Marketing Strategy

Marketing Strategy

19 Minutes

Once you’ve decided on the kind of store you’ll set up and what products you want to sell, you need to create a marketing plan. The purpose of this is to define a retail marketing strategy that shows how you will reach your target audience.

A marketing plan will help you fine-tune your objectives and create awareness for potential consumers.

As a successful retailer, it’s your responsibility to create the best shopping experience for your customers, whether you operate online or through a bricks-and-mortar store. Your marketing plan is the key to streamlining your promotional campaigns. Discover in this article the main steps to design your marketing strategy.

 

Summary : 

  • Develop your retail store brand
  • What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?
  • Understanding your target market
  • Select the right marketing channels for retail
  • Creating retail promotions
  • The importance of timing in retail stores
  • Costs and budgeting for a retail store
  • FAQ 

 

Develop your retail store brand

What is a retail brand?

A retail brand represents the overall look and feel of a business. It encompasses the visual representations, tone of voice, mission and objectives of a company. A retail brand has to stand out from the competition and reflect the message the store wants to portray. It tells your story and helps promote your key features.

It has to reflect:

  • the product range
  • quality
  • pricing
  • your expertise as a business

When developing the brand you should consider the logo, strapline, colours, fonts and imagery. All these components need to turn into a positive perception of the company to engage the customer. 

H3 How to define your retail brand

The whole range of products you stock will sit under the umbrella of your brand, so it has to represent the business as a whole. The brand needs to be simple, something people will remember, resonate with and trust.

Example: successful retail brands

There are thousands of retail strategy example brands that get it right including:

  • Apple
  • Starbucks
  • McDonald’s
  • Coca-Cola
  • Airbnb

Why are these brands successful? Because they all offer a positive, enhancing experience when you interact with them, rather than just the simple purchase of a product.

Creating your brand may take minutes, or weeks of brainstorming. Use the opinions of people who don´t have any interest in what you plan to sell as they may offer insightful, neutral opinions.

What is your USP (unique selling proposition)?

How your USP in retail attracts customers

Your USP (unique selling point/proposition) positions you as an expert in your field. It makes you stand out from the crowd and attracts customers. It can be something as simple as ice cream that doesn´t melt to early morning breakfast deliveries. When you define your USP, look at it from the eyes of your target market and ask ‘so what’?

Is your idea going to solve their problem and make a difference in their lives? If it is, then you have a USP.

Steps to writing a USP for a retail store

  1. Decide who your target audience are
  2. What problem will you solve for them?
  3. How will you do this?
  4. Do your competitors do anything similar?
  5. How is your retail business different?
  6. Get feedback on your USP

Once you have these ideas down on paper, write one clear, simple sentence. This should be something that inspires and promotes action.

Understanding your target market

Who do you intend to market your retail products to?

The purpose of understanding your target market is to know who to focus on and attract to your store. Devoted pet owners will be open to the idea of a pet bed that keeps their dog or cat cool in summer. Parents with young children will welcome the idea of a comforting toy that will help them sleep. The idea is to offer a product to people and solve a problem for them.

Conduct market research on the retail sector you intend to operate in

Researching a market is an essential tool for giving an insight into the competition and what people want and expect. You can either do your own independent market research or pay a company to do it. Small businesses are more likely to do their own research, especially if your retail store is local.

The Internet is a good place to undertake market research but can be a little overwhelming as there is so much information. Conducting interviews, surveys and polls, in-person or through emails is another way to carry out market research on any contacts you have. 

Select the right marketing channels for retail

Digital marketing

With so many ways to market both an online and physical store, the marketing plan should detail the methods to be used and timescales. Strategies for successful marketing should consider the main marketing channels and which are suitable for the audience. Digital marketing is a common way to increase your exposure through: 

  • Website – this can include special offers, new product ranges and anything else that will hook the audience and entice them to buy. However, before you can encourage a purchase, the potential customer needs to find your website. This means a memorable name and the use of keywords in blogs and articles to allow search engines to find you. 

You can either run a retail store just through a website or complement a physical store with a website to gain more sales.  

  • Social media – a common and indispensable tool, social media for retail has fast become an essential part of every marketing plan. Consider your target market and which social media channels they use, for example, older people are more likely to use Facebook than Instagram.
  • Google My Business – register free and be found locally. You can add your opening hours, type of business, website and where to find you on Google maps.
  • Email (newsletters) – capturing emails through ‘sign up to our newsletter’ is a powerful way to collate a database of potential customers. In order to comply with data protection policies make sure you allow the reader to unsubscribe if they wish.
  • Blogs – a blog is a way to keep people interested in what your retail business is doing. If you’re introducing sustainable products, reducing your carbon footprint or holding a charity event tell people about it in a blog. This is your free marketing tool to promote the business and make more sales.
  • Customer reviews – encourage your customers to leave a review each time they buy a product and are satisfied. Google and Trustpilot reviews are an essential marketing tool as people often check others’ opinions before they decide to buy. 

