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Driving Foot Traffic: Woolworth’s Style December 14, 2012

Posted by David Dirks in Driving Store Traffic, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Solving Business Problems, Strategy.
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David Dirks

David Dirks

It took the latest issue of Businessweek to remind of that oftentimes what is new is old.  Case in point: the Woolworth’s food counter.  Remember (for those of you who are old enough to) the days when you local Woolworth’s store had a lunch counter where great, cheap hamburgers, fries and a great milkshake where just across from those square product bins that checkered the store?  Woolworth’s was a pioneer in creating a way to drive foot traffic with something that had nothing directly connected to the products they sold.  By having a soda fountain style lunch counter, there sales per square foot where for a long time better than average.

The lunch counter couldn’t save Woolworth’s from going out of business after decades of success but the idea of driving traffic by providing food lives on.  Nordstrom operates about 200 restaurants of one kind or another, including coffee bars.  Barnes & Noble developed its coffee bar concept to drive traffic and create a reason for people to hang around the store longer.  You’ll also notice that the coffee bar is a place where people meet to socialize.  They know what Woolworth’s long understood: The longer they stay, the more chance they will buy.

So am I suggesting that brick & mortar store owner rig up the BBQ and serve up some burgers?  Not exactly.  What I am suggesting is that in the battle of driving foot traffic it might be that food or drink (coffee bar?) might just do the trick.  As I always say, there is no magic bullet for creating foot traffic – only hard work and great execution wins the day.

What can you do to create ways for people to want to come to your store and stay a bit longer?  Think about it.

Your Own Web-based Radio Show July 28, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Local Brand Development, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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David DirksIf you follow this blog, you know that I’m a big fan of leveraging web-based resources like blogs, podcasts, vodcasts, and social/business networks (like Linkedin and Facebook).  I also want to introduce your business to web-based radio.

Imagine if you will, that you could host your own daily or weekly radio show and do it LIVE each time?  You can even do it for free.  If you understand that one of the keys to business growth and success is to continually find ways to give your business a ‘voice’ that allow you to find new customers (and add-value to those that are already your customers), then radio webcasting is for you.

BlogTalkRadio.com is a great example of this kind of service.  Within about 10 minutes, you can start hosting your own radio show on the web in live format.  Sharing your expertise and that of others in a weekly show is in addition to using a blog and your website to do the same.

Another great thing is that you don’t need any special equipment.  You can conduct your show from the comfort of your own computer.  All you need is high-speed access to the web from any location of your choosing.  Talk about portability!

The BlogTalkRadio format is also easy to set up and use.  It also has a revenue sharing component that allows you to split the revenues from ads placed on your radio site with BlogTalkRadio (you need an active PayPayl account to do so).

Like anything else, if you decided to host your own show, remember these things:

1.  Promote, promote, promote.  It will do you little good to host a show and then not promote it well.  Let everyone you know spread the word about your show.

2.  Keep to a regular schedule of shows.  It will serve you well if you pick a day & time to broadcast your show.

3.  Spend a little time planning your show.  Pick a topic within your business realm that is newsworthy, valuable, timely, and interesting to potential listeners.  You don’t have to sound like a professional broadcaster but it helps to sound like you spend more than a minute on planning your show format.

4.  Keep it short.  A 30 to 60 minute show is a fine.  Anything longer is a bore.  Remember, most people have the attention span of a gnat these days.

5.  Promote yourself on the show.  While your show shouldn’t sound like an infomercial, you should carefully plan to promote your business.  Have a blog?  Website?  Podcast?  Special event?  Promote it…it’s your show!

Radio webcasting in a live format is just another excellent way to differentiate your business from your competitors.  Like Nike says, just do it.

Promotion 101: Educate Your Customers March 18, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Marketing Buzz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies.
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David DirksI always like to review my local paper to see how businesses are handling their display advertising.  I almost all cases, most ads are of the plain vanilla type that your eyes just gloss over.  However, there was one ad that caught my attention.  It caught my attention because it was offering to do something more than sell me something.

