Tips, Ideas and Info

Gearing Up to Capture the Holiday Dollar

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

This week MasterCard announced its prediction that holiday spending by customers would increase by 7.1% over last year. This is good news for businesses that were thinking inflation may quell holiday spending. But how did they decide on this and what does your business need to know to make the most from holiday shoppers?

Increased Spending Trend

Spending this summer increased by 11.7% year over year in August, which is an increase of 20.4% over 2019. Pretty impressive numbers considering the high cost of everything. But why the predictions for increased spending? One reason is that the unemployment rate is going down (currently 3.7%, down from a high in April of 2020 of 14.7%). There’s also been an increase in new jobs (nonfarm payrolls rose by 315,000 in August) in the US. Salaries are also starting to adjust for inflation.

The Conference Board Consumer Confidence Index® released the following statement nearly a month ago, “Purchasing intentions increased after a July pullback, and vacation intentions reached an 8-month high. Looking ahead, August’s improvement in confidence may help support spending, but inflation and additional rate hikes still pose risks to economic growth in the short term.”

So, it sounds like cautious optimism for holiday spending. Assuming customers are out there, here are a few ways you can capture their dollars this season.

Online Is Key

MasterCard revealed that online sales in August grew by 8.9% year on year, which is a 100.2% growth since 2019. If you don’t have an online presence, you need to be working toward one. If you have one already, ensure that it is user friendly and provides opportunities for upsells. Take some time to associate “also boughts” and buying suggestions to maximize upsells.

Experiences

Customers want to buy and enjoy doing it. That’s why many savvy merchants and organizations are offering special events. A wine bar or restaurant may offer an exclusive wine tasting or special farm-to-table tasting event. Look for ways you can offer your customers a larger experience than simply a purchase. Doing so helps them know, like, and trust you. Plus, it keeps you top of mind because you’re now more than just a business that sells them something. You are a part of their entertainment or a resource for learning (or experiencing) something new.

Inflation Is Still a Barrier to Buying

Despite political talk from both sides on the economy, and improved spending and consumer confidence, inflation, rising costs, and increased transportation costs are still a concern for most people. That’s why merchants and businesses that can offer the best value are most likely to capture the holiday dollar.

What can you do to make your customers feel like they are getting the most from their dollar? This is not an invitation to lower prices to bring more people in. That becomes a slippery slope of who can offer the cheapest item and that doesn’t benefit anyone. Instead, aim to offer more for your customers’ money. You can charge a premium if they feel like they are receiving excellent value or even prestige.

Hide the Cost

A lot of businesses have started charging a cash price and a (higher) credit card price to cover the increasing credit card or processing fees. While that’s a good way to look out for your operating costs, because of the negative way people perceive this “sharing of the costs” you may be better off by simply rolling those costs into your price. When someone sees an additional charge for the convenience of paying by card, they often feel put out. However, adding a few dollars to the price, if you’re providing good value elsewhere, may remove the friction from the sale.

The holidays will soon arrive and hopefully consumer spending will meet (or exceed) MasterCard’s predictions. If you want to be part of that increased spend, follow these four suggestions.

Stop Procrastinating Tomorrow

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

The title of this article is supposed to be funny, but procrastination isn’t a laughing matter. In fact, procrastination can be severely impacting your business. It can affect sales, revenue, and employee happiness. But when work is tough and no news sounds good, it’s easy to tell yourself that you’ll handle the hard stuff on a better day. The problem is there will never be a perfect day to do the hard things. So, here’s how you can tackle today, what you could put off for tomorrow.

6 Ways to Stop Procrastinating

Procrastination is an excellent way to miss opportunities, and no one wants that. If you’ve found yourself procrastinating a lot recently, it’s time to get it under control. Take back your tomorrow, and get things done today with these tips and mental shifts.

Get Control

“I just don’t feel like it” is a common nagging feeling for many people these days. Feeling overwhelmed by the level of work, the high cost of living, and a dozen other worries, it’s easy to put things off. But most of those things won’t go away. You need to shift your mindset from one of passivity to one of action. Tackling the hard stuff will give you a sense of accomplishment and make you feel like you are back in the driver’s seat again.

Make a List of What Needs to Be Done

Make a list of the absolutes—the things that cannot be put off any longer. Use whatever format you love, whether that’s a paper to-do list or an app. For me, there’s something rewarding about using a highlighter to cross off what I’ve accomplished. But some people like the convenience of having the list on their phone.

Figure Out How You Work Best

Next, decide if you are the type of person who wants to start your day off accomplishing several small tasks quickly or the largest/hardest one first. I like to gain traction in the morning by tackling a few easy wins. I also go for the easy wins when I know I have a hard stop like a meeting. I don’t want to start something large knowing I’ll get interrupted.

However, you may find you like to tackle the big things when you are fresh. You may also come to realize that you like working on a big project when you know you have a hard stop because you enjoy a break and the distraction of doing something else. Learn these things about how you like to work and implement strategies around them.

