The holiday season is underway. Keep revenue numbers high with the right marketing moves for this buying season.
Whether you sell products or services, the holidays are a good time to show existing customers you care—while you spread the word about your business to new leads.
Throughout the year, I work with entrepreneurs to improve business processes and increase income. Those who know me, know my goal is to make a millionaire out of each of my clients.
I help small business owners understand their business and offer a value proposition that makes them money. Knowing the desires, and behaviors, of customers and clients is important—especially during the holiday season.
The economic picture this season is dicey. Both Price Waterhouse and Deloitte predict consumers are planning to spend about what they did last year, with a lot of room for variation. There is increasing growth at the premium—and bargain—ends of the spectrum, with both groups looking for creative ideas and decent deals.
Top Eight Tips for Holiday Marketing in 2015
During the holiday crush, try these tips to boost your client base—before and after the holidays:
1. Watch your channels: Omni-channel marketing means using multiple channels to attract, engage, and serve your customer. Across screens, from corded computer to mobile app, entrepreneurs offer convenience, rewards, discounts, coupons, and information to ease the shopping experience, whether online, brick and mortar, or both. According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF), just about half (or 46 percent) of all browsing and buying this holiday will take place online. Buy buttons and links between e-commerce and physical stores give customers a super way to find what you have to offer.
2. Delivery options: Free shipping is offered by many retailers, and free is tough to beat. If not waiving, or deeply discounting shipping costs, consider online purchase and in-store pick-up. This offers your customers the convenience and pricing they want, and improves in-store sales when additional items are purchased when a product is picked up, or returned. Shoppers in the 18 to 35 year old range are more likely seeking same-day or two-day shipping—giving you an opening to provide premium service.
3. Discounts and self-gifting: With consumer confidence slightly higher, the average amount of money shoppers intend to spend on themselves has gone up. Consider discounts like buy two, get one free, and other variations to appeal to shoppers looking to take home a little something for themselves. Many retailers, like Walmart and Macy’s, already started price-matching or discounting earlier this year.
4. The gift everybody wants: Gift cards continue to be sought after and appreciated. In plastic or digital form, make it easy for your clients and customers to buy gift cards for products or services. Gift cards are a great way to reach beyond your current client base
5. Subscriptions: Subscriptions are not just for magazines anymore. From flowers, chocolate, wine, coffee, socks, and snacks—subscriptions for full, or sample-size products are a great way to showcase and introduce products, build loyalty, upsell—and convert new leads. Subscriptions are a gift that continues to give—and thrill—recipients throughout the year.
6. Location, location, location: Online, big box, and malls are expected to be profitable locations this holiday season. A holiday survey from Deloitte reports 30 percent of respondents are planning to shop at pop-up stores, festivals, flea markets, swaps, and other non-traditional retail opportunities. Think about “invitation only” events, or target client segments for special events.
7. Service, service, service: From web to store, offer value to your customer or client by making their buying journey easier. Use marketing automation on your website to encourage sales, offer bundled products, and close the deal. Whatever your product or service, be sure your website is easily browsed, gifts are categorized, and your shopping cart tech is fast.
Websites with an “Under $50 or $100” page could attract buyers who may stay longer and buy up. Use your client list and visitor information to send countdown Tweet and email gift ideas, discount offers, and surprise perks. Be clear about shipping dates and deadlines—and do your best to help last minute shoppers, even if they are outside your posted shipping deadlines. Have a store “open house,” plan an event with nearby merchants, and feature a product, or service, on a weekly or daily basis. Use social media to get the word out. Make the value irresistible.
8. Don’t forget the fruit basket: As the holiday nears, use automated tools to ensure your established client base hears from you. Fruit baskets, cheeses, cookies, cards, and discount coupons are all great ways to let customers and clients know you remember them—and that you hope they remember you in the coming year. If you have a physical location, show your spirit on the shopping days prior to the holiday—offer cookies, candies, or other treats—to all those who take the time to check out your store or service. The kindness is appreciated—and may be returned.
As time to the New Year ticks down, make a resolution to boost your income, and spend more time doing what you love—not worrying relentlessly about business survival. When you are ready to earn more money and a better life from your business, I hope you will call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
Make and save money by reducing employee turnover. How do you do that? Increase employee engagement.
My job is helping entrepreneurs create strong business plans, work smart, and use tech efficiencies to market in a way that makes them money. It is no secret that my goal is to make my clients millionaires.
So why talk about employee engagement? That’s just a human resources issue, right? On the contrary, as a small business owner, employee engagement should be near the top of your list of priorities.
