Setting Up For 2024: A Fourth Quarter Merch Crash-Course
2024 WILL BE HERE BEFORE YOU KNOW IT – DON’T PROCRASTINATE!
If you’re a Merch by Amazon creator then, as a creative entrepreneur, you’re probably given to paralyzing bouts of procrastination.
Fear and panic should be wake-up calls, but they make your head spin, and you don’t know where to start, so you don’t do anything.
That’s perfectly normal.
I’m sure you’ve seen recent reassurances on social media that procrastination isn’t laziness (despite what we were taught), but fear – fear of failure, fear of success, fear of not knowing/having what it takes to advance.
The logical voice on the other side of your brain is screaming at you to ignore these feelings because the clock is ticking and if you don’t do something soon, you’ll wake up in January and at the starting line of a half-finished race.
So, let this serve as a wake-up call: 2024 called, it wants its merch already.
THERE IS NOTHING TO FEAR BUT FEAR ITSELF
If you’re a fan of Frank Herbert’s Dune, you’re familiar with the “Litany Against Fear”, which we won’t pretentiously quote here. In sum, it’s a self-soothing mantra that allows you to acknowledge the fear but let it pass through you.
We already acknowledged the fear above. Now let is pass through you, then turn around and look behind you:
What remains is a successful 2023.
Congratulations, you’re now in a place to reassure yourself that whatever fears you may have about being ready for 2024 are unfounded. You’ve already done it in 2023, what’s so hard about doing it again in 2024?
Honestly? There are a few things that could prevent 2024 from being as successful as your 2023, such as:
- Economic headwinds
- Changes to Amazon’s MBA rules
- Global volatility
- Your customers may want something different
- Shifts in marketing regulations
- Your customers may see something similar to yours, but for some reason, “better”
- A competitor may be a better marketer
- You may have become complacent in your workflow
- You may have just been lucky
Some of these things are out of your control, but the vast majority of the elements that affect your business are in your control.
So, with both a lot of time and no time between now and the end of the year, it’s time to take a hard look at your 2023 and gain insights for 2024.
For the next few months, we are going to take a crash course in how to effectively plan for improvement in your next year’s Merch by Amazon business.
You know that to have your own business is to let your entire self be consumed by it.
Your “self” is more than just a set of organs, muscles and nerves – it’s how they holistically function together. Just as any organism has different metabolic systems, so does the business of a small product-based entrepreneur.
PRODUCTS: The heart of your business. The things you create and an audience willing to buy them.
CHANGE MANAGEMENT: The business environment. The platforms you sell on, the technology that fuels them, the rules that govern them and the speed/frequency at which they shift.
WORKFLOW: How your business moves. How you make your products, how you sell them, how you list them, maintain inventory, fulfill orders.
BRANDING: Your identity. Your values and how they are represented by your products and customer service.
MARKETING: Your social interaction. How you find people, connect with them, what you share with others through a common love of your creation and why you create.
As a result, our “class” is going to be a hybrid of biology, psychology, sociology and some PE. We’re going to dissect, analyze and train it so that it operates at peak performance for the marathon that starts on January 1.
Before we engage in a program for 2024, we have to measure the health of your 2023, and we’re going to examine it metabolic system by metabolic system.
Assessing your product performance is the first step in understanding your business’s strengths and weaknesses.
What sold well? Why?
Take a deep dive into your sales data and identify which products performed exceptionally well. Was it due to a unique selling point, effective marketing, or customer demand? Understanding why certain products excelled can help replicate success.
What did not sell? Why not?
Likewise, analyze products that underperformed. Was it due to market saturation, pricing issues, or ineffective marketing? Identifying the root causes can prevent future losses.
What will sell? Why do you think so?
Predict future trends and consumer preferences based on market research. This allows you to proactively plan your product lineup for the upcoming year.
What did you want to sell but didn’t get to?
Reflect on any missed opportunities. Were there products you intended to launch but couldn’t? Understanding the obstacles can help with future planning.
The digital landscape is ever-evolving, and understanding platform changes is vital.
What platform rules/functions changed?
Stay up-to-date with changes in rules and functions on your selling platforms. Compliance is key to avoiding issues.
What platform rules/functions are expected to change?
Research and anticipate future changes. Being prepared can give you a competitive edge.
What platform changes will improve your listings?
Identify opportunities to optimize your listings based on platform changes. This can enhance your visibility and sales.
What new opportunities/limitations can you forecast?
Look ahead to predict how platform changes might create new opportunities or limitations for your business.
Efficiency is critical for productivity.
What workflow obstacles were human-related?
Examine how human factors, such as training or communication issues, affected your workflow. Addressing these can lead to smoother operations.
What workflow obstacles were due to technical limitations/restrictions?
Technical limitations can slow you down. Identify these constraints and consider potential upgrades or workarounds.
Take an honest look at your time management.
Time management is often overlooked but is a significant factor in productivity. Reflect on your time allocation and seek ways to optimize it.
Your brand identity is the essence of your business.
Does your current product line reflect your core brand?
Evaluate whether your products align with your brand’s identity and values. Consistency is crucial for brand trust.
Should you evolve your brand based on product forecasts or vice versa?
Consider whether your brand or your products should lead change. Sometimes, one can drive the other.
What branding actions/elements need to be changed/updated?
Identify areas of your branding that require updating, such as logos, messaging, or visuals.
Effective marketing is the lifeblood of any business.
What marketing efforts succeeded and why?
Analyze successful marketing campaigns to understand what resonated with your audience. Plan to replicate these strategies.
What marketing efforts failed and why?
Learn from failed campaigns. Understand the reasons behind their lack of success and don’t make the same mistakes in 2024.
What marketing efforts did you not get to attempt?
Reflect on missed opportunities and consider integrating them into your future marketing plans.
What changes have affected your marketing plans, for better or worse?
External factors can impact marketing plans. Assess how changes in the business landscape affected your marketing strategy.
These are going to be tough questions to answer, as they will require you to be blunt and honest with yourself.
From now until the end of the year, we are going to self-examine each metabolic system in our businesses, identify strengths and weaknesses, increase our efficiency, energize our brands and magnify our marketing.
Your homework? Ask yourself each of the questions above, and next week come back with at least two or three answers about your products, which will be the subject of our next entry.