Shop Small Saturday – Prep Time!

Shop Small to Make a Big Difference! Independent small businesses remain a vital part of the economy and supporting them this year is more important than ever. American Express celebrates small businesses annually with Small Business Saturday, the day after Black Friday. COVID-19 is making it difficult to shop in person this year but for your loyal customers who will come out anyway, you want to be ready for them. Some of these tips apply to your online shop too—your own website, Etsy-hosted, or otherwise. Either way, you can create an incentive for Shop Small Saturday this November 28.  Through high school and college I had various job. Except for a few years waitressing, I spent most of my time working in a mall. I worked through plenty Thanksgiving weekends when holiday shopping kicked-off and witnessed the frenzy firsthand. My first job was in the food court for a small independent restaurant trying to vie for market share against regional and national chains like Hot Dog on a Stick and Orange Julius. I was cashiering at Foot Locker when Reeboks and Air Jordan high-tops debuted, and I was behind the counter at The Limited when their Forenza and Outback Red brands populated the majority of real estate in every young woman’s wardrobe.  All of these jobs taught me something about hustle, merchandising and excellent customer service.  First off, the hustle Be ready and send out the invitations and coupons now. Send out a press release, post on all your social media platforms, place an ad or two—let people know you have something special in store for them this coming Saturday and throughout the holiday season. Spread the word far and wide! Merchandising – Set the Stage Clean your store! Dust all your products and shelves, straighten your racks, clean your windows and displays. You might think this is so obvious and yet I’ve seen dust bunnies hop down a shelf while I searched for the perfect item more than once. Stock your back room so that you are ready to replenish your bags or packing tissue paper. Have inventory ready to make its way our onto the sales floor.  Be responsible to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by having masks available for anyone who forgot one. Branded masks would be fantastic, but any will do. Have hand sanitizer in several places throughout the sales floor so shoppers can clean...
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Far and Wide – Unique Ways to Spread the Word

Spread the word! A true gift of COVID-19 has been that people are realizing how small the world really can be. People are working, learning, and performing remotely and realizing they can be anywhere when they engage, as long as they have a good internet connection. We have completely expanded our reach and can include people from all over to take part in what we have to offer. Professional conferences can bring in many more high-quality speakers when the host doesn’t have to fund travel and lodging. The arts, both fine art and performing arts, now can expand to an audience well beyond their usual geographic draw. The experiences are different and the time zones may vary, surely, but there is a benefit to expanding your audience.  Virtually, a sold-out stadium is a lot larger than it used to be. To capitalize on the virtual world, now you can spread the word far and wide. Social media ads are a surefire way to reach beyond your neighborhoods for special events, regular programming, and great sales. No traffic, no parking hassles, and it’s a breeze to not have to choose shoes—or any bottoms, really!  To go beyond a few ads, you can run a campaign to share a promotional symbol that people can share in real life with photos on social media. Be creative! Be imaginative! Have some fun! You might know exactly what I’m taking about and already have a great campaign under way. If not, here are some ideas that will help you think up something fun for your business or cause. Tune Into the Message Make life a little easier with Jack in the Box. Blast from the past, when every car had external radio antennas, the antenna toppers were great for promoting varying businesses like 76 gasoline, Disneyland, Der Wienerschnitzel (a wiener, of course), and a Jack in the Box clown, among many others. Most cars don’t have an antenna like that anymore so something that works for everyone would be better.  In terms of what can travel on cars, there are the ubiquitous bumper stickers or window clings, the warning style signs (Baby on Board), and flags that hook in windows that have locally been popular for the Lakers.  Wearables The pussy hat. Don’t squirm, it was named that because it rhymes with pussycat and also has ears like a cat. That pink, easy to...
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How Did You Hear About Us?

A large part––arguably the most important part––of evaluating your promotional activities is knowing what’s working amid all of your promotional efforts.  The most obvious and easiest way to know is by asking your prospects and new customers how they heard about you.  This is not complicated. Do not overthink this but be thorough. You’ll see what I mean as you keep reading.  5 Ways to Ask Here are some ways to aid your evaluation. Your IT person will be very familiar with many of these and can probably install them quickly.  An online pop-up form on your website. When a visitor logs on, a pop-up screen immediately (or after a few seconds) asks them how they knew to visit your site. This is totally optional, considered an opt-in technique. Ask on the intake on registration forms. Once they’ve decided to commit to your services, asking people to identify how they heard about you is a natural question and people are forthcoming in offering this information if they remember. Show of hands. If you invited people to attend an event of any kind, you take an impromptu poll to find out which of your efforts brought them to you. News story, social media post, ad, a friend, etc. This is not scientific, but it’s better than now knowing. Conduct a survey with an incentive. Sometimes people need motivation to give you any information. When encouraged to earn a small reward or free PDF download, they might give you many details including demographic data, opinions, and definitely how they heard about you. Pair the question with another opt-in. When people sign-up for your e-newsletter or rewards program, slip in a question about how they heard about you.  In addition, here are two ways to track the results without specifically asking.  Promo codes. Use a promo code that tells you what ad or promotion moved them to action. Create a simple suffix that the customer hardly notices but means a great deal to you. If you sell pizza, your buy one get one (BOGO) promo code might be listed as BOGO2020-N for News in the press release, BOGO2020-F for a Facebook post, etc. Even if they catch on to this very sophisticated encryption (LOL), they don’t care and are happy to supply the code for free food. Create unique emails for different activities. Many communications end with the statement “for more information, contact us at name@your.com/org.” Your IT professional...
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It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month

