J C Penny In Great Bend, Is

Small Businesses Must Remember Who Their Customers Are

J C Penny In Great Bend, Is
pasa47 / Foter.com / CC BY

 

There have been a number of instances over the past few years, and even decades, when small and large businesses change for unknown reasons, or they try changing their clientele. J.C. Penney comes to mind as they turned a regular clothing outlet into something similar to an Apple Store, and still to this day they’re reaping what they have sown. There are some places that the “Jean Bar” and other small details of the major change J.C. Penney made haven’t been removed, as if being relics to show customers what complete change can do to a franchise. Small businesses make this mistake as well, and for some, they never recover.

Some business owners forget who the customers are, changing how they run their company after it’s already been successful. If customers are buying into what you’re selling, why adjust to running a company your way, even though that’s not what your clientele want. For example, if your favorite gym down the street decides one day to take away all the elliptical machines or reduce the weight room, you’re probably going to look for a new club immediately after this sudden change. Listen to your customers. As the saying goes, “The customer is always right”, and that quote is an understatement.

Another example, Ford’s Taurus was the number one selling car in America during the years of 1992-1995. In the 1996 model year, Ford completely redesigned the exterior of the Ford Taurus, and if it wasn’t for the car rental companies who made up 51% of the sales, it wouldn’t have retained the title of best seller.

No matter what business you have or industry you’re a part of, change might not be received well unless that’s what the customer wants. You could spend thousands of dollars on marketing and advertising, but you’ll never get the customers back. As in the case of J.C. Penney, those people aren’t walking through those doors. Always take major business changes into consideration and think both in the short and long term. What are the ramifications of these actions, and will I regret them? Those questions need to be asked, but very rarely do business owners mull over decisions that big.

Remember, it might be your business, but the clientele are the ones who are making you money and your company successful. Without them, you don’t have a business, and being a good listener to what they want keeps them coming in your front doors, website, or online store. This also coincides with how your business is managed and perceived. If you’re working with distributors, other owners, or contractors, the way you do business also plays a factor, not only in image, but how your business is looked at from a management point of view. If customers feel the management is poor, that’s exactly the same as making a change to your company.

No matter what it is you do, whether you run a website or business, take the consequences into consideration before making a change that could one day be compared to J.C Penney and Ford’s Taurus.

Marketing Matters: Why It’s Important To Start Blogging

Desk - 1st September '09
William Hook / Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Last week I wrote an article discussing blogging and how it can further advance your business or career. This time, let’s go over why creating a blog is important for anyone at any age. I had briefly glossed over the importance of writing for college students and looked deeper into the effects a blog can have on a small business. But blogs aren’t exclusive to certain interests or situations, and the pros, even if writing isn’t taken seriously at first, completely out-weigh the cons of not starting at all.

Whether you’re a high school or college student, an experienced worker in a particular industry, or someone who has a passion for a hobby, all can make a splash on the internet. It doesn’t matter if you’re going to write about sports, model planes, cars, your business, or advice, there are many aspects of creating a blog that aren’t considered when first starting out.

Starting at the age of 17, I created my first blog, bostonbball.com. It was a way for me to discuss basketball and the Celtics without disturbing friends with endless tweets and statuses, but it was more of a hobby than a serious daily blog. As the months and years passed, my writing along with viewership started to grow, and my credibility did the same. This all lead me to becoming an editor for another blog, which means 300 articles weren’t written in vain, and people were reading.

The same outcome can happen to you as long as you’re persistent and continue to publish articles and content. The first few articles might be a bit rough, but as you start getting into a rhythm, you’ll begin to notice that you’re writing bigger and better posts that begin to look as if a professional writer now handles the blog.

Start out small, write about something you like to gain experience in writing. Being a student, I know how boring written assignments are, but they become easier as you’ve written articles before. It doesn’t matter if your blog is related to school or not, you’re ability to write translates to the classroom. From a blogging perspective, don’t think no one will read your blog, in fact people are constantly seeking for information on any subject, and if you can supply them with the information they’re looking for, they’ll return. As the viewership and followers begin to amass, you’ll most definitely get noticed. But along with the blog, creating a Twitter account to compliment it further enhances what you’re writing and accomplishing.

As time goes on, interests may change, and that’s where creating an endless amount of blogs comes in. Most likely, after a few years you’re now looking at a certain career; write about it! Employers want experience, and if you can display that in a blog, you’ll have a better chance of getting the job you’re applying for, or you might be offered one instead. Blogging has no boundaries, and for you students don’t limit yourselves, as having an open mind can take you a long way.

