50 Marketing Ideas for Retailers (Part 1)

Creative Marketing Ideas (#1-25)

Trade fair inside the Tokyo International Forum.
EschCollection/ Photographer's Choice/ Getty Images

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Small business owners can easily get too involved in the day-to-day operations of their retail stores to spend any time brainstorming marketing ideas or promotional events. Some retailers worry that marketing is too expensive, others may find it too time consuming. Without announcing who you are and what you sell, how will anyone know?

Here are 50 marketing ideas for retailers.

1. Create a calendar for customers with your shop's name and address on it.

2. Print the products you sell or services offered on the back of your business cards.

3. Always carry business cards with you. Give them freely and ask permission to leave them in places your target market may visit.

4. Join a trade association or organization related to your industry.

5. Have a drawing for a product or a gift certificate. Use the entry forms to collect customers' mailing addresses.

6. Develop a brochure of services your shop offers.

7. Conduct monthly clinics about a product or service you offer or schedule semi-annual seminars on related "how-to" information for your industry.

8. Print a tagline for your business on letterhead, fax cover sheets, e-mails and invoices.

9. Develop a website to showcase your products, services and location. Use a memorable URL and include it on all marketing materials.

10. Include customer testimonials in your printed literature.

11. Promote yourself as an expert by writing articles or tips on topics related to your industry.

12. Submit to the local newspaper, trade journal or other publications.

13. Host an after-hours gathering for your employees and their friends/relatives.

14. Provide free t-shirts with your logo to your staff to wear.

15. Send newsworthy press releases as often as needed.

16. Create an annual award and publicize it.

17. Develop your own TV show on your specialty and present it to your local cable station or public broadcasting station.

18. Create a press kit and keep its contents current.

19. Use an answering machine or voice mail system to catch after-hours phone calls. Include basic information in your outgoing messages such as business hours, location, website, etc.

20. Join a Chamber of Commerce where you can network with area business owners.

21. Hold an open house. Invite prominent city officials and the press.

22. Get a memorable local or toll-free phone number.

23. Place ads in publications your market reads. Be sure to reach the non-English speaking market as well.

24. Distribute specialty products such as pens, mouse pads, or mugs with your store's logo.

25. Advertise in creative locations such as park benches, buses, and popular Web sites.

Continue reading for the remaining marketing ideas...

26. Improve your building signage.

27. Get a booth at a trade show or expo attended by your target market.

28. Give a speech or volunteer for a career day at a high school.

29. Sponsor an Adopt-a-Highway area in your community to keep roads litter-free.

30. Donate your product or service to a charity event or auction.

31. Have a Yellow Pages ad listed under your main industry and in related categories.

32. Volunteer your time to a charity or non-profit organization.

33. Create a loyalty program to reward existing customers.

34. Create an opt-in email or print newsletter for your customers. Fill each edition with specials, tips and other timely information.

35. Send hand-written thank you notes to important customers every chance you get.

36. Use brightly colored envelopes and unique stationary when sending direct mail pieces.

37. Show product demos or related videos on a television on the sales floors during store hours.

38. Book a celebrity guest for an event at your store. Use people in your industry or television news anchors or local authors.

39. Create window displays in locations away from your shop. Airports, hospitals, and large office buildings occasionally have display areas they rent to local businesses.

40. Team up with a non-competing business in your area to offer a package promotion.

41. Pick the slowest day of the week to hold a one-day sale.

42. Create a warm, welcoming waiting area for your customers.

43. Provide extra customer service training for your staff.

44. Sign up for a newsletter or join online discussion groups in your industry.

45. If possible, loan your facilities to other groups for a meeting place.

46. Create a unique lapel pin based on the products you sell to wear at meetings.

47. Choose a regular customer to spotlight as a Customer of the Month. Create a brief write up to submit to the local newspaper about the customer and be sure to give he or she a copy of the article as well as have one framed to hang in the store.

48. Pair up slow moving items with related products and repackage as a special buy.

49. Start a blog. Write about your industry or detail in-store happenings.

50. Offer your customers discounts for each referral they provide.

Marketing is most effective if done in coordination with other exposure. Enhance the above efforts with additional signage, newspaper ads, displays and radio ads. Remember to tailor each event for your target audience. If your message isn't being delivered to the right person, it may be a wasted effort.

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