Now that the holiday season is coming to a close, it’s time to reflect, refresh, and refocus your efforts. So take a deep breath, grab a cup of tea, and find a comfortable place to relax—a brand new year is about to begin. Here is an annual checklist to get you started.
1. Write or revisit your mission statement.
A mission statement should be short and to the point—the 30-second description you give when someone asks about your business. It could be as simple as, “To offer our customers a place to find unique eco-friendly items that enhance their health, their lives, and their surroundings.” The mission statement gives you and your staff a focus, and it gives your customers an identity for your business.
2. Identify your store’s strengths.
What do you have or do that’s different, better, or special? Do you have a prime location, interesting product mix, various services, or exceptional staff? Play up these strengths when promoting your business.
3. Identify your store’s weaknesses.
Not enough parking? No storage space? Poorly designed ads? No money for a website update? By identifying what hinders your success, you’ll have a focus for improvement.
4. Describe your competition.
Who are they? Where are they? What can they do that you can’t? Where are they weak? How can you differentiate yourself from them in your advertising?
5. Identify your target customers.
Include age, gender, income bracket, where they live, and all other information that helps you identify who it is you are trying to attract to your business.
6. Set sales goals.
Be specific about sales goals: “We want to increase our candle sales by 10 percent this year,” or “We want to use our artist showcase event to bring in an extra 25 percent next month.”
7. Define your brand.
After you identify what is unique and interesting about your company, make sure your logo, type, graphics, and copy reflect the concept. Position yourself in a niche that is different from other stores and, especially, the mass merchandisers.
8. Develop a marketing budget.
Allocate a percentage (usually 2-5 percent) of gross sales to your marketing efforts. Even if times are slow, don’t cut the marketing budget to save money, just get creative with what you have. Anything you purchase for marketing purposes goes into this budget—advertising, event invitations, newsletters, everything you buy to promote your store.
A budget will help you focus on which form of advertising is best for your business, since you obviously can’t afford to do everything. When salespeople call, you won’t be swayed by their sales techniques, but by what’s in your marketing plan and budget.
9. Select the best vehicles for your message.
Where are you getting the most bang for your marketing buck? Is it online, radio, press releases, newspaper, TV, newsletters, or Facebook ads? You need consistency and repetition to get your message across, which is why advertising in a variety of media is so important. Learn about social media and the many Internet options it offers. Choose the area that will reach the customers you want to target.
10. Create a marketing calendar.
When will you send out newsletters? How often and to whom will you send a press release? When will you buy ads for the 2013 holiday season? Schedule your entire year in advance, so nothing is forgotten. And there’s nothing that says you can’t create your holiday campaign ahead of time, so you’re not fussing over details during your busiest season. Update this calendar throughout the year, as you reevaluate the marketing efforts that are working best for your business.
First published in Vol. 26 No. 7 of Retailing Insight. © 2012 Continuity Publishing Inc. All rights reserved.