November is Entrepreneurship month so I thought this might be a good time to share one of my many entrepreneurial adventures.
Early in my entrepreneurial journey, I decided to rent a kiosk in the mall during the holiday season. I was looking for ways to promote the Shea Radiance brand and get my products into the hands of potential customers. I couldn't imagine a better retail plan than having a booth in the mall with thousands of people seeking out holiday gifts and it seemed like an obvious opportunity.
I estimated revenues based on previous sales performance at local events, festivals and other shows, and in spite of the high holiday rent prices, I was confident that we would be fine. So we signed the dotted line, stocked our kiosk, hired part time assistants and we were ready for business!
The first day we made $75.00, the next day $50.00 and on the third day we made absolutely no sales. All I could see were dollars slowly draining out of my account for rent and wages. Things got even worse when I realized that two booths away from us, was another body care company selling Dead Sea Salts. Their booth was staffed with an aggressive and overly motivated sales team that had a "do or die" attitude about sales. Sometimes they would literally chase customers down and drag them back to their booth. By the time prospective customers walked by us, I could tell they were aggravated and didn’t want anything to do with another body care company.
I knew I had to turn things around quickly and this is what I did.
1. I got mad and hustled - Unless you are an established brand, you cannot survive the mall without standing up and inviting people to try your products. Mall shoppers have a very different mindset than shoppers at festivals or local farmers markets. The typical mall shopper is looking for a particular store and is focused on getting in and out quickly.
2. I handed out samples like crazy - Years of selling directly to customers at various local events gave us the confidence to know that once a customer sampled our product, they would be more inclined to buy, if not immediately then later.
3. Made our kiosk attractive - I came up with several ways to get busy distracted shoppers to stop and take notice of our kiosk. We had a video showing how our product are made. We also set displayed products in a way that invited customers to come in and sample.
4. I Ignored the competition - I only focused on the value we were bringing to our customers. We were not there to force our products on overwhelmed shoppers, we wanted to help interested shoppers with their skincare needs based on personalized recommendations.
1. Increased sales revenues – As we did demos and handed out samples we cultivated a loyal customer base that came back to buy gifts during the holidays. Repeat business solidified our reputation and customers came to the mall looking for us!
2. Increased exposure – We were featured in the Specialty Retail Report – Carts Across America, which led to more interest in our company. Another magazine editor based in the Baltimore area contacted us to do a feature on our products as well!
The two months we spent at the mall were very tough but also very valuable. The hours were grueling, and when an associate called out sick I ended up working very long shifts. Between manufacturing products and operating our kiosk, we stayed pretty busy in between sales and production.
I learned a lot from my experience at the mall and went on to create the business I am proud of of today!!
Happy Entrepreneurship Month :)