In today’s world, having a small business is getting more and more difficult. As technology advances, the internet is becoming more accessible through mobile devices such as cell phones and tablets like the iPad. Shopping online is getting more convenient and small business owners have been struggling to survive. Competition is getting fierce and the only way to have an edge over your competitors is to come up with creative ways to market your small business.
Having a small business myself, I have been able to learn techniques to thrive in the retail business and compete with major corporations and their chain stores.
In order for retail stores to succeed, you need to have a niche. If you don’t have a niche, you must create one and become an expert in your field. People need to view your store as an authority in your industry.
Create a following. Businesses tend to give more attention to new customers than they do to their existing clients. In reality, as a business owner, you must attend to your existing customers first because these are the people that are going to go out and spread the word about your business. They will tell their friends and family, and promote you at home, work, and social gatherings. People will value their opinions more than any other testimonial or marketing claims because they already have rapport and trust established.
Get personal with your customers. Customers will get comfortable with you and tell you things about their personal life, whether it’s about a their work or about their family. Remember what they tell you and ask them how their family is doing. Getting personal with your customers will create an emotional attachment to you and your business. This emotional attachment will be the reason why they chose to buy from you over your competition.
Develop a relationship with your distributors and product manufacturers. In order to compete with corporate chains, you also need to have good prices. In today’s economy, people are looking to save more and more money. You must have prices that can match and compete with chain stores. This will be difficult but it is possible by working with manufacturers to reach more customers. You have to help the brands you carry acquire more market share by actually selling their products rather than just putting them on your shelves and waiting for your customers to pick them out themselves. Have extensive knowledge on the products and make recommendations to your customers with detailed information to back up your claims. Let your manufacturers know that you are working to sell their products and they will work with you because they are not only benefiting by selling their products through your store, but your business is also a marketing tool for them to acquire even more business.
Wait for specials from your distributors, and buy in bulk. Distributors often run sales and specials throughout the year. When this happens, you must buy enough merchandise to last you until the next sale or as close to it as possible. This will allow you to sell your products at a discounted price.
Provide your customers with marketing material to educate them on your products. Often, you will find that manufacturers have a lot of marketing material that they would be more than happy to give you at no cost so that you can distribute it to your customer base. This can be flyers, magazines, T-shirts, and free samples for people to try. Doing this will make their shopping experience also become a learning experience. Your customers will appreciate your business more because they can get the knowledge they need to make a buying decision.
Last but not least, have quality products. As a small business, you cannot afford to have low quality products. You can’t let price be the only reason why your customers buy from you, it has to be because of the quality of your products and the service you provide. You have to make your store well known as the spot to go for quality products and a knowledgeable staff.
These techniques have allowed me to create a loyal clientele and compete with the corporate chains. So much that I don’t see them as competition because they are not capable of doing what I do. Having daily interactions with my customers has allowed me to learn about their true necessities and how to serve them best. Small businesses can still thrive in today’s world, they just have to take a different approach than the larger corporations do. As competition becomes more aggressive, businesses have to come up with creative strategies to have an edge over their competitors and achieve success.