Tips, Ideas and Info

4 Ways to Attack (and Attain) Your Business Goals

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

When you run your own business, you’re the person deciding on the direction. You’re in control of start dates and marketing promos. You’re the one who must hold yourself back from the shiny object syndrome.

And yet, so many of us fail on that last one and it’s easy to understand why.

Open your social media feeds or search on the internet for business advice and you’ll find dozens of articles that tell you what you need to be doing for your business this year—things you need to implement, apps you need to download, widgets needed on your website, and a host of other projects you would be remiss not to implement immediately.

And they all sound so wonderful. Things your audience will love, will drive more sales, help you become better known.

But if you take off in hot pursuit of them all, you won’t accomplish any of them.

Pick a Goal, Pick a Timeframe
Yes, there may be many things you need or want to do for your business, but you have a better chance of completing them if you concentrate on 1-3 goals at a time. If you have more than three things you want to institute in your business this year, you can still do them after you complete the first three. Some professionals have new goals each month, quarter, or every six months.

Treat business goal setting the way you do eating. Don’t pile mounds on your plate just because it looks delicious. Take one helping first and when you’re finished with that, come back for more.

Cluster Your Goals
If you have an auspicious agenda this year, cluster the goals that naturally fit together. For instance, if your goals are more followers on social media, being consistent in your blog posting, and implementing a new training program for your employees, know that the first two can easily be stitched together as good blog content gives you something valuable to post to social media (and thus, get more followers). The third goal is better as a standalone.

Select a Quarter for New Launches
My writing business has two facets—business marketing writing and fiction writing. My business writing trumps my fiction writing because it pays the bills. But my fiction will never have a chance to pay the bills if I don’t give it the attention it needs to take off. The same may be true for an area of your business. For instance, perhaps you own a food truck, and you’ve considered adding a brick-and-mortar location. If those thoughts are just thoughts, your café will never take shape. You must open to see if your business idea will work.

But there’s a lot of planning involved before you can do so. Pick a quarter (or season or even a month) and dedicate your free time during that period to work the pieces you need to get closer to your launch goal.

Which brings us to…

Schedule Time and Purpose
It’s great to use free time to explore ideas for your business but your free time is likely limited, and it can be frustrating to save something for your free time only to be discouraged when your free time is usurped by something else. That’s why you also need to set aside time in your schedule each week for goal attainment.

This is not an hour set aside to think about your idea, although that is a necessary thing early on. But if you want to be successful in meeting your goal, you need to map out what it will take and break that up into smaller, attainable pieces that you can schedule. In our restaurant example, a task might be listing all the restaurants in an area of town you’re considering for your café. It might be reaching out to the local chamber to find out what development projects are in the works. Whatever you assign for this time should be measurable. At the end of your time block you should know whether you accomplished it or not. If your goal was thinking about opening your restaurant, you may have done that but there is no end point. You could “think” about it for the next decade. However, if your task was to call three landlords for potential spots, you know definitively whether that was completed or not.

This year don’t try to do it all. Pick 1-3 things that will advance your business and map out how you will get there. Then assign time to make it happen. We all get excited about ideas, but the real excitement should lie in your ability to accomplish them. That starts with making the most important ones a priority. Just like in your personal life, you make things a priority by giving them your undivided attention.

Money-Making Email Subject Lines for Small Business Season

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

There are just a few days left before Christmas, and it’s one of the busiest shopping weeks all year. Sure, Black Friday and the Saturday before Christmas are the busiest days (spots 1 and 2 according to Sensormatic), but many of the other top 10 busiest shopping days in the U.S. are still on the horizon such as:

• #3 – Thursday, December 23 – Thursday before Christmas
• #5 – Sunday, December 26 – Day after Christmas, aka “Boxing Day”
• #6 – Wednesday, December 22 – Wednesday before Christmas
• #9 – Tuesday, December 21 – Tuesday before Christmas

If your small business is ramping up for those last-minute shoppers, don’t forget email. Email marketing is an effective way to reach your ideal audience and help them come up with ideas for last-minute and/or hostess gifts. This can be a frantic time of year so any assistance you can give those struggling for the perfect gift will likely result in more sales.

Email recipients can’t respond to your call to action if they don’t open the email. The easiest ways to get them to do that is by creating subject lines that inspire action.

Here are a few tips on how to write effective subject lines to win over last-minute shoppers. The examples below are all basic ideas. Add your own flair to fit the tone of your business.

