Neighborhood Marketing: Four Walls, Four Blocks, Four Miles
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Neighborhood Marketing: Four Walls, Four Blocks, Four Miles

Neighborhood Marketing: Four Walls, Four Blocks, Four Miles

With so much attention on social media and digital marketing, it's easy to neglect one of the oldest, most effective ways to reach your customers and attract new ones: four walls branding and neighborhood marketing.

It's a revolutionary concept as old as the general store of a century ago, when merchants knew their customers' names, addresses, birthdays, even their family successes and tragedies; a time when they cared about their communities because they were a vital part of those communities.

The mission of neighborhood marketing is to develop single-unit marketing campaigns whose principal focus is rooted in the four walls and surrounding trading areas. It is a strategic process based on the conviction that the first step in any marketing initiative is to leverage the foundational sales drivers within your four walls.

You already have everything you need to grow your sales and make your business a leader in your category and your community. Each individual operating unit is a medium that contains four business-building tools:

  1. the internal customer
  2. products and services
  3. internal merchandising
  4. database management.

Inside the four walls

Whether your goal is to attract new customers, increase ticket size, generate customer loyalty, or simply to reverse sales declines, it all begins within your four walls. There are all the usual tactics: clean uniforms, clean premises, clear and attractive signage, in-store specials, rewards programs, etc. These are the price of entry. But without dedicated employees who "get it," you won't stand out from the local competition.

  • Train. Effective four walls marketing means setting high workplace standards your internal customers (employees and staff) must adhere to. A workplace with high standards attracts workers with high standards. Even better, an environment with high standards repels people with low standards. Mediocre people support each other by buying each other's excuses and letting one another off the hook.
  • Reward. Marketing your goals to your internal customers involves not only training, but making it worthwhile for them through contests, incentives, rewards and recognition, bonuses, benefits, etc., at both the individual and store level.
  • Budget. It also involves budgeting. Most business owners don't "budget for brilliance" because they don't know how to. If you need any incentive to learn, think about this: a 2 percent increase in top-line sales equals a 10 percent reduction in expenses. Motivated now?

Outside the four walls

This means knowing the neighborhood by getting out of your store, generating publicity, and making a name for yourself in the community. It means reaching out and targeting local community members who live and work in and around your trading areas, connecting with them through personal, face-to-face, and hand-to-hand interactions. For mobile and home-based businesses, it means having distinctive vehicles that attract attention and keep your name, phone number, and website a visible presence.

Four miles and beyond

For neighborhood marketing programs, the "neighborhood" is a 4-mile radius from your location, businesses and homes within a 15-minute walk or a 30-minute drive. Reaching those neighbors means:

  • • intercepting them in their daily routines (lifestyle intersection);
  • • creating rapport and making personal connection with local businesses;
  • • holding "big buzz" events that garner attention (PR); and
  • • maintaining a focused, strategic participation in community events such as local festivals, fairs, schools, sports teams, and local organizations like nonprofits, hospitals, and charities.

Direct mail

Don't overlook this tried-and-true, cost-effective marketing tactic. Use well-timed customer direct mailers to increase new trial, boost frequency, and to forge a relationship with consumers at home and in the workplace. I personally continue to experience 20 to 25 percent redemption rates. Your franchisor should be glad to provide guidance, assistance, and materials to customize for your local market.

It's all connected

Four walls and neighborhood marketing programs consist of a series of interconnected ideas designed to build unit sales in each neighborhood market where you operate. Done right, and in conjunction with social media, digital marketing, and customer rewards programs, it will move your franchisees from "catch and release" to "catch and keep" marketing, generating repeat business from loyal customers spending more per visit.

It all boils down to one essential truth: to build your base volume. The key is to integrate all the components and to have your managers and front-line staff perform them consistently in every customer interaction.

The time to start mining the gold that's already in your business is now.

Tom Feltenstein is CEO and founder of Tom Feltenstein's Power Marketing Academy, a consulting firm that serves and educates businesses in franchising, retail, hospitality, and service through clinics, seminars, strategy sessions, and trainings. Learn more at or call 561-650-1315.

Published: November 9th, 2016

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