What are the most important parts of a marketing plan for a retail business?

The basics of a marketing plan are true no matter what kind of business you’re in. It involves the famous “Ps”, which help determine what your overall customer offer will be.


The first P is People – who are you selling to? Product – what are you selling? Price – how are you going to position it? Place – where and how are you going to sell it? Promotion – how will you drive sales throughout the calendar year? And, again, People – how will you manage your most valuable asset.


A good retail business owner will use this plan to think about what ultimately makes his or her store, or products, different from the rest of the market, and whether this difference is of value to your audience. Value is key.


Another very important part of any marketing plan is considering how to build customer loyalty. After all, for every dollar it costs to acquire a new customer it generally only costs 10c to keep one.


Build a loyalty program and ensure that you really do reward your best customers. Keep a database of customers (give them an incentive to join) and try and upsell. Track the units purchased vs quantity of customers entering and set a goal to increase this.


Cross promote logical items in stores, e.g., if in a fashion business, encourage the belt buy with the pants. Always provide an incentive to buy more than one item – this is a very cost-effective way to drive, trial, and build customer loyalty.


Also, don’t be inwardly focused. Keep track of your competition and ensure you always have three very compelling reasons for why they should stay with you rather than go to your competitors, even if you don’t share it with your customers explicitly.


Also try and obtain information about similar businesses and set benchmarks about costs vs sales – it is amazing what you can find via Google. This will help determine what percentage you should be spending on various aspects of your plans to remain competitive.


A key point about marketing plans is that they are not a ‘set and forget’ approach – it is imperative to continue to gain feedback from your customers about their experiences, especially from those who choose to not buy from your store.


Online retailing businesses can now, of course, use analytics to their advantage. However, bricks-and-mortar can just as easily request feedback from their foot traffic customers to ensure that they are meeting and exceeding expectations and that the plan is working.


Keep track of who comes into your store but doesn’t buy – and find out why. This “outage” is very expensive.


The final point I’d like to make is that ongoing marketing plans such as promotional calendars must be aligned with the brand’s strategic plans, which means that at all times one must know what the overarching objectives are and how you will position your retail brand.


An example of this is that if your overall equity or offer is price – are you always price focused. If you are about the experience, are you enticing customers to visit your store with something relevant and exclusive?


If it is about quality, do you clearly communicate this throughout your store? So you need to decide what your business/brand will stand for and be holistic in everything you do to reinforce this.


Retail is a tough business but can be very rewarding if successful, so good luck with your plans!


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