How to Increase Traffic with Retail PR
The world of fast-moving consumer goods is – well – fast-moving. And the last ten years have seen the retail landscape transform completely. Shoppers no longer walk into a shop and buy what’s on offer at face value. Instead they spend hours scouring the internet for the best deals on music, food, books, clothes and pretty much everything else.
That’s not to say that high street stores are obsolete – far from it. After all, nothing can beat the physical experience of squeezing into a pair of jeans or trying the latest celebrity-endorsed perfume. But what it does mean is, as a retailer in today’s multi-channel world, it’s crucial to establish a presence both on and offline.
This is where retail PR comes in. A well-executed PR campaign can increase footfall to your bricks and mortar store or traffic to your ecommerce site. It can also attract investors, manage crises, shape public opinion, and motivate staff too.
So, whether you’re an online franchise, large multi-site store or independent boutique, here are my top tips to crafting a winning retail PR campaign.
1. PR Stunts
PR stunts are a great way to get eyeballs on your brand. They’re fun to do, can generate loads of attention from consumers and also drive links from authority news sources to your website.
The key to a successful PR stunt is making it clever, unique, and relevant to your brand.
A great example came from the bathroom retailer, Bathstore in 2015. In a quirky PR stunt that tied in with Wimbledon tennis fortnight, they created ‘the ultimate toilet experience’, a Wimbledon-themed portaloo on wheels dubbed the QLoo. The QLoo circulated the tournament’s queue looking for people in ‘need’, and then the ball boys and girls manning it saved their place in line.
As well as being fully equipped with an AstroTurf interior and radio which streamed live match commentary, the toilet was scented with a strawberries and cream room fragrance to add to the experience. The stunt worked on every level. Not only was it on brand, it offered real value to queuing tennis fans.
In order to tie the offline experience with social media, Bathstore also asked people to tweet @bathstore using the #QLoo hashtag.
If there’s one thing that works well with consumers and the media in the retail sector, it’s freebies.
Most brands have products and services at their disposal. Pairing access to these goods with the innate desire for free stuff and you have a match made in heaven.
Product sampling can be a powerful way to secure footfall to your shop, visitors to your website and purchases of your product. Sending free samples to key media and press can also help you get reviews (that you may not otherwise get).
If you’re opening a new store, you could offer the first 20 people through the door a valuable free gift. Guaranteed to attract crowds and local press attention.
In 2014, Starbucks, the coffee retailer, ran a ‘pay it forward’ promotional campaign to inspire community generosity. For three days, certain customers were given a free tall brewed coffee, but there was a catch: they had to buy the next customer in line his or her favourite beverage.
The campaign gained steam both at a bricks and mortar level, and on social media – resulting in glowing press and new customers. In one store in Florida, Starbucks attracted over 750 customers to pay it forward in two days of coffee kindness.
Never underestimate the power of reviews in the retail sector.
Consumers love to hear non-biased reviews of products before they decide whether to visit a shop or website. So early on, it’s worth engaging well-known bloggers and journalists in your niche to review your products or store. They’ll have influence over their followers, many of which will crossover with your target market.
Reviews work particularly well for beauty brands. And one company that’s reaped the benefits is ColourPop – a Los Angeles-based make-up brand.
When Colourpop burst on to the scene via Instagram, it captured the hearts — and lips — of popular beauty influencers. Once they started raving about the products on their various channels, ColourPop reached superstar status pretty much overnight, attracting 1.6 million new followers on Instagram, and daily mentions by vloggers and make-up enthusiasts.