Deciding where to sell from
Be exposed to your target market
The reason many businesses fail is not because there isn’t a demand for what they’re selling, but because their products and services are not marketed at those who want and need them.
Wherever you rent it must be affordable. We’ll look in a moment at what’s involved in taking on a shop lease, but wherever you decide to locate your business you must be sure that the products and services you’re going to offer have a fair chance of generating not only enough to cover rent, rates, insurance etc, but also pay you and give a profitable return.
Allow a degree of flexibility
One of the keys to running a successful business is to be flexible. You’ll need to be able to adapt to market changes either as they happen, or preferably to anticipate them. If your business is located somewhere where you have no scope to change in any way – for example rearrange the sales areas, introduce or remove a workshop area – you will not be able to adapt to change and this will impact on your success.
Be secure and safe
In the case of the antiques shop, not only was the business located in the wrong area but it was also exposed to frequent attacks. The advantages of having a shop window for your business is that passers-by can look at what you’re offering and be tempted to return to your business when you are open. If you have shutters and security doors where no one can see your window displays, you are losing out on potentially valuable sales.
Generally speaking the way these businesses are run is that you hire either a cabinet or a space somewhere in the main shop where you display your goods, for which you pay either a weekly or monthly rent. These type of shops have what’s often referred to as ‘easy-in easy-out’ terms, which means there are no tiresome leases to deal with. You can rent your space for anything from a month to a year or beyond.
Concession in a retail area
An excellent way of selling your products is to take a concession either in a shopping center with a mobile kiosk or in another retail business. For example many garden centers sublet some of their sales areas to businesses which complement theirs while not competing with them. These businesses include bespoke garden furniture companies, pet shops, camping and accessories shops, fish shops, fencing businesses, cycle shops and so on.
The advantages of basing your business at an already an established retail outlet is that you benefit from immediate trade as the garden center will already have an established and loyal customer base that you can sell to.
Another thing to consider is whether or not your products could be sold by direct marketing techniques. By this I mean purchasing specialist mail order lists and then writing direct to your target market. Most people will describe this as ‘junk mail’ but if used correctly, targeted mail shots can bring about immediate, impressive results. If you don’t believe me then over the next few weeks start taking a closer look at your junk mail. You’ll see that it comes from some very credible businesses such as banks, insurance companies, shops, clothes companies etc.
How to run your own direct marketing campaign
You will need to obtain an up-to-date mailing list that you can work from. Several marketing companies specialize in selling mailing lists and their advertisements can usually be found by searching on the Internet.
Most companies will offer a service where you can buy a printed mailing list or preprinted mailing list labels with the names and addresses already on. Although you can save yourself a considerable amount of time by purchasing pre-printed labels there is a big disadvantage to doing this. Remember that your business will not be the only business to have purchased this mailing list, which may mean that your target market becomes familiar, and understandably fatigued, with seeing the same label.
Depending on what you’re selling, exhibitions and trade fairs can offer excellent potential. I know of a number of small, independent boat builders who exhibit at two annual boat shows and fill their order books for the following year, which justifies the relatively high price of having a stand there. I also know of other businesses who simply sell their relatively inexpensive cleaning products at these shows and also make sufficient sales to cover their rent, staffing costs and return a healthy profit.