Tuesday 23 January 2018

Help! I've no money left over to promote my new bridal boutique

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn

Feargal Quinn

Q: I am just about to open a bridal boutique in a little village called Greyabbey in Co Down. The village has everything you need for a wedding, from an abbey for the marriage, a florist, country house, etc.

My problem is this: have absolutely no money left at all to do any advertising/marketing for my own business. Any ideas? 

A: What a great place your village sounds. The perfect wedding venue for sure. I meet many businesses who struggle with a budget for advertising which is always a dilemma. Of course as you know, creating awareness of your business and brand is the key to success.

Start by talking to the other businesses you mention and see if they would be all willing to collaborate on a combined marketing effort, eg you could all email or text your customers and introduce each other's businesses to a wider customer group. It would also be great if you all agreed to promote each other's services via each companies' digital platforms.

What would be super is if you could organise a "village wedding fair" over a weekend and showcase the full combined offer. From what you say this would be a unique offer with so many different businesses in the one great location. You could think about getting a local radio station to broadcast it.

Free PR is always important when promoting your business on a limited budget. Try and think up some media-friendly opportunities you could create either for your own business or the combined group, eg could you get some testimonials from some of the famous people who have already got married there, or their guests. You could even consider offering a free wedding package as part of a competition which could be run in partnership with a TV station, whom I'm sure would be delighted with a prize this large! While you can do all of this on your own, I think your chance of getting substantial coverage will come from the magic created by a collaborative effort.

Q: I run a business and I have been under significant pressure for the last five years as my sales collapsed at a time when I had just taken on big borrowings and I now find myself under pressure constantly and dedicating many hours per week juggling the finances and worrying about banks. Can you give me any advice?

A: Your role as owner is to manage the business and maximise its opportunities in the marketplace. If you end up spending a disproportionate amount of time stressed out over your financial affairs and managing your cash flow, then your attention to running the business starts to diminish.

I have met so many business owners over the last five years who have found themselves in this predicament.

They lose complete focus on what their own role should be and instead become a slave to figures and their bank.

While this might sound like the correct thing to do, what these business owners don't realise is that their business slowly starts to die as it doesn't have the full attention of the business owner.

You have done the smart thing and simply by raising the question demonstrates that you are aware that there is a problem.

While the cash flow needs to be managed and bank relationships kept updated, you must return to your core role of managing the business.

Breathe new life into the business, let the expertise that you have be put into place and take great care that you balance your time in order to ensure that 90pc of it is spent where it should be, driving the sales and profitability forward.

You also indicated that you are becoming stressed out over all of this. Don't!

There are hundreds of thousands of people right throughout the country in the same situation as yourself, and sooner or later they all come to realise that life goes on regardless of the amount of money that you owe.

It isn't your fault that sales collapsed in the business and you borrowed the money with the full intention of repaying it to the financial insitution concerned.

No doubt you are an expert in your field and you just need to remind yourself of this. There is a danger from what you are describing that you will begin to convince yourself that you are working for the bank, rather than running your own successful enterprise.

Send your small business questions to himself@feargalquinn.ie

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