As a side hobby I opened up a small little space in an antique mall in Nowheresville, California. I pay about $50 a month for glorified storage, because no one shops here and those that do don’t have any spending money.
Part of the reason that this place is so unpopular is that the store owners prefer not to invest in online marketing. It seems strange, but it’s their place and they’re welcome to do as they please. One would think that they would look towards other avenues to attract business, but antique stores often utilize antique marketing methods, so it isn’t a tremendous shock that they prefer to go the old fashioned storefront/mailer route.
From this situation, I was inspired to write up a list of how one would market an antique store/antique mall online. The following are the strategies that I personally would utilize:
Step 1: Make a Real Website
It all starts with a real website. When I say “real,” I mean: “not a website your nephew designed.” It should look attractive, and be the type of website that those with graduate educations and spending money appreciate. Consumers today have very little extra money to spend on antiques. You’re trying to attract the few that do, and those individuals are likely intelligent and successful. You should have a website that doesn’t immediately turn them off from the idea of shopping with you.
Step 2: Create Some Helpful Resources
There are dozens of antique stores in nearly every city. You’re going to want people to trust that yours is the one they should visit first. You can do that by ensuring that you’re offering up some helpful resources on various antique types. It’s not actually that important what these resources are (although if they relate to a product you have a lot of in stock, that’s probably helpful), but showing that you have these resources means that you’re indicating knowledge and experience, and that’s valuable to the antique collector.
Step 3: Create Social Media Profiles
We’ve talked about this often in the past – social media is overrated for a lot of businesses. If you’re a roofer, for example, you’re not going to get a lot of business because you run an active Twitter account. People really aren’t that interested in keeping in touch with their roofers. It’s nice to have them, but it’s not going to make you rich.
But antique malls are different. Antique stores regularly get new items that may be of interested to the antique mall shopper. Starting relationships with those that love your antiques is actually incredibly valuable – far more than most antique stores realize – and so you should create a Facebook and Twitter account at minimum (maybe even a Pinterest), because this will keep those that regularly shop at antique stores up to date with changes or new products in your store, and possibly get them to come back when they see something they’re interested in.
You can also use it to announce sales, which is great for driving in business, and if people come to you asking if you have a certain product you can address them directly. Social media has a lot of value to antique malls.
Step 4: Blog
Many of the companies that contact us at Great Leap Studios do so because blogging regularly about their industry is difficult. It’s hard to write 300 to 700 words every day or even every week about various issues as they pertain to your business.
The same is not true for antique stores. Antique stores are lucky, because they may actually have the easiest products to market. We even used antique stores specifically in a post titled “How to Easily Run a Blog.” You can blog every day in just a few minutes and build mountains of content in no time. Post that content to your social media sites as well, and you’ll find that your products start to sell quickly.
Step 5: Location Pages
At any stage you should start to develop location pages that are designed specifically to attract other people in your city or state. You don’t want to limit yourself to your specific city. You want to make sure that no matter where someone is, if they’re within driving distance of your antique store they’re willing to come down. The only way they can do that is to find you, and the best way to find you is to ensure that you show up high in search engines.
The great news is that very few antique stores take the time to market their website, so if you’re adding content and ensuring that your site is marketed well, there’s a good chance you’re going to rank well for all of the locations you enter.
Step 6: Take Advantage of All Free Strategies
Make sure that you’re on Yelp and any other free posting places that people go to in order to find posts. If you are on Yelp and have few reviews, see if you can offer incentives to customers that are willing to review your business. They should be genuine, but if you have a regular customer, think about offering them a 10% discount on their purchase if they write a review. The more reviews you have the more you’ll show up in Yelp searches, which will garner you more business.
Step 7: Continue Building a Site
Finally, just keep at it. Add more content when you can, continue to feature products – think about possibly creating pages of your best products and providing a phone number for those that want to order via the phone and have it shipped. The more you open yourself up and market your website, the greater likelihood you’ll be able to succeed.