Tools To Market Your Store
By Melissa Breau
July 14, 2010

While a retailer needs to keep existing customers in order to stay in the black, the best way to grow your business is to gain new ones. This means engaging in marketing activities that will help potential customers learn about your store.

One way to create buzz around your store is to host an event. Perhaps one of the first companies to leverage events as a way to turn a profit was Tupperware. Tupperware parties allowed women to get together to shop, snack and chat. Today, many retailers are applying this same idea to their retail stores.

An event can be a powerful marketing tool. They create word-of-mouth about your store as customers invite friends to attend with them. They can help build a sense of community around the store as attendees’ meet each other.  And having an in-store event gives customers a chance to do something fun with their pups.

For a relatively small investment – one retailer I talked to said her Yappy hours cost her about $60 an event – retailers can see a big return. Merchandise is sold at these events, but more importantly, they help a store earn customers’ good will. By providing an opportunity for employees and customers to mingle in a non-sales atmosphere, it helps foster trust.

Another low-cost way to gain some attention is to garner media attention. There are a number of articles available online that will show you how to craft a press release. Create a list of local news organizations and send them a press release before you host an event, or whenever something newsworthy happens at the store. Are you holding a fundraiser for the local animal shelter? Do you hold weekly dog walks where customers walk their dogs together? Write up a release and send it out to those local media teams. They may send someone out to cover the event, or ask you to send them pictures and information about how things went after the event.

As the local community expert on the pets, you can also periodically check in with these media contacts and volunteer to provide information if a reporter is working on any pet-related stories. You may also be able to gain some media attention by joining HARO. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. The website (www.helpareporter.com) sends out a daily email with a list of articles that reporters are working on, that they need sources for. If you see a pet-related topic, you can email that reporter directly and volunteer to provide them with information. This positions you as an expert within the industry, while also getting your store some publicity, when the writer lists you as the owner of XYZ Pet Store.

Marketing is an important part of any successful store. By integrating the above suggestions into your marketing mix, you can help grow your store by expanding your customer base.