Gift Shop Marketing

For several years I have been  a speaker/trainer at the North American Celtic Trade Association‘s annual Celtic Marketplace near Chicago for buyers and vendors. I reviewed dozens of member websites and made recommendations on everything from design to messaging and marketing.

I’ve written articles for their newsletter, Seanchai, on website success, and most recently an article on gift shop marketing to help  their members attract new business throughout the year.  I was limited on the number of words and images, so I have upgraded the content here. The ideas expressed should benefit all retailers, not just Irish gift shops.

Local Marketing:

How Buyers Find You Even If They Don’t Know Who You Are or That You Have What They Want

For many gift shops and other retailers, the biggest shopping days of the year are right around the corner. What is your strategy for getting more customers during the holiday shopping season?

Whether you own a website or not, here are some FREE and inexpensive ways for more buyers to find you 24/7/365.

To Be Found You Need to Be Findable

When people search for you, do they always find your phone number?
Is the right address listed?
Do all fields in your listing have information that will help people choose your business?

According to Google, more than 80% of users search for stores and local service providers online before visiting them, which means that it is important for your business to show up in “Local Search.” Your prospects will use search engines, review sites and local directories looking for recommendations.

Local Marketing for Gift Shops can include many things from optimizing a website for both the types of products you sell; such as Irish wool sweaters, kilts, communion dresses, Lalique, books or jewelry, and the communities that you serve, to getting listed in local business directories and review sites. Shoppers will look for you in multiple search engines, directories, review sites and social media.

Being listed as a ‘gift shop‘ might attract people who aren’t necessarily thinking of your goods, but will be amazed when they become aware of your unique quality offerings. Many directories will allow you to classify your business 3-5 ways, like ‘clothing store,’ ‘religious goods,’ ‘home furnishings‘ or even ‘book store.’  Some Celtic shops are also ‘travel agents’ and ‘tour operators.’ Make sure you categorize your business for your primary offerings.

For example, Papa John’s offers pizza for takeout or delivery but does not offer on-premises dining. It should use the category “Pizza Delivery” and additional category “Pizza Takeout” (instead of the less specific “Delivery Restaurant” or “Takeout Restaurant”).

If you have another business that you do not own located inside your gift shop, you should list that separately. An example would be a pharmacy in a grocery store. If you are a tour marketer as well as a gift shop owner, then you could include both, but in many cases, it’s better to create multiple listings, especially if both entities are different brands.

Local Gift Shop Marketing

An experienced strategy often pays dividends, but even a simple approach can give you a much more competitive edge, resulting in higher sales with minimal effort year around.

Most online listings come from information scraped from large data aggregators, like Acxiom, Yellow Pages, InfoUSA and Google. Conflicting or incomplete information can result in incorrect or multiple listings. Fix that first.

Where Do You Stand?

Use the MOZLocal free tool to see how your listings stack up. Simply enter your business name and zip code for a free report. Use the name the public would know you by, such as Sean’s Irish Gifts and NOT your legal name (E.G. O’Malley Enterprises, Inc.)

You will see a list of businesses that probably match yours, as well as others from the area. You may see more than one listing for your business, some with very slight changes in the name, and you’ll want to verify and optimize only one of them. You may see one or more “verified” listings. Again, you’ll want to work on only one.

The resulting report will show you graphically how many of your listings are Complete, Incomplete, Inconsistent and Duplicates. We see many listings that are 50-60% complete and benefit from revisions. A score above 80-85 is acceptable, but there is still room for improvement.

Gift shop local marketing

Gift shop local marketing report

In this example, the gift shop scored an 82% Additional work should be done getting it listed in the 2 directories with long gray bars and fixing incorrect data indicated by the red bars.

The reports also show some online reviews for the business. In this case the first one shown was not good, but the rest were. Testimonials and reviews can be posted on your website and other places to your benefit. You should periodically review and respond to the comments your customers make on sites like Yelp. (By the way, you need at least one review on Yelp to show up on Yelp)

You could contact all of the Primary Sources, Direct Network and Indirect Network sites to correct information on file, but MOZ can do it all for you for $80 annually, which is a bargain in my opinion.

Having an accurate presence on Google+, Yelp, CitySearch, YP and the rest will cover most places your customers will look to find you.

The Importance of NAP

The format of your Name, Address and Phone number help the data aggregators get your information correct and complete. ALWAYS use the same exact format for this information! If you shorten ‘Incorporated’ to “Inc,’ then show it that way every time. If you put a period at the end of Inc, then do it always.

If your address is ‘104 East Main Street,’ then DO NOT use ‘104 E. Main Street’ or ‘104 East Main St.’

Highways are often problematic. We may think of the address as ‘104 Rt 83,’ but it may actually be something like “104 IL State Route 83.”

Check with your post office to see how they have your address formatted.

Verify your information on each of the sites to make sure the current business is listed and the location, especially map data is correct. We had a restaurant client once who was still listed as the hardware store that preceded it. Another client location was shown on maps a mile away from their actual location.

Give Them More

Local search engines and directories often allow you to post pictures to your listings. Use an outside picture to help people find your location for the first time. Your logo and professional pictures of top merchandise too.

Many of the directories allow you to list your hours of operation. Make sure you change them for the holidays or by season. You don’t want people to go elsewhere not knowing your expanded Christmas hours.

Register your website on GoogleMyBusiness. This is one of the most important platforms to appear on, especially because it is a Google property and the information you submit is included in all Google information. In most cases, you’ll register in “Stores & Shopping Categories.

Local Marketing Store Categories

The Bing search engine has their own directory, Bing Places for Business, which is also free and you should optimize your listing as best you can with your NAP, appropriate business categories, great description of your business and images that build foot traffic to your store or restaurant.

Having complete, consistent and correct information across all data aggregators, including Google, will help more customers find you in more places for just a little bit of money and effort! Your gift shop marketing initiatives might benefit from occasional revisions and updates, including new pictures and videos, seasonal store hours and adding new brands carried. But even a few hours of effort today will pay dividends for years to come!

Did we meet at the Celtic Marketplace? I’d love to catch up and learn how things turned out. Email me at Kurt at or call the number below.

If you would like local gift shop marketing Done For You, please call (630) 482-9323. The initial consultation is free.


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