Tuesday, October 1, 2013

4 Fast Ways to Grow Your Brand via Social Media this Holiday Season

We are constantly getting asked about quick ways to grow your viewership on social media sites like Facebook. While there is no golden nugget for fan building (you must build a relationship and create trust among your fans) there are several ways we recommend boosting fan viewership in the short term to help gain more attention for your page.
1)  Make your website social. Be sure that you’ve included social connect buttons on your site (like us on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest and Twitter along with the Instagram link button)

Don’t forget to place the links on the top header bar so they are constantly visible when people are reviewing multiple pages of your website at the same time. (Or try the new “pop-out” feature from the sides of your website that follows your viewers down the page as they scroll.)
2)   Ask for the like. Ask your fans, friends and family to share your social media pages with their circles. Make it easy to do so by highlighting the link to join and telling newcomers what they can expect to see going on via your social media pages (and how much fun it is to engage with your brand via social media)
3)   Cross-promote other local businesses. Use the hyperlink and #hashtag to highlight other local businesses and share to share information with their fans as well.  Developing these connections can help you get the word (and your music) in front of the right people. Social media is a very reciprocal medium so when you promote someone else’s music they’ll promote yours, too.

4)  Use Facebook Advertising. It works!  Facebook ad campaigns are relatively inexpensive and can grow your band’s fan base in a very targeted way quickly and efficiently. You can use promoted posts which reach more of your fans and their friends or you can create targeted ads by specific audience type and set a daily budget for advertising. Both work effectively and should be part of your holiday marketing strategy

Keep in mind: Not even these quick solutions will work if you don’t create a social media strategy that is engaging and that showcases your brand personality on a consistent basis. Successfully engaging customers with your brand includes daily engagement to create a message that sells your brand to your fans and engages them to walk thru the front door to make a purchase.  Need help with your holiday social media or marketing strategy? Contact CBCG today.

Are your customers going to pay attention to your store this Holiday season?

For retailers around the world- it's holiday crunch time. By now, you’ve purchased the right products, you’ve meticulously merchandised them on the store floor, you have invested in staff training and ensured that the in-store experience will be a memorable one – but there's just one problem,  there are no customers paying attention.
It's time to wake up and kick your marketing into high gear!  Starting today, with the right marketing planning, preparation and execution, you can get customers to engage and shop at your store this holiday season. Today we highlight some quick (but critical) things to consider in your Holiday Marketing Planning:

1.       What is your marketing message? – As you organize, prepare and integrate the content and timing for all marketing materials (e.g. email, blogs, newspapers and postcards) to be sent between Thanksgiving and Christmas,, make sure you know what your key messages are and why they are important to your customers during this time of year.
       In order to deliver the messages effectively, plan on sending a minimum of one email per week during this busy time as a way to stay 'top of mind' with your customers. Notify them of your in-store events, the specific holiday products you are carrying, any extended store hours and highlight (with pictures/videos) the wonderful holiday displays you have set up.

2.       How will you use Social Media to engage your customers this holiday season?  In addition to your traditional marketing efforts, you must plan daily social media posts (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Blogs) in concert with your store marketing activities. Social media will build engagement, provoke brand evangelists, and instill customer loyalty if utilized well.

3.       What type of In-store Events will draw customers to your store?  - The best time of year to engage your customers is during the holiday season. Work with your staff now to determine what type of in-store events you plan to host in November and December.  These in-store events should generate shopper excitement and lead to increased brand awareness and sales; plan to have one per week between Thanksgiving and Christmas. (Don’t forget to coordinate dates with Reps well in advance to secure primary dates go to your store!)  Some idea include - Vendor Trunk Shows, VIP customer events, specialty category events—cooking classes, collectors events (specific holiday collectibles) 

A well thought out marketing calendar will help to insure you meet your sales goals and that you highlight the merchandise you have brought in exclusively for the holiday season. Don’t leave these details to the last minute- or you may lose out on sales!  Need more help with marketing ideas? Contact CBCG today.  

Fortune Favors the Prepared Retailer

Christmas is rapidly approaching and for many retailers, it’s the make or break period of the year; the time when sales are high and when the majority of the profit is made for the year.  So how can you assure that your store is properly prepared for success - to maximize your profits this year?

Proper planning and preparation is the answer. The sooner you start contemplating and preparing to get ready for the critical Holiday Season, the more likely we will be to generate profitable sales - your preparation will pay off!
This includes not only what products you will buy, but how you will market those products, how you will display them in the store, how you can delight customers with service and ultimately, how your staff will convert your customers from browsers to buyers when they walk in your store!  Focusing on these five key areas will ensure that you and your team are ready to achieve your seasonal goals.

1.       Marketing - This is the key to all your holiday success. Spending ample time now to create a well thought out marketing calendar will help to insure you meet your sales goals and that you highlight the merchandise you have brought in exclusively for the holiday season.

2.       Inventory - Confirm shipping of all Holiday product deliveries with vendors now. You don’t want to find out that merchandise you were counting on is going to be late or worse yet, is not going to come! Make sure all holiday purchase orders have start and cancel date; you should plan to have orders arrive between 10/15 and 11/15.

