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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 20 November 2018

How to refresh your business without starting from scratch

Ensure your customers will stick around for the long-run but don't give in to fads

Trendy coffee shops come and go, but building a brand with staying power means keeping up to date. AP
Trendy coffee shops come and go, but building a brand with staying power means keeping up to date. AP

Within the Emirati community we know how many restaurants and cafes are just a fad. People would be so crazy about café X one day and you’d 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 specialty 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 6-month pop-up, how do you ensure that your customers will stick around for the long-run? How can you make sure that your business will not just be a passing fad? Things are great now, and customers may be flocking to your store, and you can barely keep up with the orders, but how can you ensure that that stays?

In order to compete, you may be urged to always re-invent yourself or to start over. But that shouldn’t be the only solution and it’s surely not cost-efficient. You don’t need to start over and introduce a whole new concept or re-do 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 your customers 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 showcase accessories designers from the community. You could host special dinner events for your most loyal customers or hold a competition where every once in a while your windows display is designed by a customer or a designer from the community.

If you have a website or a store on social media, then you can always spice up your page. Make sure that the contents on your website are always up-to-date, that your website is mobile friendly and is 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. Right now, the image trend is all about a Polaroid or film effect. That way you will show your customers that you are on trend.

Your team should be up-to-date, too

Appearances are not everything, you need to make sure that your team is on the cutting edge, too. Are they keeping up with the industry’s latest trends? Are they aware with what’s cool or what’s not? Do they know what their customers are tuned into most? Are they where their customers are? 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 an ever-growing market.

Tryano, a department store in Abu Dhabi, is a great example of a business that’s keeping up-to-date with the market. In Ramadan, pop-up fashion exhibitions are very popular around the Arabian Gulf, where many people visit different pop-up events around the country to shop for Eid. For the past couple of years, Tryano has done their own version in the store and have invited along emerging designers to showcase their designs there. Not only did they help support emerging designers by providing them with a key location to reach their market but have also increased footfall to their store.

Revive your marketing effort

Last but not least, the key is to be where your customers are. That means you should be where they are tuned in to receive their information. Forget traditional channels and think of creative ways to reach your target audience, whether it’s through a targeted competition in collaboration with a famed social media influencer, or directly through your Instagram channels. Make it about them and the positive impact you want to create in the community, and not so much about you. That’s what resonates most with millennials and generation Z clients.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and entrepreneur, who manages her creative consultancy in Abu Dhabi.