How to Market a Vintage Business

I’ve known Andrew and Pete for a few years now.  I’m the photographer responsible for their (partially famous) blown up Headshots, and they are responsible for a lot of my marketing and branding tricks.  What always stands out for me about these guys is that they never EVER aspire to become the intimidating marketing people that the small business dreads.  They go out of their way to constantly breakdown the barriers of mystery and image-heaviness that so many marketeers create (consciously or subconsciously).  Now with my photographing with a lot of pin-up related folks, I meet a LOT of vintage businesses.  

Let me tell you those faceless image-heavy marketeers, and the vintage people…… like oil and water! Never EVER gonna work.  So, this guest-blog is especially for my vintage business owner friends.


by Andrew and Pete


So, you’ve done the hard work…


…after months of planning, endless nights, blood, sweat and tears, the business is launched…


…the doors are firmly open, and you are ready to rock it.


But there’s a problem… sales don’t come quite as quick as you would have liked. Nobody is visiting your beautiful new website, or paying attention to those flyers you bought online.


Feel familiar?


Don’t worry, you aren’t alone, this is a common feeling that most businesses have. We put all the effort into the actual running of our business, we forget a key ingredient… marketing.


Marketing may sound like a scary word, or a sleazy word, or even to you an ‘irrelevant’ word (hey, most of my sales come from word of mouth you may be thinking), but here’s the truth: it is an extremely important word.


We may be biased (at the end of the day we are marketers), but there is something that you, us and everybody else can’t ignore… the most successful business owners are FANTASTIC marketers.


If you want to be a business that attracts clients like a magnet, creates loyal customers that buy your stuff over and over again, as well as go out and actively tell their friends about you, then you have to start marketing.


It does take a little bit of work, a little bit of effort, a bucketful of thinking and a whole heap of learning new stuff… but it is so worth it, and best of all, we are massive advocates that good marketing should be fun marketing. Marketing is no longer about blasting out sales messages and being louder than the competition, nowadays the best marketing simply should be based on talking about, or doing things that you are passionate about.


But if you are struggling to get your head around how to market your vintage business, here’s 5 key points and actions to take away, to get you thinking more like a marketer.


How to Market a Vintage Business: 5 Key Points and Actions.


  1. Great marketers create experiences around their offering.


This applies to both online businesses and offline businesses. If you really want to create raving fans, buying from you must be an unforgettable experience. Think about your favourite shops or online sites, and ask yourself why are they your favourite? What do they do that is so special? How are they making buying from them an unforgettable experience? Why did you think of them when we posed this question to you?


ACTION 1: The best way to improve the experience of shopping with you is first to understand what your experience actually is. Here we must go deep. Create a list of every single touchpoint that a customer goes through in the buying process. And we mean every single touchpoint… from the music in your shop, to the scent in the air, to the way your goods/services are presented. Now pick a couple and really focus on making them the best they can be, make them stand out from the competition and make them something that customers associates with you.


This brings us nicely onto point number 2.


  1. Understand the difference between being better or being different.


At some point in your life you will have been to the best vintage shop you have ever been in. A matter of fact, in every aspect of your life you will have experienced the best version of it. You will have been to the best restaurant, the best cinema, the best bowling alley, and even the best public car park in your home city. But do you go around telling people about these? Of course not… that would be weird. Now if somebody were to ask you if you could recommend where to park, you would know where to recommend, but if we rely on waiting for people to be prompted to talk about us, we are only going to get so far. Instead imagine if one car park gave out free bacon sandwiches in the morning. Now we’re talking. More importantly, we are talking unprompted… that’s something to tell our work colleagues about, or even potentially put on Social Media right?


ACTION 2: If we want to blow up our Word of Mouth Marketing, we cannot just be better than the competition, we must be different. Go back to your touchpoints and look at how you can revolutionise 1 or 2 of them to create a talking point.


  1. Creating communities of likeminded people is smart marketing.


Social Media revolutionised marketing, and it is only going to be bigger, more prevalent, and more the norm in years to come. So don’t fight it… embrace it. But how do you win on Social Media? A lot of businesses forget the social aspect of Social Media. It isn’t a place to hard sell… it is a place of conversation, where people who are extremely likeminded can find other people with similar interests. So what should business owners be doing? Simply put, they should be facilitating the conversation, and bringing people together. At the time of writing, Facebook Groups are an extremely popular place to get away from the social media noise and connect with smaller groups of people with niche interests, but this is changing all the time, so you need to ensure you keep up where is the best place to be.


ACTION 3: There’s 2 for 1 actions in this. Firstly you need to have clear in your head exactly who you want to target. The nicher the better. Remember a company that caters for everybody really caters for (and attracts) nobody, so always have your perfect client in mind all the time. Secondly, start building a community of your customers, or potential customers based off their interests and encourage discussion between customers. This is smart marketing, even if they aren’t talking about how amazing you are, they are still discussing their interests within the context of the community you have created. This is an amazing way to create brand loyalty that lasts.


  1. Establish trust immediately


In the Worldwide economy we now live in, there is one thing for sure, establishing trust is a whole lot harder and a whole lot more important. Why? It has never been easier to set up a business, but with that comes increased doubt and fear we have of buying from somebody we don’t yet know. So whether that is online, or in person, eradicating those fears and doubts immediately is very important.


ACTION 4: Work out how you can create trust quickly. This will be different for different businesses, but to give you some examples to think about: does your branding look credible enough? Are you displaying enough testimonials from real people? If you are e-commerce do you have an SSL certificate and take payments securely? Are you creating enough content yourself to look like an expert? Is your site updated regularly? Have you collaborated with other well respected leaders in your industry? All these subtle things add up to big trust signals that allow credible, legitimate businesses to shine.


  1. Fantastic marketers don’t go it alone


We’ve saved the best till last, because if you really want to know how to market a vintage business, then we think this will really help. Never underestimate the power of collaboration. Personally some of our biggest business wins came of the back of collaboration, and yet people are scared to reach out. They want to keep the whole pie for themselves, not realising there are bigger pies and bigger audiences out there, which we can access by collaborating with our peers.


Are all collaborations successful or a good idea? No, of course not, but well thought out, well executed collaborations with complementary businesses will allow you to reach new people, and learn from people who may be a bit further on than you.


ACTION 5: Both sides need to benefit from collaboration, so ask yourself who could you reach out to in the Vintage industry to run some cross-promotions with. Go write that email or make that phone call now.


We really hope this has opened your eyes to the power of marketing, and hopefully has got you a bit more excited about marketing your business.


Got any questions or comments after reading this? Please feel free to drop them in the comments below…



Andrew and Pete run an award winning Stand Out Marketing company, believe it or not called… “Andrew and Pete” and founded online marketing membership site ‘atomic’. They love showing small businesses how they can blow up with creative and remarkable stand out marketing.

Yes, this is the blow up picture, and it’s real smoke in shot! So much fun.


Want to learn from some of the World’s Best Marketers, for FREE, register for Rule Breakers Online Conference at:

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