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It's here in this report about local businesses in Raleigh, NC who are repositioning themselves and surviving quite well.
The Raleigh Public Record article begins with "Despite the barrage of talk about recession, massive bailouts, and staggering unemployment numbers, local Raleigh businesses seem to have quite a rosy outlook. Not booming, not collapsing, but cozy."
Click here to read the article and get a fresh perspective.
Hopefully, stories like this will be appearing in local newspapers across the country to restore some balanced reporting.
P.S. You might even contact your local newspaper with your own story and get some free publicity for your business.
Some small business people have had enough of the Chicken Little "the sky is falling" mentality. They are using the changed economic environment to innovate or persevere.
I just came back from a regional chamber of commerce trade show here in Connecticut and it seemed as if perhaps 60% of the companies exhibiting said business was good. Either they were faking it or too embarrassed to admit they were doing much better than good.
And in this week's newspaper was a story about electronic retailer P.C. Richard going into a recently vacant Circuit City location. On the same page, a national chain had just opened a hotel that had been under construction next to a major home improvement store.
You might encounter much of the same disparities in your location or industry. Look for those rays of light as inspiration to re-invent whatever you have going.
The businesses that are relevant to their customers, provide good or great value and have good relationships are still there and thriving, in spite of everything around them.
Their leaders see and act on new opportunities, not the falling sky.
These "tough going" times are teaching everyone to pare back the extras and re-examine how to use the basic advertising and marketing methods that produce the most results.
I've found that one of the best places to look for clues is the nonprofit sector where big ideas have to be applied with limited budgets.
By blending your best uses of online and offline marketing, your customer will be better able to relate to your business cause.
Here's a great article about "Non Profits Marketing Direct to Donors" article from DM News. As you read this article, substitute the word "customer" for "donor".
This should give you lots of ideas to keep yourself going!
Here are some great creative advertising tips for small business
Small business marketing is different than the "big boys"
Defines advertising promotion and gives some examples
marketing research definition for small business
How to get results from your small businesses advertising
Tips to find your best small business advertising idea
I don't know if you watch Celebrity Apprentice on TV, but a recent show featured the two teams trying to come up with a campaign to promote Kodak's new printers.
This article tells what happened and gives a viewpoint different from the outcome of the winning team. I agree with this writer. Yes, the mighty Kodak (who we know is "re-filming" itself) chose the wrong winner. "Gene Simmons Knows Best"
The assumption is that the Kodak people making the choice had a clear idea of their immediate objective. If they were choosing "immediate" results, maybe they made an "ok" selection.
Personally, I would have voted for the Simmons team. In my experience, as well as here, the real conflict comes when someone's immediate sales goals don't quite align with the larger overall company strategy.
And Gene is an overall concept kind of guy who also has the demonstrated ability to nail down the details. He is the kind of concept guy who makes you really think about what you are doing.
I'm really glad this article reminded me to ask some basic questions first. Quite a lesson!
As a small business owner, you might look to the advertising on the Super Bowl XLII Feb. 3, 2008 as guidance for your own advertising efforts.
"Just How Super is the Super Bowl?" gives you an insider viewpoint - brand by brand - on what kinds of return the 27 advertisers expect to get.
You'll find the telling analysis about the difference between "being noticed" and "being chosen" in the last paragraph of the article.
Wouldn't it be amazing if we small business marketers could play in this arena? While none of us have that kind of money, it's still fun to dream.
How would you handle that kind of advertising challenge for your small business? And how can you apply these examples to tell your story?
An excellent article about online privacy and tracking in today's New York Times Technology section headlined F.T.C. to Review Online Ads and Privacy prompted over 140 comments by 4 pm today on this sensitive issue.
By tracking which sites people visit online, advertisers figure those site visits constitute someone's area of interest. Then they can send more relevant targeted ads onto that particular screen.
Yet, when you go to the supermarket, no one really knows if the purchases are for you, a family member, a friend, as a gift, etc. So even your supermarket discount card isn't completely accurate. But it is better than nothing.
