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The Power of the Pen

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We all know what a pen is – however my question to you is…”Do you know how powerful the pen can be?” Think about it, we write checks, sign our names on credit card slips and point of sale machines. This little instrument gives us the power to spend our money at the retail shops, restaurants and professional services of our choice.

But you may wonder what makes us decide where we shop, eat, buy our groceries and choose professional services such as hair care, massages, chiropractic care, etc. As a consumer, we don’t want to feel like just another number. We want to feel special and appreciated. That’s why you see businesses, credit card companies and coffee shops offering VIP rewards, special sales and offers. They want you to come back and use your pen to purchase from them.

As a business owner, the flip side of the coin is how are you using your pen to keep customers coming back? A colleague and outside salesman shared this true story with me.

“He had sold product to a nonprofit organization for a number of years. As in any type of sales, there is competition. One day the governing board of the organization contacted him and asked for a meeting. They said they were tired of dealing with multiple vendors, wanted to simplify their ordering process and were giving all their business to him. He was rather surprised at the outcome of the meeting.

As the meeting was coming to a close, the board asked him if he wanted to know why he was awarded the business. Of course his answer was YES. They then showed him a hand written thank you letter from his company that they had received after placing their first order years prior. They told him that the extra effort the company took to let them know their order was appreciated was WHY they chose to give him all of their business.”

Because of technology, shooting a text or email is much quicker and easier to do. We abbreviate things, copy and paste something in the body of an email and perhaps the receiver may take a few seconds to read it. Based on what you put in the subject line, maybe the note went into spam or a junk folder to be deleted without a thought. The art of a hand written note has gone by the wayside. It takes time, thought, a card and a stamp. All that extra effort – is it worth it? I think so.

Not only does the thank you work toward creating loyal customers, think about your employees. When was the last time you took the time to write a hand written note thanking them for all they do? After all, they too are the face of your company.

Find your pen, invest in branded note cards and let others know how thankful you are for their support and their business! I invite you to share your success stories with us.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

Make The Most Of The Fall Season

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The days are cooler, shorter and the leaves have begun to change. Halloween decorations have appeared on the shelves, shortly followed by Christmas decorations and your small business traffic is picking up. Fall is indeed in the air.

For many businesses, especially retail and hospitality, fall is one of the most profitable, chaotic and busy times of the year. Businesses are stocking up for the holiday and consumers are ready to make big purchases, even getting to those home improvement projects.

Do you have your plan in place for Small Business Saturday on November 25th? The event was originated by American Express in 2010. The US Senate recognized the day in 2011 and the event has grown ever since. In 2016, Small Business Saturday Consumer Insights Survey commissioned by Amex and NFIB, demonstrated that shoppers supported small businesses in a big way – spending $15.4 billion.

If your business carries American Express, there are a number of free resources available to you; marketing collateral, ways to champion a neighborhood event and opportunity to list your business on their national map. It all goes into preplanning and advertising what you will be doing on November 25th. For consumers, it’s also about making decisions to support the independent business owner.

For professional and service delivery businesses, fall brings forth trade shows, conferences and conventions where you are likely to be meeting new contacts. How you decide to take advantage of this busy time of the year could greatly improve your profits for the 2017 fiscal year.

  1. Start on the holidays early. If your business is dependent on the holiday season, now is the time to get to work. If you sell to retail, it’s time to be out on the road, be in touch with decision makers and follow up on your corporate accounts. If you are on the other end and you are the retail store, stock up, schedule sales and promotions and be ready with the right amount of inventory. Be sure you are capturing emails for future touches and sale promotions.
  2. Trade shows. Yes trade shows can be a lot of work; however, they are a great way to build your customer base. For many companies, you will gain large amount of customers by attending trade shows where a large group of highly targeted customers are all brought into one place. They have come intent on learning about not only your business, but businesses like yours that they can interact with. If you have the opportunity, check into being a speaker at a break out session. This is a great way to establish credibility.
  3. Communicate with your suppliers. Fall is a busy time for everyone, not just for you, but also for your suppliers. Be sure to stay in contact with them and keep them up to date on any changes you may find that you need in deliveries. It is also important to make sure you pay their bills on time so that they continue to deliver to you.
  4. Business plan and marketing. If fall isn’t your busy season, take the time to review your business and marketing plans. Create a plan for 2018, reminding yourself of both your short term and long term goals. Take the time to see how you stacked up from your 2017 year goals and expectations.

From trade shows to Small Business Saturday, the last quarter is a busy time. Budgets are often prepared for the upcoming year and for some businesses, 4th quarter is a make or break it time. Planning and communication are key as you head into the fall season and finish the year out strong.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.

A New Wave of Consumers

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Millennials have overtaken the baby boomers as the largest generation with buying power. Millennials now number 75.4 million while the boomers number 74.9 million. As a small business owner this is important information to know as you may want to change the way you market to the younger, more tech savvy generation.

While no two generations think the same way, many of the things Millennials are demanding from companies are also appreciated by Boomers and Xers. Shifting your marketing strategy may help you to better reach this ever-growing generation and market segment while still attracting new customers from other generations.

1. No sales pitch.

Millennials are especially turned off by the thought of some slick sales man trying to sell garbage to a garbage man.

This generation has grown up with a multitude of social media outlets, and the internet at their fingertips. They don’t want you to sell to them, instead they want you to tell them what the product or service will do for them. They enjoy photos and videos versus long manuals to read through.

Remember that they are used to following up on their smart phone to see reviews or uses for your product or service. Being upfront and honest about what it does and how it does it will come across better to this younger generation.

2. Make your brand about them.

The younger generation is more likely to do business with a company or brand that treats them well and reflects on their beliefs.

Things that were important to many older generations, such as how long you have been in business, or how big your company is no longer matter. They want to do business with someone that treats them right and follows through on their promises.

3. Customer services is number 1.

Going back to the internet is at their fingertips idea… If a Millennial has a bad experience at your company, you can be sure they have posted a review on Yelp, Google, Facebook, Twitter or some other social media outlet.

This is the reason that it is a must to be sure that your customer service is your number one priority. Be sure that your employees know how you want them to handle customer complaints or problems. If they don’t know, then it is time to teach them.

4. Social media is key.

In order to reach younger customers it is important to be connected. This means that your website needs to offer mobile viewing to improve experiences for those viewing it using smartphones and tablets. With many of your customers finding you by surfing the web it is important to invest in social media and a website that catches their eye. Hanging out online where your customers do, online, will help you to reach them better.

When revamping your marketing campaign, keep in mind who you are selling to. Millennials have access to more information than any generation before them, so be sure you give them the information they are looking for, not a sales pitch. It might not be a bad idea to ramp up your loyalty or referral programs to show your customers that you care about them and want to appreciate them for your business with them.

While all of this does in fact take time, when you find a loyal customer in a Millennial they are more likely to spread word of your company and your products. The hard work is definitely worth your time and effort.

About the author: Autumn Edmiston is the CEO and owner of the Edmiston Group. The Edmiston Group is a multifaceted Pittsburgh based marketing consulting firm providing senior level marketing management services to businesses and non-profit organizations on a short or long term basis. Core areas of service are business development, marketing, strategic planning and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business growth.