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. 

5 Fun Fall Themes for Your Business

Fall is a favorite among many people. The temps are enjoyable, the weather is crisp and clear, and the smell of leaves can be intoxicating. That’s what makes this season such a hit with marketers. Here are a few fall themes you can incorporate into your business for more engagement with your target audience.

Fun Fall Marketing Themes

Use these themes to inspire your newsletter, blog posts, contests, social media posts, business interior, offerings, and more.

Pumpkin Everything

It seems like every year it starts earlier and earlier, but people really clamor over pumpkin. From coffee creamer to cake, people can’t get enough of this colorful gourd.

Incorporate pumpkin flavoring, host a pumpkin design contest, or even make fun of the fact that you’re offering a pumpkin option (like pumpkin rinse for clogged pipes if you’re a plumber).

Hate pumpkin? That’s okay too. Share that with your audience and invite them to ring in. You may be surprised by the level of engagement you receive.

Back to School

There’s more to back-to-school than just the first day. As students get settled in at all levels, it’s a good way to connect with students or their adult guardians.

Play up why your business is a favorite among students or their parents. Host a back-to-school bash, sale, or image contest or join in during homecoming festivities.

Harvest Time and Gratefulness

Whether you’re celebrating good harvests of local food, the hard work of the agriculture industry, or how important it is to feel grateful, there are many ways to use this theme to get your audience’s attention.

Share what you are grateful for. Ask questions about favorite foods. Tell the story of where your food comes from (if that’s what you sell). Highlight the farm-to-table story.

Football

From tailgating to homecoming, there are many ways to celebrate this sport and the excitement that goes along with it.

Spotlight local players, ask people who they think will win, rename some of your offerings (temporarily) based on team names, be a sponsor of a local team. Run specials and discounts based on game points or wins. Give your audience something (else) to cheer about.

The Colors

Fall colors are amazing. There are vacationers who plan trips around those magnificent oranges, reds, and yellows. Plus, there’s the inviting glow of the hearth. Fall makes for great decoration ideas for your business as it’s a very cozy time. Fall is an invitation to come in and you can use the same in your marketing.

Share recipes, favorite scents, favorite books, and color updates of the leaves in your area (if applicable).

Fall is a beloved season, and you can use it to get closer with people in your ideal market. There are many options under each of these themes. Brainstorm some creative uses and you’ll make a big impression on your customers and future customers.

 

 

 

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.

Don’t Open a Business Before Answering These Questions

These days a lot of people are considering business ownership. Whether you buy into a franchise, lease some space and start your own thing, or log onto the internet and begin building an e-commerce website, doing it on your own has never been more alluring. But just because you have an incredible skill or access to cheap goods does not mean you’re ready to open the doors to your own business.

 

Starting a business without a strong foundation can hinder your sales. If you open your doors prematurely, you risk making a bad first impression or targeting the wrong audience. That can be hard to recover from. Before you hang that open sign and put out your welcome mat, ensure you know the answers to the following questions.

What Makes You/Your Business Unique?

Unless you hold the patent to a never-before-seen product, it’s likely you’re opening a business that already exists. This is not an affront to your abilities or genius. You are probably doing something that is already offered somewhere. If you’re fortunate, it doesn’t exist in your town or area. But you likely have some sort of competition for what you’re offering to do or sell.

 

So how do you entice customers to come to your business instead of that of your competitors?

 

You need to identify and communicate what makes you different. Many people claim their customer service sets them apart. Spend some time watching ads or reading them in your stream on social media. You’ll realize that service is not a unique selling point. Everyone thinks they offer it.

 

Your unique selling point could be your sales environment, a guaranty, a pricing offer (although that’s a slippery slope to underbidding), something about how you perform your service, or what’s included with the purchase.

 

Once you know what makes you unique, you want to create a plan to communicate that to your ideal audience.

 

Speaking of…

Who Are You Selling To?

If you just answered everyone, you’re wasting your time and money. There’s at least one group of people—hopefully several—who understand, need, and want what you’re selling. Marketing to the rest of the world is a waste of resources. For instance, if you own a yarn store and you market specifically to people who love fabric arts and knitting, you will most likely bring in new customers. However, marketing to those who prefer active, physical hobbies may only get you a handful of clicks on your ads. Those clicks likely will not convert to sales. Focus on those you know you’ll have success with (your target market) before you consider converting others.

 

What Problems Are You Solving and Are They Worth It?

 

Most marketing gurus will tell you that you need to focus on a problem and present your business as the solution.

