How to Strategically Increase Your Business’s Foot Traffic

There are four main leverage points to increasing your business:

  1. Increase the number of people who walk into your business
  2. Increase the number of people who buy from you
  3. Increase the dollar amount of each sale
  4. Increase the number of times a customer buys from you

(Deceptively simple, right?)

Today, we’re going to examine the first point: Increasing the number of people who “walk in” (or otherwise get exposed to your product or service offering).

Increasing your foot traffic is a powerful way to grow your business. Its benefits should be crystal clear to you: the more people you can bring in, the more sales you can make, the more you can deliver real value to people, and the more you can build a healthy, profitable business.

Measure Your Foot Traffic

This phrase from Peter Drucker is famous: “What gets measured gets managed.”

You’ll find about 10 tons of psychology and business wisdom crammed in that tiny phrase. Psychologically speaking, this phrase is powerful because it forces you to be concrete and specific. This is important, because the opposite of specific and concrete — ambiguity — leads to inaction. That’s because when the brain doesn’t know what to do, it does nothing.

If you know gut-wise that you want to get more visitors in your store, but you don’t have any clue how many actually come in, increasing that number is impossible. Because you haven’t identified that number.

So the first thing you want to do is get a baseline measurement of the traffic coming in.

If you own a business where a visitor translates to a sale, then this figure is easy to identify. Appointment-based businesses like salons fall into this category, as do food service and restaurants.

But if you own a business where browsing is more likely, i.e., a retail store, a bakery, a flower shop, then getting an idea of foot traffic is more difficult, but no less important.

How to Measure

If you have the budget, you can get a more complex people counting solution. Here are three recommendations to get you started:

  1. SenSource
  2. People Counters
  3. BVI Networks

If you prefer a low-tech way, or your traffic just doesn’t justify a costly solution, nothing beats a spreadsheet. Here’s an example I put together. It’s very basic, but will get you started.

Measure your foot traffic for 3 days.

Once you have a rough idea as to the numbers your business is generating for foot traffic, then congrats — you’ve set a baseline. Now you just need to increase that number by 20%.

That’s a small, easily achievable difference.

For example, if you own a flower shop and you get, on average, 10 people walking in per day, a 20% increase is 2. Just two more people. Once you have 12 people, you increase that by 20%, and so on. If you compound that over time, and the results are substantial.

IMMEDIATELY ACTIONABLE TACTIC: Measure your traffic/sales for 3 days, identify a baseline

Deliver Real Value to Your Customers

You need to decide something right now. What kind of business are you going to be?

Are you going to be a mere transaction center, where dollars change hands in exchange for a good or service? (This is dangerous because you are so replaceable.)

Or are you going to be a source of truth for the customer, where he comes not just to solve a problem or satisfy a want, but to enrich his life? (This is nirvana because the customer values you and doesn’t want to lose you.)

Here’s a real-world example: I was talking to some friends at a dinner party this week, and the conversation turned to the (outstanding) cheeses they were serving. The host started raving about this cheese store he went to, and couldn’t say enough positive things about it.

“It was so specialized.”

“You go there and you actually learn something.”

“The staff really know what they are talking about and teach you about it.”

And as a result, he had a party of people all talking about it, and complimenting him about it, which added tremendous social value to him. Would he get that if he bought the cheese at Target?

I don’t think so.

But who cares? Why does this matter?

It matters because this second point is highly strategic. In fact, you’re going to get a lot of highly strategic content on this blog because frankly the content out there for you on how to build your local business is atrocious.

This is strategic because if you can add value to your customers, that’s the kind of change, the kind of marketing, that will hugely impact your business. But if you don’t add value to your customers and instead try out tweeting, or Facebook, or SEO, at best you get a tiny difference, but continue to be mediocre, and at worst you’re missing the big picture and wasting your time.

How can you add real value to your customers?

You can check out my previous post on delivering outstanding customer service. That’s a solid, day-to-day, strategic and systematic solution.

By 1) understanding what your customer wants (remember the cheese store example above? What do you think customers are buying there? It isn’t cheese.) and 2) delivering that to her in a way that improves her life and helps her achieve what she wants, you add real value.

But here’s a tactic that is larger scale:

Host a seminar or workshop

This sounds complicated, but it isn’t.

By knowing your customer and what he wants, you choose a topic of interest and importance to him, and make it a live event where he and others will get valuable, free information to address that topic.

