I have been impressed by the number of retailers who have chosen to specialise. Some are manufacturing their own unique products while others are importing directly from China, Italy and other countries around the world. These pioneers recognise that the best way to combat the changing market place is to specialise. However, curating specialist products is only one element of a five step process. Without the other four elements in place niche products can become lost in a crowded market. And yet these other four steps are the least understood by most retailers and they are definitely under utilised. When you harness all five elements, your business will be transformed into a highly sought after specialist retailer.
When David took on Goliath he gathered five small stones in preparation for the battle. Likewise, to specialise you will need five stones to take on the giants in your industry. Why? Because they are already using the same five stones but not in the way that you can. As a small retailer your business is lean, fast, flexible and dynamic, just like David. By contrast the giant retailers are slow and sluggish like Goliath.
Here are the five stones that are essential to a successful independent retailer.
Stone One. Identify your target market. This may sound obvious and you may think you already know who your ideal customer is, but do you really? How specific is your customer profile? Can you describe them in a statement that is easily understood by everyone? If you can’t then you don’t really know who your target customer is. For example, John Lewis created an image of its target shopper so they could attract more of them. They discovered that 39% of their shoppers were under 34 years and targeted their marketing campaigns and products at this market sector. Prior to this they thought that the majority of their customers were over 45. Knowing your target customer is essential and you can’t guess who they are, otherwise, you may be disappointed with your results.
Stone Two. Create a powerful message. This is something the big boys do all the time and that’s why they get results. When James Dyson invented his revolutionary vacuum cleaner in 1983 he struggled to make sales. It was only when his marketing team created the message ‘Say goodbye to the bag’ that sales rocketed. When you craft your message consider these three things. First, what is the benefit to your customer? Second, why should they buy from you? (As opposed to your competitor) and third, what actions do you want your customers to take?
Stone Three. The Product Ecosystem. As mentioned earlier this is where most retailers focused their energy. However, there are three elements to the product ecosystem that will help your customers make a real connection with you and your business. The first element is your products ability to appeal to your customers’ emotional needs. The second is the physical aspect of the actual product, and the third element is the digital impact of your products and services. Just focusing on the product itself is no longer enough to generate more sales.
Stone Four. A Prospecting Strategy. The starting point in prospecting for new business is with your existing customers. If they are happy with your products and services, they are more likely to refer you to their friends. Perhaps you could offer a discount or voucher scheme with every referral they give you? There is a host of ways to prospect for new business including phone and email campaigns.
Stone Five. Personal Branding. People buy from people, so the more customers know about you in relation to your business, the greater the connection. With the advent of social media, you now have the ability to develop a bond with your customers on a bigger scale. By raising your personal profile, you create a special connection with your customer, even when you are not physically present.
As a busy retailer you don’t have time to do everything at once. Just begin with one stone at a time. Until next time remember to Stand Tall, Inspire and Lift Others.