ADVERTISE – HOW TO SURVIVE AND ATTRACT CUSTOMERS

Do you advertise?  We ourselves are buyers/sellers in the Antique Shop type of environment.    Experienced in the business since 1995.  Read on for some helpful insight.

Over the years we have explored advertising options in attempts to attract customers.

We believe creating and maintaining a central collection of like minded Antique Business listings will increase traffic to all of us.  Regardless of your location.  All falling under a generic and logical name most everyone would be searching the internet by.  Especially when they are in Las Vegas.

Those outside our area can benefit with a listing as well.  Link off the high profile name being used.

We offer one webpage, including set up, free of charge.  You may include one Image, Text, Contact info, and links.   We will not ask you for payment or credit card information.

How to survive and attract customers
Advertising is the key to any successful business. Larger businesses spend millions. It is factored into their products retail price. Unfortunately most of us in this Antique business tend to forget advertising, and let it fall by the wayside. Or perhaps it is was not thought through when you started buying and selling.

Many expect buyers to find our business location either by word of mouth.  Or by passing by. That is thinking that will stagnate your sales, or worse, put you out of business.

You think paper flyers or yellow page ads are the thing?  Not with the younger generations.

In recent years few people are using the old traditional paper phone book ad pages, paper flyers, and such.  In fact few are looking at any form of paper printed advertising any longer.  Keep this “non-paper” thought in mind as you read on.

The cost of ads in newspapers or magazines have priced them out of reach for many sellers.   Most any newspaper is suffering in both ad placement costs, and a dropping customer reader base.  The Yellow Page market has all but disappeared.

Younger people are obtaining their information from the palm of their hand.  Yep, that fancy mini computer, called a “Smart Phone”.

The younger generation doesn’t even know what paper phone books are.  Most don’t purchase newspapers.  Especially not with the progression of smart phones, tablets, and even vehicles GPS systems found today.  They ask Siri or the like, and their handheld device talks to them.

To keep up with all of this you need to access internet.  Also have a presence on social media, aka.the internet.  You need to be seen digitally!  Otherwise your business is on its way out of town on a stage coach.

The younger generations are embracing the wireless, paperless, digital age.  They search and find a business that meets their criteria.  Then they jump over to apps such as Yelp to look at customer ratings.  All in a matter of seconds.  From that app they click to a map that provides directions to their queried their destination.  Guess what if you aren’t found there?!

If you think you are going to capture peoples attention with paper, you are living in the past.  You need to catch up with social media, to capture these folks.  If not, you are in that stage coach going in the wrong direction, and they just blew by you at the speed of light.

If you don’t tap into this growing source of customers, as a merchant/seller, your customer base will dwindle away.  It will die off with those that refuse to embrace the digital world.

We personally have run the sales gambit.  Probably as many of you have. Renting “cases” or “booth space” in retail locations.

We have trucked or hauled our wares to outdoor events, set up tents, or temporary inside booths. Weathered outdoor rainstorms, cold, and the sun, all in the name of selling. Trying every trick to put a seller and buyer together.

Brick and Mortar shops these days are competing with social media in additional respects.  That younger generation is shopping on Amazon, eBay, Etsy, and who knows what.  It negatively impacts foot traffic sales to any retail shop.

We all know in this Antique Shop business we ourselves often compare and price by bumping up our “finds” against eBay “sold” prices.  We have to.  The younger tech savvy customers are surely going to check eBay and compare your price before they buy from your shop.   Our only advantage is they get to touch and feel, inspect, and personally evaluate quality verses pricing.  But only if we somehow lure them into our retail shop.

Buyers these days are using electronics to search, inspect, buy, and have it shipped right to their house.  Perhaps never leaving their home.  More likely while they were enjoyed their hot beverage in some quaint coffee shop.  The point being, you need to drag these people away from their phone shopping and into your shop.  Otherwise join the ranks of Montgomery Wards, K-Mart and the like.

Sites such as eBay or Esty will provide them with up to date pricing accuracy.  You in turn need to be dialed in digitally to know the prices they are finding.  Factor in shipping they might have to pay, and price accordingly.  More and more shipping is being included.

