Build Up A Bridal Boutique Business
Right now it has never been more important to market your business resourcefully, creatively, and on a budget. That is why most of the hints and tips in this book are low cost or free to implement. All businesses need fresh ideas from time to time and these bite-sized tips can be applied whether you have just started-up, or are running an established business. This book can be read in any order, so feel free to dip in and out, apply some of the ideas, experiment, and use the tips as tools for developing your own ideas.
Marketing is very much about experimenting to find out what works, because every business is different, with different target markets to serve, and different strengths and limitations. One thing I have learnt from running Accessories Palace and Prince & Princess Petwear is that a good marketing strategy is the magic ingredient that will give you an edge over your rivals, and catapult your bridal shop to the success you dream of.
01. Unconventional Advertising
‘Traditional’ advertising methods such as a website, marketing literature, Google Local, and print media, all have their place. However, you should think about more creative ways to publicise your business too. Consider putting mysterious QR code stickers all over your local area to pique people’s interest. Consider publicity stunts such as flash mobs at wedding fairs. Anything that gets people talking will help to raise awareness of your brand and business.
02. Pricing Strategy
Although you should never compete on price, your pricing strategy is an important tool that will help you to achieve your marketing and financial goals. Pitching your prices too high will give the impression that your bridal wear is of a premium quality, but this may exclude customers that are on a smaller budget. Finding the right bridal ranges at the right price point is just the start. Remember, too that RRP’s are only recommendations, and that designers and sales reps cannot legally force you to sell at a particular price. If your target market are willing to pay more or less that is the price you should go with.
03. Get Local Publicity
Get to know the journalists who work on your local newspaper or magazine, and offer them newsworthy stories (such as your grand opening, having the 1000th customer in your shop, or your charity fundraising). Once you have built up a good relationship with a publication you could even offer to write a regular wedding column for them. National magazines and trade publications are usually a little harder to get featured in for free as they rely on advertising revenue, but if your story is unusual enough it may only take a phone call to the features editor.
04. Joint Ventures, Alliances, and Co-operatives
Form an alliance with other local business proprietors and offer to place their poster or business cards in your shop in exchange for doing the same for you. Approach businesses that you think particularly serve your target market (although obviously not competitors), as well as those that have waiting rooms or queues. By teaming up with another business you could offer a package deal or exchange website links. Think about what other products and services brides need; flowers, wedding cars, a venue, a cake, bridesmaid’s gifts, a hairstylist, a photographer, a pamper day… and consider developing a venture with these.
05. Demonstrate Your Skills
If you are a wedding expert, a dressmaker, stylist, or tiara maker, you can use your skills to give talks at shows and events. This will help position you as an expert in your field and establish trust, which will increase your customer base. This will also be of interest to your local newspaper and generate some free publicity for your business.
06. Organise a Local Wedding Show
You could organise your own catwalk show in your local shopping centre. Get other industry-related businesses involved and make it a big event for prospective brides (and grooms.) Tell your local newspaper about the event in advance to gain publicity, and also get them to cover the story on the day for a follow up in the paper.
07. Develop a Marketing Plan
A marketing plan is a written document that will help you to develop a clearly defined strategy, and help everyone in your business understand the role they have to play. It is arguably the most important document pertaining to your business. To formulate your plan, ask yourself Where is the business now? Where do we want it to be? How will we get there? Who is responsible? Try to set time-specific, measurable goals, as these will help you achieve your aims more easily and provide performance indicators along the way. Remember that a marketing plan is not set in stone; you should adjust it whenever external and internal changes occur.
08. Discover Your Top Sellers
Identify your best selling and most profitable lines and ensure that they are placed in a prominent position where customers can quickly and easily find them. Online businesses should place these pieces on the homepage, at the top of collection pages, and in a recommended section. By selling more bridal wear that offer a high return you can significantly increase your profits. Moreover, customers will appreciate being able to find the items they are looking for without too much effort. Inevitably, this means you will always have slower moving pieces, but you can turn them over more quickly if you have a regular sample sale or find another channel for them such as an e-marketplace. Beware of overbuying – buying new designs when you have still got old stock left on display. Get rid of dogs first, and regularly review what is selling and what is not.
09. Be a Specialist Bridal Boutique
Avoid trying to be all things to all brides (and their mothers, grooms, bridesmaids…) You’ll have a lot more success if you find a niche. You could specialise in, for example, bigger brides, mature brides, overseas weddings, alternative (historical, non-traditional colours, or themed) weddings, or traveller brides (as Thelma Nadine at Nico does.) Catering for mothers of the bride, bridesmaids, and prom girls could make the bridal wear side of your business less effective, particularly if yours is a small boutique. Having too many price points is also a recipe for failure. Decide whether you are a high, mid, or low range boutique and choose your bridal ranges accordingly.
10. Bespoke Design Service
Tap into a highly lucrative market and offer brides something more unique and personal than the standard offering on the shelf. By offering customers an in-house design service, you can generate a lot of business and you’ll be able to charge a premium price for your bespoke bridal wear. If you join forces with a designer and dressmaker (if you don’t have those skills yourself) you can provide customers with unique pieces, as per their specifications. Most bridal gowns need some modification, so even if you are only able to offer an adjustment service, you’ll establish an edge over retail-only competitors and make yourself a much more appealing choice for prospective brides when they are choosing where to buy their wedding dress hong kong.
11. Show Your Support
Supporting charity events is great PR for any business. Sponsoring an event can give your bridal shop a big boost, especially if you get your brand and business details printed in the event guide or mentioned in the media. Other ways to support charity (and raise awareness of your business) include: donating your products or services to charity auctions; donating a percentage of your profits to charity; organising and hosting a local fundraiser event; and volunteering your time and expertise to help a good cause.