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We Launched. What's Next?

My husband and I have built our dream retail business and brand. Everything from the look to logistics to customer reaction has been good so far. It is just the two of us and we want to make sure every step of the way is as planned as it has been. What we need to determine now is what should be next. How we can go about revamping for growth and getting our name out there?
Brad Sugars answered May 26, 2011
URL: http://www.entrepreneur.com/answer/222317
It sounds like everything is set. Now, you need customers.

Your next move will depend on what you're selling. Are you in a high "traffic" area? Do you have all the names and contact information of those people who have given you a positive response? (They will be the start of your database.)

With all of that in mind, you should to start implementing, testing and measuring your marketing plan as well as your system for customer acquisition -- which I presume you already have. You simply need to start going out into your target marketplace and "getting your name" and reputation out there with tactics designed to drive more people through your doors.

You also need to make sure you have your sales process and "scripting" down, especially if it is just you and your husband. What you do now in terms of scripting, testing your approach and measuring your results will be the basis of any training you do in the future when you start to bring on additional members of your team.

If you don't have a marketing plan, you need to get one together based on your product, your services, your strengths and how you're different than your competition. You'll need to budget for your plan, which typically in a retail environment is anywhere between 5 percent to 15 percent of projected revenues, depending on the seasonality, startup mode of your business and buying pattern of your target audience.

But whatever you do, you shouldn't spend all of that budget at once on any one program or campaign. Instead, take 10 percent and run some test ads to see what kind of response you get. If you get a response, continue to run the campaign. If you don't, kill it now before you waste any more money. Then go back and develop a new ad or campaign to test.

Typically for a retail shop, a neighborhood paper or local radio station are two places to start in driving initial retail traffic, in addition to whatever efforts you can create online (meaning a good website that may offer e-commerce options, as well as a blog and a strategy for opt-in email campaigns).

If you decide to buy radio ad spots, buy only certain times of the day (weather, traffic or news update reports are good because you can usually get run it frequently and inexpensively) and only on stations that match your customer demographic. If you decide to venture into TV, buy specific programs versus an entire network.

When you start planning your campaigns, remember these two key things:

First, use the formula "Target, Offer, Copy" to target your "ideal" type of customer, create compelling offers for things they want to buy (versus what you want to sell) and keep your copy and/or creative focused, simple and direct.

Second, focus on generating leads to support your brand rather than the other way around. If you currently have a strong brand reputation you should be able to leverage that with tactical lead generation strategies to more easily bring people to your store.

Successful businesses are built and run on good cashflow, not trade or barter, so you'll need lots of positive cashflow to grow and expand -- realizing you'll probably see more cashflow up front than you will profit. But if you can "purchase" a new customer at a good price, and have that customer return to you time and again, you'll start to see profit faster than you might realize.

Related: Marketing Plan Guide
Related: Don't Ignore the Easiest Place to Find Customers

Brad Sugars is the founder and chairman of ActionCOACH. As an entrepreneur, author and business coach, he has owned and operated more than two dozen companies including his main company, ActionCOACH, which has more than 1,000 offices in 34 countries.