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  • #966804
    The Incubator
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    Okay. So I opened the doors to my store late last week. In 3 days only 1 potential customer came inside, and she didn’t buy anything…

    I have come to the conclusion that I possibly need more signage and probably put a little more effort into the marketing. I think I made the mistake of relying on the location for business.

    I’m definitely worried and of course convinced that I’ve made a mistake. I’m also terribly embarrassed. Here’s hoping that it turns around…

    #1021138
    soliddata
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    Hi Incubator,

    Could you please give us an idea of:
    – what you sell?
    – who is your market?
    – who is walking by (and how many)?

    You will get a lot of good advice from some great sales/marketing minds here, and so if you can provide some more info they can help out.

    I congratulate you on taking rapid action – many business owners have a problem-turnaround-time of a lot longer than 3 days.

    Kevin

    #1021139
    The Incubator
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    I own a bookstore which specialises in fertility, pregnancy, birth and parenting as well as children’s self help (grief and loss, bullying, new siblings etc).

    The location is opposite a major women’s hospital and the country’s leading children’s hospital.

    My market is women in general, parents and parent-to-be, and local families with children in local schools and daycare.

    The passing-by market are: women going to the hospital for appointments (steady stream), parents with young children, nurses, university students, patients of the children’s hospital and their families.

    If you are going to the hospital you cannot miss my store when driving, however walkby’s are missing it completely. I think that this is because the store has been empty for several months, and also because my signage is not prominent enough. I became a bit too confident and I’m paying the price now…

    #1021140
    Adam Randall
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    Have you asked permission to put flyers up on the noticeboards in the hospital in the relevant wards?

    Sounds to me that you have come to the right conclusion and that is people do not know you are there.

    I think talking with staff that work in the hospital and getting them to promote your books somehow may also help.

    Education I would of thought would possibly make their jobs easier.

    IMHO the hospital is the key to your success, work with them somehow. If you can make their life easier in some way, then they may help you too.

    Also sounds like you have the right idea as far as the perfect location is concerned.

    #1021141
    VideoTraining
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    Don’t forget the all important big OPENING SALE sign! :-)

    Is your website getting many hits? Don’t forget that people will also go to the web to look for resources to help them with these sorts of issues. Why not have two irons in the fire?!

    Kind regards,

    Tony Morris
    http://www.DVDcoach.com
    Online Computer Training Made Easy

    #1021142
    Rachel Reeves
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    A few things that I thought of when I read about your niche area that might help…

    Being a Mum myself, I always went off of recommendation from a friend or my doctor/obstetrician before trundling off to the bookstore to buy a book about pregnancy or baby development. I wouldn’t likely even enter a hospital until the third trimester, unless there was a problem in the earlier stages of my pregnancy, yeah okay… maybe once if I was checking out the hospital… but my mind would be elsewhere most likely.

    Although you are in a really good location, I hate to say it, but your target market won’t always necessarily be walking by at that exact time that there is a real need for the information.

    About fertility, this topic can be a very private one and it’s very possible that you won’t capture this market ‘walking by’. This market, I think would be more likely to shop through a website, or would come in following a fertility doctors or friends referral to a particular book.

    If you market through the hospital I think you might capture only a small part of your audience. I’m thinking you would probably capture those looking for physio exercises that are good to do later in the pregnancy and when the child is born. You might also capture those looking for specialty books about problems that might occur in pregnancy or when the child is born. Reference books about newly born children, including specialty books, eg. premature babies, diet etc.

    To really capture your niche audience I would be looking to market direct to the source, which is to fertility doctors, obstetricians, physios and xray places where they offer ultrasounds – and of course the patients of these.

    You might like to go in there in person, ask whether you could help them by displaying some of their brochures / business cards in your shop – and ask them whether, in return they might be able to put a pile of your brochures in their waiting area which are relevant and useful to their patients. Oh, and if you go out of your way to make an impression on the doctors and specialists, then they will more likely remember you, maybe have a look in your shop and hopefully help you well into the future by making referrals to your shop.

    Hope this helps some.

    #1021143
    Adam Randall
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    • Total posts: 382
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    Alright Rachel, what the hell is a trimester?

