I’m saddened that another of my local shops has ceased trading this week. There are now seven empty shop units in what was, until very recently, a thriving local shopping centre.
The reasons for the closures are varied and complex. Several were branches of nationwide chains that have gone under or rationalised, some have suffered from unrealistic rent increases, the weak pound has had an impact on some businesses that relied on European imports and changes in the local demographic have also had an impact. They have all suffered because we are all spending less as a result of the recession.
However I do feel that several of the businesses have gone with a whimper rather than a fight. The one which closed this week, a delicatessen, said that it just didn’t have enough customers but I have never seen any real marketing from that business. Despite the recession it continued with the offer it always had so the shop window was full of beautiful but expensive cakes, pies etc. I knew what would be in the window because it was always the same! The shop did nothing to attract new customers.
It has been said that any fool can run a business in boom times but that you have to be cleverer when times are hard. I don’t want to accuse my local traders of being fools, they were not, but I do think there were things they could have done to fight harder to keep afloat. None of them used the power of the web. They didn’t have sustained marketing programmes. Most didn’t adapt their offer in changed circumstances.
Marketing doesn’t have to be hugely costly in either time or money. Email newsletters, Twitter and blogs all cost little and can be highly targeted. For local businesses a well constructed flier dropped to local residents doesn’t have to cost a fortune and can be reasonably effective. Shop keepers have to maximise their shop windows and point of sale opportunities. We all have to talk to our customers and encourage them to by our advocates in introducing new business.
Whether your business is in trouble or not take a fresh look at what you do and how you do it. Ask yourself if there are things you should be doing or changing. Ask your customers what you could do better or differently. Take inspiration from what other people are doing. Deal with the threats but seek the opportunities.
We’d love to hear what you are doing to survive the recession, please click the comment button. If you need a sounding board to help you develop your ideas or need a fresh perspective on your business drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or call Glenda on 020 8991 2767 (9.00-9.00 UK time please) an initial consultation is free and without obligation.
Good luck with your business. Glenda