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“It’s the recession, no one is spending money.”
Keep telling yourself this and you’ll watch your bottom line sink right along with your morale. I’ll practice a little tough love here, to make the case for why that statement just isn’t true.
The market can be tough, no matter where you are, but consumers continue to pour dollars into the economy. If your’e not seeing many of those dollars, you lack marketshare and this is a good indication that your competitor(s) has it. So how do you gain marketshare?
Consumers are hammered with thousands of messages everyday in the marketplace. In this case, follow the crowd and hop on the band wagon. Look at the big guys and at what they’re doing. McDonald’s, Macy’s, Wal-Mart, to name a few, You can easily apply these same techniques to your business, albeit on a smaller scale.
You have to think of your business as always on the shelf and therefore, you need to make yourself available. If the pharmacy knew that I would have a stomach ache next Friday, when do you think they’d stock the Pepto Bismol? Probably on Thursday. If it were only that simple.
We never know when the need will arise in consumers to patron us. That’s why we always have to be ready for them and need to be top of mind. Being top of mind is accomplished through consistent messaging in the market, no matter which media (or combination of media) you choose. My battery died in my car. Yesterday, I wasn’t in the market for a battery. Today, I am. So who has a solution for me? “Oh ya, I heard that commercial on the radio,” or “I saw that sale ad in the newspaper.” And it’s that easy, folks.
Paid advertising, along with a mix of some free avenues can do wonders. Have you thought of email marketing, setting up a business Facebook page, or utilizing sites like Craigslist? It’s all free of charge, other than the time you’ll invest in it, which can be consuming. Consider delegating an employee to the task if your days don’t allow for it.
Do you have an online presence?
Nearly everyone has Internet access, whether at home or on their mobile phones. People of all ages are rapidly evolving into saavy Internet users. You may think, “Well, I don’t use the Internet much.’ It doesn’t matter. The fact is, your customers and potential customers do. Just having a simple website will suffice. Most use the Internet just seeking information, so be there. You’ll want to pop up, whether organically or paid, within the first page or two of search results when they’re searching for a product or service you have to offer. If this element is missing in your business, you could be missing steal share opportunities in the marketplace.
What’s it like when I spend money with you?
Customer service is an obvious must in virtually any business. If you ask a group of like business owners what makes them stand out amongst the competition, take a wild guess at what they’d say first. You guessed it: customer service. In trying economic times, although consumers are still spending, you can bet they’re a bit more frugal and that they’re making smarter buying decisions.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What is the environment in my store like? Is the roof leaking on my customers? Is the store neat, tidy, and organized so my customers can easily find what they’re looking for? Is my decor modern, fresh, and a compliment to my type of business?
- What are the interactions like? Am I (as well as my employees) helpful, friendly, and personable?
- How are my prices? Are they higher here than at my competitor’s? Am I offering added value or incentives to shoppers?
This may sound cliche, but I’ve found it to be very true. Believe in yourself. Be confident in your business and what you have to offer. Think back on why you started this business and let that passion shine through. Pride yourself in going the extra mile and stand by what you do. Your customers will feel the vibe and therefore be confident in spending their hard-earned money with you. Never forget that that is a priviledge. This is the start of your business having a great relationship with the marketplace.