There are over 46,000 liquor stores in the United States which generate millions of dollars every year. In a rotten economy, liquor sales actually tend to go up, rather than down. As the economy gets better, more restaurant customers will begin to buy their drinks while dining out, rather than saving money by post-gaming their meals.
As mature as the industry is, liquor stores really aren’t usually the types of businesses where casual, first-time customers build emotional attachments. That’s not to say it doesn’t happen though, because there are lots of innovative liquor stores out there that have proven that making a great first impression can build loyal regular customers that return every time they need to find a good bottle of wine or stock a 4th of July BBQ.
Every great liquor store marketing campaign includes the following: great customer service, interesting events, social media, local community outreach, and a useful website.
1. Start with customer service
A great face-to-face experience with a customer can lead them to returning over and over again. Building rapport and personal relationships with these customers when you see them returning will keep them coming back to buy specifically from you, and not just your “brand”. Liquor stores still have the luxury of offering that “mom and pop shop” feel that so many businesses lack today.
2. Host tastings and events
A mutually beneficial promotion between you and a liquor, beer or wine maker is never a bad idea. You host the event, and they provide the refreshments.
Legacy Liquor Store in Vancouver offers a surplus of events. Wine, Vodka and Beer tastings are always free, but they also offer bigger events for a price, like their Summertime Whiskey Series which is both educational and intoxicating.
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3. Put some trust in social media
Wine connoisseur Gary Vaynerchuk has already proven with Wine Library, that social media can create millions for a small-time liquor store. Rod Phillips of Liquor Plus in Victoria, BC has had the same result, with revenues of over $25m dollars after starting social media and eventually ditching traditional marketing methods once they discovered their return on investment for both avenues.
4. Sponsor local events and retain those customers
The reason you sponsor an event can’t simply be for brand recognition, it also needs to be for networking. Don’t send your new uneducated employees to these events to hand out the rub-on tattoos or hand out beer samples. Bring yourself and the people that customers will want to meet again when they come back into your store. Be sure to schmooze.
5. Launch a website already!
If you don’t already have a website, it should be your next investment. If you think that you have nothing to post on your website, think again. It doesn’t require a full inventory of your products to start, just some plain Jane information about your business. Where you’re located, when you’re open, upcoming events, about your business, about the owners and what types of liquors you specialize in are good first pages of your website.
The biggest thing you’ll need to remember in your liquor store marketing campaign is that you need to use what you’ve got. What you have is a store and a story. People aren’t as loyal to brands as they are to their friends. Be their friends, invite them over for tastings, reach out to them about their favorite products and schmooze, schmooze, schmooze.
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