How to Get Found—Small Business Pull-Through Strategy

For a small business getting shelf space in a big store can be a dream come true. Big store = lots of customers, more exposure, bigger sales! Or does it?

Small businesses can get lost in big stores (or even smaller ones) without a solid pull-through strategy that includes getting customers buying in the store. One company I consulted with was ecstatic when they landed their product in CVS drug stores. They worked hard to get there but didn’t implement recommendations for a strong pull-through strategy to make sure customers were aware of them and looked for them in the store. Sales were disappointing. Relying on the chance that someone would just see them on the shelf and choose their product wasn’t enough.

The right small business pull-through strategy can make all the difference in sales and in keeping the retailer interested in carrying your product.

Develop Demand

You’re a new craft coffee roaster trying to get noticed among the Starbucks and Peets on the shelf. You set up a table at the local farmer’s market with free samples. You donate coffee to a few organizations for their monthly meetings. You participate in your city’s “Taste of” celebration. You hand out coffee bags printed with a coupon. People come looking for you.

When your beans hit the shelves at local markets, you let your customers know—through traditional or e-mailing lists, highlighted “Where to Find” info on your website, in your quirky and overcaffeinated blog, with coupons in the local discount papers and in other local businesses that support you. Get people to know and love you—and make sure they know where to find you.

Using Social Media for Pull-Through

You knew social media would be part of the plan, right? If people are looking for you, there’s a good chance they’ll start online. Want people to find you in stores? Make it easy for them to find what stores you are in. That means putting it on your website—and promoting it. Here are 5 ways to use social media to drive pull-through sales in stores:

  1. Announce it on all your channels when you are first introduced in a store. Post anytime there is a special or sale on your product.
  2. Ask fans to snap and share if they see your product in the store. Offer a bonus to a random poster.
  3. Share great things about the stores that stock you—Did they win a local favorite award? Are they in the news because of an expansion? Share, share, share.
  4. Pair up with the retailer or other businesses with a giveaway or special offer that includes you both. Cross share to reach larger audiences.
  5. Make your pages places people want to hang out or at least visit. Your social reach is greater when people come to you, so know your audience and offer value. That might be a local garage getting creative and tackling car related topics—fan suggestions of where to park for the parade, DIY hacks for keeping the car clean, best suggestions for tunes for your summer road trip—or a stationery company running a letter writing challenge or posting their favorite mail. How does this relate to pull-through in stores? By keeping your audience engaged, you get more opportunities to remind them where to find you.

Social media marketing can be great for word-of-mouth. As a bonus it doesn’t cost a lot. But to be an effective small-business pull-through strategy, you need a consistent strategy and effort.

Other Small Business Pull-Through Strategy Approaches

Use advertising to drive people who already know about your product to find you in new stores. See if you can get featured space in the store’s advertising and seek out other channels.

Get covered. New product announcement? New partnership between you and a retailer? Not mass news, but other things you are doing may be—are you part of a revitalization in your city’s business district? Have you and other local businesses formed a coalition to help support the arts in your area? Do you offer internships or jobs to an underserved community? Get covered for what you are doing; you get attention and likely a link or comment about your products.

Bottom line? Getting more retail space for your products can be a boon for your business—if you have a strong small-business strategy to get people into the stores looking for you.

Do customers know where to find you? Modi Marketing can help you develop and implement a killer pull-through strategy to make sure they do. Ready to build the relationships that make customers seek you out?  Let’s Talk.

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