1. Focus on the customer and provide world-class customer service. Understand their wants, needs and desires — build your business to deliver these.
2. Establish your brand and values. Build a brand that has the basic values to achieve what the customer requires and clearly defines your business and its way of operating.
3. Establish a customer-focused culture. Build a team that lives and breathes your values, making world-class customer service the heart of every team and successfully growing your business.
4. Make sure quality is in everything you do. Make sure that everything you do is done to the best ability of you and your teams – always strive to give the best service every day with every person you interact with.
5. Reward and incentivise to develop a motivated and happy team. A motivated and happy team will lead to happy customers, which leads to success — listen to and look after your team.
6. Manage your cash. Cash is sanity and profit is vanity, a business will go bankrupt due to lack of cash, not lack of profit. Understand where your money comes from and where it goes.
7. Develop and communicate a clear vision, strategies and plans. Know what you are trying to achieve and have a plan to get there. Share the vision, strategies and plans with all your teams and partners.
8. Make your customers the heart of every team and make them feel special. Happy and satisfied customers are loyal and keep you successfully retailing.
9. Retail is detail. Get the details right for the customer and look after the detail — understand what is happening and make sure you dot the i’s and cross the t’s.
10. It’s not rocket science. Retail is one of the oldest forms of business — we buy a product and sell it on to the end consumer with a margin; make sure that your margin delivers a profit.
11. Make decisions – just do it. Do not procrastinate: analyse the information, make decisions and give it a go — if it doesn’t work, try another way.
12. Manage with facts and information. Use the data and information you have in your business. Keep your emotions in check and make decisions based on solid information, analysis and research.
13. Don’t forget to sell your products and your business. After all we are in the retail business to sell products to customers — that is the reason they visit your stores and what they require from your business.
14. Be yourself and enjoy. This is your journey to achieving your potential in retail — make sure you take pleasure in it.
Antony Welfare is the director and founder of Retail Inspector Ltd and is the author of The Retail Inspector’s Handbook.
We don’t hard-sell now, it simply isn’t the “done” thing and it not only smacks of desperation, it’s downright rude. Nowadays it’s far more fun to be helpful.
We’ve moved to a much more tactical approach to new business marketing where we openly share wisdom with other well-matched business targets and offer to help them with their (marketing) challenges. Sharing knowledge also makes us feel good. This is a far cry, and so much more refreshing than the old ways that were laden with guilt.
My list of reasons for openly sharing your genius grows regularly, so I thought I’d post a few of my main points.
1. It really does enable you to develop relationships more readily and places you in good stead to win business faster.
2. People are more likely to come to you for help. Your giving nature makes you approachable and therefore initial barriers have already been overcome.
3. Your thoughts and opinions are a demonstration of true experience, insight and passion in your marketplace.
4. Offering up your expertise and general market advice stands you apart as an influencer and industry leader.
5. It’s easy. We have a multitude of social platforms we can access and build a community of like-minded types to engage with. Regular contribution and involvement will also enable prospective clients and partners to find you easily.
Some people struggle to work out what makes their businesses different. I hope what follows sheds some light on what is an incredibly difficult topic.
I’m going to take the photography industry, if you don’t mind, because it’s a great example. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of photographers on your patch.
How do you stand out? How do you make yourself different? How do you create an engaging, compelling, powerful brand? It’s a great question!
For starters, think about what makes you, you. Are you a perfectionist, intuitive, soulful, detail-focused, creative, flamboyant, hip, quirky, any, all or none of the above? Make a list of what makes you, you. Think about your style of photography, the things you notice, the end result you like to produce and what it’s like to work with you.
Before you start coming out in hives, just relax, I’m going to expand on this some more…
If you wanted to be known for something, what would it be?
Now make a list of five photographers you admire and identify what makes you different. Are things becoming any clearer?
Write down five words that describe your style. Take a long, hard look at the work in your portfolio, does it represent what you described? Be ruthless. Cull anything that’s no longer on brand. Upload new photos if your style has developed (I’d be surprised if it hasn’t, most creatives develop rapidly) and sit back and smile. Job well done.
And finally, take a look at your website and marketing literature. Are the words you’re using supporting your niche? How about the design style and the colours?
You can read more about branding in these articles:
In traditional marketing, companies succeeded by “shouting” their message very loudly. Whether this shouting was delivered via advertising on TV and radio, on billboards and in newspapers, or via direct channels such as direct mail or cold calling, a marketing department’s job was to choose the channels which would capture the most attention of their particular client base.