What was this ad?  It was from a local paint store called Gervic Paints (www.gervicpaints.com).  They were promoting a seminar called “2009 Colors for Your Home”.   They were promoting something other than the ‘sale of the week’.  They offered door prizes and refreshments.  I later found out that my wife and one of her friends had already signed up for this event.

I’m willing to bet that there will be many interested customers (and potential customers) there and many will walk away with some great insights and ideas for painting their homes.  That’s the idea.  We’ve been telling this story in this blog for a while now.  Sell your expertise in a way that is meaningful and valuable and people will buy your product.

It’s refreshing to see a local business actually promoting itself by promoting it’s expertise.

CNNMoney on Innovation: Too Simplistic February 27, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Retailer Store Strategies.
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David DirksThe headline on this CNNMoney posting dated February 26th, 2009 read, “On sale: Your brillant invention”.  The gist of this article is that some businesses, particularly retailers and some manufacturers, are scrambling to find the next ‘great product’ or invention that will help them manage their way through slow retail sales and worsening economy.  It suggests that businesses should be ‘mining the masses for fresh ideas’.  It also suggests  that you ask you customers for their ideas, which is always a good start.

But do you know what I call this?  I call it ‘drive-by-innovation’ as in ‘drive-by-shooting’.  While I applaud the note that businesses should be creating ways to innovate on services and products they provide their customers, it leaves the reader thinking it’s easy.  It isn’t easy.  And asking your customers might make sense on one level, you miss another level entirely.

I’ve been studying innovation and the Big Dogz who do it well, both large and small, for many years now.  I can assure you that truly innovative businesses have something the others don’t: a deep and binding organizational comittment to innovation.  From top to bottom and bottom to top, innovative companies have integrated the basis for innovation deep into the culture and roots of their organization.

To think that you can haul in some customers, get some ‘ideas’, and create something someone will want to pay for is woefully too simplistic!  Yes, talking to your customers is a good place to start but only a small piece of a larger innovation pie.

The long shot here is that you’ll actually find an idea that makes sense to develop.  The next long shot is figuring out how to go from idea to actual product or service.  If innovation was as easy as asking your customers for ideas, everyone would do it, right?  Please, my head hurts from thinking about this simplistic mindset.

Surely we encourage businesses of all sizes to innovate.  A truly innovative business has the capability of generating a consistent stream of product and service innovations on a regular basis.  It has the ability to bring them to market and make a profit.

Doing anything less will leave your business and your customers wondering what went wrong.

Beating A Recession – 12: Blow Up the Brick & Mortar! February 23, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in business strategy, e-Small Business Resources, Increasing Your Profitability, Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David DirksWant to save a significant amount of annual expense and increase your profitability…and lower your cost of goods and services so you can remain competitive?  Sure you do.  However, many of us are still married to the concept of having a retail or service space to conduct business. I’m challenging that right here and now.

First, instead of investing dollars in ‘brick and mortar’ retail or service space, invest heavily in transferring your ‘place of business assets’ to your website and create an intranet that allows your employees to work remotely.

The growing trend is for businesses to move their infrastructure investments into creating a better user experience on the web and being able to conduct their business via the web.  Invest and make your website so customer-friendly and seamless to use (navigation and purchase-orientations) that you no longer relay on a ‘physical’ presence in order to be able to conduct business.

Case in point.  I have a friend of mine who recently decided to close down her retail shop that sold hiking and camping equipment.  It wasn’t too long ago that she had expanded her ‘brick and mortar’ presence to increase her retail space.  Then the economy took a hit and gas prices jumped.  She then decided to close the retail business.  However, she didn’t give up.  She had maintained that retail space for over 10 years and had built up relationships with her customers, who were both local and national.  She already had a pretty good website that contained excellent information of value to her customer base.  On top of that, she and her husband have a gigantic amount of expertise (intellectual capital) built up based on years of experience in the outdoors.  Why waste those assets just because the retail space was bleeding the business?

