How To Beat Amazon This Retail Season

Originally published September 5, 2017 by The Montrose Daily Press

Amazon. The big-box store. Someone offering it for 15 percent cheaper than you can do it. How do we compete? As we prepare for the hottest retail season of the year, it is time to think about how we position ourselves best in the eyes of our customers or those who haven’t quite discovered us yet.

Here are five tips to getting your business noticed in today’s noisy marketplace:

1. Logo. This is the single most important expression of who you are. Your logo may often be the first thing potential customers notice about you. Like a wedding ring, your logo is a silent and outward symbol to the world. People should look at it and understand what you’re about immediately.

Your logo needs to be professional and convey concise and clear messaging about your business. Invest in its creation (or revamping). Once you have a strong logo, let NOTHING leave your door digitally or physically that does not include your logo. You never know who is going to see that piece of your brand. Having your logo everywhere drastically increases your odds of recognition and later conversion.

2. Your story. If you sat down across from someone you’d never met, could you clearly and passionately tell them your story? Why are you in business? What makes you unique and an expert in your industry? Many people struggle with this.

A business’ story is one of its most powerful tools for customer acquisition and retention. This is especially true with our beloved millennials. They (we) care and will often pay more when the product or service they are consuming has meaning or can be traced back to something they place value in.

Work on refining your story and brainstorm ways to share it with your customers.

3. Digital magic tricks. Even if you are a one person show working out of your mom’s basement (speaking of millennials), your web and social media presence should convey a forty person team working on the 15th floor overlooking Central Park. There is absolutely no reason your business should have an ugly outdated website. There are certainly lots of excuses not to, but this is 2017 and bad websites and social media silence are no longer given a “pass” by today’s consumer.

Even if your customer lives three blocks from your storefront, they will most likely hop on your website or Facebook page prior to making the trip. Treat your website and social media platforms as your most important first impression tool (after the logo). Just like we don’t wear sweatpants to a job interview with expectations of getting the job, do not offer visibly displeasing digital content with expectations of making the sale.

There are hundreds of books, blogs, classes and resources on this. There are local experts you can hire. Make magic. No more excuses.

4. Do weird stuff. What have businesses in your industry traditionally always done? Don’t do that. Do the opposite. Be fresh and creative about your approach. Be weird.

This is the beauty of a free economy and entrepreneurship. You can do whatever you want.

You’ll know you’re winning in this category when people begin correcting you back into that “lane” where you “belong.” Do it anyway.

5. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 every week. Make a commitment each week to produce five marketing pieces containing your logo.

Be sure at least four of those pieces have some element of your story included. Even if it is just your tagline. Tell them who you are. All the time.

Hit three digital channels a week: Social media, website (keep that bad boy updated), email marketing.

Do something weird twice a week. Try a funny subject line in your email marketing. Spice up your “voice” on social media. Go out to lunch as a team dressed up in funny costumes. Give ‘em something to talk about.

Always look out for number one. You’re your most important client (words of wisdom thanks to local marketing genius Laura Williams/InSync Media). These processes take time so be patient and consistent. Take care of your business’ needs as you would your most valuable client’s. Watch your business grow.

Chelsea Rosty is the executive director of the Montrose Chamber of Commerce and director of business innovation for the City of Montrose. She can be reached at chelsea@montrosechamber.com.