Christian Retailing

Store Traffic Builders: Marketing experts give their best retail advice PDF Print E-mail
Written by Kirk David Blank   
Wednesday, 07 October 2015 08:49 AM EDT

But be sure to consider what’s different about Christian retail

KirkBlank-NewSelling Scripture-based and inspirational products is certainly a niche business. Our industry and every store in it is unique. But as with all retailers, there’s a constant need to evaluate what we are doing to drive traffic into our stores. Along with driving traffic, we need to thoughtfully plan our methods and strategies for increasing sales.

I’ve reviewed three responses from marketing and branding leaders in general market retail, as found on shopify.com. Their responses may spark some ideas as to how you look at your business. The question posed to these leaders was simple: “What’s the No. 1 thing retailers can do to better market their brick-and-mortar store?”

1. Consider why people should come to your store.

“The No. 1 thing retailers can do to better market their brick-and-mortar stores is to give people a reason to go to their store,” said Bryan Eisenberg, author, founder and chief marketing officer of IdealSpot. “I have seen shops that hold exclusive events, (offer items that are limited and only available in stores) and use online coupons to use in-store only to promote their stores.”

Digital marketing has added an interesting dynamic to advertising, but despite the bells and whistles that email and social media provide for brands, direct mail remains the most effective medium available. According to research from the Direct Marketing Association, although physical mail advertisements may take more time and care to craft than ads in digital media, physical mail continues to deliver results significantly beyond its high-tech counterparts, bizcommunity.com reported.

Catalogs from Christian retail marketing groups can help retailers find reasons to shop at your store. Throughout the year, the Munce Group offers 16 direct-mail opportunities, all of which can be customized. Catalogs show the best of what your store has to offer—what’s new and what’s hot—for the season. Never underestimate the power of connecting with your customers through a catalog mailed directly to their homes with top products, competitive prices and strong promotions.

Our promotions also offer content marketing that connects the felt need of the customer with the products. This approach builds shopper loyalty as your store provides something customers value.

2. Focus on the customer experience rather than the products only.

“Assume that no one really needs what you sell, because they probably don’t,” said Doug Stephens, founder of Retail Prophet and author of The Retail Revival. “There’s very little you can sell that can’t be gotten elsewhere. Focus instead on how you sell what you sell. Completely differentiate your customer experience and make sure it’s remarkable. Products come and go, but there will always be a market for truly remarkable experiences.”

Because of the uniqueness of the products we are able to sell in Christian retail, not to mention the fact that many of them are Scripture-driven, I disagree with Stephens’ opening comment. In fact, I feel strongly that what we sell is what people need. However, it’s no secret that competition is a difficult reality. In today’s economy, customers are doing their research to find the best prices and most convenient terms.

What are you known for in your area?  Ask your customers what they think of your store. Post a few questions like these on your store’s Facebook page: “What do you like best about the shopping experience at our store?  What need do you have that our store could best meet? When you think of our store, what is the first thing that comes to mind?” These types of questions will help you understand what customers believe are your store’s strengths. If nothing is suggested, huddle with your staff and determine what you want to be known for and develop an action plan to that end.

3. Relay a sense of urgency to buy.

“Holiday shopping engenders a feeling of urgency,” said Melissa Gonzalez, founder of The Lion’esque Group and author of The Pop-Up Paradigm. “Customers have a limited time to get their lists from loved ones and check them off. It’s a unique time to entice them with items that are uniquely packaged for this special time of year. ... Be sure customers feel that they are limited by time and inventory, so they are motivated to take action.”

While the availability of exclusive products is limited in the Christian retail market, your ability to communicate your store’s promotion as an exclusive offer, sale price or time is constrained only by your choices. When customers feel this urgency to act, it is more likely that they will choose to buy immediately, meaning you could gain the sale.


Kirk David Blank is president of Largo, Florida-based Munce Group, an association of 400 independent Christian retail stores, and publisher of More to Life (mtlmagazine.com). The article referred to originally appeared at shopify.com /blog/16185976-10-retail-experts-share-their-1 -tip-for-marketing-and-growing-your-store.

 

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