You need consistent business for your retail store to survive — period!
But without proven-to-work retail promotion ideas you can use to spread the word about your shop and attract enough patrons…
You’ll be frantically staring at the front door, wondering where in the world your customers are! (Hint: they’re at the mall, or on Amazon.)
So here are 19 retail advertising ideas you can use to promote your store and drive in enough regular business.
1. Sharpen your image and stand out from the competition
Now let’s be honest:
There is NO shortage of places to shop.
So before you spend 1 dime on any retail marketing strategy, come up with the #1 reason WHY your prospects should even choose YOU vs. your endless competition.
Also called a Unique Selling Proposition (USP), you simply need a definitive statement which outlines:
- Who you are (Who are the people behind your brand?)
- What specific style of product (or clothes) you offer
- How you’re different from the competition
- Maybe you offer custom tailor services?
- Or maybe all your clothes are organic cotton?
- Essentially — how you do retail BETTER
- And why you’re even in business
It’s not too complicated…
And once you have your USP down pat?
You’re going to put it on ALL the rest of your retail store marketing.
Your USP will go on:
- Your website
- Your retail postcards
- Business cards/flyers
- Social media pages, posts, and ads
- Your online listing pages (i.e. Yelp!)
- And virtually any retail advertising you do.
That way it’s crystal clear WHY a prospect should choose YOUR shop vs. your competitors.
So get your USP in the bag, and you’re ready for this next one…
2. Tailor your business’s image to look uber professional
Here’s what I mean:
You need a classy, non-dated logo professionally designed for your business.
Your branding instantly communicates if you’re a shop worth visiting or not.
And your logo is one of the first retail marketing aspects your prospects see!
Remember this too:
Your logo highlights your shop’s NAME, which is likely what prospects will use to google you (especially on Google Maps).
With a professionally-designed logo, you can feel confident putting it on multiple retail marketing materials to easily (and inexpensively) boost your branding and professional appeal.
Now depending on your store’s type, some of these materials may not be appropriate, but just check out these crazy low prices!
- Refrigerator magnet- literally pennies!
- Pens- as low as 22 cents
- Eco-friendly shopping totes- less than a dollar each
- Branded shirts for your staff- SO many affordable options
- Logo design-$995
Those prices are definitely worth it to achieve consistent retail store marketing!
3. Invest in professional photography
Don’t get your nephew who happens to own a camera to shoot pictures of your products…
It’s worth hiring a professional photographer to take high-resolution, well-lit photos of your products (and store) so that your business (and inventory) look utterly irresistible.
That watch! I don’t know many people who wouldn’t drool over that picture!
We’ve all seen bad product photography, and frankly, nothing looks more pathetic.
So remember this :
The amount you spend on a professional photoshoot will come back to you in clover, because you can use these photos across ALL of your retail advertising — for months (maybe even years!) to come!
Here are 4 places you can find local photographers for your retail advertising:
4. Up your window display game
If your store is located any place where people stroll by, for goodness sake—
Doll up your window display to look AMAZING!
Stores in downtown locations (like Chicago and New York) know this promotional trick well, so why shouldn’t you use it, too?
I recommend changing your window display to match the following:
- The seasons
- Any blow-out sales you’re having (Hello… Black Friday)
- Local events (maybe reflect a winning sports team!)
- Local traditions (aka, celebrate the annual Harvest Festival)
With just a little bit of creativity, you can turn your storefront into something worth looking at…
And obviously— featuring your products in the window display turns this tactic into an effective retail marketing tool!
5. Host (and promote) a store-wide sale to sell 200% more
The key is promoting a store-wide sale heavily and consistently in advance of your event.
Take Verlo Mattress Factory for example:
The owners wanted to host a 10-sale at the end of December to increase their year-end revenue, so they mailed retail postcards 2 times to not one but two targeted mailing lists.
Here’s their postcard design:
And their results??
