Whenever I land in a new city, I have a “weird” ritual. 

Before I check into my hotel I grab an Uber to a local Whole Foods and stock up for my stay. 

But I don’t rush. I’m one of those weirdos who loves healthy food so much that my idea of a “good time” is exploring the eclectic selections of kombucha drinks, protein bars and flavored waters at expensive grocery stores. Yep, I’m one of those people.  

Whole Foods has created an incomparable “health nut” shopping experience that keeps me coming back time and time again. This is one of the reasons why they recently sold to Amazon for more than $13 billion dollars. 

However, in the world of brick and mortar businesses, Whole Foods’ wild success is the exception, not the rule. And when I’m back at home in Toronto I rarely go to Whole Foods, and instead support local health food shop outlets.

Unfortunately, today more than ever before, local businesses are stuck and struggling (“struckling” as I like to call it), unable to find new customers and keep their company in the black so they keep Bezos and his Amazonian barbarians at bay.

In fact, earlier this week Fortune magazine said that in July of 2019 the United Kingdom had the lowest retail sales revenue in history. With so many online alternatives (and huge retail stores who offer convenient delivery services), it’s easy to see why. 

Starting and scaling a successful brick and mortar business, in any industry, is harder than it’s ever been before. But it’s not impossible. 

Over the past decade, I’ve coached hundreds of small local business owners and helped them double, triple, and even 10X their profits using unconventional marketing methods and creative advertising strategies. 

And today, I’m going to teach you the same No BS tactics I gave them so that you can scale your brick and mortar company in 2019 and stand out in a sea of dying businesses. 

1. Know Thy Buyer and Create a Highly Targeted Customer Experience 

To succeed as a brick and mortar business owner (or any business owner for that matter), you must put yourself in your customer’s shoes and become intimately familiar with their pains, frustrations, fears, and desires. 

Think about your ideal client. 

What motivates them? What do they want? What are they afraid of? 

More importantly, why would they make the decision to peel themselves off the couch, turn off Netflix, get in the car, and drive across town to buy a product or service from your company. 

The biggest challenge for 21st century brick and mortar business owners is that life is more convenient than ever before in human history. 

With a few twiddles of their thumb, your prospects can buy anything they want from the comfort of their home. And as companies like Amazon continue to expand and refine their operations, people can receive products they bought online in only a few hours. 

The simple truth is that you cannot compete on price or convenience alone. 

You must compete on the experience provided by your business. 

A great example of this is a local store near my apartment in Toronto called, Timmie Doggie Outfitters. It’s the “Whole Foods” of pet supply stores. 

When I take Daisy to the store, they immediately give her a treat and hand me their “freebie of the day” (typically a small toy or sample bag of new treats). 

The store is filled with exclusive artisanal dog food, novelty treats (like Bison tendons), and other luxury pet supplies that you can’t find anywhere else in the city. The staff members are all friendly and well versed in the nuances of pet nutrition, training, and products. 

They provide a phenomenal customer experience that cannot be replicated by franchises like PetSmart or online suppliers like Amazon. And as a result, they dominate the local pet supply market. (Not to mention they are located in an area of Toronto where people spoil their pets like Veruca Salt, the “want it all” child from Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.)

Another great example of a powerful customer experience is the Ben & Jerry’s “Vermonster” challenge (made famous by Tim Ferriss and John Romaniello several years ago). 

This $40 behemoth bucket contains 21 scoops of ice cream, thousands of grams of sugar and more calories than the average person consumes in a week (14,000 to be exact). If you and your friends can eat the entire monstrosity in under an hour, it’s yours free and you get your picture up on the wall. 

This marketing tactic, as simple as it is, has helped Ben & Jerry’s stand out and create an incredibly successful business that generates hundreds of millions of dollars every year. 

I want you to start thinking about similar experiences you can offer to your customers. What can you offer them that cannot be replicated by eCommerce businesses or big chain stores? How can you stand out and give them a reason to come back to your business time and time again? 

Successfully answering this question can mean the difference between the most profitable year in your company’s history or a slow but certain slide towards bankruptcy. 

2. Leverage Social Media to Get Free Marketing and Connect with Your Customers 

In addition to ETR, my masterminds, and my coaching programs, I also own three Fit Body Boot Camp gyms (two in South Carolina and one in the suburbs of Toronto). 

Unlike most “big box gyms” we don’t rely on walk-in visitors or high-pressure sales tactics (with impossible termination clauses) to grow our revenue. 

Instead, we create a unique customer experience and then leverage social media to share that experience and bring in new members. 

Because our gyms are built around group workouts and bootcamp style training methods, after our biggest classes are done, we’ll take pictures of the group and send them to our members, asking them to share them on social media and tag us in them. 