3.       Display - Plan your store displays now (both inside and out). Decide what products you want to feature in weekly rotations of window/in store displays for November/December based on sales plans by department and the merchandise you have already purchased. Make sure you have enough fixtures on hand  and ample table assortments (for boxed/wrapped merchandise)

4.       Staffing - Determine how many selling hours you will need to achieve your sales plan for the season. Now is the time to recruit, interview and hire your new staff. Hiring in advance will help you to recruit the best candidates and will also ensure that you have ample time for training

5.       Sales -  Determine if you will have any additional holiday technology needs (now is the time to purchase or rent software/hardware if necessary such as additional registers or hand held check out devices that will speed up check out on very busy days. Thinking about how your store can use technology to improve your customers’ in-store service and experience will go a long way toward creating satisfied customers during the Christmas buying crush!
In order to achieve the maximum success during your holiday selling season, your planning must start well in advance of the season. You will be too busy in the dog days of December so the planning must be done well in advance.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

If Cash is King, then Inventory is your Queen

Cash is King for any retail business, right?  Don't have enough and you can't fund your business properly. Have excess and we have to decide how much to re-invest to take the business to the next level. So if Cash is our King, then surely, you know who the Queen is, don't you? Your Inventory, of course.
The Queen is often shiny and regal, but sometimes, she can be wicked and betray you and your business if you don't pay attention to her.

If you're like many retailers, managing inventory is one of the biggest challenges you face. With all the other expectations placed upon you to manage your business, sometimes you forget to pay the most attention to the area that can have the biggest affect on your bottom line. Your inventory levels. Too Much. Too Little. Old Inventory. Unsold Inventory.

While many of you reading this have been in business a long time and are quite knowledgeable about what sells when in your store, making sure you have just the right amount of inventory can help you improve your overall sell thru and profitability on a consistent basis.

We suggest using an OTB program to help you track selling by department on a regular basis and to alert you to shifts in business - very quickly. Reacting or proactively pursuing these shifts can and will save you money and help you drive more sales and profits to the bottom line for your business.  

Whether you buy more merchandise because you react to a positive shift in sales, or react to slower sales by canceling or shifting dates on purchases, you can help your business drive more profitable sales in trending categories while reducing the inventory you spend on departments that are no longer selling by using the discipline of an Open to buy plan to manage your inventory.  

If it's all about the King - as in cash, then the next question you should ask is how much money can you expect to save if you use an OTB program? The typical results you should expect from running an Open To Buy will be an improved inventory turnover between 7-10% the first year and a reduction in purchases of between 5-10% for the the first year. These two things alone can pay for the cost of managing an OTB program and so much more.

And while there are tremendous benefits to using an open to buy program, it is not a silver bullet that fixes all that ails your store. You will need to spend time working on and with your open to buy to make it truly successful. You must not be ambivalent about your Open To Buy.  

For an Open To Buy plan to fully to succeed, you must be committed to following the plan you set in place and have the discipline to stick to the plan in the course of the year. The results will happen if you stick to the plan!

Need more reasons to bring an OTB plan into your business. Contact CBCG today.

Are you carrying too much retail inventory?

How much inventory does your business need to run effectively to make your sales plan and deliver the appropriate level of profit to the bottom line?        
This question one of the most difficult for retailers to answer- yet the one that holds the most value to the health and well-being of the business. Why not make 2013 the year you get a handle on your inventory once and for all- and stop spending money you don’t have to in order to deliver the sales you want.

Having too much inventory (or the wrong type) during certain periods can slow your cash flow and can reduce your overall profits (by taking too many markdowns in order to liquidate slow moving merchandise.  On the other hand if you don’t buy enough of the right merchandise (that is, the merchandise that your customers really want to buy) you will miss sales opportunities and thus not make the maximum potential profits from your business. One thing can help you get started- an Open to Buy plan.

A retailer can be sure to stock the right amount of the right products at the right time by using a well-planned as well as a continually updated and well executed Open to buy. (OTB)

OTB can be calculated in units or dollars. (Though our recommendation is to do it in dollars so that you can use the tool when going to market and working with your vendors on a daily basis) The calculations are relatively simple. An OTB is essentially the difference between how much inventory is needed and how much is actually available to be sold at any given time during the selling cycle. (OTB’s are most always calculated on a monthly basis then totaled to quarters, seasons and then finally a year total for the business.) This includes inventory on hand, in transit and any outstanding orders.

While the OTB to buy will tell you how much to spend, the key to managing it effectively is to account for trends- both up and down in a given time period and leaving yourself the flexibility to adjust purchase dollars when and if necessary. To do so, it will be best if you plan to hold a percentage of purchases back in order to take advantage of special buys or to add new products. This will also allow you to react to fast-selling items and quickly restock shelves that your store needs to keep sales moving forward.

You should set up your OTB plan with no more than 10-15 classifications that will roll up to total for your business. (We have managed OTB plans for multi-store national chains doing more than $100 million dollars with less than 10 OTB categories- so we know you can plan your business this way to!) Use the annual retail sales as a guide to setting up your OTB classifications/departments – this will help you reduce the number of classifications you need to plan.

In short, there are many ways to manage an OTB plan. The plan can be maintained on paper, in a spreadsheet or by purchasing one of the several retail software packages available that contain Open-To-Buy programs but the key is to start. Your inventory is the biggest expense you have in your business and managing it on a consistent basis can insure that your business is spending on the right products all the time.
If you need/want more help about how to manage your inventory, contact CBCG today. We can create and manage an annual OTB plan for your business to make sure that 2013 is a year of profit and prosperity.