04/16/09

Guerrilla Marketing: step one

Successful marketing in a recession often relies more on hard work and wits than a big advertising budget. You can build sales, despite the recession, if you start by paying attention to the people most likely to shop at your store. And, for many businesses, those people are the ones who live within a mile or so of your store.
In nearly every neighborhood, there are hundreds of opportunities to generate low cost or no cost sales promotions. All it take is a little time to get out of your store and circulate in your community. By focusing your efforts in the geographic area from which you pull the vast majority of your customers, you can zero in on potentially overlooked customers right in your own back yard.
But, don’t just casually stroll through your neighborhood. Take time to observe and really study the geographic landscape of your surroundings. Whether you are the owner or manager of a single store, or supervise several locations, you can benefit from mapping out the area around your stores to make informed decisions about your local sales promotion strategies.
Start by creating a map of your store’s geographic location. Include all main arterials, surface streets, businesses, schools, churches, retail centers, civic offices and so on. Work to create an intimate understanding of what’s in your community. How many banks are there, how many schools? How many ice cream shops, how many places serve lunch? Study the landscape and see what you can learn about where people are going and at what time. Are there potential cross-promotion partners out there? Perhaps an auto body shop, post office or transit center would make sense. Or perhaps a local video store or dry cleaner. These are the observations you can use as a means of sculpting a plan. The better you know your neighborhood, the better you’ll be equipped to spot opportunities.
Getting involved in your community and getting to know the various business owners out there will make it much easier to develop relationships that can take on many forms. As you survey the territory around you, stop in and say hello to the managers and operators in your community. Introduce yourself, stay for coffee, share a little about your current business and ask them about their recent hurdles or successes. In all, develop a rapport so that you can use this network to further your local store marketing efforts. The following ideas are just some of the possibilities.
Develop a promotion involving a local school or college. Demonstrate your product for a class or offer a discount to students through their campus newspaper.
Establish tie-ins with community stores. Offer to distribute their brochures if they’ll distribute your brochures or coupons.
Provide a special “discount card” for employees of large-size businesses in your area.
Post your own sign or circular on local bulletin boards at supermarkets, schools, churches, businesses and clubs.
Offer your product, if it fits, to local charities as part of their fund-raising efforts.
Distribute or display your product at a high profile community events, such as concerts, street fairs or sporting events.
Make special offers with mailings to clubs or organizations in the area.
Create a special offer during narrow times of the day when you notice increased traffic, and promote it with window signs or sandwich boards.
The more people who get to know you personally, the more loyal customers you will see. Your community will appreciate any support you can give, and will extend their loyalty to your business relative to the time you devote to cultivating your community relations.