Recognize Your Self Deception

Why do you put things off most often? Do you put off big tasks because you feel overwhelmed, or do you put off small tasks thinking you shouldn’t be wasting your large chunks of time now and will do them later? Some people put off small tasks because they figure they don’t need much time to complete them. They tell themselves they’ll do the small tasks in front of TV in the evening or multitask while in carline, running errands, or attending a function.

Determine your most common excuse and address it. Stop giving yourself outs. For instance, if you shy away from large projects because they’re intimidating and tell yourself you’ll do it when you have more time, know that there is no time like the present. You can only speak to the amount of time you have currently. Tomorrow’s time may be spoken for. It’s not guaranteed, after all. Also, you may realize after starting the project that it is not nearly as daunting as you expected.

Take One Bite at a Time

Since most of us tend to procrastinate the big projects, another way to combat that is by breaking big projects into smaller segments or bites. As you check off each of the smaller segments, you’ll feel more accomplished and build momentum. Plus, smaller bites provide you with natural stopping points so you can switch gears or take a break and come back refreshed.

Give Yourself a Deadline

It’s easy to table things that don’t have a deadline, especially if most of your work is deadline-driven. When that happens the pieces that don’t have deadlines get lost in a pressured environment. Whether you are assigning the task to yourself, or someone is assigning it to you, make sure everything in the pipeline has a deadline. That way, it is less apt to be set aside.

Procrastination can make you miss out on a lot with your business, but it can also make you feel plagued by guilt, anxiety, and a feeling of underperformance or underachievement. Conquer what you are putting off today so that you can feel more empowered and closer to your goals.

What’s Your Biggest Marketing Challenge?

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

When a business operator finally decides they need someone focused on their marketing, and they resolve to hire for the position, it usually goes something like this:

“This position will be in charge of posting to our social media channels.”

But if that’s all you’re doing, you can put that in the hands of the nearest thirteen-year-old.

If you’re contemplating stepping up your business marketing, you need more than a scheduler. You need someone who understands the different kinds of marketing, your audience, and how to nurture prospects.

Successful marketing looks like this:

As you can see from the diagram, there’s a large area of information you want to share with your audience and there’s a large amount that they want to know or are curious about. But the area that overlaps between the two is considerably smaller. That means you must be deliberate and strategic in what content you choose to share. Too many topics or posts that aren’t of interest to your target audience, not only means a lack of engagement on their part, but also a drop in organic rankings and visibility on social media.

While the center of the Venn diagram is marketing gold, that does not mean you can’t share things that are important to you too but keep it at 80-90% of what your audience wants and 10-20% of what you think they need to know about your business.

So, how should you prioritize the smaller percentage about you and what you’d like to share?

Since most of what you share should be of interest to your audience, when you share the content you want to share, make sure it addresses your largest marketing challenge so you get the most return.

Addressing Your Largest Marketing Challenge

To keep a good content balance, you want to ensure you’re not speaking about yourself too much. That also means using your most important content strategically on the rare times you talk about your business. Since you shouldn’t be monopolizing the conversation, you want to be sure that when you do post about yourself, the content tackles your largest marketing challenge.

Your largest marketing challenge is personal. What is a challenge for you and your business, may not be a challenge for others. You must address it individually. Plus, your marketing challenge today may not be the same a year from now. Choose one challenge and use content to solve for it.

Your marketing challenge may be one of restoring reputation damage or conversely, not being well known in your community. Ask yourself and your staff what is holding you back from achieving that next level of success.

I spoke with a business owner recently who does a strong business between 10 am and 5 pm. But even though he operates a wine tasting room, located in an ideal tourist area with great pedestrian tourism traffic, he struggles after 5. Why? Because this terrific location he has is surrounded by businesses that have closed before 5 for decades. It’s the type of place that makes a nice day trip but because of the history of early business closures, no one thinks to stay around for the nightlife.

His Biggest marketing challenge is telling people he’s open late and convincing them to stay around or come to visit in the evenings. He has a lot of positives on his side when educating his audience. Things like no crowds, better parking, a laid-back atmosphere but he also must create top-of-mind awareness that his business is an evening establishment as well as a spot for day drinking.

Publishing his hours isn’t enough to get people to take notice. He’s going to create content that speaks to the fun things he’s doing at his wine store in the evenings. He’s going to incorporate some evening events and work with a few restaurants in the area (he doesn’t serve food) to act as overflow when the restaurants are on a 4-hour wait (yes, seriously. It happens.).

What are you doing to identify and address your greatest marketing challenge?

If you want to increase your marketing prowess, you need to solve for your greatest marketing challenge through content creation. After all, on the few times you post about yourself, you want it to be meaningful and help move you toward your business goals.

Labor Day Ideas for Your Business

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

Labor Day is fast approaching. This unofficial end of summer is largely ignored by businesses partly because a holiday surrounding working doesn’t seem like much fun. However, you can use this day for more than planning a backyard BBQ or trip to the beach. Here are some engaging social media and activity ideas that you can work on over the next month to drive interaction and get employees and customers excited about this much overlooked holiday.

