By Cathy Donovan Wagner
So here you are in the middle of the biggest season of the year. Your store is full of beautiful inventory that you have spent so much time carefully choosing and editing for your customers, so where are they? Why does this always happen?
The reason is simple. You haven’t marketed consistently. What happens to many retailers is that they get caught up in what has to be done every day to run their stores, juggling inventory, staffing and more!
Finally everything is in place and then the well runs dry. Retailers find themselves digging their well when they’re thirsty. They start frantically throwing together ads and emails and postcards and events to try to get people in through that front door. Often, it is too little, too late.
Then, it’s time for the next trade show and they are off to New York to buy for the next season. All the new inventory comes in and they work like mad to get it all out and merchandised beautifully and then once again the well is dry and there aren’t enough customers. They have to start marketing like crazy again. It becomes a viscous cycle of Feast or Famine. How can you get off of this rollercoaster?
You can eliminate “Feast or Famine” by being systematic about your marketing and putting it on autopilot. There is only one way to make sure that you have a steady consistent stream of customers. You must have a steady consistent stream of marketing. The best way to do that is to make all the pieces of your marketing run on a system, like a well-oiled machine that doesn’t need you to be there the whole time, just once in a while to make sure everything’s running smoothly.
Having a system that handles ALL of the pieces of your marketing is the key to increased profits and more fun. And the beauty of a system is that – it’s done for you. I worked to create systems for every part my stores. I remember a store meeting when an employee said to me, “I wish I was as put together as you are, Cathy.” The reality is that I wasn’t always a very disciplined person by nature. In order for me to counteract it and to increase my profits and sales, I worked to make sure that there were systems for as many processes as possible.
For retailing, I identified specific marketing activities that must be done morning and afternoon, daily, weekly and monthly. In addition there are specific messages that have to go out at precise times in your seasonal cycle. Many of these things are so systematized that once you have done them, they can be automated and delegated. You will only have to do them once! Also, many marketing activities can be done without you needing to do anything. You can set these things up ahead of time and then all you have to do is to update the information based on the season. You don’t ever have to worry about what you have to do next. It’s already in your calendar.
When you set your marketing up to be systematic, you can get off the rollercoaster named “I Don’t Have A Plan and I Wish I Did.” I have seen so many retailers on that ride and it doesn’t have to be you. Now you will be on track with a consistent marketing plan. Then it is easy to take action and get more sales and profits consistently.
Set up systems for everything in your business that relates to marketing and sales. Go out a buy a big calendar and follow these three steps:
- Mark the trade shows that you regularly attend
- Identify the start, midpoint and end of your season
- Figure out what you will do daily, weekly, biweekly, monthly, and at the specific points in your selling season
You too can go from not having a plan and not having enough customers, to having a solid plan that brings in customers – and sales! – consistently.