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The Dos and Don’ts of Holiday Marketing – St. Patrick’s Day Edition

As small business owners, some things are beyond our control. While we can’t predict external factors such as the weather or large-scale sales forecasts, we can decide which opportunities are worth pursuing.

On the heels of a 0.04% dip in U.S. consumer spending during the month of January, many retailers are scrambling to generate foot traffic and boost sluggish sales. One way they’re doing this is devising promotional efforts that center on holidays such as St. Patrick’s Day.

In general, it’s good to spread your marketing messaging out fairly evenly. But with holidays, it pays to remain highly targeted and be precise. How we promote during specific seasons can have a huge impact on business results and make or break the fiscal year.

As a company, your holiday marketing efforts – and most marketing efforts in general — should boil down to consideration of a few points:

-Context: How relevant is the product/service to enjoyment of the holiday?

-Clever: Is the product/service introduction novel, unique or unexpected?

-Conversation: Does the product/service at hand lend itself well to consumer talk?

-Convenience: Does your promotion or product/service make life easier?

When handled correctly, almost any imaginable product or service can be co-opted into the spirit of the season. But when a business clumsily inserts itself into the fray, it might be advised to expect a flat out rejection.

So is your business meant for holiday marketing? Here are some thoughts on holiday marketing from our friends at Redhype, a digital & branding agency in South Carolina.

DO: Have a plan

Without a coordinated effort for promote your items, where to promote them and what to promote, your business will fail to capitalize on the current promotion cycle.

-Simply put: Fresh roses don’t last forever. Send to the right person at the right time.

DO: Find the relevant holiday(s) for your brand

Common sense is king here. A candy manufacturer will reign supreme on Valentine’s Day, but the local brewer is king on St. Patrick’s. By focusing your efforts on a few holidays, rather than pushing promotions every time the calendar turns, you can save on product and promotion costs.

-Simply put: If you’re selling hot dogs, don’t do it on Christmas. Get in on it July 4.

DO: Make the customer king

Holiday shopping is stressful. No matter the reason or season, there are always attendant duties and things to buy for the celebration. By targeting your customers’ needs and making it easier for them to purchase, whether that’s by providing wishlists, keeping expanded hours, or utilizing tailored mobile apps, you can provide them something more valuable than a product: relief.

-Simply put: Bring the reason and the season to the buyer.

DO: Get people talking

Time and time again, studies show that word-of-mouth marketing is perhaps more effective than traditional advertising or PR. At Redhype, we work to build social capital for our clients as much as possible. By imbuing marketing messages with easy-to-share conversational items and encourage consumers to talk about products and services that excite.

-Simply put: Keep it simple. Put the words in your customers’ mouths.

DON’T: Run a cheesy campaign

Legendary ad man Tom McElligott once said, “I’d much rather overestimate the intelligence of the consumer than underestimate it.” Don’t insult your customers by crafting a cheesy line about LOVE for your product. The simple fact is that not everyone is going to.

-Simply put: Don’t fuel criticism of your brand by selling something that’s irrelevant.

DON’T: Give worthless deals

The best advertising turns heads. Not rolls eyes. A ten percent off coupon in the paper works best for day-to-day items, but is hardly effective at enticing customers during the holiday sales cycle.

-Simply put: Give a reason to be excited, not just another number off the sale price.

DON’T: Run sales too early

While it may be tempting to put out a great sale before the competition, don’t disregard your profit margins. Customers will buy items all the way up until the last minute, so tweak your messaging and make sure your timing is apt.

-Simply put: Catering to the last minute shoppers can enhance the bottom line.

DON’T: Miss out on mobile sales

Sales made on smartphones and tablets are booming, almost exponentially, with estimates at around 16 percent of total retail sales in the United States … and growing.

-Simply put: You gotta meet your customers where they are. Hint: It’s their phones.

DON’T: Lose your momentum

Many companies wait until top shopping seasons to promote, only to drop off the radar shortly thereafter. Be sure to follow up on your promotional mix with additional, smaller promotions and also via social media to retain the customers you gained during the holidays.

-Simply put: Holidays are good and well. But customers year-round are better.

9 Ways To Drive Your Business In 2014

As small business owners and leaders, our happiness and security is often inextricable with our enterprises. That’s why the health of your business should be near the top of your Start Your New Year Off Right list.