For graduates and people already in the workforce, start a blog too. Show the world your knowledge and the value you can bring to a company. The confidence that blogging can bring might lead you to starting your own business, as you realize you know more about your industry than you thought. You may now have a portfolio that employers can see, making your blog(s) a résumé that contributes to the experience you have in that field.

Most importantly though, for a personal or business blog to be a success, a Twitter and Facebook account must be linked to the blog you’re writing. Articles can be shared, potentially growing the viewership to levels you didn’t think possible, but also you can connect with people in the industry and continuously learn more, even if you’re not a student.

Blogging brings many benefits and it would be a mistake to not create one and see how far it can be taken. Just as a small business, blogs grow, not only in followers, but as you learn to write better and be more creative, the website itself begins to take shape. To quote the Nike catch phrase, “Just Do It”, and see what the future brings.

Marketing Matters: Homemade Car Ads, Examples of Successful Marketing

1982 Nissan Sentra
Hugo90 / Foter.com / CC BY

 

For the second consecutive month, someone’s brilliant and creative car ad brought two owners of clunkers notoriety.  Also they successfully sold their cars, and for one, got a job along with the offer. Could this become a trend on a site like Craigslist or Youtube to attract potential buyers for used vehicles? Also, can small businesses do the same to display their products and discuss their services by providing a short video? The answer is yes to both questions.

A filmmaker from Florida created an ad for his 1996 Nissan Maxima that was done so well, that Nissan bought back the car. This man is in the film industry, but his short video proved to be a great marketing example for others who aren’t familiar with advertising and marketing,

The voice of the narrator combined with the projected film on the wall and impressive camera angles made this commercial feel as if Nissan created it themselves. Creativity and thinking outside the box separated this homemade car ad from the rest, which is why this man was able to sell his 17 year old Maxima.

Small business owners should take notice of this form of marketing. You don’t need an extravagant commercial posted on Youtube to get results like the man from Florida, a simple video explaining your product and giving the viewer a visual of what it does can have the same affect. Talk about your business, what purpose it serves, and what separates your company from the rest. Whether you hire someone or do it yourself, there is no need to go overboard with a video or commercial. Start out simple and work your way up as your business and clientele grow.

Another man, this time from Sweden, created a picture ad and just as the guy from Florida, he successfully sold his car and was offered a job with a car magazine in Sweden.

Here is the link to the story – Comedic Hasselhoff car ad leads to a dream job in Sweden

When it comes to your business, advertising and marketing can be fun and more than just a commercial. Experiment, see what works for you and your business. One good commercial or ad can attract customers, and for these two men, buyers for the cars they were selling.

Marketing Matters: Blogging and How It Can Benefit Your Business and Career

Computer keyboard
Foter.com / Public Domain Mark 1.0

 

Most high school and college students refer to blogging as creating a Tumblr or WordPress account, and then starting to write about themselves or create a collage of pictures on their blog’s wall. While there is nothing wrong with that, blogging can be used more effectively by students than it is. For business owners, creating a blog is another way of marketing, advertising, and informing their customers of their company’s services and or products. From both perspectives, let’s take a look at how students can advance their careers and small businesses expand their clientele.

There is a majority of college students and graduates looking to get their feet in the water and begin their careers in the workforce. With a 16% unemployment rate for young adults ages 18 to 31, some are finding it difficult to secure their first good paying job. According to a survey in 2011 by the Kauffman Foundation, 54% of millennials want to, or have already started their own businesses, leaving the remaining 46% of the young population who are aiming to get employed. However, as mentioned above, the unemployment numbers for the younger generation aren’t great, so what can these graduates and students do to help their chances in finding jobs? Blogging.

It doesn’t matter what age group, blogging has always intimidated people due to the fear of not writing well or not being able to supply enough content to make a difference. If they never try, they’ll always limit themselves when it comes to the debate between creating a blog to not. Being a student, I know the intimidation, but if you write about something you have a passion for or what you’re majoring in, you’ll soon realize that you can contribute a lot of information and articles on a weekly basis. In doing so, you’re showing potential employers that you have experience in that particular industry, and your blog alone can attract attention that you didn’t think was possible.

When I see the usual “I need a job” post, that’s not going to get that person anywhere. If they’re not searching for job openings, they need to stop posting on social media those four words and create a blog about something that can get noticed. Almost every student has a Twitter and or Facebook account, so without any effort they’ve already got the tools to help their blog posts go viral. The younger generation has so many media outlets at their disposal, and if they can’t find an job opportunity, they need to create one by displaying their experience.

