Things to Avoid as a Retailer

Are You Making These 7 Retail Marketing Mistakes?

As an independent retail store owner you have to wear LOTS of hats – including Chief Marketing Officer.  Check to see if you might be making one of these common Retail Marketing Mistakes.

#1. Your Marketing is “All About Me” 
If had to pick the most common (and most deadly) retail marketing mistake, this would be it. Everyone thinks that their products, their services, and their promotions, are far more fascinating than they really are. It’s only natural. To you, the most important thing in the world is – you!

I hate to be the one to break it to you, but your customers don’t really care that much about you, or your store, or your products. Like you, what they care most about is themselves.

The trick for you as a retail marketer is to stop thinking about what you offer and start focusing on what your customer wants. It’s the only way to build the kind of customer relationships that engender real trust, strong loyalty, and repeat business.

If most of your outbound communication (emails, facebook posts, postcards, newspaper ads, etc.) is about your products, your services, your promotions, or your store and not about what’s interesting, helpful, useful, beneficial, or entertaining for your customer, then you are making this marketing mistake.

#2. You Don’t Track Your Results 
If you don’t track the results of your marketing efforts it’s impossible to tell if they are successful, or to what degree they are successful.

Of course, tracking your results takes forethought and planning. (See Retail Marketing Mistake #7!)

You have to be very clear about what your primary goals are for each of your marketing efforts – generate sales? Attract new customers? Re-activate inactive customers? Build relationships? What you hope to achieve affects the way you track your results and how you judge your success.

Some marketing results are easy to track, some are a bit more complicated, but it’s always worth it. With marketing (as with almost every area of business), if you can measure it, you can manage it.

#3. You’re a “One and Done” Marketer
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had a great conversation with a retailer who’s super excited to share a major marketing success and they look at me like I have three heads when I ask them, “So, when is the next one scheduled?” 

Most of them honestly hadn’t considered repeating their successful event!

Or here’s what used to happen to me when I owned the Mackinaw Kite Co… We’d forget from year to year, month to month what we’d done and what worked. I’d find myself scratching my chin and saying, “Yeah, now I remember that thing we did last year. That was really great. Huh, wonder why we didn’t do that again this year?”

One and done doesn’t cut it. You spend too much time and effort getting your marketing right to only do something one time. If it is successful keep on doing it again, and again, and again.

#4. You’re Unhappy If It’s Not a “Home Run” 
Hey, who doesn’t like to hit a home run?! It’s fun. The problem is that if you expect all your marketing efforts to be a home run, you’re bound to be disappointed – and you might stop swinging the bat.

Most of your marketing efforts will be “singles.” Not every email will get an 80% open rate. Not every in-store event will create a stampede of customers. Not every non-profit organization will be a top partner.

Celebrate your singles!

It’s the accumulation of lots of singles that will, in the end, cause you to win the game. Any good sports fan will tell you it’s not the team with the most home runs that gets to the World Series.

Just keep hitting lots of singles and I guarantee you’ll end up with a lot more “jingle” at the end of the year.

#5. You Don’t Adapt Good Ideas 
There is no shortage of good – even great – ideas for attracting new customers, driving traffic, creating loyalty, increasing sales. But you may suffer from a lack of marketing imagination.

If you see an idea that’s working for your colleagues in another industry, imagine all the possible ways you could adapt it for your business.

And don’t just watch other retailers. Watch your local realtors, chiropractors, builders, manufacturers, car dealers, dentists, or anyone else you can lay your eyes on. You may find some marketing gold if you can adapt ideas from other kinds of businesses. How do you think banks, restaurants, and liquor stores all ended up with drive-thru windows?

While you’re at it, don’t forget to adapt your OWN good ideas!

If the ’12 Days of Christmas’ promotion worked for you, adapt and do a Spring Fling Deal of the Day during the week of spring break. Who said the concept had to be used only at Christmas? Who said it had to be 12 days long? Fashion week, Mother’s Day, graduation, Father’s Day, Back-to-School, etc. What works for you?


After nearly every speech I give to a mixed industry group someone comes up to me and says, “I really loved your ideas for the pet store, but do you have any ideas for my bike shop?” Those store owners are making this retail marketing mistake and they are doomed if they can’t adapt.

#6. You Don’t Pay Close Attention to the Details 
The nitty-gritty. The down-and-dirty. It’s the execution of the details that will often make or break your marketing efforts.

Paying attention to the details is certainly what will take your retail marketing to the next level and is where you’ll really maximize your efforts.

Here’s a perfect example. My friend, Paul, just sent out his second email newsletter. It had a great subject line, really compelling content, and a strong call to action asking readers to pass it along to their friends. I thought my brother would find it interesting so I forwarded it, and that’s when I noticed that there was no place in the email where my brother could click to subscribe to the newsletter. AND Paul’s website address wasn’t hyperlinked in the email. Readers would have to copy/paste or manually type the web address into their browser bar to visit his site and sign up.

So while Paul’s email accomplished the goal of strengthening existing relationship by delivering good content, he really missed a golden opportunity to build his list by not paying close attention to the details.

#7. Your Marketing is Scattershot, Not Strategic 
You know who you are. You do a little bit of this, a little bit of that, and a little bit of the the other. You try marketing tactic after tactic in hopes that some of your stuff will work.

Your marketing efforts spring from a need for cash, rather than from a thoughtful, well-designed strategic plan.

The good news here is if you try enough stuff, some of it will work. And if you repeat the stuff that works (see Retail Marketing Mistake #3), you’ll start to get some traction. Activity and effort is way better than doing nothing.

But strategic activity and effort is lots, lots better.

When your marketing is based on a strategic plan, all of your tactics work together to enhance each other and achieve your overall goals. Each effort builds upon the other and the sum becomes greater than the parts.

And the cool thing is, strategic activity is not only more effective, it’s easier. Better, easier – who doesn’t love that?!

So, how’d you do? Are you making any of these Retail Marketing Mistakes? If you are, don’t get down on yourself. Almost everyone makes these mistakes from time to time. The question is…

What are you going to do about it?

Get the tools you need to avoid these marketing mistakes at the 2018 Marketing Mentor Retreat!

With Bob and Susan’s hands-on guidance and WhizBang! Retail Training’s proven system, you can build the marketing plan you need in just 3-days.

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