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Holiday Planning – A Recipe For Success!

Holiday-PlanningAre you one of the many business owners who are in the retail business? If so, you know that a large part of your yearly profits come from the 4th quarter sales. Many retail stores see as much as one third of their total sales from October to December.

With that in mind, your next question should be… “Is my business in shape to finish out the year strong?” If not, there is still time! There are several ways you can help to boost sales as we approach the holiday season.

Decorate
With holiday sales accounting for nearly 20 percent of annual retail industry sales, according to National Retail Federation, don’t rely on foot traffic alone to bring people through the door. Understandably, many business owners fight decorating, saying how the holiday season is short and it is a lot of work to decorate for each holiday. I combat this by saying, would you rather walk into a nicely decorated store or professional office during the holidays, or one that didn’t decorate. In most cases the answer is easy. An inviting store that has decked the halls is more inviting and will likely yield a higher percentage of foot traffic.

Be sure to include snap shots of your handiwork and post those pictures along with some text to your social media channels. Include new inventory or “hot selling items”!

Proper Staffing
The holidays are a time when people want to spend time with their friends and family. This often can leave a store short staffed during a peak time when more staff may be needed on the floor. It is a good idea as holiday season approaches to talk with your staff about the holidays, giving them a choice of which jobs ones are most important to them while making sure that you are properly staffed during peak sale times. This may mean that you need to bring in a few temporary employees to help get through the busy season. Customers become irritated when it’s obvious there isn’t enough staff, or only one or 2 checkout lanes are open during peak sale times. They will find somewhere else to spend their money, either a store down the street, or online.

Make shopping an event worth attending
In store events help to bring customers through the door. They create hype and excitement which will bring customers in that may have otherwise strolled past your door. During the holiday season it is a good idea to have a monthly event with at least 2 big events throughout the season. Events can be such things as manufacturer trunk shows, charity events, family and friends shopping nights, VIP shopping, vendor demonstrations and many more. Keep in mind that many customers love to have their pictures taken with Santa, and may even use those as Christmas cards.

If appropriate for your business, pet photos may bring in new customers who currently don’t visit.

Maintain inventory control
Lastly it is imperative that you keep the proper amount of inventory. If you plan on having a sale, be sure to stock up on the products that are likely to fly off of the shelf. How aggravated are you on Black Friday when you enter a store and a sales person said they only had 6 of something in stock to start the sale. There is nothing worse than running out of a product and having people come in who were set on making a purchase.

The holiday season can be a crazy time. As a business owner you can choose to keep going at your everyday pace, or take advantage of the time of the year and boost your sales. The key is planning ahead for the sprint to the end of the year. Scheduling events, advertising and executing on social media can pay off as we enter the 4th quarter.

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.

Time Management Tips

Time-ManagementAs a small business owner, I can tell you firsthand how hard it can be to have numerous people and projects pulling at you, all competing for your time at once. It often can seem overwhelming, trying to determine where your time needs to be spent. Yet, each account is important and you want to give it the proper attention.

Your productivity directly affects your company’s productivity and mastering time blocking as well as list management will result in a better outcome. Have you ever done an analysis on your time? Do you know where time wasters occur? Is social media sucking a chunk out of your daily productivity?

Whether you are a business owner or a manager, knowing where your strengths are, and where you see your biggest results is key to making the most out of your time. Being busy doesn’t always mean being productive. Eliminate the things that are simply busy work and focus on what is producing results. This goes toward networking meetings as well. You can network til the cows come home, but if you aren’t generating business and only exchanging cards, at the end of the day, what have you accomplished.

Here are some time management tips:

Keep the list of priorities short. At times it seems as though the to-do list is never ending and that everything needs done now. Take a look at that list and narrow it down.Look at what is most important to have done and work down the list from there. The shorter the list, the easier it is to keep your team focused on the end goal.

Block Time. Set a timer to complete a task. Turn off your phone, email, close your office door and eliminate all distractions. See what you can accomplish in 60 minute intervals.

Limit lengthy meetings. Create an agenda with time spent on each agenda item to keep meetings on task. Try to avoid staff meetings that extend beyond 30 minutes. While there will be times that meetings need to be longer than 30 minutes, it is a good practice to try to keep meetings short and to the point. Most discussion points of a meeting can be discussed in 30 minutes or less and help to keep your team on task.

Plan your day around your body’s energy levels. If you find that you are most eager to get items off your to-do list mid-morning, plan to do things that require creativity then. Leave the tasks such as answering emails or returning phone calls for the afternoon when you are not feeling as energetic or creative.

Learn how to delegate. Just because there is something on your to do list does not mean that you have to do it yourself. Something like running to the store, taking inventory, or dropping off a box to be shipped is a task that can easily be completed by somebody else.

At the end of the day, look at what you’ve accomplished and determine….are you managing your time, or is it managing you?

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.

Tips To Market Your Business On A Budget

market-your-buisness-on-a-budgetDo you ever look at those large businesses… those with seemingly unlimited budgets who spend thousands upon thousands of dollars each month on marketing activities? Do you wish you had that kind of budget? The kind of budget that allows you to take more risk in your marketing efforts without the concern that it could bankrupt their company?

As a small business owner, things are likely very different when it comes to spending on marketing. You may not have multiple departments to review analytics, create landing pages for certain products, execute multiple social media ads and pay per click advertising. It is important that your business receives the biggest bang for your buck. There are a few steps that you can take to maximize your return in investment.

Social media

One of the wonderful things about social media, such as Facebook or LinkedIn, is that they can boost your reach with little investment. Social media helps to level the playing field for small businesses. When leveraging connections that regularly share your content, you reach a broader audience with minimal investment.

A $10 investment to boost a Facebook post can land it in front of several hundred more people who may be interested in your business. These are new people who could possibly share your post or like it, displaying it to their friends and family. For Business-to-Business businesses, advertising on LinkedIn can help reach decision makers.

Market research

Market research is a very important aspect of marketing. It also happens to be free, that is if you choose to do it yourself. Part of market research is learning what your customers like, where they like to hang out, and what they want.

If you do your homework, whether it is through surveys, questioners, or simply listening to what they are saying, you stand a better chance of being able to deliver what they want. Know where their pain points are and offer a solution. This will allow you to engage on chat groups where your customers frequent. When engagement is done a certain way, you can ask for help and pose a question. These answers may be your next product or service you offer.

Email marketing

Have you ever seen a new email pop into your inbox and became excited to see a promotion being run on your favorite product? At some point you decided that you wanted to opt in for the promotions that company was offering.

As a Business-to-Consumer business owner, you need to do the same with your customers. Once you acquire your customer’s email address, you gain the ability to entice them to come back to your store or online website and shop. Effective email programs target shoppers and provide appropriate information and/or discounts for the products they are most interested in. These programs are customizable and can offer your customers the ability to take advantage of any sales or discounts you might be offering.

If you offer a Business-to-Business service, you can use email to engage your audience through insightful blogs, video, or white papers. The key to any program is to regularly execute and then utilize the email platform tools to cross share through your social media channels. You want to set yourself apart as an expert in the field.

Just because you have a small business does not mean you cannot market in a big way. Improving your brand marketing through relatively inexpensive avenues can help to boost sales and generate larger profit, all while operating on a smaller budget. Listen to your customers wants and needs. Provide them an avenue to receive your latest sales and incentives. This will help you to market while staying within your budget. Want to learn more…email us or give us a call at 724-612-0755.

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.