When people think of marketing in 2021, they automatically think of Google Ads and Facebook adverts.
But for retailers like you, there’s a wide variety of platforms and tactics you can make use of to transform your business.
And it’s easy to assume that marketing costs are expensive.
However, marketing – when done right – can be low-cost and can reap huge rewards.
Regardless of your budget, there are some things you can do that are free, low-cost or at the very least, cost-effective.
In today’s guide, we’re taking a deep dive into the world of retail marketing.
You’ll learn what retail marketing is, the types of retail marketing and why you should consistently market your business.
We’ll also give you 24 proven, unbiased, jargon-free recommendations on the best ways to market a retail business.
So, let’s get started.
- What is retail marketing?
- The 7 P’s of marketing
- Types of retail marketing
- Why should you market your business?
- 24 ways to market your retail business
What is retail marketing?
As we’re sure you might have guessed, retail marketing is marketing to promote your retail store.
We often think of marketing as paying money to Google, Facebook, and Instagram to reach an audience.
But marketing isn’t owned nor bossed by just those three outlets.
There are so many creative ways to market your retail business that we’ve created a whole section later in the guide to show you different ways to market.
And when we think of marketing, we automatically think of digital marketing, but there are so many effective offline ways to market your retail business, too.
Ultimately, retail marketing is all about using the best online and offline platforms and tactics to achieve several main goals:
- Get more customers
- Increase sales
- Improve brand awareness and visibility to customers
- Create and maintain customer relationships
- Inform, educate and entertain customers
- Get more footfall to physical stores
- Get more web traffic to ecommerce stores
The 7 P’s of marketing
Although it might sound like marketing jargon, the foundations of the 7 Ps marketing strategy are pretty solid.
Initially, it was known as the 4 Ps of marketing: product, price, place, and promotion.
That was in the 1960s in an era when the likes of big tobacco and car manufacturers ruled the roost.
Of course, in the seven decades since those heady days, a lot has changed in marketing, and as a result, the 4 Ps became the 7 Ps.
So, what are the 7 Ps?
Well, think of them as the seven pillars of good practice that you should use – or at least consider – for your retail marketing campaigns and any strategies in your marketing mix.
Let’s dive right into the 7 Ps.
Unsurprisingly, the retail product you’re selling is quite essential.
That means you should place your product at the centre of everything you do regarding retail marketing.
Think about your products and answer questions about what makes them unique, why would a customer choose to buy from you and what makes your products unique.
Once you know the answers to common questions about your USP (unique selling point), it makes marketing your products a lot easier.
When we think of price, we assume that if we’re selling something cheaper than a rival, it’s automatically an excellent marketing plus.
But that’s not always the case.
You don’t have to compete on price with rival retailers, plus the race to the bottom doesn’t benefit anyone.
Indeed, you could charge more, as long as you can justify why your products/services are worth extra money or why they’re so exclusive.
Ultimately, your price is always going to be dictated by one thing: what your customers are prepared to pay.
The price of your products can also be analysed and tweaked by offering discounts, monthly subscriptions, sales, loyalty programmes and much more.
3. Promotion (marketing)
When we think of the word ‘promotion’, we tend to think of big red posters emblazoned with ‘SALE’ written in white.
But promotion can take many forms and isn’t always necessarily the most obvious ones like flash sales and flyers.
Promotion can be both online and offline activities.
Online promotion can be online advertising, blog and content marketing, SEO and SEM marketing, social media marketing, and video marketing.
Offline promotion might include direct mail marketing, radio, television and newspaper advertising or something as easy as placing a poster on a window.
How many times have you been in a shop and impulsively bought the chewing gum or big bar of chocolate located at the till?
You see, where you place your product can have a significant impact on how well it sells.
For example, a toy shop would never place the best toys high up on a shelf where children couldn’t reach them.
And supermarkets never place everyday essentials like bread, butter, eggs, milk and toilet roll at the front door; nobody would impulsively buy anything else if all their main items were easily accessible.
How and where you place your products are, of course, determined by your intimate knowledge of your retail niche.
“Customers will never love a company unless its employees love it first,” British-American author and speaker Simon Sinek once mused.
And Simon is right.
Prioritising excellent customer service in your retail outlet has been proven time and again to translate into sales and improve customer referrals.
No matter who the employee is or their role, it’s vital that every staff member is well-trained, friendly, helpful, and a real advocate for your company.
Remember, passion is infectious, so if your employees show an authentic passion for the company, that will translate into long and short-term sales.