Hear it straight from Verlo’s owner himself:
“This postcard campaign generated 25% of ALL sales for our 10-day sale, resulting in $13,000 in profit out of the $56,000 total sales we made. We took in 200% more in sales than this time last year!” -Rod Smith, Verlo Mattress
That’s the power of using retail direct mail to promote your store-wide sale.
But don’t run your retail direct mail campaign without this vital component…
6. Use this ninja trick to attract shopaholic prospects by the dozens
Your retail advertising should include a steal-worthy, money-saving special offer to give prospects a reason to come in.
A special offer can be any one of these:
- A FREE cloth tote bag with purchases over $50
- Buy 1 purse, get 1 FREE (BOGO)
- 10% (or 15% or 20%!) off entire purchase (WOW!)
- $20 birthday gift certificate
You want your prospects to see your special offer and think:
That’s a DEAL. Definitely stopping in there!
Which is why you want to put your special offer on ALL of your retail marketing materials.
Check out the 3 special offers on this appliance/lighting business’s postcard we designed:
See how the usage of 3 special offers gives prospects more than one way to save money? Love that (and so will they)!
If you’re worried that discounting your goods and services will hurt your revenue, I want you to think again:
The idea behind special offers is you need to drive in LOTS of people to your business.
Once you service and WOW your prospects, you’ll have more people to upsell and turn into loyal customers who’ll buy again and again (and even refer their friends and family to you)!
7. Update your online listings to reach 93% of online prospects
As many as 93% of all online experiences begin with a search engine, according to SearchEngine Journal. That’s almost ALL of them.
But this isn’t really surprising, right? How many times do YOU google for things you need each week?
If you’re like me, you probably lose count!
Similarly, most people will search for a store they need, like this:
“Best mattress store in [your town].”
And probably the first thing they’ll see, after searching, is Google Maps results with the top 3 or 4 retailers (with reviews) that fit your search terms.
Notice how many reviews each of those mattress stores have — quite a few! (I talk more about reviews later.)
After Google Maps, you’ll likely see a couple search-and-review websites like these:
- Prime Buyers Report
- Angies List
- Yellow Pages
So make sure you’re listed on those sites, too — and that your business profile is,
- And filled with photos of your store, staff, and products!
Getting your business seen immediately by people searching online — specifically on the #1 most-used search engine — really starts with Google…
8. Nail your Google listing to generate FREE leads from Google
Register for a FREE Google My Business account. It’s how you’ll update the Google listing for your business, meaning…
Chances are your store already exists in Google’s business directory, so if you don’t have a Google My Business account yet, you’ll probably just “claim” that you’re the owner of the business.
Back to your Google listing…
Your Google listing comes from your Google My Business account.
Here’s why you need a Google listing:
When someone googles for a shop like yours — or for yours directly — they’re going to see the Google Maps area first.
Check out this stat:
86% of people use Google Maps to find the location of a business — especially local ones!
So there’s a good chance that prospects will just use Google Maps to search for a local retailer like you, and they won’t even bother to scroll down Google’s search page.
When someone uses Google Maps, they’ll see stores plotted all over the map. I’m sure you’ve seen this. And when prospects click on any of the red pin icons — meaning yours — your Google listing will pop up.
Your Google listing shows everything googlers want to know instantly about your business — as long as it’s filled in, that is!
Including… your reviews, which are SO important (I talk about them soon, so keep reading!).
You need to make sure you have allllll this data entered correctly in your Google My Business account so that your Google listing is helpful for people searching for you, and so that Google is more likely to pull up your store’s listing in its daily searches.
- Your business’s actual name
- Address (Google will verify it by sending you a postcard)
- Phone number
- Hours of operation (if these change ever, update it!!)
- Category of your business
Inaccurate information about your business may actually prevent Google from pulling up your business in searches.
Meaning, your store may end up showing up LESS in Google searches —
Which is NOT what we want considering Google is the #1-used search engine in the U.S!
You need to make sure you confirm you correct address AND get Google to verify it (via the postcard they sent out.) Without verification, your business’s Google listing may not show up much at all.
Plus, let’s be honest:
Nothing is more annoying for prospects to look you up on Google, drive to your business ready to see what you offer, and then find out that you’re CLOSED when your information on Google said you were open.
