Growth Ideas for Tough Economic Times
The U.S. economy has been and will continue to be for the foreseeable future, a tough environment for independent retailers. Consumers are worried, cautious and many are struggling to make ends meet. In tough times, small businesses usually respond by cutting expenses because of lower revenues. Having cut expenses, what’s next?
Next, businesses need to focus on how they can generate more revenue. How do you get customers to visit your store more frequently? Buy more when they do visit? Refer friends to you? How do you attract new customers? What can you do to give customers more reasons to visit and buy? How can you make visiting your store an even more wonderful experience?
Small businesses can learn from big businesses. Best Buy became the #1 consumer electronics retailer by constantly adding new products and services that gave existing customers more reasons to visit and that also attracted new customers. Tiffany & Company’s customers historically only bought when a big event occurred like a wedding, graduation, anniversary or birthday. Tiffany expanded the reasons to buy when it convinced its customers to celebrate good things happening to them by rewarding themselves with purchases at Tiffany. Sam Walton made visiting his store entertaining and fun so people visited more frequently. The airlines built a loyal repeat business using loyalty reward programs.
- What new products can you sell that mothers will buy?
- Should you offer a way for mothers to resell used baby clothes and products?
- Should you sell organic baby food?
- Should you offer babysitting referral services?
- Should you offer carpooling after nursery school services?
- Should you bring doctors and nurses in to host “Shot Days?”
- Should you create a customer loyalty and referral program?
- Should you once a month hold a Mom’s night out educational or social event?
- Should you do educational events for Dads—engaging them in the buying and gifting process—to express their love and thankfulness for baby and mom?
- Should you do baby birthday reminders to grandparents?
- Should you partner with day care centers, knitting shops, or nutritionists, and offer joint events to attract customers?
- Should you create a baby shower and birthday registry giving discounts to everyone buying a shower or birthday present for a registered mom or baby?
- Should you create new offerings such as “What Every 1 Year-Old Girl Needs?”
Notice in those questions we focused on adding new products and services; creating events to bring customers in, even when they don’t have a buying need, creating spontaneous buying opportunities; expanding your customer segments by adding more Dads, Grandparents, and friends to your customer base; and partnering with service providers that serve your targeted customer market.
Growth businesses constantly work at trying new things by doing small experiments. First, they talk with customers about new ideas and determine which idea may meet a real need of their customers. Then they try it – they experiment and learn. And they keep trying new things building a portfolio of growth opportunities. Every idea will not work but be proactive and keep experimenting and create a community of like-minded retailers and learn from each other. Good luck with your experiments!