5 Strategies to Beat the First Quarter Retailer Blues

In the dim background of our mind, we know what we ought to be doing but somehow we cannot start.

~William James


Unless your business is located somewhere the Snowbirds flock to for the winter months like Florida, Arizona, California, or you’re running a business in a busy ski resort area, like me, you may experiencing a bit of the First Quarter Retailer Blues.

Where just one month ago, you couldn’t find a parking space within several city blocks, the streets and parking lots are now mostly empty, and our shoppers are snuggled up at home.  This is always disheartening to me and it seems that even after being an independent retailer for 32 January’s, I tend to struggle with my confidence as a business woman during these first couple of months of the year. This post really is a first quarter 2015 To-Do list for myself as I need a bit of coaching to remind me to get my mind back in the game! Like the quote above relates, I know what I ought to be doing, I just need to GET STARTED!

1.  Attend Winter Markets
Attending the major markets in the first quarter is my #1 way to beat the Winter Blues.  It is a great time to refresh, renew and swap product and promotional ideas with fellow retailers.  I love to see all of the new product, and be inspired by the beautiful designer displays, think about giving some lines that are not producing the boot, and bring in new products for this year! Go with a game plan and a budget or you can be in over your head very quickly!  Spend time talking with other retailers in the showrooms, and definitely stop in when you see a big crowd gathered at a booth or product line and ask what all the excitement is about!

This is a great time to intentionally meet other retailers who are outside of your market area so you can freely share ideas for both marketing and product. Talk to people on the elevator, while waiting in line for dinner, or in your hotel lobby. If they’re wearing a Market Badge, I figure they’re fair game and we can learn something from each other!

2.  Create an Annual Marketing Plan
January is the best month to sit down and create a marketing plan for the year.  My friend Carol is a brilliant store owner from about 4 hours away, and we schedule a day each January and work through our year together.  It’s not that we couldn’t do this on our own, but by setting time aside and having an appointed day to meet, we hold each other accountable to getting this done!

We start by going through last years promotions and repeating those that worked really well, then we add in new ideas that we would like to try that we heard from other retailers at Market. Next we add in Vendor Events such as our Vera Bradley launches, and of course major holiday promotions. We go through “silly holiday” websites and add some fun days that we can tie into such as National Pi Day (March 14), Best Friends Day (June 8), or Sister Day (August 4). We then brainstorm to see what products or events we can tie into those fun days. Finally, we get it all down on paper…yes a paper calendar!

By doing this project together we have someone to brainstorm with, swap ideas with and it feels so good to get it done. Of course, this is plan is flexible, but when you’re staring at the computer and trying to come up with a promotion, it is so helpful to have a calendar full of ideas. Our mutual friend Steve from Michigan, who is an awesome retailer had his 2015 Marketing Plan already done before the January market!

3.  Connect with Other Retailers on a Regular Basis
Another great idea to refresh yourself during the dreary winter months is to choose another retailer or two and commit to staying in touch with them throughout 2015.  I have several retail friends around the country and have a reminder set in my phone to give them a call or email once or twice a month. Other positive, hard working retailers are the best source of inspiration! However, we get so busy during the year that a month or two will go by and we realize that we have not connected with the very people who can actually relate to the issues and challenges that we face as retailers or small business owners.

Read a great article or email? Forward it with a quick note to two or three other retailers! It only takes a minute and you will be amazed at how those emails can arrive at just the right moment to inspire them. Of course it is just as good when they send you something they think you will find useful! My friend Connie from Texas does a great job with this…she shares generously with other retailers and I am so appreciative of this! One of my goals for 2015 is to become better at intentionally reaching out and connecting with other great retailers!

4.  Learn Something NEW!
Sign up for an online class, attend a seminar, read a couple of new business books, listen to a new podcast, attend a webinar, take a painting class, or eat dinner in a new restaurant. Get out of your normal, daily routine.  This will help you expand your knowledge, make you more interesting to visit with and you never know what you might be able to pull into your business when you step outside of your own box!  Here are a few books you might consider:

5.  Stop Procrastinating
January 2015 is almost over! It’s past time to put your work boots on and get started putting your 2015 plans into action!

  • Make a reservation and plan to attend at least one market this spring.
  • Create your 2015 Marketing Plan. Get it on paper. (I would love a copy!)
  • Connect with at least two other Savvy Retailers this week, then calendar a reminder to talk again each month throughout this year.
  • Sign up for a class, order a couple of business books (and read them!) or attend a webinar that relates to your business or a hobby that you might be interested in.

Have you ever struggled with the Retailer Blues after the holidays? I would love to hear how you stay motivated during the slower times of the year. Please leave a comment in the space below or on the Remarkable Retailer Facebook Page.

Here’s one parting piece of advice from Brian Tracy, author of the fabulous book Eat That Frog: Stop Procrastinating and Get More Done. (Yes, you should order this book!)

Practice the philosophy of continuous improvement. Get a little bit better every single day.Brian Tracy

Please let me know if I can help you in any way! You can always contact me at vicki@remarkableretailer.com

Thank you for inspiring me along the journey to becoming REMARKABLE!

~Vicki Adrian

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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4 thoughts on “5 Strategies to Beat the First Quarter Retailer Blues

  1. Thanks for the additional reading resources. Although “the pile” I keep is still full of some great titles, I’m always appreciative of more! This week I have been working on our 2015 seasonal calendar. This is always a fun project for me and I am always surprised how many retailers DON’T do this! It is probably the more time-saving valuable project I do all year! Thanks for your inspiration and great words. Much appreciated (again) 🙂

    • I should post a photo of my “pile” right now Julie! I agree, taking time to do a seasonal calendar is invaluable! Hope you are enjoying basking in the sun for a few more weeks. Looking forward to seeing you in May! ~Vicki

    • Hi Kim…
      Thank you so much for leaving a comment. It’s always good to know that someone is actually reading my work! I absolutely love retail, but there are challenges that only someone in the “trenches” can relate to! Would you send your store’s Facebook Page link so I can connect? ~Vicki