You’ve finally done it. After months of planning and hard work, you’ve opened the doors to your brand new retail store. But no matter how awesome your store looks or how amazing your location is, what do you do if visitors don’t show up in force and you start to lag behind your goals?
Despite natural foot traffic in malls and shopping districts, store awareness starts at zero. We see again and again that promoting a store in its local market is paramount to success in physical retail—which is why investing in marketing is a core to the success of the Leap Platform. Keep in mind that awareness of a new store starts at zero, so every brand has to focus on quickly building that awareness and traffic among their most engaged local customers, as well as further supplementing these activities with paid media and smart activations to drive success. That’s where retail marketing comes in.
Retail marketing is the practice of promoting and presenting your products and store to potential customers. While marketing as a whole encompasses a wide range of processes and goals that ladder up to communicating overall brand value, retail marketing is about investing in a local market made up of one or several physical stores. It requires a strong understanding of your touchpoints and your customers so that you can build deep relationships while driving sales velocity. It also requires constant attention and effort—there is no “set it and forget it” in retail marketing. Ultimately, retail marketing is a stronger and more cohesive proposition than conversion-driven ecommerce marketing. It creates deep connections with local customers, and helps builds lifelong loyalty to brands.
Retail marketing is local marketing. When a brand opens a store in a new market, it means they want to win in that market. It’s not just about having a big-splash opening, driving traffic, and having a single successful retail outlet. It’s about establishing and growing your business across a region incorporating multiple stores and laddering up to your national, international, and ecommerce presence. That’s why truly successful retail marketing requires an omnichannel approach to achieve deep market penetration. It requires pursuing a number of different activities in the following categories, including:
Owned Media: Any online property that your brand controls directly. Examples include your blog, website, email lists, or your social media channels. This is where you can provide direct information about your store, photos of the interiors, and spotlight your team.
Paid Ads: Paid ads encompass any marketing activity that incurs a direct cost. This includes digital ads and traditional forms of advertising, such as social ads, audio ads on streaming services, targeted display ads, billboards, transit ads, local radio ads, and direct mail. This is an effective way to quickly and efficiently build awareness in a new market.
Earned Media: Earned media refers to any publicity, attention, and coverage that you receive through promotional efforts that you don’t pay for directly, or that come through your owned channels. Examples include PR and User Generated Content. With the right messaging and efforts, you can amplify your marketing efforts in-market for no extra cost.
Local Activations: These are your most direct way to connect with potential shoppers in-person. Examples include using your store as a venue, planning events and activations, and engaging local influencers. This is a natural move and a great way to connect directly to the shoppers who will support your store for years to come.
Today’s retail landscape requires 360-degree campaigns that come to life holistically across email, social, in-store signage, in-store promotion, events and activities, and paid media. That can include grand openings, collection drops, collaborations, partnerships, and new campaigns.
To help brands execute hard-working programs to promote their stores with full-coverage marketing, we’ve developed our own Leap Retail Marketing Best Practices.
Localizing messaging by geography is a prime way to deliver more relevancy in your retail marketing. For example, your ecommerce customers are an incredible resource. You know they’ve bought from you before, and you know which regions they live in. Simply set your radius in your ESP at 15-20 miles from the store, and you can notify these local ecommerce customers via email announcing the store’s opening, as well as any ongoing promotions.
When it comes to social ads, you can also refine these through location targeting so you’re serving your ads to the right local customers who live near your store. While interest-based targeting can work hard on a geotargeted level, try building look-alike audiences based on your national CRM list. Also, leveraging photos and videos that feature your store, and ensure that you call out the store’s address and include a specific discount code that can be tracked. With so many ways to reach this built-in audience, you can’t afford not to market to them.
Brands on the Leap Platform not only have access to their own ecommerce customer file they can contact to generate build awareness, they can also leverage Leap’s universal customer file and built-in CRM capabilities. Leap’s local customer file is often much larger than individual brand’s, so it’s a great way to reach shoppers in cities where you may not yet even have a presence.
The local community of independent businesses in your neighborhood are an invaluable partner in launching and promoting your store in-market. By securing local brands to partner with, you gain access to a slate of unique activations you can employ to attract shoppers and build buzz. Because they’re local, these partners also have an incentive to work with you so they can acquire new customers for their businesses as well. These local brands lend authenticity to your brand, allowing you to support and build connections with your community.
There is no shortage of exciting activations you can offer to drive traffic and sales volume. Here are just a few examples that our Platform recently executed.
Having access to a network of local brand partners makes it that much easier to come up with creative, fresh activations that are certain to align with your brand and bring in new customers.
By making use of your owned channels like your different social accounts and website, you amplify your messaging and get the word out about your retail program without much additional investment. Be proud and loud about your new store!
On social, you can tease all of your store happenings to your followers with an ongoing stream of content, then make a big announcement around your grand opening. You can also include special promotions on all of your owned channels to encourage followers to come by in-store and become customers. Be sure to create a store page on Facebook so you can geotag your new store. Then you can begin promotion the week of opening and incorporate things like contests, polls, Instagram takeovers by the store team, and exclusive promotions for followers to make the most of your marketing efforts.
Keeping your website updated is a simple task, but a crucial one. Your brand’s website is like your “home base” as an owned media channel. Shoppers who are looking for information will expect this to be the first and most-accurate place to find it. Make sure to add the store’s details to the locations page on your website, including address, contact info, and links to curbside pickup and virtual appointments.
Your local, retail-focused marketing should ladder up to your national brand presence and strategy as a whole. Remember that retail marketing is part of a wider strategy to win in retail corridors, markets, and regions with the goal of establishing a global presence.
Everything that is going on in your store should feel cohesive with your national marketing and ecommerce programs. Here’s an example of what an aligned program of retail marketing activities might look like. All of the following activities should have consistent messaging and assets, and then roll out accordingly.
Following a playbook like this can help ensure that your local retail marketing acts as a complement to your national paid advertising and branding campaigns. This way, your experience is consistent, whether shoppers are in-store or online, and your messaging works harder wherever it lives.
“Leap allows companies to expand into retail without throwing too much money into it or incurring much risk at all.”
Footwear News, Aug 2020
Glossy, Sept 2020
The Palm Beach Post, Jan 2021
CNBC, Feb 2021
Footwear News, Mar 2021
Chicago Business Journal, Apr 2021
CoStar News, May 2021