So she decided to invest time into expanding their website so that customers were still able to come and tap into their expertise and knowledge but also make purchases on the web. She is in the process of transforming her business onto the web and creating a customer experience that made them popular for many years.  Note: She’s still refining the website to her satisfaction so I promised her that I wouldn’t reveal it.  Once she is operational, you’ll hear about it via this blog.

Before you say, “So what? Isn’t everybody doing that?”…the answer is no, few local business invest in creating a robust and powerful web vehicle to sell their expertise and products.

Sure, most businesses have a website (and there are a bunch that still don’t!) but the website was usually built as cheaply as possible.  Some are just awful and look like they were pasted on construction paper then slapped on the web (I wouldn’t bother then).

Here are a few things I want you to consider, even though it might creep you out to think of operating your business from your website:

1.  Can I sell what I’m selling now without having to carry the burden of a retail or office space? The common reaction is, “what?  and have no place for my customers to touch and feel the product?”.  Yup…that’s exactly right.

Let’s say you own a health food store.  Banishing the ‘brick and mortar’ seems like a trick, right?  I’m mean, customers are used to coming in and asking you what you recommend for this or that issue that affects them, right?  People like the personal service and the expertise you might have in the area of health foods and herbs that are designed to help with an ailment of some kind.

What if you could create that same personalized experience on your website?  What if you had the ability for people to ask you the same questions in realtime…both online and the phone?  You could ‘chat’ with them and make a few product recommendations.  Then they can purchase your goods either right from your easy to use and super secure website or via phone order.

2. Let’s take a shot at a service based business. No products but selling services.  Let’s say you are a CPA and have a few partners with some additional specialty accountants on the staff.  Most firms of this description would rather jump in front of a moving bus before giving up the office space.  What are they spending on space?  $3,000…$5,000 a month? Whatever it is, it’s a pretty hefty sum and doesn’t include the utility bills, liability insurance, etc.  that tack on additional expense.

Who said you have to carry expensive office space?  You do.  However, I’ll bet most of your business is conducted by phone and you probably meet them at their place of business for the face-to-face meetings that are needed (and sometimes necessary).  But what if you invested instead on the infrastructure that allowed your partners and other expert staff to work from the comfort of their own homes?  Shocking, huh?  I understand that nervous twitch you just got from the thought but I have to tell you that this kind of transfer of ‘conduct of business’ is already underway.

Listen folks, the technology is already here that allows you to work remotely and securely from any location that has access to high-speed internet.

What I’m suggesting here is that you close down your offices and work from a distributive environment.  Need to house files?  Sure.  You could still maintain some dramatically limited office space if you need to house phyisical files?  But what if you optically scanned those docs and made them available on a securely-accessed site, so you peeps could still work?  Yes you can.

I’m hard pressed to find too many businesses that couldn’t make this change from ‘brick and mortar’ retail or office space to a web-based, distributive work environment.

Let’s take a quick look at just a few of the key advantage:

1.  Dramatically reduced expenses (after an initial investment for upgrading your distributive work environment and your website experience) means you have more capital to work.  Freeing up cashflow is critical in any economy, let alone this one we’re in now.

2.  Lower operating expenses means you can re-direct those funds to build up cash reserves, lower you cost of goods/services, hire more people, and expand your product/service offerings without worrying about the cost of doing these same expansions with the limitations of the usual retail or office space.  Note: unless you can arrange drop shipping directly from the manufacturer or distributor of your products, you will of course need to access some physical storage space for warehousing and distribution of product to customers.  Usually that kind of space requirement is far less expensive to maintain than a premium retail space.

3.  No geographic limitations anymore.  Wow.  This is my favorite one of all.  The infrastructure investments you make to create a website that is customer-centric, user-friendly and seamlessly allows people to buy from you means you can do business any where in the world.  Think of that kind of website married to a distributive work environment takes the shackles off your ‘local’ business.  You’re not local anymore.

