6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

6 Ways to Make Your Business Stand Out During a Local Event

 

Does your town host a Wine Walk, Holiday Stroll, First Friday, or other downtown event where they close off streets and encourage people to get out and support business? If so, you may know that those events often bring the crowds but also bring “tire kickers,” people who are just out for a stroll, not really interested in what you sell. They’re just going into each business, poking around, and usually leaving empty handed.

The hard part of that is that you likely brought in full staff to ensure you had enough coverage only to deal with a lot of “lookers.”

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few suggestions on how to transform your looky-loos into looky heres.

6 Ways to Help Get the Sale

If you have an event that will bring a lot of commerce “tourists” to your business who do a lot of visiting and not much buying, you need to change that with these ideas.

  1. Tell a story. While you may not have the time to do this for everyone in the store, if you see someone eyeballing one of your items in a loving way, go up to them and tell them something interesting about the piece. You’d be surprised what may inspire a sale.
  2. Give a taste. If you sell food or drink, offer someone a taste before they buy. This works to create a sale in two ways: they’ll (hopefully) enjoy it and want more and/or because you kindly gave them a taste (and did something for them), they will feel obligated to buy from you.
  3. Teach a quick skill or use for your product. Draw the crowd into a quick presentation that features a product you sell. Have several products to hand people who want to buy right there. Alternately, have a pro available to answer questions. For instance, a store that sells painted furniture might have an expert on hand to walk people through how to do it themselves. Don’t worry that it will discourage them from buying from you. When they realize how hard it is, they will beg you to take their money.
  4. Get people on your mailing list. You never know when a “tire kicker” may see something in store and decide later that week they must have it. When people are in your store, ask them to join your mailing list. A few days after the event, follow up with a coupon, special offer, or sales notification. That call-to-action will likely send them your way.
  5. Offer a freebie for that night only. If it’s a special night or event, give away a little something to anyone who buys from you or offer specials for that night only.
  6. Create a singalong. In a crowded store, it’s hard to talk to everyone but you want to make sure people have fun and feel the energy of your business. You want them to remember you. A good way to accomplish that is by queuing up the tunes and encouraging people to sing with you. There are certain songs people just can’t help but sing along with—”Don’t stop believing.” You know what I mean. If you don’t, just put on Sweet Caroline and see what happens.

 

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

3 Creative Ways to Become Top of Mind

3 Creative Ways to Become Top of Mind

Do you want people to think about your business before all others? Of course, you do. The first step to patronizing your business is remembering it exists.

Imagine you have a free evening, and you want to go out to eat. It doesn’t matter how amazing the food is at the new place down the street; if it doesn’t pop into your mind, you won’t be going there.

The same is true of your potential customers. They need to think of you to spend money with you.

So how do you ensure you’re top of mind and that they will think about your business over the competition? You need to find a way to stand out and be memorable. A good product or service is the first step. Good customer service is also a solid choice. But to truly stand out you must do something slightly different.

Ways to Ensure Your Business Is Top of Mind

Events

Hosting an event at your business is a great way to help people remember you. It also provides an experience, and many individuals admit to enjoying them over physical purchases. When you host an event encourage people to share the occasion on social media for even greater reach.

There are several types of events that draw crowds:

  1. Sampling your offerings or services. You can host an event that is directly related to what you do. For instance, a restaurant may have an invitation-only, special tasting night to sample its new menu.
  2. Education event. You could also offer an evening out based around something that you sell. For instance, a yarn store may hold classes on how to knit.
  3. Block party. Celebrate your customers and potential customers by throwing a party outside your store. A patio furniture store held a parking lot party every weekend with a band and hot dogs. It drew a crowd and people lingered. It was a nice tie in with the product they sold—outdoor furniture. It helped people imagine hosting their own parties later with their new furniture.

A Facebook Group

Depending on the nature of your business, and the things your ideal customer/target audience may have in common, a Facebook group can connect your buyers to you and to one another. This idea works well when you can find a connection or mutual interest among your customers. For instance, a bookstore might create a Facebook group for writers or for fans of a specific genre. In a Facebook group you can share information and flash sales, stream events, and invite your audience to talk about their favorite books. The online community will keep your brand center stage while uniting and engaging your audience.

Savings Clubs/Subscriptions

Have you noticed that a lot of companies are charging their customers a monthly fee for some sort of discount or benefit? It began with Amazon Prime, where customers paid an annual fee for free shipping. The program has expanded beyond that now, but you can certainly start with one benefit like that.

