There are times when antiques marketing seems like a giant game of whack-a-mole. You might recall whack-a-mole from your last visit to an arcade: A lighted game console sits on the floor, a player facing a horizontal playing surface containing a dozen (or so) holes. When persuaded by sufficient quarters, toy moles begin to randomly pop up through the holes and the player must “whack” them down with a mallet.
Such is the life of a retailer. Much of our work is repetitive. There are dozens of management chores to be done each day, and, in the process of getting them done, our particular group of “moles” randomly pops up to interrupt our work flow. It would be great if our “moles” could be dispatched with a whack of the mallet, but our problems seldom have such simple solutions. It would be even better if we could “whack a mole” just once and be done with it forever.
There are some tasks — very important ones — that can be done just once and left to run on their own with only an occasional review. Several marketing chores can be included in this group. Although there are marketing duties that must be addressed often, there are others you can “set and forget.” I dub such marketing tactics “evergreen,” because, like a spruce tree, they bloom all year with little maintenance. Employing evergreen tactics will save you time and provide a steady supply of customers. They are the foundation upon which all your other marketing should rest.
Let’s have a look at three fundamental evergreen antiques marketing tactics. So we are all on the same page, let me define marketing as “any activity that is responsible for bringing customers into your store.”
Top three antiques marketing tactics
1. Claim your local online directory listings
Most are free; you just have to set them up. The more directories you are in, the more likely you are to dominate page one of Google search results. If your business isn’t on page one of a search engine, you won’t be found; most people don’t look past page one. According to directory specialists Flag, 97% of consumers start a purchase cycle with a local online search. Only 36% of these searches begin with a search engine like Google, Bing, or Yahoo, though; the rest are accessed through directories and review sites like MerchantCircle, Google Local Business Center, Yahoo! Local, YellowPages.com, SearchLocal, and SuperPages.
If you only show up on Google, you’re missing all the people who aren’t searching there. There are hundreds of online directories, but most of your needs can be met by listing in a dozen or so. An excellent primer on how to approach local business listings can be found at Moz [https://moz.com/learn/local/listings].
An important aspect of local search is having your own website. I’m constantly amazed by how many antique dealers still don’t have a website. It’s the 21st century, folks! The print edition of the Yellow Pages is dead; it’s the era of online search. While evaluating a market area last week, I searched online for all antique stores within a 50 mile radius of a particular store. There were 33 antique stores listed; 12 had websites, 5 had Facebook pages instead of a website.
Facebook? The purpose of this particular tactic is to dominate local search results. Let me ask: The last time you shopped for local goods or services, where did you search, Google or Facebook? I suspect it was Google (or some other search engine). No statistically significant number of consumers search for goods and services on Facebook. Don’t pretend that Facebook will replace a website.
Yes, sometimes Facebook pages can be found through Google search, but if you’re looking for an evergreen marketing solution you need a website. Social media is cheap but is time consuming to maintain and produces unreliable results. Worst of all, you don’t control the page; Facebook does. Your hard work can go right down the tube whenever their policies change.
2. Cultivate online reviews
Online reviews are more-or-less permanent; it’s very difficult to get rid of them once they appear. Once they are in place, they will work for you or against you for a very long time. Forbes Magazine reports a Zendesk survey showing that 90% of participants claimed that positive online reviews influenced their buying decision, and 86% said their decision was influenced by negative reviews.
How do you get good reviews? Start by leaving reviews for local businesses on Yelp, Google, or similar review sites. Shop at the store you intend to review; chat with them, get a feel for how they do business and leave them a positive review online. Then let them know you left it. If you can’t leave a positive review, don’t leave one at all; they might see your negative report and retaliate with a negative review of your business. Yelp has a primer on how to nurture reviews on their website.
3. Put your signs to work
Here’s the “lowdown” on signs, by the numbers: A survey by FedEx Office reports that:
• 80% of American consumers will enter a store they have never visited before based on its signs
• 52% were less willing to enter a store with poorly made and/or misspelled signage
• 60% would not enter a store that had no sign
• 68% have purchased a product because a sign caught their eye
• 66% believe that a store’s signage reflects the quality of its products and services
• 75% have referred a store based on its signage alone
Consumers have spoken: Poor signage results in lost sales. What do your signs say about your business?
While you’re reviewing your signage, don’t forget to consider vehicle signs. Vehicle graphics can get thousands of impressions a day, depending on the size of your market, how much you drive, and where you park. For the one-time cost of custom lettering, a vehicle wrap, or magnetic sign, your vehicle can be promoting your business for two to seven years. That’s a longer shelf life than comparably priced repetitive print ads.
Most small business issues can be solved by investing time, money, or both. If you invest in evergreen antiques marketing tactics, you will find that in the long run you will spend fewer advertising dollars and promotional hours to hit your sales goals.
This article was previously published in Antique Trader Magazine