Thoughts for the Small Business Owner, Both Online and Physical Locations

In the early 80’s, a company hired me to turn around a couple of their locations that were not profitable. And, as they where starting to franchise their services, train those new franchisees. One document included in the new hire packet opened with a lesson called “The smiling customer”. The story is about a person visiting a business that has employees spending their time chatting amongst themselves. Employees that are short and coming across scripted and impersonal. The customer continues to smile through it all, not complaining so the owner doesn’t ‘see’ the disappointed customer. The story ends with the customer getting the last laugh as the business owner spends and spends on coupons trying to get customers in the door. A small business must be 1% better at 100 things, mind the small things as they add up.

When it comes to marketing, there are two areas I always push. Think at least three months in the future and be where you shouldn’t me. There will always be marketing of you and your business that you need to do just-in-time, like keeping daily tweets going out. I’m talking more about holiday and seasonal promotions. Almost no print media think beyond the next month unless your buying a year long campaign so they wont come to you until the month before. That little amount of notice wont give you time to ramp up to get a full impact of your dollars spent. A plan is a good thing. Get a calendar, look ahead, then count backward for when things need to happen so everything is in place on the selected promotion day.

Do this even before you open your doors for the first time. Get involved with what is going on around your area, get the word out that your coming. Show up at events and talk with people. Get them connecting you to the business your opening early on. When you open, hopefully you will be too busy to start making friends in the area so get ahead of it.

Shifting from brick locations to online product sales –

When Apple launched the iTunes App Store, predictably, the developers we were working with for Newton and Palm software thought there was no longer a need for marketing.

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