Free Marketing Strategy: Boutiques & Gift Shops

At least once per month, I’ll be sharing a FREE marketing strategy you can implement for your local business. Last time, I focused on IT Service Providers. This month, I’m covering Boutiques and Gift shops.

Why?

Because I personally never find what I’m looking for when I search for local shops online. First of all, there’s not too many of them. But otherwise, when I get to their sites or their Instagram pages, it doesn’t describe enough about them to compel me to visit in-store (or, let’s face it, pay more than if I just bought it on Amazon, right??)

So this post was written from the perspective of a local business owner just wanting to find another local business to support. Here are the things I, the typical customer who also loves same-day shipping, would love to see in order to shop locally.

Free Website Strategy: Gift Shop Website Pages

Ok, for this free marketing strategy, let’s start with your WEBSITE! Yes, even local businesses need an effective website.

Most boutiques and gift shops do offer online shipping, so when I visit their websites, it’s just a shop page. But there should be a clear brand voice and messaging on that home page, telling customers what they’ll find before digging into the shop.

🏠 Home Page: Obviously, but let’s make this super targeted with location keywords, talking up the dream life achieved by shopping at your store, and showing great photos of your products and shop.

⭐️ Shop: If you don’t have online shopping, that’s ok, but you do need to have a clear list of product categories, maybe your most popular items featured, and testimonials. Eventually, each of your product categories could be its own page for SEO purposes

💕 Your Story: If you own a local gift shop, your customers want to get to know you. Share your inspiration and what you want to achieve through sharing your products with them.

📍 Location & Hours: This is the most important page on the website, and the information should be in your footer, too.

📝 Blog (or search optimized page): A weekly or even monthly blog will definitely increase your search results (more about the content you can write coming up!! But since customers are shopping boutiques to have a curated experience, these blogs actually get to have your voice and inspiration allllll over them. Not just AI-generated nonsense 😊

If you want to convert someone who primarily shops online to shopping in-store you need to tell them what to expect, so they feel confident they will find what they’re looking for.

Get People to Sign Up: Email Lead Magnets

Ok, the next stop on our free marketing strategy is the email marketing lead magnet. This is how you get people to sign up for your list and open your emails every week.

What’s a lead magnet? It’s a freebie you give in exchange for an email address or phone number.

Almost all boutiques use discount codes for this, but here are a few ideas to test out!

1️⃣ Free art print (or other small versatile object): instead of a discount code, add in a physical freebie. If you ship online orders, you’ll want something that doesn’t add to the shipping dimensions, so an art print works well. In store, they can show you their subscription email and get the freebie then.

2️⃣Birthday bonuses: everyone wants to be on a birthday bonus list. Give them a reason to treat themselves with a free gift, a super discount in store, or free shipping… but don’t bother sending birthday emails if you don’t give a gift.

3️⃣Rewards programs: Give people reasons to come back again and again. They want to earn these goodies… and then your emails and texts can remind them they have discounts waiting.

4️⃣ Free shipping: if you have an online shop, everyone wants free shipping. That can be difficult to manage for every order, so free shipping as an introduction might win them over.

Now go and grow that email list!

Boutique and Gift Shop Social Media Strategy

I love seeing all these hooks from the instagram gurus and applying them to a bunch of different industries (especially local businesses!)

All of these could be reels or carousel posts… remember that static image posts really aren’t that popular right now 🫠

Fun bonus: always use “📍[TOWN, STATE] “ on your reel, so if these do end up on the explore page, people know where to find you!

One Month of Social Posts

Hours & Location for the month: start every month with this post and pin it to the top of your profile so people know exactly when and where to find you

Shop tour: Since people are shopping in store less and less, they want to know what they’re getting into and if they’ll find what they’re looking for

Staff Intros: there are so many fun trending audios for this one! Introduce yourself as the owner, show off the whole team, or introduce only one team member at a time! Then people will have a friendly face when they visit

Your ✨ inspiration ✨ or 💕vibes💕: With the start of each season, share a vision-board-style post with your inspiration for the pieces the month

FAQ: How do boutique owners source their clothes and accessories? (Let them in on your selection process!)

