If we’ve learned anything from 2020, it’s this: things keep changing. Here Paul Kerins, content marketing manager EMEA at Roland DG, provides some sound advice on how you can flex up your business.
You’ve probably noticed more than a few changes in your business, your customers and the trends that influence them.
Maybe the local school isn’t ordering sports kits like they do every year. Maybe you’ve changed your workflow to accommodate social distancing. Or maybe you’ve just had to shut shop and return to the drawing board.
The pandemic has only highlighted something that’s always been true – you can’t assume the market will stay the same. Shoppers follow patterns, but only to a point – after which they simply change their habits. There’s one important thing you need to ask yourself – will your business still be relevant to the shoppers of tomorrow?
Here’s a few power strategies to keep your options open and create room for growth.
- Study your competitors
Don’t just glance at your competitors now and again – study them regularly. Visit their websites and have a good look around. Analyse the home page and try to guess which of their products are most important to them. Note any products that are missing from your own offering and any features (like case studies, chat widgets or e-commerce) you might like to include on your website.
Most websites don’t change very often (especially if the business doesn’t have the resources), so if you want a more immediate picture of your competition, visit their social profiles (which will usually be linked at the top or the bottom of their website). Here, aside from the business’ perspective, you can also see how their customers feel about the service – and therein may lie some of your biggest opportunities.
- Focus on digital
Once you’ve seen the scope of digital marketing on other websites, you can now appreciate the importance of the online marketplace. If you haven’t had much direct exposure to digital marketing in your own business, it may seem like an arcane art – but it’s one you’ll need to master to stay relevant.
Luckily, you don’t need to understand code to know how to do business online. Study SEO (search engine optimisation) to figure out how Google determines which sites appear on the first page, and what you can do to improve your visibility.
Paid online advertising can appear on Google search pages, on social media or as a banner in other sites or apps. Getting your ad strategy right is a process of trial and error, but once you find a formula that works, the ROI is ample justification for your hard work.
Finally, investigate prebuilt web stores which can plug into your website and add all the customisation and order processing functionality you need.
- Examine your kit
It’s easy to fall into habits and constrict your options. Once you’re used to working a certain way, it can be difficult to imagine changing it. For example, you may have used the same dye sublimation printer for years, exclusively printing fabric. By investing in a small mug press, you can offer an additional product and add another income stream with a modest effort.
Investing in new equipment can be one of the most nerve-wracking experiences of running a business. However, modern equipment tends to consume less energy and ink and can offer gains in speed to significantly boost your output. Or, if you’re just too attached to your faithful old printer, investigate additional devices to widen your variety. A smaller desktop device might be all you need to breathe new life into your business.
- Branch out
Over the last 10 to 15 years, the custom clothing industry has gone through phase after phase of monumental change. This is largely due to the increased availability of affordable tech with advanced, professional features. If your business hasn’t changed much in the last decade, making your service more relevant can feel like an uphill struggle.
This might be a good time to look at other industries where opportunities may be easier to seize. A recent study predicted significant growth in household textiles over the next five years. Things like custom curtains, upholstery and cushions are set to revolutionise interior décor and make ‘your ideal home’ more achievable than ever.
The best news is that you can stake a claim in this new territory using the equipment you already have in your workshop.
When the status quo gets flipped on its head, you always have two options. You can either panic and freeze in despair, or you can use this moment’s pause to regroup, revaluate and rebuild. If you can view this moment as a turning point early on, you can prepare with calm and get back out of the gates before anyone else has time to figure out how you did it!