Start Your Own Business – Marketing & Business Plans

Start Your Own Business – Marketing & Business PlansStarting your own business? It is the American dream. Marketing that business is the most important part of your business plan. Make sure you don’t short that part of your startup plan.

Ask yourself some questions

You’re new at all of this, so do you really know what you should be spending your time working on in a new business? Your logo and business cards isn’t it. What other people want isn’t either.

In order to figure out where your focus needs to be, ask yourself a few questions:

  • What are your strengths as a person? What are your strengths as a leader?
  • Do you have a selling strategy?
  • What are your business objectives for the next three months?
  • What is your main marketing objective for the next three months?

More questions to ask yourself

Do those business objectives seem broad? If they do, narrow them. Why? Because being too broad, being something for everyone, will mean you aren’t good at anything. Finding your niche means becoming the expert that people need when they look for your product or service. Not sure how to do that? Well, more questions then!

Start with what is your industry and what parts of your industry do you like the best? Who do you like to work with? Big businesses or small businesses? Individuals? If you could only work with one kind of person for the rest of your life, who would it be? What would your product or service provide to them?

Customer Demographics

That last part needs some work too. Once you know who you want as a customer, then you need to find demographics on them. Things like age and marital status but also things like what they do when they are working, who their family is and what they like to do on their time off. Why? Because you need to use that information to target your marketing. People respond better to your marketing efforts when they recognize themselves.

There’s more to starting your own business, but these ideas should get you started. Good luck and live the dream!

Retail Sales Tips – How To Turn A Maybe Later Into A Yes Now

Aren’t those “maybe’s” annoying? Did you know there is a way to turn a maybe later into a yes now? In retail sales, as any other kind of sales, you can, if you take a little time and patience. Here’s some tips on how to get it done.

Ask some questions:

Retail Sales Tips - How To Turn A Maybe Later Into A Yes NowSo you’re interacting with a customer and you ask them if they are ready to buy and they hem and haw and give you a maybe. Don’t lose your cool, ask some questions. Ask them what is holding them back from buying, what questions they still may have. Then answer them.

Be ready with your own answers. Don’t stop at letting them give you one word answers, ask for an explanation. Ask them, nicely, what their objections are and see if you can knock them down.

Don’t be obnoxious, but be passionate:

Another strategy is to adopt a philosophy of not taking no for an answer. Don’t be obnoxious, be convincing. Be persuasive and see how that works. Remember, if you are passionate about what you do and what you sell, people can be persuaded.

But, if they aren’t, gracefully accept it. Why? Because that maybe might not change today, but it might tomorrow or next week. If you are an obnoxious jerk, they won’t come back!

What about financial objections?

Asking those questions is important for another reason. Why? Because you might be able to find another way of looking at it. For instance, you can see that they really want the product, it’s written all over their face, but they just can’t afford it all at once. Can you offer a payment plan for them that works with their budget? Ask the question to find the sticking point and see how you can remedy it.

Help them think it’s their idea to buy:

Lastly, if you can make them think that the purchase is their idea, they will buy. Why wouldn’t they say yes to their own idea. You do this by feeding them information bit by bit and leading them to the inevitable decision, without asking them to make the decision. It’s like when you were trying to convince your parents to let you do something or have something they were dead set against. Once it was their idea, you got what you wanted.

Maybe’s don’t have to be a problem with your retail sales, if you know how to handle them.

Best Practices For Retail Store Training

Retail store training, like other training or business ventures, has best practices. When you decide to train your store employees, adopting those best practices is a good idea. Not having them means there is no accountability in using and retaining what is learned. That would be a total waste of money for you, and time for your employees. Here are some of those best practices.

Reinforce the training:

Group Of Multi-Ethnic Group Of People Holding Placards Forming TTraining your sales staff is an important and necessary part of being in business. The better trained your staff is, the better they are at selling. The more they sell, the better your bottom line. Unless that training is reinforced, it will be quickly forgotten. One of your first best practices should be to set up a simple process that can be easily learned and incorporates what their sales training teaches. Next, be sure to keep what needs to be learned in manageable chunks. Overwhelming them with everything at once won’t let them retain anything.

