The Single Biggest Mistake You Can Make

I used to go to seminars about retail advertising and when they would start talking about target markets my eyes would glaze over.  “I sell kid’s clothes and gifts.  Everyone knows a kid.  Therefore, everyone is my customer,” I would think.  In one way that is true.  But obviously at some level, I knew that not EVERYONE that knew a child was my customer.   In an effort to reach as many customers as possible I would send out advertising and marketing messages in a broad way.  What a waste.

It was the single biggest mistake I ever made.  I wasted so much money, time and effort sending out messages to people who could have cared less.  Really.  Thousands of dollars wasted and hundreds of hours spent creating ads when I could have been spending that time (and money!) with my family.  Completely wasted.

It is imperative to determine what your message is.  Refer to my example of the differing fall colors of leaves of the same trees.  What are the exact colors of your leaves and how are you different from the other tree that looks like you?  THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.  Make no mistake about this.  You are different from other stores that sell the same type of inventory and carry the same vendors.  What is your message?

Look at 2 toy stores.  Both sell toys from the same vendors.  But upon closer inspection, differences become clear.  One sells cloth diapers, Japanese alphabet blocks and books about creating family traditions.  That toy store’s message is much more about ‘raising up the whole child’ than just selling toys.  The other store stocks significantly more games and puzzles and focuses on game nights.  Their message is about ‘creating events that make memories’.  These two differing messages should be articulated in their own way.  Also, the owners will find their ideal customers in slightly different places.

One women’s clothing store is about the newest and hottest trends while the other takes those trends and edits them for their more conservative customer.  The way these two stores buy and their social media messages are very different.

One kid’s clothing store is about European fashion and the other is a neighborhood store.  The neighborhood store will likely carry some European lines, but they will carry different accessories and gifts for sure.  The neighborhood store will list local happenings – that wouldn’t be a focus in the other store at all.  Nor should it be.  The European store customer has different interests while in that store.   While they are in that store, they want to be surrounded by all things European and don’t want to know about a local fundraiser event.  In fact it would likely distract them.  While a customer is in your store, you want to be sure that EVERYTHING tells your message.

Once you define your message clearly, it becomes so powerful.  It becomes much easier to see who your ideal customers are.  Then, it becomes simple to look for them.  My clients have found that the more clear they are about their message and how they are different from other stores, the more that their ideal customers find them.

And that results in more sales and more profits!

 © 2011 Cathy Donovan Wagner, RETAIL Mavens