I went to a very wonderful opening for Dock Street Market last Friday. It used to be a decent enough shop that had many fans and reportedly turned over a million a year. But still it could not survive.
Now the shop has been taken over by a number of local artisan producers and entrepreneurs, all of whom offer a phenomenal product. We have fish and chips reinvented by the wonderful Fish &, excellent north Italian coffee and more from Bottega Milanese, superb breads from the Riverside Sourdough Bakery and more. The people behind these businesses are phenomenally hard working and focussed on quality, service and value. They are doing their bit to make the collaborative project a success.
But my interest is in the role of the rest of us. The fine citizens of Leeds. Of the 700 000 plus people that live in the city, my guess is that the vast majority will not even know that the Dock St Market exists. They are ‘strangers’ to the market. Perhaps 10 ooo or so are aware of the market and certainly a couple of hundred rocked up at the opening last week. These constitute ‘prospects’. People who know the market exists and may become customers.
But customers so far, by definition, are a smaller group. Having only just opened not many of us have had the chance to spend our cash in Dock Street Market yet….
A large part of the success of the market will depend on the rate at which strangers are turned in to prospects, prospects are turned into customers, and customers are turned into loyal supporters of the brand.
Historically this process of marketing and sales would be down to the entrepreneurs. This is their job. But I am interested in the role of the rest of us. Those who are already prospects and customers, and our ability to help in the sales and marketing process. Our power to influence others to check out and support the development of the great independent traders in Dock Street Market.
Because the ability of a community to support great business is perhaps as important in developing an enterprise culture as the development of the entrepreneur.
Social media has amplified the voice of the prospect and the customer. It can help to reach the strangers. As can word of mouth strategies based on good quality referrals and introductions.
So of course let us keep giving the entrepreneurs the training and skills that they need. But let us also consider how we can equip the rest of us to properly support businesses in our community.
Good luck to all behind the Dock St Market venture. And let’s see just how much the rest of us can do to really support the kind of independent, artisan based businesses that many of us say we want to see thriving in Leeds.
You can find Dock St just south of the river. It is well worth checking out!