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How To Grow Your Men’s Clothing Business (Or Any Small Business For That Matter)

August 6, 2009

Even with large brand names, retail stores need to listen to customers and keep an open mind if they want to excel

Even with large brand names, retail stores need to listen to customers and keep an open mind if they want to excel

 

There is a great blog entry that Duct Tape Marketing has done recently on how to create and maintain small business growth.  What I think is the key theme here is innovation and a focus on the ideal customer. It is no longer enough to, in the case of men’s wear, have good product that gentlemen have been coming to buy at your store for the last number of years. Today, what you need to do if you want to survive and thrive is understand your client and their character, understand your own character, and then continually try new approaches and ideas to better cater to their needs.  Keeping an open mind in an otherwise traditional business is the key to success.

The writers lay it out in three phases: Foundation, Growth, Momentum.

Foundation:

This is where you must experiment with finding your ideal customer, testing out ways to differentiate, and finding your secret process sauce. This phase isn’t simply about getting your marketing materials and web site created. This is the crucial strategy laying phase and it often requires starting and restarting, but the important element is a mindset of finding your niche and special approach.

We have found that stores who carry us for custom orders end up building their business with us, and even booking clothing from our line, based on the fact that they have simply introduced their customers to the Antonio Valente products, fabrics, features and ability to deliver in ways few others can.  Their customers appreciate being shown something new that is interesting and a bit different, but still in line with their values.  They reward the store by buying the products, and the stores in turn make more room for Antonio Valente shirts, suits, tuxedo’s, sport jackets and slacks in their stores.

Growth

During this phase successful long-term growth is built on taking what you’ve learned about your customer and what they value and expanding your reach, confidently into a larger universe of prospects, knowing that you now have the right message and have developed marketing systems that help you educate and build trust.

With innovation also comes focus.  Antonio Valente is committed to providing retail stores with outstanding and innovative products that will keep their customers returning to the stores.  Retail stores, in turn, are committed to buying product that they know their clients will like, and will tell their friends about.  The key for both Antonio Valente as a supplier, and for the Retailer, is to keep providing the customer with new and relevant innovations on whatever the niche and focus of the store is.  If you do that properly, the customer base will grow.

Momentum:

Maintaining growth and momentum comes from continuously monitoring, measuring, and adapting to the wants and needs of your ideal customer. It comes from staying one step ahead of your competitors and two steps ahead of the new thing. It’s achieved through your commitment to constant re-education, your openness to new ideas and new ways of doing things, and willingness to take the time and space to get outside your business and learn from the experience that every industry has to offer.

We completely agree with this approach and advice.  The menswear stores carrying Antonio Valente are a great example. They are constantly speaking with their clients to assess needs (in our case, customers are saying that they want more quality and less focus on high-profile brands), are staying ahead of their competition by booking our products, and sometimes finding comfort in knowing they are the first store in their area to carry Antonio Valente. They are of course also not just saying they are open to new ideas, they are showing their customers they are as well.

 

Listening to your client is the best way to offer keep them talking about you

Listening to your client is the best way to offer keep them talking about you

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