I didn’t see many stores this year for Black Friday because I was in the trenches with a client as usual. My wife, however, was out and about enjoying the sales and battling the crowds looking for some fun gifts. One problem? Several stores she went to were closed. During normal business hours. On Black Friday! She said she saw several other cars pull in, check the door and leave as well. Of course, she reluctantly went to their competitors and spent her money with them as I’m sure the other people did as well. Money just walked out the door and no one was even around to know. If you are in retail, you are open Black Friday, it’s just the nature of the beast. I cannot imagine why a retail store would be closed during normal hours on Black Friday. Meanwhile here are some tips for the rest of you who were open to increase your sales over this holiday season.
Let’s get to the meat of it. How do you market without a budget? The simple answer is by spending time on your marketing. The less money you spend the more time you will have to spend on getting your message out there. Content Marketing is a great method for establishing your brand voice, gaining credibility and getting your message out to your target audience. Of all the methods in the Infographic below, I am partial to Networking. It has done the most for my business in terms of time spent to dollars earned. Of course, each industry is different but I am of the opinion you can’t go wrong with networking as you explore the methods that work best for you.
While it takes time to set up your market research question and prepare your research correctly it doesn’t have to be hard to set up the research itself. Some research is accomplished by using available data. As long as it fits your research question there is no reason to dismiss information that is already out there. Surveying customers is also relatively simple as long as the questions are set up correctly (a discussion for another day). We will go over these methods of gathering information and hopefully this infographic will get you thinking about what information you might need to answer your research problem.
You spent money and time to create new content but what good does it do you if no one sees it? Your social media is a great way to make sure customers see your hard work. You can also use a longer blog post or whitepaper multiple times by repurposing the content. A video, several quote blocks, an infographic, and a summary post is how one blog post becomes 5 different social media posts. Make sure your hard work is seen by your customers with links to the content.
Posting random information and quotes relevant to your industry can create customer engagement. Trivia is a big motivator for people to follow your social media if you keep it relevant to their interests. It keeps the content fresh and interesting to your followers. Some social media followers don’t care as much if the information is specific to your industry but it is up to you to figure out what your customers want.
I have never liked New Years Resolutions, mostly because of the negative baggage attached to them. I was told as I grew up the only purpose of a New Years Resolution was to see how long it took to break it so from an early age I made goals. Sometimes I achieved my goal, sometimes I didn’t but since I could keep going towards my stated goal I hadn’t broken a promise, it just took longer than a year to accomplish it. The last couple of Years I had heard Dr. Larry Hass talking about what he does for the new year and it seemed very affirmational and useful so I have adopted it to my practice of goal reviewing each year. Mind you I set goals all the time but the first of the years seems as good a place as any for a goal review. Here are the 3 questions Dr. Hass writes down.
- What are my Achievements from last year?
- What Commitments Should I make for this Year?
- What are my Goals for this year?
Make sure to write down your answers because an unwritten goal is just a wish. Make sure to use the S.M.A.R.T. method when writing your goals to make sure they are good ones. That is to make sure your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. Make sure to send me a note or give me a call if you need help with your business goals this year.
The numbers look grim if you are an online retailer. Around 30% of the products retailers ship out will come back as returns. The downside is that 65% of those returns were the retailers’ fault resulting in money they didn’t have to spend and decreasing the bottom line. A good return policy is crucial in the ultra-competitive online world so examine yours carefully. There are other things you can be doing to prevent returns and save yourself headaches and money. Let’s look at the statistics and what they mean to you.
23% of returns are because the wrong item was shipped out. This is an amateur league mistake that even the pros seem to be making. It’s simple, have a redundant system of double check to make sure the right item is shipped every time. A few more minutes to make sure the item is the right one or hours of headaches dealing with an irate customer and refunds or more shipping charges. The choice is clear, get it right every time.
22% of returns are because the product looks different. Not 100% fixable but mostly avoidable. Make sure your product is shot in multiple angles and in different light settings. A video will also help with hands or other objects to give a sense of scale.
20% of returns are due to damage. Sure you can have insurance on the product and send the customer a new one, but is that excellent customer service? Not all damage can be avoided but taking extra precautions and making sure the product arrives intact will pay for itself in happy customers. “The box was damaged but the item was fine” = WIN!
92% of customers will buy again if the returns are easy. So you messed up and sent the wrong thing, but the right one was shipped quick and the customer is happy. You will still likely get more business from them in the future. Customers understand mix-ups, your or theirs, and will forgive retailers who make it right without a ton of hassle.
There you have it, some stats to help guide your policies and give you something to think about.