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Should Small Business Owners Do Their Own Digital Marketing?

digital marketing, small businessBeing a small business owner is hard work. Trust me, I know. You wear a lot of hats — everything from accounting, sales, and marketing to more. However, small business digital marketing

Source: Unique Digital Marketing Tactics: 1 Hour a Day

This article has great suggestions that may take an hour a day for a digital marketing professional However, the average business owner should be focused on their business and not digital marketing.

What are the the digital marketing options for local businesses?

Do it yourself – The business owner has to learn, implement, monitor, optimize their own campaign with their own time.

Outsource – Hire some company that may be helping with directories or just calls from another state and trust them to market with minimal contact or reporting.

Hire an agency – Invest in an agency that will do a great job at a higher price ($1K-$10K+ in MGT fees alone).

Or… Work with us! – We offer a local, personal, customized solution. We will educate the advertiser, prepare and implement your strategy and provide in depth reporting on performance.  This can be done within a lower total budget.  Visit or Online Marketing page for more details.

Small Business Saturday and the Shop Small Movement

On RetailWire this week author Tom Ryan invites small business owners to join the discussion in his article, American Express doubles down on ‘Shop Small’ .  As the interest in Small Business Saturday and the Shop Small Movement continues to grow, it is important to consider how to take advantage of any buzz created but also look beyond these events to truly develop more lasting strategies in order to grow local business.

American Express is offering promotional support with the larger than life charm and wit of Shaquille O’Neal.  This day to support the local business owner has been developing since inception in 2010 and generated $16.2 billion in 2015 according to the article.  However, according to one of the insightful comments following the article, “Small businesses need to do more than “wait to participate” in events.”

READ MORE HERE

 

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

 

The Secret to Retention, Thank You!

Hiring the right person can take time, money, and intuition but retention may be all about the appreciation.  According to a recent survey outlined in the article, Thank You! Gratitude Is the Best Retention Strategy, “60 percent of surveyed workers said they put the most value on being appreciated by management, and that appreciation plays a big role in employee satisfaction and retention.”

According to the survey, the employee’s job satisfaction seemed to be more tied to connection and relationship than to compensation or other traditional fringe benefits.  Harry West, VP of Services and Product Management at Appirio, the organization that conducted the survey, said, “Support and gratitude seem to be more motivating and cherished than any other form of reward”.

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.

Growth Awaits Beyond the Comfort Zone

Many business owners and entrepreneurs are looking for the thing that sets them apart.  What makes you and your business different?  Is your business continuing to grow?  Are you innovating your product or service to improve on what you’ve done historically or in order to adapt to the changing culture and economy?  Are you stuck in the status quo, comfortable, maybe too comfortable,… even possibly in a rut?  All excellent questions that savvy business owners must ask themselves frequently in order to keep the creative juices flowing and stay ahead of their competition.

I heard the expression years ago that growth exists about an inch outside or your comfort zone.  Getting past this hurdle and opening up to new ideas or taking a fresh look at your business can make a world of difference.  This is where one may find the next big thing.  Or more realistically, at the very least, this consideration keeps work exciting, keeps the passion lit and could possibly even spark the idea that takes the business to the next level.

Entrepreneurs Prepare For Your Next Great Performance

In the article, “Leaders Succeed When They Go Where Their Fear Tells Them to Avoid“, the author uses the great analogy of a performer approaching the stage.  They often welcome the feelings of fear or anxiety to motivate them and as they overcome them, the crowd applauds.  In the article, Bill Connolly states,  “We need stability as much as we need risk. However, for leaders to realize massive success, they have to be willing to leave the safety net of stability behind and follow their fears into the unknown.”

There are many fears that can creep up for the entrepreneur, leading to doubt, hesitation and inaction.  Taking the leap beyond the constraints of the comfort zone starts with action, making a decision.  This reminds me of the inspirational speaker Charlie “Tremendous” Jones when he stated, “Don’t wait until you can make the right decision; Make a decision and then make it right”.  Of course business owners and entrepreneurs need to make informed, educated, and calculated decisions.  However, asking good questions and pushing beyond the everyday norm can stimulate expansion into new frontiers and can lead to rewarding results.  Entrepreneurs and small business owners can sit with or even welcome fears before overcoming them through bold decisions and fearless commitment.  It may not be comfortable but that’s where the growth is.