What the hell do I mean by at effect?
When I did my NLP qualifications day one, session 1, we learnt about cause and effect. It was mind-blowing to me. I was in my mid-30s and thought how the hell had I not known about this before.
Basically, as humans, we have two choices. You can be ‘at cause’ or you can be ‘at effect’. If you are ‘at effect’, (which is mainly most of the population) you blame everyone else everything around you for your problems. “He made me angry, she took me for granted, people don’t do it the way I want”. More importantly, you act like others are responsible for your happiness. Or you could recognise that you drive your own car, be ‘at cause’, and be in complete control of how you respond to whatever goes on in your life.
Are you a retailer at effect?
I tell you this story because I see it all too often, in business, and in particular, I see it when it comes to retail. I was drawn to write this particular post because the town my Mum and Dad live in is going through massive regeneration. There are several parts of the town centre that are being redeveloped at the same time. It was long needed because the town was dying and there had been little investment for a long time. It is a pretty town with an incredible history, there are genuine Tudor houses in the town centre and many of the buildings harp back to the town’s history. But it was tired, lacking in shine.
To be fair to all the retailers, the whole regeneration has been handled really badly. I believe the council has not provided assistance to the small retailers in any way to help them. They have provided minimal financial support, they even put the car parking charges up and for longer hours, just before the regeneration took place. To get in an out of the town in a car is dire because of closed roads and the whole town is caged off so getting around as a pedestrian is difficult.
I tell you this to give you both sides because during the redevelopment it has not been easy for the small retailers on this particular high street. However, here is the ‘effect side’. All retailers had years knowing that this was happening, they have been to council meetings, they have seen the plans, they knew it was coming. They had time to plan and be prepared for it. So what tipped me to write this post, I was reading an article, from a local newspaper, about a wine bar that has had to close because they blame the falling footfall. This is a very nice wine bar, very small but a really lovely concept of customers being able to help themselves to glasses of wine through specials dispensers and then paying at the end. They had a small food menu, mainly charcuterie. All in all it was a pleasant experience. But falling footfall was not the beginning of their problem, poor management, lack of ideas and not doing retail in the present moment was the reason that this business failed.
Why it failed
Below I have listed some of the main reasons why this wine bar was going to fail way before developers put the first digger in the dirt.
They were closed, way more than they were open. What wine bar isn’t open on Sunday afternoon? You have to meet the needs of your clients and recognise what you were offering. On more than one occasion I went to go for a drink there with a friend and it was closed.
There was no website, no online presence to show off this wine bar, what the whole concept was about, the wines they sold and that they knew what they were talking about.
They did minimal social media. I know that for a fact because when I did a social media project for the town and went into wine bar discuss different ideas with them the owner never ever bothered to call me back. Other than the obligatory Facebook page, they did nothing.
They did the odd event but they were minimal so they missed out on a ton of opportunities to bring people in and show them what they were all about.
Standing with the crowd:
The biggest problem is that did what so many businesses do they did it the same as everyone else, whether those businesses are failing or not they joined the crowd, happily followed them into failure because they steeped themselves in being ‘at effect’ instead of looking outside, being innovative and standing out from the crowd.
What they could have done
Here are just a few ideas of what they could have done to weather the regeneration and come out of it the other side, with a loyal customer base, when the town would be shiny and new and lots of people would be visiting to find out what it was all about.
People don’t become a customer when they walk through the door. They start their journey way before that. A website is your storefront. It is a way to show what you are all about, why you are there and your expertise. You have control of a website, you can continue to add content and reviews and offers. This website could have been about showing potential customers that they are experts at wine. In the same way that Gary Vaynerchuk built up Wine Library TV.
Be Open with Events:
What could you do with a space and several hundred bottles of wine? The list is almost endless. Those so-called quiet days at the beginning of the week could be used for events. For example, they could have set up a book club. ‘Come for a nice evening and have a glass of wine, some nibbles and let’s discuss this book’. They could have charged a monthly club fee, that included the wine, nibbles and the price of the book and they would have had a regular income and could have grown it to a decent number.
They could have held special evenings just for frazzled Mums, charge a £10 ticket fee, again with a free glass of wine and allowed Mums an evening away from the kids with the chance to meet other Mums and spend the evening moaning about being a Mum.
The town is a very family town but that means all those single adults can feel a bit left out. There is nothing more depressing than spending an afternoon being the third wheel. They could have used Sundays to target to the single men and women of the town. Have a classy single event, a chance for people to make new friends.
I could go on and on and on about the potential repeatable events that they could have held that would have brought in regular income on days when before they had zero money coming in.
I think one of the best ways to grow a loyal following is to create partnerships. They could have had a whole new audience by partnering with some of the other retailers in town. The could have partnered with the local deli and had an evening showing people how to pair wine with cheese and for the ticket fee they walk away with a gift bag or wine and cheese. They could have created an event with the local butcher and had a kebab and wine event on the streets. Or they could have had a popup at the local art gallery for an exhibition.
There are a ton of farmers and local producers in the area so there was plenty of opportunities to create different partnerships maybe popup products. Make it part of an event.
Mixing it up with different partnerships could have created opportunities that they could never have imagined.
By creating a membership club it allows you to be more efficient in income planning. If they had set up a wine club, where people paid a monthly fee then they would have had a regular income. This could have been done through the website. Members could be made aware of new wines early, been sent bottles before anyone else tried, you could create wine tasting events and holidays. People could have been members from all over the country. Wine tasting events could have been streamed live from the wine bar so people trying whilst they were sat in the comfort of their own home.
You can not run a business without telling the story through social media and digital marketing. Anything with wine and food is so Instagrammable for a start. They could have used social media, grown an email list and used it to grow the wine club and book club and also to let locals know what is going on. They could have created videos about reviewing different wines, how to taste wine and how to pair it with food. I think Gary Vaynerchuk may have done alright by talking about wine online.
Social media is critical to let people know what you are all about and being part of the journey before someone even walks through the door.
Old School Marketing:
There are certain times when old-school marketing stills works. In this town, there are thousands of new houses being built and there is an opportunity to welcome people to their new homes and their maybe their new town. A beautifully designed card with a 10% of their first drink could be all it takes to bring in new customers.
There is a way to do old school marketing without it being spammy.
Again why did they sit back and wait for people to walk through the door? They could have created a wine delivery service. They could have created a Saturday/Friday night movie box with a couple of bottles of wine and some goodies from the partnerships they created. They could have created a wine van delivering glasses of wine to your doorstep.
It breaks my heart to watch businesses fail, I hate to see listless high streets and I loathe to see retailers suffering. But as a business owner, as a retailer, you have to ask yourself and be honest about whether you are sat on the ‘effect side’ when to comes to what is going on in your business.
And if you feel as if you can’t see the wood for the trees because you are just trying to save your business then get some help, GET A COACH.
Again I hear all the time, a lot of people are reluctant to approach retailers because they don’t have the disposable income. But if you are a retailer think outside the box, speak to a coach and if you don’t have the funds for their coaching packages then ask them to do a revenue share. Some coaches won’t but some will and sometimes you have to push the boundaries of what you are prepared to do, especially when your business is failing.
There was really no reason for this wine bar to fail other than they didn’t get the proper help that could have saved them and I don’t want to see any other small retailer close for simply failing to see the opportunities that they are missing out on.