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This is the most requested question we get from retailers all over the world. How do I increase foot-traffic?
We’ll start by giving you 3 tangible strategies to do that but make sure you read this article through to the end because we’re going to share something with you that might just have a greater impact on your business than more foot-traffic.
Let’s jump right in…
First of all, foot-traffic starts with a clear and consistent marketing strategy. But before you get scared away by the word marketing, just hear me out.
The days of endless shoppers just aimlessly wandering from store to store are gone. That’s just not the way it works anymore, so to increase foot traffic, you can’t rely on hope. You need to rely on marketing. The way most retailers are marketing is a little like this…
Maybe they’ll throw some ads in a local magazine or when a sales rep from a local radio station comes in and offers them a good deal on some radio spots, they’ll make a few commercials. And then when there is an event they can sponsor to give back to the community they might donate some items and hope to get some exposure.
But this is completely shooting from the hip! DON’T do this. Instead, create a marketing plan! Does that mean you’re going to have to hire an agency? Will that require a lot of time? Do you have to post on social media 20 times a day? NO!
Here’s the best way to create your marketing plan. Go print out a blank calendar starting from now until one year from now. Next, start marking down all of the holidays and important dates in that time period. Also look up various events that might be going on in your area like local farmer’s markets, concerts, sporting events, bazaars, etc.
Now you have a framework of all of the significant reasons people might be in your area or want to shop with you. Use that information to create content, promotions, and unique marketing campaigns.
If you want to increase foot traffic, remember that you’ll have to drive it through marketing. And marketing starts with a simple plan.
We see many retailers stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. The pennies are more customers. More foot traffic. More people in their doors. The dollars are the people who have already bought from you.
There is this tendency to think that once someone buys from you, you already have their money and need to focus on someone else who has not given you their money yet.
THIS IS SO BACKWARDS!
The people you want to focus on are the people who have already proven to buy from you. You know they feel comfortable enough with you to give you money. New people might not. When we think of increasing foot traffic, we think that we need to get DIFFERENT people in our doors. But the best way to increase foot traffic (and sales) is to get the SAME people walking through your door again.
It’s 7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer as it is to keep an existing customer. So if you want to increase foot traffic and sales, focus on retention. There are a few good ways that you could retain existing customers.
Capture their information: Make sure you have a POS system or some other tracking tool that captures their email or contact information. And then when you create those marketing events from your calendar that we discussed yesterday, CONTACT these customers! Tell them about your new promotion or service or merchandise. They’ll be your easiest sales.
Loyalty Programs: Another great way to retain existing customers is to set up a loyalty program. 87% of shoppers say they want a loyalty program. This can be as easy as a punch card or a coupon code.
Before focusing on getting new people in your doors, focusing on getting the same people in your doors again! This is the low-hanging fruit that could help you dramatically increase your bottom line.
A very common strategy to drive foot traffic is to hold a discount sale. And while that can be great sometimes, it often causes more harm than good. Here’s why you need to be very strategic when running sales and promotions…
First and most importantly, while a discount sale might get more people in your doors, often times you are attracting the wrong type of people. Many of these people will ONLY buy something from you if its on sale.
And as you already know, when you discount something you are reducing your margin and your profit. If you sell your merchandise on a 50% margin and you constantly need to hold 50% discount sales to move product, it won’t be long before you are out of business.
Also, your good customers who are willing to buy your products for full price actually hate sales. The sale rack just seems a little gross, like it’s filled with a bunch of stuff that might not fight right or has been soiled in some way. Your good customers would rather just buy a nice product at a fair price, so when you hold sales, you are most likely attracting undesirable customers and repelling your good ones.
Furthermore, holding too many sales trains your customers to think that they can always get your products at a discount. You’ll eventually just teach everyone that if the item that they want is full price, all they have to do is wait a little bit and eventually they could get it for a discount. Just think about stores like Hobby Lobby or Kohl’s. You never go in there expecting to pay full price…don’t make that same mistake!
If you are going to run a sale, try to be strategic. Use your marketing calendar and plan an annual or bi-annual blowout sale. Or create an exciting and unexpected Flash Sale. Or at least position it in a positive light like, “We’re getting in new merchandise and making room.”
BONUS: We mentioned at the beginning that we wanted to give you something that might impact your business even more than more foot-traffic could. That’s because foot-traffic alone doesn’t drive your business.
The common tendency to think is that when we have more customers in our stores, we have a higher likelihood of making sales. And while that might happen, it also might not! We’re hoping that more people lead to more money. But that’s hoping and not driving.
What we’re really after is sales, not traffic. The busiest store in the world will go bankrupt if no one buys anything! That’s why, in addition to this article, we’ve created a free class on how to increase your sales. If you can increase your sales AND your traffic, you can’t help but see your business grow.
If you’d like to take the free class, you can register for it here.