Labor Day Content Ideas

  1. Honor your employees for the hard work they put forth every day. Showcase them individually or as a group. Make them feel appreciated.
  2. Thank the laborers who have made our country what it is. Call out the quiet efforts that go unnoticed. Do a series of shoutouts to people who are essential to our lives.
  3. Call out the efforts of your vendors and suppliers. Name them. Tag them. Their audience will see your accolades.
  4. Feature local laborers in images like people working on the roads or construction nearby. Highlight a new project you’re excited about that wouldn’t be possible without their hard work.
  5. Send a Labor Day weekend message to everyone telling them you hope they enjoy this special time.
  6. Share a few funny pictures of your summer vacation or summer at your business. Say good-bye to summer.
  7. Ask your top performing employees to post about what person inspired them to be a hard worker.

Labor Day Activities

Posting to social media isn’t the only way to celebrate Labor Day. Here are a few ideas for your business.

  1. Treat employees to a BBQ and bring in lunch or let the managers cook for them in a parking lot cook off.
  2. Write a note or email to your staff about the year you’ve had so far and what you expect for the remainder of 2022. Keep it uplifting and inspirational.
  3. Close a few hours early to allow employees to get a jump on the weekend.
  4. Host a food contest such as a chili cook-off, best BBQ sauce, or best apple pie. Let employees and/or customers vote. Create a badge for the winner(s).
  5. Bring in an ice cream truck as a treat for your employees.
  6. Give a limited-time discount to all laborers like people in construction and other manual labor positions.
  7. Throw an all-white party (or invite employees to wear all white for the day) in honor of the old fashion rule of “no white after Labor Day.”
  8. Serve apple pie to customers.
  9. Run a contest for employees to see who can get the most positive business reviews.
  10. Ask customers to vote for their favorite employee. Let that employee go early the Friday before Labor Day weekend.

Labor Day Quotes

If you love inspirational quotes or you don’t want to come up with something on your own, that’s okay. Here are a few quotes from brilliant people that you could easily match up with an image or design it out for maximum impact.

“All labor that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

“It is labor indeed that puts the difference on everything.” – John Locke

“Before the reward there must be labor. You plant before you harvest. You sow in tears before you reap joy.” ―Ralph Ransom

“There is no substitute for hard work.” ―Thomas Edison

“All wealth is the product of labor.” ―John Locke

“Far and away the best prize that life offers is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” ―Theodore Roosevelt

Take these ideas and incorporate them in what works for your business. Labor Day is a great way to celebrate summer and your company’s efforts thus far. Have a safe and enjoyable Labor Day.

 

Are You Ready for These 3 Workplace Trends?

150 150 Lauren Finamore

Written by: Christina Metcalf

Workplace trends come and go like snack carts, but these trends may very well revolutionize the way we work because they are just so darn appealing to most employees.

But before we go into these workplace trends, know that they are not for everyone. Your business may not be able to function if you put them into operation. There are some businesses that simply require employees in seats, seats that are customer-facing in a central location. But if you do have the flexibility to adopt some of these, you may see very big changes in productivity and morale. These things may be what the employee of tomorrow is looking for.

Asynchronous Office Environments

Say good-bye to 8-5 or even shift work. Now, there’s something leaner. Asynchronous work environments don’t have set schedules. They allow employees to work an agreed upon number of hours a week but that work can be done whenever the employee wants to do it. That means Employee “A” could work 8-11 AM and then again 5-10 PM, while Employee “B” works her 32 hours in only three days out of the week.

Some asynchronous office environments have employees in different time zones, but some are in a central office that simply pays no heed to time, only product being moved/created or duties getting done. This is no different than how you might work with a freelancer. You know they’re doing the work and you know the deadline for deliverables. You’re just not in control of when it’s worked on.

Flattening the Pyramid: welcome Holacracy

Some companies adopted flat leadership environments (or Holacracy) when it was new to the scene in 2007 or shortly thereafter (including Zappos in 2014), but we’re starting to see a resurgence in it embraced by large companies like UBS bank, which got rid of all titles above managing director last year. A flat leadership environment tasks leaders of projects, not leaders of people. It does away with top-down managing and 1-2 people at the top of the company giving orders to everyone underneath them in pyramid formation.

Instead, Holacracy focuses on how leaders can lead from every level and gives younger people a way to lead on individual projects, not through titles. With younger people desiring leadership roles and contributing to a work environment from their first day on the job (they don’t feel the need to earn seniority before sharing suggestions), this idea could become the new trend in work.

Devout Work/life Balance

With more discussions about the importance of mental health and wellness, employers can expect to make changes based on employee expectations. Managers will start weighing the importance of productivity over “time in seat.” With work from home and hybrid work environments, we’re starting to see the time clock punching mentality lessen its hold on business. Employees are starting to notice that if the goals are being met, where employees are, and when they’re working, is less important.

As of this writing, businesses are trying to recover from the Great Exit, where employees left the workforce in droves. To reestablish trust again, employers are going to have to create environments that are as appealing as the freedom in working for oneself. That requires flexibility and good benefits.

The next decade will have a great impact on how/where we work and how that shapes the workplace. After all, efficiencies in manufacturing ushered in the industrial revolution. We might just be seeing an employee-led revolution leading into 2030.