2020- The Year of Marketing Disruption

I’ve been in the advertising and marketing business for over 35 years. The introduction of the internet has been one of the greatest disrupters (yes the introduction of radio and television also had huge impacts on the advertising industry) and depending on how you look at it, it may be the best thing that ever happened or the worst.

I remember so well my sales days at a local newspaper trying to convince a local car dealership to increase their print advertising. The obstacle always encountered was that the newspaper did not have a clear way to prove it worked not any guarantee of performance. My comeback was always “We will run a FREE ad in the newspaper for you. You will advertise that you are giving away $1,000 to anyone who walks in with the ad”. They would always respond with an astounding “No way… I would have to give away too much money”. Of course, my reply was “so you see, newspaper advertising works with the right message.” I never had a business take me up on that offer but the truth was that there was no way I could target their preferred audience or create strategic ads for varying audiences. It was a shotgun effect that worked when newspapers had a large share of the market. This is the same for most traditional media.

This year has been the tidal wave to help us fully embrace all things digital. Covid-19 has certainly been a huge factor but this wave was already coming. Consumers trust shopping and buying online now and with so many people forced to work from home and stay away from large crowds the enticement of online shopping has become even more popular.

So the best part of this disruption is that small and medium-sized businesses can take advantage of digital marketing as never before. Local businesses can target their existing customers and reach more new consumers that fit the profile of these existing customers. The days are diminishing when we had to ask a business owner who their ideal customer was. Technology can help us get that information.

Here are some interesting reasons to make sure your local business is utilizing all things digital1:

  • Grocery and food purchases online have doubled in 2020.
    • With today’s technology it is easier than ever to get your store online and take orders and payments.
  • 42% of online shopping will be on a mobile device this year.
    • We are a society on the move (even despite Covid-19) and want easier and faster methods to run our homes.
  • Consumers have taken to virtual events. Live events are even better and can drive even more new sales to your business.
  • The older members of our communities have also embraced online shopping and searching. A full 56% of shoppers older than 60 will be avoiding larger shopping areas like malls during the current holiday season.
  • Here is the biggest aha!!
    • A Constant Contact survey of 3,000 respondents found that 7 in 10 (71%) planned on buying from small businesses during the season, with 6 in 10 (62%) saying they plan to visit new small businesses they’ve never shopped at before the end of the year.

A common statement used by marketing folks and sales people from media is “Reach the Right People at the Right Time with the Right Message.”

I think it’s time to tweak that a bit to “Reach the Right People at the Right Time with the Right Message with the Right Marketing Device.”

If you are a local small to medium-sized business looking to grow your customer base and want proven strategies, give me a call. Upward Consulting, LLC

1 Sources: https://www.bigcommerce.com/blog/online-shopping-statistics/#5-essential-online-shopping-statistics and https://www.smallbizgenius.net/by-the-numbers/advertising-statistics/#gref

Thankful In 2020

Happy Thanksgiving from Upward Consulting LLC

Who’s ready for 2020 to be part of our past? Initially I can say ME! However I realize that there are many things to be thankful for.

  1. I started my own business in 2020. Yay I’m an entrepreneur. Like many of you out there I’ve taken that brave step into owning and running a business.
  2. Many businesses have given me the opportunity to help them build their websites and help grow their dream business into a reality.
  3. Family and friends continue to be a huge part of my life and we are blessed to have received the gift of two grandchildren in 2020.
  4. Our country is the greatest place on this earth. Without the freedoms and opportunities that have been fought so hard for, I would not nor any other business owners be able to claim their piece of the American Pie.

So I am thankful for my current customers and look forward to my new customers to come in 2021 and beyond. Upward Consulting LLC will always be for the small local business owners that need that push UPWARD.

As you move full force into the holiday season think about how you can help your customers and keep them local this season:

  1. Place a sanitizing station near the door for customers
  2. Offer pick up at the door service for those customers who may be unable to go inside
  3. Get social!!! Put pictures and fun posts about your business on Facebook, Instagram, etc. to let consumers know you are open for business and ready to help them.
  4. Take advantage of your fellow business owners and tag team each other. We are all in this together and if we help each other it can only build our businesses together.
  5. Ask your customers to “check in” on social media and comment on their experience or take a picture and post it while they are shopping. You can even offer an incentive to customers who do this.

If you need any assistance with any of these ideas I am happy to help out. I’m a phone call away and would be tickled to work with you in making your 2020 holiday season happy and bright.

Happy Thanksgiving to everyone and best wishes to you and your family.

Robin Blanchard

Small Business

October is National Women’s Small Business Month

There are many special things to remember in the month of October. I would be remiss to not mention that October is Breast Cancer Awareness month and Spinda Bifida Awareness month. There are surely more that I’m not aware of that are equally as important and should be recognized.

National Women’s Small Business Month is of particular importance to me because…. well my business is a woman-owned small business. It was so interesting to read about the significant progress that women have made over the years. It was also interesting to me that the reasons many women choose to become entrepreneurs apply to me (and I’m sure many others) as well.

Key findings:

Women tend to begin start up businesses rather than franchises. Typical start ups maybe because of past experience in business or a desire to help others.

Mothers will become entrepreneurs as a way to bring in a second income to the family because it may allow them to be more flexible with balancing home life and work life. This is why I believe you see in the infographic below that the top business sectors of women entrepreneurs are health, beauty and fitness.

