Any personal shopping service's client list depends, in large measure, on the variety of shopping and consultation offered. As pointed out earlier in this booklet, some personal shoppers also serve as wardrobe consultants, giving advice as well as selecting clothing items to show the client. Wardrobe consulting could be a profitable feature for a personal shopping service if the market has the potential clientele.Generally, if you are located in a market of less than 100,000 people, there will not be much demand for wardrobe consulting. That's why most personal shopping services are located in, or near a relatively large population base with an abundance of working people, and a variety of stores. The services offered in such a market can be varied to cater to specific client needs.If shopping for personal clothing is your forte, your client list will most likely be comprised of women. Many of these women will be making a transition into professional life and are in need of a business wardrobe. Your ability to consult with these client sunde fined to advise them and select an appropriate wardrobe will go a long way in determining your success as a personal shopper and consultant. If you do the job well, the chances of adding men to this particular client list will increase. In many cases, men are becoming more open to the idea of getting help in selecting their "professional" attire.Some of your personal clothing shopping will be done for parents who need help getting their children ready to go back to school. You may also get women who are soon to be married and need assistance in selecting gowns for the wedding. Some people, planning exotic vacations, may require your help in choosing a special "vacation" ensemble.In most cases, the previously mentioned clients are limited to large markets. If your market area is moderate to small, depending on "wardrobe" clients as a major source of your income is probably a mistake. You should rely on more generali sed shopping. Personal gift-shopping is a good way to release profits in any market.When you are shopping for gifts, most of your clients will be men. Many of these will be husbands who know what they want to get their wives but don't have the time to shop for themselves or have little, if any, idea where to shop. It'll be up to you to track down these items, usually in a limited amount of time.Other clients on your gift shopping client list will include executives who need to get gifts for their clients and employees.In most cases, these clients will also be men. As a rule, it seems that men prefer to have someone else shop for gifts rather than spend the time themselves going from store to store. So a personal shopper can usually count on men as a good source of clientele for this type of service.Your client list will also include some elderly people, or physically disabled people who aren't able to do their own shopping. These people are most generally interested in a grocery shopping service. This type of client, while not a major source of your income, will be a steady source.One major source of income for many personal shopping services is the corporate client. This type of client may take a great deal of time and effort to land, but the results will make it worthwhile. That's because corporate clients normally make large volume purchases, and if they are pleased with your service will be a source of repeat business.There's no doubt you'll have to work hard to get corporate clients. It requires a rather comprehensive study of your market in order to be familiar with all the potential clients, followed up by an impressive and convincing sales presentation. But if you can convince many of the businesses in your market that you can save them money, time and hassle by doing their necessary gift shopping for them, you'll have a valuable client list with a high profit potential. So you should be determined and persistent when pursuing these clients.In the most basic of terms, a personal shopping service's clientele depends on the types of services offered as well as the market's need. The client list will include busy professional sun defined both women and men, corporate clients with business gift needs, and senior citizens who are unable to do much shopping for themselves.Your market will dictate which segment of potential clients you should rely on. You'll need to know the kinds of people in your market area and what they need in a personal shopping service. Your service should cater to those needs.
ADVERTISING YOUR SERVICE
Even though your talents as a shopper may be formidable, you won't get much business if you don't let people know your service is available. That's why it is essential to develop an effective advertising and promotion strategy.Since personal shopping services are a relatively recent innovation, many people aren't familiar with them. These people need to know what a personal shopping service is and how it can be of benefit to them. It's up to you to let them know what you offer and how you can save them time and get better merchandise. The success of your service depends on how effectively you "spread the word" about what you are doing.Determining the best advertising campaign for your service will require some research of your market to understand the best way to reach the widest segment of potential clients. First of all, you'll need to have a good idea as to who your potential clients are, and how many of them there are. You'll also need to offer them something that isn't already available and then convince them to take advantage of your service.This "pre-marketing" research doesn't necessarily have to involve a great deal of expense. One good and inexpensive method of obtaining information about your potential market is to conduct your own survey. Discuss your personal shopping idea with all of your contact sun defined business and personal. You can also get a sampling of opinion by going through the phone directory and calling as many businesses and people as time will allow. Be prepared to ask specific questions that will allow you to obtain useable information.
Some questions worth asking include:
1) Would the person or business pay a service to do their shopping? If the answer is yes, you should then find out if they would use the service on a regular or repeat basis.
2) What kinds of shopping would these potential clients pay a service to do? Try to get them to be as specific as possible about wardrobe consulting, gift shopping, grocery shopping and so on.
3) What's the potential client's idea of a reasonable service fee? You may have to do some prompting here. That is, you may have to suggest something like 20 to 25 percent of the retail price. You should soon get an idea as to what the market would be willing to pay.
This isn't a scientific survey, but it should enable you to better plan and instigate your advertising campaign. You'll have a good idea as to who your potential clients are and what they would expect from a personal shopping service. The next step is to come up with an advertising budget you can afford and then find out where your advertising dollars can best be spent.
You'll have to use your own judgment as to how much you allocate as an advertising budget. However, you should keep in mind the importance of advertising to the success of your service. Many businesses, both small and large, budget anywhere from 1 to 5 percent of their projected gross sales for advertising and promotion. You should have at least some idea of projected gross sales from your pre-start-up research.
The important thing to remember is to be reasonable. Don't spend more than you can realistically afford. You'll need to be as financially sound as possible until your business is bringing in a healthy profit. At the same time, you don't want to undermine what an effective advertising campaign can do to help your business.
Once you have decided how much you can afford to spend on your initial advertising campaign you'll then have to select the media which will bring you the best results. Generally, for a personal shopping service, advertising in newspapers, the yellow pages, and by direct mail gets the best results.
A less expensive, but more time consuming, means of advertising is through personal contacts. This form of advertising usually works better in small markets, but can be effective in larger markets as well. You'll need several hundred professional business cards to pass around. Impressive business cards are not at all expensive and are a good way to get your name and service known. You'll also need to set aside a good bit of time making personal calls on prospective clients. This is an excellent way to let people know that your service is available.
When calling on a prospective client you must be well prepared. This means being able to explain your service in a clear and professional manner. Let your prospective clients know exactly what your shopping service offers and how it can be of benefit to them. And before you leave, make sure they have your business card as well as any brochures or flyers you may have detailing your service. Ask them to consider your shopping service, then follow up your presentation with a phone call a couple of weeks later. Don't let them forget about you and the service you are offering.
Newspaper advertising can be effective for a personal shopping service that gets most of its clients from the immediate community. Again, this type of advertising may work better in smaller to moderate markets. Most newspapers charge reasonable rates for display and classified ads and reach a high concentration of potential clients.
Another effective means of advertising your personal shopping service is in the yellow pages. Make sure you choose the most appropriate category for your listing or advertisement. You can have an illustrated quarter page spread or simply a one line listing with the name of your business, address and phone number.
The yellow pages can be one of the most effective methods of advertising at your disposal, so it is a good investment, especially when your service is just getting started. You'll have to be careful and get your ad in before the stated deadline, otherwise you will most likely be waiting an entire year before you can advertise in the yellow pages.
Other forms of advertising you should consider include; direct mail, which allows you to distribute information about your service to a selected group of potential clients, newsletters, flyers and brochures. All of these methods of advertising can be effective and are relatively inexpensive.
Knowing your market is the determining factor, along with your budget, as to the type and amount of advertising you do. It should be obvious however, that the more advertising you do, the better your chances of reaching the greatest number of potential clients. And that is, along with convincing those potential clients that your personal shopping service is the best in the market, what your advertising campaign should strive for.