6. Process (delivery)
Over the last two decades, your process for delivering your retail product has likely undergone a significant transformation.
Back in 2000, most of your sales were probably achieved in-store.
Whereas in 2021, you’re likely making sales from your website, home delivery service, click and collect service, your ecommerce store and even on some social media platforms.
Regardless of the process, retailers should make sure it’s flexible, reliable and in line with the ethos of your company, for example, climate-friendly.
7. Physical evidence (building trust)
Everything we do in marketing is (or should be) dictated by physical evidence.
And that evidence can take a variety of forms.
For example, you might get customers to complete a Survey Monkey survey to give you feedback on their likes and dislikes.
Or it could be your website’s Google Analytics, so you know how many people are visiting your website versus how many are completing the sales funnel.
Whether yours is an online or offline strategy – or a combination of both – every decision should be based on what a customer wants, feels and expects.
Types of retail marketing
- Digital: Your website, social media, Google adverts, YouTube etc.
- Print: Newspapers, flyers, coupons, posters and billboards.
- PR: This can be online public relations featured on news and business websites or editorial-style content printed in newspapers.
- Influencer: YouTube and Instagram influencers are the two most prominent.
Why should you market your business? 5 reasons.
“The man who stops advertising to save money is like the man who stops a clock to save time. – Henry Ford.
Marketing your business should be one of your priorities all year round.
And even if you’re already lucky enough to have a thriving retail business, that doesn’t mean you should rest on your laurels.
Marketing has many significant benefits, and some of the most impressive are:
1. Increased revenue
If you market your retail business creatively, you’ll benefit from more sales.
2. Growing your audience
Marketing isn’t just about sales; it’s about cultivating and nurturing relationships with current and prospective customers and adding value.
3. Reaching more people
The more people you reach, the more potential customers you have. Using different marketing channels you can reach further than ever before.
4. Creates brand loyalty
The lifetime value of a customer can increase dramatically if you market to them effectively and reward their loyalty. Remember 20% of your customers generate 80% of your revenue.
5. Create brand awareness
Brand awareness isn’t just for Apple or Google.
People buy from people, and if you’ve got a strong, memorable brand that hits the right notes, you’ll enjoy a steady stream of customers.
24 ways to market your retail business
Now you understand the benefits of marketing for a retail business, here are 24 actionable ways you can market your business.
1. Dress to impress.
Oh, don’t worry, we don’t mean to dust off your pinstripe suit or D&G dress.
We mean you should work on your window displays and website.
Whether we like it or not, our companies are judged daily by potential customers.
And while we don’t have much control over what they think, we sure can make an excellent first impression by getting the basics right.
Make your retail store as presentable as possible, with eye-catching displays.
For your online store, focus on UX design and ensure it’s a fast-loading website that is regularly updated.
2. Connect offline with offline
How we shop has changed dramatically over the last twenty years.
And if you haven’t already, it’s time to maximise your marketing by connecting your offline infrastructure with your online infrastructure.
That can be as simple as offering an omnichannel experience, where online and offline work seamlessly together.
Tools like AirPOS let you connect your retail store with your ecommerce store creating a seamless sales experience.
3. Run in-store events or exclusive events
Marketing might have changed a lot this millennium, but one thing has remained constant: we all love exclusive events.
Could you get a local celebrity or sporting hero to come along to help with a product launch to create some buzz?
There are endless opportunities to get your brand out there, for example, book signing events, coffee mornings, meet the buyer events.
4. Work on local SEO
“The best place to hide a dead body is on page 2 of Google.”
If you’re not ranking high on Google, you’re missing out on an incredibly large number of potential customers.
And ranking on Google doesn’t need to be costly or time-consuming.
The main thing you need to know is what makes Google rank a website higher, and the short answer to this is:
- A fast-loading website
- A mobile-optimised website
- High-quality and regularly updated content (blogs, guides etc.)
- Keywords and key phrases that tell Google what the website is about
- Backlinks from other websites
- How long do people stay on your website
- Bounce rate from your website
Check out our SEO guide for a comprehensive list of tips and advice.
5. Create urgency with your promotions (online and offline)
As old as marketing itself, study after study points towards an increase in sales when companies create a sense of urgency.
This could be as simple as sending a customer a 10% discount code on their birthday that’s only valid for 24 hours.
Or more widely known, Black Friday is the perfect example of creating a sense of urgency.
After all, we all love a bargain.
