So you open your store in the perfect location, stock your shelves with the newest and hottest products, recruit, hire and train the perfect team of employees, and adorn your door with a shiny OPEN sign. Congratulations! You’ve laid a solid foundation for your small business.
But without customers, you have just that – a solid foundation.
The difference between barely surviving and absolutely thriving is the ability to consistently attract people to your store. And despite your best efforts, no amount of experience or level of expertise will translate directly into sales. Simply put: how can customers cannot support you if they don’t know you exist?
One of the biggest keys to a successful small business – both short-term and long-term – is buzz. More than a fancy ad or an extensive marketing campaign, buzz will get people (and hopefully keep people) talking about your business. It will engage the community and give you an ever-growing audience of potential customers. But how, you ask, does one create buzz?
We’re glad you asked.
Befriend Business Reporters: While social media marketing can go a long way, nothing beats a perfectly timed press mention in a newspaper, magazine or blog. Not only will media attention help spread the word about your business or event, it will also offer an objective point of view and help legitimize your business. While media is a great resource for generating buzz, it’s important to note that business reporters and community writers are busy and often receive dozens of pitches per day. Consider getting their attention a trial run for what’s to come.
Dare to be Different: Whether your business is located in a small town or a bustling metropolis, you are bound to have competition – especially in the paint and decorating industry. Instead of following their marketing tactics, don’t be afraid to differentiate yourself. Because buzz is created by new, fresh and exciting ideas, you must be willing to think outside the box and grab the attention of people who are inundated by advertising everywhere they go. If you simply follow the path made by your competitors, how will consumers be able to pick you out from the pack?
Host an Event: A unique (and fun!) way to create buzz about your business is to host an exciting event like a fundraiser, demo, workshop or sidewalk sale. While planning an event can cost both time and money, the payoff can be astounding when executed correctly. Whichever kind of event you choose to organize, make sure to utilize the best and easiest promoter: social media! If you create an event worthy of the community’s attention, their shares, likes and re-tweets will create more buzz than any ad campaign ever could.
Catch their Eye: One of the best things about owning a small business in the paint and decorating industry is your access to colors, lighting and décor. Use these props to create an eye-catching window display and make it impossible for people to walk by your store without taking notice. Because people “shop with their senses,” a great way to get noticed is to invest your time and effort in visual merchandising. Whether your themes are seasonal or designed around product launches, appealing visuals are a sure way to get people talking.
Be Generous: A great way to grow your audience and generate a ton of social media attention is to offer giveaways, run contests and give back to the community. Whether it’s receiving a discount, winning free swag or helping out a charity, people love being part of something positive. You’ve heard the saying that what goes around comes around; it’s as true in the business world as anywhere else.