So now that you know you need to have your Google My Business account set up and all your data inputted…
You now may be asking yourself this:
How can I get my business to show up FIRST in Google Maps?
Remember this example?
How do you get your business up HERE?
I have a few tips and tricks for your retail marketing strategy, and they’re up next in #9:
9. Be the #1 store your prospects find where 86% search
Obviously, I’m talking about Google Maps!!
And besides what I already mentioned in #7 about prospects searching for local businesses (i.e., YOU) on Google Maps, check out these stats:
- 95% of smartphone users have used their phone to look up local information
- After doing so, 61% called the business they found, and…
- 59% then visited the business’s physical location
- And — 40% of all searches on mobile devices are locally driven
People depend on their mobile devices to find local businesses.
If you just look around…
It’s obvious that people spend a LOT of times on their smartphones.
So what am I driving at??
Getting your business to show up on Google Maps (via your Google My Business account from #8!) is an effective way to reach prospects who are searching for stores on their mobile phones!
I mean think about it:
Where is the first place you go when you’re looking for a store that you need something from?
Probably one of these 5 places:
- Google Maps
- Maybe you ask friends/family on Facebook for a recommendation
Since Google Maps results show up FIRST whenever people search for “best furniture store in [your city name]” you need proven retail marketing ideas that put you there.
So here are 4 tips for getting your business on Google Maps:
- Fill out your Google My Business account (and keep it updated) — #8!
- Get LOTS of 5-star Google reviews, using a review-generation strategy (#10)
- Name the photo files (that you upload to your Google My Business account, #8) to include your business name and location (city, state)
- Get your business registered on every online listing possible (#7), ensuring your name, address, and phone number matches exactly what’s in your Google My Business account
You can now run paid ads that show up on Google Maps, like this example here:
See the 2 little green “Ad” icons within the red and lime green boxes?
Those “Ad” icons indicate those are PAID ads showing up in Google Maps results.
I talk a little bit about paid ads later in #9, but probably the MOST important element of getting your business found in Google Maps is reviews, reviews, reviews…
10. Use Google reviews as 90% trust and act on them
When your prospects see positive reviews, they’re 90% more likely to trust and potentially buy from you.
People are more likely to click on a business when its Google reviews are positive, meaning those golden star ratings you see.
But even more important…
Your number of positive (4- and 5-star) reviews largely dictate your business showing up in Google’s top 3 Google Maps results, here:
You want to gather LOTS of 4- and 5-star reviews of your business online for the most effective retail store marketing!
Which means this:
You need a legit review-generation strategy.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Have your staff tell customers they’d appreciate a review
- Post signs around your business (at check-out, in the bathroom, around your shop on the walls, etc.)
- Create a way to capture email addresses for customers so you can email them…
- Such as, ask them for their email as they’re paying you!
- Add a review link in your email signature
- Send gentle email reminders that you’d appreciate a review!
Make sure to download this report to share with your staff:
It’s worth saying again:
You need to train your staff to ASK for reviews.
Unfortunately, people are quick to review a business when they have a bad experience, so you need to be proactive and:
- Make extra sure your staff stop bad reviews from happening by fixing problems BEFORE customers stomp out your front door (to then rant online)
- Have staff ASK happy customers to review you online!!
Happy customers aren’t quick to review you online — you MUST remind them.
And one way to do this — especially if you have your customers’ email addresses on hand — is by using a review-generation platform such as Podium.
We’ve personally used Podium to boost our reviews and LOVE it.
Here’s what happened to our Google reviews after implementing Podium…
We started using Podium on August 11, 2017. Before August 11th, we had 164 reviews total — 131 of which 5 stars.
Since then, and thanks to Podium, we’ve generated 232 total reviews…
195 of which are 5-star reviews — a 489% increase from before we started using Podium!
Also, this is important:
Take the time to RESPOND to negative reviews.
ANY bad review online, left ignored, can turn into an absolute reputation killer.
