Tag archive for "local"

Plan for the New Economy with the Niche Model

Attitude and Success, Customer Retention, Local Business Marketing, Main Street, Main Street & Small Business Web Sites, Restaurant Marketing, Retail, Small Business, Small Business Marketing, Small Retail Business, Success in this Economy, Web Sites

Plan for the New Economy with the Niche Model

1 Comment 03 March 2011

Note: I got an e-mail a while back that challenged me on my inclusion of an Amazon link in one of my e-mail campaigns. This and the following post (and probably a few more beyond that into the future) will be my long-considered answer to the seeming “crisis” presenting itself to local brick-and-mortars… the invasion of big boxes and big-box style on-line competition. Here’s my first stab at how small businesses can beat Goliath.

Small businesses face a double challenge in the new economy; not only are we in the midst of recession like times, with everybody tightening belts and spending less, we’re also transitioning from store-front shopping on Main Street to isolated shopping via the Internet. Location is not the factor it used to be in shopping choices; anyone with Internet access (which seems to be practically everyone) can shop at any store online. The options have opened up, and for the most part, consumers seem to love the choices.

Locally owned small businesses can thrive in the new economy – and love it – but it requires a different approach. When your competition expands from being the other small retail shop two streets over to being the biggest national box stores plus the on-line retailers… it’s time to think of a new angle.

Independent bookstores are a good example, because the ones that have survived and thrive despite competition from Amazon.com have learned to work the new economic angle successfully.

The angle is this: you must create your own niche position and dominate it in order to compete with huge brands and online options.

It’s not enough to be an average bookstore, or an average retail shop, or an average restaurant. When customers have limitless options, average is not going to bring them back.

But you can bring them back.

Niche Examples from Independent Bookstores

An article in the New York Times highlighted how the niche angle has helped independent bookstores to survive. “Being a specialty store gave us something that would distinguish us,” said Alan Beatts, owner of Borderlands, which focuses on science fiction. “We are serving a special demographic, and we receive customer loyalty in return” For a locally owned bookstore, a niche could include

  • Selling signed first edition books (and holding regular author events)
  • Selling, trading, and assisting customers in rare books
  • Covering niche topics (stocking and special-ordering specialized books, magazines, newspapers, and trade journals)
  • Establishing expert status in book-related topics or specialized topics
  • Engaging an active online community and having stellar e-commerce options

So, if you’re a bookstore, a retail store, a service-oriented business, or a restaurant, how can you find your niche, establish yourself in it, and thrive in this new economy?

“It’s entirely possible that you will choose a niche that’s too small. It’s much more likely you’ll shoot for something too big and become overwhelmed. When in doubt, overwhelm a small niche.” -Seth Godin, business & marketing expert.

Want more ideas from the local book store angle? Here’s a post from USA Today on a similar subject showcasing ways that small local brick and mortar bookstores are competing with the Kindle, Nook and similar book technology…

Image by ReneS.


Local Business Marketing Partnership Idea – Using Bathrooms

Local Business Marketing, Partnerships & Alliances, Signage

Local Business Marketing Partnership Idea – Using Bathrooms

2 Comments 28 October 2010

I’m always on the lookout for a great new local business marketing partnership idea. Local business marketing is tricky, and I’m convinced that the number one tactic has a lot more to do with working together in business partnerships than working against one another in a competitive stance. With this in mind – and a few other things – I return to the Bathroom Blogfest.

In my first post for this year’s Bathroom Blogfest, I explored an idea for using signage in public bathrooms as a customer experience tool.

There are two items in play in my mind today.

  1. I spend a lot of time helping LOCAL businesses connect with customers – I do local business marketing. And ultimately, I want to convince the public to be like me: to choose locally owned businesses – no matter where they are.  For example, if I’m traveling through Mobile, Alabama – I’d rather choose a locally owned place to eat, shop, get my car serviced, etc. Of course, when I’m at home in Jackson, MS, I stick to the locally owned places nearly exclusively.
  2. In helping local businesses with their marketing, I spend a lot of time connecting local businesses so they can enjoy the benefits of business partnerships – some folks call them business alliances.