As eBay and the like increase sales on all subjects, it becomes an ever evolving source for pricing.  And price comparisons for shoppers.  If you are over priced and they find a similar item on eBay at a lower price…..a few clicks on their Smart Phone, and they have it being mailed to their house.  You just lost a sale!

I know this happens because I am finding normal retail items at a lower price on-line…..even factoring in shipping.  It often happens for me when a store is out of something.  I go on line at that point to see where I can get it.  I  often end up buying it cheaper with shipping included, and don’t have to use gas to drive back, or use gas drive to another store.

Did you ever think about why you got into all of this? Having a shop or fixed retail space?   Renting Floor Space? Setting up tents at an event?

You paid hefty fee’s to rent outdoor space. You worked your tail off setting up, and tending a booth all day. You did it because of the attraction of the concentrated foot traffic you expected to walk by your merchandise.   It was to put more faces and wallets in front of your wares. The reason you took the chance was because of the anticipated concentrated foot traffic.  This customer traffic does happen.  It’s due to the promoting efforts and “Advertising” by the organizers of the event.  Paid for in part by a portion of your booth fee.

For those of us that enjoy this “hobby”, or perhaps even selling as your “livelihood”, it must be something common in the blood. We love to buy these types of items. We also get some form of happiness, and hopefully income, when we sell.

The difficulty is bringing a buyer to a seller. If you don’t personally do the advertising, you basically need to pay someone to do it for you. Did you budget for that?  Are you willing to part with another 10-25% of your gross sales?  If not, you need to find inventive, less expensive, or free, options.  We have already indicated that a good portion of this effort better be digitally!

If you sit on your hands and think customers will come, you will not be successful unless you lucked out and landed in a high traffic area.

Assuming you have quality merchandise.  Merchandise that customers are wanting to buy.  Also prices that are comparable across the market (Including on-line).  Any successful retail selling requires two other main things. Location and Advertising.  Both your location and advertising brings the customers to you.

It comes down to mainly Product-Pricing-Location-Advertising.  Service, and your smiling face are other factors of course.

The two largest factors you need to be concerned about are Location and Advertising. If you need to increase traffic and thus sales, you must always keep these factors in mind. We are going to assume you are going to price your products competitively.

There is an old saying “Location, Location, Location”!

LOCATION: Adjust your location as best you can. Location is more difficult and more expensive to change. This change has to be within your budget for expenses. This might mean moving to a completely different address.  A better location within your existing shop.  Or simply arranging your merchandise in a more appealing manner.  Some of this can be wall colors, lighting, and a organized looking selling area.  Be very wary of the “grass is greener” scenario.  You know……that urge to move to a new address.

OTHER INFLUENCES: There are studies and books (find the info on the internet too!) having to do with the placement of merchandise on shelves. If you aren’t selling, review your selling location, space, and merchandise placement.

Interesting things to read up on:
“Lighting” Keep it bright.  The single most import and relatively inexpensive change you have control over.  Both overhead and direct lighting for display cases or spotlighting featured items.
“Eye Level is Buy Level “    About 5 1/2 ft (5ft 4in exactly for the average woman)
“Vertical Display or Vertical Slice”  (Like items displayed vertically on all shelves in a vertical area)
“Must See Items” Displayed on end caps to catch attention
“Must Have Items” to the back of your area to traffic customers through everything.
“Music”  Did you know SiriusXM Music for Business offers custom playlists?
“Fragrances”  Called aromacology.  You can also do it wrong too, and turn people off.  Some heavy spice scents are actually a turn off to many people.  Check ScentAir Machines.  Or consider faintly fragrant fresh cut flowers.
“Wall Colors”  Stay away from colors that absorb or steal your light.  Also stay away from surfaces like bright white that creates too much reflection.  Mirrors in cramped areas can some times give the illusion of a larger area.
“Flooring/Floor covering”  Should be complimentary to your color scheme and merchandise.  Above all else, it should be spotlessly clean at all times.  The main area, and behind and around things.  Dust on your merchandise is a serious turn-off!

