Growing our businesses requires a commitment to do the work it takes to grow our businesses, but sometimes when I talk to my colleagues there is a disconnect between what it takes to work in our businesses, and what it takes to work on our businesses.
I love working in my business. I derive legitimate joy from discussion with customers, from matching that board game regular with the next game they're going to love, and from the relationships I've developed over the years of customer interaction in this industry. Those are things I enjoy, and things I continue to do to this day, but those things don't actually grow my business. Incremental sales through personal customer interaction are nice, but they are not, in my opinion, going to grow my business over a long period of time.
To grow the business, we must work on it, instead of in it. Working on your business can take on dozens of different appearances. So today, a couple of ideas for working ON your business instead of in it.
Are your marketing efforts successful? How do you measure that success? Is marketing success about engagement or is it about a measurable sales figure. I'm not going to tell you how to measure success, but marketing your business is a fantastic example of working on the business instead of in the business.
Develop marketing plans, execute marketing plans, and develop tools for measuring the success or failure of those marketing plans. In our world of constant marketing changes through social media figuring out what you can do to stand out from the crowd is an example of working on your business, and one that you should be able to see measurable results in even in the short-term.
This could be thought of with marketing, but I like to think of them separately here. Marketing (in my world) reaches customers and people who are already potential customers. A targeted Facebook ad finds people who may like a certain thing, and reaches them to tell them I have that thing, or something similar to that thing that I think they'd like.
Community engagement is about creating new targets for my marketing campaigns. Community engagement is about training the next generation of gamers. Over the weekend we took a handful of games to the Family Dance at a local elementary/middle school. At that dance we taught games to small children (/poignets) and their families, as well as handed out coupons with our store information and deals on those games. Coupons with a super-short referral time (these were good for eight days) force interested parties to come to us quickly, so they'll learn where we are and what we do while things are fresh in their minds.
You can do community engagement pieces at schools, churches, bars, or anywhere else that will let you do them. Some of these engagement activities are things we get paid for, and some of them are things we do voluntarily. We have yet to ever have to pay to do one.
Know Your Numbers
I keep the store sorted into what amounts to six different categories; Miniature Games, CCGs, RPGs, CMGs, Board Games, and Other Schtuff. :p
Each of those has sub-categories; like Tools and Accessories, or Paint, under Miniature Games, and Minis, and Dice, under RPGs. Regardless, every product in the store belongs to one of those six major categories above. So, from that information I get to know where my bread is pretty well buttered. I can look at the bottom line number of each category that accounts for all of the sub-categories in each grouping and tell you what percentage (approximately) each category accounts for in my income.
(I have to say approximately because CCGs get credit for every pack of opaque sleeves we sell, and that's not really right. Minis get credit for every pot of paint we sell, and that's not really correct either, but I can't ask every paint purchaser what they're doing with them and then categorize on the fly, can I? That would be working in my business way too much.)
So, from numbers I can tell you that CCGs accounted for 26.78% of my business in 2017 (Magic, Destiny, Pokemon, and some old closeouts). But, if you add accessories that department moves to 35.34% of all income, making it, de facto, the largest of the six departments.
CCG - 35.34% Board Games - 21.97% Miniature Games - 21.82% RPGs - 16.78%
CMGs - 1.73% Other Schtuff - The Rest
That Other Schtuff category includes packaged F&B (2.94%), collectibles, novels & periodicals, anything that doesn't fit in the first five. It's stuff we carry, but not stuff we do, if that makes a lick of sense.
I love numbers. I love giant spreadsheets with hundreds of tabs and billions of cells. I love opening a spreadsheet and seeing how a publisher did from 2016 to 2017. I love opening a spreadsheet and seeing how each publisher ranked in my store in any given year.