By Nicole Leinbach

Boost Customer Visibility and Sales With These Tips

It is easy to get consumed as a busy merchant with your daily to-do lists, which include everything from inventory man­agement and employee support to merchandise displays and marketing communications.

These responsibilities are heightened during festive times of the year that include holidays and local celebrations. After all, these times present increased opportunities to connect with new and old customers while also building your retail visibility.

And let’s face it, shoppers look forward to these times of year as well, to experience favorite stores, explore new ones, and shop for items they both plan to and are surprised to find. Keeping this in mind, contemplate how leveraging these special occasions can be even more rewarding when you do so with noncompetitive yet like-minded businesses. For example, consider the following duos:

  • A toy store working with a local family photographer.
  • A wine shop pairing with a neighboring fashion boutique.
  • A restaurant supporting a kitchen and home décor store.

As you look for ways to creatively and successfully work with other businesses, also keep in mind that both sides of the equation need to find value in the partnership. One way to do this includes agreeing on marketing efforts, such as customer outreach, in-store promotions, email campaigns, social media sharing, and postcard or other promotional distributions.

Monetary and labor efforts to kick off any partnership should be discussed upfront. Once agreed upon, it can be fun and rewarding to incorporate these types of experiences into your marketing efforts.

As the holidays approach and festivities surround your business year-round, consider some of the following ideas to help your store gain new customers and delight existing customers through partnership relationships and efforts.

1. Host a Friends & Family Event

The people who represent your store and the complementing businesses you choose to partner with have their own reach of customers in their back pocket. In other words, host an event for friends and family, who can bring new customers and old custom­ers alike to your business to help boost store sales.

For holiday seasons, encourage employees of your business and a noncompetitive yet like-minded business to invite friends and family to shop at your store. Offer them a special friends and family discount while also including a special shopping experience, such as light refreshments, live music, social experiences, and more. Create an experience in partnership with another business you are proud to market and share, and in return, enjoy more sales for your store.

2. Create a Shared Countdown Calendar Leading Up To Specific Days

The holidays can get busy, so reminding customers via social media, on in-store receipts, through email marketing, and even verbally from employees helps keep your store and its special events, promotions, and more top of mind. But what if someone else was also doing this for your business?

Strategically identify at least one but maybe even a handful of other businesses that can all collectively support each other, and watch the magic happen! Beginning 10 days prior to Small Business Saturday, for example, create a countdown leading up to this day to help get your customers excited to shop small and support this nationally recognized shopping tradition.

Through social media, email marketing, and in-store pro­motions, you can easily capture customer attention through this countdown calendar that other businesses are also sharing with their customers. This is a dynamic, low-cost way to help bring expanded attention to your store and inventory assortment and thus boost sales.

3. Offer Locally Produced Food Items in Your Store Assortment

Warm cookies, seasonal cider, melted marshmallows over freshly brewed hot chocolate, and other welcoming indulgences for customers are always nice. But do you know what is even nicer? Offering bites or drinks customers can enjoy and buy.

Looking for local vendors who sell items that can be enjoyed within your store on special occasions — or even all the time — is a great way to help boost their sales and your sales alike. You can save tasting these goodies for Saturdays only, or perhaps invite the vendor who produces these items to come to your store for select dates to help promote their product.

Get creative here to help increase customer engagement and sales. The idea is simple, really. Work with local vendors to sell items that can also be sampled in your store to create more-dynamic experiences for your customers. If you happen to do this during the holidays, just remember to save some for Santa, too!

4. Share Updates About Your Store and Partner Businesses Via Social Media — And Vice Versa

Social media is about sharing, so why not leverage this in your partnerships as well. Take advantage of your followers’ attention by sharing updates about not only your store but also your partner businesses.

The key is to ensure they are doing the same for you. Exciting inventory updates, special events, holiday hours, and more are all great excuses to share a social media post or video clip.

Whether you are opening boxes of new inventory, toasting with store employees after a successful Small Business Saturday, or smil­ing with a noncompetitive yet like-minded partner business, share via social media and encourage cross-promotion of each other’s businesses. Watch your followers increase in number and in-store traffic heighten, thanks to this low-cost yet effective marketing partnership.

5. Create a Pop-Up Experience in a Neighboring Business

Nothing makes an impact as strongly as the thrill of a one-time-only experience. Whether it is a fall afternoon or cold winter day, partner with another local business in your town or nearby community to host a pop-up store.

Aim to find a business that has a similar audience, so you do not struggle relating to their core customer, but make sure you are offering something they do not. This is a great opportunity to reach a brand-new audience that will not have to travel far to visit your real shop now that they have discovered you.

In return for this experience, invite the merchant or business that is hosting you to do the same in your store one day in the future. This trade-off is a fun and engaging way to meet new customers, entertain existing ones, and strengthen sales.

Finally, remember these experiences are valued year-round — not just during the holidays. The best part, however, is that these experiences create memories and moments that help strengthen customer loyalty while also building healthy businesses and partnerships. Bring more life — and sales — to your store through partnerships within your community!

Nicole Leinbach is the founder of, a well-respected retail industry resource that has been recognized worldwide for its leading business insight since 2007. Her work has been featured in Forbes, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, the UK’s Telegraph, CNN, the Today show, and countless other industry resources. Additionally, she has supported American Express’s Small Business Saturday as a spokesperson and is the author of the book Retail 101: The Guide to Managing and Marketing Your Retail Business, published by McGraw-Hill. With a core concentration on small businesses and independent retailers, Leinbach welcomes you to connect via Instagram at @RetailMindedWorld and Twitter via @RetailMinded.