We recommend a checklist that takes into account the current health of your company, your organizational goals, current industry trends, as well as the overall business climate in the country.

Partially because financial goals are often measurable, you may find that making goals or resolutions for your business can often be easier than making them in your personal life.

Take advantage of this short checklist and start as soon as possible to help drive your business ahead in 2014.

  1. Are you still utilizing year end campaigns in your promotional materials? By examining your immediate marketing interface, you can help put a new face on your organizational and marketing efforts, and lend a fresh feel to your brand.
  2. Examining your web presence is crucial to your continued success. Any review of your marketing strategy should take into account your domain name(s), your social media accounts and provided content. Also remember that you can boost your ranking in Google’s search algorithm by connecting your social media accounts, your blog content and your Search Engine Optimization implementation.

    The majority of first impressions are made through the web. The new year is a great time to partner with a local advertising, digital or branding agency to review and bolster your presence.

  3. The taxman seems to come at the most inopportune times. By building in some time to re-organize your files, you can potentially save yourself a headache down the road. Also, remember that you are required to file Form 940 (FUTA tax) and Forms W2 by Jan. 31 as well as any state reporting requirements. Visit here for more information.
  4. To operate as efficiently as possible, examine the internal mechanics of your business. Check each step of the completion process from the bottom up, and look for any inefficient areas that need tweaking. Also, consider alternative strategies for managing effective workflow within your team.
  5. Nobody likes last years’ leftovers. If unfinished, lingering projects from last year are slowing down your business, go ahead and get them out of the way. By cleaning the slate, you can unburden your mind and calendar and begin thinking about ways to innovate.
  6. A healthy dose of constructive reflection never hurts. Which of last year’s projects would you have approached differently? What can you learn from your biggest successes – and biggest failures? By examining situations and results, you will uncover reoccurring themes, making them easier to diagnose and fix in the future.
  7. Time is money. So think of your calendar as a checkbook. When evaluating business processes, focus on where your company’s time was best spent. Use feedback from your employees and/or contractors to determine which tasks and projects wasted productive time.  Then determine which projects were the most efficient and profitable.
  8. This should go without saying, but I’m never surprised when it’s missing … prepare your budget for this year. Study past budgets and also look toward the future of your business, making sure each need is met accordingly.
  9. Be honest with yourself – do you still have a market? Keep up with your target audience’s wants and needs and be able to adapt if needed. What your business provides may have been successful in the beginning, but may no longer satisfy the desires of the customer. Consider adjusting your products and services to cater to potential clients.

By following these tips, the overall health of your business will surely improve. Just remember that your progress depends on commitment and consistency. Stay on track by re-visiting your resolutions.

Finding Comfort In The Danger Zone

As a business owner, you’ve got problems that need to be solved and quickly. From inconsistent sales to staffing conflicts to inadequate cash flow, all managers face unique concerns daily.

One of the keys to entrepreneurial success is differentiating between everyday challenges and actual threats. By identifying the top dangers to your enterprise, you can formulate a plan to eliminate your fears and fast track your business.

Start by asking yourself, “What are the “2 a.m. issues” that keep me awake at night?” Are they based in fear, such as the specter of losing something? Are they rooted in uncertainty, such as worries about the economy? Or do they simply concern your ability to manage your time and resources?

Failure to build long-term equity in the business, growing too fast and maintaining poor balance between life and work are all common concerns. But deciding which ones are challenges and which ones are dangers takes finesse.

Challenges are tasks or situations that test your abilities. Dangers are anything that can potentially cause harm or injury.  While challenges can be overcome with a solid understanding of the problem and proper planning, tackling dangers often involves determining whether or not you can handle a degree of risk.

While facing your fears may be difficult, it actually helps provide a framework for strategically assessing those factors you can control and positioning your business to maximize its strengths. Listing out these dangers is a great way to think logically about how to offset or overcome them.

So instead of lying awake at night, fretting about how government regulations, taxes and poor sales might affect your bottom line, channel your energy into focusing on what you can control: your strengths and opportunities.

