Distraction. The retailer’s greatest enemy. Especially in today’s age of instant gratification and constant exposure to advertisements, text messaging, and social media, most retailers can only pray they get through to their target customer…let alone move them to make a purchase. Mix in the pressure of decreased margins, lower entry barriers, and increasing competition, and retailers are faced with a long, demanding, and sometimes-insurmountable 15-round fight when it comes to increasing sales.
There is an answer, of course. Heck, many established businesses continue to thrive while even some newcomers are experiencing massive successes.
No, no. I’m not claiming to have a silver bullet in my pocket. But this might help. I encourage every small business owner to ask themselves a question: what happens when your customers walk out your door? Will they be lost to distraction, forgetting your company? Or, will they be returning to make a purchase, or maybe even encouraging friends to do the same?
It’s not as much of a crapshoot as one might think.
Here are some not-so-difficult techniques that will help increase your chances of getting consumers back your way – away from the competition – and growing your customer base at healthy speeds. You can count on increased loyalty, increased hype, and more sales in the end.
1. Build a customer database: Collect contact information such as names, emails, and phone numbers whenever you can. This info is gold. You not only need to know who is frequenting your business but having the means to communicate with them when they’re not in the store is priceless.
2. Offer an incentive for loyal customers to keep coming back: Use your collected contact information to offer your loyal customers a reason to come back for more…and more, and more. It could be a discount, reward, or even a high five. Something to show your appreciation for their business.
3. Identify your most loyal customers and turn them into brand ambassadors: It’s surprising what you can get by just asking. Think about it. Your loyal customers love you, right? So why not ask them to write a Yelp review? Or how about encouraging them to bring friends along the next time they come around? Brand ambassadors possess a powerful sales tool; one that is more persuasive than anything any business owner could ever acquire and implement: experiential word of mouth. You need to encourage this amazing group of loyal customers to use social media or good ol’ conversation to recommend and promote your products and/or services to their personal networks.
4. Reach out and win back long-lost customers: Remember that database we mentioned earlier? You can do a lot when you know who visited your store, and when. Staying in touch with a light-hearted email or tactful phone campaign can do wonders in bringing back old customers. Make your communications personal and non-intrusive, and you’ll see results.
As you can tell, all of this starts with gathering information. The power received from such a simple action opens up doors of opportunity; working wonders for any business serious about increasing sales.