This approach worked because we all lived in a world where we were much more limited in choices than we are today. Before the global economy was a reality, people were often very restricted in terms of the variety of products they could source. Moreover, before the emergence of the World Wide Web and digital technology, we did not have the access to information we all enjoy today.
Marketing, therefore, often provided us with a vital information resource unavailable elsewhere. For example, think about going on holiday. People would often base their choice on travel brochures which, after all, were just marketing materials for holiday companies. However, consumers used them because there were no other resources available.
In other words, marketing, inadvertently, used to provide people with value, which is why they paid it attention. However, this is no longer the case. Today, in most areas of our lives, we have more choices than we know what to do with. We also have access to such a wide variety of information that the problem is normally too much, not too little.
In this context, the “shouting” which companies use to gain our attention is having less impact than in previous generations. Today, more of us are screening it out in favour of finding information, at our own convenience, through online searches and our friends.
Companies used to try and shout at us everywhere in order to sell their wares. Today, the world has changed. We screen the shouting out because it is not normally convenient and is just interrupting our day. The point is, however, that thanks to mobile phones and the World Wide Web, as customers, we can access people’s marketing whenever we choose.
The key for companies today is not to shout at us at their time of choosing. Instead, it is for them to be attractive. This means, when we choose to look for something that relates to their offering, we choose to go to them. Moreover, “attention” today is so scarce, with all the different media from social networks to text messaging distracting us, that once a company has our attention they need to ensure we keep coming back.
In other words, companies now have to become “sticky”. This can only be done by companies by creating value. For example, informative “how to” videos and interviews with experts can provide consumers with a reason to engage. Similarly, writing a top tips article can provide relevant information. Entering into strategic alliances with partners in order to create new value for a consumer can also be a way of gaining attention.
The fundamental difference between old and new marketing is this. Companies used to market for themselves to drive profits and sales. The timing of their marketing and the channels they used to market their message were all about them. The value a potential consumer took from the marketing was inadvertent and only came about because choice and information were relatively scarce.
Today, for marketing to be successful, it has to go “sticky”. The whole essence of the marketing should be to provide consumers with value. This will attract them to a business and then help to keep them engaged over the longer term. Becoming “sticky” means doing marketing which then gains you the attention of a customer base. Today, with attention being so scarce, it is the companies that can gain the consumer’s attention that will win in a global, technology driven, web-enabled world.
I would love to think that the world has finally had enough of get-rich-quick, instant-gratification programmes that promise instant painless solutions at the click of a credit card payment — solutions to what are, in effect, deep-seated issues we have in our businesses, (eg have we got the right product, the right processes, the right people, the right partners, the right customers, the right channels to market…?).
The irony of the “quick fix” vs “fixing the problem properly” argument cannot pass me by.
I am amazed at the sheer volume of products and services that claim to be a must-have, success-guaranteed, “you’d-be-a-fool-not-to-buy-while-stocks-last”, time-sensitive, unique opportunity.
I hope that these only appeal to the relatively gullible, the innocent and the needy who have no-one to protect them from themselves. And, of course, do the offers bear any resemblance to what the business actually needs?!
You can sign up for the quick fix solutions, but in reality the issues you should be addressing are probably symptomatic of something more fundamental that needs to be addressed in your business. You can confront this stuff or sweep it under the carpet… (or behind the curtain or wherever...!).
You can get valuable ideas and advice — aka proper fixes — for your marketing strategy.
There’s been much said for – and against – social media marketing as a way to gain competitive advantage in recent months.
On the one hand, the cynics and traditional marketers are rebuking the multitude of evidence being presented online, highlighting how effectively social media marketing can deliver new clients.
Many businesses focus on what their direct competitors are doing on social media platforms. I think this is pointless. The main focus needs to be the value they are giving to their audience. An audience that is engaged, commenting and sharing.
This, in effect, becomes the most powerful sales tool on the Planet for your business – via genuine social media engagement. And it can lead – over time – to a business dominating its niche online. It’s social media marketing in its purest form. But how to do it?
My top six tips on how to use social media marketing for competitive advantage are:
Bonus tip: Do the unexpected – like this extra tip. There are enough boring, mundane, anodyne, sterile, formulaic conversations happening already on social media platforms in the name of business. Make your social media marketing different.