Tips for Generating Opportunities in Today’s Economy

As I began researching the social media world looking for retailer opportunities, I quickly discovered many new ways to communicate directly with customers and save marketing dollars at the same time. In today’s economy, it’s important that retailers wisely manage their marketing and advertising budgets and direct dollars into areas that can create the most exposure and business as possible.

Let’s step into the mind of your customer. Yes, they are still looking for a solution just like they always have, however where they go for information before entering your store has changed. When was the last time the yellow pages, direct mail or a newspaper ad influenced you into making a solution-based purchase? Let’s face it: consumers are going online and “Googling” or “Binging” for health and wellness information. Wouldn’t it be great if they did a search and your opinion or store information appeared right in front of them? It’s possible through “target marketing” in a new wrapper. Let’s quickly review a few of those “new” wrappers:

Twitter review. Twitter is a free communication platform where information is shared with consumers who ask to receive those messages. This form of communication is called “permission marketing.”

Retailer messages can include wellness tips, recipe links, event notices, advocacy opportunities, new product introductions and even images of what’s on special today in the deli. I encourage you to consider Twitter as a new marketing tool. It’s simple and super cost effective.

NOTE: For more information, read “Twitter 101—A Special Guide” at

Blog review. A blog is like a Web site filled with a collection of diary-type entries called “posts.” Each post entry is categorized by searchable titles and keywords.

A blog gives retailers a platform where they can share their opinions and visions, encourage and teach advocacy, become a thought leader, and creatively drive customers (and potential customers) to a Web site and into their store. A blog gives a retailer the opportunity to receive comments and deliver solutions plus posts can easily be linked to other blogs, delivering your messages far beyond your current circle of influence.

NOTE: Blogs should share your voice and Web sites should feature product information.

Online news release review. Today, a retailer can submit a news release written directly to the consumer delivered through a newswire service such as By using this kind of service, your message gets plugged into top search engines like Google and Yahoo and is delivered to consumers. Imagine not having to wait for a journalist to pick up your story and share your message. There’s more good news: the “press” and “bloggers” obtain news, research and find press releases through search engines giving your news release even more exposure.

NOTE: It’s still important to have a relationship with your local media and submitting press releases to them directly establishes you as a local expert and knowledge resource.

ONE LAST NOTE: I have been building a list of suggested books and articles that offer direction, insight and marketing tips for retailers to add to their business libraries. You might want to drop by for a visit…no card necessary: WF

Debby Swoboda, president of Debby Swoboda Marketing Solutions, has over 22 years experience in the natural products industry developing marketing and merchandising programs for independent retailers. Debby enjoys teaching retailers how to utilize partnerships and seize opportunities to maximize sales and profits. Her passionate support of independents led her to create, a resource for marketing education programs, downloadable shelf talkers, co-op branding label programs and other items to support retailers. Debby is noted as an expert contributor to industry publications, presents “live” TeleTrainings (webinars) as part of Tree of Life’s Knowledge Center, is a guest blogger for The Natural Foods Merchandiser and is a presenter at national and regional shows. Debby is an active board member of the Southeast Natural Products Association. For more information, visit, call Debby Swoboda Marketing Solutions (772) 287-9559, or follow Debby’s blog at

Published in WholeFoods Magazine, Sept. 2009