Here’s how to handle that:
When you spot a negative review online, make sure to quickly comment on it and respond with a sincere apology. Offer to remedy whatever occurred that was dissatisfactory with their service.
The LAST thing you need is a disgruntled former customer bad-mouthing your business.
So handle the review well, and they could turn into a happy customer!
Even if the customer can’t be satisfied no matter what you offer or do, your response online will at least show prospects that you care enough to communicate and try to help.
And one last note:
Respond to happy reviews, too! Thank satisfied customers who take their precious time to review you online — it’ll mean a lot to them to be acknowledged for their kind gesture, and your grateful response will encourage them to come back in for more!
11. Show up 1st on Google using pay-per-click (PPC) ads
What’s great about Google PPC as a retail marketing strategy is twofold:
- You ONLY pay when someone clicks on your ad
- And these ads show up FIRST (so your prospects see them!)
Your business’s listing in Google My Business (again, #6 — see how important that is!) is the springboard for what shows up in Google Maps.
And now you can add what’s called “location extensions” to your Google pay-per-click ads (run and managed from Google Adwords). These “location extensions” connect your pay-per-click ads to location-driven searches, such as what happens in Google Maps.
People who search in Google Maps for businesses like YOURS are MUCH more likely to see your store — via your ad — first.
What’s not so great about PPC is it’s complicated, and Google Maps is slated to launch a lot more updates soon, so you need to be on the ball, in-the-know with Google.
Managing a PPC campaign can feel like a full-time job —
But as a business owner, you’re already pretty busy!
So, it’s honestly probably worth it to hire a PPC professional to do these retail ads for you.
12. Reach 79% of potential customers on Facebook
Facebook marketing is becoming more and more popular every year, and with good reason.
According to Pew Research:
- 79% of online Americans are on Facebook
- That’s 68% of ALL Americans
- 75% of them go on the site every day
- Users spend an average of 50 minutes per day on Facebook
In other words:
It’s a huge opportunity for your retail advertising!
Many business pages’ organic reach (that’s how many people you can reach for free) have declined sharply.
For some, it’s as low as 2 PERCENT, and taking into account Facebook’s January 2018 newsfeed changes, you can pretty much say “so long!” to your page’s posts being seen by your prospects for free.
That means you have to pay up for an ad, like this:
Unless you have a bona fide, fully-optimized online store to support your brick-and-mortar operations, I recommend this retail marketing strategy:
Run your Facebook ads at the same time you’re running your mailing your retail direct mail campaign.
You can match your Facebook ad’s special offer and design with that of your retail direct mail campaign
Whether your prospects receive your retail postcards in the mail OR they see your retail advertising on Facebook, they’ll see ONE cohesive retail marketing message.
Plus, get this:
If you’re mailing your retail postcards to everyone who lives within 10 miles of your business’s location, you can then target those same exact people (meaning, the people on your mailing list) on Facebook, too — at the exact SAME time.
This coordination of mailing retail postcards plus simultaneously showing matching retail ads online in Facebook newsfeeds gives your prospects the perception that your business is everywhere and the #1 of its kind.
It’s a smart, time-saving retail marketing strategy.
Called Everywhere Small Business, your business can simultaneously target prospects with:
- Direct mail (with gorgeous postcards!)
- Google ads (across thousands & thousands of internet websites)
- AND Facebook ads.
YOU don’t have to do anything.
Essentially your retail store marketing will be shown EVERYWHERE your prospects already spend the vast majority of their time, generating the following:
- Calls to your business (that we track for you)
- Clicks to your website (we track these too!)
- Millions of online impressions (eyes on YOUR store)
- Essentially MORE leads with ZERO effort from you.
Watch the Everywhere Small Business video to see how exactly this program can exponentially increase your retail advertising at just pennies extra per piece.
Speaking of social media…
13. Get followed on Instagram — and generate buzz
Check out these Instagram stats:
- 80% of Instagram users follow at least one business
- 63% of Instagram users are active every single day
- 35% of users look at Instagram content multiple times per day
- 30% of consumers have purchased from a business they found on… Instagram
But stats aside…
People LOVE stalking illustrious retail marketing on Instagram (especially when it has killer photography (#3)).