6. Connect with influencers
We live in a world where influencers have, in many cases, a bigger audience than world-famous celebrities, presidents and prime ministers.
YouTube and Instagram influencers dominate this relatively new industry, and by working with them for your marketing campaigns, you could showcase your business to a whole new demographic.
7. Get creative on social media.
In the first couple of years after Facebook put the ‘social’ in social media, businesses didn’t know what to post about.
So they reverted to posting offers and worked their social media platforms as if it was only there for them to sell.
But the reality is, we don’t go on social media to have a newsfeed full of products or services for sale.
Savvy companies have since realised this and became leaders in their field by creating informative, educational and entertaining social media content.
So, how could you leverage social media?
Why not create video reviews of your products on YouTube?
Or how about having fun on social media by sharing behind-the-scenes content, introducing staff members etc.
You could even create your own hashtag and get user-generated content to post. Customers love to see themselves posted on a company page and will often share it with their users, giving you even greater reach.
8. Host competitions.
We all love the idea of making a small financial investment for the chance to win something cool.
It’s why all those Facebook pages selling tickets for £2 to win a brand new Mercedes are so popular.
By running competitions, you’ll grow your audience a lot more quickly and reach new potential customers.
9. Create a memorable customer experience.
Whether online or in-store, try to create an experience that allows your customers to feel your brand and story and be relatable.
10. Use digital advertising.
Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and YouTube are four of the big hitters in today’s digital landscape for advertising.
And depending on your opinion on privacy, we’re either very lucky or very unlucky to be able to target adverts to specific people directly.
That means if your target customer is a 30-year-old new mother, you’ll be able to pay to target her on her newsfeed with tailored messaging.
Digital advertising doesn’t necessarily have to be expensive either.
If you know your target customer and produce quality ads, you’ll still reap the rewards.
11. Sell online and in-store
The retail industry is moving quickly towards marriage between online and in-store.
This takes the form of multi-channel and omnichannel sales, where customers get the same, seamless experience regardless of how they access your company.
Take a click and collect service as an example.
A customer visits your website on their phone, places and pays for a product and then takes the experience offline by calling into your store to collect their products.
You should also consider using Google Shopping campaigns.
This is ideal if you’re trying to connect with customers already searching for what you’re selling.
12. Build an audience.
Building an audience should be a priority in your marketing.
But by building an audience, we don’t mean getting thousands of likes or followers on your Facebook, Insta or YouTube.
Well, you’ll never really ‘own’ that list of customers.
You’ll no doubt be familiar with Facebook moving the goalposts in recent years where you have to pay to interact with your own list of followers.
So, what’s the solution?
It has been proven time and again to be the most effective way of building an audience.
And best of all, you have total control over your audience list.
Tools like Mailchimp are an affordable and easy way to get started with email marketing.
If you use an EPOS system with customer accounts you could easily send that info to your marketing tool and start marketing to those customers (as long as it’s in your terms and conditions).
13. Use lead magnets.
Following on from building an audience, there are several things you can do to build your list.
Lead magnets are where you provide something free and of value to potential customers in exchange for their contact details and subscribing to your newsletter.
You can be as creative as you want with lead magnets.
Some of the most popular magnets are free guides, free vouchers, E-books and exclusive access to exciting content.
Just make sure that it’s useful and informative for your audience.
You can use tools like Optinmonster to add pop-ups or sign-up forms anywhere on your site. Just don’t be one of those companies that just add a pop up right away, make sure the timing is right to maximise its effectiveness.
14. Use a POS to collect user information.
The great thing about using a top POS system like AirPOS is that it’s more than just a way to accept payments and monitor stock.
You can use a POS to collect user information with customer accounts, which – if they have consented – you can use to contact customers about upcoming promotions, product launches etc.
15. Create partnerships with other businesses.
While it doesn’t sound as exciting as some other ways of marketing a retail business, this one can be highly successful and lucrative.
The idea is that you create relationships with non-competing businesses and do your best to promote each other.
This could be as simple as forging a relationship with another local business, placing flyers in each other’s higher footfall areas, or running partnership competitions on social media.
16. Try traditional advertising.
While all the buzz these days seems to be around digital advertising, only the foolish would discount traditional advertising.
For you, that could be running adverts in local newspapers, billboards and on the radio.
You could also arrange for newspapers to include flyer inserts.
Direct mail marketing is another excellent way to get more customers by landing straight in their mailbox.
17. Sponsor events.
Sponsoring an event can serve a variety of purposes.