4.  You can now take the infrastructure savings of reduced or eliminated reliance on ‘brick and mortar’ and apply that to a powerful and robust marketing budget to expand both your ‘local’ and web-wide ability to sell products and services.

Take a white sheet paper out and begin thinking through how you could design a way to conduct business without the ‘brick and mortar’.  Force yourself to think it through with the attitude of “How can I do this” versus “How many excuses for not doing it can I come up with?”.

In succeeding postings we’ll take a look at some businesses that have been doing just this…and doing it well.

Beating a Recession – 10 February 17, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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David DirksI’ve written quite a bit about the fact that now is the time to keep some marketing and promotional steam instead of slashing and burning your marketing budget.  This time I thought we’d take a stab at how to bring some discipline to a marketing spend.  I would never advocate spending valuable dollars willy-nilly on just whatever strikes our fancy.

Here are my thoughts on marketing spend:

In-store merchandising: For most retailers, this is worth spending some money on but only if you are committed to keeping it fresh.  Stale merchandising signage is a quick way to see your sales go stale too.  If you have foot-traffic, make sure your in-store merchandising catches the eye and helps to create a sale. Keep it fresh but don’t go crazy and think you have to change it everyday or every week. Change up your merchandising schematic to keep your store looking fresh and a bit different for customers.

Promotional Items: Depending upon your business, most promotional items, which includes everything from branded pens to elaborate tool-like items, are not worth the money you spend on them.  I recently read an article written by someone who owns a promotional items firm.  The title of the article was something about ‘getting an ROI from promotional items’ or words to that effect.  I read the article and was left empty.  The article could give you all kinds of reason for buying promo items for your business but not one way to measure the “ROI”.  You know why?  You can’t very well measure the ROI of promotional items.

Look, here’s the deal: people will decide to do business with you because you offer them something they want or need at a price they are willing to pay…not because you gave them a pen.  When was the last time you bought something and could even remotely connect your purchase to the premium your received?  That’s what I thought.

Instead of buying premiums to ‘promote’ your business or brand, how about investing that money in more advertising or targeted direct mail instead?

Trade-shows: Whether you continue to invest in trade shows is really dependent on two things:  1) the type of business your are in and 2) whether you are able to track the results.  Some businesses, especially business who sell products or services to other businesses, trade shows are very important.

Here are my rules on tradeshows:

1.  It has to be a well-attended, well-promoted tradeshow.  Well-attended as defined as both currrent and potential customers.  Only do the best tradeshows and leave the marginal ones to everyone else.

2. Have a booth that is a magnet for data.  Design your booth so that people will be interested to stop by.  I don’t care if you have a gimmicky game they can play to win a prize or what.  What you’d better do is collect name, email, phone numbers, etc. from everyone you meet.  It works like this: Want to play our great game or win the iPod Nano?  Then give me your information please.

Advertising:  If you’ve been advertising for some time, you should have a good record of which media (print, radio, local TV, etc.) are the most effective for you.  Cut out everything else that isn’t effective.  If you haven’t kept records on your advertising performance, I can’t help you.

Here are my rules for advertising:

1.  If you can’t maintain a reasonable amount of frequency, don’t bother.  If you think running 2 ads a month in your daily paper will help, you’re wrong.

2. Every ad is trackable (in print in particular).  Make sure you offer the customer something in it and they have to bring the ad into the store to get the offer.

3.  Focus on the benefits of doing business with you, not the features.  In my area, there is one indoor shooting range.  The seem to be doing things right buy maintaining a very good frequency in their advertising and sometimes taking premium (like front page) positions.  Good except that they missed the boat to a degree.  Outside of explaining how nice and big their range is, they are flat.  How about a special offer to first time customers?  Or a coupon for X% off on your first purchase?  Maybe a special intro class for those interested in the shooting sports?

4.  Avoid free circulation media.  Everybody seems to like the paper that offers those great ad sizes for almost nothing.  You know why it’s almost nothing?  Because they can’t guarantee anyone is reading the thing.  If a publication has free circulation, run away.  It’s a mass-market rag that is more expensive than it sounds.   Why?  Because the sound you hear in the background are the crickets, not sales.