Marketing on Instagram isn’t just about sharing beautiful photos…
It’s about widespread, fast exposure for your business that’s based on hashtags and @mentions.
Here are 3 ways to use Instagram as one of your retail promotion ideas:
- Use at least 30 hashtags/post (focusing on hashtags locals (or tourists) in your city would use)
- Find influencers (Instagram users with at least 10k followers) and direct-message them to invite them into your shop…
- Once an influencer LOVES your products or space, ask if they’ll promote your business on their channel (either for FREE, or in exchange for a deep discount)
Prepare for one of my favorites…
14. Use this time-tested marketing tool to generate a 420% return on investment
Direct mail remains one of the best retail marketing ideas — and, yes, even in our digital age!
Consider these numbers:
- 79% of consumers say they open direct mail immediately
- 54% of consumers say they prefer direct mail marketing the most
Which is to say:
Retail postcards WORK.
Advertising with retail postcards turns out to be very cost-effective because:
- You can target only your ideal prospects by neighborhood and/or demographics
- Recipients see your message without having to open their mail (time saving!)
- You save $$$ on postage when you mail postcards rather than enveloped letters
Here’s an example…
A children’s consignment shop, called Wee-Exchange, was planning their annual blowout sale. In addition to selling tons of clothes and toys at their sale, they wanted to also register new consignors (to bring in new inventory they could sell).
After mailing 6,000 postcards just ONE time, they signed up 100 new consignors with an average revenue of $100 each. Those 100 new consignors will gross Wee-Exchange about $10,000 in potential revenue.
The 100 sign-ups came from the 300-600 people who flooded their store during the sale, thanks to their retail postcards.
Since Wee-Exchange spent less than $2,000 on their campaign, their estimated return on investment (ROI) is a whopping 420%!
Not bad for a one-time postcard blast.
As long as you have:
- A lead-generating postcard design
- A mailing list
- A plan to mail at least 3 times (multiple mailings work best typically!)
- And a way to track your results (like this)
Your business can generate leads and sales from mailing retail postcards!
Check out these ready-made retail postcards you can use.
Order a FREE sample pack today!
15. Capture some of the 95% of leads visiting your website
Your website is a place for your prospects to find out 4 main things usually:
- What type of store you are (high-end, economically, mid-range)
- Your location
- Your hours of operation
- How to contact you
You don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars on your website…
It just needs to be:
- SIMPLE and easy-to-navigate
- And set up with a way to capture leads who land on your website.
Well, consider this:
95% of your prospects will visit you online before making any decision to buy from you (or not).
So that’s why your website must have incredible photography (#3!), and it’s also why you should use a pop-up.
A pop-up on your website can give your online leads your special offer (like a BOGO or FREE gift with purchase) before they leave your site…
This retail marketing strategy also allows you to collect prospects’ email addresses so you can follow up with them later, giving them even more coupons/promotions, always inviting them back in to your business for more.
Pop-ups do require a little website intel to make sure they collect as many leads as possible…
16. Improve your Google ranking with search engine optimization (SEO)
Search engines work by finding websites which match the keywords your prospects search with — which includes locations (like your city name).
So if your prospects enter “best boutique in [Your City]” (aka “best boutique in Atlanta”] your website will rank higher in Google to the degree that your website pages have the keywords “best boutique in Atlanta” in them (as well as other factors that are more complicated which we won’t get into detail on here).
Notice that you see:
- Google Maps results
- And then big-name review sites next
Your business’s SEO plays a large factor in your ranking in Google Maps.
But you can also make your website easy-to-find by search engines (like Google) using these easy-to-use SEO tips:
- Each page’s title (learn about page titles here) should be different
- Homepage’s page title should have “boutique store” (or the like) + your city & state
- Your contact data (on your contact page) must be correct
- Your business’s data must be referenced (cited) on other popular web pages (#5)
- You should have and use your free Google My Business account (#6)
SEO is not a one-shot deal, but must be continually worked upon and revised given Google’s algorithms (formulas) change all the time.
