and when the campaigns work, feed them.

9. Blogging and Social Networking - this is an up-and-coming method of marketing. Some of our customers swear by it. Get a My Space page and test it. Get one of your staff to maintain it. Test the results.

10. Marketing Plan - if you do any of the above things, just one time, you're guaranteed to have spent money and not gain customers. The secret to successful marketing is "consistent repetition across all activities."

By applying these simple techniques (along with having a completely balanced inventory), retailers can weather the storms of the recession, and come out of it in better condition than when they started.
About the Author
Dan Jablons is the Chief Operating Officer of Retail Rev, a division of Standard Internet Marketing. He has consulted with retailers large and small for over 25 years, both nationally and internationally. Retail Rev provides internet marketing and consulting, as well as educational products. To find out more visit retailrev.com
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