I’m going to show you some ideas to get new customers to your store.
A few ideas are well known, but I’ll give new tips on these ideas that you probably don’t know.
Other ideas are less well known.
Both are effective and were tested.
I divided the 10 ideas in two groups. 5 for brick and mortar stores. And another 5 to online stores.
So, let’s get started.
Brick and mortar stores
1 – Sidewalk signs
I remember when customers would ask me: “Is this shop new?”
And my answer: “No, we’re here for about one year”
Then, they would say something like this: “I live in the neighborhood and I don’t remember seeing this shop up to today.”
Unfortunately, I could not put a sidewalk sign outside the store because the sidewalk was to narrow.
But if I could, that would be one of the first things I would do to get new customers to my store.
An the truth is, that when I advice my consultant clients to put a sidewalk sign outside their stores, they are amazed by the impact it has.
Most people, passing by, don’t look to the side. They just look ahead. This makes it very difficult to a shop to be seen. In this case, a sidewalk sign can make a small “miracle”.
But there’s one more use of a sidewalk sign that can be very important to get new customers to your store.
Imagine a store that is located in a bad or average street. And by bad or average street, I mean a street with low foot traffic.
But this street is very close to an excellent street, a street with high foot traffic. What if you could put a sidewalk sign, in the “good street”, promoting your store and telling that your store is very close. This could be done by an arrow pointing to your store and telling the distance in meters or in minutes.
It is not always possible to put a sidewalk sign outside the store. It can be physically impossible, or in most cases, local authorities don’t allow.
So, find what local laws say about it.
One more tip. It’s not just the sign. What you put in the sign is also important.
Don’t expect people to go to your store just because they see the sign. You have to convince them that your store deserves a visit.
Use your sidewalk sign as a way to promote your store, not just as a directory. You have to find a catchy message.
2 – Flyers and brochures
If you haven’t searched for flyer prices lately, you’ll be amazed by the prices.
If you think they are expensive, please take a minute and search for online printers making flyers.
Prices are very low. They have been lowering in these last years. So, the price cannot be the excuse for not using flyers or brochures.
Flyers and brochures can do the same work as a sidewalk sign. They can go to where new customers are.
And a well made flyer will make people read and become interested.
The biggest problem with flyers is that, nowadays, a lot of cities don’t allow to distribute them on the street. The reason, of course, is cleaning and environmental issues.
But, even if it is not allowed in your city, you can still put flyers in mail boxes. Or distribute them in local businesses.
So, there’s always plenty of alternatives to use flyers as a marketing tool to get new customers to your store.
Another problem could be the the difficulty to design the flyer. But, it is not a real problem. You can find online a lot of designers that will make all the graphic work for you. And it’s not expensive. If you go to sites like Fiverr, you’ll see a lot of inexpensive designers.
Take a look. Designers usually show a sample of their work, so you can evaluate yourself.
Just one more tip.
The design is important, but the message, or messages, are important, too. Don’t complicate. Use one or two messages on your flyers. Don’t try to say everything. People can easily pay attention to one or two messages. Not three or more.
If you don’t know what to put in your flyers, see what others are doing. Start collecting flyers and pay attention to those flyers that don’t change. If the retailer keeps using the same flyer, it probably means it works well for him.
3 – Partnership with other local businesses
This is another good way to get new customers to your store.
Think of this. You probably have access to customers that other businesses would be happy to have.
The opposite is also true. Other businesses have access to customers that you would be happy if you could talk to them.
Creating a partnership with other retailers can be a win-win deal.
The possibilities are huge. The only limit is your, and your partner, imagination.
Try to make this mental exercise. Think of a local business in your town. Maybe a bakery. How could you partner with a bakery to promote your fashion business?
Maybe they could give a coupon to their customers. A coupon that would give customers a discount in your store.
Of course, you would make the same thing in your store. You would distribute coupons with discounts to use in that bakery.
Or you could lend some clothes, or mannequins wearing your clothes. Then those businesses would use them in their shop window.
It doesn’t make sense to try to partner with your competitors. But you could partner with other fashion stores.
Let’s imagine you sell clothes to kids. Why not partner with a shoes store? Or a clothing boutique for women?
As I said, the possibilities are huge.
4 – Online advertising
As a rule, it’s easier to get new customers using the same channel your business is in.
This means, if you have a physical store, it’s easy to use physical tools to promote your store.
Think of this. You give a flyer to a person passing by. It’s easy, for this person, to enter your store. But if you promote your store online, it’s quite unlikely that the person seeing your ad will leave everything she’s doing, and go to your store.
It is easier, but it doesn’t mean it’s impossible. On the contrary.
It’s not difficult to use online ads to promote your brick and mortar store, and get new customers. And this is easy because, depending on the media you chose, you can choose the town where you want to promote. And you can choose to promote only to non followers.
Lets be more specific.
The two most used online ad services are Google, and Facebook.
Google or Bing work the same way. You can select the city where the online ads will appear. Google and Bing “know” where the devices (computers, tablets, or smartphones) are located at that time.
So when the ad starts it will only be seen by people who are, at that moment, in the town or towns you chose.
Now let’s look at Facebook.
On facebook ads, you can target the towns where people live. And you can do a bit more. You can choose not to target your followers. Because, probably, the followers are already customers.
