As the times change, so does our society. What was appealing and popular in 2006 has, in many cases, ceased to matter in the present day. When it comes to establishing and running a business long-term, it takes endless waves of transformation to keep it relevant and successful. A business that’s services become outdated is in fear of extinction and irrelevance.
Need an example? Blockbuster LLC. Blockbuster is an American company that opened its doors in 1985. It was wildly successful for decades, ascending to its peak in 2004 with 9000 stores. It dominated the movie rental industry and was a crucial part of a film’s success. But the company filed for bankruptcy in 2010, and after years of being bought off and stores being auctioned off, now only a few franchise-owned stores remain. Why is that? Because as time has passed, technology and innovation has evolved, and Blockbuster’s services have become outdated.
Now we have Netflix, which offers a whole new cinematic experience, and is responsible for 1/3 of video streaming traffic. It’s an extreme example of change, but the same sort of thing has happened many times before. What can we do to keep a business successful, relevant, and in-demand? The answer is to diversify, expand, and think outside the box to keep brands popular year-round. Sound complicated? It doesn’t have to be. Here are a few tips for how best to stay relevant.
Do Your Market Research
What are your options? What do you need to do to be the leading business among your competitors? What product or service is really in-demand in your industry? Businesses that wish to diversify can answer these questions by conducting market research. Figuring out what competitors are doing successfully and what they are lacking can help business owners expand their own goods and services and stand out in their industry.
Innovate Your Business Model
Equal in importance to market research is a restructuring of a business model/plan. Once a business can identify the gaps in business practices, it’s important to involve employees and coworkers for brainstorming on expansion and innovation. It is all about thinking outside the box. Business owners can reinvent their brand by forming a new blueprint for how to engage, attract, and satisfy customers to keep them invested in the product or service. Every powerful change needs a plan.
Widen The Net
Businesses that specialize in a certain product or service should expand their services to appeal to a wider audience. Take an entrepreneur who owns and runs a ski rental shop. In order to attract a larger audience, they could offer all types of winter rental equipment, outdoor apparel and four-season services that apply year-round. Think about it from a customer’s perspective: isn’t it easier to get all their outdoor-based necessities in one place? Make it easier for people to buy and repeat sales will grow.
Form A Partnership
Businesses that are looking to branch out and receive more revenue could partner up with a business with a related service, with the benefits of doubling the customer base and using cross-marketing tactics to generate sales. Partners also offer a new perspective on widening the business; they can help come up with a new approach to reinventing and expanding a brand.
Expand To New Markets
Sometimes businesses appeal only to a niche market, or are applicable to a certain climate/country. If a business could benefit from international appeal, why not dip your foot into a new pond? Start a franchise or expand your franchise. Swedish clothing company H&M has had expansion plans in the making for years, a popular fixture all over North America and Europe. Now, it plans to have its first store in India up and running by the end of 2014. With so many stores popping up around the world, it is making its brand hard to forget.
Package deals, discount sales, and partnership-produced giveaway offerings keep customers interested and products in-demand. Using networking connections with partners or affiliates, or simply starting a new campaign can get help a business get back out there. There’s nothing like a good deal to generate new customers.
Social Media Marketing Is Key
Get with the times; it doesn’t matter if business owners run a small business or don’t have a strong web presence; the time to start is now! Open a Facebook page. Join Instagram. Tweet latest deals. Start a blog to discuss products/lifestyle tips. The more interactive a business is with their online customer-base, the more questions/feedback their can receive, thus improving their quality of service. It also individualizes a business’s brand and allows them to reach a wider audience.
Strengthen Customer Loyalty
The relationship between business and customer is so important. The stronger the bonds, the less likely customers are to bail out as soon as the boat starts to get a few leaks. Establish connections with customers by creating a customer loyalty program. Using a system like a rewards card, a points system, or special giveaways for valued customers can create long-term loyalty and open communication for growth.
A VIP card, for example, can be passed along to friends and family, can offer multiple deals, and allows access to more customers. Rewards programs act as incentives for customers; businesses entice customers with an initial base-offering, and then offer incentives as they climb up the tiers. In this economy, low prices and great service equal business success.
Entrepreneurs who have an individual, brand-name product should have it licensed. With this, they are receiving upfront revenue and continued royalties every time it is sold— wherever it is.
Diversification and expansion take time, money, and investments. That is why research, planning, and partnering can enable low-cost options for long-term growth. The key is to think big; broadening the pool, accessing new markets, and offering more products and services to access a wide-range of customers and consumers.
To return to an earlier example, Blockbuster was a traditional, reliable business that was good at delivering its mission; great movies at a fair price. But that doesn’t matter if customers can access a similar service more conveniently— say from home, on their couch. Perhaps if Blockbuster partnered up with a company like Netflix, or diversified its service to access online streaming, the brand would have gone from shut-down stores to online sales.
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