It’s probably worth it to hire an SEO professional.
But a quick word to the wise:
There are “white hat” and “black hat” SEO companies out there…
It’s important to find someone reputable (which doesn’t include a company who claims they can get you to #1 on Google in a short amount of time.)
17. Implement a friendly (automatic!) birthday program to celebrate more leads
Most people love birthdays because it means FREE stuff!
So why not implement a birthday program…
Or better yet?
One that runs on autopilot each month, driving leads (and sales) to your business!
Here’s how PostcardMania’s Birthday Program works:
- You buy a mailing list that targets everyone around your business
- We design a postcard that includes your birthday offer (like BOGO with this postcard!)
- We even personalize your postcards with your prospects’ names (on front and back!)
- We mail your postcards for you every month…
- So your prospects receive postcards for their birthday!
They celebrate their birthdays at your store, taking advantage of a sweet deal (your special offer) that you give them…
And you inevitably make sales!
The best part of this program??
It runs on autopilot.
You can start or stop it at any point… but if you’re generating leads and sales, why would want to stop that?
18. Turn NEW movers into automatic new customers without lifting a finger
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a little over 11% of the American population moves every year. Depending on your business, many new movers may need to know about you, such as if you sell:
- New furniture
- Or rugs
- Or mattresses
- Maybe you’re a specialty lighting retailer
- Or maybe you’re just a cool local boutique who needs to get the word out!
With our New In Town program, you can reach new movers in your area every month without even having to think about it, which makes it one of the easiest-to-implement retail promotion ideas ever!
Here’s how it works:
- You tell us your target demographic and service area
- We design retail postcards for your business
- Every month, we automatically send all new movers that fit your targeting criteria your retail postcards
- They call to redeem your offer, then you wow them with your goods and service and create new customers!
But check this out:
Your retail direct mail pieces are personalized automatically with the first name of the recipient, so they take notice of your marketing!
Here’s an example:
By automatically mailing to all the new movers in your area, your business can simply receive new customers who want to know the best local places to shop!
19. Track your leads and sales for the best retail marketing
Only TRACKING will show you what parts of your retail advertising creates leads (and sales) for your business.
So — HOW do you track?
A new caller sheet is one way!
All you do is print off a stack of these sheets and give them to your clerk (or keep them by your phone for whomever answers it), and ensure that each and every staff member knows to use them to gather ALL vital information from people who come in and buy something.
If a new caller sheet is too much paperwork for your cashier, you can just train your staff to ask customers — and report back to you — how they heard about your business so that you can log which methods are bringing in customers.
You can also use a handy spreadsheet like this one here which makes it easy to track:
- Lead sources (what method produced the most leads?!)
- How many leads were generated
- And resultant revenue (the most important part of your retail marketing!!)
Tracking your marketing is SO important:
It’s the only way you’ll know exactly which retail advertising campaigns actually worked, and thus, deserve to be reinvested into and run again.
Probably the EASIEST way to track your retail marketing strategy is by adding call tracking numbers to all of your marketing campaigns. Call tracking numbers are VERY inexpensive, and they show you which methods actually generated you leads.
If you mail postcards PLUS run Google and Facebook ads, then it would be smart to have different phone numbers on each of these ads so when phone calls come in, you’ll know which exact marketing advertisement produced that call.
Call tracking services come with easy-to-use online dashboards that allow you to see which phone numbers produced which phone calls. They’re SO effective and easy to use, I can’t recommend them enough!
That’s why we automatically include call tracking in our Everywhere Small Business campaigns — they take major headache out of tracking your multi-channel marketing.
So there you have it!
19 retail promotion ideas for more business awareness, customers, and revenue!
For even more proven retail marketing strategy ideas — like if you’re ready to run a retail direct mail campaign — check out these retail postcard designs which are ready for you to use!
Ready to start your retail marketing campaign? Call one of my experts at 800-628-1804 — the consultation is 100% FREE!