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How to keep ex-smokers coming back to your vape store during and after Stoptober

A lot of things happen in October. The clocks go back, mince pies and Christmas cakes slowly infiltrate the supermarket shelves, and there’s a distinct smell of pumpkin spice lattes in the air.

The other thing that happens during the tenth month of the year? Stoptober.

What is Stoptober?

Launched in 2012, this month-long campaign encourages people to stub out their cigarettes and say no to stinking like an ashtray.

Over 2.3 million people In the UK have stopped smoking because of Stoptober, and if you’re part of that number, bravo. We’d give you a ruddy big kiss if we weren’t stuck behind a computer screen.

The last few years have been bad for smoking, with a lot of people taking up the habit during lockdown as something to do. During the first lockdown In 2020, the number of 18 to 34-year-olds who smoked increased by 25%. All those sourdough starters and Zoom quizzes evidently got the better of many people.

If people are thinking of stopping smoking this October, vaping is a great alternative. They get the nicotine they need to keep on track through the month, without any of the disgusting chemicals cigarettes contain. Not only that, but it’s a heck of a lot cheaper into the bargain.

In fact, e-cigarettes are three times more effective than other quitting aids like nicotine patches and gum.

Find out more about making the switch from smoking to vaping.

What you can do to help people quit smoking this Stoptober

If you run a vape store, you’re in a great position to help these smokers out, and make a little bit of profit to boot. It’s a win-win situation.

So, how can you help smokers that want to quit during Stoptober, and encourage them to keep coming back to your store? We’re so glad you asked.

Join us as we take a look at some of the ways you can boost your business this October and beyond.

  • Give customers the support they need
  • Use local SEO to get people to your store
  • Create a friendly and warm environment
  • Create a community of like-minded people
  • Stock a wide range of products
  • In summary: don’t forget to make the effort with ex-smokers this Stoptober

#1 - Give customers the support they need

Imagine the following scenario in your head. You’ve been smoking 20 a day since you were 16, and twenty years later, you decide it’s time to quit and give vaping a go.

The problem is, smoking is all you know. You don’t know the difference between nic salts and freebase, you’ve got no clue how to change a coil, and you’ve got absolutely no idea what nicotine strength you need. It’s enough to make you run screaming into the nearest off licence begging for a pack of Marlboro Lights.

Smokers need a lot of help and support when they’re thinking of quitting. As the owner of a vape store, you’re perfectly placed to help them out, more so than a store that’s online. Take the time to talk to your customers and understand what they need, and they’ll reward you with some lovely pieces of paper with King Charles III on them.

Good salespeople are always two steps ahead of their customers and know which questions they will have. Here are some of the things an ex-smoker might ask about, so you can plan your answers in advance:

  • Why should I move to vaping instead of smoking?
  • How much will vaping cost me?
  • What does e-liquid taste like?
  • Can I try vaping? (A disposable vape bar can be a good way to see if vaping is the right choice before investing In the hardware)
  • How do I inhale? (You might have to explain the difference between direct-lung and mouth-to-lung here!)
  • How long does the charge on the vape last?
  • Does the vapour smell bad?
  • How do I set up the hardware? (While you can’t set up the hardware for them, you can provide instructions or even a video to help them out)
  • What would you recommend? (This one is tricky as it’s very subjective. Your sales team will have their own personal choices but it’s important to take the needs of the customer into account, especially if they’ve never vaped before)

Having the right sales staff on standby can make all the difference. Make sure your sales team know all about the products you sell, ensure they can relate to a wide range of different people, and you’re onto a winner. You can find out more about choosing the perfect sales team in our article about increasing your customers’ vape store spend.

You can even put some of your most recommended products together as a ‘starter pack’ for would-be vapers. This saves your customers valuable time and means they can get vaping sooner rather than later!

Here are our top ten recommendations for your Stoptober starter kit.

#2 - Use local SEO to get people to your store

What do we do when we have a question we need an answer to? Nine out of ten times, we Google it!

Let’s say your potential customer knows they need to quit smoking and want to give vaping a try. Unless someone recommends your vape store to them, it’s highly likely that they’ll search for ‘vape stores near me’ and pick the first name on the list.

If this is the case, you can use something known as ‘local SEO’ to encourage customers to find you. Local SEO is the dark art of making sure your website is easy to find online and that people in the nearby area are aware of your presence. The higher you can rank in search engines like Google and Bing, the better!

The good news is that even if you don’t know the difference between a backlink and a black hat link, there are still things you can do to boost your rankings in the search engine results. Alternatively, your friendly neighbourhood digital marketing agency can help you out if you’d rather leave things to the professionals.

Here are some of our top tips when it comes to local SEO:

  • Sign up for a Google Business Profile: This is free and gives Google lots of additional information about your vape store that it can show your prospective customers. You can even use it to create a basic website if you don’t already have one
  • Create a page for each store you own on your website: If you run multiple stores, creating an individual page for each one helps customers find where you are, and opens your business up to more web traffic
  • Get lots of reviews: Encourage happy customers to give you a positive review, whether on Google, Facebook or Trustpilot. Five-star reviews show the search engines that you’re a trustworthy and reliable business, pushing you up the ranks
  • Optimise your site for mobile: Make sure your website is as mobile-friendly as possible. Mobile friendliness is a positive ranking signal in Google, so you’re more likely to appear on the first few pages. Plus, as people searching for local search results are likely to be on the go, your website will be easier to access
  • Play nice with other local organisations: Become an active member of your local community, whether at community events or networking with other businesses. This will lead to links on other websites and mentions in news articles, which can give you a great boost in the search engine results

If you want to know more about local SEO, HubSpot has a great guide to getting started.

