- By Jenny Cahill-Jones
Summer is on its way. With the sun’s arrival comes much-anticipated relaxation time where shoppers can get out and explore their local stores and restaurants. While getting outdoor seating and hosting a summer blowout sale is always a good idea, there are a few other things you need to check off your list this summer to make sure you catch your customer’s attention in between the pool and the barbecue.
The retail landscape is tougher than ever in 2017. Since last October, stores have been closing across the US at pace unseen since the financial crisis, and in Canada last year, for every restaurant that opened another closed its doors. But it’s not all doom and gloom – savvy business owners know that targeted local advertising is key to getting people through the door and spending money on products and services. At SweetIQ we’re here to help you have your best summer yet.
How to Reach Your Customers This Summer
Polish up your social media presence
Social Media can strike fear into the heart of the local business owner, but it doesn’t have to. You don’t need to be on all channels, just the ones your customers actually use. Actionable analytics data can help you define and prioritize the social channels that your customer age group is using. To best leverage social – make sure your photo game is on point – if you’re posting blurry, badly lit pics to Instagram they won’t have the impact you’re looking for. A great social tactic is to consider new ways to “reward” your customers. Snapchat geofilters are a great way to do this. They work by creating a “geofence” around a certain location (e.g. your store or restaurant), and surprising users with a new, custom designed filter to use once they step inside the fence. For a new product launch or special event it’s a great way to mark the occasion and drive interest on social.
Make Sure Your Online Listings are Up to Date
Extending your opening hours over the summer? Make sure any new, relevant information is updated across all listings and directories, like Google, Yelp and Facebook. The aim here is to create a seamless experience for your customers wherever they are searching for information – be that on social, directory listings or online search. And don’t forget your own website – update your information – take down those out-of-date Holiday menus and replace them with your new summer cocktails, and while you’re at it take the chance to go over any images you have displayed that don’t chime with the season. Harness the Power of Your Data In today’s digital landscape there’s no need to waste time guessing what your customers want, the information you’re seeking is out there for the taking. Mine your data to find out what people are searching in your local area, and tweak your marketing campaigns accordingly. Facebook has a wealth of demographic information on potential customers in your area which will allow to create highly targeted, highly local campaigns. Does your store have a play area for kids? Facebook can help you find new parents in your local area and serve them with relevant content and advertising. Getting check-ins from out-of-towners at your restaurant on Foursquare? Consider offering a special deal or discount for tourists.
…And Keep them Coming Back for More
OK so now you’re driving and increase in foot traffic to your store or restaurant – well done! But that’s only half the battle. The next question is how to keep your customer coming back for more – through summer and beyond.
Communication is Key!
It might seem simple, but make sure any in-store signage (and your staff) know about any new items added to your menu, or special in-store promotions or discounts. All too often a promotion offered online or via social media draws nothing but blank looks from staff when customers ask for details. Extending your happy hour specials for summer? Make sure you thoroughly communicate this message both internally and externally. There’s nothing more frustrating for a customer than expecting a POS discount or a special treat, only to find out it’s no longer valid or the staff have no idea what they talking about. Remember, a little organization goes a long way towards creating a good impression with your customers.
Transform Customers into Advocates
We all know that word of mouth marketing remains a powerful tool, but we don’t always remember to put that into practice in the real world. When it comes to word of mouth, it’s the little things that count. Own a coffee chain? Start offering a discount card for regular customers (and remember their names!), or those who bring their own cups in an effort to be mindful of the environment – they’ll appreciate your support as much as the coffee! Have your own clothing boutique? Take your customers’ email at the cash and send them a promotion via email to celebrate a holiday weekend or major calendar event. Email platforms like MailChimp take the stress out of writing and designing campaigns with simple drag and drop templates, allowing even the least tech-savvy business owner can set up simple campaigns. If you make people feel special every time they interact with your brand, you’re much more likely to turn them into loyal customers.
Making The Summer Count
Every season requires a different approach to marketing: whether it’s Black Friday blowout sales, Mother’s Day offers or Valentine’s promotions. Summer is a great time to capitalize on crowds being out and about, looking for a nearby spot to soak up the sun. If you have your local marketing in order once the sunshine season is in full swing, chances are you’ll make year-round customers.