For business owners, you already have the experience, and for some of you many years of it. Don’t be intimidated by a blank page not knowing what to write; a 300 word article on a daily basis can make all the difference. Write about your company, what it does, what you sell, and how you stand out from the company down the street who competes with you to get clients and customers. Every business is different, but if you don’t make that known to the customers, they’ll think to themselves that you’re company is the same as the guy across town. The same goes for you, the business owner; a Facebook page and Twitter account help with the distribution of your blog posts, so your chances of getting views are much higher than if you only had a blog by itself.

Blogging is essential for anybody, whether employed or unemployed, a student, or business owner. Remember, you’re marketing your business and who you are as a person, so be creative and impress the reader, show them what you can do and the knowledge you have. Marketing and advertising isn’t limited to written ads on the internet or commercials on TV or Youtube, blogging plays a major role as well. Create a blog and see the benefits it has on your business. For you students, you might realize you know a lot more about your career field or interest than you thought.

Marketing Matters: The Importance of Building Your Own Personal Brand

handshake isolated on business background
SalFalko / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

 

When it comes to business, whether it’s the customer, owner, or CEO, everyone knows how important maintaining a respected brand is and how it intertwines with reputation and perception. Far too often people forget that there is another brand in business, the personal brand. We forget that we’re not just marketing our product or services, we’re also marketing ourselves, and this isn’t exclusive to business either. Marketing goes beyond the realm of the corporate world, and it starts with our image and actions on a personal level.

Before a small business can bloom into something larger, the owner is always meeting with clients, distributors, and customers. In those conversations and interactions, it’s the first impressions that can make all the difference. Just because they’re entrepreneurs and small business owners, they’re not excluded from interviews, in fact, they’re constantly seeking out clients and consumers, forcing them to hold a respectable image daily. The way they carry themselves is usually an indicator of how their business is run, and that can be either beneficial or detrimental. Perception is important in business, and whether the old saying is true “Never judge a book by it’s cover”, most people make their decisions based on first impressions.

It’s not just in business meetings or day-to-day interactions with customers and clients that are important to your personal brand. What you say on your Twitter or Facebook account, the pictures you post, or even the things you “Like” or the accounts you follow are all part of your image. When it comes to potential clients, they’ll seek you out, they’ll search for you or your business on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, and if they’re not too fond of what they’re reading or seeing, your reputation is already slipping. The way you carry yourself on a daily basis has to coincide with who you are when you’re with family or friends. Business partners and associates want sincerity and realness from who they’re working and making business decisions with, and whether you show it or not, they’ll know the real you sooner or later.

Present yourself as a professional, dress like a professional, be professional everywhere you go. It doesn’t matter if you’re a college student, business owner, or employee; the people around you will draw their own conclusions of who you are without even getting to know you. It isn’t right, but the image you’re portraying will ultimately make the decisions on how others perceive you to be.

Your brand has to be friendly, open, professional, and real. Just as we are when meeting new people outside the office, the same has to be applied in the business world. Especially for students, this is a time when your brand needs to take shape. You can’t say, “I want to be successful” or “I want a job” while being lazy and acting in a completely non-professional or immature way that everyone can see. Have some self-respect, work hard, stand out from your peers; you’ll get noticed. The same for small businesses. You’ll get noticed by who you are and your identity; if it’s open, unique, friendly, and professional, you’ll attract customers that reflect what your business sells.

Personal branding is so important, but so easily forgotten. Start now, get ahead of your peers or competition in the business world, and show the clients, business partners, and customers who you really are. Make that a part of your marketing strategy. As a business owner you’re the marketer and advertiser, and you’re the best representer of your business and how it’s constructed. Good marketing is a vital part of the company’s success, but without a respected and honorable brand, your business will never reach it’s full potential.

Can Instagram and Storify Be Used For Marketing and Advertising Purposes?

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brendanlim / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Instagram is used by millions of people who post pictures of themselves, others, the skylines of the cities they live in, the changes in seasons, and anything else that can be captured on camera. In terms of marketing can this social media site be used to advertise products? Absolutely. However, not even the major stores such as Best Buy or JCPenny are taking advantage of the opportunity to market their TV’s, laptops, or clothes. The companies are missing out on a whole new way of advertising that doesn’t cost a cent, but worst of all, there is a marketing element to Instagram that these stores are failing to capitalize on.

When customers go to the stores, especially at clothing outlets, what is the order of their actions? They search for the item they want that in some cases they stumble upon it in the store, try on the clothes, and then decide whether to buy the article of clothing or not. American Eagle already has this idea in mind and posts pictures of what they have in stock on Instagram, and the same should be done by all clothing stores across the entire industry. Social media is where the customers are, and some of these big conglomerates aren’t marketing the cheapest and easiest way.