Panera has created an unlimited coffee subscription where coffee lovers are auto-charged a fee each month and given a free cup of coffee daily. Both programs drive sales (and loyalty). When people pay for something, they want to get their money’s worth. Often, that means buying from one store over another because they’re part of a savings club.

However, like gift certificates, there may be people who pay every month and don’t use your services. That’s OK too as the subscription (even if it’s only a few dollars) is a source of revenue you did not have before.

If you want strong sales at your business, you need to ensure that your target market thinks about you. You can do that through email marketing, social media participation, or these three ideas. But whatever you do, make sure you use consistent branding and tone. After all, you want them to remember you, not question who you are.

 

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

Allen County Agriculture Hall of Fame Presented by Nutrien

Allen County Agriculture Hall of Fame

Presented By:
Hosted By:

 

The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce initiated its hosting of an Allen County Agriculture Hall of Fame in 2013.  In 2020, Nutrien joined as the presenting sponsor. This annual award recognizes men and women who have been instrumental to the success and excellence of agriculture in Allen County, either as a farmer or in an agriculturally related field. With over $139 million in annual crop and livestock sales, production agriculture is Allen County’s largest industry.  Farms occupy over 80% of its land base. 

Purpose    

The purpose is to honor and give public recognition to those who have brought distinction to themselves, have made outstanding contributions to their professions, and whose community service has been a stimulus to others. 

 Award Selection    

The number of awards made each year may vary, and is at the complete discretion of the committee.  The number of posthumous awards made in a given year is preferred not to exceed half of the total inductees. Honorees are to be selected via a ballot vote of the Ag-Business committee of the Lima Allen County Chamber of Commerce.  They reserve the right to request that a nomination be held over for consideration the following year.   

 Commendable Nominees

The committee has the ability to annually recognize nominees who were not selected for induction into the Hall of Fame but have truly exemplified the spirit of the Allen County farmer as a dedicated and committed servant to their industry and community.

Who Can Be Nominated    

Nominations are honored in two categories: Producer/Breeder and Agricultural Related. 

Nominees must have made their major contribution to agriculture primarily as a result of being born, growing up, living in, or beginning their career in Allen County. The goal is for honorees to have at least 25 years of experience in agriculture.  Nominations can be made posthumously.

The Nomination Process    

Award applications can be secured through the Chamber office or website.  Partnership or husband & wife applications will be considered a single nomination and will use one application form.  Hall of Fame nominees may be submitted by an individual or organization completing a nomination form.  One additional page (8.5 x 11″ paper) may be used, if needed. Additional pieces will not be considered.

Deadline for 2022 Submissions

Deadline for submission of 2022 nominations is Monday, May 2nd.  The application with original signature is to be received in the Lima Allen County Chamber of Commerce office by 4:00 PM on the deadline date.  The Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce office is located at 144 S. Main St., Lima, OH  45801 (other contact info below).

2022 Nomination Form

Annual Induction Ceremony     The Chamber will honor the 2022 inductees to the Allen County Agriculture Hall of Fame at a banquet to be held sometime during the summer. 

Roster of Hall of Fame Inductees

Calvin Leimbach
Thomas Fleming
J. Edgar Begg
Russel M. Long
Louis W. Harrod
Wendla Black
Ray W. Whetstone
C. Mark Hershberger
Donald P. Klingler
Calvin R. Kiracofe
Ross Clum
Robert and June Polter
Fred L. Arnold
Robert W. Core
Lester Fleming
Barrett D. Feigh, Sr.
William C. Strayer
William H. Bowersock
Robert W. Mayer
John R. Nixon
Sam B. Blythe
Lloyd B. Smith
John Jay Begg
Clyde E. Ditto
Gerald D. Brooks
Gene McCluer
Kewpee Hamburgers – Harry, Myrna and Scott Shutt

Commendable Nominees:
Elmer Maag and Bob and Phyllis Boyer

For more information contact:
Lima/Allen County Chamber of Commerce
144 S. Main St., Lima, OH  45801
www.limachamber.com     419-222-6045

Efficiency Versus Effectiveness: which will you choose for 2022?

Efficiency Versus Effectiveness: which will you choose for 2022?

How do you like to work? Are you a speed or precision person? Do you like many small projects or one big, long one that you can dig into?

No, you’re not in the middle of a recruitment fair. These are simply questions that most self-aware professionals should know about themselves and about their teams.

