February 13, 2014

5 Myths about Retail Marketing

Do you believe any of these 5 retail marketing myths?

{ Myth #1: You need a BIG BUDGET to build a retail brand }

This is a major myth.

I've worked on big brand budgets AND small startup spends. I managed at one point a $10 million dollar spend, and yes, it's easier to market when you have millions but it's also easy to be very flippant, and non-ROI focused with your money.

One of my best work experiences was taking over the 'dog' brand of a service provider. My marketing budget was $25k. For everything. And this was a $5 million dollar business. 

So I got creative. 

And it was through that 'forced creativity' that I learned to pivot and adjust my marketing spend, and to take a critical approach to analyzing opportunities and making marketing investments.

The price tag for doing marketing inevitably goes up when you're a big brand. It's not like Crest Toothpaste is going to ask for that "small business discount" from their photographer. 

But as small businesses, we can. And many service providers offer sliding scales. 

{ Myth #2: You must always have product IN-STOCK }

Though must always have an in-stock position.



This comes from old-school bricks and mortar retailing principals. The idea is that to avoid customers going elsewhere, you must hold the optimal amount of inventory, BUT not too much that it's eating into your cash flow and negatively affecting your inventory turns.

With online retail, things change. Yes, you can have customers come to your site to buy, and leave IF they can't find the product BUT if you're doing an amazing job branding, they will STILL want to buy from you.

Enter the concept of pre-sales/pre-orders.

If you're developing a product which you think is super innovative and new news, why not allow people to buy it before it's produced?

You get much needed cash flow, and validation that this product MAKES sense. 

Or, if you have an existing product, the out-of-stockness may play in your favour.

For example, you could bill the product as limited edition, or small batch production. Make a marketing play out of it. And be sure to have the ability to capture consumers emails if they are interested in buying, so you can notify them when it IS in-stock.

{ Myth #3: You need a professional WEB DESIGNER }


Nowadays there are so many free, open-source graphic programs that ANYONE can be a graphic designer. Want an infographic? Try Infogr.am, Need to edit photos? Pic Monkey. Want an animated GIF? Gif.maker.

The list goes on...

For web design....

Google is your best friend.

Want certain code for your site? Google "ADD EMAIL FORM" and "SHOPIFY". Additionally many e-commerce packaged solutions like Shopify, Squarespace... provide templates that are really slick where you can just drag and drop images and poof, you have a shop!

It's best not to sink $5k into web design before you have massive sales. Trust me, I've done it!

{ Myth #4: You shouldn't be on social media UNLESS you have a WEB SITE }

People will tell you that unless you have a website or product to sell, that you shouldn't be on social media.


You absolutely 100% should.


Well, there is no time like the present to start to build your audience {or as some would say, your "tribe"}.

Start up your relevant social media channels - CLAIM your name {really important from a branding consistency perspective}, even if you're not going to post too much content.

Setup the graphics, the links, the about sections, and if you're bold enough - start posting and sharing content relevant to your audience and brand.

It takes TIME to build a following. Sure, celebrities can join twitter and have 100k followers in a day, but new brands need to take the time to establish themselves, build a following, start conversations and create meaningful connections.

{ Myth #5: You need to markdown items to make SALES }

In my experience as a retail consultant for large retailers, it's common to run into retail brands that over-promote. 

To me {excluding grocery stores}, this means they sell more than 40% of their goods on markdown.

What is a markdown?

A markdown is any amount marked down from the original ticket price. A.K.A. A sale. A promotion. A discount.

If you're ONLY generating sales when your products are marked down, this is an indication of a problem with either your retail pricing strategy OR your brand.

The retail industry is built on promotions. I know this, and so do you. Large retailers, many, use complex algorithms to analyze when to mark an item down and by how much. And regularly perform, markdown optimization {MDO} to make sure they are squeezing out every last cent of margin.

However, MDO in my opinion is not able to capture that intangible value of the brand. This is why often retail consultants refer to the art {intangible} and science {tangible and measurable} aspects of retail.

I'm not saying NEVER use discounts or promotions.

I'm saying use them sparingly... to clear old inventory, to celebrate / tie-in to a specific 'retail' holiday, or to reward loyal customers.

If you are communicating your brand value, and product benefits properly, you should do 80% of your sales at regular price.

Did we miss a MYTH? Share it in the comments!

Happy crafting!

{ to get our FREE e-book "8 Ways to take your Retail Brand to the next level", click here }