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A view of the industry through the eyes of independent and chain retailers.

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5 Surefire Ways To Establish Your Brand

Create a good story, then tell it.

by Rich Kizer & Georganne Bender (May 16, 2011)

Establishing your brand is essential to the growth of your business. It's more than just the name on your store or your product, and it's much more than what you sell. Marketing comes after you have established who you are, and marketing is a day-to-day job that never ends. Here are five surefire ways to help you establish your brand.

1. Combine Your "Store's Story" and "Story Selling" into One Big Marketing Opportunity.

There are shopping centers out there filled with similar stores, staffed with similar people, selling similar products, providing similar services, and charging similar prices. You have to make sure that your customers see how your store is different from all the rest.

Write a short story about who you are and what makes your store different from every other store selling the same things. List your passions, and tell the reader why you got into this business in the first place. It doesn’t have to be Pulitzer Prize quality; you just have to get your story down on paper so that it can be told the way you want it to be told. Your story is the foundation for all of your future marketing. You may also want to ask your store associates to give you a hand by challenging them to write their version of your Store's Story. Then you can blend them all together.

Your advertising and marketing efforts should also reflect your Store's Story. It has much more impact than just item and price. Have you noticed all the television ad campaigns that use Story Selling? Viewers relate to, and remember, these commercials -- stories -- because they touch something inside of them. When you break it down, the secret isn't the big ad dollars these companies spend, it's that they use customer testimonials to market their message. You can do that, too.

Customer testimonials are so effective because of the simple fact that customers will believe what other customers say about your store before they will believe you. That "word of mouth" advertising tops the list of reasons new customers come to stores. Make sure that you give customers an opportunity to tell you how good you are, then use their quotes as part of your marketing campaign.

2. Create a 60-Second "Elevator Commercial"

Have you ever been in an elevator, at a networking function, or on an airplane when someone asked you what you do, only to find yourself suddenly speechless? We all have. You won’t miss another marketing opportunity if you turn your Store’s Story into a 60- second synopsis of what you do.

Write it down and memorize it. Then make sure that everyone involved in your store memorizes it, too. Test them every once in awhile to make sure they really know it and understand why it’s so important to get it right.

3. Create Unique Store Experiences

Shoppertainment! That wonderful intersection where shopping and entertainment meet. Make sure you have at least one in-store event or promotion planned for each month of the year. If you're fresh out of ideas, drop us an email and we’ll send you enough to make your head spin.

It's also a good idea to carry a notebook and your camera or smart phone with you everywhere you go. Now whenever something cool happens in your store, you’ll be able to capture the moment, and use the photos in future marketing efforts.

4. Create Experiences that Connect Customers to Your Store

Customers will stay close to your store if you give them a reason to. Classes, in-store events, clubs, and crops are all good reasons.

Camille and John Akin, owners of Ever After Scrapbooks in Carlsbad, California, host an annual event that not only connects customers to their store, it attracts people from other states -- even other countries!

Each year John and Camille host a 24-hour Survivor Crop that benefits a charitable organization. The first 24-Hour Survivor Crop was held in 2002, when the Akins and 56 tenacious croppers raised more than $8,000 for the Multiple Sclerosis Foundation. Hosting an event like this is no easy task, so the Akins were grateful the next year when several customers offered to form the Survivor Crop Committee. It was this committee that unanimously chose breast cancer awareness and research, specifically, San Diego's Susan B. Komen Race for the Cure as its fundraising cause. In the nine years Ever After has hosted Survivor Crop, passionate participants have not only raised awareness of breast cancer but also raised over $365,000 for Komen's grant recipients. This year’s goal is $100,000. Click for more information: http://www.survivorcrop.com

5. Become a Shameless Self-Promoter

Did you know that nearly 80% of the stories that appear in your local media came from a one-page press release sent by someone like you who had a story to tell? So, for the cost of a single stamp, a 30-second fax, or a quicker-than-you-can-hit-send email, your store could become famous. Email us for our easy-to-follow "How to Write a Press Release" instruction sheet.

If you're too busy to handle the public relations by yourself, then choose one person and promote him or her to the exalted position of "Director of Public Relations." Your Director will collect the names of local editors and reporters, write and distribute your press releases, be your store ambassador at local functions and Chamber of Commerce events, and more.

The goal here is to turn occasional customers into loyal customers. And loyal customers are not created simply because you sell neat stuff or have killer customer service. Nope, a retail study showed that 70% of your current customers will go somewhere else if that somewhere else is more fun. You owe it to yourself to get involved with the things that make your store more attractive to shoppers. And you owe it to yourself to capitalize on the visibility these things can do for you.


Rich and Georganne will conduct two seminars at the CHA Summer Conference & Trade Show July 19-21 (with education starting July 18) in Rosemont, IL.

1. "Advanced Social Media Strategies for Retailers" (S110). It's Tues., July 19, 2:00 to 3:00 pm. Topics include Tips To Improve Your Facebook Business Page ... How To Create Tweets That Get Re-Tweeted ... Smart Ways To Promote Your Business on Facebook and Twitter ... What -- and What Not -- To Say to Encourage Customer Conversation ... How Much Time You Should Invest Each Day in Social Media ... The Latest Tools Available To Help You Evaluate Your On-line Effectiveness ... How To Measure Your Marketing Success in Terms of Interaction and Sales ... Social Media Sites You May Be Missing

2. "Time for a Change: Jump-Start Sales with Cross Over Products -- for Paper and Scrapbook Retailers" (S117). It's Wed, July 20, Noon to 1 pm. Topics to be covered include Things to Think About When Selecting Your New Merchandise Mix ... How To Mine the CHA Show Floor for New Ideas ... How and Where To Display Your New Lines on Your Sales Floor ... How To Cross-Merchandise Your New Additions with Your Current Categories ... Inventory Management Must-dos ... How To Build a Buzz About Town

Online registration is now available at www.chashow.org.

(Note: Meetings & Conventions magazine took a survey of meeting planners asking them to name their favorite speakers/keynote presenters – and Kizer & Bender make the list, along with such luminaries as Dr. Stephen R. Covey, Mike Ditka, Bill Gates, Rudy Giuliani, Doris Kearns Goodwin, Jay Leno, Colin Powell, and others. To read previous columns, click on the titles in the right-hand column.)

KIZER & BENDER Speaking! 

Keynotes | Seminars | Consulting | Store Design

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