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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Shop, Don’t Shop … Why So Much Shame?

Shop or not to shop, that is the Thanksgiving Day question. ‘Tis the season for shopping and however frivolous that activity is, lately it has attracted advocates on all sides and has drawn a lot of energy. The big question on the Internet is: should we shop on Thanksgiving just because some stores will be open? It makes no difference to me. I actually think it could save a few families. Debates about potatoes and gravy styles can escalate pretty quickly to deeper issues. If someone can get out of the house and take their frustrations out at Walmart, I think that’s just dandy! Avoidance might not be a recommended therapy, however, Thanksgiving is not the day to deal with every old hurt you can muster. Black Friday Deals Prevail at Big Box Retailers The shopping festivities continue on Friday with the traditional Black Friday sales, which now last weeks and even the whole month. Even so, I have friends who live for door-buster deals and it is as much a part of their family traditions as marshmallows on their sweet potatoes. … but Shop Small This Shop Small movement is one more way the pendulum has swung. I remember the debates here in Long Beach in the 1990s when Downtown was being redeveloped. The outcry was for flagship merchants that would transform Pine Ave. into a destination shopping row. Specifically, they wanted a Nordstrom. Well, we got a Nordstrom Rack and a Walmart—demographics matter and a “build it and they will come” mentality did not win out. The developer did get a Z Gallerie and a Pottery Barn Outlet, but where are those now? It’s the Economy Stupid If today’s trend is boutique, that’s great, but don’t argue that big retailers contribute less to the community’s bottom line than small businesses. I’m certain you can come up with an argument with an example of a small business that you love. Let’s be clear, I’m not speaking of ALL SMALL BUSINESSES; I’m talking about RETAILERS. A job at Target is as valuable as a job at Bonnie’s Boutique—they both are going to pay minimum wage or close to it. The difference is that the employee of a large retailer likely receives a discount––a non-taxable benefit that can really aid an employee’s buying power.   There’s an array of articles online––many from business magazines––that say that small business is where...
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Marketing Resource: Your Source

Source and resource, it’s your product. Your product can be a tremendous marketing resource. How can you re-package your product or service to create a fresh story about what you do? You see large products do it all the time. One of my favorite examples of this is breakfast cereal. It’s a product to be consumed, so the more that is consumed, the more sales they have. Simple. People are only going to eat so many bowls of cereal for breakfast. There would be a cap on sales even if they had 100% market share. It is still designed to eat in the morning. Sure they can suggest you eat it with yogurt instead of milk, but that just helps the yogurt industry. Instead, they created recipes that require the product to be used at different times of the day. Rice Krispy Treats and Chex Mix are the two that come to mind. After years of offering those recipes on the side of the box, they packaged those products to make it even easier to consume. Then they added variations to the snack lines—Chex Mix with cool ranch favoring, Rice Krispy Treats with chocolate chips and so on. What is your ‘breakfast cereal’ that can transform and create more need? Think about ways to re-package your product or service either in a bigger family-size package or smaller bite-size portions. Here are a few examples to get your imagination flowing. The Whole Enchilada Maybe you are a photographer and your bread and butter product is taking baby portraits. Who can resist buying baby photos? Instead of a sitting and an 8” X 10” bundled in a package, expand it to include the proofs placed in an attractive photo album for an extra $100. A Mother’s Day package could have all of this and a locket with a photo of baby placed inside. Don’t forget to offer framing! Smaller Appetites If you are a graphic designer who usually does large, comprehensive branding packages, perhaps you can create a small business logo package. Abbreviate the process, the product and the price tag. This is an especially good tactic to take during traditional slow months. One of your best marketing resources is the source of your business. Source and...
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