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This is the second part in a series of ideas to help run your trading card hobby shop, or any storefront for that matter. These are ideas that I’ve used over the years and can help if you are persistent and willing to make some changes. None of this will kill your business, but it doesn’t hurt to try.
This section will focus on marketing outside of your four walls. It seems pretty basic but a lot of shops I discover don’t do very much to market themselves in their community or in the hobby community, so this can be a general guide of ideas to help drive traffic to your store, even FREE MARKETING! It’s true, a lot of what you can do is free or very affordable- it’s just a matter of wanting to put in the time if this is indeed something you want to do for yourself. That of course is very important; none of this is going to work unless you’re willing to put in the time. You’ve noticed the decline is business everywhere, not just yours. You have to put in the work now and put yourself ahead of everyone else, or at least at the same level.
If you’re reading this I hope this first step is already taken care of but: GET A COMPUTER WITH INTERNET.
Learn how to use all of the functions, learn how to email, learn how to use the internet. This seems basic, right? I’ve talked to dealers who don’t, ‘mess with the internet’. Baffling.
This is to help people that already have stores who want to improve their business, so I’m going to skip the steps it takes to actually open a store. This is to help generate traffic and drive sales. You want to get people in the door and have them come back. All of the ideas put on the table work together, so use all the guides together because they are meant to share different ideas. There are many options for people to spend their extra income, make sure it’s yours that they want to visit.
It is important to use the information that is created within your store. You need to know your numbers! What you’re selling and just as important, your traffic. Are you comparing your numbers week to week, month to month, year to year? You have to have something to compare so you know how you’re doing. Simple things to note are:
1) When are your peak traffic times?
2)How many people are coming in during specific times of day?
3) What is your conversion? Number of people shopping vs. number of people buying-
Are you busiest on the weekends? How about after 5pm? Are you only open 12-5 during the week? Do you need to be closed Sunday? You have to know this information in order to know who your customer is. When I was younger I was only able to go to the card shop after school, or on the weekends. Being open until 5 meant everyone who got out of school late weren’t able to get there in time.
Conversion is important because you need to be selling to the people in your store. If you have a lot of people coming in and leaving without buying that should be a flag that something is wrong. Find out what they were looking for. More on in-store marketing will be coming up.
Free resources are available for small business if you only know where to look. The Small Business Association has programs all over the country. Here is a link they have for growth options: http://www.sba.gov/category/navigation-structure/starting-managing-business/managing-business/growing-your-business
Remember that computer I told you to buy? Here’s where you will need it. You need to ‘Google’ yourself. See where you are on the list ranking. Don’t see yourself? How are people going to know you exist if people can’t find you. Don’t assume everyone still uses the Yellow Pages.
- Message Boards
- Sports card blogs
Each of these places have FREE resources available to put your business out there for people to discover. With most of these you only need to verify your business information to get your directory listed on the web. Make sure you include main information such as, phone number, hours of operation, and extra info such as products you cary, etc. And answer your phone! Be friendly and courteous to what people are asking.
Find out what people are looking for on the message boards and get in touch with the various sports card blogs and see what they can do to help. I know Cardboard Connection is creating a page that hobby shops can have their information available. The industry really seems like they want to help the brick and mortar shops, you just need to let them.
Finally, you can pay to advertise online with Google AdWords and Facebook ads just to name the basic two I’ve used. With great results, mind you. The specifics will be a different guide, but it’s really easy to use. Your generating webtraffic to your site that you created that will generate ‘traffic’ to your store. I put that in quotes because it helps to push your presence on the web. You need to delve into the discussion that is your industry. Become a voice and people will want to visit you when they are in town. Or at least give recommendations to others. The community is great because everyone wants to help when they can. I can’t stress that enough. Use the resources available to you and you will see improvements.