Selling as they learn:

Be sure to keep your sales staff selling as they learn. The more quickly they implement and practice what they are learning, the faster it becomes habit and used. Theories are great, but putting them to use makes it more than theory.

Multiple training methods:

One great best practice is to find multiple ways to deliver the training. People learn differently and using methods to train, like video, computer-based training, and self-guided workbooks may work much better than structured classes. It will also keep your staff in store and selling.

Use incentives:

Make training worth their time as well. Some employees will see the value to training, but others may not. Giving them incentives to participate will encourage their investment and further their learning. Be sure to check in with staff to see how the training is working for them. They may suggest other subjects they feel they need, or another vehicle to deliver it that works better for them.

Try these best practices and watch your staff soar!

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Why Loss Leaders Work So Well To Drive Regular Retail Store Sales

Loss leaders, items sold at a huge discount to increase traffic into your retail store, work to drive regular sales. Here’s how.

Loss leader pricing:

Why Loss Leaders Work So Well To Drive Regular Retail Store SalesLoss leader pricing is a strategy used in retail stores where they price and advertise an item at or well below cost in order to attract buyers into their store. This is done in the hopes of increasing traffic and that customers will purchase regular priced items at the same time. Increased impulse buys are always a good thing.

Think about it this way, you see an ad for a Bluetooth headset you need at a retail store where you usually don’t shop, and the price is amazingly low. So you go and while you’re there, you realize you need ink for your printer and an SD card for your camera. The ink and SD card are at a price that is higher than you’d pay where you usually shop but you think “well I’m here already” or “with what I saved on the Bluetooth it’s worth it” and buy it there instead of waiting.

Loss leader is the “hook”:

Consumers are always looking for the lowest priced products, but they also are so used to convenience, that store hopping to get the lowest price on everything they buy is inconvenient, or with the price of gas cost prohibitive. So the loss leader item is the “hook” that gets them in your store. The loss in profit on that item is made up for by the regular or higher price items they buy when in the retail store along with the discounted item. It’s also a good strategy to use on relationship business sales.

If your business depends on continued business, or the products you sell are not consumables that need to be replaced with regularity, consider that even if you take a loss on the first sale, establishing the relationship with the customer at the time of the first sale will bring them back and then you can make up the difference on future sales.

Some cautions:

Some product manufacturers will not allow you to use loss leader pricing, and in some states it’s illegal to sell below cost. If you are unsure, consult with a local attorney or your state’s business division. Also, when advertising, be sure to add “while supplies last” to avoid being held to the price past the advertisement or having to give rain checks.

Retail Store Sales – How To Avoid Losing The Sale To Showrooming

Showrooming. Retailers hate showrooming. So how can you take the showrooming traffic and avoid losing the sale in your retail store? Well, let’s look at it and see.

What is showrooming?

Retail Store Sales - How To Avoid Losing The Sale To ShowroomingShowrooming is what happens when customers use your store as a place to touch, feel and play with a product, The problem comes in when they leave and buy it online at a lower price.

As many retailers have found, online stores often offer lower prices than brick and mortar stores because they do not have the overhead cost of a retail location lease, utilities and salespeople. It is frustrating to sales people because they spend their time with a customer who doesn’t buy from them and leaves them without a sale to show for it.

It is costly to the retailers who have to pay all the overhead with no sales to show for it, as well as the cost of damage caused to the store’s floor samples of a product. So what can you do to combat this? There are a few things.

Buying in your store lends value over buying online

The best thing you can do is to be sure to show customers who come in that buying in your store lends value over buying online. Don’t do it by lowering prices. That only accomplishes a lowering of your profits. By offering added value, you make the price worth it. Do that through your loyalty programs and by offering items that are exclusive to your store.

Your loyalty program can do things like give early access to sales and sales professionals that can help with finding the right product. Loyalty programs can include extra sales that give them a break over the online available product, or just give additional and exclusive benefits.

Create value and you will put a halt to showrooming.

Retail Store Marketing – Coordinating Your Marketing Efforts With The In-Store Sales Staff

Marketing isn’t just the responsibility of you, the store owner. No, your staff should also be aware of and supporting your marketing efforts. In store sales staff is just one more way to market your business and get the word out.