Yep, this applies to bathrooms…

Folks who use public bathrooms don’t usually live around the corner. If they did, they’d just use their own bathroom. The folks using public bathrooms are outsiders to the local area. They are either trade area shoppers or they’re passing through for business or pleasure. Regardless, they’re an opportunity waiting to happen for the local economy.

I say it’s time for local businesses to identify those public restrooms – in convenience stores, hotels, service stations, welcome centers, and the like – and the owners of the same. Then, band together a group of businesses and create a simple way to educate and welcome these passersby – and get them to drop some of their change in your business before they leave.

Maybe it means getting permission to post signage in a bathroom with a Twitter account or text message shortcode that will lead to local offers and invitations. Maybe it’s simply a link to a mobile friendly web site that lists several things that are “can’t miss” before they leave town. Ideally, the information would be fresh, relevant to the time of day, month and current local events. But regardless, I’d like to see local businesses seeking to offer their hospitality in that short moment of private pause. It’s local business marketing that I think might just work magic.

Tricks to success:

  1. Simple message – SIMPLE.
  2. Multiple simple offers compiled in one place.
  3. Technology tie-in that makes it easy to engage.

How to Earn Cooperation for this Business Partnership

In case you’re wondering how to gain cooperation from your newly identified partners-to-be? Well, it’s easy – turn them into customers and partners at the same time. Offer a sampling or regular portion of your goods or services to them in exchange for the advertising space in their bathroom…

Closing Comments

So, I guess this is yet another bathroom signage idea, but if I were the customer, I’d definitely count it as an improved customer experience that the bathroom owner though it was valuable to show me hospitality in his/her community in this way. Of course, the sentiment will fall short if the bathroom is dirty.

Moral of this story: Choose your bathroom business alliances as carefully as you should all the other business partnerships you make.

Editor’s Note

Yes, I’m participating in a blogfest with some other bathroom experience junkies around the country. It’s one week only – but hopefully it’ll get you thinking – and doing something – to improve that all-important potty space in your own business. And even thinking about how you can benefit from such spaces in OTHER businesses. As you ponder these things, be sure to check out what some of the others are writing about, too!

Valerie Fritz from The AwarepointBlog writes about Hospitals, Bathrooms and RTLS: Bathroom Blogfest 2010. Did you know that RTLS prevents hospital patient falls and keeps track of critical equipment – all relating to bathrooms?  Very cool stuff.

Bill Buyok from the Avente Tile Talk Blog came up with nostalgic images capturing Stuck in the 60s? Trends & Changes in Bath Design while also putting the times into perspective.

Becky Carroll from Customers Rock! showcases beautiful bathroom examples she has uncovered in Las Vegas. Her contrasting example makes the point of Bathroom Blogfest 2010 – Stuck in the 60s?

Susan Abbott from Customer Experience Crossroads elevates the bathroom discussion in Bathroom Blogfest 2010: Bathrooms are aspirational.

Nora DePalma from Professor Toilet unearths preposterous advertising and promotional materials in American Standard: The Groovy Years. OMG!

Arpi Nalbandian in the TILE Magazine Editor Blog offers An ode to bathrooms blue and pink, or, real ‘Mad Men’ like pink tile too!

Shannon Bilby for Dolphin Carpet and Tile writes about Creating an Attractive Universal Design Bath.

C.B. Whittemore addresses Toilet Paper, Advertising & Bathroom Blogfest 2010 on Flooring The Consumer and Real-Time Marketing & Bathroom Blogfest 2010 on the Simple Marketing Blog.


Use Twitter to Stay in Touch with Customers

Restaurant & Food Service, Small Business Marketing, Social Media, Twitter

Use Twitter to Stay in Touch with Customers

No Comments 13 September 2010

How to Twitter (and signage) to stay in touch with customers and prospects.

Want a free, easy way to keep customers “in the loop?” Use Twitter to connect – even with so-called – “non-Twitterers.”

