Be on trend and stay con­nected with cus­tomers

The National - News - - BUSINESS - MA­NAR AL HINAI Ma­nar Al Hinai is an award-win­ning Emi­rati writer and en­tre­pre­neur, who man­ages her cre­ative con­sul­tancy in Abu Dhabi

Within the Emi­rati com­mu­nity we know how many restau­rants and cafes are just fads. Peo­ple be­come so crazy about Cafe X one day and you have to wait in long queues to be served, only to find that place com­pletely empty a year down the line. It’s a dilemma that many restau­rant own­ers face, and an is­sue many clients seek my ad­vice on.

Cus­tomers, es­pe­cially mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z, are al­ways on the look­out for new places and new ex­pe­ri­ences. Right now there’s a spe­cial­ity cof­fee craze, and a cou­ple of years be­fore it was all about juicy burger joints. What will the next year hold? We will have to wait and see.

As an en­tre­pre­neur, and if your busi­ness isn’t a mere six-month pop-up, how do you en­sure that your cus­tomers will stick around? How can you make sure that your busi­ness will not just be a pass­ing fad? Things may be great now with cus­tomers flock­ing to your store and you can barely keep up with the or­ders. But can you en­sure it stays that way?

To com­pete ef­fec­tively, you may be urged to al­ways rein­vent your­self or start all over. But that shouldn’t be the only so­lu­tion – and it’s surely not cost-ef­fi­cient. You don’t need to in­tro­duce a whole new con­cept or re­think your busi­ness plans to stay cur­rent.

There are sev­eral ways to make pro­found changes that will re­new your brand and keep your cus­tomers com­ing back for more.

Un­dergo a facelift

The ap­pear­ance of your store or web­site can have a huge im­pact on cus­tomer be­hav­iour. If you have a phys­i­cal store, change the lay­out ev­ery now and then. Have pop-ups or bring in lo­cal tal­ents to the store to spice things up.

If you have a cloth­ing store for in­stance, maybe you can host a work­shop with one of your fash­ion de­sign­ers, or plan pop-up events where you dis­play the wares of ac­ces­sories de­sign­ers from the com­mu­nity. You could host spe­cial din­ner events for your most loyal cus­tomers or hold a com­pe­ti­tion where your win­dows dis­play is de­signed by a cus­tomer or a de­signer.

If you have a web­site or a store on so­cial me­dia, you can al­ways spice up your page. Make sure that the con­tents on your web­site are al­ways up to date, that it is mo­bile-friendly and up­dated with the lat­est tech ad­vance­ments. Even the way your con­tent is laid out on so­cial me­dia must fol­low the lat­est trends in terms of photo colour­ing, de­sign and lay­out. Just now the im­age trend is all about a Po­laroid or film ef­fect. That way you will show cus­tomers that you are on trend.

Your team should also be up-to-date

You also need to make sure that your team is on the cut­ting edge. Are they keep­ing up with the in­dus­try’s lat­est trends? Are they aware with what’s cool and what’s not? Do they know what their cus­tomers are tuned into? Your team and your cus­tomers can’t be speak­ing two dif­fer­ent lan­guages. They should al­ways be a step ahead. That’s the only way to stay cur­rent in a grow­ing mar­ket.

Tryano, a depart­ment store in Abu Dhabi, is a great ex­am­ple of a busi­ness that is keep­ing up to date. Dur­ing Ra­madan, pop-up fash­ion ex­hi­bi­tions are pop­u­lar around the Ara­bian Gulf, with many peo­ple shop­ping for Eid.

For the past cou­ple of years, Tryano has done its own ver­sion in the store and in­vited emerg­ing de­sign­ers to dis­play their work there. This both pro­vided sup­port for the de­sign­ers at in­creased foot­fall at the store.

Re­vive your mar­ket­ing ef­fort

The key is to be where your cus­tomers are. For­get tra­di­tional chan­nels and think of cre­ative ways to reach your tar­get au­di­ence, whether it’s through a tar­geted com­pe­ti­tion in col­lab­o­ra­tion with a so­cial me­dia in­flu­encer, or di­rectly through your In­sta­gram chan­nels. Make it about them and the pos­i­tive im­pact you want to cre­ate, and not so much about you. That’s what res­onates most with mil­len­ni­als and Gen­er­a­tion Z clients.

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