There’s more to advertising than this but this is a good start.

Direct mail: Do you capture the name, email, and mailing addresses of every customer for every purchase?  No?  Why?  Takes too much time?  Most retailers and other businesses fail this test miserably.  If you want to keep your current customers, one of the best ways is to communicate with them frequently enough where they remember you.

Here’s a case in point.  I recently purhased some furniture at a local store near my home.  It happens to be the place where we have purchased almost everything we own from them over time.  Yes, we check everyone else out but we come back to this store and end up getting better quality at a better price.  We’ve spent literally thousands of dollars there over the years and you know what?  They don’t know us.  They know where we live and have our address but don’t do anything with it?  How about a quarterly newsletter that had tips and ideas on room decoration and furniture care?  Some smart-aleck will say:  they don’t need a newsletter if you’re already coming back to buy from them?  Sure, that’s me but what about the customer sales they lose because they weren’t ‘top of mind’ when it came to a purchase?

So, do this:

1. Capture your customer data at the point of sale.  Most businesses I know miss this one completely.

2. Send them something that keeps your  name in front of them with enough frequency to stick.  I like newsletters (mailed or emailed) but you could do well with a simple postcard with some special messaging sent out once every quarter.

3. Work with a good graphic designer who can help you design direct mail items that are professional looking.  Unless your are a graphic designer, don’t try to save a few bucks here.

4.  Make your direct mail efforts trackable.  If you can’t track it, don’t do it.

Retailing Winners: Deep Discounters and Used Re-Sellers January 23, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Building Foot Traffic, business strategy, Increasing Your Profitability, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Sales Tactics.
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David DirksWe should have seen this one coming.  While most of retailing struggles, there are those who are doing just fine, thank you.  I noted a recent cnbc.com report that told the story of Family Dollar Stores with quarterly profits jumping 14% in the 4th quarter of 2008.  Deep discount stores have for a long time been the butt end of business jokes but no more.  If every dog has its day, then this dog is having a good one.  Mind you, stores like Family Dollar and 99cent Power have always done well and only just increase their sales and profit tempo by several fold in tough times like this.

Gamestop is another interesting retailing story.  They sell both gaming hardware and software but with  a twist:  they also re-sell used gaming equipment and gaming software.  Just think of it.  When some people move up to the next system or change systems, they are often stuck with  a substantial inventory of gaming hardware and game cartridges.  However, they realized that there is a very vibrant and growing secondary market for this stuff.  So they buy it outright and re-sell it at good profit.  So far, the kids can’t get enough of this stuff and keep buying and selling.  Gamestop also offers a discount off of new games if you bring one in for trade.  Either way, they make a good profit.

You might be familiar with a franchise called “Play It Again Sports” that buys and then re-sells used sporting good equipment of all kinds.  What an idea!  Take the stuff that we who have kids seem to accumulate in droves, buy it on cheap (we just want to get rid of it not realize an ROI!), and re-sell it to folks who are smarter than we are (because they can buy sports equipment in excellent condition for a fraction of the cost we paid for it).  It’s a great play but especially in times like these where every dollar spent is measured carefully.

What can we learn from these retailers?  Here are a few questions I’d be asking myself:

  • What part of my business could take advantage of this concept of offering deeply discounted or re-selling high quality, slightly used products?  For example, if I owned a retail shop that sold hi-tech equipment (think like a Best Buy but on a smaller scale), I might seriously consider buying slightly used, ‘late-model’, high-quality equipment from folks who are looking to unload it for cash.

I’m not suggesting here that you sell junk.  Leave that to the yard sales to move.  Instead, you are creating another source of incremental sales revenue and profits by way of offering a less expensive alternative to ‘new’.  Don’t worry about selling the new product as there will always be those who will only buy new…however, in these times there are a lot less of them.

