Looking to boost foot traffic and sales at your Vape or e-Cig store? Here are some low-budget marketing ideas and tips to get you started
The Vape and e-cigarette markets are exploding, having recently taken a 6 Billion dollar bite out of the tobacco product market, with no signs of slowing down. It’s no wonder more and more small business owners are opening vape shops and e-cigarette stores. But if you’ve started a vape business recently, you’ve likely hit some bumps along the way when it comes to marketing your vape store - from getting the word out to getting a decent ranking on google search pages. There are numerous low-budget ways to advertise your vape shop, and online tools and platforms designed to help your vape business thrive. So, here are a some tips and tricks to successfully market and advertise your vape-shop.
Location Marketing (or 'how to not be invisible')
You already know your biggest asset and expense (except for rent), are the products you sell - starter kits, parts, mods, e-liquids, and more. Your clients are in the market for these products, but why should they get them from your vape shop?
The obvious answer is Location. Convenience tends to trump everything else, at least initially. Your location is one of the factors that makes your vape shop completely unique (nobody shares the same address as you), so take advantage of platforms and tools that offer location-based advertising in order to reach all the potential vaping clients around you. Some of these are free, such as rating platforms (I.e. Yelp), search engines (Google), and local directories. Once you register your business on Yelp, for example, potential customers searching for a vape shop will be asked to enter an address or zip code, and all the vape shops in their vicinity will show up (along with reviews- hopefully good ones!). Google Business is also a great free tool. Register your address there, and even if you don’t have a website, you’ll be searchable in Google search results. Get on as many platforms and local directories as you can, so potential customers can find your address and read and write reviews about your vaping store.
There are also numerous online marketing tools for businesses such as loyalty clubs (covered below) that are ideal for vaping and e-cigarette businesses. Make sure that any platform you choose offers location-based marketing as part of their toolbox. It’s a no-brainer.
Be different (by finding out what makes your customers different)
The internet is clogged with new vaping websites, news articles about how vaping and e-cigarettes are helping people quit smoking, and more. A lot of that chatter is generic, with many of the vaping and e-cigarette products and stores sounding exactly like the next.
You can break that mold by thinking of your business as a specialty vaping boutique, rather than just a vape or e-cig shop. Avoid generic speak. Your starter kits, for example, can be ‘tailored’ to different clients; from the ones quitting smoking, to those just starting vaping, from college kids to consummate professionals. Offer a range of atomizers and accessories, from budget to high-end to collector’s items, and think of your products as reflections of the unique individuals who will be using them. Tailor your advertising and sales content to reflect that.
Build loyalty (it's cheaper than advertising)
Vaping is a culture, habit and lifestyle, and customers will always need to come back for refills, new accessories, etc. Aim to have each new walk-in become a loyal customer, by offering them the incentive to come back. Loyalty rewards are a very powerful tool in the vaping business. Customers love ‘buy 5 get 1 free’ type deals, and can see the immediate value in that. Try an online loyalty program that will enable you to set up e-coupons, incentives, loyalty points, and rewards such as birthday specials or first-timer deals for each new walk in-- and watch your loyal customer base grow.
Mobile and email marketing
The lion’s share of vape and e-cigarette clients are millennials under the age of 35, 97% of whom use smartphones and have email addresses; and here’s a shocker: 99% of all text messages are seen by the receiver. That’s some powerful reach.
As part of your general marketing and advertising strategy, collect your customers’ email and phone numbers, and give them the option to opt in to text message or email updates.
There are some great, low-cost automation platforms that will enable you to set up and manage push notifications, SMS or text-message marketing, and email campaigns. Automation platforms will make running such campaigns easy and stress-free. You fill in a few fields, and the platform will make sure all your customers are getting your coupons, deals etc. For a great guide to Mobile and Email marketing, fear not and go to the Flok University.
Are you managing an effective online presence? (because you should be)
This last one may seem obvious to some, but you might be one of the whopping 44% of small business owners who don’t have their own website. You might be thinking, you’re running a brick and mortar store, not an e-store, so what’s the big deal? Well, getting into Google Searches for one. And there’s all sorts of other reasons, that we’ll save for another post. It doesn’t have to be a big expense. With a little DIY spirit, you can even do it yourself- with sites like Wix.com and SquareSpace.
If you are just getting started on online marketing, and aren’t quite ready for a website, a great place to start is social media networks like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. These free platforms act almost like mini-websites, where you can post pictures and content, and build your brand image. They’re free and enable you to get your feet wet with brand-building and engaging with customers online.
Your customers are people
As a final note, remember that many of your clients are cutting down or stopping smoking. Quitting is a huge decision; there is often some powerful emotional content underneath all that vape-culture. Just something to keep in mind!
Got some other marketing ideas for the Vaping community? We’d love to hear from you! Want to learn more? Flok University is a click away