Here are five examples:

  1. Business: Dog-walking / pet-sitting. Workshop: How to train your dog to stop barking
  2. Business: Florist. Workshop: How to maximize the life of your fresh flowers
  3. Business: Gym. Workshop: 6 foods to cut belly fat
  4. Business: Bakery. Workshop: How to make delicious chocolate chip cookies
  5. Business: Plumbing. Workshop: Tips to cut down on your water bill
  6. BONUS: Business: Salon. Workshop: How to get easy, perfect “going out” hair

Here are the steps to hosting a seminar or workshop:

    1. Pick a date 1 month from now and lock it in your calendar
    2. Pick a topic
    3. Promote that topic with in-store displays
    4. Tell visitors about the seminar/workshop, and ask them for feedback. Here’s how:

FLORIST: “Thanks so much for coming in today. You know, in about one month we’ll be having a special workshop in here to help you keep your flowers fresher longer. In your opinion, is there anything you’d like us to cover?”

Then listen to what they say. Use this valuable feedback to shape what you teach.

  1. Rehearse the event and prep it
  2. Throw the event, and capture names and emails of attendees.

IMMEDIATELY ACTIONABLE TACTIC: Pick a date for a workshop, and get feedback from your customers

Build Strategic Partnerships

Partnerships are a huge area full of strategic growth. But what is a partnership in this essence?

It’s when you help a different service provider get his job done and look amazing. It is not putting a stack of your business cards on someone’s counter.

Here’s the workflow you want:

  1. Identify potential partners
  2. Arrange a meeting
  3. During the meeting, you exclusively find out what he needs to achieve his goals, what his frustrations are
  4. Later, you address and help him solve those frustrations
  5. You propose a partnership to him

Often the first step, identifying potential partners, is the toughest. Let’s make this real. For example, let’s say you are a local purveyor of youth sporting goods equipment. Here’s how to do it:

Ask yourself, “Who else is in my same space? Who else comes in contact with youth sporting goods?”

You’ll create a list:

  • teams
  • kids
  • parents
  • league officials
  • coaches
  • school administrators
  • church groups
  • gym owners

Who from this list would make a valuable partner and could promote or refer your business to each of their constituents? It’s pretty obvious.

In the case of a local high school coach, what partnerships could be arranged? He refers his team to your store, and he gets what? Perhaps it’s a discount for his players, perhaps it’s a potential sponsor for the team, or free trophies come award season. You’ll need to brainstorm and test partnership models.

But the power of strategic partnerships cannot be understated. Here’s another example. Let’s say you’re a photographer.

Do you have a formal agreement with event planners? Caterers? Country clubs? Hotels? Hairstylists? Interior designers?

IMMEDIATELY ACTIONABLE TACTIC: Identify 1 potential partner, and set up a meeting with him/her

Incentivize Visits

This final tip is all about incentivizing visits. It works, but you want to do it in moderation so you don’t devalue yourself or your business.

That’s because if I go to the Cheese Store (from the above example) I’m not really interested in discounted cheese. I’m interested in being the guy who is interesting and throws cool parties with sophisticated people and taste.

(It just so happens that SalesVu has powerful features to help you leverage the revolution of mobile discounts and social media. Check us out.

Here are three powerful incentive models:

Make the first purchase “free”

This doesn’t mean giving your customer his money back or waiving the price.

It means you give your customer a certificate or some other item, and make sure that the next time he’s in the store, he can apply the dollar value of his first purchase towards his second purchase. Which makes the first one essentially free, assuming he comes back.

And he will.

I would recommend creating a minimum purchase amount to qualify, both for the first purchase, and then for the second. Here’s an example.

You sell unique handmade gifts. Here’s your promotion:

When you spend $80 or more, you get a coupon of $80 you can apply to your next purchase of $200 or more.

Offer limited-time discounts

Tried and true. You just want to make sure that you’re adequately promoting it with in-store displays. For example, 20% off on a training session this week only.

Give every day goodies—free

I’ve read of a bookstore who gives away a free book bag or a free bag of coffee every time you buy a book. How awesome is that?

This can be literally anything you want. If I ran a pet-sitting or dog-walking business for example, I’d give a tube of tennis balls branded with my information. I know that dog owners all mingle and talk and play fetch with their dogs together. I also know that as a dog-owner, I’m constantly losing tennis balls, so you solve a real problem for me. As the business owner, I bet it would be smart to simultaneously delight my existing clients and spread the message of my fast, friendly, and reliable service to hundreds of other owners organically.

IMMEDIATELY ACTIONABLE TACTIC: Test a new incentive this week

These are just a few ideas to help you increase your foot traffic. What about you? Tried anything that worked really well? That was a colossal failure? Let me know below.

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