January 11, 2016,
Pick any industry and you’ll find that marketing is often at the foundation of its success. If you think about all the marketing you’re exposed to in your everyday life it’s almost overwhelming. Marketing can be subtle or it can in your face. Some marketing is stealth and sneaks in the back door, while other types just kick the front door open. The good news, it all works.
Marketing is all around us. It’s on T-shirts. It’s on billboards. It saturates all types of media. And, it infiltrates even the most discrete forms of communication. It’s insidious… but necessary. Think about it. If you don’t tell people what you are selling (I.e., marketing) then they won’t come to you to buy it.
For the successful entrepreneur or operator, marketing cannot be ignored – nor avoided. That said, I’m sure for many store operators, marketing can run the gamut from enjoyable to overwhelming to something that slots in just below a root canal. Fortunately, marketing comes in many flavors.
A recent article from the online real estate site Zillow.com was intended for real estate brokers but, for the most part, it easily translates well for store operators. Among the suggestions for marketing tips is one you hear almost every day, embrace digital marketing.
Now to be honest, “digital marketing” cuts a fairly wide path. There are many ways you can reach the people who are on your ever-expanding email list. A simple newsletter is an easy way to let people know what’s going on not only in your museum, but in your store. But don’t be content to let your institution’s marketing people handle all your marketing. The store is your domain, you whenever possible you need to drive your own marketing.
Zillow also recommends leveraging the power of social media. These days, that’s pretty much a no-brainer, but it bears repeating. Social media is a massive opportunity that helps build your brand and enables you to stay in touch with all of your customers. It’s a great way to turn passers-by into regulars who will shop at your store, even if they don’t intend on visiting your institution.
How’s your blog? Let’s face it producing a regular blog can be a royal pain. Almost everyone intends to create a blog, but the road to hell – and your blog-site – is usually paved with good intentions (and not much else). But remember, you’re not alone. Ask your staff, your volunteers, other members of your museum team, and even your customers to help contribute regularly to your blog. And with most tough jobs, many hands make light work… and a better blog.
Have you thought about using video to promote your store? How about a quick 90 second interview with one of your customers, your vendors, your staff, or maybe one of the artists featured in your collection? Video has become easier than ever that ever to do. You already have a fabulous, high definition video camera in your pocket. Just a quick point, quality is critical here. It can be a quick phone recording, but it is critical that you have good audio. Think about it. So-so video with good audio can still convey a message. But great video with unintelligible audio is really just a moving photo that won’t do you much good, and could cause harm to your brand.
Don’t forget that simple things can often become essential parts of a marketing campaign. Try a postcard to announce a special event. How about an open house to bring people into your store? Granted you’re not selling a house like a Realtor, but offer refreshments and entertainment as a way to introduce your institution’s customers to your store. People love giveaways, and it’s an easy way to build your customer contact list.
In general, marketing begs for your creativity, but it also requires your effort. With 2016 underway, if your goal is to grow your business, then your first step has to be designing a good and achievable marketing plan.
Patrick Mulcahy is Director of Marketing for MSA