The Struggle on Main Street
The term small business can be used to describe a wide range of businesses you see today, but within this range lay the unique yet often neglected Main Street retail stores. You pass them everyday as you stroll around town or on your way to and from work, and they have likely been there as long as you can remember. In speaking with these business owners I hear repeated the need for guidance and reassurance that things are going to get better for them. The hard truth is that we are still living in a very unstable economy and there is little that can be said to diminish the stresses and fears that are felt wide-spread.
Some experts say that in lean times it is especially important to continue, even bolster, advertising. In theory this sounds like a good idea but where does the money come from? How much new inventory should you buy when you have not yet sold the stock you have? How can you even think about having a sale or offering discounts when you are struggling to pay rent and utilities? Advice and opinions abound but some tid-bits seem to hold a bit more water than the rest.
One such bit of advice is to Embrace a Niche. Perhaps before, your store had a bit of this and a bit of that. However, focusing your efforts on a few unique products or services can help redefine your business. I think of this as the “phoenix rising from the ashes” approach. Shake off what is no longer working, and the excess that may be dragging you down, and rise anew!
This next one you’ve heard before but to pooh-pooh it is a big mistake; Social Networking. The next generation of customers expect it and if you want to market to them at all you need to get on board. The best part about this is that much of the resources out there – Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and the like – are free. This is FREE ADVERTISING AND MARKETING, PEOPLE. Use it.
Third, I think it’s important to start putting some work into Rebuilding your Clientele Base. In the past, it is possible that you had a solid group of customers that were loyal to you. Today, customers will go where the deal is and although they may like you, you’ll have to excuse them for being a bit short-sighted given that they, too, are tightening their belts. This can dovetail nicely with your new social media marketing strategy; become friends with your customers, give them shout outs on-line. Staying present in their minds and on their screens simply cannot hurt.
Lastly, Reach Out to Resources. It’s hard to ask for help but in many cases a good idea or a helping hand may be just a phone call away. As insurance and risk management advisors, we have many tools at our finger tips that can help businesses avoid risk and reduce the possibility of loss – if fewer losses and a safer workplace doesn’t save you money in the long run, I don’t know what does!
Whether it's insurance, compliance advice or talking about your business struggles and successes over a cup of coffee - I want to be there to help your business be ready for anything. Reach out to me by phone at 877-352-2121 or email at email@example.com to discuss ways in which I can help your business sustain itself through these tough economic times.