 

But that advice is only the beginning.

 

It’s expensive to offer the solution to a problem that most people don’t realize they have or the problem doesn’t bother them enough to seek a solution for it.

 

Some entrepreneurs will argue that if you call attention to a problem someone didn’t realize they had (and you fix it) they will become loyal customers. But this is a magical equation.

There still must be a need that they feel bothered enough (once they know about it) to seek action on it.

 

I’m reminded of an episode of Shark Tank where a married couple lamented the problem of strands of her hair sticking to the shower walls (and eventually washing down the drain). To remedy this, they created a shower brush. They used it to brush the hair off the shower walls. The hair then became trapped in the brush’s bristles, and it could be disposed of easily after the shower without clogging the drain.

 

None of the Sharks invested. Why? The product solved a problem. Sadly, it was a problem no one was inconvenienced enough by to be spurred into action.

 

Who Is Supporting You?

 

It’s important to answer this question from a financial perspective, but it’s more important to think about this from a mental health and business resources perspective. You will be more successful in business if you have the support of friends or family or someone within the community who can mentor you and help you with resources. When Jeff Bezos wanted to build a larger bed, his mother didn’t stop him. In fact, she took him to the hardware store and helped him get the pieces he needed to create the sleeping area he had dreamed of. She supported his vision when she could have just gone out and bought him a new bed. You need someone like that in your corner when you decide to become a business owner.

 

In addition to someone who will support your vision, you need someone to help connect you with resources and introduce you to people who can make a difference in your business. Your chamber of commerce is the perfect solution. The chamber offers learning opportunities, networking events, and advocacy for businesses. In your quest to find support, it should be one of your first stops.

 

If you’re looking to start your own business, answer these questions first. If you’re someone who’s already started a business, what questions do you wish you had asked before opening?

 

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.

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.

4 Reasons You Need to Get Involved with the Chamber Today

4 Reasons You Need to Get Involved with the Chamber Today

Businesses join the chamber of commerce for several reasons. Years ago, it may have been expected; just something you did when you opened a business and wanted to be in good standing in the community.

But these days it’s more likely a business joins because there is a direct advantage to them personally. Maybe they wanted a ribbon-cutting or need the advocacy or wanted a marketing opportunity that membership allowed them.

Yes, there are many reasons to join the chamber and tons of benefits your business can receive from membership. But aside from simply writing a check and receiving a set of benefits, there are reasons why you should become personally involved with the local chamber of commerce.

Plus, the chamber extends its benefits to all of your employees so you can use chamber membership benefits as employee benefits. Share this with them as well.

4 Reasons to Get Involved with the Chamber

Let’s place the advocacy, marketing, advertising, and public relations benefits of chamber membership on the back burner. This article is about what the chamber can do for you and your employees specifically, not the business. Yes, the chamber can bring more attention to your business, which can create more sales opportunities, but these benefits and this personal involvement are things that can help you outside of the business.

Education Opportunities

The chamber has a number of education opportunities where you and your employees can learn about important matters for free (or at a very low cost). Chamber webinar topics may include things like diversity, how to excel in social media and economic interests in your area. They can help you become a more well-rounded professional, change careers, or get up-to-date on important topics in the community.

Leadership Experience

The chamber offers a lot of opportunities to volunteer for different committees or events. You may find a volunteer position in a subject that interests you like women leaders, diversity, workforce development, or marketing. Not only can these volunteer positions be added to your resume, but volunteering could also help you meet people with similar interests and help you grow your professional network. Speaking of…

Networking

Getting involved with the chamber can help you meet more people and grow your professional network and make friendships. Even in communities where social gatherings are still mostly virtual, chambers have networking sessions to help you stay connected.

Business Expansion and Hidden Opportunities

As you grow your network, you may learn of additional business possibilities that you could add to your business or you could use to launch a new one. You

 may learn of seed money, grants, SBA funding, or private opportunities.

Often business deals get made before anything is formally published or requested. Being personally involved in the chamber may help you be a part of those types of discussions and make you aware of opportunities before they become public.

The same may be true of the hidden job market. A contact may tell you they’re looking for someone before posting it on a job site, giving you the advantage.

Chamber benefits for your business are amazing. They can really help you increase your number of customers and get your name out there. But those aren’t the only benefits. If you get involved individually, there are many benefits to your professional growth and career. Plus, those benefits can be given to all of your employees too. That can be a real selling point for someone looking for great company culture.

Guest article provided by: 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. 