Advertisers are willing to risk offending their audience in order to get their message across. And if the intense comments posted to the article are any indication, they have succeeded.
The real point is that the advertisers are closer to hitting their target than they would be by advertising the item or service to a much more general market. And, from the advertiser's point of view, a "good guess" easily beats "random" time after time.
Our web page has some ideas on marketing research for your small business. Click here.
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A small business owner we know came up with a wonderfully creative advertising idea for promoting her company.
She goes to lots of trade shows and got tired of advertising other companies who give out those big "literature collection" tote bags that always have a business logo on them.
So she, along with everyone else, wound up walking around the show advertising the sponsoring company.
In a flash of creative innovation, she figured why not advertise her own company and small business logo embroidered onto her own bag she could carry around? After all, the people at the shows were related to her field of endeavor.
Enough was enough and this trade show attendee went to get her own bag made, embroidered with the small business logo of her own company.
What a great idea, she thought. But she found it was difficult to find someone to create just one bag, since most companies that do that sort of thing all had minimum quantities of 50 or more.
After an exhaustive search, she did discover a custom embroidery supplier who would apply her own logo onto just one single tote bag for about $20.00 additional.
While she hasn't gotten any direct business just yet, it has turned out to be a fabulous conversation starter. But most of all, she feels great about advertising her own business instead of someone else's.
And that's a big confidence builder for her small business in today's environment where people willingly and openly advertise major brands on t-shirts, jackets, caps and other promotional items.
So why not promote your own small business logo, especially at trade fairs where people of similar interests gather and are in a receptive mood as they consider doing business with others.
This savvy woman is right on target with her creative advertising idea for small business.
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Even though the print circulation of newspapers is reported to be on a general decline, that doesn't mean they have relinquished their local impact.
Actually, it has become even greater because most newspapers have expanded their influence as they re-purpose their written material on their new web sites.
This means readers could see your message twice - once in print, and the other on the web site. Especially if you have a good public relations story.
Most readers who have abandoned the print version have turned to the web version.
It's all part of the trend to more on-line information as people's readership habits change.
Yet there is only so much online reading the human eye can tolerate.
My prediction is print publications will keep on going - perhaps in a more concentrated form - despite a forecast at a conference this week that all media will be electronic in 10 years.
That's certainly an overly optimistic statement.
What's your viewpoint? Click here.
You see it over and over again in advice to small business advertisers....profitable advertising happens when you can use two or three basic techniques in the right combination.
There are a few places you can count on for great examples. One is the "In Advertising" column by Stuart Elliott who writes for the New York Times. The lead story is always fascinating because it examines an unusual advertising problem / solution.
The thinking behind the advertising strategies and techniques the professionals utilize can get your creative juices flowing.
Just consider what would you do if you were faced with solving that particular question.
Today's insight combined word of mouth marketing, the NY Mets baseball team and mustaches. Click here to read the column. What a buzz!
Comments? Click here.
Essential components to have in your advertising business small strategy
That is, want to touch your customers?
To make effective customer impressions and contacts, you'll want to use as many "touchpoints" or the more current "layering" term as is practical for you.
So what forms of communicating with your customer works best? Recently, I talked about this issue with a business owner who services the construction trade.
His solution is to use whatever communication medium the customer habitually uses. And each customer prefers different avenues. That means the business has to staff an in-store parts counter, a phone ordering department, e-mail, fax, and a web site.
Your bottom line answer is to choose the two or three that work best for your target market. It could be a combination of web site, e-mails, newspaper ads, direct mail and a fax campaign. Or anything else that matches how you determine that your market pays attention and buys.
In my experience, most clients have real trouble asking their customers what brought them in, or what caused them to call. That's because most folks really can't consciously identify what prompted them to call in the first place.
It's something that most customers don't remember, even though you, the small business owner certainly should. After all, in one form or another, you planned it, executed it and paid for the ad or communication.
The takeaway: Figure out which media each individual client prefers and use whichever combination that makes it easiest for the customer to respond to your "touchpoints".
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