Monday, May 11, 2009

Get Your Engines Started!

I am not an economist, but I have noted that there is a cautious buzz suggesting that we might be at the bottom of this economic slowdown.

As a business owner and a consumer, I'm thrilled! Of course, there are many long, tough months ahead as we hopefully dig ourselves back out of this hole, but at least there is some hope.

Now is the time to focus on how you can take advantage of the slow economy for both yourself and your business. Even if you only have a tiny financial cushion left after the last 12 tight months, now is the time to use it! Here are some options to consider:

1. Services are cheaper - although it's not universal, most service providers are more flexible with their rates - and may have even dropped their rates. Just like all businesses, service providers are anxious to do some great work for you to help boost their bottom line, and you can probably get lower rates and shorter terms

2. Labor is available and cheaper - the labor market is hungry for work, and many stellar employees have been laid off. Now is a great time to fill critical positions in your own company in preparation for increased business.

3. Rents are totally negotiable - if you have ever thought about expanding your physical space, now is a great time to do it. Many retail, office and warehouse locations have been vacant for 10+ months. Assume that the rate and terms offered are much higher than you should actually pay, and bring in a seasoned negotiator to help you if necessary.

4. Your competitors are still scared - the single greatest opportunity for you right now is to take advantage of your competitors' lowered spending. They have likely pulled back on everything from advertising to customer service, and their customers know it! Now is the time to swoop in and impress everyone with your strength and moxie: show them that your business is still around and doing great!

Give me a call if you need some help!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Support Site for Small Businesses

Check out this cool new support site for small businesses: PrairieDogPros

The site offers access to endorsed experts in the following fields:

  • technology
  • financial planning
  • small business law
  • marketing (that's me!)
  • coaching
  • taxes
  • small business law
  • insurance
  • and more…

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Starbucks vs. McDonald's

Since I just wrote about Starbucks, I thought I should update everyone with the latest business news from the company. Fiscal second-quarter profit dropped 77%. Why? Because the company is going through a major restructuring and closing 123 U.S. stores.

I love Starbucks, but I wonder if this has anything to do with its faster-than-light global expansion. Perhaps even more damaging is the weak economy and McDonald's latte launch:

"Over the past 18 months, McDonald's has been steadily introducing lattes, cappuccinos and mochas in individual markets across the country. Some 80% of the company's 14,000 U.S. stores now sell these drinks, and this week McDonald's will roll out a national advertising campaign trumpeting the McCafé section of its menu." Full story: TIME magazine

Monday, May 4, 2009

Work at Starbucks

If you're like me, you sometimes (or frequently) use Starbucks as an office. In fact, I work out of a Starbucks at least three times each week, using it both for meetings and as a (usually) quiet place to do some work on my laptop.

In fact, right now I'm in a Starbucks working to the sounds of "Tall Nonfat Latte" and "Grande Chai Vanilla Iced Tea" and some mellow music. There is someone interviewing prospective employees in the corner opposite from me - she has interviewed three people since I got here. Behind me is a tutor guiding his highschool client through Calculus homework, and at least two tables are occupied by people conducting some sort of business meeting.

I think that part of Starbucks' success is based on the fact that so many people use it for business. Even though sometimes I don't buy anything at all, other times I buy breakfast and lunch, plus multiple lattes, in one day.

If you're interested in the Starbucks logo and/or mermaids, then you have to read this blog!

Friday, May 1, 2009

Get Scammed Quick

ATTENTION: You can get rich quick online with no investment and in no time at all!!! I did it and you can, too!

It's amazing to me how many people I've met recently who have been scammed online by the very same type of marketing schemes we saw on TV in the 1980s and 90s. "Get Rich Quick" schemes, wherever they are marketed and whatever they entail, might work .01% of the time, for .001% of the population, but it breaks my heart to see so many desperate people getting scammed and losing their money and their self-confidence when the promises simply don't come true.

This is like the weight loss industry promising that you can lose 20 lbs in two weeks without diet or exercise. Even if it were physiologically possible, it could not possibly last.

Lasting success is based on behavior, not trickery. No quick scheme in the world, whether for making money or losing weight, will be successful in the long-term unless you learn to incorporate daily behaviors (habits) that will maintain success.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Recession Marketing

I thought you might enjoy the following Q&A that I provided to a national publication writing about how small business owners can succeed in a recession.

1. What tips can you provide for organizations looking to maximize their marketing budgets?

Focus, focus, focus. The biggest problem right now is that people are spreading their marketing efforts too thin. It is much better to call one warm prospect than to send a cold mailing to 1,000 people from a database. Focus your efforts on the most profitable and likely prospects.

2. What brand building techniques do you recommend during a recession?
In a bad economy, people only pay for things that solve immediate, serious needs. Take a look at your marketing messages and determine whether they address such a need. Think in terms of Emergency Care vs. Prevention. Long-term marketing messages simply aren't selling right now, so you need to dig deep into the "pain" your customers feel and tell them how you can help.

3. Are there marketing activities you have increased as a result of the recession? If yes, can you provide an example?
I'm offering more workshops and short-term projects that deal with specific problems (per the above answer - long term strategy just isn't as attractive right now).

4. Are there specific campaign examples or strategies that have worked particularly well despite the recession?
My marketing business has actually grown in the past six months, and my pipeline is full. I think it's because I saw the consumer mentality changing and applied what I said in numbers 1 and 2 to my own company.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

10 lbs

I have been actively pursuing a healthy body for more than a year now. I've gone down two pant sizes and feel great. I've established healthy habits like eating 6+ servings of fruits and veggies most days, clocking 10,000 steps per day and sweating through 4-5 cardio workouts per week. I have cut my alcohol consumption in half and actually developed a distaste for fatty, highly-processed foods.

In short, I'm happy with h0w I look and feel, and my body is healthy.

You know what's amazing though? I've only lost 10 lbs! One year and all this work, and all the scale can show me is 10 lbs.

It's times like this that I have to remember that numbers are only one of the guides we can use in life. There are lots of other metrics for our bodies, minds and businesses that can help us know whether we are succeeding at what we want.