In an era of increasing competition from both online and brick-and-mortar retailers, modern shopkeepers find themselves continually questioning what they need to do to stand out.
According to Jerrod Sumner, founder of branding and storytelling agency Brandtabulous, the answer may be as simple as identifying and communicating a compelling brand story:
“Retailers need to have a brand story that shoppers can get behind leading them to feel good about their purchases. Consumers care where their money is going. Stores that celebrate their origin and that of the products they sell will enroll more loyal followers near and far.”
So what constitutes a great brand story? And how can motivated merchants capitalize on its potentially powerful impact? Sumner offers four tips for building a retail brand story that sells.
Know What You Stand For
Sumner shares, “As cliché as it sounds retailers suffer when they don’t know who they are and try to be something for everyone. Find what speaks to you and the customers will come.”
If you opened your shop with a particular vision, this identity may already be clear to you. If not, you can arrive at a definition of what you do - and do not - stand for by asking the following questions:
Why did I launch my business?
Why have I selected the products I have?
Who is my ideal customer?
What needs will I meet for my customers?
What greater impact will my shop have on its community?
Allow your vision to evolve over time as you gather data from customers and their purchases. Continually refine your vision until you arrive at an identity you’re proud of.
Create an Experience
Sumner is quick to extol the virtues of “retail-tainment,” stating, “The experience itself means so much to the customer and crafting the right repeatable shopping experience gives the shopper another level of engagement and something to look forward on repeat visits.”
How can you make your shop more than just a shop in your customers’ minds? Could you host meet-and-greets with the makers and small-batch wholesalers whose products you stock? How about offering a theme night with food, drinks and discounts on corresponding products?
Launching events doesn’t have to be expensive, but you can bet it’ll be memorable for shoppers in your area.
Think Beyond Merchandise
Your shop is not its products alone. Sumner states, “Everything makes up the store from the location to merchandising and, of course, the goods themselves. It is important that what you put out to sell supports the store’s mission and who the customer is.”
That means looking closely not just at the products you stock, but at how you communicate their stories and benefits to shoppers. This might take the form of:
Signage near items that describes their provenance
Website content featuring the local merchants you stock
Social media posts sharing testimonials from happy customers
Look at every point of customer engagement as an opportunity to pull back another layer and share additional story touch-points.
Find Your Place
There’s nothing wrong with dreaming big; that is, unless doing so causes you to overextend yourself and your business’s resources. Sumner’s solution? Start small and find your place to create hyper-local successes you can build on.
“Everyone wants to talk about being known for their city. Start with your block. Be the best on your block. Start with your location, then your block, then you get to the city.”
There’s never been a better time to build a brand story around exceptional products, a compelling customer experience, and an identity that’s uniquely you. Be the best in your immediate area. Your reputation - and revenue - will take off from there.
Want more of Sumner’s brand-building wisdom? Find him as a featured speaker at Niche Fair’s The Spark training series in Cleveland, OH on February 24th, 2018. Get your ticket to his session, “Is Your Store Cool?” today.
Image Source: Pixabay