January 22, 2013 1 Comment

When Small Business Fails to Grow – Part 2

Here’s more to the story about the small shop that had to close due to competition from “the big boys”. The shop in question sold exotic and “funky” furniture pieces, accents, and other decorative items. It had a good location in a heritage building on a main street, and an energetic, smart business owner who had experience in marketing in the fashion business. They were making good use of Facebook to post photos and other information about their products. They had received a number of excellent reviews via social media and had received some local publicity. They were listed in most of the local directories of shops and businesses. The business owner was committed to environmentally-responsible (sustainable) wood items, and he recognized the value of running the business “on the cheap”, without unnecessary expenditures. This is a great foundation for a thriving small business.

In fact, this business DID have a unique selling proposition. It carried one-of-a-kind, exotic, unique, different, and unusual furnishing items. Its location positioned it to cater to an upscale customer who had money to spend. While the business may have had to pay a fair bit to import these items, the customers wouldn’t have minded the necessary markup due to the uniqueness of the products. Also, there were ways the business could have lowered costs on those pieces. The neighborhood in which the store was located had undergone an urban revival, raising the demographic to people who had disposable income and who were looking for lifestyle enhancements. (more…)

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January 22, 2013 1 Comment

When Small Business Fails to Grow – Part 1

Came across this note from a contact on Twitter: “My friend just had to close his small shop. He said true retail is dead and that one just can’t compete with the big boys.” This saddens me. This shop closure represents a loss in many ways: loss of capital, loss of jobs, loss of a dream. And it didn’t have to happen. My guess, and it’s probably a good one based on the person’s comment, is that this shop owner didn’t know how to leverage his marketing assets.

He didn’t have a USP — a unique selling proposition. That is the BEST way to compete with the “big boys”. A small shop can differentiate in ways that are beyond the big box stores. It can offer more personalized service, including stronger customer relationships. It can offer niche products that are unprofitable for mass market stores to carry. It can add complementary services that enhance the value to the customer. (more…)