Summer may be a cold time for sales but it can be a very hot time to cultivate ideas and turn them into future profits. I have spoken to thousands of invitation retailers with Encore, designing web sites, marketing and consulting. These are the 10 ways you can till the soil of your business and bear more and more fruit in coming months.
If you are not proactive about getting your satisfied customers to review you on sites like Google, Yahoo, Wedding Wire and The Knot you will lose business to your competitors needlessly. If you have more positive reviews than your competitors on a list that a bride may be scrolling through, that can be the number one reason that can inspire her to click on yours.
If you are a local retailer in New Jersey you do not need to be found in California or even all of New Jersey. You need to define the geographic radius that you attract the vast majority of your customers from and there is no better opportunity to generate business from advertising exposure than being contacted customers searching online using search terms that like unique wedding invitations or including the name of a brand you carry and your business coming up prominently in the search results a credible business with good geographic proximity.
It is no longer enough to have a nice website. Most invitation businesses do not have a website that matches their intended perception of their image. Now your site has to read well on a tablet and convert to a mobile site when being looked at a by a Smartphone.
Social media with positive perception
For the average retailer, relative to other important ways to grow their business, blogging and social media is more about perception rather than obsession. Most invitation businesses have 100 – 500 Facebook likes or friends. Minted has 49,000. Wedding Paper Divas has 240,000. Crane “only” has 11,000. They have an audience that makes it worthwhile to blog and post daily. When you have a few hundred likes you are posting for perception so when a new visitor comes to your Facebook page or blog they are impressed with it and may be inspired to contact you. The main thing is you have a recent, quality post anytime someone is looking. But give your quality post a chanced to be viewed. Why have them buried by new posts before a number of people get to see them?
Here is one example of misunderstanding profitability:
If you do a $2000 invitation order at the full retail price it is more profitable as doing two $2000 invitations orders at a 25% discount. It is the same gross profit based on a 50% dealer discount off the retail price but you are spending twice the time for the same amount of money. And we all know how labor intensive a custom $2000 order can be.
The electronic age has not made networking obsolete. Invitations are still one of the later rungs on the planning ladder and your business can be the beneficiary of many referrals if you network effectively.
Any invitation business that it not focused on add-on sales is losing clean profits. There are many options for other personalized products and rentals that require no inventory, can be added to the order in minutes and actually enhances the importance of your business as a one-stop resource.
With discounting at all time highs, supplier selection is something that a retailer needs to be extremely mindful of. And sometimes it is more profitable to pay significantly for an album that is exclusive, not sold online and is mandated by the supplier to be sold at the full retail price than to receive an album free from a supplier that is saturated in the marketplace, discounted all over the place and sold all over the web.
As genuine as the promise your satisfied customer makes to recommend you to all her friends, she normally doesn’t. The only thing you can do is to inspire her to remember you. Keep in touch with your former clients; offer an incentive to refer you. Stay on their radar screen.
Order efficiency and Time Management
Many stationery retailers I know are very anal about giving up responsibility. They know no one sells, places and follows up on orders as well as they do. Even if that is true, for optimal profitability and efficiency owners need to determine what they do best and delegate the rest.
What I can to do help
This summer I am going to work with select retailers and consult with them to turn these ideas into reality. If you are interested let’s start off with a web conference where we can discuss your current business, its challenges, solutions and what I can do to help. The cost for the web conference is $300.