These photos build interest and intrigue and leave their friends and family thinking, “Wow, I would love to be a part of a fitness community like that one”, and this intrigue allows us to grow our membership base (for free) every single month. 

As a small local business, you must take social media seriously. 

At the very least, you should have an Instagram profile, YouTube account (more on that later) and a Facebook group. 

On Instagram, post photos and videos that are unique, valuable, and shareable. 

Click Here to read my Ultimate Guide to Instagram and discover exactly how to go from $0 to $100,000 with free Instagram marketing.

Simply posting photos of your store or products won’t cut it. Instead, share stories of your happiest customers, give insightful advice related to your products (e.g. if you run a hardware store, share photos of how a product can be used in creative ways), and create a brand story that will interest and engage your ideal customers. 

On Facebook, I encourage you to create a group and not a Facebook business page. 

Simply put, Facebook pages don’t get the traffic or engagement that they once did. Zuckerburg and his team have changed the algorithm to exclusively favor big corporations and as a small local business, the chances of your page being seen by your ideal customers is slim to none. 

However, by running a valuable well-moderated Facebook group (be sure to check out my Facebook group The Perfect Business Formula to see what I mean) that fosters a sense of community among like-minded locals, you can attract raving fans to your business and build a tribe of loyal customers who will stay with you for life. 

For example, if you own a local hardware store, you could create a Facebook group where you and your customers share updates from your latest projects, coordinate home improvement workshops, and share tips and tricks to make the most out of the products you sell. 

If you run a local gym, you can create a group where your trainers share actionable tips and insights to help members hit their fitness goals and where your members share their transformation stories to inspire each other. 

With a little bit of creativity, social media marketing can transform your local business, put you on the map, and attract a tribe of raving fans who will buy from you for years to come. 

3. Leverage Local SEO to Get a Flood of New Free Leads into Your Business

In 2019, there are more than 2,000,000 new pieces of content published every single day, making it harder than ever before for people to organically find your content and connect with your brand. 

However, as a brick and mortar business owner, you’re in luck. 

It is easier to rank for keywords like, “Pet Food Store Toronto” than it is to rank for big keywords around topics like “Best pet food”. 

Although I could write an entire article around the best practices for local SEO, the basics are simple. 

First, make sure to fill out your Google Business profile completely. Include your business address, phone number, hours of operation, holiday hours, and a description of your products or service. 

Make sure that you include your target keyword (typically [Your Product/Service] + [Your Location]) in the title of your home page and on other important pages on your site. 

If it’s financially feasible, I encourage you to work with a knowledgeable SEO (be sure to get lots of references so you don’t waste thousands of dollars on a lackluster service–which is very common in the industry), who can help you fine-tune your page for optimal results. 

Then, once your website is optimized, you’re going to create a few simple pieces of content around your target keyword. 

With local SEO content, quality trumps quantity. 

Most small local businesses who “do SEO” will churn out dozens of poorly written 800 word articles that don’t solve problems or provide any value to their readers. Do NOT make this mistake. 

Instead, write 5-10 long form pieces of content that solve a specific problem for your readers. The key to success is finding content topics that are related to the product you sell, but not about your specific product. 

For example, continuing with the example of a local pet supply store, you cold write a piece of content about the best dog parks in Toronto. 

If someone is looking for a dog park in your area, it’s safe to assume that they:

1) Own a dog and
2) Need food, toys, and treats to take care of that dog. 

Then, once they find your content, you need to have an “ethical bribe” (like a discount on their first purchase) inside of your content that will convince them to give you their information and consent to receiving marketing emails. 

You can also take whatever content you create and turn it into a short video for YouTube (where the competition is even lower) to improve your visibility on the search engines and attract new customers. 

By dominating the local search engines, you can get hundreds of new customers into your store with very little effort. 

4. Run Paid Ads Targeted to Your Customers 

Once you’ve exhausted your avenues for free lead generation, it’s time to pay to play to get new customers into your business. 

If you do it right, paid social media advertising is one of the fastest and easiest ways to find new leads and get more people through the doors of your business. 

And the best part? You don’t need a crazy budget or extensive knowledge of social media to do this successfully. 

To get started, you’re going to install a Facebook retargeting pixel on your website so that your ads are only delivered to people who have already expressed an interest in your product or service. 

Keep the ads simple, sweet, and to the point. Make an offer they can’t refuse and continually refine the copy and graphics on your ads until you find something that works. 

Once you’ve created a successful ad campaign and have your messaging dialed in, you can create what’s known as a “lookalike audience” inside of the Facebook ads manager. 

Facebook will use data from your existing ad sets to find people similar to your best customers and target your ads to them. 

If you want a tactical step-by-step walkthrough of exactly how to set up and optimize these ads, be sure to check out this guide from Ad Espresso to learn how to use Facebook advertising to bring new leads into your business. 