1. Create a Twitter account for your business. (Want to know more about how to do this for optimum success? Check out our webinar.)

2. At every point of contact, let folks know to TEXT/SMS message: “Follow YourTwitterHandle” to 40404. That’s no quotes, the word FOLLOW,  a single space, then YOUR twitter handle. For example, if you were to follow me, you would text Follow ResultsRev to 40404.

3. Tweet out the insider info you’ve promised and it’ll get delivered, free of charge, straight to your customers and prospects cell phones.

I mean, what if the sign in this picture above instead said:

Shop Local. Text 40404

Follow MisterTAwards

It’s that easy… there’s really nothing else required of your customer or prospect AT ALL.

What are some other points of contact (besides exterior signage or billboards) where you can tell folks how to do this?

  • Events – handouts, signage or verbal instructions
  • Bag stuffers in your store
  • Check presenters in your restaurant
  • Point of sale signage
  • E-mail marketing, web site graphics, posts on your Facebook wall

There are endless opportunities – don’t miss them! This is a marketing tip that really is THAT easy…

Photo Credit: Seven_Null7


Are you an inspired small business owner?

Attitude and Success, Inspiration, Small Business, Small Business Marketing, Work Life Balance

Are you an inspired small business owner?

No Comments 21 August 2010

How do you stay inspired as a small business owner? Do you even care to be inspired as a local business owner? Does your marketing and customer experience convey your inspiration – or does your own lack of inspiration pass along to your customers and employees and leave your small business falling flat? Is your attitude costing you sales?

I know that when I get in a funk about my business – everyone else does, too. My clients aren’t excited, my employees are grumpy, sales slow and I teeter on the brink of the all-too-familiar “life’s too hard, this isn’t fair, I’ve lost my passion” PITY PARTY.

I do not recommend succumbing to this ugly beast… It’s true that life is hard – and work is harder. But avoid the Pity Party at all costs. It really doesn’t feel as good as you think it will – and it can cost you a lot of money in the process.

Instead, focus on the positive and look for great ways to stay inspired and refreshed about your small business and local marketing.

For some people, this is finding time alone (maybe to read a book, write, or pursue a non-work creative hobby) – for others it’s refueling in a crowd (maybe a networking event or a social occasion). Exercise (with inspiring music, friends or co-workers) should be part of every business owners’ inspiration – without it you simply cannot maintain the stamina required for success (but that’s another post altogether). Maybe music inspires you. Maybe it’s art or well-written prose. Maybe it’s time outside – gardening, watering the planters in front of your store, walking down the street to say hello to a fellow business owner, helping a customer load their car, or just breathing fresh air. There are all sorts of things that inspire us – just make sure you find inspiration and consume it regularly.

How do you stay inspired and passionate about your small or local business?

Photo Credit: Seth1492


The best marketing strategy ever.

Getting Results, Marketing, Small Business, Small Business Marketing

The best marketing strategy ever.

No Comments 02 August 2010

It’s a marketing strategy that works in any economic climate for any type of small business.


Don’t go where they are – or where they can see you. Everything from billboards to Facebook Pages are public and easy to imitate. If your competition is in the lifestyle magazine – why bother? It’s expected of them anyway – they aren’t creative, and they settle for the status quo. What about you? Don’t be the competition – be yourself and stand out by going where the competition isn’t – or doesn’t dream of being. It’s simple. And it works.

So what about you and your small business?

Can you mingle in groups on-line or off-line and sell stuff in places that your competition doesn’t even know exists?

Can you go straight into your customer’s homes, lives, places of business – and sell stuff – without the competition knowing?

Can you pursue cooperative marketing partnerships with other businesses, do e-mail marketing, use store signage and customer loyalty offers… to outsmart your competition and gain marketshare – right under their noses?

What have you done lately to outfox the competition? What will you do tomorrow to do it again?