At a minimum, rearrange your items multiple times a year.   More frequently is better.  Be sure to clean the dust off your items and shelving in the process!  Keep your floor, shelves, cabinets, lighting, and merchandise, clean and dust free.

If things aren’t selling, reduce the price……then reduce again, to get rid of it.  Unless it is seasonal in nature, don’t put it in storage with the intention to re-display it later and try selling it again.  Reduce it until it goes.

Remember, the grass is not always greener.  Moving physical locations, such as a completely different physical address, is your most expensive action.  Often it takes a long period of time for old clients to catch up to you.  In many cases they shopped your old location for convenience, or out of some habit, and may never follow you.

Establishing a successful presence at a new location often requires heavy advertising.  If you aren’t doing advertising now, and don’t budget for it at your new location, don’t expect a new location to be any more successful.

ADVERTISING: Regardless of whether you are a stand alone business, or selling in some type of co-op such as an Antique Store, or Mall that rents out space to “sellers”.  Advertising can make you, or break you. You can’t afford, not to advertise.

Don’t depend on a co-op shop owner to advertise for you. Remember they are in business for the most part to make an income off collecting rent and a percentage of your sales.  Though shop owners that advertise to draw customers in, can greatly increase their revenue off sales commissions.

Yes and it is agreed, some percentage of the co-op store owners dabble in merchandise buying and selling too. Perhaps they have a foot in the business by also selling from a portion of their own floor space? If they have advertised and filled their floor space with sellers, they are meeting their prime objective though.  There may not be the motivation to advertise for you!

Obviously their “advertising” is working if their floor space is rented. Their advertising may be ‘word of mouth’, a “client list”, or some other such method.  But please understand that was to fill the floor space, not sell your wares!

The point being, you as a vendor, need to also advertise specifically the items you are selling. Draw customers to your space, your booth, your merchandise. Develop a business plan that grabs the attention of “new” customers.

Develop and continuously practice some type of Advertising. Something you are in charge of that specifically advertises your merchandise. Keep it ever changing and constantly fresh.  Video, Images and Photos, sell better than text or words.  You need to actively deal with Social Media, Email, Snail-mail, Phone contact lists, etc.

Keep updated on the latest opportunities.  “Work”, your customers on a regular basis to constantly pique their interest.  Your existing customers and those new ones you need to snag.

Never be satisfied with “status quo”. You need to keep drawing new customers to your merchandise. If you rely on the same customers over and over.  They will eventually saturate to some degree and not buy, or not buy so much. Also remember they are shopping or collecting.  If another Shop or another Vendor is grabbing their attention with advertising, you will loose traffic and potential sales.

It is your personal job to advertise to sell your individual merchandise. If you aren’t selling at the level you need to be at, review how, and how much you are advertising….or not advertising.  There is more than likely a very direct relationship.

Find ways to get your location, or items, seen. If people aren’t walking by, or walking in, you need to advertise more. If you don’t advertise, the traffic will remain the same. If you don’t change your location or advertising strategy, you will remain basically at the same traffic level or even enter a tapering down mode. Traffic level is directly relates to your current sales.  If your buyer list is not being refreshed, your sales will start dropping off.

Find free, or relatively inexpensive advertising first.  After all, this has to be within budget too.

In Las Vegas your largest base of new customers is to lure the tourists into your location.

Lets touch on a few of your options.  Some idea’s seem great at first thought.  But perhaps out dated?

Business cards on a bulletin board might be a thought. But who really looks at those?  I never do.  The younger people never take their face out of their phones.  You gotta put your “lure” there!  In front of them!!!!  That phone they are looking at is where you will get the biggest bang for your buck.  The most payback for your time and labor.

Handing out business cards in social settings is slightly effective, based on cost.  Especially when you can talk up your location and your merchandise.   But you have to constantly “work” it.  If you don’t socialize often, and with many new people, this is not an effective tool.  You have to hand a card to many people.  Most will take the card to avoid seeming rude or uninterested.  But the percentage of any interest beyond that, is small.  Truthfully most of those cards go directly in the trash.

