July 12, 2016 •
Your Stationery Business Shouldn’t be Stationary
By Brian Lawrence, Special to Stationery Trends
Storeowners need to think differently and understand that they have to be more proactive than years past. While certain online solutions may offer efficiency for the consumer, they cannot offer the tactile, hands-on, custom design experience a retailer that carries finer brands and sources papers can offer to quench the thirst for differentiation.
So, how does your business have the best chance of winning new business in your local market? Here are five important strategies.
- Cultivate reviews and authentic testimonials. Showing quotes on your website is a virtual waste of time. You need to bring those testimonials to life with a photo of your customer, or you with your customer. Include actual names and even more important, the ceremony site and venue.
Also, sites reviewing service providers have become important to consumers. Don’t just wait for customers to review you. Ask them to do so, whether emailing them or giving them a handout when they pick up their invitations. A meaningful quantity of Google reviews will not only help you get more attention and clicks when customers are searching locally, but may inspire Google to rank you higher.
- Maintain online visibility. It’s essential for you to set up local profiles with Google, Yahoo and Bing. Online retailers can’t establish themselves on these platforms since they are especially for local businesses. When optimizing your website for search terms, you want to rank for terms with a geographic indicator, such as “Wedding Invitations Chicago.” That identifies a customer who is pursuing a local resource.
- Operate a responsive website. The Internet search behavior of consumers has drastically shifted to tremendous mobile device and tablet usage. Your website can look wonderful on a computer screen but be overwhelming on a mobile device. In addition, people searching on mobile devices are more likely to just want important facts and easy access to contacting you or learning your hours. You can either develop a new site format that detects the size of the screen and contours the display to complement the size, or have a detector installed that will automatically deliver a different mobile website when the customer is typing in the same web address.
- Carry exclusive products. In addition to the challenge of getting clients into your store, it is all about improving your chances of them buying from you. One strategy is to seek products that are not sold online, cannot be discounted or have some level of territory exclusivity.
- Have a proactive sales approach. The moment a potential client sees an invitation they fall in love is often the best time to seal the deal. At that point, their emotions are running high, which is more conducive to immediate decision making than hoping they come back after they sleep on it. Encouraging the customer to at least leave a small down payment — even if they’re not ready to submit wording or don’t even know the quantity — can help you gain sales you may otherwise lose.
While the market has become further diluted with DIY and even virtual options, off-line competition is actually less. Armed with the right strategy, the savvy retailer can still thrive in their local area.
Brian Lawrence has spent more than 30 years in the wedding and stationery industry, first as a first multi -store owner and then VP of Sales and Marketing for a leading stationery brand. He is the author of “The Invitation Business Report” and has helped numerous retail and wholesale brands with his marketing insights through personal consultation, books, seminars and articles sharing his passion and knowledge for the industry and broad experience. He has served on the Board of Advisers and spoken numerous times at the National Stationery Show. Learn more at www.BrianLawrence.com.