How to thrive as a bricks and mortar store – Part 3

Last month we learnt how a Sydney business owner measures the returns from his online and bricks and mortar operations to ensure his business meets the needs of his customers.

Now we’ll consider the ramifications of the fact that the online landscape has evolved and continues to change rapidly. Advertising is increasingly more expensive online to be able to compete with price sensitive operators. And so many bricks and mortar businesses will boast bigger profit margins with offline which affords them the cash to be able to spend more on online advertising where margins are squeezed – remember, there is always someone willing to take a loss online.

But, of course, there are challenges with offline stores too.

As a shop front it is vital that you ensure your store stands out not only visually with strong signage and branding, but also standing out by becoming known for something; something which prompts people to begin talking about you on and offline, sharing, tagging and visiting to see for themselves. It’s about being different. Being vanilla will not create a buzz or capture an audience for a reason.

A great example was a campaign by Gordan Ramsey, British celebrity chef, who was helping a failing pub in the UK. It was like most pubs, served good wine and beer, had a bar menu, but it was failing. The atmosphere was bland and it lacked a personality. So, he created a point of difference for them and focused on becoming known for great gravy! Sounds crazy, (the British love good gravy) but what it did, was create a buzz, a curiosity.  The pub down the road may have had great gravy but they certainly weren’t shouting about it and making a point of promoting that they had the best gravy around and all the different accompaniments to great gravy. The result was people began to talk about it and word of mouth and referral can be one of the most powerful marketing tools for any business to master.

Another example, again a pub in the UK, was known for its amazing sausage menu! Every kind of locally sourced sausage you could think of. It was known for miles around as the “sausage pub” and most people would not recall its actual name. The point here is, prior to becoming known for homemade, locally sourced sausages, it was just like any other pub in the area.

The key message is that with a bricks and mortar store, you can have so much fun and be creative with how you market yourself, not always something you can do quite so effectively with a website. And your voice can be lost amongst the crowd of online, not so with a physical store. As with a café or hospitality venue, sometimes it is not enough to serve great coffee or have a great menu. Consideration of other ways to stand out and ensure customers are talking about you, referring you, sharing on social media and ensuring that word-of-mouth becomes one of your greatest strategies, is key.

So how can a business owner assess where their efforts and money should be targeted?

Join us for the final instalment next montht where we share insights from more small-business owners on how they survive both on and off line.

Susie Campbell, Founder, Little Black Book Marketing

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