Include Your In Store Staff in Marketing

There are a few ways that you can market your retail business and your sales staff should be aware of each of them. Why? Because they are your front line in spreading the word. That and you don’t want them to look incompetent if they are asked about marketing efforts by customers! Also encourage your sales staff to spread the word with their social media as well.

Gift Cards

Retail Store Marketing - Coordinating Your Marketing Efforts With The In-Store Sales Staff great way sales staff can help with marketing efforts is through the use of gift cards. Why? Well research has shown that people who shop with gift cards tend to purchase full priced items rather than waiting for sales. It makes sense, since gift cards aren’t customers spending their own money.

Customers also tend to spend more than just the face value of the gift card. Both of these situations mean increased profit margins for you. Even better, about 20% of people who get gift cards never use them. That’s 100% profit for you.

More Gift Card Stats

Customers who use gift cards are also less likely to return or exchange items, lowering transaction costs. A policy idea for your store: use gift cards for returns. This will eliminate cash refunds and means that the money you took in during the initial sale stays in your store, not in their pockets.

Loyalty Program and Online Research

Loyalty programs also attract and keep customers. Both are programs your sales staff must be aware of and push. As a store you should be letting customers know about your programs using social media. 88% of customers research online but buy in store and 78% of small businesses attract new customers through social media. Have a website because customers who come into your store after visiting your website spend 37% more than those who don’t. So don’t miss out on that boat!

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Retail Promotion Ideas For Valentines Day

Retail promotion ideas for Valentines Day is the next thing on the sales promotion agenda now that Christmas and New Years are just around the corner. Valentine’s Day is only about a month and a half or so away! So now is the Retail Promotion Ideas For Valentines Daytime to promote Valentine’s Day. A technology store needs some smart promotions to connect Valentines Day to technology products. Read on for some great ideas.

A “heart wall”

Have a “heart wall” where customers can submit decorated hearts to help decorate. Make it a contest and award the winner an accessory for their phone or a percentage off the purchase of a new phone. You can do several awards: best heart, most romantic, most poetic, etc.

Put up a spot in the store where customers can share things they love. Not just people, but food, movies, songs, even their favorite phones, apps and accessories.

Create cards

Create small Valentines Day cards that your customers can add to their purchases. Make some fun, others romantic. Bill it as a way you are saving them a trip to the card store. Your extra customer service for them.

Communication

In a technology store finding a “romantic” gift isn’t easy. It’s not jewelry or candy or flowers. But what you can push is communication. All good relationships have good communication so approach it from that angle. How to keep in touch with those they love. Show all the ways a smartphone or tablet can help them keep in touch with others. Show them apps that will enhance communication. Use your imagination!

Charity

Don’t’ forget to appeal to their charitable side. Offer a donation to a local charity: shelter, food pantry, etc., from each sale. Thanksgiving and Christmas are the times we usually think about this, but then donations fall off. Give a local one a pick me up and bring in new customers by showing that the love of Valentine’s Day is more than just romantic.

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Retail Store Operations – 5 Tips To Stop Shoplifting

Tis the season… for shoplifting. All retail store operations are in the same boat, and it’s an all year problem. There are ways to stop shoplifting. Here are a few.

Keep valuables close to registers

First, place items that are the most valuable close to the registers. Since Retail Store Operations - 5 Tips To Stop Shopliftingthat’s the place in the store where you and your staff spend the most time, it makes sense to keep the most valuable items there where you can keep an eye on them. At the very least, keeping items in clear view, meaning don’t put them in a corner or an area of the store where cover is provided will help stop shoplifting in your store.

Train your employees

Next, train your employees about what to look for when spotting shoplifters. It has to be said, and for legal reasons, DO NOT TELL THEM TO LOOK AT RACE OR NATIONALITY. That can get you in real hot water. Instead look at common shoplifting habits, like being nervous, not making eye contact, wandering around aisles, looking around constantly, leaving the store and returning again, lingering in certain locations and watching employees or looking up at surveillance cameras.

