The Time to Start Marketing Your Retail Business is Yesterday

As we prepare to open our first franchised retail business, I learn more and more marketing its opening can never happen too early.

As someone who has been in the marketing and promotions game for a long time, I think I have a good handle on the most basic tenets of marketing and public relations. After all, I’ve done it at some really killer and successful big companies.

Our IG audience is small, but engaged even before we open.

When it comes to my partners and I opening out first franchised retail coffee shop, that experience is proving valuable yet I am learning great new things every day.

The journey to opening up our first Classic Rock Coffee Company store in Las Vegas began over a year ago. The tedious steps of signing a franchise agreement, followed by a site location, followed by actually signing a lease, are now over. As we literally “build” towards our scheduled fourth-quarter opening this year, one important lesson I’ve learned is I’m glad I started marketing the business early.

A wise franchise guru I spoke to along the way told me this: “Don’t wait until you’re 30, or even 60 days out from opening to start building your audience and your clientele.” He said building anticipation of your opening is rarely dangerous and will make a difference when you open the doors.

Fact: Franchised business fail at about the same rate as independent businesses. The reasons they fail are varied but often franchisees fail because they believe they just have to open the doors and customers will just find them.

“Don’t wait until you’re 30, or even 60 days out from opening to start building your audience and your clientele. If you wait that long, you’ve already missed the boat.”

Nothing could be further from the truth.

Franchised locations succeed based mostly on one key issue: the involvement and drive of the owner/operator.

For Classic Rock Coffee Company Las Vegas, we began marketing — particularly in social media — almost immediately. That meant establishing our channels and building an audience despite not having a physical location.

We have a great Facebook audience and we don’t open for six months!

A few of our partners, who aren’t by nature or training marketers, pushed back early on with some of our modest spend. They felt it was too early and that we had “nothing” to market. Those concerns soon gave way to a more positive reception as we were able to build interest and numbers — particularly on Facebook.

Although we don’t have any coffee, tea, or food to sell just yet, we do have the concept, our arrival in the Las Vegas market, and our focus on customer interaction. So far, the results have been solid and we have an excited core audience who is counting the days until we open the doors.

We’ve done this with some educational (who we are, what we’ll be serving, when we’ll open) content, and fun-based music themed content to keep the brand in front of people.

All of this proves you have to build an audience well before you’re even close to opening your retail location. Not only does it build some brand awareness, it helps build the ever important customer relationship.

If you’re waiting a month or two before your business opens, that will make the hill you have to climb to profitability and visibility that much harder.

It’s never too early to start building your channels to help your business succeed from day one.

Scott Gulbransen is an accomplished social media, public relations, and digital marketing pro and thought leader. He has managed and led public relations, social media and digital marketing at brands like Intuit, Applebee’s and H&R Block. In 2014, Gulbransen was named Global Head of Digital Content at Haymon Boxing, creators of the Premier Boxing Champions series. In two short years, he helped build the most digitally advanced team in the history of the sport. Gulbransen now is owner/partner in Classic Rock Coffee Co. in Las Vegas, and also serves as the State Director of Communications for AARP Nevada. Gulbransen resides in his adopted hometown of Las Vegas. #BattleBorn