Women owned businesses will borrow less money to get businesses started. Getting a new business venture started is not easy. According to an article written by Fundera “State of Small Business Lending: Spotlight on Women Entrepreneurs” in July, 2020, women tend to ask for less money when borrowing in the same way that women employees tend to ask for smaller raises, and at a lower frequency, than their male counterparts. Whatever the cause this is a perception that must be changed. More flexibility and opportunities must be presented to women so that they too will have the cash needed to keep their businesses thriving and surviving well into the future.

62% of women business owners are between the ages of 40 and 59. As I see it these numbers will be coming down significantly in the next decade. Young women today just as all young adults are just entrepreneurial in spirit. They are not afraid to try something new knowing that they can get right back up and try again.

So in celebration of all small business owners, especially women, let’s think about how we can grow together. Small businesses are the backbone of our economic system and this country. Together our businesses will be where consumers shop, eat, visit and spend their hard earned money.

Whether your business is a brick and mortar store or an online business don’t hesitate to reach out to me for assistance in setting your goals for the future.

Struggling to Increase Your Customer Base?

Too many times a small business owner will take action based upon their own point of view. Whatever your business we can all benefit from taking the time to think like our customers. Now on a different subject (for another blog) is actually knowing who your ideal customer might be.

For now let’s say that you know who your ideal customer or client is. Take these steps to increase your market share now:

  1. Check out your competition. This means having someone visit their store if a brick and mortar type of business, check out their website, social media, etc. What are their customers saying about them? What are they offering that you don’t and the opposite what do you offer that they don’t?
  2. Ask current customers. Get curious about them and find out about their hobbies, jobs. What keeps them coming back to you? What could you do to improve?
  3. Top of mind awareness. This means that it is vital to have an online presence. The average user now spends an average of 6 hours and 43 minutes online each day. (www.wearesocial.com) Not only should your business be alive and well on social media but also have a website and GMB page.
  4. Hire a professional. Sometimes it’s really hard to be all things to all people. If your small business started out as your passion and you find yourself spending more and more time wondering how to get everything done then it’s time to get help. It does not require lots of money or time to let a professional marketer cut through the craziness and give you a plan to increase your market share.

Upward Consulting LLC can help your local business. I provide a FREE initial consultation that includes a written strategy recommendation to increase your business revenues, customer acquisition and retention.

5 Tips for Social Media Planning (When you’ve run out of ideas)

Do you know the average user spends 2 hours and 24 minutes per day on social media in 2020? That’s the latest stat according to TechJury.

It stands to reason that some serious thought should be put into your marketing strategy when it comes to social media. Let’s say you already post on a regular basis to Facebook and Instagram but are just running out of ideas of what to post next.

Well, I am here to tell you that planning doesn’t have to be that hard. I’ve always firmly believed that in order to be successful with any marketing plan we need to think like our customers. We need to be where our customers are at the right time with the right message. Sounds familiar huh?

Here are 5 tips that might help you plan ahead a bit and free up some time to do more important things like meeting with your customers and increasing your business.

  1. Make a 12-month calendar of holidays and events. This site www.timeanddate.com will give you at a glance holidays that you can quickly identify with. Choose a couple each month that may be relevant to your customers and be sure to post about these with either a contest, a quote or just as a way to be mindful.
  2. Use a social media post app such as Spark Post. Spark Post makes it very easy to make easy creative post for Instagram and Facebook. This app will even give you featured “seasonal” templates to use and will spur some ideas.
  3. Ask your customers to post on your social media pages. Depending on your business category it could be really cool to have videos or photos of your customers using your products, eating at your restaurant or visiting your store. People love to see other people using a business they are thinking about using themselves.
  4. Do shout outs to other local businesses and ask them to do the same for you. Local businesses need to help each other. This is a great way to gain lots of new likes.
  5. Create referring posts to your website and blog. If you don’t have a website or blog let me know. Blogs may not seem important but they can help you increase rankings online, create awareness all the while giving viewers information that is useful to them and their business.

Follow Up Quickly

Consumers are armed and ready to make decisions faster than ever in 2020. Is your business prepared to quickly respond and handle questions or requests today? Now more than ever the need to quickly respond to consumers is so important. The saying “the early bird gets the worm” can’t be more true in today’s world of consumerism and high tech information. When people want to make a purchase or use a service, they typically have done lots of research and are ready to make a decision very quickly. That missed call or email can mean the difference between you getting the business or your competitor.

Have you ever noticed that there are more and more apps or internet sites that are specialized for consumer searches? I found an app to help me in finding local seafood the other day. There are internet sites that help us find speciality services too. With all of these consumer conveniences it’s important as a local business to stay vigilant. When a potential customer reaches out we cannot afford to wait hours to get back with them. It’s so important to have initial contact as quickly as possible.

If your response to this is “I’m a small business and I can’t always answer my phone right away or check email”. I get that but there are solutions that can help. Here are a few ways that your business can ensure high touch service to keep any new customers happy and ready to do business with you.

Instant Notifications on your phone: Set up instant notifications on your phone or computer to alert you of incoming email notifications or social media messages.

Text Messaging: While you may not be a big fan of texting, many consumers are. Set up instant replies to let them know you will be getting back and that they are important to you.

Answering Service: If you are out in the field most of the day and can only take calls during off hours, consider hiring an answering service to field calls.

Out of Office message: Set up automatic replies to text messages or calls and emails that state ” I’m sorry I missed your call. Our office returns all calls at (state the time or within ___ minutes). Your business is very important to us. Thank you.

However you decide to handle customer requests for information be sure to do it as quickly as possible. Get a routine, automate as much as possible and get those new customers- you deserve it.

Upward Consulting can work with you to find the best solutions for your business. I can help you to set up a fast and economical way to respond to customers. Contact us to start the conversation.