My go-to answer used to be, “I can do either.” But that’s not really an answer, is it? What’s my preference? What do I excel in? After years of running my own business, I’ve come to realize that I like most of my days filled with many smaller projects, with a large one in the background that I can explore about once a week.

Because I like to go fast. What about you and your business?

An Ode to Speed

I am always looking for more efficient ways to do things. Maybe you are too. There are tons of productivity tools, suggestions on how to streamline operations, and the like. If you love efficiency, you are probably a mass consumer of this type of content. You likely fill your time in the car with podcasts and maximize learning or working opportunities whenever possible. You also either fall asleep the minute you turn off the light or you’re up for hours considering new ideas and solutions.

If you work for someone else, they likely pass you the ball often because they know you’ll get it done on time but…

There’s something speed demons often sacrifice and that’s effectiveness. That’s not to say they aren’t effective at their jobs. But as they develop a reputation for getting things done, those around them pile on more. After all, it’s fun to watch kind of like those strongest man contests where they sport truck tires around their arm as if they were bangle bracelets.

Get It Done

Speed allows for singular focus. Efficient people know what tasks can be performed when. If they have a few minutes in their schedule, they know how to use them. Effective people, on the other hand, allow themselves to take a step back. To make decisions about what tasks will advance their ultimate goals and what will detract from them. They weigh everything against what they want to accomplish, and they say “no” often. They would rather have a moment doing nothing than cramming it full of busy work.

Effective people are not the most efficient. They are not the peo

ple you hand something to when it needs to be completed ASAP. They probably wouldn’t put up with you dumping things on them anyway. They make deliberate decisions.

Choose Your Way

As a business owner or employee, there are times to concentrate on efficiency and there are times to gear your operation to effectiveness. If you are one or the other all the time, you will find yourself struggling either with burn out or missed deadlines.

Ask yourself if this week you moved the marker toward you

r goals be being deliberate in what you were trying to accomplish, or did you break the speed barrier and astound audiences everywhere?

Only you know which of these is the most important for your business this week, this month, this year. But you must recognize the differences between the two to realize what you need when in order to succeed.

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

Small Business Season Deal Idea

One way to bring shoppers into your business over the holiday season is by offering deals. That’s how the big box stores work. They bring in customers through loss leaders. While you might not be in a situation to offer products at cost, you can offer deals to bring the crowds in. This year especially, shoppers will be looking for bargains and they may not always think of small businesses as places to find them.

Here are a few ideas to help change their minds:

Small Business Season Deal Ideas
Offering a discount can be tricky for a small business. You want to ensure your discount is driving enough sales that you’re not undercutting profit.

Discount Codes or Coupons

According to Statista, 93% of shoppers use a coupon, so offering discount codes/coupons is a good way to lure buyers in. You can offer a discount to some customers, but not all, if you use a coupon rather than a store-wide discount.

You can also target certain audiences for their loyalty or following such as sending out a mailer or email to past customers, posting a flash discount on social media (good for a very limited time), or offering it to a specific group of people such as chamber members.

Do you remember the idea the CEO of JCPenney’s had of offering the best pricing all the time, no coupons, no discounts? It failed miserably. There’s something motivating in the sales psychology of getting a coupon or extended offer. It makes a customer feel like they have the winning ticket, and many are inspired to buy because of it.

Two-fers: more is more to most buyers

Another popular deal strategy is offering discounts for larger quantities. Most people will find it much more appealing to get more of an item than buying a single item at a discount. For instance, a 50% increase in quantity (getting more) is the same as offering a 33% discount, but the latter is not nearly as appealing.

Discounts for the Appropriate Buying Stage

Offering discounts for online shoppers who are new to your site is a solid strategy but only when used optimally. How many times have you been on a new site and before you can tell whether you want to buy or not, a pop-up fills your screen offering a discount for that day’s purchase? Discounts drive sales and make customers feel great about their purchase but this type of use is like asking for a marriage commitment on a first date.

Instead, ask them to join your mailing list for a discount when they’re ready to buy. This benefits you in two ways. You’re incentivizing them to purchase when they’re ready and you’ve enticed them into providing you with a way to contact them in the future. If you promise to respect their privacy, they’ll likely sign up. Discounts are the top reason people subscribe. Plus, a past customer is always easier to sell to than a new one. According to HubSpot, you’re 60-70% more likely to sell to one you’ve sold to before. A new customer also costs you more, between 5-25% more to acquire.

