HOW TO SHOUT IT OUT?
This is part of a series of articles written by James Mathe on his old website. I have brought select articles over here, for reasons that are mostly personal. All author credit remains with James Mathe’s estate. He is credited here as a guest author.
Advertising – Yes, you need to do it. Budget a particular amount and spend it every month (1-3% of your Gross is reasonable). When business is slow, it is more important to spend time and money on. If you don’t, you’re going to close.
Website – Have a website that is regularly updated with the current schedule and events. You don’t want people coming to your site and thinking it’s not active. Get your site added to retailer locators on publisher’s websites and especially WOTC’s store finder. Make sure you use many words like “board games” and other relevant keywords when writing each and every blog so you can get better SCO for search engines.
Membership & Loyalty Programs – This is probably a bigger topic then I’m going to spend time on here, but there are several views on these things. I ran a membership program for a long time and it gave 10% off for anyone who signed up. It got us email addresses and a little cash up front. It was meant to create loyalty to our store over competitors and a bit of an excuse for those who don’t want to pay retail to not shop online for the cheap stuff at least. After 10 years of doing this, we moved our store 2 miles down the road – we lost 20% of our business to our competitor and/or online sales. I do not think that’s a sign that loyalty is ever achieved with just a 10% discount. So, I’m more inclined to go with loyalty programs where spending a certain amount gives you a point earnings for free stuff or just attending events gain you punches on a card to eventually get free stuff. These create more of a feeling that they need to keep shopping or playing somewhere to achieve that next goal. Your mileage may vary and maybe you need to do both. I think doing something though is required in today’s market of many options.
Social Media – Mainly Facebook, but others can help. Post event pictures any time your store is looking busy. Pust your weekly delivery of new products. Post the prize winners faces with them holding their reward. In short, make someone visiting your page know that your store is alive and friendly. It is much better to create a “group” for your store on Facebook instead of a business page. This is because only in a group can you make sure people get some notification of your posting messages. If it’s only a page you have to pay for even the chance to show up in other people’s feeds. But you should pay, it’s worth it if you make sure you limit your audience to your local area. Make sure you post a picture with everything you have to say, people’s focus are drawn to images.
Mailing Lists – Annoying to collect, but extremely important. This is your only direct communication with your customers who do not visit you weekly. You need to make sure you are collecting email addresses from people constantly. Have a sign-up sheet for all events that asks for their email. Make events pre-registration use PayPal so you can get their email addresses for the future. This is one of the most important things you can do. Then, the second most important thing is to actually make use of this mailing list. Don’t mail more than once a week and try to have something important to say. The nicer your newsletter looks (well formatted & graphics) the more seriously you’ll be taken.
Meetup.com – You can consider using this tool for your own store and as a mailing list system, but the true value of Meetup.com is interfacing with other groups in your area. Miniatures players, CCG players, Board Game fanatics, RPG players all use this tool to help organize events. You want to be helping them and sponsoring them so they come to your store.
Reviews – Believe it or not your ranking and online reviews and ratings do matter. Sadly, it’s easy for someone upset from something happening to be the first one to make use of these online tools. So, it is in your best interest to make sure that the dissenting view is not the majority of posts – go out of your way to get people to leave reviews of your store. We did this by having “achievement” cards that if someone did things like: posted a review, posted a picture, brought a friend to the store, cleaned up after an event, hosted an event, etc – they would get a free membership or other in store reward. In short, bribe your good customers to help you out.
Game Trade Show (GTS) – http://www.gamatradeshow.com/
ACD Open House – http://www.acdd.com/gamesday/
Alliance Open House – http://openhouse.alliance-games.com/
Souther Hobby Retailer Expo – http://www.southernhobby.com/
Other distributors also do open house events…
BLOGS / ONLINE
Gary Ray blogs
– Read all the stuff marked (Tradecraft)
I’m Board! ACD Games Day Presentation Slides
– The Art of Getting “Everyone Else” Into Your Store
– Marketing 101
Behind the Counter
Game Store Ownership from David Steltenkamp
Planning Your Store Layout
Retail Store Layout – A powerful Tool
Opening a Games Store