3 ‘Insignificant’ Things That Say A Lot About You

If you’re a brick-and-mortar small business owner, you know that you’ve got only a few critical seconds to make a strong impression on anyone who walks through your door. Things like your logo and signage, level of service, what products you’re selling and how they’re displayed all shape the way a customer or potential customer perceives your company. Think Nordstrom (higher end, sophisticated) versus JCPenney (value oriented, friendly). When branding is done right, a consistent theme should dominate and that theme should withstand the test of time.

But once you’ve got all those big things established, it doesn’t mean you’re done. There are lots of seemingly insignificant details beyond the walls of your store that play an important role in influencing what people think about your business. Here are three to note.

Your Website
Even if you don’t conduct any transactions online, you still need a website that is an extension of your location’s look and feel. If there’s a disconnect, potential customers searching for you online are going to wonder what you’re all about or how serious you are about your business, and you can’t afford that ambiguity. Your website is a great opportunity to make an immediate impression and drive traffic to your retail location. And the best part is, it’s “open” 24 hours, seven days a week.

You don’t necessarily need to hire an expensive Web developer or designer to do it right. Simple adjustments can make a noticeable difference. Use the same color palette and fonts that you use for the rest of your in-store branding and marketing materials. One of our favorite VerticalResponse customers, jewelry designer Melissa Joy Manning, does this well, using colors that are similar to those found in her store. For the content, make sure the tone reflects your brand’s personality. Are you fun? Serious? Elegant? Show it in your website copy and images.

Phone Etiquette
Retail stores get a lot of calls, and this is a great customer touchpoint to reinforce your brand. The way your employees answer the phone, the type of hold music you have, what your voice message says … These all communicate something about your brand. If you run a skateboard shop, you can afford to be a bit more informal. After all, your customers are probably pretty informal, too. If you have a bakery and specialize in French macarons, you probably don’t want to have the same hold music as your fellow skateboard shop owner. Try to give customers the same experience over the phone as if they’ve just walked into your store.

Frequency of Communications
How often you communicate with your customers can say a lot about your brand, too. If you don’t collect your customers’ contact information and never reach out to them, it might suggest that you don’t really care about getting repeat business and that customer service is not a big part of your brand. On the other hand, if you’re constantly marketing to them, you might come across as a competitive – and potentially desperate – brand. While there’s no magic number and that frequency sweet spot depends on a lot of factors, the great thing about email marketing is that you can test and refine based on the actions of your subscribers.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your business and brand begin and end at the store entrance. In today’s always connected world, you need to think about every single customer touchpoint – and make sure you leave an accurate impression that represents your company. What other ways can retail store owners shape their brand and grow their brand equity?

Reader’s Toolbox:
www.nordstrom.com
www.jcpenney.com
www.verticalresponse.com
www.melissajoymanning.com

 

Janine Popick

Janine Popick is the CEO and co-founder of VerticalResponse (Inc. 500/5000 2006-2011), a leading provider of self-service email marketing, social media, event marketing, online surveys and direct mail solutions for small businesses. She brings over 20 years of experience leading direct and Internet marketing programs for some of the biggest brands in technology and entertainment, including NBC Internet; XOOM.com; Claris Corp., a wholly owned subsidiary of Apple Inc.; and Symantec Corporation.