    #1021144
    peppie
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    Adam, have you not had children of your own or known someone in your family who has?????

    Even I know that a pregnancy is divided into 3 parts of about 12 weeks each – yes, I have attended anti natal classes and survived, 3 children!

    I should add here though that I think you cannot sit and wait for people to come to you, you must go looking for them where they are and get them to notice you.

    #1021145
    Anonymous
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    You might also think about doing some cross promotion with baby product stores.

    #1021146
    Karen Wardle
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    • Total posts: 363
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    Hi Incubator

    Firstly you have come to the right place. As Kevin said, there are plenty of people here who will be able to help you. Second………………breathe.

    You have realised that it might not be as easy as you first thought. But you have done what so many others don’t, you have acknowledged your mistake and are making plans to correct it. Many don’t get that far. They blame everyone and everything else and then they become another small business statistic.

    If I were you I would read through Rachelr’s response, and then I would read it again. She has given you some fantastic tips!

    Also I think that you should narrow down your niche.

    I own a bookstore which specialises in fertility, pregnancy, birth and parenting as well as children’s self help (grief and loss, bullying, new siblings etc).

    My market is women in general, parents and parent-to-be, and local families with children in local schools and daycare.

    Personally, I think that your target market is too wide. I would be inclined to narrow it somewhat. You say that your market is women in general. I would disagree. Using myself as an example, I am female and a parent but I am not interested in fertility, pregnancy or books about birth.

    The passing-by market are: women going to the hospital for appointments (steady stream), parents with young children, nurses, university students, patients of the children’s hospital and their families.

    My daughter spent some time in Westmead a few years ago and to be honest looking at books was the last thing on my mind while she was in there. And I am an avid reader. That is just me though and I am not suggesting that everyone else feels the same. They don’t. But I don’t think that your market is woman in general. Your market is particular women with certain needs. To succeed you need to identify these women (your audience), and then work out the best way to capture that audience.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Rachelr

    To really capture your niche audience I would be looking to market direct to the source,

    I would suggest that you read some articles on niche marketing and on target marketing.

    Narrow your niche down. Decide who your customer is and then work out how to reach them. Don’t generalise, be specific.

    Think about investing in a website but make sure that you know how to generate traffic. Don’t think that if you build it they will come. This will only happen if you build it right.

    If you want a better understanding of , what is marketing or would like some marketing tips, I have some info on my website that may interest you.

    Good luck

    #1021147
    Eca IT business systems
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    Like rachelr, I went to the hospital in only my 3rd trimester (for my last 2), often with only 8 weeks or less to go. i believe that alot more women these days are either interested in alternative types of birthing (hypno, calmbirthing etc) or doing it the old tell-me-to-push on the hospital bed.. (a small amount do avoid any books, knowledge from peers or magazines as a “ignorance is bliss” method.)
    Is it easy to get in and around your shop with a pram? Weve upgraded to a double pram and its a beast to get into small shops and now i just avoid them until im out shopping on my own.

    definitely get a online shop up and running, see about running adds on online support forums. Thru my pregnancies i googled just about anything i was worried about…

    It might be worth having some non-latex (some hospitals have non-latex policies due to allergies) balloons outside with the usual “get well”, “boy”, etc… and other visiting presents as ive found the hospital gift shop is not always open or just full of boring knitted things displayed horribly like its a garage sale or something!

    When i worked in a doctor surgery many years ago, occasionally shops would “donate” (they’d come in ask if they could leave a book with us, it’d wait till it got the approval from the head doctor and then went into the waiting room) small hard cover books for the waiting room, inside would be a piece of paper glued saying where it came from and a sticker on the outside… dont know if its option, lol! As some magazines used to just walk out the door!

    an option could be with preschools/kinders are always happy to let you sell books. (providing them have some demos and product list) Also preschools/kinders and some public schools have spots in their weekly newsletter for adds.

    You have a business plan? a business without a plan is like a ship without a sail! Still doing ours and its proving to be harder than the business we plan to do! But will be worth it if we get it right ;)

    #1021148
    Accounts Studio
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    Hi
    A colleague of mine has just launched a website specialising in fertility coaching, ivf etc – she might be worth chatting to in terms of stocking your products maybe? Her site is http://www.borntosucceed.com.au – I think they just had the soft launch this month and will launch the full site shortly but it is worth checking out – maybe you could also write articles for her site so that people on their wanting info would know about you and where you are.

