In January, my husband had surgery to remove a brain tumor. Following his successful surgery, Sam experienced a series of complications due to infection in the hospital. Three additional brain surgeries left him unable to move his right arm or leg and the ability to communicate and he remained hospitalized for almost two months. My business was placed pretty much on hold as I navigated unfamiliar territory as his advocate. Sam was moved to acute rehab in late February and began the arduous work of regaining strength and letting his brain heal. At the end of March, amidst COVID-19 visiting restrictions and uncertainty, Sam came home to heal. He made great progress in regaining speech, learning how to stand and now can feel his right arm and leg. We continue physical therapy at home and he amazes me every day as he becomes more mobile. While the corona virus has certainly added additional concerns about his safety, it has also helped us find ways to be creative and more confident in our abilities.
My clients are all small business owners and I know many of you are worried about whether your business will survive. Will your customers come back to you after being closed? Can you recoup lost income?
I don't have all the answers to these questions, but I can tell you that you have a tremendous ability to get through this AND come out on the other end more nimble, more creative and more resilient. Rather than feeling that you don't know what to do to withstand the hardships during the next couple of months, here is what I am learning about our Western Mass small businesses.
The digital world doesn't stand still and finding ways for our businesses to be found online can be challenging. Google announced in December that Google+ is shutting down on March 7th following a data breach and low consumer usage. Each social media channel has a different appeal and demographic but among the top platforms based on usage are YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Of all the channels, Facebook still has the broadest usage and widest demographic. However, small businesses are often frustrated with Facebook's algorithm which continually makes it harder to be seen in a crowded marketplace. The push to a "pay to play" model has made it difficult to use the platform without paying for Facebook advertising. Still, having a presence on Facebook makes sense for most small businesses in order to create brand awareness and relationships with potential users of our products and services. The good news is that Facebook is a quality not quantity network. Posting 2 or 3 times a week can be sufficient as long as the content is relevant to your audience.
Here are 5 ways to harness the power of Facebook for your business:
Robert Green, long-time proprietor of Amherst Typewriter, recently told his story on Connecting Point, as captured in this video. As I watched, I was struck by several things. First, the mere fact that a typewriter repair shop still exists in an era where we are connected 24/7 to our tech gadgets is worth taking a closer look.
Then I really listened as Mr. Green described the tactile sense of tapping the key to strike the mechanism onto the paper without regard to making a mistake.
I was instantly transported back to Mrs. Bridge's typewriting class in high school where I saw my first IBM Selectric typewriter. It was placed at the very front of the classroom under Mrs. Bridge' s watchful eye. "Who would like to try our brand new electric typewriter," she asked. I held my hand up thinking it couldn't be worse than jamming my fingers into the depths of the standard issue contraption I was using. I remember turning it on and it being very loud and very sensitive to touch. I was soon typing my personal best. Deep down I felt a little guilty thinking that I had an advantage over the other 20 or so students who labored away on their obstinate typewriters.
Mr. Green described the relationship that authors often have with their typewriters, taking comfort in the deliberate action the machine seems to cause. I have enough trouble dealing with autocorrect on a smart phone -- a phenomenon known to provide countless Epic Fail lists. I can't imagine enjoying the experience of writing a novel on a Smith Corona.
The tools may change, but the engagement is what really counts. How we engage with the tools of our trade, and with each other. Sometimes taking the low tech route can make the biggest impact on forming lasting relationships - a hand written note, a clipped article from a newspaper, a visit over coffee . . . maybe even a trip to the typewriter repair store.
If you've attended one of my workshops, you have heard me talk a lot about today's relationship building marketing tools. I'm often asked.,"Which is better....email marketing or social media?" The tendency to view social media as being FREE can make it pretty alluring, especially for budget-conscious businesses.
So, what's my answer?
Creating a compelling email marketing plan integrated with the right social media platform(s) keeps you connected with your customers/clients and potential users of your products and services. Although it's not a contest, if you still are struggling with where to spend your time and marketing dollars, check out this infographic. It does a pretty good job of comparing both email and social media.
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When: Tuesday, November 12, 2013, 8 AM - Noon
Where: Holyoke Community College, Kittredge Center
Featured Speaker: Corissa St. Laurent, Director of Regional Development, Constant Contact
Hosted by: Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources
Partners: Comcast Business & Greater Holyoke Chamber of Commerce
The Small Business Summit is coming to Western Mass in less than two weeks. This is an event you won't want to miss! Come be a part of a high-energy morning filled with networking and learning opportunities. Our featured speaker, Corissa St. Laurent, has presented to over 20,000 people on the topics of engagement and online marketing. Having owned two prior small businesses and been on several nonprofit boards, she understands the unique challenges small businesses and nonprofits face. Her refreshing style and ability to explain complex subject matter in a simple way will leave you feeling informed, inspired, and ready to grow your business through engagement marketing!
What else to expect? Mini-roundtable sessions, email marketing demonstration, share best practices, gather ideas to make 2014 your best year yet.
Who should attend? Business owners and staff, marketers, non-profit organizations looking to increase donor relations . . . ANYONE interested in learning how to use today's online marketing tools more effectively. This is a great networking event, so bring plenty of business cards.
Check out the morning's full agenda and reserve your seat today. Seating is LIMITED and PRE-REGISTRATION REQUIRED. Please share this with everyone.
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.” ~ Abraham Lincoln
We all know that Abraham Lincoln was a skilled orator and debater. He cared deeply about relationships and suffered great losses in his life. Did you know he was also an entrepreneur and inventor? That’s right. Abraham Lincoln obtained a patent for an air chamber that would keep cargo boats buoyant in shallow waters.
Abe Lincoln also knew that you can’t please ALL the people all of the time. His words help me to remember that I need to concentrate on delivering a consistent message based upon the core values and direction I’ve established for my business. As a result, I will be more productive by focusing on my strengths.
President Lincoln was a man “of the people”. He valued relationships, listened before he spoke, and often connected with others through the use of storytelling. I often share with clients the importance of being able to “tell the story” — what sparked the idea to design a product or what adversity did you overcome that made you create a passion for your business?
Understanding that the quality of the relationship we build with our customers, clients and colleagues is what defines our success or failure. It’s not about how many widgets we sell, or the number of billable hours we accumulate; it’s about focusing on our customer’s needs and giving them the best experience possible. Listen first, stick to what we know, focus on finding the best solutions and concentrate on developing lasting relationships. Everything else will fall into place.
Abraham Lincoln said it best in a letter to Quintin Campbell dated June 28, 1862:
“Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.”
Liz Provo, Mass Marketing Resources.