#3 - Create a friendly and warm environment

Have you ever sneaked into a cinema to watch a movie underage? We haven’t of course; we’re upstanding model citizens. At least we like to think we are…

However, the feeling of fear and dread is akin to what ex-smokers feel when they step into your vape store. They don’t know what they’re doing or what they need, and they may even feel a little bit intimidated.

We all know at least one ‘cloud bro’ with their modified vaping rig and strong opinions on what e-liquids people should be using…

Creating a warm and welcoming environment can make customers feel more at ease, and the more at ease your customers feel, the more likely they are to stick around.

For example, warm lighting and soft muted colours may make customers feel more relaxed. Comfy sofas and chairs mean they can sit down and chill while your staff talk them through your product range. Why stand up when you can sit down?

Even if you’ve not got the budget to spruce up the old vape store, keeping it nice and tidy can work wonders when it comes to enticing people to wander in. So dig the vacuum cleaner out, find the polish, and make that store sparkling clean!

Think about your target audience and what type of décor might resonate with them. For example, if your target customers are retirees, you might want to rethink the strobe lights and fog machine. Although to be fair, we do know a lot of cool older people that might like that.

#4 - Create a community of like-minded people

Smokers that have support from friends and family are more likely to quit than those that don’t. When you want to quit but don’t have a support network, the world can feel like a very lonely place.

That’s where you come in. You can help create a strong and engaged community of people that want to stop smoking for good. Like He-Man, you have the power!

For example, you could:

  • Help people connect with accountability buddies that will help them keep motivated and on track
  • Organise an in-store event where smokers can connect with like-minded people
  • Set up an email mailing list where you send encouraging messages to customers (of course, get their permission first, nobody likes a GDPR breach!)
  • Create a Facebook group where people can share their stories and give each other encouragement
  • Signpost people to useful tools and applications, for example, the NHS Quit Smoking App


Quick disclaimer: Remember that while it’s great to offer emotional and moral support to people who are trying to quit smoking, you’re not in a position to offer medical advice. Don’t be afraid to direct people to their local Stop Smoking service or advise them to book an appointment with their GP.

#5 - Stock a wide range of products

The thing about cigarettes is there isn’t a lot of variety between brands – even the packaging is pretty much the same now. There’s menthol. There’s low tar… erm… you can get them in packs of 10 and 20!? The point we’re trying to make is that there aren’t a lot of options.

With vaping and e-liquids, you’ve got a range of possibilities, and your customers are bound to be spoilt for choice this Stoptober! Here are all the different variations to take into account:

HARDWARE

There are different types of hardware available, from the easy-to-use cigalikes to the fully customisable vape mods. There are even disposable vape bars that are pre-filled, pre-charged and ready to go (although if you do promote this option, please do it responsibly).

Nic salts vs freebase

Nic salts are smooth and gentle, while freebase provides a harsher throat hit. Whether your customers miss the sensation of smoking or are after something milder, they can take full control of the sensation they feel.

Nicotine strength

There are a wide range of nicotine strengths. This means whether customers are social smokers or are used to caning two packs of cigarettes a day, you can be confident they will be catered for. Plus, as they wean themselves off nicotine, they can reduce the strength of their vape accordingly.

VG vs PG

The blend of VG and PG can make a big difference. The more VG in an e-liquid, the more vapour, while the more PG, the more flavour. A 50:50 ratio is typically best for people new to vaping, but if they want to impress their friends by blowing smoke rings, they’ve got that as an option too!

Flavour

And finally… there are a massive range of e-liquid flavours available! Whether your customers want a vape that tastes like a real cigarette or want to smell of strawberries, they’ll be able to find the perfect match for their tastes.

Why not offer your customers some free samples so they can see what they like the flavour of before they buy?

Shameless product plug time!

Ohm Brew has a massive range of e-liquids available, from our quirky Flavour Lab range to the cold and bold Baltic Blends.

When you stock our products we’ll provide you with all the help and support you need, and you will be guaranteed a high-quality product your customers will love. What’s not to like?

In summary: don't forget to make the effort with ex-smokers this Stoptober

Thousands of smokers across the UK are set to stub out the cigarettes this Stoptober. According to the Government, people are five times more likely to quit for good if they can hang on for 28 days.

When you’ve smoked for a long time, giving up can be hard. It might even feel impossible. However, by giving customers as much help and support as you can, you can get them through the month and encourage them to become long-term vapers. Plus, if you offer exceptional customer service, they’ll be a regular customer in the months and years ahead.

We hope this article has given you all the advice and support you need to make a difference to your customers this Stoptober, but if you have any other questions, we’re here to help. Just give us a call or send us an email.

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