An engaged, satisfied workforce creates profit for you, and reduces budget spend from employee churn. The hiring and training process takes time and money out of your pocket, while a valued employee is an asset.
An engaged workforce helps your bottom line
Engagement is the measure of commitment and satisfaction your employee feels for your small business. The smaller your business, and fewer your employees, the more essential it is that the people you hire want to grow your business with you.
We have all known co-workers, and maybe employees, who hate their jobs, scraping by with minimum effort to collect the paycheck. These types of characters bring others down, and can impact your revenue. Let’s look at four engagement profiles developed by Quantum Workplace:
Are your employees engaged?
You might employ only hourly or salaried workers, or a mix of both. Although compensation and time spent on the job may be different, the aim is the same—engagement.
Companies that make employee engagement a high priority build a stronger workforce, improve client and customer service, enjoy better communication, and see better productivity. All these measures are the result of top-down efforts by owners to maximize their profit by valuing their employees.
Whether yours is a large or small shop, consider these tips to create a workforce better aligned with the overall goals and success of your company:
While the last five years has seen many small businesses struggle to survive, more companies are now investing in growth. One of the best ways to assure growth is to ensure engagement of valuable personnel.
Profitable companies are no mistake. When you need a hand with improving your bottom line, call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
A trademark is important to small business branding. Have you registered your unique business name or symbol?
Consider the story of Payam Tabibian, a small businessman who built a chain of hamburger restaurants called Z-Burger. As detailed in The New York Times, Mr. Tabibian created a distinctive retro-look trademark before he had even opened his first restaurant. After he drew the design, he registered it as his trademark in 2007.
By 2008, his restaurants, operated with partners, had grown to six locations. Business was good until the relationship between Mr. Tabibian and his partners soured. His partners—who are brothers—locked him out of his business, claiming he was an employee. The brothers filed suit to prohibit Mr. Tabibian from starting new restaurants with the Z-Burger trademark, and insisted he turn his trademarks over to them.
In August, 2015, a federal judge preliminarily ruled in favor of Mr. Tabibian. While awaiting the outcome of a forensic accounting report, Mr. Tabibian has opened new restaurants and a food truck with new partners.
Business relationships between small business partners often go south. For Mr. Tabibian, the outcome is good so far, primarily because he took the time to protect the trademark which became the calling card of his business. Many other entrepreneurs are not so lucky.
Take the time, pay the money, and register your trademark
Today’s marketing strategies intensely support definition and promotion of your brand. Your brand begins with your business name, word, design, or symbol. Without registering your trademark, you have almost no protection if another entrepreneur wants to use your name—and the good will and credibility you have built around your business.
If you are thinking about starting a business—or if you are already underway—here are important facts you need to know about registering your trademark:
Registering your brand name establishes the identity of your brand beyond common use. Money and time spent developing your product or service could be lost if you choose not to protect it. Litigation of any kind is expensive, especially if you are up against a competitor with deeper pockets aiming at your customer base.
Your trademark is not only your brand name or logo, but important intellectual property. Work with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney to ensure your trademark is registered properly and enforced.
Know your rights—and how to protect those rights from unscrupulous competitors, or business partners who may want out of the deal. Launching a start-up, or pivoting your established small business toward greater success is not easy. When you want to shift from struggle to success, think about giving me a call at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
Focused social media marketing is important. Taking a run at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and other channels may be appropriate for your company—but maybe not. For many small businesses, and their owners, LinkedIn is a key networking and marketing tool.
My job is making millionaires out of small business owners. I create and use strong business plans, marketing tech, and experience to help struggling entrepreneurs make it to that magic million. Part of the work of raising your income is raising your profile.
LinkedIn can help.
Seven ways for entrepreneurs to use LinkedIn
At the moment, LinkedIn is the prime business networking social media tool. Launched in 2003, the company reported earlier this year that it has 365 million users in over 200 countries. There are a number of ways you can use, and contribute, to LinkedIn to cultivate leads, develop relationships, and learn from others.
Consider these tips:
Be aware that blog posts considered to be spam by others could lead to suspension of your ability to post to groups. LinkedIn Side Wide Automatic Monitoring (SWAM) can be triggered by a group owner if they believe your posts do not align with the purpose of the group. SWAM is frustrating and leaves you unable to post unmoderated content in a LinkedIn group—with no system of redress.
Once you are set up with LinkedIn tools—use them. While it takes time to build and maintain a small business presence on LinkedIn, it is a relevant channel that moves you further into your sales, and industry stream. You may not have the time, or expertise, to create a LinkedIn presence, so consider using a consultant to get you up and running—and turn your energy toward running your business and engaging the future.