If you’re giving something away for free with a certain purchase, make sure your audience knows about it. Lead with the item in your subject line. For instance:

Free Dessert with Meal Purchase

Or use a discount instead like:

40% off perfect last-minute gifts

The word free (or mention of the discount) will get their attention, while the rest of the subject line tells them what’s required to receive the free item or discount. You don’t want them to assume they can walk in and demand a free dessert or think the entire store is discounted. Always be as clear as possible.

Sound Like a Friend
You’re not the only one using email to drive business this holiday. People are receiving tons of deals via email right now. You want to stand out. Using congenial language can help you do that. For instance:

Pizza sounds awesome tonight, right?

This could easily be an email from a friend. It’s warm and casual and puts an idea in their mind that is hard to shake. Mmm, pizza.

Solve a Problem
Busy times call for easy solutions. If there’s a way your business can make someone’s life easier, tell them. For instance:

Less mess, less stress. Order in.

Not only does this subject line provide a solution it lures the reader in. After all, most people would love less mess and less stress this time of year especially.

Create Excitement
People who wait until the last minute will often feel overwhelmed by all they have to do. A positive message that creates excitement can be very uplifting and stand out in their inbox. For instance:

Congratulations super smart, last-minute shopper!

The subject line is positive, creates excitement, and drives curiosity. The recipient will want to know why they are being congratulated and they’ll click.

If you want to capture those last-minute sales, don’t forget to reach out to your email list. Email marketing is a strong way to connect with your audience while they are out and about. Getting opens on those emails is essential to shoppers following your call to action. Never disregard the importance of great subject lines.

4 Things You Must Be Doing This Small Business Season

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

We’re down to the last two weeks before Christmas with some of the biggest shopping days of the season still ahead of us. Since every sale can help your future marketing, it’s essential that over the next few weeks you think not only of the money, but the data you can garner from each sale as well. But don’t stress. You still have time to implement these important activities for big results.

Things You Need to Do During Small Business Season
Don’t let the biggest sales season go by without gathering this data and implementing some of these activities to help with future marketing:

Build Your List
You have a lot of people interested in what you sell or the service you provide. When people buy from you ask them if they’d be willing to sign up for a VIP list that will give them special discounts or coupons. They get savings, you get a way to stay in contact with them.

Notice the Also-Boughts
Ideally, you have a point-of-sale system that could quantify the sales data you’re gathering to tell you what people who buy from you often buy together. But if you don’t have that in place, you can do it manually by paying attention to items or services that sell well together. Then get that information to your staff so that they may make satisfying suggestions to customers.

Email Last-Minute Offers or Deals
If you already have an email list of past customers, send out a discount or last-minute offer email to them. People who have purchased from you before are more likely to buy again.

Buy one, get one offers are particularly beneficial in driving sales because they allow people to buy for two people inexpensively, get more for less, or keep a special something for themselves. Who doesn’t love that?

Excel in Social Media
Now is the time to blow up your engagement on social media. Search on social for hashtags of things you sell or specialize in. If you find someone looking for those things, you can start a conversation about it.

If you’re sold out of the item they want, suggest where they might be able to find it. They’ll appreciate the help. Post funny videos. Interview people about their holiday shopping (don’t forget that media release!). Highlight some of your more unique items/services or your best sellers.

Analyze what gets results and do more of it. Tag the Broomfield Chamber in these posts and they might share your content as well.

This is a critical time to get sales, but revenue isn’t the only benefit to your business. Every sale provides critical information about your ideal client. The more information you have for analysis, the closer you are to the kind of personalized marketing that gets results.

Small Business Season Secret Weapon: Email

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

Okay, so this might not be a “secret” weapon, but email marketing can help extend the push to shop small that began on Small Business Saturday. These types of gentle reminders can keep customers buying from you all season (and all year) long. You just need a couple of great ideas, an email marketing tool (like MailChimp or Constant Contact), and of course an email list.

Email List Building
If you don’t have an email list, begin building one right away. Add a sign-up sheet or QR code at your cash register. Tell people if they sign up for your list that they’ll be the first to know about new products or services as well as discounts. Call the list something intriguing like an Insiders Group or VIPs.

Everyone who orders/buys or visits your site/store should be given the opportunity to become part of this exclusive list.

Always ensure you have their permission to send to them. It’s annoying (and potentially illegal depending on where they are located) to send without their permission.

Email Marketing

Assuming you have at least a small email list to begin with, you’re ready to use this “secret” weapon to build upon the momentum you started on Small Business Saturday and transfer it to a Small Business Season of wonderful sales.

As a small business, it’s extremely important to be known, liked, and trusted. Emails can really help with that. Instead of sending out mass sales emails like the big stores do, use this opportunity to connect (and sell) to your list.

