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Grow Like You Mean It

“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning.”

Benjamin Franklin

For most small business owners, the day-to-day job duties that you have can be so overwhelming that you may think that you don’t have time to ponder, much less execute, the future success of your business. But, as some have pointed out, “failing to plan is planning to fail.”

Now that 2018 is here, it’s the perfect time to begin thinking about what kind of goals you want to achieve and a strategy to achieve them by the year’s end. Here are some suggestions to help you and your small business achieve growth in the new year.

grow

First, begin to leverage your customer base to understand how your business can improve. Your current customers are often the best tools you have to utilize as a growing business. Talk to them. Ask questions on how you can do better or offer a better product.

Secondly, it’s important to have a clear understanding what type of objectives are realistic so that you can start taking bite-sized steps to get there. If you make too much of a stretch goal, you may end up either using too many resources to achieve an unattainable target or get discouraged when you don’t meet it.

Lastly, it’s beneficial to think about what kind of resources are available to help you achieve your goals. Utilizing the support from other professionals in your community is paramount to the success of your growth strategy. At first, it may seem like a challenge, but using all available systems of support will increase the chances of obtaining your definition of success.

Announcing 94.1 The Oasis!

The Oasis 94.1

To better serve the Charlottesville Metro Area and Central Virginia, we are proud to announce our newest radio station, The Oasis 94.1, “Today’s Christian Hits!”

Pam Garrison, a Program Director, radio personality, and host on 99.7 CYK (and, most currently, The Oasis) is head of the project. Garrison, a radio veteran in the area, is thrilled to be hosting and is excited about the newest offering from Monticello Media.

Oasis

The Oasis is the region’s only local contemporary Christian radio station featuring positive hits with artists such as Casting Crowns, Crowder, Newsboys, Natalie Grant, and Mercy Me.

Contemporary Christian is currently the fastest growing format in radio and boasts the “widest audience appeal among most demographics”– and there aren’t any signs of this trend slowing.

Tune in weekdays from 3-7 pm to connect with Pam, either on your radio or stream online. For a list of upcoming events, be sure to check out our website.

Click here for a list of our radio stations.

Building a Sticky Brand

Brand Building 101

There are many things to consider when a business is developing its brand.  Will it accurately reflect the single aspect that differentiates “us” from “them”?  Will it convey the personality and illicit the emotional response anticipated?  Will it clearly communicate the promise of the value that the business has to offer?  In order to be effective, the savvy brand builder will ponder these questions and be able to more successfully develop a stickier message.

The best messaging will attract the right audience and hold onto them through the sales process hopefully converting them into loyal customers and ultimately brand evangelists.  In the article, “3 Ways to Clearly Communicate Your Marketing Message. Stop Using “Trump Talk””, David August shares some great keys to effective brand building.  The first takeaway the author provides is, “Communicate a promise – one that your business can keep — that addresses peoples’ preferences and concerns proactively.”

This article is a great reminder to avoid cliche and buzz words and phrases, which give weak and watered down messages.  Consumers want authenticity.  Clearly communicate what makes a business different and what is the promise of your brand.  Using the businesses own words will resonate with prospective customers.  August concludes, “Use your limited space to say something meaningful. Something that will put your offering at the top of peoples’ lists.”  By doing this a business’s brand will become stickier.

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

Are You Investing in Customer Experience?

In an article by Omar Soliman, Co-founder and CEO of College Hunks Hauling Junk and Trash Butler, entitled, 4 Lessons About Handling Stressed Customers That I Learned From Being a Mover, Soliman ultimately makes the case that businesses should be setting aside money to invest in customer experience.  This realization comes as the author tries to answer the question, “How can an entrepreneur address a customer’s emotional and logistical needs simultaneously?”  The answer to this question is to reflect the promise of the brand by best understanding and investing in customer experience.

By knowing what the brand offers and finding a team that can be empathetic to the customer throughout the interaction with the brand, the business will be successful.  Understanding the customer’s journey and fine tuning the experience from start to finish will improve close rates, increase loyalty and hopefully produce brand evangelists.

As the author concludes, “Growing a loyal and enthusiastic customer base isn’t as complicated as you might think. You can build a viral brand by going above and beyond for your clients and making just such a focus on customer experience part of your business model. In turn, you’ll gain “brand evangelists” who will spread the good news of how your company saved the day for them.”

READ FULL ARTICLE HERE

 

 

Advertising to Charlottesville’s Transient Population

Whether its the hippest, happiest, healthiest, most exciting or one of the best cities for entrepreneurs, Charlottesville has much to offer “locals” as well as its multitude of annual visitors.

Awards and Recognition for Charlottesville from charlottesville.org website
Awards and Recognition for Charlottesville from charlottesville.org website

Every year local businesses advertising in Charlottesville, Albemarle and surrounding counties experience an influx of prospective customers that are not familiar with their brand.  Considering why people are coming and who they are, can inform how a local business may choose to advertise in this transient marketplace.

