Getting foot traffic in the door of your retail business isn't always easy. This is especially true in the digital age, when people can have items delivered to their door (often within the same day). For non-retail businesses, the Internet has also made it easy to communicate without the need for face-to-face interaction or for customers to visit in person.
That said, there is a lot to be gained (for both the business and the customer) from personal interaction, and just because people can get what they want online, doesn't mean they don't want to get out of the house. This is especially true for retail small businesses. Sometimes the physical act of shopping is part of the fun.
Regardless of whether you operate a retail store or a different kind of small business – a CPA office, for example – there are plenty of ways to improve your chances of getting more foot traffic.
It starts with signage. For one, it must be clear and visible. That seems obvious, but it may help to drive or walk down the street in every direction and see just how visible it is from different areas. From how far away can people see your sign or the other important messaging you're using to entice them? It may not be as visible as you thought it would be, especially if it's being blocked by bushes, buildings, other signs, etc. If there are any problems, figure out what you can do to make your signage stand out more.
It's not just about being seen, though. You need to have signage that entices people. Furthermore, it needs to entice the right people. Think about your target demographic and what kind of signage would attract them – maybe very traditional for older customers or something edgier for a young crowd. Who frequents the area in which you're located, and what might catch their interest? It might be a good idea to take some time and watch the people who go by your store from day to day in either direction. You can do this a little here and there from the window, or you can spend some time outside, promoting your business in one way or another while you're at it.
Have someone to capture attention
This is a common tactic. It's often used by pizza places, but the idea is certainly not limited to any type of business. Have an employee spend some time in front of the store with a sign, in a costume, or utilizing some other gimmick that captures people's attention. It could be someone dancing, playing guitar, or handing out free food samples. These are just some ideas that have worked for plenty of other businesses, but feel free to get creative. It's not about what the person is doing – it's about the attention they're capturing and directing toward your business. The more interesting your gimmick is, the more curiosity is bound to lure in potential customers.
Like the concept above, an event (especially if it's outside or even visible from the outside) can draw attention. An event can be anything that pertains to your business that people might be interested in attending. The nature of this obviously depends on the type of business you run. If you have a bookstore, it could be a reading or a signing, or even a regular book club. It could be live music or a food sampling. It could be a workshop or a seminar. What makes sense for you?
Apps Like Groupon
Groupon is famous for driving large amounts of foot traffic to businesses. In fact, sometimes it even drives too much.* If you offer a deal that's too good, it's possible that too many people will take advantage of it, and it will wind up costing you more than it makes you. You must be smart about the deals you run. The point is, however, people like deals, and Groupon is a great way to get them in front of people. With location-based functionality, it can even get your deal in front of people who are already nearby. Groupon is not the only app that does this, but it's the most well-known. Explore your options.
Finally, not everybody likes to get their deals from apps and the internet. Plenty of people still like good, old-fashioned coupons from the Sunday paper or delivered in their mailbox. Just because technology has given us plenty of new capabilities, that doesn't mean people don't still turn to the classics. A deal is a deal, and if it's enticing enough, people will get to your business to take advantage.
These are just a few ideas that can help get foot traffic to your business, but the possibilities certainly don't end here. Study the other businesses around you. Study your competitors. Even study your own habits. Whenever you go somewhere, think about the events that led you there and whether they could be applied to your business.
The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.