Do you want to earn more money and worry less about your business? I can help. Call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
You have seen them, heard them, and used them. So have I. Buzzwords—there are a lot going around. Buzzwords are phrases that are shorthand for something meaningful in the culture at the moment. Harvested from television, thought leaders, politics, and the world at large, buzzwords are often a fast way of saying something more complicated.
Every so often you see an article listing the top ten or 20 most overused buzzwords. It is an easy, entertaining topic. But business buzzwords, whether overused or not, provide reminders of valuable ideas that could help your business.
Thinking outside the box and that kind of thing
Old and new, buzzwords have something for everyone. My job is to work with entrepreneurs to help them create value. Value is a big buzzword—but also the perfect word to define why someone should want to buy the product or service that someone else is selling.
Let’s take a look at some buzzwords of note, and what they might mean for you as an entrepreneur:
Making bank. It means earning a profit. When you want to make more money by working smarter not harder, call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
It’s a wild world. We talked about VUCA—the sweeping forces keeping entrepreneurs on their toes. But do you want to know the real-world factors that impact these forces? Let me tell you.
Running a business is not what it used to be. Some things remain—good planning, structure, pricing, and marketing. You do not need a lot of money to get into business—but don’t be undercapitalized. These days, it isn’t enough to want to “disrupt” your industry—it’s been done already. Now is the time to get smart about market forces because volatility has become the norm.
The market belongs to the nimble—three views to keep in mind
Do you have a great product or service? Let’s assume that your marketing is working for you, and then you hit a bump, or you lose an important client—you’re sunk. How do you pivot and what are the factors that can help you keep moving?
I work with entrepreneurs with brick and mortar and virtual storefronts. My goal is to help my clients make money—and keep making more. Profit flows to those who make smart choices, and take necessary, informed chances. That is what I do—help small business owners understand their choices—and chances.
Change is constant, and here are some important features all entrepreneurs should be aware of:
Whether you are a micro-entrepreneur, or a successful CEO planning to step out, it is important to know the right steps to get where—and what—you want. Do you want to struggle for the next ten years for sweat equity? Or make some real money to support your current or hoped-for lifestyle? Work with a mentor, or business counselor to find your place on the curve, develop the right questions and be sure you have the right answers to get your best chance at success.
A big part of a profitable business today is learning how to successfully fit into a world of change. Your biggest assets are what you bring to the table in the form of knowledge, experience, adaptability, and willingness to seek and receive good advice.
When you want to ride the wave, instead of being swept up in it—call me at 585-633-7563. I can help you make the money you want.
Yours in profit,
You have a terrific product or service—and a lot of competition for the business. How do you help your target customer choose you?
My business is helping you identify, attract, and land the customers you want, to make the profit you need. As a small business owner, I know what works, and how to use marketing technology to steer business your direction, and keep it coming.
But when it gets down to it, how do you help your client hear your message, and understand your brand, through all the noise? It is not as hard as you think.
The dynamics of choice and marketing
A lot is written about the psychology of choice. Drill into the topic and you’ll find research looking at why people make the choices they do.
Understanding why people make choices is important. As small business owners, we want to know how to influence choice to get more business. Poor marketing and product lines mean your premium clients go elsewhere.
As a consumer, you know what it takes to convince you to buy. Taking that perspective is important when thinking about how to sell to your client base. Consider these points about the experience of choice:
Sales work is mostly psychology, with products mixed in. Know your customer, and know what you are really trying to sell.
To get to the sell, start at the beginning
Most people can sell something once. To profit and grow your business, you have to meet the needs of your customer repeatedly. Marketing hype has its place, but the bottom line is that you have to understand your business from the viewpoint of your customer.
There is a well-known story about the angel investor who kick-started Apple. Everyone starts somewhere and Apple founders, Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs, originally worked out of a garage. Their first investor was Mike Markkula. As the story goes, Mr. Markkula also wrote a three-part marketing platform that continues to serve this very successful company.
The three mandates written by Mr. Markkula in 1977 remain effective and include:
Take what we know about the science of choice, combine it with rock-solid marketing philosophy, and a great product, and you are on your way to small business success.
By understanding your own business, you can help your customer make a choice that benefits both of you. When you need help understanding the bottom-line of your business, call me at 585-633-7563, I can help.
Yours in profit,
One report says business start-ups have never looked better. Another survey talks about persistent decline. With the business outlook in churn, what do the numbers mean to you?