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2021 OHIO PRIMARY ELECTION
Ohio is a National Leader in Early Voting Opportunities
 
COLUMBUS – Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose is reminding voters that early voting starts today in the 2021 Primary Election. Ohio has some of the most voter-friendly, accessible early voting opportunities in the nation. With four weeks of early in-person voting, Ohio outpaces the early voting period national average by 47.3%. Additionally, Ohio is one of just 20 states that allow early voting on Saturdays and one of just five that has statewide early voting on a Sunday.
 
“Our elections have been so successful because over time we’ve developed a strong, secure, and accessible system that’s empowered voters with extensive opportunities to make their voice heard,” said LaRose. “This primary season is just as important as any other election, and with elections happening across 60 counties, it’s going to have a big impact in communities across Ohio.”
 
The list of issues on the ballot can be found by clicking here. This list does not include local races for elected office as those are tracked only by county boards of elections.
 
The early voting schedule can be found below, or by clicking here
 
Ohioans can find their early voting location by visiting their county board of elections by clicking here.
 
Additionally, today absentee ballots may begin being sent to those who have requested one. Absentee voting in Ohio is time-tested and has strong security checks in place. Ohioans have utilized absentee voting for nearly two decades, and that has allowed Ohio to put in place both the laws and processes necessary to make absentee voting secure against fraud.
 
  • Voter identification and signature are checked TWICE during the process
  • Voter list maintenance allows for accurate voter rolls
  • Ballot harvesting is against the law in Ohio
  • Voters able to track their ballot on VoteOhio.gov/Track
 
These requirements and processes, as well as strict laws against voter fraud, have made absentee voting secure in Ohio and instances of voter fraud exceedingly rare.
 
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25 Marketing Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Today

25 Marketing Questions You Need to Ask Yourself Today

Hope seems to be a big word these days. It’s taken the place of pivot. People are hopeful about recovery. People are hopeful about things returning to normal in the foreseeable future. And people are hopeful they can soon travel and visit loved ones they haven’t seen for a while.

If recovery is right around the corner, now is the ideal time to revisit your marketing strategy and plan. Making critical changes now can bring you into alignment to make the most of recovery. Plus, it’s possible the needs and desires of your target audience have changed.

Asking yourself the following questions about your business and marketing can help ensure that you have the data and information you need to make the most of the looming recovery.

  1. Who is your ideal customer? Has it changed with COVID?
  2. What is your marketing goal in 2021? What are your objectives/tactics for getting there? How will you measure success or how will you know when you’ve reached that goal?
  3. What is your brand tone? Try this exercise: “We are ____ but not ____.” For example, we are informative but not boring.
  4. What is your reputation in your industry and your community? What do people think of when they think of your brand/product/service?
  5. Where is your target audience on social media (Facebook, Insta, etc.)? Are they still easily reached where you thought they were?
  6. Are people still reading your blog?
  7. What customer problem do you solve?
  8. Do you sell through fear, inspiration, or solving a problem? Does that course of action still work for you?
  9. What is the open rate on your newsletter? Has that changed with the pandemic?
  10. Are you using a tracker that shows you where people are clicking on your website and/or newsletter? If yes, where are they clicking and where aren’t they clicking? What does that tell you about their needs?
  11. Do you have an email list?
  12. What data are you currently tracking and what are you doing with it?
  13. What kind of content do your customers like best/have the most interaction with?
  14. How many active followers do you have on each social media platform you participate on? How has that changed with COVID?
  15. Do your customers enjoy a type of content you are not providing such as podcasts or videos?
  16. What story are you telling?
  17. How much does your average customer cost?
  18. What are your customer retention strategies and how are you implementing them?
  19. How has your product or service evolved over the past year? How has your marketing message changed? Does it need to?
  20. What’s your call to action and does it fit where it is used? For instance, you don’t invite someone to buy when they’re just getting to know you on the About Us page of your website. Speaking of…
  21. What are you doing to help people get to know, like, and trust you?
  22. What part of your business is off-putting or scary for first-time buyers? What can you do to make it less so? For instance, gyms may be intimidating for the out-of-shape first timers. How can you reach them and be more inviting? A get-fit challenge is a solution to that because participants would know they’d be with other newbies.
  23. Do you have a defined success metric for every campaign you implement?
  24. In what area(s) is your competition falling short? In what areas are they strongest? How do you compare?
  25. How many referrals (and/or reviews) are you getting? What vehicle/strategy are you using to get more?

These questions are easily answered but implementing the answers/solutions takes more planning. It’s a lot of work now but once you put it in, you’ll be glad you did.

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.