Store owners often ask, “What media work best for attracting customers to my store?”
This seems like a good question. It may be good, but it is the wrong question to ask.
Retailers must think of their stores as a product or service. What need does the product fill in the target market? And who needs the product?
So the first question a store owner must ask, ask and continue to ask is “Who is my customer?” Here are a few corollary questions:
How would I describe my regulars?
How are they different from people who buy from competitors?
In what ways are my customers alike?
Why do customers return to my store?
The answers to these questions form the essence of annual marketing plans. The questions point the way to finding our ideal customers. We must determine which products are in demand in your market.
A loyal customer base is rarely achieved by accident. We attract customers by design. This is the essence of a target market. A target market is not a random group of people who visit your store.
A target market is not a mass market. We cannot profitably operate a store that offers everything for everyone. Specialists do better than generalists. Bigger is not better. Better is better.
Your store improves as we better understand the needs of a well-defined target market. There is a common denominator among your best customers. Keep searching for it as your store grows.
It is much more productive to develop a quality advertising campaign for a smaller, well-defined target audience than a broad one. Marketing is more affordable. Your budget becomes more effective. Your best brand evangelists emerge from small circles.
You must also take care that your store doesn’t become a commodity store. I’ve seen way too many neon-lit “Book Store” signs. Surely, our industry can do better.
Chicken is a commodity. We know from research that shoppers list “chicken” on their grocery list, but not a brand. Chicken is chicken. There is no perceived difference between one chicken and another. There is no brand awareness, brand loyalty or brand insistence.
Your store needs customer awareness, loyalty and insistence.
Amazon took a significant share from the book market because stores allowed themselves to make the trip to Commodity City. A bookstore became a place to buy books. “Come one, come all.”
At the exact moment in retail history when we needed a revolution bolstered by different and compelling operations, many stores dug in their heels and denied the existence of a monster in the deep. The monster is real—and feeds on chicken.
The manner in which you address a customer’s felt need is your point of differentiation. Your operations and marketing message separate you from a pack of commodity options.
What is it you do best? How do you help people meet their needs? Do you have certain solutions that are better for specific groups?
Do you communicate your points of difference or your aging inventory? Tell your target market what you do best.
Select your ideal target market from several possible segments. Think about your best customers and consider this list of possible points of store segmentation:
What is their lifestyle—what do they do on weekends?
Where are your customers located in your geographical area? Are you affected by drive patterns and egress issues? (If these issues are difficult for your customers, and they still get to you, it’s a good sign your store is meeting needs.)
What is the cost to reach various market segments?
Do your customers respond to benefits offered? What benefit seems to matter most?
Notice I don’t recommend targeting on the basis of demographics. We need predictors rather than descriptors.
From your segmentation analysis, select one target segment. What group of similar customers can you reach and generate the most profit? This is much different than selecting the largest population size.
Focus your marketing efforts on a homogenous customer base. Spend less money in an attempt to reach a broader market.
Deliver a targeted experience. Some experiences cannot be delivered online.