Loyalty Discounts and Clubs

One complaint about cable and cell phone companies is that the best deals are saved for new subscribers. Yet, even these businesses are slowly changing their tunes and beginning to offer deals to loyal customers. You can too.

Loyalty clubs can take many forms such as punch cards, point programs, or special thank you discounts. Some loyalty benefits are one-offs like a coupon for a “Customer Appreciation Event” or—in the case of loyalty clubs—cumulative (the more they spend and the more frequently they buy from you, the more they are rewarded). Loyalty programs make people feel valued and special. You are thanking them for your success and inviting them back.

Pay Up Fronts

Depending on your business, you may also find “pay up front” deals very appealing. With these programs, you offer discounts to customers who buy in bulk ahead of services or products offered. You can use this as part of a gift card offer (buy $100 gift card, get an additional $10, for instance) or—if you offer services—charge a flat fee for unlimited use (such as $60 a month for unlimited classes). This helps you bring in revenue today for products or services claimed tomorrow. Since you’re getting the money up front, you pass a small discount or bonus along to them in return.

The shop small season is a great time to bring in customers with deals and discounts. If you decide to implement any of these, make sure you market them accordingly. They won’t work if no one knows about them. As you market, don’t forget to tell your chamber, visitors bureau, and your city. Those groups can help ensure the message (and “sales incentivizers”) become part of their shop small messaging too for even greater reach.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

3 Most Common Business Challenges and Ways to Slay Them

Being a business owner has its rewards and its challenges. If you’ve been in business longer than a hot second, you’ve likely experienced both. Often the freedoms override the dissatisfaction, but if you find that the negatives are wearing on you, don’t get discouraged. The earlier you recognize the most common challenges of business ownership, the more likely you’ll be able to take them in stride.

3 Most Common Business Challenges and Ways to Slay Them

Hiring

 

This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a business owner and it will color all areas of your business. The first challenge for most businesses when it comes to hiring is deciding when it’s time to hire the first employee or grow past the first employee.

After you make that decision to add headcount, deciding who that person will be is your next big challenge. If you hire poorly, you’ll be doing it again soon, or worse, it will affect morale if you already have more than one employee.

Tips for hiring well: know what you want and what you need in the position. Know the difference between both. Be logical in understanding what’s required of the position and whether the candidate has what it takes. Be honest about the job and its challenges, especially if you’re one of them.

Making Time for Yourself or Your Family

The problem with finding what you love and opening a business that helps you follow your passion is that you often don’t see it as work and you’ll spend an absurd amount of time thinking about it, dreaming of new idea, and planning next steps for your business. Even if you don’t feel like you need time for yourself, there are likely family and/or friends who want to see you.

Small business owners often neglect themselves and their loved ones because they are singularly focused on achieving success. Unlike working for someone else, when the success relies solely on you (at least in the beginning), it’s hard not to be obsessed with it.

Tips for making time for yourself (or at least those who love you): balance is essential in everything. Even if you’re enjoying yourself and don’t think of your work as work and you enjoy it, there are people in your life who want to spend time with you. It’s in your best interest to make sure your loved ones get that.

Schedule time to be with them as if it were an important meeting with your biggest client. One PR consultant I know promises to be home to the family every night by six so they can have dinner together. Her family knows they have her undivided attention for three hours. If she needs to go back to work after that, she does. But she never allows anything to take the place of those important hours.

Figure out what parts of your day work for you and then don’t schedule anything else for that time….ever.

Staying on Top of Your Industry and Tech

When you work for someone else, you likely have a manager giving you ideas for professional growth. Your company may pay for you to attend valuable conference sessions each year. They may purchase association and chamber memberships for you.

But when you are the business owner, there’s no one telling you what to stay on top of or what skills to develop in order to stay competitive. You have to decide that for yourself and find ways to accomplish this with your already full schedule.

Tips for continuing education and professional development: There are plenty of online options like Lynda and Udemy to take courses in areas of interest. You can also join the chamber and partake in their lunch and learns or other educational opportunities. Follow a few blogs in your areas of interest and read their posts over coffee every morning. Set up a Twitter account and follow people in your industry. You can use that social network as a way to scan what people are talking about in your niche.

If you’re a small business owner there are a lot of freedoms to enjoy and challenges to navigate. If you’re able to master these most common ones, you’ll be in a good position to take on additional obstacles as they surface.

Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  

 She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.

 

10 Easy Ways to Increase Sales 

10 Easy Ways to Increase Sales 

 One of the most obvious ways to boost revenue in your business is to make more sales. Here are ten ways you can start doing that today: 

Do You Have A Sales Strategy? 

Most businesses think they have a strategy, but they don’t.   

Now is a good time to develop one.  You need to consider who your ideal customer is and what are the products and services that provide the best return for you.   

The sales strategy should be a brief one-page roadmap that encapsulates: 

  • what you want to sell 
  • who you are going to sell to 
  • where you are going to sell 
  • how you are going to sell 
  • when you are going to sell  
  • Keep it simple and keep referring back to it.

Are You Missing Opportunities?

You could best sum this approach up as ‘preach to the converted’. Your current customers are likely an excellent source for new business.  You may have a product or service that they may not know about that might suit their business.  Essentially, the first port of call should be the clients that have already bought from your business.

Back to Basics

Chambers mentor businesses that have sales issues all of the time.  Oftentimes the problem is businesses have veered from their target market and fail to realize it.   

Take an honest look at what your market is and where you are at the moment.  If sales are not at a level that you would like you might need to ask yourself some tough questions such as ‘Have I focused too much on one sector of my business?’ or ‘Have I deviated from my sales strategy and forgotten about my target market?’.   

The second question is quite a common question.  In struggling economies, many businesses survive by ‘throwing everything at it.’  

But the economy is largely picking up now. It’s time to assess the business and get back to selling the right products to the right customers.

Customer is King

Simon & Garfunkel knew this 45 years ago when they sang ‘Keep the Customer Satisfied’.  In an age when almost anything can be bought or sold online at any time of the day or night by anyone, the need for excellent customer service has never been greater.   

Some businesses have built their reputations on looking after generations of families.  Your business can do that too by ensuring that staff are properly trained and that customers get consistent excellent service every time that they deal with your business.

The Price is Right

Have you considered how your product or service is priced?  What research have you carried out to make sure that it is competitively priced and that overheads and margin are factored in?  It is very easy to sell too cheaply just as it is very easy to end up broke.

Be Ruthless

What you are not selling is as important as what you are selling.  Take a look at the products or services that are simply glued to the shelves and get rid of them.   

Don’t be reluctant to retire certain products or services.  One of the secrets to success is being able to detach yourself from the emotion of a business decision.  If something is not selling don’t stock it and don’t waste money marketing it. 

Open Your Eyes

The first quarter is a very good time to take a look at what your competitors are doing. It is also an excellent time to look at similar businesses in different geographical areas to see how they are trading and to see if lessons can be learned.   

Tip: Use events such as the Chamber networking events to meet new people and to gain market intelligence. 

Raise Awareness

You know all about your business, as does your family, but never presume that your target audience does.  Think about how you how can market your business.  Go back to your sales strategy in point 1 and identify your ideal customers and then target them where they are. 

Look the Part

When was the last time you looked at your branding?  Branding isn’t just a logo or a website. It is everything from an auto signature on an email to letterhead to company vehicles.  There are more options available now to help you to get your branding right.  There are countless examples of how you can carry out a brand audit online.  

Stay in Shape

Just as much as the New Year provokes people to get back in physical shape, the first quarter should also be a time when you identify training needs and areas for professional improvement.   

There’s a good chance your local chamber can help you with training through networking and other learning-based events.  They are also a great resource on what your community offers. 

Every company needs sales to be successful. In order to do so sales and marketing strategies should be reviewed periodically to ensure they are the most effective for your business. Adjusting your tack every so often is the best way to stay on course.  

 

Brian Cleary is the Chief Executive of Clonmel Chamber of Commerce, one of the largest business services organizations in Ireland. He’s also the past director of Chambers Ireland. He writes for a number of online publications and is a regular co-presenter of the ‘Small Business Show’ a syndicated radio program broadcast on a number of stations throughout Ireland and available as a podcast. 

4 Email Marketing Ideas to Steal from Big Brands

4 Email Marketing Ideas to Steal from Big Brands

Have you ever watched a Superbowl commercial and thought, “If I had a budget as big as that company I could make the best commercial.”? It’s easy to assume a large budget means a lot more possibilities and I won’t argue that.

Big brands can afford to hire the best and the brightest marketers out there. And that’s why you can learn a lot from them. But what they do isn’t always out of reach. In fact, there are many ways to copy what they do for very little (if any) money.