Traditional marketing

Whilst digital marketing has a strong position in any marketing campaign, there is still a place for traditional marketing such as:

  • Direct mail – addresses the potential customers who do not have access to internet marketing.
  • Prints – newspaper and magazine advertising still have a place, although they can be expensive compared to online. However, don’t dismiss it entirely as there are many other ways to produce printed ads besides featuring in glossy magazines. If your store is local, placing an ad in a village magazine could give you access to potential customers. This is an ideal marketing strategy for small retail stores to create awareness of their business.

 

The other form of printed promotion is leaflets and flyers for communication in-store and locally. Whilst not as common today as digital advertising, print gives people something to keep and stick on their fridge or desk. It’s easy to have flyers distributed in a local area to announce your shop. Postcards are a good way to advertise in print as they’re more substantial than paper and give a more sophisticated image.

  • Radio– local radio can boost awareness of your store. People listen to the radio in the car or in the background when working or at home, and a constant jingle is likely to stick in their heads. Talk to your local radio station and you may find they do an interview about your store, which will be free.
  • PR – publicity is probably the most powerful traditional marketing tool and it can often be free. This can range from press releases to local and targeted media to word-of-mouth publicity. There’s nothing better than a recommendation from a satisfied customer.

Creating retail promotions

Retail price promotions

The price of your products and how you promote them will depend on the kind of product you stock in your stores. If you’re offering luxury goods consumers will almost not expect to see discounted prices as it devalues the product. However, people like a bargain and a carefully planned series of price promotions throughout the year will promote sales.

For retailers, seasonal promotions can be essential to boost profits. For example, beachwear in the summer, chocolate at Easter or Christmas decorations in December.

Case study: the value of communication

Liz runs a small retail store selling flowers. Her marketing plan includes key times to promote. She has been undertaking a drip-feed marketing campaign on social media running up to Valentine’s Day. She has offered a ‘get 50% off a bouquet of red roses if you buy before noon’ hoping to gain sales from her competitors.

Unfortunately, Liz did not anticipate the success of the promotion and has run out of flowers by 11.00 a.m. Her supplier has no further stocks so she has to spend the rest of the day apologising to customers on what should have been one of her most profitable days of the year. 

Liz should have spoken to her supplier about the promotion and warned them she would need extra stock. She did not do this and assumed they would be able to deliver more to her if she needed it on the day. 

The moral of this case study? Communication in retail, especially with suppliers, is essential.

other retail promotions

Marketing is not just about reducing prices and hoping more products will sell. There are many other ways to promote a retail product, for example:

  • competitions – offering a key product as a prize
  • buy one get one free
  • free samples 
  • offering a referral campaign
  • attending and hosting events (at local hotels or your retail premises – this is the ideal way to grow your mailing list and show off your store to potential customers of the local community) 
  • in-store marketing – tastings, samples

The key to promotions is to run them regularly to remind people you are there. Consider how you can link the promotions and marketing methods above, so everything runs together seamlessly. Uniting your message and working across several different marketing channels gives a retail business consistency and sends out a key message. 

Tip: what to do after a promotion

It’s easy to let a promotion finish and move ahead with the next without devoting the time to review how it worked. Remember these key points after every promotion you run:

  • Analyse – was the promotion a success? How much profit did you make?
  • Plan – when and if you should run it again and if changes need to be made
  • Implement – set a date for the next promotion

The importance of timing in retail stores

How far should a marketing plan go?

Every marketing plan should have a time plan for the next 12 months. It should be reviewed regularly and adjusted as necessary. The success of every promotion and event should be reviewed so you can decide whether it should be repeated or how to improve. Of course, some ideas may not work, but you won´t know unless you trial them.

Creating awareness of your retail business

Included in the marketing plan should be a time plan of when promotions are to run. This means they have to be planned in advance. You may need to order more stock, buy accessories for window displays and get more help from staff. You should also think carefully about when you’ll advertise the promotion. If you inform people too early they’ll forget about it, while promoting too late means lost sales.

Costs and budgeting for a retail store

Set a budget for retailing marketing

Every marketing plan should have a budget, so you know how much you have to spend. You should take the time to analyse every cost and promotion and keep track of what you are spending.

The potential costs in a marketing plan

Marketing is a business expense that should be broken down into various areas such as:

  • using research 
  • price promotions, events, postcards, leaflets etc. 

Managing this budget is key as it will help you keep control of your finances for your retail store.

If you’re opening a retail store, we’d like to help. Join our Ankorstart support programme for free advice and guidance on marketing your store. 

FAQs on creating a marketing plan for a retail store

Do I need a brand or just a name?

You need more than just a name, you need a brand for a retail store as this reflects the identity of your business. Your brand summarises the values of your business, the market you are aiming for and your image.

How do I define my target audience?

You need to understand what your customers want and how to fulfil their needs. The secret is to solve a problem they have. Your target audience may be a certain age, fit a certain lifestyle profile and be in a particular income bracket – think about how these factors could determine different problems to solve.

What is a USP?

This is a unique selling point. It’s the thing that makes your product or service different from those of your competitors. You should market and promote your USP as often as possible.

What time schedule should a marketing plan cover?

A marketing plan should be a 12-month rolling programme that lists activities month by month. It should detail seasonal promotions, end of stock discounts and long-term marketing goals.

Ready to open your store?