They’re Coming to Charlottesville

The University of Virginia

Increase in new enrollment from www.virginia.edu/facts
Increase in new enrollment www.virginia.edu/facts

Residents in Charlottesville and local businesses no doubt are aware of the fact that the University of Virginia brings new students, graduate students, faculty and staff into the area each year.  The ebb and flow each semester can be felt anecdotally as anyone driving up and down US 29 can clearly see.  Charlottesville’s population of over 46,000 adds over 15,600 undergraduate students, and over 6,300 graduate students throughout the school year and these students change and are increasing every year providing a steady stream of newcomers into the local market.

 Healthcare – Top Hospital in Virginia

Another contributor to local visitors, The University of Virginia Health Systems, is nationally ranked in the “Best Hospitals” and “Best Children’s Hospitals” by U.S. News across many specialty care services.   They are also listed as the #1 Hospital in Virginia serving more than 840,000 outpatient visitors in 2015 alone.  Needless to say this is another catalyst for visitors to the area.  Not only the patients but friends and family will also visit the area due to the healthcare services provided.

Central Virginia Tourism – Historical Locations, Vineyards and Changing Leaves

Local businesses are also aware that tourism brings in the visitors however, the growth of tourism and actual numbers may be surprising.  In 2015, the greater Charlottesville area experienced almost $1B in revenue from tourism according to a recent article in The Daily Progress.  And according to Forbes.com, over 500,000 people visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello each year.  This is just one, albeit the most famous one, of three nearby homes to former U.S. presidents with Montpelier and Ash Lawn also drawing their fair share of tourists.

Agritourism, wineries, breweries, distilleries and cideries are gaining popularity throughout the region with the young professional and other crowds.  Thousands line Skyline Drive every year to take in the majestic beauty as fall begins in the Shenandoah Valley.

Fall foliage alond Skyline Drive
Fall foliage along Skyline Drive

Also, concerts, festivals and other shows continuously bring new visitors to the local market.  The LOCKN’ festival alone had over 30,000 in attendance this year in neighboring Nelson County.

The fact remains that whether by VW van or jet airliner, large numbers of people are traveling to this area throughout the year.  In fact, The Daily Progress article states that, “according to the CHO website, the airport has seen a 63 percent increase in passenger traffic from 2008 to 2015, with 549,521 traveling through the airport in 2015.”

How Does This Influence Advertising A Local Business?

There are many reasons for the growth and dramatic change in the local demographic throughout the year in Charlottesville.  This ever-changing base of potential customers presents unique challenges to the local business and entrepreneur.  Some traditional approaches to advertising may not be as effective.

For example a business that invests in building a brand to a static population, though continuing to invest in feeding the top of the funnel, may be able to shift dollars away from branding and over to other tactics including promotions and discounts, retargeting and customer loyalty.  They may even rely more on word-of-mouth referrals.  The business may also be able to leverage past experiences and proven channels to consistently market the business in a stable and effective way.  In reality, they may even be tempted to rest on their laurels and just do that what they have always done since it continues to work.  For this business, perhaps nothing more is needed in order to maintain a profitable enterprise.

In a dynamic environment, the business owner must remain vigilant in order to be successful.  A transient customer base may require additional branding efforts as new people need to be introduced to your business, product or service daily.  Also, each attraction to the area brings a different demographic.  The millennial University of Virginia student will have different interests, needs, and behaviors than a retired historical sight-seer or an international patient’s family.  Wise advertisers will keep in mind seasonality, locations, audiences, and interests within the local market in order to be the most effective.  Proven methods from the past may need to be revisited with each entering class to the University.

Where to advertise will continue to evolve.  What local radio stations or other traditional media will visitors most likely be exposed to while in the area?  What print resources are these visitors picking up and reading?  What is your digital strategy?  Are you considering more mobile advertising as smartphones and tablets are much more likely to be used than desktops for entertainment, content consumption and researching local businesses by the visiting population?  Having an awareness of the local economy and changing customer base provides business owners the information they can use to develop the most successful advertising plan.

Telling the STORY of your Brand

Telling your story and how that story truly relates to customers from THEIR point of view is truly the quintessential element in successfully marketing your business.  And your story has nothing to do with your “friendly staff” or your “great prices” or your “convenient location.”

Your brand story is ultimately what people think and perceive about you when they hear your name or consider your business.  Deborah Shane of Small Biz Trends explains that your story “is a complete picture of the facts, feelings and interpretations, which are shared about your business by you, your customers, your community and the public in general.

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She elaborates further by noting that to effectively convey your brand story you need to focus on the following:

1- Be simple & specific

2- Tap into emotions

3- Focus on your specific truth

4- Use first-hand real examples

5- Make it relatable

Read the full post:  What is Brand Storytelling