Difficulties facing retailers in towns and cities nationwide – typically too few customers spending too little money – are also typical of the problems being experienced in many other sectors of the economy.
There’s no one-size-fits-all formula for improving the business outlook, but communication is an area we should all be looking at, whatever our sector.
It pays to advertise, according to the old saying, and it’s certainly a good way to transmit a repetitive sales message. But what today’s businesses need is a deeper way to change behaviour – to turn potential customers into actual customers.
This is where communication comes in. Retailers – and others – who educate and inform their customers properly will also entice them. And then they’re well on the road to behavioural change.
So, what’s needed? First, it’s the right products, prices and attitude. You should also know your customers and potential customers – they may have very different characteristics. Then you need a story to tell, which could relate to your product range, expertise, brilliant customer service, your ability to solve customers’ problems cost effectively, and so on.
Fill your website with useful information, then use social media, emails and every other opportunity to encourage people to visit your site. Ensure there’s always a strong call to action … and clear contact details.
Whatever you do, don’t simply talk to people: talk with them. Real communication is a two-way process, and feedback from customers can be extremely valuable.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.