Ways To Market Your Independent Retail Business

Unlike sales, marketing can’t be measured quantitatively. Because of this, independent retail and wholesale business owners often ignore the impact marketing can have on their businesses. The reality is, however, that customers won’t buy from you, not to mention even know you exist, unless you successfully market yourself. In today’s world, this takes more than just attending local of Chamber of Commerce meetings and telling friends to tell their friends about your store or product. It takes time. It takes strategy. It takes effort.

Below is a list of some ways to consider marketing your business. Make sure to evaluate how each of these marketing steps will benefit your individual business, but be careful not to overlook any simply because you are unfamiliar with it or find it easier to do something else. To be successful at marketing you will sometimes need to step out of your comfort zone. In addition, make sure to find a balance of marketing strategies in an effort to find the right marketing mix for your business.

Advertising – If you have the finances to pay for exposure of your store or product, then advertising should be considered as part of your marketing mix. Consider where you advertise, though, and who the audience is that will most likely see your ad. Make sure it’s the same audience that may want to shop your store or buy your product.

Website – If you don’t have one, get one. Plain and simple, having an online presence is essential in marketing your services. Customers today use the internet to research their purchases as well as plan their shopping destinations. Even if you don’t plan to sell online, you should still have a website that outlines what your business offers. Consider including photos, testimonials, directions, how to purchase details, press details, and any other information that may be relevant.

Trade Shows – Either as an attendee or an exhibitor, trade shows are a great way to market your business. They provide insight regarding both customers and competition, as well as offer a great excuse to make friends in your industry since they are very interactive. The cost of trade shows will vary so make sure to research all your options and determine which shows are best for you business.  The largest retail based trade show is MAGIC, which takes place in Las Vegas twice a year and offers apparel, footwear, and accessories for men and women. You can also attend regional trade shows, as well it is a good idea to attend both national and regional shows if possible.

Internet Media – Gaining customers through an online presence is more influential than ever before. Sites such as Twitter, Facebook, My Space, and Linked In are great online spots to gain awareness for your business. You need to understand each of these sites in order for them to work for you, though, so take the time to research how each of them can impact your specific business. Some involve more time than others, such as Twitter which is very interactive, while others, such as Linked In, can be effective by simply having a profile created. That said, updating each of these sites with news about your business, such as sales or newly arrived product, is the only way to continually create a buzz about your business. I often suggest to my clients that interns or part time associates can help dedicate time to these sites if they don’t want to – this is better than being dismissed entirely. If you use the these sites effectively will increase your website presence and ultimately your sales.

To help get you started, below is a link to PC Mag’s website that outlines how Twitter works for beginners. I personally use Twitter and find that this gives me the most professional return of any of the internet media sites, however each business and each site will work differently for everyone.,2817,2341095,00.asp

Blogs – Whether you have a blog or comment on blogs, make sure to be a part of blogs! Blogging is quickly becoming one of the top ways for businesses to showcase their value. It takes time to dedicate yourself to building a blog that readers will want to read again and again, so before you dive into this make sure it’s right for you. If blogging isn’t your thing, consider commenting on other people’s blogs.  When commenting on blogs, make sure to reference your business, which will ultimately link people back to your site.

Networking – Whether you live in an urban city or a suburban neighborhood or a small town, networking is key to putting your business on your local map. Make sure you are a part of your local Chamber of Commerce as well as other networking groups. There are groups for small business owners, women business owners, specific to your trade, and more. Research what is available in your area and get involved. Once you are a part of the group, let your voice be heard and participate. Don’t just show up for the meetings but actually be a part of the meetings and events. This is how people will respond to you and ultimately your business.

There are many ways to market small businesses, however these are some basic and easy to obtain strategies that can help launch your business to make a name for itself. If you have other ideas that have been successful for you, we’ love to hear from you! Please consider leaving a comment on our blog. Thank you!


  • Ruthie
    February 18, 2009

    Great tips – thanks!

  • Matt
    March 9, 2010

    Good advice. I would also recommend using ebay if you have products to sell, it can be a powerful marketing tool.

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