It breaks my heart to go shopping sometimes. There’s the “Going out of business sale,” the pride-saving “Lost our lease sale,” and the cardboard headstone “Space For Rent.” They are all a result of the same problem . . . not enough customers.

It’s nice when you can open a business and attract new customers the next day. It’s great when a website guarantees your profitability. But none of those things happen without good planning. Without a good plan, and the proper execution, businesses die very quickly.


1. Let people know you exist. Advertise and market yourself—don’t forget social media (It doesn’t cost anything), Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook, etc. If people don’t know where you are and what you do, they can’t buy from you. Marketing greatly increases your chances of success, so set up a marketing calendar and plan ahead. Ask customers for referrals, send an e-newsletter with valuable information, send an e-mail blast, be an expert in your field for the media (they are always looking for human-interest stories). Plan fun promotions and in-store events. Time is the “new currency”—let customers know about your “time-saving” services.

2. Be customer-friendly. Make the customer feel comfortable with your product, service or services. Provide an environment and an experience that will bring them back again. Make them feel good about spending their money with you. I walk by stores all the time that are open, but look very dark inside with the sales clerk sitting behind the counter. That doesn’t make me feel like going inside. You can’t attract new customers if they are not comfortable with you.

3. Look the part. Businessmen wear suits. Policemen carry guns. You are reading this article because we look the part. We effectively display our ability to attract new customers. You can do the same when you look the part. If you were going to buy tools, you would expect a guy with a tool belt and a smock to help you out right? After all, he looks like he knows what he’s talking about. What if you went to go buy a power saw and a lady in a clown suit asked if she could help you? Exactly. Look the part and you can attract new customers without any problems.

You would be surprised at how many businesses break these simple rules. I go exploring around my new Denver home and find little out-of-the-way businesses that I would have never known about before. They are good businesses with absolutely no exposure. So when I go back a few months later to see them again, they are out of business. It’s very sad. They don’t go out of business because they are bad at business, it’s just that no one knew where they were so they never made enough money to stay open. You can’t attract new customers when they don’t know you exist.

Copyright 2013. Reprinted with permission from Barbara Wold’s Retail & Consumer Tips. To receive Barbara’s newsletter, e-mail