During the current pandemic we have all had to turn our hand at our own marketing. Whether it's to acknowledge your own existence, to keep your customers in the loop or driving sales though a new platform, we’ve all been giving it our best shot.
Do you have the best website available for your budget? - Every day, customers in Ireland spend hundreds of thousands of euros shopping online. If you're a retailer you've got to be part of it. Consider a Shopify store, where you don't need to do any programming.
If you're online and you can compete on price, you've got a significant advantage over your competition abroad. You don't have shipping charges and should consider free delivery.
Remember to use decent photos. Look at the images created by online retailers and try to match them. Your suppliers may also be able to provide you with high-quality imagery.
The Local Enterprise Office has an online voucher scheme worth up to €2,500 for local businesses and for larger businesses, Enterprise Ireland has an online support programme with grants of up to €50,000.
Create a community on Social Media - You're in a local community, so you can involve your business with that community online. If you are holding events get the local community involved and post it on social media, this is a great way of getting people engaged with your business, and everyone loves to see a face they recognise in photos.
Start you own Blog - Write a blog about something you're passionate about and post it on your website. It could be products you're selling or your views on pretty much any subject that is interesting. Always check for spelling or grammar errors before hitting publish. Once you get regular readers those people will become interested in you, and by extension, your business.
Become a contributor - Offer your services as an expert to your local radio station or newspaper. Give expert advice on your specialist subject breaking your advice down into simple steps that they can follow.
You'll need to prove that you can perform consistently so build up a body of articles on topics you intend to feature before you look for a meeting. Don't expect to get paid - your byline should be your reward.
Work on your networking - Everyone in business has similar challenges - and most of them now relate to marketing and getting business back on its feet. Give some of your peers a call, and meet for coffee, with the purpose of sharing ideas to grow your business.
Pool your resources to start a marketing campaign – by sharing the costs of marketing and promotion, you can create something much bigger which will have more of an impact. If each participant comes with a few ideas, you should be on the road to helping each other. Everyone thinks the rest of the world has it all sorted, but this is never the case in my experience.
Get to know your customers - It's really important to know who your customers are. Within GDPR regulations collect data on your customers, study it and use it accordingly. You can collect information in the following ways;
- Create a draw for a prize in your business where people fill in their details
- Create a link to a survey or online newsletter on your website
- If you're selling online have a tick box for customers to sign up for a newsletter.
- Ask customers for their mobile phone numbers to opt into a text offer campaign.
Take some inspiration from Feargal Quinn -The late Feargal Quinn was the quintessential retailer, but behind the business genius was a genuinely nice man. He trained his staff to be thoughtful and kind to customers.
Every day you've an opportunity to be decent and kind to your customers. Whether it is helping an elderly customer by bringing their shopping to their car or delivering another quality service, people always remember. Make your business stand out not only with the quality of what you're offering, but a bit of thoughtfulness too. Make every moment in business a 'Feargal Quinn moment’.
Be your own advertisement, create an event to promote you wares - Colum O'Sullivan and Cullen Allen are the founders of Cully and Sully soups, one of the most successful soup brands in Europe. They invested almost nothing in traditional marketing for the first few years of their business - but invested heavily in tastings in supermarkets.
They won the shoppers over one at a time as they explained how their recipes change every week to ensure seasonal produce is used and give them a chance to taste their soups.
Whether it's a draw for a trolley dash, a product demonstration or a performance by the local pipe band, create memorable moments for your customers.
Stay flexible so you can be spontaneous - One of the biggest impacts on retailing is weather, and it's easy to use it to your advantage. Is the sun out? Bring the ice cream machine to the front of the shop or get the smell of barbequed chicken filtering through your shop.
The late Arthur Ryan, who founded the world-famous Penneys/Primark brand once said to me, ‘every rack is on wheels so that we can adapt’. He’d get his old stock of umbrellas to sell out on a rainy day in summer by moving them all to the door.