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In the latest IAA Academy in Action visit, the IAA’s Tan Parsons joined Mondelez International’s Susan Nash on a visit to Harj Dhasee’s Gloucestershire store to find out how he markets his store.

Harj’s marketing starts outside the shop, with a pavement sign to advertise free cash withdrawals. Susan says this is a great way to attract passing trade, which Harj could improve on taking down some of the posters in the window. A less cluttered shop front will “give people a better view of what’s inside,” she explains.

Harj tells Susan how he uses the internet and the local press to reach potential customers and build loyalty amongst existing shoppers. “There’s no better advertising than word of mouth,” says Harj. “We have 250 followers on Facebook. I don’t talk about what we’re selling; I use the site to talk about my day. It has to be fun.”

Harj stocks his fruit and veg in wicker baskets at the front of the shop – it gives a premium feel, which is important as in many parts of the store he charges above RRP. “All the way through the shop your prices are really clear and you know what you’re going to pay – the way the offers are set out is really good,” says Susan. She then asks Harj whether he runs meal deals. “With all the tourists you get here, they probably want a quick solution,” she says.

An important part of Harj’s marketing strategy is to advertise that he is giving customers what they want. He has a bay dedicated to locally produced conserves and chutneys and in the coffee section stocks a lot of refill bags, rather than jars, as a lot of his customers are elderly. Besides this, Harj is a member of many local groups and has donated two defibrillators to the village. “Refills are great as they are not too heavy, and community support is a really important part of your marketing strategy,” says Susan.

Key tips

  • Make sure you let everybody know what you’re doing – give people a reason to come in
  • Inside the store, make sure you are inspiring your customers to buy extra items
  • Never forget the basics!
  • If you think you provide great marketing to customers, let us know by entering the Academy here.

Entry is free, and closes on the 26 July.