Guest Column | September 3, 2021

Retail Marketing Strategies That Work (And How To Pay For Them)

By Jessica Larson,


Most small businesses will reach a stage where their strategies no longer work. Word of mouth and Facebook ads can only go so far. At that point, it is time to find distinct marketing techniques to help you and your business reach the next level.

Of course, every industry will have different marketing approaches that work best. However, the following tips have been proven to have a great impact across the board.

Research Is Key

The most successful business owners know that research is constant and essential. Business owners should always be looking at industry leaders to see what works and stay up to date on trends. For instance, it’s just as important to cater to how people shop as what they shop for.

Within brick-and-mortar shops, optimizing your store layout can increase sales and improve customer experience. Free-flow layouts, like those found at CVS, allow businesses to be creative with their floor plans. Guiding the natural flow of the store helps direct patrons to premium products. You should also be sure you know how your customers like to pay. For younger customers, touchless payment methods are more popular than ever, while older clients may carry cash. Make sure your point-of-sale system is equipped accordingly.

With online sales surging over the past two years, an eCommerce strategy is essential. Having a simple and efficient website will boost customer engagement and retention. Flashy sites with annoying features, on the other hand, keep customers from finding the items they want and completing their purchase. Ease of use also will drive buyers to return for future purchases. In short, steer clear of the newest and shiniest tech tools and focus on data-driven updates that improve your ROI instead. Based on the research, an in-cart upsell based on products customers often purchase together is likely a much more impactful investment than a scrolling image gallery.

Stay Ahead Of Changes

Technology is a driving force of change across the retail industry, and the pandemic has forced many to adopt a variety of new tech. Mobile apps, for example, are a perfect opportunity to boost shopper experience and, in turn, further marketing. Some apps use augmented reality to allow shoppers to “try on” certain products. Others enable contactless payments from any place in the store. The key is that in-store customer experience is inspiring retail trends and technology.

Consumers have in fact flocked to online shopping, but half of all customers decide where to shop based on curbside pickup accessibility. Stores with a robust online store presence can tap into both major sales trends. Look into BOPIS systems (buy online, pick up in-store), as they allow brick-and-mortar locations to fulfill online sales without extra shipping.

Shoppers also love curbside pickup for its ease. There is no wait time or shipping cost, and it helps get the customer to go to the actual store. These trends will not go away anytime soon, and mobile technology will especially continue to lead innovation. Staying in front of customer preferences will therefore help set any business apart from the rest.

Focus On Current Customers

Pursuing trends will only work if a business brings along its existing customer base. Promoting customer retention can boost profits by up to 100%, not to mention also having an almost 70% sales success rate. That’s why, while gaining new shoppers is important, creating a regular customer base is essential.

Innovative technology once again provides the answers. Marketing automation, for instance, can help produce important customer metrics and shopping profiles. When integrated with mobile apps and online storefronts, businesses gain vital customer insight. These programs track customers’ shopping behaviors and habits. In turn, this creates personalized experiences and promotions based on their browsing and spending trends. These tools also allow for greater connectivity with customers through email and other types of communication. Live chats, check-in reviews, and even store club memberships can bolster repeat business.

Funding Options

It’s no secret that marketing takes money. Business owners have to invest in their companies for optimal returns. Fortunately, there are methods to help small businesses meet their marketing goals.

Free Services

Both established businesses and startups alike should use small business development centers. Specialized advisors are available at these centers to assist with every aspect of the business, including creating marketing plans and conducting market research. Staffed with established experts and funded by grants, these centers help business owners access top-quality marketing services completely free of charge. And, with at least one in every state, they are frequented by other local business owners. This allows for great networking and mentoring opportunities.

Small business centers also often work with local communities. Retail experts will thus know what’s happening with local customers, including localized trends. These experts may also be able to point you in the right direction when it comes to securing funding. This can range from financial counseling to applying for grants.

Small Business Loans

Unless a business is already swimming in funds, loans are often needed to take the next upward step. Like personal loans, business loans are provided by a varied list of sources. Banks often focus on funding local clients to improve the community. SBA loans are backed by the Small Business Administration and typically have low interest rates, but these can have stronger restrictions, including needing a high credit score.

Good credit will be needed for almost every small business loan. As a bonus, having good credit can keep interest and fees low, saving you more than $11,000 a year. And building credit can be as simple as opening a credit card account and using it properly, but it takes time. So start as soon as possible. Lenders will look at credit habits to determine lending worthiness.

Staying on top of marketing trends will certainly help a small business grow. Implementing the leading plans can set businesses apart from many competitors. Embrace new technology and focus on what customers want and be sure to turn to the experts to help you fund your goals and realize success.

About The Author

Jessica Larson is a married Midwestern mom and a solopreneur. She creates online courses for students, and she has started and run several other businesses over the years. Her goals are to support her family while still actually spending time with them, to act as an entrepreneurial role model for her two daughters, and to share what she has learned through The Solopreneur Journal.