Firstly, you’ll get positive PR linked to the event.
Secondly, businesses seen to be supporting the community are more likely to be favoured by customers.
Thirdly, sponsoring events and being associated with successful events is a great way to network and build new relationships.
18. Train your staff.
As we briefly touched on earlier, your staff can be your greatest asset in marketing.
But, of course, that’s provided they’re well-trained and passionate about the company and its customers.
Research has proven that friendly, knowledgeable staff members sell better and more sales equals more profit for your retail business.
So, invest in your workforce, offer them regular training and treat them well, and they’ll pay you back ten times over in extra revenue.
19. Teach your staff selling techniques.
As we discussed in number 18, your staff can be your greatest strength.
But just like you can’t play tennis without a racket, you can’t sell if you don’t know how to.
Invest time, money and training in the latest selling techniques so your staff members can be equipped with a full arsenal of selling strategies.
You’ll want them to know how to approach customers, upsell, build trust, etc.
20. Pay your staff well.
By now, you’re most likely spotting a theme that’s developing.
As the old saying goes, “if you pay peanuts, you get monkeys”, there’s no time like the present to reassess how well your staff are treated.
And treating staff well doesn’t just mean financially, but job security, work-life balance, perks and things like maternity and paternity leave are vital too.
If your staff are paid fairly, have a good employment package and are adequately challenged in their role, you’ll have a more well-rounded, reliable and happy workforce and a lower turnover of staff.
21. Remarketing has enormous potential.
Although the term is relatively new, the idea behind it is a little more established.
We all know it’s tougher and more costly to attract new customers.
But remarketing to current and past customers can prove less challenging.
Remarketing means connecting with people who previously visited your website or smartphone app with targeted, well-positioned ads.
Think of this as an example.
You visit Amazon on your phone and search for a new TV.
You don’t complete the purchase, but later on your Facebook newsfeed, you see Amazon ads promoting the TVs you were looking at earlier.
Remarketing can be done by email and Google, too and is a sure-fire way of turning maybes into sales.
22. Test your pricing.
The cheapest isn’t always the best, and the most expensive isn’t always guaranteed to be the best quality.
As a result, your pricing should be tested and adaptable to changing circumstances.
For example, two years ago, none of us could have envisioned a global pandemic that stopped us all in our tracks.
The point is, things happen, situations evolve.
And to stay relevant, your pricing needs to be reevaluated from time to time.
This can be done by running promotions or even by trying dynamic pricing.
Think, for example, of the masters of flexible pricing; airlines.
The Champions League Final date and time is announced, and it’ll be played in Camp Nou.
Suddenly, the airlines are flooded with visitors looking for flights from near and far to Barcelona on that date.
What do they do? Adapt.
They up their prices and enjoy a healthy profit from a ‘supply and demand model.
23. Try a referral program.
Referral programs are rising in popularity, and for a good reason.
You can reach new customers and increase sales significantly with the right referral program.
Think of a referral program like this: you have a sales team that sells your products on your behalf, and once they do, you give them a small commission.
24. Use loyalty programs
In our hyper-competitive, globally connected world, it’s hard to attract customers and even harder to keep them long-term.
However, all is not lost.
Creating a loyalty programme has been shown to increase the lifetime value of a customer.
The customer feels valued, and their loyalty is rewarded with things like exclusive content, money off vouchers and freebies.
Better still, you can run a fantastic loyalty program through AirPOS and most other good POS providers.
Marketing – whether it’s traditional or digital – is vitally important to the ongoing success of your retail business.
And as we’ve shown in our 24 tips today, marketing doesn’t have to be expensive.
But it does have to be consistent.
The most successful retailers won’t need to use all 24 recommendations.
Instead, they’ll rely on a couple within their budget, match their industry and are the easiest to implement.
The foundation of every business is built using key ingredients; planning (the 7Ps), staff knowledge, budget and consistency.
And thankfully, there is a diverse range of ways to market your retail company, primarily through digital and traditional advertising methods.
Once you implement retail marketing, you’ll soon notice a whole host of benefits, including increased revenue, a growing audience and reach, improvement of brand loyalty, and raised brand awareness.
So, what are you waiting for?
Try out AirPOS
AirPOS can make running your business easier, and with our customer accounts and loyalty, it can help increase sales (with marketing).
AirPOS also connects directly to Shopify, so if you’re a retailer that wants to start selling online, you can today with AirPOS and Shopify.