I was flipping through Fortune magazine, and came across an article detailing the fall of retail. This is something that my industry has been talking about for years. The article outlined the following as reasons for the fall:
- Space (build a HUGE space, and the masses will come!)
- The non-recovery (consumers continue to be price sensitive thanks to the 2009 recession)
- Stunted Evolution (rise of e-commerce leading to modest brick-and-mortar sales)
As a small business, you may be inclined to follow what the big guys are doing. It’s okay, plenty of people fall into this trap. Think about it – when you were younger, you wanted to be like your older sibling and / or you couldn’t wait until you were older. You wanted to emulate the ones older than you because you thought it was cool.
In business, this thought process can kill you. While it’s good to KNOW what the other guys are doing, it’s not so good to DO what the other guys are doing. In fact, it’s probably better to do the opposite.
Here’s how to prevent yourself from killing yourself:
- DO NOT discount your product or service
- Stick a stake in the sand and STAND FOR SOMETHING
- MARKET how you’re different to as many people as possible for as little as possible
Let me elaborate.
1) Every week it seems like the majority of retail stores have some sort of sale on. If you don’t believe me, just go to your nearest mall. The industry is cannibalizing itself by playing to the lowest common denominator. Consumers don’t want the lowest price, they want the BEST VALUE for the BEST PRICE. Don’t get into the game of marking up prices, just so you can slash them and say you have a 50% off sale. Showcase why your prices are where they’re at, and even be as bold to say you don’t have sales. Maybe even pull back the curtain, and outline how a sale isn’t really a sale. Think Apple. They NEVER discount their products. Sometimes on Boxing Day or Black Friday you may find their prices reduced (slightly) by the RETAILER (cutting into the retailers margins, Apple still makes a killing).
2) If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. I’m working with a very savvy small business owner who understands, you may need to piss someone off in order to get your point across about who you are, and what you stand for. When you stand for something, you’re bound to piss someone off because they stand for the opposite. This savvy owner is in the orthotics industry (sexy, I know). Here’s his stake in the sand, “Did you know hardwood floors are ruining your feet, and overall health? Since the latest spike in this trend, I’ve seen drastic spikes in foot, leg, and back discomfort that can be directly related to walking on hardwood floors. While it may be in fashion, it’s anything but fashionable for your body.” Taking on the hardwood floor industry as an orthotics maker – who would’ve thought? I LOVE IT!
3) You need to tell people about your product / service, how it’s different (maybe you refuse to have sales), and you need to do it NOW! Don’t try and be perfect with your message or your offer. Just start doing something (more on that here).
4) Repetition Repetition Repetition. Once you hit someone with your message / product / service you need to do it over, and over, and over again. This is how the brain remembers. Teachers or professors follow this rule while in the classroom. They tell you what they’re going to teach you, teach you it, then review what they’ve taught you. You need to do the same with your business. Repeat Repeat Repeat.
Jordan ‘The Guy with the Bow Tie’ Rycroft
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