    #1021149
    Steve_Minshall
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    Hi,

    Don’t panic yet. I’ve been there I remember thinking oh my god what have I done. The things that kicked off my shop were very crude flyers (black on coloured paper) and then web/google marketing really kicked it along.

    Web marketing can take a bit of time to get organised. Although you can get a basic web coupled with adwords in very little time then build from there.

    However, here is my suggestion for a quick injection.

    Now that school is back in this week I think you may find lots of mothers who drop off the younger kiddies congregating at nearby cafes immediately after 9:00am for a post holiday catch up. (they certainly do near my kid’s school). What if you were to politely ask a group if you can join them and ask for a bit of advice. Explain your problem and you never know you may find you’ve just recruited some helpers to spread the word around your target market. I think if you ask for their advice about how to get the word out rather than just informing them about your shop you may find some quick success to get you started. You may get a bit of curiosity and interest going.

    Make the most of it being quiet to investigate/implement all the good ideas you have been given because if all goes well you will be regretting not having the time to pursue all the ideas you get as time goes by.

    Good lu

    #1021150
    James Millar
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    Good news and, well, ok news.

    The market for these books and materials in Australia is enormous. Women spend a small fortune educating themselves to prepare for being responsible parents (I have just been through the whole “buy every parenting book thing” and could probably stock half your store). In that regard you are in a large and growing market – as you probably already know. Tick that box.

    Financials & Margins – I presume you did some financial analysis (even if it was basic) and are satisfied that the margins justify the efforts and risk. Don’t worry, despite all the “expert” comments to the contrary, having a 400 page business plan with graphs, charts, pages of financials and mission statements is actually surplus to the needs of what is generally required. Some basic financial analysis / forecasting, a basic plan (even just a SWOT analysis), some basic goals will suffice if you know your market. Hopefully tick that box.

    Marketing Plan – the key. All financially successful businesses are premised on the prospect of making profits which is in turn premised on generating revenue / sales. Generating the sales requires custom – pretty simple. It’s a numbers game. If you have a large portfolio of marketing initiatives then some part of each will create prospects / enquiry some of which will turn into convert to paying customers. If you rely on too few forms of marketing then you will under achieve (but not necessarily fail). Foot traffic in this day and age is not enough in isolation (but it is very important so your decision in that regard seems well founded). Brainstorm / seek out some cost effective marketing ideas and create a little project for each one. Maybe come up with five to begin with and develop an action plan for each (you don’t have to commence them all at once if it’s not possible – but the more the merrier). A true portfolio approach works best with this. There is rarely one magic bullet in marketing. Maybe not a tick for this box – yet!

    Above all don’t panic. You are in a good market and whilst you have plenty of work ahead, there is plenty of opportunity that comes with it. If the store is empty you should have plenty of time to prepare materials, contact doctors, mothers groups etc etc. The short answer is yes – you need to spend some serious time (and maybe some money if needed) on marketing.

    And don’t worry about other people’s perception of your success or otherwise (fail is poor choice of word really). The fact that you have had the conviction to take a chance (provided it is well planned) is worthy of recognition. I have had so many people tell me over the years that they were going to do this and going to do that and yet they always found excuses not to take a chance. Well done for taking the path less travelled. No go and make it work!

    Regards
    James

    Helping build better businesses and better lives with expert financial and taxation advice. [email protected] www.360partners.com.au 03 9005 4900
    #1021151
    Karen Wardle
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    • Total posts: 363
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    There has been some great info offered here and hopefully you are starting to see the possibilities.

    That is what is so great about this forum. The advice that is given so freely can be better than that which we often pay for in the non FS world :)

    And don’t worry about other people’s perception of your success or otherwise (fail is poor choice of word really). The fact that you have had the conviction to take a chance (provided it is well planned) is worthy of recognition. I have had so many people tell me over the years that they were going to do this and going to do that and yet they always found excuses not to take a chance. Well done for taking the path less travelled. No go and make it work!

    I could not agree more!

    Here’s to your success in leaps and bounds.

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