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I was talking with a client the other day who has a regional retail store.  They have been in business for years and have a great reputation.  They are THE store in their industry locally but are getting their butt kicked online.  They know who their online competitors are and are wondering what to do to compete.  Their online competitors are waaaaay bigger with bigger budgets and a national presence so what is the little guy to do?

Watch. Learn. Imitate.

I am not saying that you have to copy your competitors like the gas stations across the road from each other launching a price war, but look at what the competitor does and see where you can match it.  A few things sprung to mind right away.

1) Regular email newsletters: The competitors send 2 or 3 a week.  All short and to the point with a compelling offer.  My client sends 1 every month and agonizes over making sure it has a mixture of news and local stories.  Don't.  Keep it short. Remind them you exist. Give them a reason to visit your site.

2) Sales: My client does not want to be known as a discounter but everyone knows that deals generate interest. Their competitor always has something on sale.  A deal gives you something to email your customers about and gets people to the web site.  Maybe it is only a handful of items.  Call it a special purchase, clearance, or whatever you need to, but have a few items on sale all the time.

3) Coupons: Post them on facebook and call them "Fan deals". Put them on coupon sites.  They don't have to be big coupons 10% off is fine, and you can even limit the coupon to a certain type of product (or you can with CommerceCM).  Everyone likes a deal and even better, friends like helping friends get deals so they will share them.

None of those tactics have to take a lot of time or money.  They just have to part of your weekly operations and will make sure your customers don't forget about you.

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