Retail is all about the products, right? As a retailer, you probably know that’s not even close to true. Sure, you need to sell products and make money to stay afloat, but you’ll never do as well as you’d like if you’re putting your product first. No, it’s all about the customer. You could have the best product ever conceived, but without a customer to buy it, the product is worthless. It’s customer demand that even puts a price on the product. So how can you market your products so they connect with customers? Here are some tips to get you started.

Focus on the “How”

Customer shaking hands with owner

Image via Flickr by Didriks

Adjusting the focus of your marketing is a great place to start your retail marketing overhaul. So many retailers focus on the “what” of their product. What does it do? What are the specs? And while that’s all fine and good, the “what” in your marketing is far less important than the “how.” All products serve a function, and it’s the function that the majority of people care about most. Our economy is replete with products that all serve the same or very similar functions. Your product may be like that, and that’s okay.

After recognizing that your product likely serves more or less the same function as another product, you need to determine how you’re going to make your particular product stand out. What’s going to get customers in your door or on your website and leaving with a product rather than going somewhere else? How do you show consumers that your product is worth their time and money?

There are a couple ways to go about capturing the “how.” First, take yourself back to the genesis of your product or business idea. What was it about that idea that made you feel like you could contribute something new to the market? Bring that idea back and use it. Second, you can never do too much market research. Paying attention to the market will tell you what customers are looking for, which you can then use to tailor your marketing strategy toward. Build your strategy around how you’ll sell your product rather than around what you’re selling.

Craft Strong Product Descriptions

With so many purchases made online today, you can’t ignore the online marketplace. Maybe it’s your only marketplace for now, and that’s just fine because 51 percent of Americans actually prefer to shop online. One of the problems with selling solely online is that customers can’t physically touch the product that you’re selling. The most they’ve got is a picture, or maybe a video, and those don’t always do your product justice. You can give them more to consider with an engaging and carefully crafted product description.

Product descriptions can be difficult because those writing the descriptions often forget that they shouldn’t just be describing the product — they need to be selling it. It’s an act of creating content, not just summarizing features, a trap that many product descriptions fall into. Write product descriptions to your ideal buyer. Hopefully you have a target market thanks to some substantial market research, so act like your descriptions are a letter to them. How is your product going to meet their needs and solve their problems?

Illustrate the practical benefits of your product. Tell a story around it. And in the moments where you physically describe the product, use sensory words. Not only have sensory words been shown to increase sales, but they help the consumer “feel” what they can’t actually experience.

Avoid duplicating the same details and benefits across descriptions. Display how every product is unique and can serve customers in different ways. Also, avoid using duplicate content for the same items that you’re selling across different websites because it can hurt your SEO.

Keep your product descriptions scannable. Visitors to your website aren’t there to read a novel about the origins of your product. They need quick, engaging material that they can absorb in seconds. Use an easily readable design with headlines, bullet points, a large font size, and plenty of white space. In anything related to product descriptions, remember that it’s all about connecting to the customer. In the end, keep your product descriptions under 600 words, preferably between 350 and 400.

Finally, descriptions don’t need to stop with the products. Category level descriptions not only give customers a greater overall idea of the products and their benefits, thus allowing you to focus on the juicy details in product descriptions, but they also give you another opportunity to use keywords and increase SEO.

Get Social

The moment you started selling, you became part of a conversation in the market. If you want to remain a relevant part of that conversation, you need to engage with the other participants. Start by making your website social media friendly. Allow visitors to share products and pages with friends on social media. Not only will that get your name out there, but it will also increase your SEO.

As more and more consumers have turned to doing their shopping online, many of them have started leaving reviews on Google or directly on websites, and those reviews get read. People don’t want to waste their time, so they’ll often check reviews before going out to a store. Make it possible for customers to leave reviews on your website and check regularly to read reviews both on your site and on Google or Amazon. You’ll get a better feel for what customers love about your products and also what you could improve.

Believe it or not, being social isn’t all about social media. Get people in your store and interacting by hosting events and sales. Host a barbecue at a park and invite your customers. Start a limited time event where a portion of the proceeds go to a charity. Not only will you build more foot traffic, but you’ll also build a relationship with your customers.

Retail is a cutthroat business. If you can’t manage to stay ahead of the pack, you’ll get swallowed. These three tips will get you on your way to building the strong retail marketing strategy that your business needs. Before you know it, you’ll be expanding far beyond your little corner store.