It’s easy for busy business owners to put marketing strategies on the back burner, but Steven Mahal has seen success by putting his high on the agenda over the past year.

“We’ve been using social media a lot more because it’s cost effective. We still leaflet, but we are choosing carefully what we put online, too,” he explains.

Located on the edge of an estate, the store has to strike a balance between catering for local residents and passing trade. As a result, food to go, bakery and coffee are huge growth areas for Steven’s business. 

“We’ve also increased our range of £1 household items, including cutlery, air fresheners and toys. Our staff are really good at telling customers about new lines,” he explains. 

This strategy is communicated to his staff in monthly meetings, where the team takes time to plan out what they are going to do and what changes they are looking to make. 

“By planning, we make sure we stay in our customers’ minds and it means we’re not just reactive, but proactive retailers,” Steven explains. 

“Keep your reputation central to any plan. Whether it’s your online presence or the way your staff communicate with customers, you always have to remember you are part of a community tending to people’s needs and it should all feed into that purpose,” he says. 

Steven’s store also benefits from a loyalty scheme that is used by more than 2,000 customers who can access deals. The store also has the capability to send out deals by text every month.  “Word of mouth is good, but by marketing effectively, it keeps us in touch and keeps our offer fresh, too,” he says. 

Steven’s store also benefits from a loyalty scheme that is used by more than 2,000 customers who can access deals. The store also has the capability to send out deals by text every month.  “Word of mouth is good, but by marketing effectively, it keeps us in touch and keeps our offer fresh, too,” he says. 

His experiments with social media are just beginning. After promoting a frozen meal deal on Facebook for the first time, he sold out within a day. 

“Our online presence is good, but it can be better. The Local Shop Summit event in Twickenham last year opened up my eyes to what we could be doing, such as competitions, raffles and polls,” he says.

“Keeping up the conversation and making it more interactive is definitely something we’ll be concentrating on.”

Steve sees his staff as a big component of his marketing strategy. Last year, one of his biggest challenges was the banning of the 50p charge on card transactions, which he replaced with a £1 minimum spend. This change required his staff to be fully briefed and understand the change and then take an active role in communicating the change to customers. 

He has also improved staff morale by notifying them earlier about their rotas. “It’s improved things a lot and it’s meant they can plan, and it makes them more productive when they are working,” he says. 

In the next year, Steven has big plans for continuing improvements to his marketing and also working on how he drives seasonal sales. 

“We opened up a few stores in the past year and I’ve had two small babies, so it has been busy. We do well on seasonal events such as Halloween and Christmas, but we could do better and expand our range,” he explains.

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