5. Refine the Particular Articulation of Your Product 

I recently opened up something I call the “Millionaire Case Study” where I coach clients 1-on-1 through the entire process of building a 7-figure business. 

And since I first offered this case study, it has sold like crazy. 

But here’s the funny part… 

This new “case study program” is almost identical to my other coaching services and programs – just with one additional level of customization. 

The big difference was found in the marketing of the program and in the particular articulation of my offer. For whatever reason, “Join my millionaire case study program” sells a lot better than “Get 12 months of 1-on-1 business coaching.” 

By changing the language I use to explain my offer, I was able to increase sales and close dozens of new clients. And you must do the same thing in your brick and mortar business. 

Experiment with the language you use to describe your offer to others. By making small subtle tweaks in your marketing emails, sales scripts, and Facebook ads, you can increase your conversion and sales by 50% or more. 

One of the best ways to identify the exact words and phrases that resonate with your audience the most is to spend more time talking to your best customers. Listen to how they explain their problems. Pay attention to the exact verbiage they use when describing their perfect solution.

Remember, when you can describe the problems and frustrations of your customers in their own words better than they can themselves, they will assume that you must have the solution. 

Play around with the copy in your ads, on your website, and in your emails. Change the names of your products or services to see what descriptions lead to the most sales. Continually test and refine the way you describe your products and you’ll be surprised by how a small shift can make a huge difference in your bottom line. 

6. Don’t Race to the Bottom, Climb to the Top 

One of the most common mistakes that brick and mortar business owners make is that they attempt to “race to the bottom” by offering deep discounts and crazy blow out sales. But here’s the thing. If you own a small local business you will never be able to compete on price. 

Between Amazon, AliExpress, and the myriad of other eCommerce stores (which have significantly less overhead than you do), it is impossible for you to offer the best price on anything without bleeding profits and operating at a loss. 

The solution? 

Instead of offering discounts, build bonuses. Find ways to stack value so customers are incentivized to buy more

For example, instead of offering a 20% off coupon, offer to throw in a free product (that customers actually want) with any purchase of $100 or more. You can also create rewards programs where customers get free products after purchasing a certain number of other products (for example, the classic “Ice Cream Shop Punch Card” where your tenth cone is free). 

Find ways to stack value so that your customers have a reason to buy from you, time and time again.

7. Double Down on Your Scripts 

The final, and most overlooked strategy that you can use to grow your brick and mortar business is to ruthlessly test and refine the scripts that you and your sales team use whenever a new client walks into the store. 

If you go into any high end store (think Versace, Louis Vuitton, Neiman Marcus), you’ll notice that the employees don’t greet you by saying, “Can I help you find something today?” 

They ask specific open ended questions that lead to a conversation instead of a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. For example, instead of saying, “Can I help you find something”, their employees will often ask, “What brings you in today?”

The first question is cut and dry, the second question opens up a conversation and allows you to figure out exactly what the customer wants and what product or service you can offer to help them.  

In addition to your opening scripts, you must find unique ways to ask for referrals after the sale is made. This is a huge opportunity that most small businesses miss out on. 

Every single one of your employees should be trained in a specific script that they can use at the cash register (or wherever the sale is processed) to ask for referrals and give customers a reason to refer your company to friends. 

Again, a great way to accomplish this is through strategic rewards programs and “members only bonuses”. For example, if you run a local gym, you can offer a free month of membership for every new client they refer. Or, if you run a local clothing store, you can offer 50% off of any product whenever they bring a friend (who actually buys something) to your location. 

Just like your Facebook ads and other marketing messages, you need to continually test and refine your sales scripts to identify the subtle linguistic tweaks that increase sales, referrals, and repeat customers. 

The better your scripts, the more money you will make. 

Want to grow your brick and mortar business and achieve your 12-month goals in the next 12 weeks?

Then click here to get access to my 90-day reality maker blueprint. The same tool I give to my $25k/day 1-on-1 coaching clients (a tool that has made many of those clients millionaires).

I’ll walk you through step by step exactly how to reverse engineer your biggest goals and achieve them in 90-days or less.

Craig Ballantyne

Craig Ballantyne is the author of The Perfect Day Formula: How to Own the Day and Control Your Life. Craig has been a contributor to Men's Health magazine for over 17 years. Today he teaches his gift to high-performing entrepreneurs how to squeeze more out of their days, increase their income, and make more quality time for their families in his Perfect Life Workshop and Work-Life Mastery programs. Craig used his own advice to overcome crippling anxiety attacks in 2006, and he'll teach you his 5 Pillars of Success so you can increase your income, decrease your work time, and live the life of your dreams. Learn more about Craig at craigballantyne.com

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