The name of your game is “traffic.” The more people that come through your doors means more dollars in your cash register at the end of the day.
So, how do you get the public’s attention? How do you let them know that, in the ways that count, you really are different and better than the competition?
The secret is “brand building.” A customized collection of actions and ideas that let your customers know you should be their first choice.
Brand building, also called “platform building,” helps you create a large, growing group of loyal fans who want what you have to sell; tell their friends about you; and who can even become active contributors in helping you see how to best grow and publicize your business.
Smart brand building for retail stores includes highly effective but rarely implemented strategies like these:
- Design and manage the customer experience from the first glance in the window to the moment someone leaves their money in your cash register.
- Create regional customer affinity with engagement strategies that include interactivity, contests, free local media, civic involvement. Customize these to your store, your product and your local area.
- Consistently communicate with your customers and prospects.
Any business focused on earning trust and becoming the leader in its geographic region is dependent on quickly building (or restoring) a reputation for quality, value and connection.
Here's a good example from my town: A young chef took over his father’s restaurant when his dad retired. The place had been serving the locals the same reliable fare for nearly 30 years. The place was never more than 25 percent full. Most guests were gray-haired and came in with walkers, canes and wheelchairs. This consistent, loyal, dedicated customer base really enjoyed the “senior special” of meatloaf and mashed potatoes with a vanilla swirl for dessert.
When he took over, the son closed shop for a few months and spent a fortune on redecorating the interior. Fancying himself a chef, he made a new menu with unusual combinations of foods not found on any other menu in the world. He tripled his father’s prices and did away with the meatloaf senior special.
On opening day, there was a line. Two weeks later, there wasn’t much of a wait. A month in, he had the occasional customer. Three things had happened to slow down of his success:
- His food was too greasy, too salty, too weird and too slow. He may be a restaurateur, but he was not a chef.
- His tripled prices put him out of range for his father’s loyal customers. These folks complained loudly. Some of them on social media.
- He had borrowed more money than his income could cover. He was perilously close to losing everything.
The son called in a restaurant consultant, with whom I had several fascinating conversations. He told the son to hire the best chef he could find and let the chef determine the menu. He told him to lower his prices, by about 20 percent, for a year and then he’d be at liberty to raise them again.
Unlike most people, and to my surprise, the son followed the directions exactly. Now, even though his prices steadily rise, he usually has a line outside the door.
Of course, every business owner says, “I’m not like that!” and “I always take good advice!” But the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, in the cash register. If sales are increasing, it is a sign you are doing something right. If they are not, it may mean there’s room for improvement.
Building your brand is all about getting inside your customers’ heads and ensuring that your business meets and even exceeds their expectations. If you are looking for great ways to build your brand and attract more to your store, check out this free Online Round Table “Brand Building for Business”.