By John Matthews, founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises Inc.
Budgets are tight, but you need to move top line sales—fast! What is a quick and easy way to expand your customer base? Partnering with noncompeting retailers to help your broaden exposure is a simple, yet terrific local store marketing idea.
By crafting a retail bounceback program, both parties win by improving sales and/or combining advertising dollars. Provided that you are expanding each other’s reach, this is a no-brainer for a multi-unit chain operator as well as the single-store operator. Many retailers are specialists in their product offerings and always benefit from strong relationships with nearby non-competing retail outlets.
The concept is straightforward: you partner with a noncompeting retailer and they hand out your marketing materials to their customers. These marketing flyers are called “bouncebacks”—they usually contain a coupon that “bounces” the customer back to your store. Then, you do the same for the noncompeting retailer, handing out bouncebacks for their stores. For the cost of the flyers, this is a remarkably easy way to generate customer traffic—customers that are already in the vicinity of your location. You can even share the cost of printing a joint bounceback with your noncompeting partner, helping reduce your cost even more, as well as solidifying your partner relationship in the eyes of your customers.
Choose Wisely: Picking the correct retail partner is essential in order to hit your desired objectives. An ideal partner would have a loose tie to your industry that will be complementary to your concept. Though you may share crossover customers, the linkage between concepts allows customers to act while in the same “mindset.”
Tap The Potential: Creating a cross-promotion bounceback with a non-competing retailer is an excellent way to tap into another retailer’s customer base. Within your three-mile trade area, identify one noncompeting retailer to cross-promote with for each quarter. Create independently or collaborate on a dual bounceback that will be distributed to each store’s customer base for a set period of time. Rotating your retail partners throughout the year will keep your offer fresh.
Execute Flawlessly: As customers purchase your products, attach a bounceback for the other noncompeting retailer so that your customers will frequent that establishment. Likewise, your noncompeting retail partner will do the same with their customers, sending their customers into your store. Of course, it is prudent to know your partner’s offer to answer any quick questions a customer may have.
Make It Compelling: Depending upon your weekly customer traffic, ideally partner with a noncompeting retailer that averages the same traffic count. Since the partner is within your three-mile trade area, expect to receive upwards of 2% customer traffic from the non-competing retailer’s customer base. Capitalize on the one-stop shop mentality that may expand to the shopping center as opposed to just your store.
Track Results: If you are using a coupon on your bounceback to drive customer traffic, code the coupons so that you can track the redemptions of the coupons. For every new customer who comes in with a coded coupon, ensure that you capture their customer contact data in order to actively market to them in the future. Remember, each new customer may only represent the first time sales–your results could be significantly higher if you cultivate repeat customer visits.
All too often, marketers tend to overcomplicate their messaging to potential customers or overspend in reaching them. Sometimes the best marketing strategies are simply capturing customers when they are in walking distance to your store. Though this may seem like a nuts-and-bolts approach to marketing your store, keeping it effortless for your customer to react and head over to your store sometimes is the most profitable way of driving sales.
John Matthews is the founder and president of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc., a strategic planning and marketing services firm that specializes in helping businesses grow in the restaurant, convenience and general retail industries. With more than 20 years of senior-level experience in retail and a speaker at retail-group events throughout the U.S., Matthews has recently written two step-by-step manuals, Local Store Marketing Manual for Retailers and Grand Opening Manual for Retailers, which are available at www.graycatenterprises.com.