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In Support of Small Business Saturday

Local is the new black.

You, as an entrepreneur, understand the importance of investing dollars in local markets and of supporting endeavors such as Small Business Saturday. Now is a great time to be an owner of a locally-owned enterprise.

More than ever, shoppers are aware of the benefits of investing in their neighborhoods. In 2016 alone, the US small business sector was estimated to have an estimated 28 million businesses and was responsible for 54% of all domestic sales.

Between better customer service, benefits to the local economy and direct access to an expert, the opportunities for touting the benefits of local shopping are plentiful. The good news: you don’t have to work hard to encourage consumers to act upon this idea.

business owner

There are available resources and incentives to encourage entrepreneurship here in Charlottesville and in Virginia as a whole.

It is Charlottesville Business Innovation Council‘s mission to “educate, celebrate and advocate for Charlottesville’s technology community” by giving support to the high-tech businesses in the area.

Centra Virginia SCORE is a resource that serves the counties of Albemarle, Culpeper, Fluvanna, Greene, Louisa, Madison, Nelson and Orange by providing mentoring and other assistance for those looking to start a business or improve their existing business strategy.

Central Virginia’s Partnership for Economic Development offers counseling, information, and training to Central Virginia’s entrepreneurs.

BlackOwnedCville is a resource that allows you to look for goods and services sourced from local businesses owned by black residents of Charlottesville.

Finally, the City of Charlottesville’s Office of Economic Development has resources available to women and minority entrepreneurs.

Embracing the Failure

“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

-Winston Churchill

You’ve filed all the paperwork, you’ve rented your shop, bought your materials, and now you’ve realized that you really don’t know what you’re doing. The truth is, so many successful people admit to a feeling of inadequacy or failure from time to time. Imposter syndrome can be a tough mental challenge to break through when just starting your own business.

From an evolutionary standpoint, those butterflies you’re feeling are evidence of a natural response to stressful stimuli. The good news is that these feelings can be harnessed and used in a productive way.

Science agrees: it’s not that business owners are naturally able to quell these bouts of real stress and fear. However, they’ve learned to let those feelings feed their ambitions. They’ve learned to operate and perform their best under stressful conditions.

Simply put, “success comes from failure.” Entrepreneurs are better able to handle these stressors because they’ve become practiced at it.

entrepreneur

“Only those that dare to fail greatly can ever achieve greatly.”

-Robert F. Kennedy

The more you become accustomed to managing these fight or flight triggers, the better you will become at allowing the fear to do what it is naturally supposed to- increase your awareness so that you will land on your feet. Look at this seemingly negative thing as a positive experience. In other words, “reframe the fear.”

Learning how to manage your time as a business owner and setting a schedule is imperative to actively maintaining key tasks and initiatives. Delegating the work that isn’t what you do best is arguably one of the most important skills that an entrepreneur can master early in the game. This will increase your confidence and free your mental energy for more important tasks.

Google Business Listing – How to and Why

In the world of online search, there has continued to be a shift to mobile.  There is also an increase of local intent in search evident in the rise of “near me” queries.  One way to improve the chances of ranking well as a local business on mobile (as well as desktop) is to make sure that your business has claimed its google business listing.  This is an important step for a local business to take early on in order to improve search visibility.

Why have a Google business listing?

Google is explicit in very few things when it comes to how to improve your site ranking.  However, they are very clear about the importance of Google My Business and how it can be used to help the customer be matched with your business based on their location.  With this in mind, it is important to make sure that all of your information is correct in the listing.  Providing your NAP, number, address and phone number is a good place to start.  Also, having an updated website and as much relevant additional information will help potential customers as well as google’s crawling bots better understand your business.

How do I get set up?

Just Google it! Google does offer great information on how to do this through their help center.  But to make it easy for busy business owners, everything you need to get started can be found right here.

What if I don’t have a physical address?

Many service based small businesses may not have a brick and mortar presence or even a public office.  Google does provide a way to still get listed by providing a service area in place of a physical address.

Tips to consider

Google is not the only place where your business can, should or may appear.  Working with an SEO expert can be helpful to make sure that you are covering the high trafficked directories that are most important for your business.  You do want to make sure that information is accurate and consistent.  Another important thing is to ask for reviews in order to grow positive, helpful and useful information to potential customers.  Make sure to keep on eye on reviews and respond quickly and professionally to any negatives.

Also, check out your competitors.  How are they setting up their listings?  What are the hours they are publishing?  Would an extra half an hour a few days of the week show your business as open when your competitor will appear to be closed?

Finding a business anytime anywhere is getting easier for consumers and in order to compete, your business should be where they are looking.

 

 

 

 

2017 Local Advertising Spend Forecast

Although Radio Advertising remains a solid part of advertising budgets in 2017, local advertising spend on online marketing is continuing to grow.  According to a new article on the RAB (Radio Advertising Burea) blog, digital spend is predicted to surpass print media by 2018.  However, radio does continue to be an important medium especially for local advertisers due to the exposure to  captive audiences during commutes as well as the growth of streaming content from desktops and smart phones.

In the article entitled “Radio’s Place in the New Local Media Advertising Marketplace”, the author states that “According to the recently published 2017 BIA/Kelsey U.S Local Advertising Forecast, which provides a five year national forecast and 12 individual media forecasts, radio does reasonably well”.  And the article summarizes by stating, “radio’s position in the local advertising marketplace continues to be solid. The growing influence of online/digital advertising opportunities will prompt radio to be flexible and be broad in the types of services that they offer and focus on new and distinct offerings that increase digital revenue opportunities.”

READ MORE 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.