Email marketing, for instance, is a level playing field these days. It takes very little money to build an email list and begin nurturing customers and potential customers.

Here are a few ideas were stolen from big brands that you can easily adopt in your business for stronger conversions. Summary Emails

If you have an online community, blog, or other place where exciting things are occurring around your brand, you don’t want anyone to miss the action. But none of us are online all the time. Even those of us who spend a lot of time online may miss something due to busy days or algorithms that aren’t quite in tune with what we deem important.

Summary Emails

That’s why sending a periodic summary email of top discussions, important Q&As, or hot happenings can go a long way in engaging your audience. Keep the emails brief with headlines, 1–2-line teasers, and links back to the action.

Use your marketing software to keep track of what links are clicked and what information is important to whom. It can help you better customize future emails and create more content that your audience is interested in.

Customize Your Message

If you send emails to a lot of people, don’t send the same one to everyone unless everyone on your list is interested in the same thing. Look at your data and customize a message for targeted groups within your larger group. This type of targeting makes people feel like you know exactly what they need, and they will be more prone to act on your suggestions in the future. For instance, I live in Florida, and I recently received a weekly flyer email from Walgreens. Because I live in one of the COVID hotspots right now, Walgreens placed a red banner at the top of my sales flyer email reminding me that my area is experiencing “high COVID 19 rates” and it invited me to schedule a COVID test today.

Use More Effective Buttons

If you use buttons in your email, give some thought to the language you use on them. What is it you want the button clicker to do? What will motivate them to action?

“Learn more” is probably one of the most common phrases used, and because of this, it is no longer as effective at driving action. If you have someone who’s dying to know more, they will click the button. But if you have someone who’s not quite curious yet “learn more” isn’t going to persuade them to do anything.
A recent email I received from Mindvalley used the button “I want better health habits.” This is effective for several reasons. It focuses on my needs and desires. And it flips a switch in my mind that I am already on a path to my end goal. It causes my brain to think “Mindvalley helped me” before I even clicked on the button to learn more about their resources.
Get Into Your Customer’s Mind

Thinking about what your customers are doing in their lives and wrapping your marketing message around that can be an incredible way to increase conversions and sales.

For example, what do people often do in the summer? They go on vacation

. How do they get there? Many people drive. Summer is synonymous with road trips.

Chick-fil-a used this idea in a recent email I received from them. The email reminded me that their nuggets are the perfect addition to my summer road trip and the email invited me to find a nearby location to place my order. The button directed me right to their app so I could find a restaurant and place my order.

Chick-fil-a also sends me emails right before lunch (and at the time most people are on their way home from work) reminding me how good their chicken would be for my next meal. Anticipating my needs catapults them to (my) top of mind, making me more likely to buy.

You don’t need a large budget to succeed in email marketing, but you can learn a lot from those who do.

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so. 

Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

 

Free (or nearly so) Training for Your Employees


Brownie Wise (the saleswoman behind the success of Tupperware) said, “If you want to build a business, build the people.” This is incredibly important but now more than ever. With the hiring shortage going on, you must do something to make your business stand out and helping potential employees understand they can have a career with you (or at least feel valued while they are there) can be the difference between going with you or deciding to work elsewhere.

But how do you “build the people”? Training can be costly and who has the time or money for that? Believe it or not, there are a lot of free resources out there. Here are just a few:

7 Avenues for Free (or almost free) Training for Employees

To the best of our knowledge, each of these options is free. However, there may be a minimal cost with some specialized trainings.

If you want to check out a subscription course offering, there’s LinkedIn Learning. After your free month trial, there’s a $19.95 per month fee for unlimited access to their courses. Courses include advanced work on popular software like Office and Google as well as technical things like learning coding languages such as Python.

Assuming you want free (or nearly so), here’s a great list of options:

The Chamber of Commerce

If you belong to the chamber of commerce in your area, those benefits extend to your employees. If the chamber offers webinars, meet and greets, or lunch and learns, you can (and should) encourage your employees to attend these free (or heavily discounted) ways to learn and get to know others in the community.

SBA and other Business Groups

The Small Business Association and other local business groups offer free training periodically. Sign up for their newsletters or check out their website to see what webinars are available. SBA also has free business counseling for you if you’re a small business owner.

YouTube

You may assume that the courses on YouTube would be conducted by fame-seeking teenagers but that’s simply not the case. There are a lot of good resources available on this channel. You could create a playlist of videos and share it with your marketing team/person, for instance.

