The Gray Cat Blog

A comprehensive collection of blogs designed to assist small business owners and multiunit operators.

Re-Energizing Your Customer Base

Jul 31, 2023

One of the questions I ask audiences when I deliver presentations on retail marketing is “How many did a grand opening celebration for your store?”  I am generally amazed that usually only 1 in 5 raise their hands.   With all the investment that was done in the physical location, it was a missed opportunity to tell the customer trade area that you were alive and kicking.  But just because you may have missed that opening opportunity, it doesn’t mean that you can’t try again.   

What retailers must consider is how to re-energize their customer base on an ongoing basis – both existing and new customers.  Think about all the Local Store Marketing (LSM) opportunities that a retailer can put into motion throughout the year to help drive customers into their store.  From events to product sampling to anniversary celebrations, the ideas are endless and retailers that become relevant again with their customers grow their business. 

Be Buttoned Up:  First, be smart when you select your event date, avoiding holidays and other conflicting events. Develop a budget that provides enough investment to raise maximum customer awareness - and make sure you comply with local ordinances and obtain any necessary permits.   Don’t be shy, the goal is to simultaneously rejuvenate your existing customer base AND attract new customers to your location. 

Understand Your Trade Area:  To get a leg up on your competition, you need to know everything about them, and your local marketing planning is your chance to differentiate your store from theirs. In addition, identify key businesses and residential areas to promote and position your store for its greatest success.  There are countless potential customers that come to your area or strip center that have never stepped foot in your location – get them to cross the threshold since they are already in the parking lot. 

Over-Communicate:  When you are the new kid on the block, it is common to be overzealous telling the world you exist.  Don’t forget that customers have lives outside of their relationship with your store and it is up to you to over-communicate your LSM event with signage, public relations, social media and especially word-of-mouth advertising.  This is your chance to scream from the mountaintop - don’t be timid! 

Plan Week-Long Activities:  If you want to go big, say an Anniversary Celebration, your LSM events should be more than a day, so consider having a weeklong celebration with activities planned throughout. Give back to the community by contributing a charitable donation during your Anniversary Celebration; plan a local celebrity appearance to attract crowds; and include daily events that draw a cross-section of different target-customer demographics. 

Get Known:  Make the rounds at local chamber of commerce meetings and other community events to network. While it is great to create and precisely communicate your brand through advertising and local media coverage, building a localized network of contacts can produce long-lasting sales drivers.  Business leaders relish the opportunity to work with their established colleagues and these bonds can keep the competition at bay. 

Make It Last:  Re-energizing you customer base is not a one-and-done endeavor – you need to be consistent and proactive to establish routines with your customers.  This is not a time to rest on your laurels.  Continue to add value with the base and your sales will see a steady climb. 

Most store owners get into retail because they have a love for both people and the products they sell. They build their stores, hire friendly staff, unlock the doors, and wait for the world to come in. It’s easy to get excited when your store first becomes visible to customers during your grand opening, but it’s another thing to generate this customer excitement some two years later. Don’t fall for “the new guy” syndrome-develop strong local store marketing strategies to maintain your store’s sales momentum well beyond your initial period.   

Want more ideas?  For more information on Local Store Marketing, visit the Gray Cat Learning Series:


John Matthews, President & CEO, Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc.

John Matthews is the Founder and President of Gray Cat Enterprises, Inc. a Raleigh, NC-based management consulting company. Gray Cat specializes in strategic project management and consulting for multi-unit operations; interim executive management; and strategic planning. Mr. Matthews has over 30 years of senior-level executive experience in the retail industry, involving three dynamic multi-unit companies. Mr. Matthews experience includes President of Jimmy John's Gourmet Sandwiches; Vice President of Marketing, Merchandising, Corporate Communications, Facilities and Real Estate for Clark Retail Enterprises/White Hen Pantry; and National Marketing Director at Little Caesar's Pizza! Pizza!