In 1996, McDonald’s suffered one of the biggest product flops of all time with the Arch Deluxe, a new, fancier burger. On the back of a reported $300 million spent on research, development and marketing, the burger flopped and was quickly taken off the menu.
The burger failed so badly because McDonald’s had tried to chase a more “sophisticated” market, with ads saying it was “the burger with the grown up taste.”
Despite the huge team working on the burger and all the money that went into it, McDonald’s made a fatal mistake in trying to target an audience that just didn’t make sense for its brand.
Even with huge budgets, getting your marketing right can be hard – and it can be even harder if you’re on the backfoot or facing huge competitors.
It’s a problem facing many small businesses and retailers – so just how are independent retailers meant to compete?
A retail store marketing plan could be your big advantage, especially as you know your customers better than big-box stores or online giants.
What goes into a retail store marketing plan?
Your retail store marketing plan should have eight headings – think of them each as having a separate purpose. This plan will then inform everything you or your marketing team does. With it all written down and planned out, there’s less chance of making mistakes or being wasteful with your budget.
Retail store marketing plan headings:
The eight headings your retail store marketing plan will have are:
- The summary: This will sum up your overall objectives (what you want to achieve) and the basics of how you’ll do it in a couple of paragraphs.
- The marketing strategy: There’s no real formula for the strategy part of the plan, though most retailers will look into the Unique Selling Point (USP – what makes your store different, i.e. why should customers shop with you?), how you’ll reach your target market, and things like pricing, choosing products, promoting your products, etc.
- Marketing objectives: What you want to achieve. These goals should be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. There’s no point setting goals that you can’t accomplish, otherwise you may end up wasting your budget or failing and demoralizing your staff.
- Target market: Who is your target market? What do you know about them? Don’t forget McDonald’s Arch Deluxe and how they lost hundreds of million dollars because they presumed there was a market for the burger. There wasn’t.
- Competitor analysis: Who are your competitors? What are they doing that you like? How could they be better? What opportunities can you take from them or what can you learn from them? Remember, your competitors don’t just include the store a couple of blocks over from you; your competitors are online now too – so what strengths and weaknesses do you have that they don’t and vice-versa?
- Marketing channels: Given what you know about your target market, where do they spend their time and how can you promote your store and products to them?
- SWOT analysis: You’ll look at your business and resources from the point of view of Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
- Timeline/important dates: It’s great to set goals and objectives, but they’ll never happen without mapping out the important dates. Set dates for each task – for example, create an Instagram account by October or try some paid advertising around Father’s Day. Without deadlines set, it’s easy for tasks to slip by.
SMART goals explained
SMART goals are super important for actually accomplishing the things you set out to. If your goals are too big, they’ll never be done.
It’s very easy to spend hours working really hard on your marketing and growing your store without seeing results. SMART is a framework to help you manage your and your team’s time so that you’re working efficiently.
So how does it work?
- Specific: Lots of retailers make the mistake of setting a goal that doesn’t say enough – for example, growing your store. That’s a great goal, but it’s too big to be manageable on its own. Instead, pick elements of the goal – maybe you want to grow your email subscriber list or increase foot traffic into your store.
- Measurable: Your goal needs to be something you can track – otherwise how do you know it works? Ideally it ties in nicely with being specific too.
- Attainable: Your goal should be something you can actually achieve. If you aim too high, it can be demoralizing if it doesn’t work out – and that’s the last thing you want.
- Relevant: Is the goal realistic and does it make sense to your business plan for the next six months to a year?
- Timely: Does your goal have a date? If not, set one.
Two examples of SMART goals are:
- Grow your email subscriber list by 10% by the end of the next quarter.
- Increase foot traffic in your store by 20 people per week over the next eight weeks.
How to do SWOT analysis
SWOT analysis and SMART goals work well together because they help you identify goals for your store while also pinpointing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats.
Essentially, plan it right and you can tick off SWOT analysis and achieving your SMART goals all in one.
You could spend hours reading about the methodologies behind SWOT analysis, but it basically comes down to asking and answering questions about your business.
Questions to ask during SWOT analysis to create a killer retail store marketing plan
- What is your store’s Unique Selling Point?
- What would your customers say is their favorite thing about your store?
- What do you do to close sales that works well?
- What areas could you improve?
- What might stop your business from growing or reaching its SMART goals?
- Why have you lost sales in the past?
- Are there are any trends that could make your job easier?
- Are there new ways of driving customers into your store?
- Are you competitors lacking in an area where you could potentially excel?
- What opportunities can you see in the market for your store or products?
- What are the biggest obstacles facing your store?
- Do you have any issues internally that could cause problems for your store?
- Are there any external issues that could affect your store?
- Are any of the weaknesses you identified causing real danger to your store?
Once you’ve completed your SWOT analysis and identified your SMART goals, you’ll be reasonably far along in creating a marketing strategy that works. To help you further, we’ve also picked out 7 examples of marketing quick wins for your store.
7 retail store marketing plan quick wins
1. Set up your Google My Business account
Google My Business is a free service from Google which lets local people see information about your business (for example opening hours) in Google’s search results. Go to Google My Business’ homepage to find out more.
2. Send a thank you note to your best customers, either by email or in the mail
If you’re feeling particularly generous, you could offer them a coupon/code to get money off their next purchase in-store.
3. If you have a website, create call-to-actions
Call-to-actions are pop-ups/forms/text that tell your audience what you want them to do next. For example, if you have a blog, you can put a call-to-action to get your readers to sign up to your email list or give you a call on your number.
4. Try Pointy to get your in-store products online
Pointy connects to your POS to get your in-store products online. It adds your products to a Pointy page which is essentially an online catalog of all your products. When local people search for those products, your store has a chance to come up in search results, which could lead to a sale for your store.
5. Try ads targeting your local audience
Digital ads can be complicated, especially if you’re not very tech-savvy but it’s worth testing ads for a few dollars.
Let’s say there’s an event coming up in your local area and you know nearby people will be interested in your store. You could trial digital ads, for example Facebook, to target people who will be nearby during the event.
6. Get creative with your signage – don’t be afraid to have a sense of humor
If you can catch the attention of passers-by with funny signs, you could potentially bring them into your store to make a sale. It’s a small thing but it’s worth taking the time to do it well.
Image via: Pinterest.
7. Talk to your customers on social media
Don’t just use social media to sell to your customers. Ask them questions. Engage with them. Show them relevant products. Show behind the curtain of your business with a sense of humor.
The secret is in the name: in being social.
Whatever tactics you put in place in your retail store marketing plan, remember that it’s all about knowing your customer and being as useful as possible to them.