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.

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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 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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5 Qualities of Good Retail Store Managers

Anyone can be a retail manager, right? Wrong. Good store managers have certain qualities beyond being good at retail sales and customer service, knowing how to display merchandise or schedule employees. It takes more than that.

Use Your Talents

5 Qualities of Good Store ManagersGood store managers know how to use their talents to help employees become top retail sales performers. They have good people skills and use them to motivate others. They are good at encouraging employees to set and achieve retail sales goals. Not just in how to do it, but also by encouraging them to meet and exceed them.

In other words, they become coaches. A manager who acts as a coach helps them to find solutions to things that are keeping them from achieving their goals. A good coach encourages others to find creative solutions to performance problems. It is collaborative and helpful, not a confrontation, so good people skills are a must.

Encouraging

A good retail manager also encourages employees to come up with and share new ideas. That helps them to feel invested in their job and engenders loyalty. Listening to new ideas makes you not just a problem solver but someone who encourages a team effort. This also means not just taking an interest in them professionally, but helping them to have a balanced work and personal life as well. Remember little things, like birthdays, spouses or kids names and hobbies. Don’t make it creepy, but friendly. Real people skills are at work here.

Delegate

Good managers also know how to delegate. How good of a team effort can it be if you insist that you are the only one who can do it all? You can’t, and it will stress you out, so learn to delegate. Find out who has the right skills to do jobs and hand them over. This will also help you communicate better and avoid conflicts. If they do pop up, learn to be a good conflict negotiator.

A good retail manager takes good people skills. If you have them, use them and everyone will benefit.

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Top Three Mobile Apps For Retail Comparisons

Everyone loves the idea of getting the best deal, but do you know for sure you’re getting it? Well, with smart phones and retail comparison mobile apps, you can know. Like everything else, some apps are better than others. Here are the top three.

Google Shopper

Top Three Mobile Apps For Retail Comparisons This mobile app is available on iOS and Android. Google Shopper lets you into the world of shopping via Google, including Google’s local offers, daily deals, and more importantly, product search and comparison shopping via Google Shopping.

You can scan a barcode, say a product name or even scan the covers of books, magazines, and other media to search Google’s database for the product. Yes, Google’s database. Google will let you know if it is available at one of Google’s partner retailers, along with price, ratings, reviews, and specifications. It’s online and local all in one.

ShopSavvy

This mobile app is available on iOS, Android and WP7. ShopSavvy was one of the first price comparison apps and it’s still one of the best. Searching is easily done by scanning the barcode of a product to search. It will show you prices online and at other brick-and-mortar retailers. ShopSavvy will also provide you with a “wallet” with cash so you can quickly purchase directly through the app. ShopSavvy will even include estimates of shipping prices from the retailers listed so you know the total price. It also lets you and other users rate products and retailers.

PriceGrabber

This mobile app is available on iOS and Android. PriceGrabber is probably the most well known comparison app. It focuses on online retailers, but when you’re standing in a store looking at something and want to know if it’s cheaper online, no one has more information than PriceGrabber. It has millions of products in its database and thousands of online retailers.

So try one or all of these apps and be confident while holiday shopping that you did get the best price!

Can Retail Catch Up with Hospitality Apps Like Outback’s Click Thru Seating?

Can Retail Catch Up with Hospitality Apps Like Outback's Click Thru Seating?Have you seen the commercials for it yet? You know, the ones about Outback Steakhouse’s click thru seating app? It’s a great hospitality app. Now, let’s take a look at ways that retail world might be able to take a page from its functionality.

A Cool App

Let’s look at Outback’s app first.The Outback app allows dining patrons to use it to do several things. It offers mobile access to data in real time about things like wait time for tables to making reservations for a table. The app lets customers sign up for a seating time, and if they are running late, it allows them to change the time slot. That means they don’t lose their table if they are late, and frees up the first slot for others more quickly. The app benefits everyone from customers to restaurant staff. Customers won’t get dropped from wait lists or wait for prolonged periods of time. Hosts have less lost time in waiting for people who don’t show. The app also has offers for Outback diners to use when dining.

What About Retail Apps?

What can we learn about this as retailers? Well, it comes down to service. This app offers service and control to the customer. How often do your customers wait in long lines to check out or receive service? How happy would your customers be if they could grab an app that lets them set a time to walk in and get immediate help buying a phone or tablet, or get service on their account? What about changing the time if they get hung up? What would that mean for your staff? Can you imagine how much better they could manage their time?

Time’s “A-Wasting”

The question is, do you wait and play retail app catch up? Time’s “a-wasting” and your competitors may just be working on an app for retail just like yours. Don’t wait. It is time now to design a retail app for your customers to get better service from you!