Firstly, I would suggest you plan, plan, plan! Set yourself weekly targets. Work out what your monthly sales need to be and how many people you need to meet to achieve those sales. Who are your hot leads? Are sales up or down this week, compared to last week? At Ultimo, we have a huge wall that tracks all of these things, which is fantastic way to keep everyone focused and motivated, week after week.
Secondly, one of the most useful things you can do in the early days is network. I’ve lost count of how many thousands of events I’ve attended in my career and with one goal and one goal only – to promote my business. Certainly in the initial years of Ultimo, it was a large part of my marketing strategy, attending retail balls and lingerie trade events, and it worked. But avoid being disillusioned if you don’t see the results immediately; remember, you’re playing the long game and some contacts won’t prove useful until years later.
Thirdly, use targeted, clever marketing – don’t waste your money on advertising for advertising sake! From fun stunts that will capture the media’s attention to imaginative e-shots with compelling copy, there are so many ways to promote your business on a shoestring budget. Just don’t be complacent that business will come to you; it simply won’t. But whatever you do, make sure your message is clear, consistent and “on brand” at all times.
Finally, listen to your customers! Browse online for feedback, conduct surveys, hold focus groups – do whatever you can to engage with your target market. Don’t make the mistake of being blinkered about what you want to produce or sell. You have to be very aware of what your potential and existing customers want – not just what you think they want! Continue to pick peoples’ brains as an ongoing habit. This will help you to keep a realistic perspective, which will in turn help to grow your business.
And of course – remember to have fun! Running your own business should be an enjoyable and satisfying experience, and the chance to create a whole new life for yourself. What could be more exciting?