And to advertise on Facebook, you don’t need to create a website, you just need a Facebook page. And Facebook pages are free.
Both, Google and Facebook, are good choices. But there are others: twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, etc.
5 – Events
Every year, hundreds or thousands of events happen in every town. Even in small towns.
What kind of events?
It can be a reunion, a club, a local market, a trade show, and so on.
Let’s take a look at clubs. Every medium to big town has a sport club, a motorbike club, or an history club, just to say a few ones.
So, think: How could I profit from these events and promote my store to get new customers?
The options are huge. You could simply advertise on that events, paying to put a sign. Or you could give clothes to the people on those events. Another option, is to make a presentation of your products. Maybe a min fashion show.
Events are good choices because you get new customers, but you also improve your local image. And that can be very important to existing customers.
1 – Affiliate programs
If you don’t know what affiliate programs are, you should learn about it. It could be your best source to get new customers to your online store.
I’m going to make a short description of affiliate programs.
An affiliate is someone, that don’t belongs to your company, who promotes your store or products to other people. And in exchange you pay a commission to that person.
Although, the way an affiliate promotes your store can vary, it usually happens this way.
The affiliate has a website or social media page. In his site, he promotes your store or products. He tells people that your store is great, he may show and use some of your products and then he gives a link to your website.
When people click on that link and buy something from you, you pay the affiliate a commission based on the value of that sale.
The technology behind an affiliate program can be complex and expensive. But there are companies that offer these services. Just make a search and see the costs and software you’ll need.
2 – Social media ads
Imagine you’re going to visit a family member in a distant town.
You are planning your car trip, and you have two choices. You can use national and local roads, or you can use the highway. The problem is, the highway has a toll. It will cost you more, but it’s faster and safer.
Paying for ads on social medias (or any online ads) is like the car trip. You can get new customers faster.
Social medias ads are a shortcut. If you have budget, use it. You’ll be amazed how fast it can make you get new customers to your store.
The problem, of course, is the investment.
There are two things that can make social media ads a good investment or a bad one.
That’s right. If you don’t have a solid project, that is, you don’t have a product that people want to buy, no marketing budget will help you.
The quality of your ad campaign
And by quality I mean three things:
- The social media you choose. It has to be a good fit for your customer target
- The target on your campaign. Most social media will let you choose a target audience, like for example, age and genre.
- The images, design and copy write. Social media is very visual. The image and design must appeal. But you also should say the right thing.
Try, test, try, test.
Social media ads is not for lazy people.
Probably your fist ad won’t be a good one, so you’ll have to try new things. New audiences, new pictures, new words.
Keep trying and keep testing. Believe me. If your project is solid, you’ll find a profitable way to get new customers using social media ads.
3 – Partnership with other businesses.
In the internet business world, it’s easy to partner with other businesses.
In blogs, it is very common to find links to other blogs or sites, as you may have noticed. But what you probably don’t know is that most of these links are cross links.
In the blogging world it works like this. I put a link to your website in an article. You put a link to my site on an article of your blog.
That’s a simple partnership. No costs and it takes a few seconds to implement.
I’ve been using this same technique with e-stores and it attracts a few new customers. And remember, this has no costs and the more partnerships you make, the more customers you’ll get.
But there is another alternative to a partnership with other businesses.
You can lend or give products to other businesses, so that they can use on their photos.
Let’s be more specific.
Imagine you sell kid clothes. You can partner with a women clothing e-store and make a photo of a kid and his mother. The kid would be wearing your products. The mother would be wearing your partner’s products.
You could use the picture in a banner or a post on Facebook. And also you would provide a link to your partner’s website. He would do the same for your website.
4 – Public relations
There is a difference between advertising and public relations.
In advertising, it’s you promoting and talking about your company. In public relations it’s other people talking about your company.
And that’s why public relations are so powerful.
If you’re telling your products are great, people will have doubts. But if someone else says the same thing, people will tend to believe. Specially, if that person is a trusted one.
The best way to use public relations to get new customers to your store, is to ask blogs, magazines or newspapers, to talk about your store or products.
Does it look like a hard thing to get?
Well, it is not. It’s easier than you think.
First, there are thousands of blogs, magazines and newspapers out there.
Second, it is very difficult for them to find stories and news.
Bloggers, usually work alone and as a part-time or hobby. They don’t have time to search for news and stories.
Magazines and Newspapers are cutting on their staff. Reporters don’t have the time to go and search for stories. And they have to keep adding stories and news to their web content.
Three tips to be successful with public relations.
- You have to write the stories or news yourself. As I explained, bloggers and reporters don’t have the time.
- Your story or news should be compelling. That’s why you have to write like a reporter, not like an advertiser.
- The more contacts you make, more chances of having some material published. This is a never ending task.
5 – Off-line ads
As I said before, it’s easy to use the same channel to promote a store.
But promoting an online store with off-line ads is one of the most unknown secrets.
Why can’t you make a bunch of flyers and distribute them on any town? And why can’t you use a billboard ad to promote your online store? Or maybe run an ad on a local newspaper?
Of course you can do it. And you should do it.
Just never forget to put a link to your website. If people are interested in what you sell, they won’t bother to type your website, instead of a click.
Besides, almost everyone carries a smartphone.