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Reading is Fundamental

What you can gain by reading trade magazines

Parents have long been told it is important to begin reading to their children at a very early age. For many, it begins with a bed time story as Mom or Dad tucks the child into bed. As the child approaches school age, it is recommended that the parents teach the child to read for themselves. There are programs that companies have underwritten in an effort to get children to read. Two of those that come to mind are, "Reading is Fundamental", and "Book It!" As the children pass certain goals in reading, these companies provide incentive awards to the children.

Apparently many families have followed through with the idea, as indicated by all of the books being sold by neighborhood book dealers, "big box" booksellers, and companies such as Amazon.com.

When you look at the number of book titles available to a reader, you will undoubtedly find it is only a fraction of a percentage of the books that have anything within their pages that deals with retail. Consider the number of books that are business oriented, but contain material that can be adapted to retailing, and you still have a very small choice of titles.

Of course, that is expecting that you have the time and perseverance to look through all of the books on the shelves and on the computer listings trying to find these appropriate books. This followed by the necessary time spent reading the book in an effort to find those nuggets that you can apply to make your store more profitable. The day, and evening of most retailers is so occupied by those items commanding your attention, how can you ever get ahead?

In college, many students utilized a series of booklets that were designed to maximize their study time. The booklets were often summaries of the much larger books they were to read. Some booklets provided a synopsis of the overall course the professor had created.

Perhaps a great idea, but those synopsis booklets do not exist in the retailer format as we have described. The information we would expect to see in one of those synopsis booklets does exist in a different format. Regardless of what aspect of retail you are in, there is definitely more than one trade publication bringing the industry news, product information, an editorial or two, and then business management articles.

Let's take a look at each of the four sections of these magazines to see what we can gain from our reading. Industry news - This is the section where you read the changes with manufacturers, wholesalers, and individuals. The most progressive retailers this writer has had the opportunity of speaking with are very fluent with regard to what is going on within their industry.

Product information - The product information in the publications comes in two forms. One is the page that gives the announcements of a new product by a manufacturer. Many publications even have reader inquiry cards that make it very easy for you to get information on a new product very quickly.

The second product information comes in the form of the feature articles that tell you about the trends in products. These articles often quote manufacturers and dealers and provide you with comparisons of the features of the products. From this information you will gain assistance as you change your current selection of inventory.

Editorials - Most often the editorial staff members are trained journalists. The skills they have allow you to read their insight as to what is happening within the industry. As compared to a traditional newspaper that will have a reputation of being conservative or liberal, the trade publication gives a more neutral observation of how your industry is changing. This is accomplished by the many trade shows, conferences, and one on one visits with industry leaders that the editors have participated in.

Business management articles - Whether written by industry experts, editors, or outside consultants, the business management articles are able to provide you with assistance in becoming a better owner or manager of your business. The topics include financial management, pricing strategies, advertising and promotion, family succession plans, personnel management, and just about every other opportunity or concern that you could possibly experience.

Together, these four areas of the trade publication provide you with more assistance and information than the best of the tip booklets could ever contain. Earlier we mentioned that almost every aspect of retail has several trade publications. Most of these publications are looking to have as many of the retailers from that industry on their subscription list as possible. This is because the manufacturers and wholesalers in that industry, who are placing their ads in the magazines, want to think that every possible merchant within that industry is seeing their ad. Therefore, with most of the magazines, a subscription is free to a business within that industry. Just like the mainstream publications, most trade magazines have subscription cards and forms within their pages to make it easier for you to get on their mailing list.

The last point we want to make is to invite you to think outside the box. While the product and industry news will not apply, the rest of a magazine targeting office supply stores is just as applicable to a clothing retailer as it is to the office supply dealers. The basic concepts of managing a business transcend from one industry to another. Even though the examples may be foreign to you, the underlying principals most definitely apply to your business.

Your assignment today is to call up and visit some of your retailing friends. Tell them you want to bring them a stack of trade publications that you have been reading, and before you visit, you want them to collect a stack of magazines for you. Read through each of the publications you have been given, and then pull out those subscription cards and be ready to profit from your increased reading. For when it comes to profitability, reading is fundamental.

 

 

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This article is copyrighted by Tom Shay and Profits Plus Solutions, who can be reached at: PO Box 1577, St. Petersburg, Fl. 33731. Phone 727-464-2182. It may be printed for an individual to read, but not duplicated or distributed without expressed written consent of the copyright owner.
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