Highlight all the products from one designer

Build a gift basket for the “foodie friend” or the “friend who has everything” or whatever applies to your shop

“You’re in the right place if…” post: list the characteristics of your ideal client, of the person you’re shopping for when you source products

Making a recipe or serving at a party with some of your products (platters, cocktails, etc.)

Every item in a trendy color (ex. all your gold decor items)

Local highlight: any local-themed items you have in store OR products from local makers (helps with location searches)

Try-ons and “modeling” posts: no mannequin or hanger can compare to seeing a product on an actual person. You might have to pull out a tripod for this one, but it’s worth it!

Here you have 3 posts for each week! Repeat these ideas as necessary or fill in with in-person event details!

Free Marketing Strategy: Blog Posts

➡️ Your Goal: Show up in search results for your geographic area searches ⬅️

You probably didn’t even know that boutiques and gift shops could have a blog… but they’re actually incredibly important for showing up in search results.

All of your website pages and product descriptions contribute to this, but these titles and subheads will need to be customized to include your town/county/city, etc… think about how people would search and start with that.

✨Bonus: look over that list of social media ideas and see if they can be expanded into a blog post. ✨

1️⃣ Finding the perfect gift in [YOUR LOCATION]

  • Gifts for the IT GIRL of [YOUR LOCATION]
  • Gifts for your TRAVELER friends in [YOUR LOCATION]
  • Gifts for the Minimalist (because are you actually allowed to buy for them?

2️⃣ Why you should shop local in [YOUR LOCATION]

  • Carefully Curated for Your Interests talk about your unique selection
  • Sustainable Shopping starts in [YOUR LOCATION] reducing packaging, shipping emissions, and more
  • Support Your Friends & Neighbors in [YOUR LOCATION] highlight the owner’s mission and introduce the staff

3️⃣ Our Vision for Spring in [YOUR LOCATION]

  • Our Vision Board for the Next Season
  • Trends We’re Loving for [YOUR LOCATION]
  • Classics We Love Year After Year
  • Favorite Products We’re Carrying This Season in [YOUR LOCATION]

4️⃣ Hosting or Attending the Easter Gathering this year?

  • Serving Tips for Hosts in [YOUR LOCATION]
  • Be the Favorite Guest with these Hostess Gifts
  • Our Favorite Easter Activities in [YOUR LOCATION]

There are SEO platforms that will generate a list of blog topics based on targeted keywords, but this can get you started, and we’ll go from here ✨

In-Store Loyalty

How do you make sure those people come back to your shop again and again? Let’s talk about building brand loyalty IN STORE.

BE FRIENDLY: People visit local shops because they want to support local people. Be nice to them, and they’ll want to come back.

LOCAL PARTNERSHIPS: Whether you have other local designers or makers, shopping in a local store should feel … LOCAL. Maybe you can work with another shop to offer discount codes between your shops (coffee drinkers at the local coffee store get 20% off their purchase, etc.)

MONTHLY PERKS: %% off candles this month, stock up on paper supplies with %% off… Give them a reason to visit.

REWARDS: You have a bunch of options for this, but the simplest is $$ off after # visits.

CUTE FREEBIES: give away cute stickers, your beautiful business cards, gorgeous event postcards… people love to collect these things (wait, please tell me it’s not just me)

Building loyalty in store is critical for physical boutiques and gift shops (most of these apply if you have an online shop, too).

You want people to leave feeling great, to see so many beautiful things that they want to come back and look around again and again. Plus they’ll want to tell their friends about this beautiful shop right in town.

Maybe it’s just because I’m from NJ that this first tip can be hard for people. But remember, everyone just wants more friends and wants to feel special. Please be friendly.

And I can’t overstate how much people love free stickers. Just order the stickers and throw a bunch in the boxes you ship, too.

Get to work with your free marketing strategy!

With your free marketing strategy in hand, where will you start? You can do a lot of these simultaneously, but I don’t want you to get tooooooo overwhelmed. Start with a perfect in-store experience, then work on that website and blog strategy… next your email list and Instagram strategy will follow.

What industry should I do next?

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