One of my favorite sayings is, “the only constant is change.”
Change - a.k.a. inconsistency - also happens to be the biggest pain-point in most small businesses.
One small business leader I spoke with said, “there’s no point in planning or strategizing because what worked this week, won’t work next, and this month looks totally different than last month.”
It’s an all too common complaint, but everything comes in cycles, and those cycles have patterns. And repetition is a powerful tool.
You, your business, your product, your sales process, your customers - they’re repetitive patterns.
Systems predict business cycles, and with the right strategies and tactics, you stay in front of the unavoidable change, by recognizing the patterns.
Surely you’re familiar with a product life cycle? Maybe the business life cycle? Hopefully, the marketing cycle, and this is a long shot, but have you heard of the Cycle Of Change. Oh! Don’t forget about your customer journey, because that’s another fun cycle.
Each of these cycles have their own nuances, but the moral of the story is - the cycles are coming, and if you play your cards right, they keep coming.
Embrace the change!
The Cycle Of Change is the Grandaddy of cycles, and it goes a little something like this - we are in a constant state of change, but there are stages, and when one completes, the next begins, FOREVER.
The Cycle of Change:
Shuffle: Research, Gathering of Info, Identify Strengths and Weaknesses
Deal: Action! Experiment, train, connect, and improve
Play: Break through resistance, have fun, experience new challenges
Throw ‘em in: The slowing down of this cycle, hibernation and restoration commence
The Cycle Of Change is constant and on-going. If you’re aware of what phase you’re in, you can maximize your success and prepare for the next cycle, enabling you to fulfill your needs whilst moving through each phase.
Now, when we combine this overarching pattern to our business’ cycles, we can implement some very successful strategies ensuring an ever evolving (and profitable) business.
The Business Cycle: An example, The Retail Shop.
New & Innovative - You’re the New Shop on the block …
Strategies: Announce your presence, build your list (this can start pre-opening), partner with block buddies and host an event or share a list, offer mutually beneficial incentives, and so much more …
Goal: Get people curious, talking about, and visiting your business!
Growth & Development - You’ve staked your claim, business is growing …
Strategies: Seasonal sales and events, new product lines, VIP and reward programs, start a community calendar, join local business associations, advocate for #shoplocal, and stay top of mind with your shoppers with regular engagement …
Goal: Establish and reinforce your brand with every single action
Maturity - You’re a recognized name within your community, sales are healthy and predictable …
Strategy: Step up your branding by offering your community more (Are you the evangelist? The connector? The resource? Give back in a way that supports your brand)
Goal: Invite your people in to your experience, teach and instruct, or simply expose your business to what it is your people need, and strategize the (re)launch and Innovative transformation coming next.
Here’s where things get interesting (no, seriously!)
If you’ve been following my social media, I’ve been going on and on about the tech tools that can do the heavy lifting for our businesses.
There’s ANOTHER cycle we haven’t even talked about yet, the Top Shopper Journey. How does a buyer discover your business? What’s the next step on their way to buying your product or service? How do you invite them to buy again? Where do you lose them?
All of these questions can be answered by my favorite business resource, DATA.
Use your systems to support your business. Get google working FOR you. Use the Google Trends and Key Word Search platforms to learn what your Top Shopper is looking for, and where they are in their journey.
Never heard of you before? You can invite them into your experience.
Huge fan, big spender, but not brand loyal? Allow them to understand why your business is different and worth revisiting.
How can you reach out to every single buyer AND anyone searching for a <insert your product or service here>? With Segmentation and CRM! Your system can automatically corral and “tag” your people, putting them into one stream of outreach or another, depending on where they are in their journey and what you want them do to next.
When someone searches for an “eco-friendly shoe shop in <your city>” you pop up because you used that long chain keyword for your SEO, because after researching, you know your buyers are environmentally conscious, so you get them to come in and buy!
This shopper clicks through the link and checks out your website, but since they click past the home page, a pop-up asks if they’d like to exchange an email for a 10% discount to be used within the next 7 days.
Knowing they only have a week to take advantage of this discount, The Shopper comes into your store. When they purchase, and swipe their card and confirm their email, they automatically go into your loyalty program, get “tagged” as a “first time buyer” in your system, and they get sent a Thank You email.
Next time they stop in and buy, they swipe their card, and they get an email invite to your next event, they’re added to your online events email list, and the “first time buyer” tag is replaced with “repeat buyer.”
When they show up to your event, they bring a friend. They RSVP, and your system now removes their “repeat buyer tag” and adds them to “referral group,” sends them an email for a 20% thank-you-discount, and they are sent an invite to your next VIP event 3 days later.
What did you actually do during each one of these steps? NOTHING, it’s automated.
What do you learn? You are able to test:
How much of a discount incentivizes someone to come into your store?
How effective a discount is to closing a sale?
Do they open the thank you email?
Do they open the VIP invite?
Do they share the invite?
The sequential steps along the customer journey (any missteps?).
Does the referral also buy?
Does the The Shopper come to the VIP event?
... and so much more!
At any point along the journey, your system is communicating to your buyer exactly what they need to know to take the next step. The system does not invite a stranger to a VIP event after a google search, nor does the system offer a “lesser-than” discount to an evangelist of your brand.
You are armed with data at every step, while your system is learning how to optimize “closing the sale” each time.
Take your customer by the hand, from the moment they search for what you offer them. Close that sale! Or better yet, create connection, build relationships, serve by solving problems, and be the reliable community business that thrives and inspires every person who walks through your door.
Embrace the cycles of change, use your systems to inform the next-best-decisions for your business, and stay relevant to your buyer, stay ahead of the change, and continually predict profits in an unpredictable world.