The younger people put contacts into their “Smart Phone”!!  Hand them a Paper Business card???  That’s like handing them a rotary dial, land line phone, and telling them to make a call.  They would probably look at you and say “how do I text on that”?

Keep an email or text list of your clients and visitors. If you are old fashioned and won’t change your ways, get their mailing address or phone number. Then make it a point to contact all, by whatever means, on some type of routine basis. Show or tell them about something new.  But old fashioned mailing (Snail mail) is expensive…..and most of this will end up in the trash.

You can send out “snail” mail using paper, envelopes, and stamps. But this cuts into your profits by adding more expense.  I get flooded with so much junk mail at home I rarely take the time to (a) Open the envelope, and (b) ever read the material.  It goes directly from mailbox to the trash.

Think calling is the way to go?  Phone calls from unknown numbers???  I personally stopped answering those long ago.  That new fangled “Smart Phone” with Caller ID, is a wonderful thing.  It flags me not to answer.  Also you get into the whole “Do Not Call” government thing if you start trying to solicit by phone.

Snail mail and making phone calls is too labor intensive. Move into the paperless digital world of social media on the internet.  That is were the younger generation, your new customer, is at and looking for you.

The older generations are getting more and more exposure to digital devices. The mindset of the population in general, to use snail mail or phone calling methods, is slowing drying up.  Heck when I get an odd call out of the blue nowadays I immediately start thinking spammer or scammer.  I don’t answer.

This is where emails and social media start replacing otherwise labor intensive options.  At little cost and little labor.

There is email software out there that lets you build one email letter or one document, then mass mail it to a huge list of contacts.   It allows you to add photos.  This software blocks the individuals from seeing the others that were contacted. This insures privacy is met. Do not just send off a plain old email and add a bunch of recipients on the “TO List” without using some such special software.  But this then gets in the realm of spam, and people end up “blocking” you.  (Its difficult to win)

Email is more than likely is not as effective as it once was.  Imagine that.  Its Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, websites, search engines, and all the new social media options.

Paid ads in Antique Magazines, TV, on roadside Bill Boards, or Fliers in Hotels & Casino’s that are frequented by tourists.  May drive the largest amount of traffic your way.  Unfortunately these options also come with the greatest price tag.  Creating a great drain on your profit margin.

Another option is to get clients to sign up with you.  Then create a monthly newsletter to keep their interest.  Something simple but creative.  Visuals like photos are effective.  But this is time consuming.  You may not have the talents or the time to invest in this?

In this digital age, people coming to town are getting on their Smart Phones, Vehicle GPS, Tablets, or Computers, and typing a search on LAS VEGAS ANTIQUE SHOPS.  Or something similar.  A logical combination of related words to search by.

Electronic social media will grab the attention of customers looking and ready to buy.

Using this site will only cost you a small amount of time. No expense in dollars. Not many media options offers you a way to experiment with advertising for free.

We hope to keep this website completely free to post your Business information as well as your Photo Ads.

We suggest you also start your own Facebook Business Page, or a simple website, that you update yourself.

Facebook is free, a website is not.  Facebook is relatively quick and easy to master.  A website requires more specific knowledge and expenses for domain names and data storage.  There are free blogger options available if you want to jump into that world.

I would start with Facebook and create a Business PAGE.  Whatever you decide.  Do jump in and create a digital presence somewhere to help increase your sales. And yes this is work and time, and requires constant self training to stay up to speed.

How do we do our website for “Free” you might ask? We hope to generate enough income from commercially sponsored ads you see appearing on our web pages. Yes that magic power of “advertising”.

We hope you and others visiting our pages click off on some of those ads. It generates us income.  That offsets some of our expenses to offer this service for free, and costs you or other viewers nothing to look at the ads (unless you end up purchasing something).  Believe me we are still running in the negative and working for free hoping our commercially sponsored ads increase revenue.

In addition to listing your business and location, we can “link” your Facebook, Website, or other social media info through our page.  Links from ours, to yours.  All of this increases traffic, either physically in your shop, or digitally to your information.