Cyber Monday is here, and your email inbox is likely being inundated with promotions, sales and coveted discount codes.
There’s no doubt that the Black Friday / Small Business Saturday / Cyber Monday trifecta can be an incredible revenue opportunity for small businesses.
Yet these hotly anticipated annual shopping days also mean big competition, including from big brands with global reach (and the budgets to match).
So how do you cut through the noise to reach your current and target customers for optimal Cyber Monday results? The key is strategic planning. And that’s where Kauffman FastTrac comes in.
Starting a business isn’t easy, but it just might be one of the best decisions you make. As your entrepreneurial journey unfolds, FastTrac’s with you, supporting you with the resources, tools and insight you need to not only launch your business, but to also help your company thrive.
The FastTrac course curriculum is immersive, flexible and freely available online so you can learn at your own pace. Whether you simply have a business idea, a fully formed business plan or have already brought your idea to market, FastTrac can help you understand where you are, where you’re going and what you need to do next.
Melanie Coleman’s story is an ideal example. During a trip to Alaska with her daughter in 2010, Melanie took advantage of a much-needed break to contemplate her 25-year career in corporate finance.
On that same trip, Melanie and her daughter visited several small art studios, where Melanie had a chance to meet the artists and learn their stories, something she finds as compelling as the pieces each artist create.
And when their trip drew to a close, Melanie’s daughter posed the million-dollar question: “When are you going to do this for yourself?”
As the concept for her business, TallulahBelle’s, came together, Melanie enrolled in FastTrac. After graduating in 2011, she launched TallulahBelle’s that same year as a destination for an extraordinary collection of exquisitely designed and handcrafted jewelry, handbags, textiles, blown glass, woodworks and more, all created by local, regional or national artists.
The omnichannel business, with both a brick-and-mortar location in Leawood, Kansas, and an eCommerce component, continues to thrive, and Melanie credits FastTrac as the sounding board that helped her bring her vision to life.
“FastTrac provided a structural format in which I could fully develop and vet business concepts,” she says. “The program, trained facilitators and other participants were supportive and offered insightful questions and opinions.”
A key part of a small business’ success during a national event like Cyber Monday is strategic marketing that includes a relevant, impactful and actionable message tailored to a carefully defined target audience.
In other words? Think of marketing like this: the right message delivered to the right people at the right time and in the right format.
Consider your own inbox, for example. What messages or brands prompt you to open, click and even buy? Which ones do you send straight to the trash?
Part of the FastTrac curriculum includes defining your company’s brand and marketing, finding your target marketing and identifying your competitive advantage. With those key elements, you’ll have much of what you need to develop a strategic marketing plan that can be used year-round and also tailored for events like Cyber Monday.
In addition to actionable content, FastTrac also welcomes entrepreneurs into a far-reaching network that instantly expands their connections and learning opportunities. That type of peer-to-peer learning — sort of a startup focus group, if you will — can be just as effective as classes when it comes to planning and executing business ideas.
“It didn’t take long after I started Stir and Enjoy to realize that, while I was confident in my branding expertise, I needed to learn the ins and outs of running my own business,” says Brent Anderson, a 2010 graduate of FastTrac and founder of Stir and Enjoy, a food and beverage-focused brand experience firm. “FastTrac provided the opportunity to share and learn from the experiences of others in the same position. The information I learned and the relationships I formed during FastTrac continue to be important to my success.”
As you plan this year’s Cyber Monday shopping strategy, why not take that one step further and consider your business strategy? And if you haven’t yet launched your business, that’s just fine. The key is to use this (admittedly busy) time of year to look ahead and identify what you need to do to launch or grow your business.
After all, the possibilities are captivating. Cyber Monday sales in 2016 clocked in at an incredible $3.45 billion, according to Adobe Digital Insights (as reported by CNBC). That’s a 12.1 percent increase compared to 2015, and as omnichannel retail continues to thrive, the numbers likely have nowhere to go but up.
Here’s an approachable, actionable 3-step plan that you can apply to your own start-up planning:
1. This Cyber Monday, stay alert. Where are you spending your money and why? Are there any gaps in your Cyber Monday experience that your start-up could fill? Take notes!
2. Register for FastTrac and make a plan to incorporate the informative, manageable coursework into your weekly schedule.
3. Set some goals. Where do you want to be by this time next year? And how can FastTrac help you get there?
Change is daunting. And starting a business can be, too. But sometimes, all you need is a push. And that’s why FastTrac is here.
Your professional life could look very different by the time Cyber Monday 2018 rolls around. Are you ready to start a new chapter as an entrepreneur?
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