While you focus on landing that client, or pivoting your marketing message, the economy is moving fast. Getting to market with a good plan, new ideas, and great products makes for a winner, but it is also important to understand your business ecosystem—is it healthy?
New reports: Do statistics lie?
Numbers are important to any business owner. Your bottom line, your profit margin, your price point—every number carries weight. In terms of business climate, let’s take a look at some overall reports:
The Brookings Institution: This organization recently released a study on business dynamism, the churn that occurs when companies start-up, succeed, grow, or fail. Its findings include:
Kauffman Index: According to a study from the Kauffman Foundation, 2014 saw the strongest entrepreneurial growth since 2010. Some interesting entrepreneurial points include:
Notes Kauffman study author Arnobio Morelix, “When broad-based entrepreneurial opportunity improves at this pace, it’s an indication that the labor market is slowly recovering.”
Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM): GEM is a joint collaboration involving more than 69 countries and conducts research on entrepreneurship around the world. Some GEM data on American entrepreneurs includes:
Why do numbers matter?
With absolute certainty, I can say these reports agree on one point—it remains an unsteady business environment. The confluence of economic indicators, new jobs, oil prices, and global politics play an important role in the local business environment where you operate your company.
I work with entrepreneurs to maximize the profit they earn—or will earn when starting up a new business. In the initial one to three years of your business lifecycle, the seeds of success and failure are sown. When I work with business owners, we look at expansion—or contraction—when needed, or replacement of outmoded operations with lower cost marketing automation to reduce labor and time expenses.
To gauge risk and support growth, it is important to keep an eye on the economic climate for a couple of reasons:
What’s in a number? Plenty. When you want to understand your bottom line—and boost your income—call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
For a million reasons, a website is a good idea. It gives your business, your brand, and your marketing a starting point. How does yours rank?
A website is more than a couple of pages with pictures. Unless your business is website development (and in most cases, you still need a LOT of help understanding what makes a website CONVERT visitors into buyers), getting help with your website is a good idea. My business is helping entrepreneurs structure their business and align marketing and business practices to make good money. I have not yet met a client who was not interested in making better money—and a good website is a smart place to start.
You have a website—now what?
The chances are good you already have a website. An employee, consultant, or maybe even a friend helped you get it together. Until you have time to optimize the site—it will do. So what does “optimize” mean?
Optimizing a website means different things to different people. Basically, it means making the most of your digital real estate. That is everything from the look and feel of your site, to the tools you use to analyze visits and conversions. Here are some steps to re-approaching your website as a marketing tool, and a placeholder in the digital world:
Whether it is website construction, content, or social media maintenance, many small business owners make the mistake of trying to do it themselves. As I have said before—do not spend time learning something you do not want to do every day. If designing or writing high-end websites is your business—learn the ropes. Otherwise, do not spend every day trying to figure out how to keep your Facebook feed fresh—pay someone good to do it for you.
Talk to friends, get references, and find consultants or freelancers in the business of website design, social media, or blog maintenance. Use your resources, instead of taking your own time from the business tasks that only you can—or want—to do.
Effective marketing means more than a well-built and maintained website—but it is a good place to start.
When you are interested in making better money doing what you love—call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,
Thinking about starting or relaunching your business? Both require serious consideration and a long-term plan.
Every year small business owners start, relaunch, and sell businesses. There are a million reasons why. I work with entrepreneurs to start and grow their businesses with the aim of turning a profit. A big profit. When you make more money, you can offer the service you want—at the price that sustains your lifestyle choices and family.
Starting up—five things to know
When considering starting your own business, there is a lot of work to be done. There are resources that can help you with the basics, and you need to give careful thought to questions like:
These are just a few types of value that make you different from the also-rans. Your value proposition can make or break your business—make sure you know the reason people would want to spend their money on what you have to offer.
These are the types of questions I work over with entrepreneurs. Make sure you know these metrics inside and out before you invest your money, time, and a good chunk of your life in a new business.
Do you need to reboot?
Relaunch, pivot, and rebrand are all words used to discuss actions needed when you hit a wall—or a profit plateau—with your business.
Let’s say you have a moderately successful business—or you are just getting by. The numbers still look decent, and you want to stay with the business you built—but you are not making enough money. A lot has changed since you started your business and you have no idea how to make the most of the financial, marketing and social media tools now available to you.
Consider these points when you need a fresh start:
Whether starting new—or starting over—think about the reasons to be in the business you are in. Ensure your own personal and financial interests are strong enough before making commitments to move your ideas forward.
When you need help with a start-up, or refining your business plan for a relaunch, call me at 585-633-7563.
Yours in profit,