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5 ways to stay ahead of your competition & an Announcement

Posted on March 06 2015

Before kick starting the Biz Column on this beautiful sunny spring afternoon I wanted to give you a little heads up on an announcement that we are making next week. It’s something that I’ve been asked about a lot –consultancy that is. So I’m delighted to announce we will be opening our studio doors to provide a Business Consultancy Programme for anyone whose business needs some help, or for anyone thinking of starting a retail business up. We can advise across all retail disciplines including buying, strategy, design, logo’s marketing, rescue, finance to name but a few. Designed in two packages (5K & 10K) the packages are not cheap but then you will be getting access to my highly talented team and me delivering results just like we have done with my business, reaching beyond your expectations. Exciting hey.

Although we will have to limit the number of businesses we can assist we are all extremely excited about offering up a partnership that helps and elevates small businesses, no matter where you are based in the world. More details on that next week.

For now lets get down to regular biz and the question of the day – How can you stay ahead of your competition? No matter if consumer spending is slowing down or speeding up, defining your market position will help give you a completive edge. Staying ahead of your rivals is key – here’s how to do it!

Who is your competition?

Make lists. What are your competitors offering, what is their unique selling point? Drill into it, as this will help you identify their strong areas. The key however is not simply to copy, says someone who has been copied a lot! It’s rare for consumers to jump ship to your brand if you’re not offering up anything different, especially if you’re a newbie and you haven’t got the finances to execute it as well as your competitors. The point of this exercise is to use this as a platform for differentiating yourself.

Take my brand as an example we painted the store dark, started selling unusual pieces as well as faux’s and its gotten us noticed. The strangest thing was we never planned for that to happen (of course we wanted to get noticed) but we never thought that was the route in, it happened organically! Quickly I learnt the route in is to have a point of difference. There is a sea of homeware stores out there online and otherwise all looking the same. If you want market share you’ve got to carve out a niche and point of differentiation otherwise you will be struggling forever!

Differentiate

I want to drill into this a little more. The reason I keep banging on about differentiating is that you’ve got to give customers a good reason to come to you rather than a rival. Customers have so much choice these days so you need to spend a lot of time, energy and effort making them want to spend with you.Try and not be too generic, we can all buy a cream teardrop vase from anywhere no point stocking the generics. Spend time and effort stocking stuff that stands out. I go to a lot of trade shows and the number of suppliers selling the same thing astonishes me – glass fish bowl vase check, Scandi tableware check. I mean it’s all the same. Spend time researching, utilise the web and research, research, research.

The reason my business has done so well is because we’ve bucked trends by standing out. Again is was never intentional I only buy and design what I love and what I want in my own home and it turns out a lot of other people want that also. Don’t be scared to differentiate– it’s survival of the fittest out there and to make a difference in retail you have to think differently!

Target new markets

With online retailing anyone can set up shop, they are no geographical borders so to speak so you can sell to anyone in the world, we do, and that world is your oyster. Look at your stats where is audience based outside your home country? Our biggest markets outside the UK are America and Australia we send a lot regularly to both those territories. If you are starting from scratch identify territories that you want to start selling in, both the Australian’s and Americans are passionate about interiors so it’s likely they are good places to start.

Send press releases to magazines in those countries, to blogs, follow blogs in those countries, comment, start creating a community. Think big not small!

Up your marketing game

You should never rest of your laurels when it comes to marketing. You need to tell more people who you are, what you sell and how fabulous your products are. You should have monthly newsletters, mail blasts, encourage people to sign up to your mailing list by offering discounts or free delivery, set up VIP clubs, go out of your way of attracting new customers. Up you’re game as they say.

The future is key

I seem to say this in almost every biz post but you need to plan for growth. No plans no growth simple as that.

None of us know what is ahead but have a road map. We have some amazing plans here at AAHQ, which as much as I would love to share I don’t want to give the copiers a heads-up. Bottom line you’ve got to actively pursue growth. So I’ll work on the day-to-day stuff, the shorter term leads and the longer term stuff all in one week. It’s a juggling act but having a road map and crossing things off feels so liberating. To summarise then this exercise never really ends you should always have a road map, you’re always going to have competitors, rivals and copiers its part of business life. I can’t remember who said this but I love this analogy of staying ahead of the game ‘ think of it as more of a rinse-lather-repeat’ strategy than a ‘set it forget it’ solution. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Bottom line you’ll always have to be on your toes but if you love what you do like I do, you’ll never have to work a day in your life!

Have a lovely weekend, if you follow me on Instagram you know exactly what I’m up to on this one!

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