  • Don’t get hung up on the concept of selling slightly used products.  Don’t let your pride get in the way of your ability to DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR STORE.  This is about creating another level of differentiation that customers will value.
  • Set up a distinct area of your store or website that offers the re-sale product and promote the heck out of it.  Nine times out of ten if it doesn’t work, it’s because it wasn’t promoted  every way possible.  You can build it but if they don’t know about it, they won’t come.
  • You have to let folks know you are a buyer of product.  You have to market to the people who own the product you want to resell.  If you promote to sell product, you also have to do the same to buy it.
  • Buy low, sell high.  Establish an idea of what the used product goes for on the market given different levels or grades of quality.  Ebay is a great place to start.  Look there to see what used items in that category are going for.
  • Set high quality standards for the used products you buy.  The good news is that you don’t have to buy anything that you deem junk.  Set standards for quality (and safety) that anyone could use to measure whether a used product is worthy of you buying.

This concept of re-selling slightly used product or deeply discounted new product doesn’t fit every business model.  Remember, this is about giving customers and potential customers a reason to come to your store (or retail website).

Sales down? Invest in Your Sales Teams January 13, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in Grow your skills, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics.
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David DirksAnother knee-jerk reaction to slower sales and revenues: cutting back on sales training.  Cutting into the training investment  you make to enhance skills and intellectual capital of your primary weapon for sales revenue is business suicide.  When times are ‘good’ (yesterday), sales seem far easier to bring in than they are when times are ‘bad’ (today).  When the money is flowing in and the business is riding along, investment in things like sales training doesn’t make anyone bat an eye.  That all ends when things get tight.  Then it’s cut, cut, cut.

I’m not advocating sales training for the sake of just training.  You can spend a lot of money on sales training and get very little bang for your buck.  The key to sales training effectiveness isn’t how much you spend.  It’s more about what you focus your on and how consistently you do it. One-shot sales training is a losing proposition for you and your sales team.

When does your sales team need training the most?  Two answers: 1) they need it on a consistent basis with enough frequency to help keep them focused on skill building and keep them learning. 2) THEY ESPECIALLY NEED IT NOW MORE THAN EVER.  When the economy cycles down as dramatically as it has during the last few quarters, it can absolutely frustrate and drain the energy from the best of sales professionals.  You cannot let that happen.

What do sales professionals need right now?  They need an infusion of new ideas/tactics/strategies.  They crave some fresh thinking.  They desire sales leadership that will keep the ball moving and facilitate the kind of learning draws fresh life into the sales cycle.  You don’t do that by cutting back on time and resources dedicated to sales development.

Remember, right now they are worried about the economy, their jobs, their houses, paying for kids college, and the fall their 401k just took.  Do you think they just arrive at your business all fresh and ready to go?  In times like these sales teams can wear down before they even get started.  Then enter the crunch of falling behind on sales that used to come to fruition in a regular basis. Here are a few ways to insure you give your sales professionals the care they need to sustain themselves and win in the market place for your business.

  • Make sure you have a good inventory of the skill levels of each person on your sales team.  Match their skills against the sales cycle for your business and take measure of how well each person performs along each stage of the sales cycle.  The idea is to create a list of sales skills that are matched to your sales cycle and can be the focus of a weekly, bi-weekly, monthly training plan.
  • Focus your training efforts on sales strategies and tactics that solve current sales challenges.   Ask your sales team(s) where they are experiencing the most problems along the sales cycle.  Map the sales cycle out from raw lead to closed sale and make sure that time is spent on brainstorming ways to overcome any challenges in the sales cycle.
  • Hold people accountable for learning.  Some people are self-motivated and directed to learning.  Some just need a little leading and prodding to move along.  Others just sit there like a load of sand and contribute nothing to their own sales skills and intellectual capital.  Those folks need to go.  My bet is that those in that latter category are probably the bottom performers in your business.  Get rid of them.  Sales is a motivational business and you need people who are motivated to both sell and continually learn.

