The Thoroughly Modern Marketing angels are on their first case. After reviewing several difficult questions, the girls decided to give this desperate business owner in NW Portland some timely advice. Suffering from the downturn in the US economy, this Portland resident had this to ask of the marketing angels:
I have owned a small designer clothing shop in NW for years now and until recently have done extremely well. Sales have dropped off lately and I am getting worried. Thus far, I haven’t needed to do any extra marketing as my location always ensured me a ton of foot traffic. The current economy has people worried at home instead of spending money. I have a very small monthly budget of about $1000.00 to kick off some serious marketing initiatives. Where should I start?
I will assume for the purposes of my answer that you are currently doing no marketing nor making any efforts at client retention. As you likely already know, it’s much more difficult to hook a new customer than it is to retain existing customers. I would begin by creating a strategy to ensure existing customers return to your store. If they have already bought from you then they are a great target for marketing initiatives. One of the most cost-effective ways to do this is by implementing a smart email campaign. This would involve collecting all the email addresses of your clients. You can ask them to provide emails at check-out and make it a desired action or conversion on your website. By crafting an email campaign that relies on customer buying patterns, efforts can then be made to ensure your emails contain the most relevant offer for each customer. There are a host of great email platforms out there that can provide the tools needed to start building a comprehensive and segmented email list. The second thing I would work on is making it as easy as possible for your customers to buy your clothes. If you don’t sell on-line, I would seriously consider creating a web-based store. If you sell a distinct product, one that isn’t easily found at other clothing stores, you might expand your customer base by selling your items on-line. All of this may sound a bit beyond your budget, but chances are – if you were willing to invest a few months worth of your budget up front – you could have a great shopping site implemented, along with the capability of sending out email campaigns.
Sabrina has a few good ideas but they are a bit stale and definitely not very fun! If you wanted to try something a bit more exciting, I would suggest working on creating publicity by employing a new and creative social media campaign. The first step is to determine what your current customers and target customers talk about – what interests them and keeps them engaged. Perhaps your clothing store appeals to young, well-educated women who are in creative or design-related fields. You could take part of your marketing budget and offer a prize for the best new design. Have customers submit their own designs and display them in your store window and on-line, creating a community of novice designers. Perhaps the winning design could be produced and sold in your store? Such a contest could be promoted via many social marketing channels such as Twitter and Facebook and may even get the attention of the local press.
I can see value in each approach taken by my fellow angels. The ideal situation would be to make your product easier to purchase, i.e. an on-line store, AND promote the product’s value via social media. It sounds like the most pressing goal is to get customers in your store – not an easy task given the current situation. I think targeting customers that are most likely to respond to a promotion via an email campaign would be very cost effective. If you don’t have a database of emails immediately on hand, putting one together could be a timely and counter-productive process. If this is the case, then I would suggest using print and social media as a way of getting the word out. Everyone is looking for a bargain these days and running a carefully crafted print ad in a local publication or shopping directory might get shoppers to stop by your store. If your customers are young and technically savvy, then running a special promotion just for them on Twitter or on your website might do the trick. You’ll notice that I am using the words “might work” – most everything in marketing requires testing, tracking and retesting. It is essential that you track your campaign results and spend your money on the tactics that work.
Category: Ask TMM