11 Smart Retail Marketing Tips for 2018

One thing that all retailers face at one point or another is a slump in sales. Whether you are a one-man show or a huge retail corporation, it’s easy to feel like your efforts just aren’t enough to combat factors like the economy or competitor innovations. However, you can absolutely turn these slumps around with the right marketing techniques. While you could see a change in any one of these tips for better retail marketing, combining many of these ideas together can completely transform your strategy and boost sales. Here are our best retail marketing tips to get you back on track with your goals.

Make Shopping with You an Experience

Creating an experience for your shoppers in your brick-and-mortar location is one of the best ways to boost sales. We’ve talked before about experiential retail strategies, and how they are the future for retail locations. Customers that come into your store and see a row of items to buy could do the same thing at any store. But customers who come to your location and experience something unique are more likely to stay longer, spend more, and come back again. A great example of experiential retail is a shoe retailer that has a treadmill to map customers’ feet and help them choose the best shoe.

Another easy way to make your retail location more of an experience is to simply rethink the atmosphere. Maybe you can’t afford to invest in interactive machinery, but you can afford to make the waiting area or fitting room a comfortable, even luxurious, place where your customers will want to relax. The longer you can get the customers to stay in your store, the more likely they are to spend more.

Create a Sense of Urgency

One very effective marketing strategy in retail is to create a sense of urgency with your products. The reason that holiday sales are so effective is that people know that the deep discounts won’t last – and that sense of missing out on the savings drives them all to buy more than they typically would have. You don’t necessarily have to give out discounts to create a sense of urgency, however. One thing you can do is add limited edition products, or limited edition product bundles, to your line up.


A limited edition bundle is a great way to create this urgency without incurring any more production cost – just bundle a few best sellers together at a small discount and put a deadline on it. Because customers feel limited by the time the bundle will be offered, they’ll be more motivated to buy rather than browse. Another great way to utilize this tip is to have a one-day-only sale on the day of the week that is routinely the slowest.

Make Better Use of Free Marketing Channels

Another effective marketing tip for retailers is to get serious about the marketing you are doing through social media. These are totally free marketing channels that can bring you big results if you put in the time and effort. You may need to hire a social media manager if you want to ensure that these channels are being fully utilized – or put social media management on your own priority list. Connect more with customers, offer better customer service, and communicate your brand personality through social media to boost both “discoverability” and brand loyalty.

Don’t just use social media as a way to push your brand or talk to your customers. Get involved with industry conversations happening on blogs and other social media profiles around the web. Make your name part of the regular line up when it comes to industry discussions. The more your name becomes part of the online ecosystem surrounding the industry, the more recognizable you will be.

Turn Yourself into a Go-To Hub of Information

Another excellent marketing tactic for retailers, both online and offline, is to become a resource where people can get expert advice, education, tips, tricks, and how-tos that pertain to your industry. There are many ways you can do this. The easiest is to start a company blog and fill it with valuable content that caters to what your audience really needs. Another way is to ensure that your sales team is always trained to ask the customer what problem they need to be solved, and then to work with the customer to find the right solution. Your sales team should always be well-educated in the industry, informed of all the latest and greatest trends or innovations, and how they can be implemented. A great example is any sales team in an Apple store – the employees are always educated before a product launches so they are ready to recommend and explain it.

Sponsor an Event or an Industry Award

One way to get more attention for your brand is actually to shine a spotlight on other brands or events if you do it correctly. For example, hosting an annual award or sponsoring an event for your industry not only helps to boost the industry as a whole but also keeps your name at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Sponsoring public events is also another great route to take. Here’s the perfect example: Sure, football fans will remember who won the Super Bowl this year – but they’ll also remember the sponsor advertisements and logos that were splashed all over the event.

The key is to balance congratulating or showcasing another brand while still keeping your message central to the event. Sponsoring a charity event is another great way to use this tip. Your brand will earn a better reputation for being behind a charity event, and you’ll boost engagement by targeting the customer’s sense of charity. One more way to think about this tip? If there are no local events to sponsor, consider loaning out your facility to local groups that need meeting places after business hours, with the condition that they add your brand name as a sponsor to any of their own promotional material.