In most cases, it’s the customer posting pictures of what they bought, making them do the marketing, but it’s not a complete guarantee that they’re going to say where they bought the item. Best Buy on the other hand specializes in technology, and the products can sell themselves, but posting a picture of the price of the TV or laptop for instance, especially if there is a discount, can easily bring in customers to the store.

Even on a local level, why aren’t small businesses getting in on the action? Hashtags, if used properly can get many viewers and if they’re interested, they might read more into your business. If you’re a business owner from Boston and have a product to sell, hashtag the picture with appropriate tags, but also mention the area in which you’re based. Viewers will look at the profile and publisher of the photo, see the website that is part of your profile, and you’ve successfully advertised your product without spending a dime. Instagram is more than a social media site for photographers, it can be a way of marketing for both big and small businesses.

Storify is another social media site, but not as well known. Unlike Twitter or Facebook that only allows you to post a link at a time, Storify is more like a blog, giving you the power to drag tweets, Facebook statuses, Youtube videos, pictures from Instagram, and links from other sites all into one short or long article. This is another site that is a gold mine, but not being used to its full potential yet. Forbes magazine posts conversations from Twitter onto Storify, but if you have Twitter, there is no point in reading the same responses that you can find elsewhere.

Whether a big or small business, Storify can be exploited, and can be an efficient way to market and advertise to your customers. Instead of the consumer going to Facebook and then to Twitter to find information about your business or products, Storify conveniently puts everything you want to share with your followers all in one post. It’s incredible that businesses and magazines haven’t taken advantage yet, but this is when hopping on board can be beneficial, especially for the local startups and businesses.

Social media can be a business’ best friend when it comes to marketing and advertising. While most people use these sites to keep in contact with each other, there is a whole different aspect of social media that hasn’t been unearthed yet. The opportunity to cheaply market is there, and millions of potential customers are already in place to be marketed to. Take the next step; approach the consumer, inform them, help guide them to your business, and it can all be done on these sites.

Marketing Essentials Every Small Business Must Utilize

A Portable Joanna!
National Library of Ireland on The Commons / Foter.com

 

There are dozens of businesses in your city or town, but what are most of them not doing? Marketing and Advertising. There is the occasional ad in the local yellow pages, but it’s the 21st century, not many people look to the phone book when they’re looking for someone or some business. Marketing on the internet, email, and social media should be a must for all businesses, but there are a number of companies that don’t have a Facebook page, Twitter account, or email subscriptions to attract and interact with regular and new customers. So let’s take a more in depth look at all aspects of social media and how they can be used to help your business prosper.

Starting with email subscriptions; this is a great way to personally send information about products, sales and discounts, or any news that could be important to your customers. We all get emails from bigger companies, whether a clothing store, magazine subscription, or any other place you have shopped in the past. But why aren’t small businesses doing the same? To attract customers and give reasons to return for regular customers, you must draw them back, and even if you have a sale or a discount, they’ll never know unless you’re informing them that the product is on sale via email. Websites are a great place to show your products and what is in your inventory, but there is a chance customers won’t go to the site, you must go to them, and that’s where the use of email comes in.

Social media is the future of marketing and advertising. Twitter and Facebook are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the potential technology can have on your business. A Facebook page can be used to draw customers in, and if your fans share your page, there’s a likelihood that their friends will also look into what your business does. It’s a way to interact with customers if they have any questions, and if your business has a product you can post pictures and or videos  to help visualize that specific product to the fans and customers. People want to see themselves using or wearing the product before purchasing it. If you can give them a clear picture of what they’re buying, that’s half the battle, especially if you don’t have a brick and mortar store.

Twitter pages have been proven to be successful for businesses. A small clothing store in Massachusetts is drawing in more customers through Twitter than their main website, and as a result, all the marketing and news about their clothes are being posted in tweets only. However, with this form of social media, continuously tweeting and using hashtags that are relevant to what you sell and your customers buy is vital to the success you’ll have on Twitter. Always post pictures if your business has a product, respond to your followers, and make it interactive. In most cases, the twitter accounts who have many followers is a result of them interacting and having conversations, showing that they’re friendly and open.

To effectively market what you sell or do, you must go to the customer first. The internet is the best way to get news and information out to the public, and it must be utilized. There are many businesses still operating as if it’s still the 20th century. To stand out from your competition you must reach out to who you’re trying to sell to and gain consumers. After all these years of it’s existence, social media isn’t being used correctly. Be the first to take advantage of what these websites have to offer, and separate yourselves from the pack. It could be the difference between a somewhat successful business and a complete success.

Marketing Matters

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