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Wyoming Business Tips for Nov. 25-Dec.1


November 16, 2012 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.

By Susan Jerke, WSBDC regional director

“How can my retail store create an amazing holiday marketing campaign?” Janice, Gillette

The holidays are just around the corner, but you still have time to plan and deliver an amazing marketing and sales strategy for the busy season ahead.

Small town shops can compete with big box and online stores. That power comes from greeting clients personally; giving them a positive, memorable shopping experience; and helping them find other stores in the neighborhood that share the “hometown experience” philosophy.

Revisit the principles of retailing and remember why you have chosen to share your products in the public marketplace.

Present your retail space in the best possible light by appropriate merchandising. Merchandising is an art that communicates the image, lifestyle or value system for your products.

Examine the store from the perspective of a customer. Is the window inviting? Is the glass sparkling clean? Is the interior of the store clean and organized? Are decorations tasteful and music appropriate? Is lighting pleasant and targeted, especially as the wintery days get shorter? Lighting is the key to creating drama, and proper lighting has been shown to increase sales by 25 percent.

Ensure that your employees are prepared for the busy days of greeting customers, offering assistance and providing the kindest, most helpful and professional service to enhance your brand and reputation long after the holidays.

A couple of tips. When engaging customers, greet them in the front third of the store. Make eye contact and smile, offer to answer questions and then allow the customer to browse. Whenever possible, it is best for sales people to face the entrance, allowing them to acknowledge new shoppers, even if they are engaged with another customer at the moment. If you are offering sales or specials, make sure your employees are aware of the specifics. Also, be clear and consistent on return, refund and warranty policies.

Now is the time to develop relationships with other stores in your shopping neighborhood that offer products that complement your merchandise.

For example, if your store sells evening gowns, mention that the store across the street carries tuxedos and the shoe store next door may have the perfect pair of dressy heels to complete the ensemble. Customers appreciate recommendations that validate their purchases  and appropriate recommendations will help them save time, money and resources.

Business relationships that are forged can be the best line of defense when you promote the value of shopping locally. Each business will be looking out for their neighbor, differentiating your neighborhood as a positive shopping experience for customers.

Finally, engage customers with a carefully designed follow-up campaign after the holidays. Holiday sales present an opportunity to gather email addresses and collect a fan base that allows inspiring customers to remain connected with their community and local retailers all year.

A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.

The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email wsbdc@uwyo.edu or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY 82071-3922.

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