The power of messaging in independent retail

15 March 2023, 08:43 AM
  • In a world where first impressions count, it’s well worth investing in the way you present your business discovers Samantha Priestley
The power of messaging in independent retail

Signage and promotions might seem like a pretty straightforward area of a business, but you could be sending out messages, even by something as small as the colour or the font on your signs, that you weren’t aware of. And this can be happening even before a potential customer steps inside your door.

Simon Warren from The East Street Deli explains, “Kerb-appeal is so important to make a small shop like ours stand out from the crowd. The same goes for any advertising we do, whether it’s in print or on social media, you’re competing in such a tough marketplace that the first impression should never be overlooked.”

The words you use, and how you present them are vital to how others perceive you. Lidia Rumley, founder of The Brand Storyteller, believes staying ‘on brand’ and relaying a core message helps connect a business with customers. “Brand messaging goes beyond the descriptive facts surrounding any product,” Lidia says.

“It identifies all the things that matter to a customer and enables a brand to create a broader conversation with the people it wants to attract, by being not just informative, but also thought-provoking and aspirational.”

Why words matter
Our words are the most powerful tool we have. Simon Warren knows that choosing words that speak to the desire for something specific in customers, can draw those people in. “We tend to use language that sets us apart from the more mainstream, national high street shops,” says Simon.

“Words like ‘Local’ and ‘Artisan’ always seem to resonate with our customers. Messaging also works well when we actually describe how far a product or supplier is based from our front door. If it is truly local and people know its actual location it’s worth making it clear to potential customers.”

Catherine Connor, co-owner of Lovingly Artisan, agrees that clear messaging is the key to catching the eye of customers and getting across what you want to say quickly. “The best form of language is simple, clear and concise. Make it easy to read and simple to understand. Customers are busy and they don’t have the headspace to work out complex messages. Consumers read in bullet points, short character formats – think tweet and you won’t go far wrong.”

But businesses don’t only have to think about length and using words and messages that say something about their brand, they also need to consider the way they are saying these things.

“It’s not just the messages that are important,” says Lidia. “The tone with which these messages are delivered matters too. Those who want to stand out should look at developing insightful brand strategies that capture their purpose, passion, and personality, as well as everything that makes them different from their competitors, and deliver that through a series of messages that speak their customers’ language and move them to buy.”

Keep it consistent
Businesses can always rebrand, but it’s a good idea to start with one vision and to choose signage and messaging that’s the right fit for your business, and to stick to it. Simon Warren sees this as being the thread that runs through the business. It needs to be consistent.

“We think it’s important to maintain the same look, feel and branding on everything we produce. If it’s an external advert, a social media post or an internal promotional notice we use the same font, graphics and, where necessary, brand name and logo. We want our customers to instantly recognise when something is from The East Street Deli.”

For Catherine, this means making sure everything that appears digitally has the same message as that which customers see in-store. “Our online approach is consistent in terms of our branding and our messaging. We utilise various formats to engage with our customers and potential customers, including newsletters, social media posts and videos.

“The tone and voice you use to convey every aspect of your business must be consistent, reflecting the brand, tone and the visual elements of the business. Every aspect of our business has been carefully thought about to ensure consistency across the board.”

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