Once you’ve identified these factors, consider what excites you about your business by reflecting on the outcomes that become possible if existing dangers are eliminated. Some examples include: predictable income, improving your own leadership and delegation, a value-driven sales process to increase profitability, developing and recruiting new talent, more time for yourself to enjoy leisure activities, and being more strategic in your short- and long-term growth plans. Your opportunities should be associated with the excitement of gaining something.

Next, take a look in the mirror – what are your current talents, capabilities, and skills that you would like to reinforce and maximize in your business? Some ideas are: I have a strong community, peers, and circle of influence; my work ethic will not let me fail; I have strong management and motivational skills; my clients see the value in my products or service; and I am open to learning new ways to change the way I work in and on my business.

By objectively identifying your dangers, strengths and opportunities, you’ve started the self-analysis process that’s crucial to help you and your business grow.

5 Tips For Making The Most Out Of Your Time & Money

As a small business owner, your occupation is important to you. But should the health of your business take precedence over your health and personal happiness?

Nearly 4 in 10 small business owners are working more hours per week than they were five years ago, thanks in part to a culture of connectivity. Smart phones enable us to communicate from nearly anywhere, and modern business protocol dictates that we respond promptly to inquiries and messages. Employees are in contact over the weekends, and customers are only a click away via social media.

So, when exactly does one draw the line between personal and professional lives? The answer to finding a successful balance, experts say, is picking your priorities and sticking with them. Establishing boundaries and building a schedule that allows for both work and personal life is crucial to avoiding burnout and maintaining relationships with friends and family.

As one entrepreneur puts it, “Figure out what is most important, and say no to everything else.”

Here are five tips for making the most out of your time – and money.

1. Keep a daily calendar – around the clock

Your business hours may be 9-5, but often the real work gets done after hours. Utilize a personal planner to schedule all of your tasks, even in the evenings. By being mindful of your calendar, you can more easily shift your responsibilities into another time slot if something pressing pops up.

2. Welcome to the machine

We may not have robot butlers to perform our daily tasks … just yet. But you can automate many tasks such as accounting, invoicing and paying bills just by using technology. A host of great apps and software programs are available to increase efficiency and help you make money. Check out to explore the world of automation apps and business performance software.

3. Get creative with eating, sleep and exercise

For your body to perform at its peak, there are some things you can’t skip. But with employees to manage, clients to handle and bills to pay, it’s tough to find the time. That’s when it’s necessary to get especially clever. Do what it takes to look after your health, whether that’s scheduling a 15 to 20 minute power nap after lunch, exercising on your lunch break, or negotiating a service exchange with a local healthy eatery.

4. It’s your business. Not your entire life.

There comes a time when being too connected can be a bad thing. To help avoid burnout, to set aside “offline” time to recharge your batteries and generate new ideas. Finding time for fulfilling, peaceful activities such as a walk in the woods or a spa session has been shown to have a considerable effect on your emotional and mental balance.

5. – No regrets, No reservations.

It’s easy to focus on how little time you have … instead of making the most of the time you’ve got. Ensure that your time with family and friends is well spent by preparing potluck dinners, participating in organized sports or planning fun outings.

From Greg: Why I Chose To Become Involved With AdviCoach

I’ve been lucky in my career. I’ve had the chance to work with some of the biggest brands in the world and have rubbed elbows with high-level executives, I always come back to small business.

As a small business owner, I know what it’s like to make payroll, pay bills and more. Though I continue my work helping executives because I simply love coaching, I’m also very proud to help small business owners achieve their goals through AdviCoach.

Why work with AdviCoach? Because it’s the leading small business coaching company in the U.S., and maybe the world. When adding this to my coaching venue, I did a ton of due diligence. I found that AdviCoach had the processes, systems and the tools that, in my opinion, made the most sense for a small business owner/operator.

They’re very thorough, but they’re also very simple in the sense that they can be implemented in ways that a small business operator can do while running his or her business.

AdviCoach has a market share around 30% of the small business franchise market. We’re at an inflection point for entrepreneurial activity in this country – more and more people are becoming disillusioned with corporate life, or more people simply want to be their own boss. There’s close to 7.2 small businesses in this country, and they’re growing at a rate of 1.5 million per year.

That’s why I think AdviCoach is so important – not only for improving the small business climate in America, but also helping owners achieve their dreams.

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