Usually, a business doesn't just abandon one area, in this case online, because another area—bricks-and-mortar stores—is performing better. Think of it this way: In a race, one runner comes in first every time. But is the runner completing the race in the fastest time possible? Likely not. So there's room for improvement.
Similarly, if a store can find a way to nudge more customers to go to its bricks and mortar store, the difference could mean millions of dollars in revenue. Read on for advice from fellow readers.
This Week's Dilemma
Online store sells more products face-to-face
Our company name is our Internet address and is generic, like AllYourPetNeeds.com. When we branded the company, our intention was to grow our online sales. But we actually sell more products in our bricks-and-mortar store. We've received feedback from customers that they think we're just an online company.
To work around this, we thought maybe it would help to come up with a prefix to the name to indicate we're not just an Internet-based company. How can we overcome this challenge?
The following two activities offer a way to build make your offline presence more prominent, but without neglecting your Web site:
- Tweak the Web site
- Leverage the two presences
Mike Pearson, senior new media designer at DTW, recommends tweaking the Web site to add a splash page that appears when potential customers arrive at the site. The page need only be 5-10 seconds and include photos of the store along with a tagline like "Buy in store or online."
Be warned, though, that many customers don't like splash pages, so if you go this route make sure you have a "skip intro" link that appears immediately.
So the tweak could be as simple as adding a tagline that indicates you have a store. Or you can offer specials to online customers who visit physical stores. The key is to tell people about your BMS on your Web site.
Leverage the two presences
Anna Barcelos, marketing director with Business Link International, says the prefix is a good idea—but don't stop there:
Don't just say it, show it as well! Whether it's in the form of a promotion or maybe a page dedicated to your BMS with photos, coupons, etc. Do what the big e-tailers do and leverage both your on-line and off-line presences. For instance, have a page dedicated to your BMS on your Web site with coupons or promotions that people will only get by going to the store and vice versa. This also helps create awareness that you have both an online and offline presence.
Lastly, it's also a way of strategizing: When you are thinking about adding a new product or having a sale, think about how you can leverage that across both your Web site and BMS. You will find that if you start thinking this way, so will your customers.
Start considering your business as a company that happens to have an online and offline presence. Treat the two as one. Tell those online about your BMS and do the usual marketing in the local area to bring people to the store. Remember, the Internet has more visitors from outside of your area than in your area.
Next Marketing Challenge: Can You Help?
My company is a small education institution with a small marketing budget to match. Our competitor, also in the same area, has lucked out with a budget that's 10 times larger than ours.
I've done the flyer routine and created a referral program in which a student gets $100 if a friend enrolls. We've sent press releases to the local media. I think I've run out of ideas that require little or no money. What other low-cost marketing strategies work well?
If you have a situation or question needing a few hundred brains for ideas, 180,000 MarketingProfs readers are ready to deliver their thoughts to resolve your challenge. Share your question, and you'll get a chance to win a complimentary copy of our book, A Marketer's Guide to e-Newsletter Publishing.