The purpose of your marketing strategy and all the time, sweat and money you put into it – is ultimately to get new customers so you can increase sales.
You want to reach more people, and you want to convert more people from lookers into buyers.
But contrary to what many retailers believe, the answer is not to throw more money at your advertising budget.
And it’s not to cast the biggest and widest net by showing up on all the social media platforms.
In fact, these are the biggest marketing mistakes you could make.
When I opened my first store, I thought EVERYONE was my customer. Why? I had a kids boutique, and EVERYONE either has a child or knows a child, right? Therefore EVERYONE was my customer!
So in an effort to reach as many people as possible – I would advertise as broadly as my budget and time would allow.
I crafted my messaging to appeal to as many different people as possible.
I advertised anywhere and everywhere.
I wasted so much money, time and effort casting this big, wide net – that I almost lost my store!
Because here’s the thing…
You don’t need ALL the people to shop your store.
You need more of the RIGHT people.
The RIGHT people LOVE the products you sell. They identify and relate to YOUR unique messaging, core values and mission statement.
You’re never going to appeal to everyone (even if they do fit your general demographic).
But you ARE going to appeal to the RIGHT people – your IDEAL customers. And THAT’S who your marketing must communicate to.
To figure out who this ideal customer is, you first have to figure out what exactly it is that makes you stand apart from your competition? What makes you unique?
If you answered “better customer service” I’m going to look you deep into your eyes and gently suggest you dig a little deeper.
Most small business owners will say that their customer service is waaay better than anyone else’s.
That may very well be true for you – and there is no doubt that excellent customer service matters for customer retention. Especially now when your customers have so many more options.
But it’s not what’s drawing the RIGHT customer to you.
What IS drawing them to you, is whatever makes you unique. It’s what makes you YOU
If you’ve been casting your net far and wide, you’re not alone, and you’re not doomed. Turning your marketing success around comes down to just two steps:
1. Clarifying who YOU are
2. Clarifying who your IDEAL CUSTOMER is
Clarify Who You Are
This is not as easy as it sounds, I know. So let me share an analogy that might help you:
I love the vibrant beautiful colors of fall. It always fascinates me how you can see a row of the same type of trees, yet they all will display different colors of leaves.
It might not seem like it from a distance, but as you walk up to them and stand under them and look into the leaves, you see that the variety of colors is actually great.
I have learned that the same is true for stores. At a distance, all stores selling women’s clothing seem to be just that – stores that sell clothes for women. Toy stores all look like stores that sell toys.
But that just means we’re looking at it from too far away.
Make no mistake about this – You are different from other stores that sell the same type of inventory and carry the same vendors. To clarify who YOU are, ask yourself:
- What do you love about your store?
- What are you passionate about?
- What values permeate your business?
- What criteria do you use when deciding which products to include in your store?
- What feeling does the design (colours/merchandising/lighting/music) of your store inspire?
Clarify Who Your Ideal Customer Is
When you aim to reach everyone – You end up targeting no one.
This is why you have to be completely clear on who your ideal customer is. Start with your general demographics, but then go way beyond them. Ask yourself:
- Where do they prefer to shop (what type of energy appeals to them)?
- How do they prefer to shop?
- What matters to them (Price? Quality? Eco-friendly? Trends?)
- Which social media platforms do they use regularly?
- Which 5 words do they love to use? Which 5 words would they never use?
Let’s take two toy stores for example – Both sell toys from the same vendors. But upon closer inspection, we can start to identify clear differences:
One sells cloth diapers, Japanese alphabet blocks and books about peaceful parenting. That toy store’s values are centered around raising up the whole child. Their language is inclusive, respectful and calm.
The other store stocks significantly more games and puzzles and focuses on game nights. Their values are centered around creating events that make memories. Their language is fun, engaging and entertaining.
These two differing intentions are articulated in their own way – with the products offered, the look and feel of the store and/or website and the content shared with customers, to name just a few of the components that make up your store experience.
While both stores cater to a general demographic (parents), their IDEAL customer will be found in different places. And they will respond to different messaging, different images, different products and different content.
Here’s another example: One women’s clothing store is about the newest and hottest trends, while another women’s clothing store takes those trends and edits them for their more conservative customer.
The way these two stores buy their inventory, design their stores and websites, and communicate on social media are very different.
One kid’s clothing store embodies European fashion. Another is a neighborhood store.
The two stores may overlap in some brands or products, but when you look at the overall strategy behind their inventory they’re going to be quite different.
The neighborhood store will share local happenings and participate in local events, facilitate supporting groups and events – something that wouldn’t be a focus in the European store. Their ideal customer has different interests and while they are shopping that store, they want to be surrounded by, and inspired by, all things European. They don’t want to know about a local fundraiser event, or sit in on a baby & toddler play group.
Are you getting a sense of how your store has a unique personality that will appeal to like minded customers?
Your Marketing Strategy
Once you have clarified who YOU are and who your IDEAL customer is – You need to make sure that EVERY experience they have with your store, stays true to your message.
Your message is not a snappy slogan. Think about it in these terms:
It IS about the OUTCOME when customers shop with you
It IS about the FEELING that they get when interacting with you
It IS about the EXPERIENCE they have with your store
It IS about WHY people are really buying from you
This is what will make your marketing strategy so powerful!
- NOW you’ll know where to spend your marketing budget (where your ideal customers are hanging out), and where to pull your marketing budget from (anywhere your ideal customers are NOT hanging out)
- You’ll know what kind of language to use in your emails, social media messaging, product captions, text message marketing, in-store signage, blog posts, autoresponders – in other words anywhere you are communicating with your customers. The words you use will either attract or repel your ideal customer, so be intentional with always staying within your brand voice
- AND you’ll know how to best design and merchandise your store or website, because you know what will speak to and attract your ideal customer
Your Next Steps
I challenge you to work through these two steps right now, and let me know in the comments below once you’ve clarified who you are, and who your ideal customer is!