The second issue is that the business has been going for a long time. Therefore Ms. Carpenter should harness this strength and use this client database to write an inspiring newsletter/e-mail to customers, to tell them about the launch of the studio and to explain the benefits of this approach to customers. Lastly, Ms. Carpenter could also consider a PR event in the form of a pop-up store or studio event at key seasonal points in the year. This could act as a showcase for the range of products and services that Peach Berserk offers, in addition to providing an experience for customers and creating content for the Web and social media.
David Ian Gray, retail consultant and founder of DIG360 Consulting Ltd., Vancouver
It’s important to examine Ms. Carpenter’s goals from the perspective of an artist selling her wares, and not that of a standard entrepreneur, which is a different sort of person, driven to grow a business. By seeing the end goals from this perspective she can put together an appropriate strategy. Funding an app or bolstering her search-engine optimization can solve occasional customer problems but don’t necessarily address her problems as a vendor. Instead, she needs to take a step back and deeply understand her recent customer base.
To rebuild Peach Berserk’s base, she should ask a series of questions about her customers. To what degree can she migrate old customers back to her? Who will be willing to shop in a new location, a new environment? To what degree will she have to build up a new base? How long did the last base take to build? With her existing customer knowledge, Ms. Carpenter could do this faster than before, but she will run into roadblocks without becoming a savvy marketer.
To do that, she should assess her customers’ traits, learn their behaviours and interests, and determine their lifetime value to the store, to figure out how to best invest in communicating to them. This would also help her design a path-to-purchase to make it more engaging and easy for people to buy her products, as defined by customer preference, and not just hers. She could do this on her own, or hire talent – a consultant, or even an enthusiastic business student – and let them help her achieve these goals.
Shereen de Rousseau, Vancouver-based jewellery designer without a proprietary storefront
The obvious first steps are a good social media presence and an outstanding website. My first step would be a blast of press releases announcing her new studio and all the advantages it will bring to clients – with an emphasis on retailing in a modern new way. This should be followed by a regular monthly press release, showcasing designs with the help of stylists.
Studio parties can be a great way to get people in and introduce them to the new space and new product. These can be for both existing and potential customers.
Another consideration might be to do a small production line for wholesale. Even if it’s just accessories, it keeps the name out there. The way we buy and sell fashion is changing, and we all are trying figure out our path.
THREE THINGS THE COMPANY COULD DO NOW
Start a newsletter
With nearly 20 years of serving Toronto, Peach Berserk should reach out to its loyal fan base with a regular e-mail newsletter to keep previous customers aware of its continued existence.
Try a pop-up shop
Pop-up fashion shops are plentiful these days, and Ms. Carpenter already has a known brand at her fingertips. A pop-up would generate buzz, and perhaps media attention, to bring back customers and strong sales numbers.
Get some free help
Ms. Carpenter already has help from fashion students, but Toronto is home to three huge business schools. Somewhere at Rotman, Schulich or Rogers, there’s a retail-savvy marketing MBA student looking to make his or her mark on a brand like Peach Berserk.
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