Photo Credit: stuartpilbrow


Getting Results, search engine optimization, Web Sites

HOW TO: Develop Content that Drives Local Search Traffic

No Comments 13 May 2010

Want to get more traffic to your web site, so that you in turn get more sales? Make sure that folks who are typing in search phrases can FIND your web site.People type searches in common vernacular, so write your web site content in everyday language. But do make sure you include the words that your potential customers might use – not just the ones on the top of your mind.

Here is a quick checklist to help you remember which words to include when writing the content for your mall business web site.

  1. Business name and slogan
  2. Street address and mailing address with these labels noted.
  3. Geographical references including regional and local landmarks, names of other important local businesses, regional names (for example, Central Tennessee AND Middle Tennessee), etc.
  4. City & state. Use state abbreviations in every form and the state name spelled in full.
  5. ZIP code.
  6. Main telephone number.
  7. Secondary telephone(s).
  8. Fax number.
  9. General descriptive keywords. Use a thesaurus to help you think about synonymous words. For example if you are a toy store that sells antique replica children’s toys, you must remember to use that plus “old toys” and “vintage toys” and “used toys” and “antique toys” and “kids toys” and many more variations on this same term. See what I mean?
  10. Lists of your Services, products, & brand names (not just logos – search engines can’t read images).
  11. Descriptions of your specialties.
  12. Your email address and the words “e-mail address”
  13. Areas served including subdivisions, districts within the city, rural areas or communities, county names, etc.
  14. Certification names, titles, awards, recognition, press mentions.

What did I leave off? What else could be on this list? Post in the comments section, please and help out our community of small, locally owned and operated businesses! Thanks.


For Main Street or Downtown Programs, Professional Service, Restaurant & Food Service, Retail, Wholesale Products

How to Get Your Store in a Local News Story (Guest Post)

1 Comment 16 March 2010

Editor’s Note: This post was submitted by Mike Ingalls, FOX 40 News Director in Jackson, Mississippi. They are great supporters of small businesses, especially through their social media engagement and web site.

It is tradition that good magicians don’t reveal their secrets.  News people do not live up to the same strict standards as magicians.  Hopefully, that will help your small business. In fact, I’m going to reveal how you can get FREE advertising, by getting your store in a local news story.  You don’t have to spend money to get your message on local television news programs, but you will need to spend some time making relationships.  Right now, you should look up the telephone number for all of your local newsrooms.  Don’t just call your favorite station!  That would limit your chances of getting air time.  Call and ask to talk to the assignment manager (one tip, call around 10am, 1pm, or 3pm; those are usually slower times of the day, but if the person sounds busy, call back at another time).  Tell the assignment manager what type of business you run, what topics you can speak about on camera, and ask them to put you on their list of contacts.  Leave your name and cell phone and tell them you would be willing to be a source for any future stories.

So, what happens when they take you up on the offer?  You must understand that news people are fighting the clock and several deadlines every day.  If you get a call at 10:00 a.m., the reporter needs to get you on camera as soon as possible.  To get this free advertising, YOU need to find a way to make yourself available.  One quick story; we were doing a story about Ole Miss potentially replacing the plantation owner mascot.  Our reporter called a local business that sells Ole Miss paraphernalia and he was told by the owner that she couldn’t talk because she was stocking shelves.  For the purpose of this lesson, we heard “No, I don’t want more than a minute of free advertising.”  Instead, we ended up at a local mall.  “I’m not wearing make-up, I didn’t do my hair this morning, and the store is a mess” are other reasons interview requests have been turned down by small business owners.  If you take one thing away from this article make it this; if you say no to an interview that will get you free publicity, your competitor may say yes.  Make some phones calls, and when they pay off with an interview request, make the excuses for why you can’t do the interview disappear.


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About Marianna Chapman

For the past 15 years, Marianna Chapman has been creating game-changing big ideas resulting in big returns for dozens of businesses and communities across the U.S.

Today, Marianna and her team help business and non-profit clients at Big Idea Company, Inc., writes the Results Revolution blog, serves as Executive Editor for Eat Cities, LLC media outlets, and is a frequent speaker to national and regional conferences.

Marianna is a professional problem solver and rainmaker for hire.

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