Motivate Your Customers with a Loyalty Program

Many retailers get caught in the revolving door of luring in new customers all the time. Their advertisements are directed at people who don’t know them; their discounts are for first-time buyers, and their sales team is taught to zero-in on new shoppers. But maintaining a great relationship with your current shoppers is also an important part of retail. A loyalty program, where customers get free gifts on their birthday, earn points to redeem for discounts, or get discounts for referrals, can be a great way to keep them coming back. ERPLY makes this very easy with a built-in points system that converts a custom point amount to discounts, all easily set up by you to suit your marketing campaign.

Work with Influencers or Industry Celebrities

Another way to boost marketing in retail is to get your product into the hands of someone who has a large audience themselves. Influencers on social media, especially Instagram and YouTube, are well-known entities that can help create buzz around a product. If you are in an industry with “celebrities”, try to get a celebrity to endorse or review your product. A great example would be publishing houses getting best-selling authors to offer cover quotes for debut releases. These authors may not be “celebrities” the way that Brad Pitt is a celebrity, but they are well-known and trusted sources to the target audience.

Stick with Your Efforts – Even When They Don’t Seem to Be Working

This tip isn’t the most exciting, but when combined with other efforts, it can be one of the most effective things you can do to increase your conversions. If you sent out a wave of advertising, whether through the mail, email, or any other avenue and didn’t see any results, what would you do? If you are like many business owners who are careful with their advertising dollars, you’d probably think to yourself that that was a waste of money, and move on to other advertising methods.

But the truth is that repetition absolutely does sell. That old adage that a customer needs to see an offer at least seven times before they are convinced to buy is true, although take the number seven with a grain of salt. The point of that advice is that repetition works. Stick with your tactics until you’ve done thorough testing and confirmed beyond all doubt that it’s not what your customers respond to.

Something else related to repetitive marketing is to make sure you are following up with your customers after they make a purchase. Send them emails asking if they have any questions, prompting them to leave a review, or offering a coupon for a return visit. Anything you can do to keep your name in front of them increases the chance that they will be back.

Partner Up with Non-Competitors

No industry exists in a bubble. Find a local business that isn’t a competitor, but is still of interest to your clients and partner up to offer a package deal. One great example is a gym that caters to women partnering up with a hair salon for a New Year’s package – new year, new you, right? Or an outdoor sports equipment retailer creating a package deal with a local campground for visitors. Come camping at the campground, get a discount on a new fishing pole or vice versa. There are many ways that related, but not competing, businesses, can partner up to boost each other’s sales.

The key is to choose a local business that will not only relate to your customer’s needs but also be easy for them to take advantage of. An example of convenient partnering is a gas station that offers a discount on a car wash at check out – with the car wash being located right across the street.

Track Your Efforts Religiously

Any time you launch a marketing campaign, you should be tracking the performance of the campaign. This helps you to ensure that you are meeting the goals of the campaign, but also helps you tweak your goals and strategies for next time. The goals you have for a campaign may not be what the campaign actually accomplishes. For example, you might have set out to get more repeat sales with follow-up emails, when in reality your efforts earned you a lot more product reviews instead. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s good to know what you need to change your next campaign.

Make Sure You Know Who You Are Selling To

If you’ve been marketing your products for long, you probably already know that you need to have an ideal customer profile created. However, it can’t be exaggerated how important this step is for developing marketing strategies that work. If you don’t know what it is that makes your customers tick; you won’t be able to target them in the most effective ways. Once you have your gold standard for an ideal customer, you can begin breaking that customer type down into other types and doing other marketing campaigns directed at each sub-type.

Speaking of targeting multiple customer personas, it’s always a good idea to have multiple campaigns running that you can compare. If you have one email message being sent out about a limited edition product to a customer group that responds to urgency, try sending out a different campaign with a coupon for buyers who haven’t been back in a while. It is always useful to compare and test which types of campaigns work best for your company.

Putting It All Together

All of these tips can be used together, separately, or with your existing marketing techniques. Retail marketing doesn’t have to be an endless merry-go-round of offering discounts and trying to outdo the competition. There are many ways to attract customers to the solutions you have for their problems. Put these tips into action to see how they impact your sales whenever you are experiencing a slump.

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