Turning Passion to Profit: Connect with Local Enthusiasts to Build Your Business
The local bicycle shop is buzzing with customers. There’s a race this weekend and cyclists have come to sign up, tune up and talk about the event. The shop is a sponsor of the race and the owner is a member of a local riding club. The store is like the hub of a wheel connecting riders with their sport.
A similar situation exists for musicians. Professional and amateur players frequent a popular music store that hosts a weekly jam session. Experts share techniques with newcomers. The store provides refreshments. The owner posts brief performance videos on Facebook.
Likewise, auto enthusiasts meet at the aftermarket store regularly to talk tires and torque. Triathletes share training and nutrition tips on a message board hosted by a local athletic shoe store. Audiophiles regularly meet at the local electronics store to discuss digital versus analog sound; an ongoing but friendly debate.
Passion for a specific interest can fuel business for niche retailers who cultivate these connections. How do they do it? Strategically and consistently.
If you want to connect with enthusiasts, hire employees with a passion for your store’s niche. If you sell running shoes, hire avid runners. If you cater to auto enthusiasts, find folks who know and love cars. Everyone likes to talk about their passion. Researchers at Synchrony, a leading consumer lender, describes these shoppers as “advice and guidance seekers.” They want to know more about their passion and they often seek experts to provide that information. Fill that need with knowledgeable employees.
Of course, passion does not always equate to expertise. Training helps employees know your products and the subject matter better. Make sure they can pass along accurate, helpful information to your customers. Frequent and ongoing training will make your employees experts in your preferred activity and that will help you attract customers who are eager to learn and buy.
Enthusiasm often rubs off. Enthusiastic employees not only excite existing customers, they also help ignite the passion of novices who come into your store. Armed with new information and your products, they may become avid practitioners of your passion.
Every business owner wants to create more website traffic and social media followers. It doesn’t happen by accident or luck.
Customers need reasons to visit your site or follow you on social media. Generally, your content must be informative, entertaining and useful. Self-promotion is a poor social media strategy. News, expert advice, instructional videos, humorous photos relevant to your passion, blog entries, special offers and message boards all help attract followers. Keep the content current and post new material frequently, every day if possible. Be concise and focused on topics that are of interest to your group.
Also promote your website and social media handles in all of your printed materials, ads and signage, and ask your customers to sign up for your emails, texts and social media posts.
Retail reward programs are perks that help build repeat business, and repeat business is the cornerstone of long-term retail success. Reward programs make regular customers feel appreciated and encourage them to come back again and again.
A tiered program that rewards customers for purchases is often popular with shoppers. Digital information gathering makes it possible for even small shops to track each customer’s purchases up to the minute. Tracking repeat business is easier when your customers participate in a store-branded credit program. Additionally, discounts for repeat customers are always appreciated, but marketing experts note that shoppers also appreciate other types of rewards such as free merchandise or unique gifts.
Become the Hub
Retailers want their store to become a hub for local enthusiasts. Having knowledgeable employees, vibrant social media outreach and a customer loyalty program all help bring people back to your business. But there are other steps you can take to make your store the center of activity for your passion.
Sponsoring events is a great way to create buzz and make your store a destination for enthusiasts. Examples: sewing centers can hold a fashion show for local seamstresses, motorcycle dealers can sponsor a road rally, sporting goods stores can honor local teams… all of these can attract crowds if properly promoted. Don’t forget to talk it up on social media and invite traditional media, as well.
It’s also a great idea to acknowledge the accomplishments of local enthusiasts in your area. Golf stores would do well to post a list of hole-in-ones at local courses. Photos of trophy fish are exciting to anglers who frequent stores that sell tackle. You get the idea; find ways to celebrate achievements, both in your store and on social media.
Passion is contagious. Take every opportunity to promote your store’s passion and people who enjoy the same interest will be attracted.
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Synchrony (NYSE: SYF) is a premier consumer financial services company delivering customized financing programs across key industries including retail, health, auto, travel and home, along with award-winning consumer banking products. With more than $140 billion in sales financed and 80.3 million active accounts, Synchrony brings deep industry expertise, actionable data insights, innovative solutions and differentiated digital experiences to improve the success of every business we serve and the quality of each life we touch. Engage with Synchrony Financial.