Was the speaker’s topic for the Delta Chamber’s Business Conference held April 14th. The Speaker, Debbie Blanchard, has an Honors Bachelor Degree in Economics from York University in Toronto Canada. She has 35 plus years in retail with the last 4 in Montrose, Colorado owning D”Medici Footwear, Hypoxia and Warehouse Clearance Stores . Needless to say there is a huge difference between Toronto & Montrose, but the marketing principals are the same no matter the size of the market.
Debbie’s straightforward, no holding back speech was spot on. This has been a topic I, myself, have advocated to many business owners, yet find so many of them reluctant to engage, implement or orchestrate. Here are her bullet point suggestions:
MARKETING - is not just putting an ad in a newspaper:
• Location-location is everything…visibility - signage
• Branding-logo (top of mind awareness) ex. Symbols like Coke, Pepsi, Apple
• Image-a) Store Hours – Need to be Consistent
b) Appearance –Both Store and Employees very important
c) Window Displays –clean and change them out regularly
d) Location itself—cleanliness, light bulbs, maintenance, etc.
e) Solid customer service – SMILE, treat them like you want to be treated
YOU (the owner):
• Are you dedicated and not just willing to put minimal hours into your business?
• In a small community- you are your best advertiser. ARE YOU OUT THERE?
• Not just saying ME, ME, ME, ME but WE as a group
• Are you active in the community - YOU SHOULD BE!! Joins groups such as Altrusa, Local Chamber, Rotary, Kiwanis, etc. Yes, there are membership fees but this marketing works for you IF you go to the meetings and network - TALK, TALK, TALK, the more you talk the better to get your message out there. This creates word of mouth and referrals.
• Hold a business after hours- make an event by using the Chamber or other member lists.
• Households are bombarded with 1000-3000 ads a day. Which do you remember? Let look at the recent Super Bowl. I don’t remember the companies just the theme of ads…Constipation, diarrhea and toilet paper. Very memorable!
:• Website and Facebook …not everyone is savvy at this...but it is a necessary tool in today’s world. You don’t need to spend hours on it. Hire a website designer and do a basic page…let people know who and what you are and where you can be found. Don’t need anything fancy. A web designer can help you with your Facebook too. Facebook helps get messages out to customers who like what you are doing.
CHANGE IS GOOD!
• Don’t let your business get stagnant! Listen to your customers. They pay your bills! Sometimes you have to change and adapt to make it work. Change encourages your customers to come in again and again
• Old inventory is not making you money. Get rid of it before it is a relic….even at or below cost…get fresh product that sells.
WORDS OF ADVICE:
• Remember if you are not enjoying yourself, people can see it.
• Most small businesses last less than 5 years due to burn out or bankruptcy.
• If you find you are not having fun. GET OUT!
• If you are not making money. GET OUT!
• If you are unwilling to change to make it work. GET OUT!
• Having your own business may look romantic, IT IS NOT! It is hard work.
• But if you enjoy it, it is worth it!
Make marketing your business a top priority when you are doing your budgets and enjoy the many rewards and successes that come from it.
Lucinda Stanley, CCIM
Grand Mesa Commercial Real Estate