Think about why you marketing effort. Are you bringing more customers into the store now or are you looking to build your customer base for tomorrow?
Both are worthy goals and both should be on your mind as you develop your marketing plan.
What happens though is most often marketing focuses on today and we forget about tomorrow. This is much like the business owner working in the business and not on the business.
As a business owner you need to be constantly working on tomorrow or bringing customers back to the store and attracting new customers to your business?
The potential customers group are the building block for your next growth step.
Let’s consider the group who have been in the store but haven’t come back or you see them only occasionally. You probably assume they didn’t need anything. Chances are that’s true, BUT do you know this for a fact.
Ask yourself, were they satisfied when they left last time. Did you get them what they wanted and was it done in a pleasant, professional manner? Did you ask if they needed anything else? Was there a follow-up? Did you say hello when they came and a good-bye when they left? Think about their past purchases, does it seem like you are getting 100% of their business? How about 75%? Or is it only 50% or just an occasional purchase?
Finally there is the big question, what are they saying about you and your store when they leave? Are they your ambassador?
The second group, potential future customers, has never been in your store. If you live in a small community, you may be are making a list of who you that might be. But, this audience is much bigger than that.
Who are the newcomers to the community? How many of the visitors to the community stop by your store? This only begins to define the potential audience.
What if you made yourself a destination? We all have places that we will travel to because of what they offer or the way they do business. Maybe you don’t do your daily shopping there but, if you are like me, when I go my purchase probably is larger than the average.
Finally, there is a third group who you need to market towards, the customer of tomorrow. This means the millennials and Generation Z. It’s early but both of these cohorts have disposable income. For this group though your marketing must turn somewhat on its head.
These two generations like brands and feeling part of a community. They will be online shoppers and their expectations of service will be different. They follow reviews and key in on “word of mouth” recommendations. And they don’t hesitate to change their shopping patterns, at least to this point in time.
You can’t forget about today’s customer. Part of your marketing will need to maintain that group. But, the long-term success of your business will depend on tomorrow’s customer. You must determine who that customer is and be gearing your marketing, your merchandising strategy, and your focus on that audience.
So as you market, think not only of people in the aisles today but packing the aisles tomorrow as well. Build the business.
- About the Author
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.