5 min read

How Smart SMB Owners Use Zone Marketing to Lift Sales

Local and repeat customers are important. Unlock an overlooked and free marketing resource you can use to increase sales revenue by up to 10%.
How Smart SMB Owners Use Zone Marketing to Lift Sales

The place to begin a productive marketing campaign is right inside your physical property.

On average, customers within a 10-minute drive of a small business make up 80% of its customer base. In the quick service restaurant industry that average increases to 90% of customers, who travel only three to five minutes to eat.

That means small businesses need to focus on these customers by building a product and relationship that makes them come back time and time again.

An overlooked place to begin a productive marketing campaign is right inside your physical property. By spending your marketing dollars within your four walls, inside your property line and on your building or shopfront.

Optimizing zone marketing can lift sales 10% in 3-months.

This is a concept known as “four walls marketing” and our focus for this idea is “zone marketing”. Here’s how we define each:

  • Four walls marketing: the use of your physical premises as a marketing device to attract new customers, encourage more repeat customers and increase average order value per visit.
  • Zone marketing: how you deliberately use each distinct zone (for example, front counter, waiting areas) within the four walls of your premises, to achieve specific goals with your customers.

The way to do this is to divide your physical space into zones, each with a very purposeful and deliberate message to visitors, customers and passing traffic. Each zone should send a very specific signal designed to achieve one of your revenue growth goals:

  • Attract new customers.
  • Encourage customers to visit again.
  • Increase their order values while customers are on premise.

For example, the biggest marketing asset most small businesses have is their front window. It can be used very effectively to bring new customers in. What are you doing with your front window to bring target customers in?

Most do nothing intentional. That’s about to change.

WIIFM: What’s in it for me?

Which businesses is it for? This is for any small business that has a physical footprint like a restaurant, store, warehouse, yard, or any other physical area where customers interact with your staff and your business. This includes food service and hospitality, any retail business and personal and professional service providers with a physical presence.

What is the potential benefit? Effectively implementing this tactic can increase sales by as much as 10% in 3-months for the right small business. For a $500,000 business, that’s a potential $50,000 increase in revenue over the course of a year which will contribute $10,000 in additional profits at a 20% profit margin.

How much does it cost to implement? This initiative may require an upfront investment to get started, depending on the nature of your business and the improvements you wish to make. Always assess the cost and benefits of any projects against the risk, and get professional advice before proceeding.

How often should I do this? Anywhere from quarterly to yearly depending on the nature of your business and premises.

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Instructions for running this play

The goal of this project is to make sure you have considered a comprehensive list of potential marketing areas in your physical space, and carefully considered the best use or experience possible within that area that creates a bond or connection between your customer and your business.

Step 1: Current State

Start by mapping out your current zones to create a comprehensive map of every possible marketing zone on your premises:

  • Draw up a map of your entire premises on a sheet of paper.
  • Divide your premises into each specific and distinct zone on the map.

Here are some examples of unique zones for a hospitality business:

Front window, Property line, Lobby , Front counter, Bar , Dining room, Bathroom, Employee area, Kitchen area, Drive through, Pickup  and Takeaway, Valet, Office, Parking lot.

Include all your square footage. Try not to leave any zones out.

Step 2: Current State Assessment

Next, carefully considering your current zone marketing and identify any gaps or untapped opportunities in your current efforts:

  • Take your map. What current marketing initiatives do you have in place for each individual zone (more examples in Step #3)?
  • How would you rate the effectiveness of the current initiatives? When was the last time they were revisited or updated? Do you think there is an opportunity to improve on the current initiatives?
  • What are the gaps in your zone marketing? Which zones have untapped opportunities? Which zones currently have no specific marketing initiatives in place to take advantage of the space?

Step 3: Identify New Opportunities

Take the zones you identified in Step #2 that are either underdeveloped or have no current zone marketing initiatives in place.

  • Which zones will you use to attract new customers, and how?
  • Which zones will you use to encourage existing customers to come back, and how?
  • Which zones will you use to encourage current patrons to spend more, and how?

Here are some examples of zone marketing ideas and opportunities for a hospitality business:

  • Front window: neon sign, special offers
  • Property line zone: banners, awnings, sandwich boards, marquees
  • Lobby zone: decals, posters, suggestion boxes, danglers
  • Front counter zone: register toppers, brochures, branded matches
  • Bar zone: posters of signature drinks, point of persuasion opportunities
  • Dining room zone: special boards, danglers, table top displays, menus, napkins, wine lists, after-dinner treats
  • Bathroom zone: point of persuasion opportunities, newspapers, music
  • Employee zone: pre-shift meetings to encourage team work, uniforms, selling suggestions
  • Kitchen zone: incentive contests
  • Drive through zone: streamers, windshield washing, menus
  • Pickup and Takeaway: car signage, take-out menus
  • Valet zone: greeters, vacuuming card, thank you cards, windshield washing
  • Office zone: messages on hold, answering machine, telephone scripts
  • Parking lot zone: banners, landscaping, cleanliness

When planning marketing zones, remember that what the eye sees, it buys. To catch the eye of your guests, make your displays colorful and creative.

Step 4: Execution

Time to bring your new ideas to life. You know what to do. Carefully plan and budget each improvement and work with your own elbow grease, your staff and external suppliers like contractors to get each zone set up how you want it.

Step 5: Measure & Optimize

Give the changes some time to take effect. After a few months or quarters take a look at your sales compared to a previous comparable period. Has it worked? What worked? What changes or additional improvements can you make?

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Final takeaways

The best time to attract new customers is when they are close by or passing your business. The best time to create loyal customers is when they are already on your premises, buying from your business and experiencing your products or services.

  • What are you doing to create an experience that leaves a lasting impression?
  • Have you built a comprehensive list of potential marketing areas within your store?
  • Have you considered how you are using each individual zone on your premises to create a bond or connection with customers?

Now is the time.

Before you go...

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The little optimisations, the high-impact tweaks and the 1% gains you can make to your business to make it a little better, a little more profitable and even a little bit more pleasant to run.

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