You do this by:

• Sharing things about yourself that people can identify with.
• Educating people on new uses or needs for your products or services.
• Using multiple forms of media inside your email (you can add video or provide a link).
• Creating a beautiful and branded design. Branding helps them identify your emails without reading or wondering who they’re from.

Every email should contain an offer. An offer could be a great sales deal, but it could (and should) also be something they want. One out of every three emails should be a sales deal or discount, but the other emails should offer them something they need like a tip, suggestion, etc. We call them offers because there should be an active component to it, but it needn’t be sales related, It could be something useful that is an extension of what you sell such as “Click here to find out how to set the perfect table,” if you sell furniture. This offers them information for performing an action. The URL click shows their interest. It’s active, not passive. That’s key to email marketing. Providing an “offer” allows you to see who is interacting with your emails.

Call to Action
A call to action is important on every email, but incredibly important on those where you’re making a sales offer. Don’t forget to ask something of them. By doing so, you are inviting them to continue your relationship. They’re already interacting with you, make it mean something.

You don’t want to annoy your audience with emails multiple times a day, but you also want them to think of you. You want to be top of mind.

Consider using this idea to send emails every couple of days. Be creative. Make an impression. For instance, you can use national days of celebration that have nothing to do with what you sell in the email subject line like “It’s National Puppy Day so…”

Then when they open the email, your content might read: “Yay! It’s National Puppy Day and that has nothing to do with tacos. But both are really awesome. You are too. And since being awesome is hard work, you deserve a taco. Check out our BOGO offer for Taco Tuesday (AND National Puppy Day!).” It makes no sense but it’s memorable and it’s a limited-time offer. In the sea of holiday emails, you need that.

Frequency builds brand recognition and makes recipients think of you. But that can also lead to boredom and auto deletes. When emails are creative, recipients won’t get bored of seeing them and when they are funny or original, recipients will click to see what you’re writing about.

Small Business Season helps you build on the momentum of the shop small surge from COVID. If you want it to bring your small business more customers, you need to actively market to stay top of mind. Email marketing is one of the least expensive and easiest ways to do that.

Local Business Takes on the Supply Chain Crisis

150 150 Pat Monacelli

by Christina R. Metcalf

The troubles with the supply chain are daunting. We’re seeing predictions that the holiday shopping season will be marred by empty shelves and disappointed children. While the problems are serious, there are some businesses that will triumph in the face of adversity, and this very well could be the best holiday season for them yet. If you are one of those fortunate businesses, it’s time you market the benefits of shopping with you for the holidays.

The supply chain issues are affecting restaurants, stores, and other merchants who rely on pieces and parts from other vendors and manufacturers from across the country and the world. But local artisans or restaurants that rely on locally grown food may have a significant advantage this holiday season.

Marketing Tips for the Holidays

If you are a business that is removed from the larger supply chain, it may be time to get the word out. While some box stores are expecting empty shelves in certain departments this season, you can be fully stocked and ready to help shoppers. But they won’t know unless you tell them.

1. Let them know you are ready with “the goods.” People don’t know what to expect from supply chain shortages and they don’t fully understand the ripple effect. They may assume that if a large chain store is out of something, so are you. Make sure they know you’re fully stocked with holiday delights.
2. Use this as a chance to highlight the awesomeness of local. Without offending those who are struggling with supply chain issues right now, this is an ideal opportunity to highlight yet another benefit of shopping local.
3. Offer local delivery. If you’re able to cover the cost and man hours, consider offering local delivery or pick-up options. People tend to buy online and from box stores because they don’t have to leave their homes to do it. But this year, even reliable delivery services are having issues now (and we’re way ahead of the holiday shipping rush). Tout the reliability of your deliveries and pickups.
4. Use bags and tags. Consider creating your own stenciled shopping bags or gift tags that mention this gift was made locally and selected by someone who cares. This messaging will be carried around town by your customers and attached to gifts making a big impression on a larger audience.
5. Work with your chamber on a shop local campaign playing up the value and availability of items made locally. As understanding as shoppers may be that everyone is in the same boat, they are tired of hearing COVID as an excuse. If your local business can help make a few holiday dreams come true, it will have a big impression on your future customers. Speaking with the chamber is also a good idea if you’re a business that is struggling with supply chain. Your chamber may know of local businesses that can help you with new stock or items/services to get you through the season.

Finally, if you’re doing a great job marketing and advertising the benefits of shopping with you this season, consider extending your business hours to accommodate last-minute shoppers and those who work in another town during the day. Some potential customers may avoid shopping locally because they figure local businesses close before 5.

Some local businesses may have the advantage this holiday season. If you’re among the fortunate that’s not disrupted by the supply chain, these marketing tips can help you have the best season ever.