Keep the store clean and organized

Here’s another reason to give your employees to keep the store clean and organized: loss prevention. Cluttered, disorganized stores provide a much easier place to shoplift. It also makes it harder to see when something has been stolen. Also encourage your employees to walk around our retail store often and all over the place. Also be sure to have a store that is adequately staffed.

Communications

Keep the lines of communication open between staff and other store owners. Talk with other retail store owners about any suspicious behaviors they might have witnessed. Have your employees keep logs of suspicious behaviors to share with each other. Again, caution them about how they describe people. Make the logs something that helps, not something that comes back to bite you in the butt. Follow these ideas to stop shoplifting in your retail store.

Retail Store Staffing – How To Get Good People

Hiring staff may not seem like a big deal, just find someone willing to fill a spot, right? Well, not so fast. Hiring a bad employee is worse than not hiring anyone at all. Finding good staff for your retail store is important and you need to know what to do to get good people.

Less is more

Retail Store Staffing - How To Get Good PeopleSo what should you be looking for? A few things, actually. First, don’t hire a lot of people. Instead hire a few people willing to work more shifts. Yes, more may give you more flexibility of hours, but fewer people who have more hours will have a bigger stake in the success of your retail store.

Use social media

Next, look for someone who “plays well with others.” How? Do a simple social media search after you get their application but before any interview. How do they deal with people online? Then during the interview ask them questions that will help you see how they deal with people offline. You’re looking for evidence that they are engaged in the real world with other human beings, so think of questions that will uncover this.

Past behavior as an indicator

People can and do change, but past behavior is usually a good indication of future behavior. During the interview asking questions about future plans aren’t a good gauge of how well they will work for you. Ask questions that probe their past, such as tell me about a time when you went out of your way for a customer. If they can’t do that, or if their answer doesn’t line up with your expectations, then you may not want to consider this person for your retail store.

“Sell” your retail store

You need to “sell” on why your retail store business is a great place to work. During an interview talk about your business, its history, what kind of environment you have created for your customers, what great customer service looks like to you, and about your management style. If this person is going to be a good fit, they need to feel like they are a good fit as well.

Find the negative

Get them to tell you something negative about how they have dealt with customers. Great employees will be up front about it and tell you how they fixed the problem, bad ones will deny they ever had a problem.

Check references

Lastly, don’t offer the job on the spot. Take the time to check their references and work history. Have them call you back the next day to get an answer. If they want the job, they’ll call. If not, they wouldn’t have been a good, long term employee.

Want to learn more about retail staffing solutions? Check out our Event and Mobile Sales services.

Retail Promotion Ideas For New Years Sales

Retail Promotion Ideas For New Years SalesWith New Year’s right around the corner, getting your retail year kicked off on the right foot is important. Throw a great sale to bring in customers. Here are some great retail promotion ideas to get you going using smartphones and other electronics in your displays.

One idea is to have a New Year’s Resolution Sale

Generally it should work like this. Choose a time period, be it a week or the whole month, and promote items that would help customers with common resolutions.

You can set up displays for the sale based on “popular” resolutions. Here are several to use for smartphones, tablets, etc.

Organization:

There are a myriad of electronic gadgets, apps and computer programs to help anyone with organization problems. From calendar programs and apps, to other ways to organize paperwork, tax records, work items or whatever part or portion of your life that needs organization. Set up a display of different smartphones, tablets or computers with organization software or apps on them so customers can try them out.

Weight loss:

Who hasn’t said “I need to lose a few pounds this year”? There are so many ways to lose weight and so many pieces of technology available to help. Getting in shape means tracking things from what you eat to how you exercise. Set up a display of smartphones with apps to track calorie intake, apps to track calories burned, and other things like pedometers and heart rate monitors.

Stop smoking:

Trying to stop smoking is tough. Using technology to get support in doing so is smart. Again, set up smartphones with ways to track cessation efforts, support apps and so forth that will help many.

Bonus idea

Ask customers to share what their particular resolution might be, and then provide them the tools in a drawing. Limit what you provide to a particular dollar amount. For all others who submit ideas, give them each a discount on items they will need for their resolutions.

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