It’s breast cancer awareness month. Get a mammogram! Help a patient! Make a donation! If you’ve been reading along on this blog, then you know that I get antsy when “increase awareness” is listed as the goal or the objective. Awareness feeds broader goals and objectives that determine your anticipated outcomes. Knowing about something without knowing where it fits in the scheme of things  is trivia. Breast Cancer Awareness Month does it right! However, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is far from trivial. It is probably one of the largest campaigns of its kind. Since 1985, it has educated women about the warning signs, encouraged them to undergo annual mammograms, and raised millions of dollars for breast cancer research, free cancer screenings, and support services for patients. I found this well-written, concise history about Breast Cancer Awareness Month on the website for Brevard Health Alliance in Florida. The piece includes the campaign’s clearly defined goals. Click here to read the whole story. Breast Cancer Awareness Month was founded in 1985 with an enviable combination of a well-respected nonprofit, a prominent corporation, and a familiar and trusted spokesperson. The American Cancer Society, the pharmaceutical division of Imperial Chemical Industries, and cancer survivor former First Lady Betty Ford joined forces to set the tone for a campaign that has left us in the pink ever since. In 1992, cosmetic company giant Estee Lauder began distributing the pink ribbons to help spread awareness. Breast Cancer Awareness Month Goals The campaign committee aimed to increase the survival rate among breast cancer patients. The remedy was, and still is, empowering women to take proactive measures to detect breast cancer early. They set these distinct goals to solve the problem: Educate women about breast cancer and early detection tests Empower women to be in control of their breast health Promote mammograms as an important tool to be used in the fight against breast cancer. Celebrate breast cancer survivors Raise funds for breast cancer research and other related causes. While We’re On the Topic … Note, men can get breast cancer too, so don’t ignore any abnormal lumps under the skin on your chest, regardless of your gender. Women over 40 are wise to book annual mammograms. If you find it kind of scary, then book it with a friend then go to lunch or get a massage after–celebrate your health and congratulate yourself for being proactive. I recognize...
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Tools of the Trade – Social Media

Hammer, screwdriver, social media – different tools for different objectives The tactical implementation of promotional tools is definitely the fun part of a marketing plan! It’s no wonder that sometimes the zeal to use those tools elevates the tool above strategies and into the objective slot. I don’t recommend that social media, or any tactical tool of promotion, appear as an objective in a marketing plan. Your objectives should measure outcomes, not outputs.   Social media is a tool the same way a hammer is a tool Did you ever watch the TV show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition”? The network would choose a deserving family that was overcoming some challenges and their house was part of their problem. A crew of professionals and a whole lot of volunteers would re-create their modest home into a spectacular dream home designed for their needs and interests. The finale of the show was the big reveal. A drumroll led to large trucks moving out of the way to allow the family to see their new and improved home for the first time. How boring would the show have been if at the end, they revealed the output and not the outcome? Imagine if instead of seeing a drastically transformed residence, host Ty Pennington pulled out a tally sheet and revealed the number of hammer swings, number of rotations each screwdriver made, and how many times the cordless drill’s battery had to be charged. “Show me the house!” You’d scream at the TV and never watch it again. The outcomes are how happy the family is, how much easier it is for the wheelchair-using child to move throughout the now one-story ranch home, how the mom who prepares meals for a local charity now has a gourmet kitchen, and how security guard dad can now sleep at night having been relieved of the upside down mortgage payment. These were the objectives that were met. They reflect the intended destination. The outputs (the use of the tools) were supremely important in making those things happen, but they are tactics not objectives.   Objectives Match the Mission Here’s an example of an objective I would avoid: Attract 1,000 Facebook Likes each month of 2020. There are some obvious red flags here. Your Facebook campaign might garner you 1,000 new Likes per month (if it does, congratulations!) but that is an output. How does that output...
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