Get Ready for Shop Small

As Small Business Saturday quickly approaches, it is important to plan ahead! Shop Small is an opportunity for you to be a community champion, increase your profits, and build up your local profile. But how should you begin to strategize for such a big day? Shop Small is all about being a champion for small business. American Express, the founders of this event, indicates 90% of shoppers who are aware of Small Business Saturday use the opportunity to try out new local small businesses and restaurants. If you want your business to be one of those that the community tries out this year, start planning now!

Be a Neighborhood Champion

Shop Small is focused on not only small businesses, but also on local communities. Participating gives you a chance to widen your customer base, as well as to build up your community. One way to do this is to become an official Neighborhood Champion by signing up through American Express. Being a Champion means also supporting other business owners in your community and spreading the word about which businesses are participating in the event.

Think about how you might utilize social media to get the community excited about Shop Small, or even consider hosting a community kickoff event to strategize with other business owners and prepare for the day ahead. Whichever route you take, being a Neighborhood Champion will give you the opportunity to remind your larger community of why it is important to shop small, while also increasing your business’s local profile.

Increase Awareness and Your Profits

To get the most out of Shop Small, it is important to think ahead and to consider if your business is reaching a wide enough clientele. Partnering with complementary businesses will allow you to share in the cost of advertising and drive increased traffic to your businesses. Working with others who are not in direct competition with you will allow you to succeed on raising local awareness of your business and Small Business Saturday. Being a team player benefits everyone!

You may also think about creating some type of special sale for Shop Small. Consider bundling products for a higher price point. By creating product bundles, you can sell more of your products while also increasing your profits! Selling complementary products together, or selling only certain products in bundles rather than individually, can convince consumers that may be new to your business to shop with you.

Make this year the year that you take full advantage of all the opportunities Shop Small offers. As November 27th looms on the horizon, you should feel confident that your business, and your community, will find this event to be successful!

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 strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

The Solution to the Problem

Did you ever have someone always come to you with a problem? This could be a friend, a business associate, or a fellow employee. They present a problem or in a conversation say “the problem is” … but what is the missing piece? It is a suggested solution.

I recently spoke with a nurse that was set to meet with her supervisor to discuss issues that related to patient care. Prior to her meeting, our conversation started with – the problem is when they bring the trays up, the coffee spills on the sugar and it’s gross. It bothers me to give this to the patient. Not only are we providing patient care but because meals are cold, we are having to heat them one at a time. This is affecting our capability to provide quality care and impacting the patient’s ability to heal because of unsatisfactory nourishment. She had a laundry list of issues and as I listened, I asked, “What’s the solution?”

The nurse thought about my question and proceeded to offer ways that could improve a patient’s experience and provide solutions to her concerns. Before her meeting with the supervisor, she put a wet condiment packet from a food tray where coffee had spilled in a baggie took it with her to the meeting. The supervisor was unaware of many of her concerns, but what helped her cause was the fact that she provided an example of why it bothered her to serve a patient a try with a condiment that “looked gross” as well as offered solutions. The outcome…. some of her suggestions have been implemented.

An engineering colleague spoke of an entirely different situation where a junior engineer is choosing to not step up to the plate with solutions to work situations. After a number of years of working for him, the junior engineer still comes to him wanting answers to problems he is qualified to solve. The junior engineer has been asked to get his PE, but he says he doesn’t want that responsibility. The lack of drive and the ability to want to problem solve will eventually hurt his career. The senior engineer indicated the junior engineer has the right answer, but doesn’t want to offer the solution. He would rather allow someone else make that decision for him. Many senior engineers will be retiring soon and he told the young engineer that in the not-too-distant future, he would HAVE to make decisions because they wouldn’t be there to ask.

Problems and solutions in two different industries… but very different outcomes.

What steps should you take to become a problem solver?

  • Identify and define the problem. Break apart the situation and identify a root cause of the problem. Document how the process currently flows and identify how the problem is impacting your ability to effectively perform your job.
  • Look at various software tools, operational shifts, and changes in policy that would impact the situation.
  • Offer multiple alternatives that could be modified to determine a best outcome.
  • Evaluate alternatives. Include affected parties to garner feedback and buy in for the solution.
  • Sell your solution to leadership or if you are the business owner affected staff.
  • Implement and reevaluate proposed solutions allowing for feedback and/or modification.

At the end of the day are you going to be a problem solver or a person who doesn’t want to take the responsibility to improve customer service, operations and ultimately help a business be better? I challenge you to evaluate your conversations to see if you can shift your mindset to offer solutions to today’s problems.

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 strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.

There’s an App for That!

Apps can serve a variety of purposes – entertainment, productivity and even find your phone when you lose it! It seems like you can get lost in the app store trying to find the best fit for your needs. From accounting software to video conferencing and marketing apps, there are tons of options available in your app store to help you with productivity, efficiency, and communication.

As business owners, we are always thinking about ways to streamline, process and track activities in everyday business. With tablets and cell phones, business is on the go now more than ever. The digital age has offered up a myriad of tools to enhance creativity and productivity. Technology continues to evolve at the speed of light and new apps are being developed every day. The flexibility and reliability of moving from desktop to your mobile devices allow business owners to manage tasks on the go.

Mobile apps are powerful and can help your business run more smoothly. They can help improve daily operations, organize ideas, manage travel expenses, automate tasks, to name a few. If you can think of ways to run your business more easily, there’s probably an app to help you do so.

In a recent blog on Productivity, Constant Contact shared the 17 Productivity apps that can make an impact in both business and your personal lives.

How many do you use?

Once you’ve established an app that you feel works, evaluate the product with staff and share with them the vision you have and how it will improve their jobs. Get feedback for their buy-in and/or allow them to offer up alternative apps they may know that you haven’t discovered.

Habits are hard to break, but many apps have trial periods or basic users in order for you to determine if the fit is right for you and your business. The key is once you land on an app, that you incorporate its usage into your everyday business for it to be effective and you to reap the benefit of efficiency. Create procedures and processes as necessary to implement the app and evaluate its effectiveness.

Don’t settle for “we’ve always done it this way” when there can be a better way through the use of technology. I challenge you to step outside your comfort zone and find an app that will streamline your business, improve productivity, and increase profits.

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 strategies, website creation and management, social media management, marketing, strategic planning, and public relations. The Edmiston Group has consistently delivered and implemented real-world, proven business marketing ideas and strategies for business.