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Marketing Strategy: Are You A Department Store Or A Boutique?

Marketing Strategy: Are You A Department Store Or A Boutique?

Your small business marketing strategy can be the success or the bane of any business, particularly a small business that is struggling to develop a unique voice in a world of 8,000 messages per day. Of recent, I signed on two new clients, one a Chiropractor who services pregnant mothers and an M.D. who utilizes only natural methods and supplements to help people lose weight. Both of these specialists were struggling due to the fact that they were attempting to implement a department store type marketing strategy, advised by “experts” in the field of marketing.

After interviewing them both, I realized that in reality they had a boutique market. Both were specialists with clients who spend a higher amount than their contemporaries. Due to their unique place in the market, as well as having their practices established in upscale parts of Southern California, traditional cookie-cutter marketing programs were proving to be ineffective. Moreover, the few clients that these paint-by-number strategies were yielding were not the ideal clients who never really fit into the model in which their clinics were designed to service. Result: low yield, wrong clients and frustrated Dr.’s.

The Department Store Marketing Approach

For those chiropractors that want to “Pack ’em & crack ’em”, the cookie-cutter marketing approach proves effective. Why? Because it was designed to do just that: To have anyone of any income level come in for fast, relatively non-personalized services. When people go to Macy’s or Steinmart, they expect pleasant customer service, but they also know that they are getting standard brands at average prices. Pick your clothes, try them on, wait in line and then pay and leave. Simple.

If You Are Unique, Then Go Boutique!

This is not how a boutique markets itself, nor how you are treated when you come in to shop at one. In the strictest sense of the word, boutiques would be one-of-a-kind. These type of establishments aim to convey the idea that the operation is elite and highly specialized in order to distinguish themselves from larger chains. The Oxford Dictionary defines Boutique as, “A business serving a sophisticated or specialized clientele.”

Boutiques cater to a a more discriminating client who desires unique products and services, as well as being pampered with a more personalized touch. And of course, boutiques charge more for what they render. Any shopper in a boutique will tell you that they expect to pay more. In fact, it is even part of their allure. When viewed from a marketing perspective, a lawyer, CPA, Dr. or even a pet store can be positioned as a boutique, even though that word would not be particularly used in their marketing message or literature.

Which One Are You?

It is an important factor in marketing to establish who you are and who is your ideal clientele. For many, the cookie-cutter approach to drive in the masses gets them outright excited. They talk about “Number of new patients this month were out the roof” as they high-five their staff. They conduct typical mass marketing actions with Groupon, general SEO actions as well as attend large events, handing out fliers with special offers. They tend to sell convenience, speed, large selection and in particular, low price. And factually, these types of businesses are profitable and are requested by most consumers.

But if your business falls more into the boutique side of life, then your marketing plan will have to become more personal, as well as highly targeted to attract and network with similarly minded individuals. This can involve networking high-end events, using Twitter and LinkedIn to connect with the right types of followers, networking with bloggers who specialize in your product, service or potential client and other types of highly specialized marketing strategies. Moreover, your location can be critical to sell the image and mystique of your brand. Let’s admit it, Beverly Hills conjures a different image than El Segundo. And even then, the right street in the right city can make all the difference. (e.g, Rodeo Drive) Based on who you are and who you want to service, your marketing plan must make the fit so it works to your advantage.

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Author: Edwin Dearborn

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