My definition of both sales and marketing success is when you can truly differentiate your business from your competition.  This is in the context of being framed in the mind of your customer and potential customer as a business that provides more than just products and services.  You can’t do that if you sales efforts are just as bad as the rest.  Making a consistent investment in your sales development efforts will differentiate you from your competition.  How do I know that?  Trust me.  I buy products and services all the time and it always amazes me at just how lousy most sales efforts are across the board in businesses both large and small.

And that my friend, is your opportunity.

Beating a Recession: Don’t Play on Price Alone! January 4, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in A New Webinar!, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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David DirksI recently saw an ad in my local paper from a tire dealer.  It was a good sized ad and it had one focus: price.  Price as in ‘here’s the old price (crossed-out) and now here’s the new low price’.  No doubt, this is a retailer whose sales have  gone down to some degree as this economy grinds to a near halt.  Competing on price is a typical knee-jerk reaction to slowing sales.  It’s also a good way to spend precious money on advertising that will NOT move the sales needle much at all, if any. Trust me, it won’t.  Advertising is a good thing and should be done in the face of a recession, despite the urge to cut those costs.  However, advertising spending that focuses only on price will only frustrate and cause a business owner to make the mistake of cutting out advertising at the point when they need it the most.

Competing on price, in any economy, is the kiss of death in my book.  Here’s why.  In a commodity business like the tire business, for example, you can get your tires from many places these days.  Cut your prices and I’ll find someone else who either can match it or come pretty dang close.  I firmly believe based on experience that the only way to win is to find ways to DIFFERENTIATE yourself from your competition.  Is price all you’ve got?  Is that it?  Yikes.  You’re in trouble because everybody can play that game.

Instead of competing on price alone, compete on services or create value added items that your competition doesn’t.  For this tire dealer, I’d recommend figuring ways to bundle additional services along with pricing to show the customer the value-added services that  come with that pricing.  What kind of ‘additional’ services?  How about:

  • Free tire check ups and rotation
  • Free car wash (make a deal with a local car wash and you’ll help both businesses)
  • Take an extra X% off your next tire purchase on top of advertised sales prices for returning customers only
  • Special customer discounts for automotive parts purchases at a local car part dealer (work a deal out with a local parts retailer and create special coupons just for your customers who purchase tires with you).
  • Free gas card for $xx dollars for each purchase?

You get the idea.  Bundle as many direct and indirect services as you possibly can and keep coming up with new ones and new combinations all the time (because some of your competitors will get the drift of this too and copy you).  Bundle. Bundle. Bundle.  Show them that they get more out of their purchase from you than just the idea of saving a couple of bucks.  Anybody can cut their prices and most do.  Do more.  Think outside the  knee-jerk reaction of depending on price cutting to solve your sales revenue problems.

Big Dogz Webinar Now Available!!  Want to learn more about how to beat a recession and keep your business moving forward on the sales and profitability fronts?  Check out the “Beat the Recession” page on this blog.  Sign up before January 23rd and save $50!  You can register at: http://www.regonline.com/CBP1250

Don’t miss out on this webinar…it’ll be the best low-cost investment you can make in your business!


Beating the Recession Webinar Now Available! January 2, 2009

Posted by David Dirks in A New Webinar!, business strategy, Buzz Marketing: Lowest Cost/Highest Payoff, Increasing Your Profitability, Innovation: Not Just for the Big Dogz, Public Relations Strategies, Recession: How to Beat It!, Retailer Store Strategies, Sales Strategy/Tactics, Small Business Advertising.
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David DirksYou’ve asked for it and now we’re offering it…

If there was one webinar that you could attend and spend a few bucks on, this is the one.  With business conditions as they are, you can either choose to ignore it or do something about it.  This 5-hour webinar is designed to help you impact those marketing and sales issues that you can control…and there’s a lot you can control!

We’ve designed this webinar to be jam-packed with actionable marketing and sales strategies that are designed to move your business forward and keep it moving in any economy!!

For registration information, go to:

www.regonline.com/CBP1250

Note:  There is a significant discount for those who sign up before 1/23/09…don’t miss out on that.

Dave