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

You probably knew by now that MIT offers free online classes but what you may not have realized is that it’s not all science-related. They have plenty of business courses too. Check out the ones on entrepreneurship.

University of California has some solid offerings as well. Also, check out Open University for even more.

TedTalks

You might be surprised the kind of things you can learn in a TedTalk. While they may not teach direct skills, they teach ways to think and reframe problems that can be advantageous in a lot of roles. Your employees may also learn stronger empathy through watching a few of these.

Niche Sources

Make a list of what you’d like your employees to learn and then set them free to find no-cost instruction. For instance, there’s a course on supply chain management, corporate finance, and digital marketing. Some even come with certifications.

Ahrefs Academy

Lots of great courses here including SEO for Beginners (who couldn’t use that?) and several marketing courses. Good information that every business can use.

There are plenty of free training options out there for your staff. The difficulty is in giving them the time for professional development. Offering the courses won’t do you any good if they don’t take them, so make sure you communicate that this is an important part of your business. Your best employees will appreciate the challenge and the additional training. And best of all, it won’t cost you a thing!

 

Christina R. Metcalf (formerly Green) is a marketer who enjoys using the power of story and refuses to believe meaningful copy can be written by bots. She helps chamber and small business professionals find the right words when they don’t have the time or interest to do so.   Christina hates exclamation points and loves road trips. Say hi on Twitter or reach out on Facebook.

3 Most Common Business Challenges and Ways to Slay Them

Being a business owner has its rewards and its challenges. If you’ve been in business longer than a hot second, you’ve likely experienced both. Often the freedoms override the dissatisfaction, but if you find that the negatives are wearing on you, don’t get discouraged. The earlier you recognize the most common challenges of business ownership, the more likely you’ll be able to take them in stride.

3 Most Common Business Challenges and Ways to Slay Them

Hiring

This is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as a business owner and it will color all areas of your business. The first challenge for most businesses when it comes to hiring is deciding when it’s time to hire the first employee or grow past the first employee.

After you make that decision to add headcount, deciding who that person will be is your next big challenge. If you hire poorly, you’ll be doing it again soon, or worse, it will affect morale if you already have more than one employee.

Tips for hiring well: know what you want and what you need in the position. Know the difference between both. Be logical in understanding what’s required of the position and whether the candidate has what it takes. Be honest about the job and its challenges, especially if you’re one of them.

Making Time for Yourself or Your Family

The problem with finding what you love and opening a business that helps you follow your passion is that you often don’t see it as work and you’ll spend an absurd amount of time thinking about it, dreaming of new idea, and planning next steps for your business. Even if you don’t feel like you need time for yourself, there are likely family and/or friends who want to see you.

Small business owners often neglect themselves and their loved ones because they are singularly focused on achieving success. Unlike working for someone else, when the success relies solely on you (at least in the beginning), it’s hard not to be obsessed with it.

Tips for making time for yourself (or at least those who love you): balance is essential in everything. Even if you’re enjoying yourself and don’t think of your work as work and you enjoy it, there are people in your life who want to spend time with you. It’s in your best interest to make sure your loved ones get that.

Schedule time to be with them as if it were an important meeting with your biggest client. One PR consultant I know promises to be home to the family every night by six so they can have dinner together. Her family knows they have her undivided attention for three hours. If she needs to go back to work after that, she does. But she never allows anything to take the place of those important hours.

Figure out what parts of your day work for you and then don’t schedule anything else for that time….ever.

Staying on Top of Your Industry and Tech

When you work for someone else, you likely have a manager giving you ideas for professional growth. Your company may pay for you to attend valuable conference sessions each year. They may purchase association and chamber memberships for you.

But when you are the business owner, there’s no one telling you what to stay on top of or what skills to develop in order to stay competitive. You have to decide that for yourself and find ways to accomplish this with your already full schedule.

Tips for continuing education and professional development: There are plenty of online options like Lynda and Udemy to take courses in areas of interest. You can also join the chamber and partake in their lunch and learns or other educational opportunities. Follow a few blogs in your areas of interest and read their posts over coffee every morning. Set up a Twitter account and follow people in your industry. You can use that social network as a way to scan what people are talking about in your niche.

If you’re a small business owner there are a lot of freedoms to enjoy and challenges to navigate. If you’re able to master these most common ones, you’ll be in a good position to take on additional obstacles as they surface.

 


Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.