So you think you have failed and your “niche market” hates your offering…
It’s never quite as simple as that. First of all stop repeating something that isn’t yielding results. This is an area where you cannot afford to be attached to a vision and how its going to pan out.
When you run a business you constantly have to watch the data and interpret what it is telling you about your customer’s needs, your business structure and react.
Common Issues that can send your business into trouble can include: Bad Pricing, Undefined Target Market, Poor or No marketing, Inflexibility/Attachment, Poor or no organization, Lack of Financial Planning, Poor planning around Product/service.
Here’s where to start.
Perform a SWOT analysis. That is STRENGTH, WEAKNESSES, OPPORTUNITIES and THREATS. Apply your critical and honest eye and don’t run away from what you think you’re getting from this exercises.
Basically if something is not performing well in your shop, ask why. Then look at what IS doing well and figure out what it is about that they like- which then might lead you to an opportunity or where your threat is.
If nothing at all is moving, throw the whole idea away! (Joking- please don’t). How about your pricing, is it in line with your competitors- is it too cheap, too overpriced? Because both can be bad as they speak to perceived value of your product or service.
Undefined Target Market. Are you clear on who your target market? Emphasis on WHO, they are a person FIRST. If yes, answer these few questions, where do they spend their time, what do they talk about, what interests them (outside of when they ideally would be using your services) what do they value and why? How does your product or service align and identify with this market, their interests and their values?
Poor Marketing/Reach. Think about how you could have marketed better to your niche? Is word of mouth the most effective way to market your services? Does your ideal customer even see you- if not, ask yourself why not? And the answer has to be internal – it canNOT be; because the universe hates me and doesn’t want me to succeed (haha). Is your product offering and its value clear?
If you are on social media are you hashtagging the relevant community? Are you actually interacting with your community? Are you authentic in your interactions or coming across as a sleazy salesman? OK. Is it working for you?
Product Planning. Being able to read your sales will tell you how to plan your product range offering for future ie. the recurring themes, quantity VS quality, colours your customer prefers. Are you making a lot of single item sales and is that enough for your business to continue to thrive or are add ons of little items per sale necessary – because then maybe you need to expand your range of items to ensure a full experience.
Heres A quick ie of Financial Planning, Organising and acting on my SWOT analysis.
An example is how my particular model works on a mostly made-to-order basis because it is still a relatively new business. It was different before but I found that some items were unpopular and would end up going on sale or just being lost sales that never ever sold ie. certain outfits, hair accessories.
Given that there’s no endless source of capital, I cannot afford to learn lessons by losing a lot of money on dead sales and dead stock. To prevent monetary losses now I generally don’t cut fabric until there’s an order, exceptions made when I have a strong feeling about that style. I however do pre-make my doll bodies beforehand to try and stay on-top of things, it also helps me achieve a reasonable leadtime which keeps my customer happy. Since I know the dolls will always sell as this is the core of my business, this is not a risky move at all. This way I can still re-purpose any unused fabric somewhere else where I do see traction should it not perform initially.
I also used to make hair ties as a way to use up all the fabric that I have and be less wasteful but they simply weren’t moving so I ditched them completely as I was not particularly attached to them and focused on what my customer clearly wants from me- more dolls and a change of outfits.
Read The Room/React. Consider how the market is changing (ie. everyone moving to e-commerce), and your customers changing priorities and values, one year he might have more income and the next- its a pandemic and they can’t find you at a market anymore- how are your “colleagues” tackling this challenge? What tools are available to remedy this new problem?
So before you think your whole business has tanked, try sitting with everything you have before you and apply some organisation and a critical eye to all of it.
Remember that challenges are a part of starting a business, don’t give up, don’t be attached, learn your lessons and improve.
RESOURCES FOR ANALYSIS. To help you gain clarity or with difficult choices:
Woocommerce Reports– if you have an online store, this comes out weekly and monthly along with a year on year view of your performance. Its all numbers so its on you to interpret what they mean.
Instagram Polls– Ask the things you want to know, the worst that can happen is crickets.
Store Feedback– If you have stockists, stores generally will give you feedback and if they don’t, ask them how customers are reacting to your product, whats the general commentary? It’s in everyone’s best interests to get your product moving off the shelves.
Your SM Comments – Customers know what they want and will sometimes tell you right there in the comments- or via DM . eg, if they wish there were more neutral options available- listen, test it out and see.
Don’t forget to always refer back to your overall game plan for your business to assess if your decisions are based off of solid objectives to stay on track to achieve your goals.
Anyhow, this is clearly a product focused discussion and my retail background coming through- still, I hope you found something you can apply in your own business processes.