As we project into summer, social calendars will soon fill up with outings, commitments, trips and events. People are busy and it’s your job as a business owner to recognize the high-season challenges and make it super-easy for customers to come to YOU.
Lululemon Athletica, can be thought of currently as a leading “Big Shot” in the athletic apparel world. The company has reinvented a culture for “creating components for people to live long, healthy and fun lives” via their fabrics made to withstand most “sweaty pursuits.” Their Manifesto and unique marketing approach across various media channels is simply impressive and the genius behind their success.
No matter what type of local business you run, how little your marketing budget may be, or how much competition you face, it will be most helpful for you to try take a closer look at the Lululemon Manifesto and to emulate marketing tactics of this “Big Shot” in the athletic apparel world to optimize your marketing achievements.
Here are THREE ways to get you underway towards effective marketing and repeat business.
1. Build Authentic Customer Relationships
Believe it or not, smaller local businesses can potentially have equal (if not more) success over its larger more well-known competitors online, because of the personal element and face-to-face dealings with customers.
LULULEMON: Employees at local Lululemon locations actively welcome patrons at the door, asking if they need help with their browsing. They are well informed in the art of the sports and the specific needs of running, tennis, yoga, cycling and so forth, so suggestions on apparel and accessories is truly more personal and less propelled by the actual “sale” itself.
Since the brand also offers weekly free classes, they generally begin to develop recurring relationships with patrons, seeing them at both in-store meet-ups as well as for their shopping experiences. This creates customer trust and breeds successful brand loyalty.
- Acknowledge customers by name. It is easy to convey a sense of casual welcome and respect by referring to someone in their first name or appropriate accompanying title salutation, such as “Doc,” you will be communicating that you care about the customer on a human level and not just their business. Your customer will translate being called by their name into an overall “feeling” of being appreciated and cared about and you’ll have laid the foundation for more personal customer relations.
- Offer personalized suggestions and solutions and veer away from the “one-size-fits all” approach. Large online businesses are obligated to lay out all their products available, and while some apps allow for narrowing scope of a search, it pales in comparison to one-on-one personalized suggestions by well-informed passionate local operators.
- Follow up via phone call or a personalized email about something discussed in-store. You will want to communicate that a product the customer inquired about is finally in stock, or that you ordered a specific color, a brand or specific product a customer showed interest in.
2. Understand the Dynamics of Foot Traffic
Foot traffic generates a natural buzz and organic word of mouth referrals all help contribute to growing your local business. However, it is impertinent for small local businesses to understand the significance of taking steps to generate that very foot traffic- it’s that stepping stone, that initial hurdle to cross, before repeat business can take its natural due course.
LULULEMON: The Lululemon stores pride themselves on their strong ties to their various local communities and they actively host various in-store events and classes to facilitate that culture. By virtue of their “community ambassadors,” they host a variety of workshops, dance classes, running clubs and even free yoga classes before store opening for all levels of fitness.
Each store also strategically sends opt-in email campaigns with upcoming events and new products or related on goings.
TIP: Host an event. Host a party. Host a talk. Host a training. Host a class. Host a mixer. Host a talk.
Often times, local businesses are hesitant to spend not so much the money (because you can really spend close to nothing), but the time on organizing an event to attract people through their doors. Really think about who your target audience may be and design an event or activity to generate foot traffic that offers something of real-value to your potential customer base. It must be something exciting and enticing to actually make them want to stop into your local business.
While the costs associated with organizing an event may be an obvious realistic consideration, there are MANY creative ways to host an event on a budget- via volunteers, local free clubs, bring-your-own supplies – and just overall smart event planning.
- You can easily offer a training seminar where customers may come into your store with their product in hand ready to absorb some “free” in-person knowledge from you- this may be less scary than watching a YouTube How-To Video.
- You can offer weekend projects where customers can come your location and create a project using specific products purchased in-store.
- You can have a local community member volunteer their time and either teach a specialty class, offer a open forum discussion to involve and excite your target customer base- and this has essentially no cost, since your doors are already open!
3. Offer Special Club Memberships
With special memberships come discounts, exclusive deals, limited-time offers, unique perks and so many other advantages that are natural triggers for getting locals to subscribe to your business and become loyal followers to your brand.
LULULEMON: The company’s unique multi-channel membership marketing is effective without being imposing. You can sign up to receive updates to your inbox via email, with new goods, good news and a link to their blog full of interesting and useful health articles and workout tips and challenges. They also have interest-specific clubs you can join that meet weekly, such as their Calabasas location Run Club that offers healthy snacks as a treat at the end!
You can also “like” Lululemon’s general Facebook page, as well as joining their specific local storefront location page for more applicable specifics to come your way. In a recent store specific Facebook post, the store offered a prize to the Lululemon club member runner with the most guests.
TIP: Create an inner culture via a special club membership.
- Use social media to your full advantage. Offer a single weekly giveaway on social media to club members. You can even draw new customers by honoring your existing ones- try posting pictures of your “best customers” and including a super giveaway.
- Send exclusive sneak peak emails with newly launched products. Offer special discounts to club members for every purchase.
- Try incorporating loyalty programs and reward points systems into your business, to keep track of purchases and encourage repeat business with an enticing prize at the end.
- Invite club members to special events to meet others or to be treated to something fun to show your appreciation for their business.
- Use your club memberships to create a platform to build your brand awareness with creative marketing opportunities, including apparel marketing, free branded giveaways such as water bottles, pens, stickers and reusable tote bags. Maybe you can think about what is popular in the market right now and what “hot” item is all the rage, such as reusable bags given the current movement away from plastic, and then incorporate that into your regime, via giveaway, winning prize or at a discounted rate- with strategic company logo nonetheless!