Don’t Panic, part 2 – Marketing Your Business
by Jennifer Manuel Carroll
A life-long lover of lingerie, Jennifer Manuel Carroll has shopped for underpinnings during her travels in North America and Europe and is a savvy lingerie expert. After years of experience in the intimate apparel world, she was inspired to share her knowledge with others. Carroll is the author of Underneath It All, A Girl’s Guide to Buying, Wearing and Loving Lingerie (Harlequin 2009), a comprehensive resource for the lingerie lover and novice alike.
In my last article, I implored you—brave entrepreneur trying to make it in today’s tough economy—to not panic. To take a deep breath, get out of your shop to gain some perspective, and to make cuts where they are needed. Now what? Get the word out about your shop.
“Whether your business is struggling or booming, marketing is one of the most important jobs you have as a business owner.”
Whether your business is struggling or booming, marketing is one of the most important jobs you have as a business owner. Granted, good customer service works as an excellent vehicle for word-of-mouth advertising; but you need more than word of mouth. You need multiple streams of communication and you need them to be on-going.
Here are a few places to start, if you haven’t already:
1. Social Media
If you have been ignoring or putting off learning about social media, now is the time to embrace it. In today’s business environment it is negligent not to use social media to your business’s advantage. Social media is free. The only investment you need is your time and energy. There are so many online programs and experts available to help you get started or expand on your current social media presence. The Lingerie Journal’s own Treacle is a social media expert and is available for consulting.
2. Email Marketing
Create an email newsletter and send it out religiously. This does not have to be fancy or graphics-heavy, but of course pretty pictures of lingerie won’t hurt. Keeping in touch with your customers has never been easier. Sign up with an email marketing company such as Constant Contact or iContact and get started today.
Hosting an event is a surefire way to create some buzz about your store, your services, and your merchandise. While events don’t always pay off on the day-of, you will be compensated in different forms. It may be free media coverage from the local paper or it might be 20 more Facebook friends who become future customers.
Consider having a trunk show and co-hosting the event with one of your favorite designers. Invite your customers to a fashion show with the latest and greatest season’s offerings. Host a preview night, a happy-hour, or anything that will bring customers and media through your doors.
“Offer to host shopping parties in your store…the return on investment is huge.”
If you have the square footage, offer to host shopping parties in your store. Be it a bridal shower, birthday party or moms’ night out, offering your space as a party destination is a win-win. You provide the snacks and drinks; they provide the guests to shop. The return on investment is huge. I have had these for years in Bellefleur and require a $500+ guarantee for the evening—and you bet I always hit that, easy.
Work with complimentary businesses in your area. For example, team up with a local boudoir or wedding photographer and give their customers an exclusive discount in your store. Offer to display their work if they refer customers your way. Also, consider working with local bridal boutiques—supply them with your cards and an incentive for their customers to shop in your store (coupon, free gift, complimentary registry, etc.). Every bride needs an under-dress foundation; and of course, her bridal lingerie.
5. Guarantee Repeat Business
Keep your customer’s sizes on file. Creating a size registry will give your customers a feeling of belonging to your shop, like a member. They can come back and be assured you will know how to fit them. Additionally, they can send their loved ones in to buy them gifts. Repeat customers ensure your business’s success.
While you are at it, why don’t you collect your customer’s birth date or anniversary information? What better way to make certain a customer returns than to remember their special occasion, and offer them a gift or little discount on their next visit.
Also, consider sending thank you cards to clients when they register with you. Keeping an ongoing dialogue with your customers is the key to building long lasting relationships.
Need some money, right now?
Here are a few strategies to help you in a pinch:
1. Offer an in-house Groupon-style discount. For example, if customers buy a gift certificate for $100, they receive $125 or $150, instead. You can generate a lot of cash, fast, if needed.
2. Invite a couple of your best customers to throw a party for their friends in your shop this weekend. Offer them a free lingerie set or exclusive discount as an incentive for them to invite all their friends. This is a good short-term and long-term sales strategy, as you will surely have repeat customers.
3. Have a special order marathon for your most popular items. Let’s say that you sell a particular bra like hotcakes. Offer the bra in different colors for special order, for a short time only (like a week). Or if you carry a specialty line, post an e-catalog online and take orders for guaranteed delivery before the season sells out.
Miss Part 1 of Jennifer’s series, “Don’t Panic”? Click HERE for more Retail Tips