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Business Strategy Recalibration

Avatar photo by Casey Woods, Executive Director | December 14, 2022

We are in the heart of the holiday rush, and I know you don’t need another thing to do, but what if I told you some simple notes during this month could help you focus your strategy for long term success? You want to be successful in the long term, correct?

The holiday season creates consumer traffic. That in-business or online traffic allows you to collect data on who is shopping, when your traffic peaks, what people are spending money on, basic demographic information, what drove people to your place of business, and customer loyalty. We’ve covered the collection of these types of data points in the past (customer boards, point of sale system, in-house surveys, etc.). Now, lets cover the WHY this information is important.

  1. You may not be representative of your market, and not understanding that fact can hurt your organization.- All of us have interests, but those interests may not represent a significant market component. I like niche science fiction, cosmology papers, grunge rock, craft beer, and football. If I focused Emporia Main Street’s efforts to reflect my personal interests it would be a strategic disaster because many of my interests would intersect with an extremely small portion of the population. During this time of year you can discern if your products, services, and goals are aligned with your clientele, or if you are simply doing the things you are interested in regardless of your market. Niche marketing is okay if used to differentiate your business, but imprinting your interests on a business model at the cost of consumer support will undoubtedly cause issues.
  2. Trust what your customers do more than what they say.- Restaurants deal with this issue all the time. Customers will walk in and tell an owner “if you had X product, I would be here all the time”. Instead of running a limited time product test, the owner eagerly places an item on the regular menu and the customer is never seen again. The holidays are a great time to run limited time tests (backed up with marketing) to determine if the purchases match the rhetoric. People vote for what they really want with the dollars that they spend, and you can generally tell what people are actually interested in based on their spending habits. Collecting spending data in a way that allows you to easily determine product profitability, reorder capacity, and more can help you set investment goals moving forward.
  3. Does your product mix need a refresh?- If your product mix, services offered, or menu is the exact same now as it was prior to the pandemic, you should go ahead and answer this question “yes”. The market has shifted, and stores that look the same, service businesses that operate the same, and food businesses that have the exact same offerings need to take a hard look at adjustments. Talking to your customers and gathering feedback with tests can allow some informed adjustments in 2023.
  4. What are the different ways your customers receive information (and are you reaching out through those platforms)?- This goes back to point number one. The media I consume, and the nature of that consumption may be different than my target market. Engaging with your customers to determine that they “heard it on the radio”, “read it in the paper”, saw it on (insert social media platform), or heard it from a friend may help you determine how to adjust your marketing mix for 2023.
  5. Does the marketing portion of your business plan require an update based on your collected demographic information?- Each year we sit down and talk about our changing market and how to adapt ourselves to intersect with market trends. If you haven’t touched your business plan since you opened, and you haven’t adjusted your business to changes in the market, you are undoubtedly losing sales. In your business plan, you should have a target market identification section. Look at it. Is it the same as the customers walking through your door? Are there other elements of your plan that should be updated based on your actual customers? Looking at those changes now can make 2023 the year that you start recalibrating your business plan to reflect your current reality and intersect with your future goals.

Take this opportunity to collect the data you need to inform next year’s business adaptations. Business evolution leads to sales and traffic growth, and evolution favors businesses that are willing to adapt.

About the Author

Casey Woods, Executive Director

Before accepting the director position in March of 2009, Casey worked in both retail and agricultural jobs in the family businesses. A lifelong resident of the Emporia Area, Casey was a ten year volunteer for Emporia Main Street prior to his appointment as director. During that time he served as the board president and chair of the Economic Vitality Committee.

Casey also serves as a partner in PlaceMakers, LLC, a consulting firm that routinely works with both large and small communities, and their businesses, to promote sustainable economic growth through community and economic development practices. Casey consults with businesses, organizations and communities to understand their market capacity and fill vacant spaces. He has been involved in two projects that included crowdfunding as a part of their overall business funding strategies, Radius Brewing and Twin Rivers Winery & Gourmet Shoppe.