Author Archives: demarco

Small business owners face challenges, but still optimistic

Owning a small business has always been difficult, but these times bring more than their fair share of extra challenges. The good news is that small business owners tend to be a hardy lot, and new ways of tackling challenges can help businesses to thrive.

Five biggest challenges facing small business owners:

  1. Inflation
  2. Supply chain issues
  3. Covid 19 safety protocols/compliance
  4. Revenue
  5. Rising interest rates

According to the Q2 2022 Small Business Index sponsored by MetLife and U.S. Chamber of Commerce, inflation tops the list of concerns. Of those surveyed, 44% called inflation their biggest challenge, which is up from 33% last quarter and up significantly from 19% in the third quarter of 2021.

To compensate, 69% of the small businesses surveyed have raised their prices in the past year. Nearly half (46%) report having taken out a loan to cover higher costs due to inflation (up from 39% in Q1 2022).

Labor shortages are also a major concern for small businesses in the post-pandemic world.

Half of small business owners say they’re working more hours than they were a year ago. This bears out the experiences of [email protected] Work’s clients, where hiring is always a challenge for out small business clients. It’s especially true for at least one client who off staff during the depths of the pandemic. Then, when business rebounded, they had trouble hiring, and are still short-staffed.

Interestingly, A study from the Aberdeen Group, cited by PostBeyond.com, found that 73 percent of millennials (18-34 age group) found their last position through a social media platform. To target that motivated group, make sure that you use platforms that appeal to them.

So, in addition to Facebook and Instagram, think YouTube, SnapChat and Twitter. See how these platforms stack up against each other here.

Ramp up your marketing

Revenue concerns are also on the top five list. An effective antidote is for small businesses to take a serious look at how they can improve their marketing:

  • Video marketing has been a key marketing tool for years, and now the popularity of TikTok shows the significance of short form video! According to thekeenfolks.com, TikTok has overtaken YouTube as the most watched video platform!
  • I remember writing years ago that “Content is King!” It still is. Content needs to be readable, structured to increase SEO, and valuable to your customers. It should be written to address their problems and concerns, not a list of products, services, and features. Here’s how we stand in our customers’ shoes on our website https://www.dianedemarcomarketing.com.
  • Create an effective social media marketing plan. Consider Facebook (still the giant), Instagram and YouTube as platforms for your strategy. And don’t overlook Pinterest it your products or services are very visual, and a high percent of your customers are women. LinkedIn is important for B-2-B businesses to reach customers, drive engagement and build trust.
  • Depending on your budget, consider online marketing. There are endless options available in this arena (that’s a topic for another blog post).

A final optimistic trend

An enduring trend that the Small Business Index has tracked through the years is resilience and optimism. Looking ahead to next year, 43% of small businesses intend to increase their staff—an increase of six percentage points from last quarter. Additionally, 43% anticipate they will invest more over the next year, and 66% expect revenues to increase, both on par with Q1 2022.

Click here for a complete copy of the report.

For a complimentary consultation on how you might ramp up your marketing, email [email protected] or call 301-514-1102.

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Confidence Sells the Package!

Guest post by Jean Wright

My career has taught me that everything we do in life involves marketing. From the moment we step outside our front door, we are a package, presenting ourselves to the world with what we wear and what we say. What we do with that package, will determine our success.

Dressing professionally makes a first impression even before you say a word. The type of business we represent determines the dress code. If you’re getting back into the workforce after being home with the kids, be up to date with fashion trends and don’t wear that favorite jacket you saved from the mid 2000’s. Look like you live in current times. Even if you are on a virtual call, professional attire is still important, at least from the waist up.

A first impression sells the package. I’ve been in a room when a woman or man stands up in professional looking attire and then introduces themself and their business with little eye contact and in a subdued voice without enthusiasm. What a disappointment!

If you want to sell your product, tell the room about it, as if you were talking excitedly to your best friend. It’s apparent when someone has little confidence when they don’t speak up or fail to make eye contact with the audience. If you’re not selling yourself, then you’re not showing confidence in what you have to offer.

This is also the moment when trust is built. I tend to trust people who make eye contact with me. When someone introduces themself, presenting their entire package – they should make eye contact, dress the part, and speak confidently. That’s when trust is formed and doing business together will follow.

How can we be more confident when presenting ourselves as a package?  When I was growing up, I felt self-conscious about my height. In school, I was always in the last row with the tallest boy for class pictures. I felt relegated to sit in the back of the classroom because I feared no one could see over my head. When I should have felt confident about myself as someone who stood out, I didn’t feel worthy of that attention.

I had to learn that my total package not only included my tall appearance but a personality to go with it.  It took time for me to feel comfortable when making an entrance. I had to learn how to be remembered for who I was and not just because I towered over the crowd.

Preparation is Key

The feeling of being in command of a room just because I was tall, eventually forced me feel to more comfortable when speaking in front of people. When you’re the center of attention, you better have something memorable to say. But, if you’re not prepared, confidence will be lost and then you may lose the sale or that connection.

To ensure I had my act together, I joined Toastmasters – an international organization that teaches public speaking skills. I did feel confident of my ability to talk in front of an audience, but I didn’t know if I was doing it correctly. So, I joined the local chapter and delivered speeches at their monthly 7:30am meetings. Being “on” at that hour of the morning was a challenge.  I found that memorizing and making speeches involved a lot of practice and caffeine.

I really wanted to speak in a professional manner without a script but trying to memorize my notes really tested my confidence. If I didn’t rehearse enough, I might lose my way and start scrambling for words. I could either crumble and fold or gather my inner strength and confidently finish my speech.

After delivering our speeches, the members’ critiques would help us hone our speaking skills.  We learned how to use voice inflection, create visual pictures, inject humor, gestures, and tell stories. In other words, techniques that kept the audience glued to the speaker’s every word. These techniques became part of my “package.”

In some situations, you don’t even realize how presenting your “package” can affect someone else. I served as president of our community’s social organization and a new resident had been skeptical about joining. Our development was set in a rural area – completely opposite from the suburban Philadelphia neighborhood this woman moved from. She told me a story about her husband, who, while showing her around our town, drove past the Farm and Feed Store.  She said she broke down in tears fearing they had moved to Green Acres.

After attending the meeting and hearing my presentation about our organization, she confessed that because I was professionally dressed and spoke well, she knew that she would feel comfortable with our group. She felt reassured that I represented a community she would fit into, like her previous neighborhood.  I presented the package that she could relate to and sold her on joining the club. To this day, she still recounts her first impression of me and how her membership has provided her lifelong friends.

Build Confidence and Be Yourself

Other women I’ve known have used their attitude and image as confidence builders. A business coach told me that wearing high heels makes her feel empowered when delivering her message to the audience. It was amazing to learn that something so simple like how she felt in those shoes built her confidence. In a different way, the female CEO of a local organization told me that she sings a rock anthem in her car before addressing a crowd. It is her way to prepare to be more confident when delivering a speech.

Over time, I’ve learned to prepare well and be myself when speaking to groups so that my confidence stays intact. Then, I have the audience in the palm of my hand thanks to my preparation, delivery, and professional appearance. Voila! I’ve sold the package. And that’s what it’s all about – being comfortable presenting yourself in a professional way, both visually and verbally, brings confidence to just about everything you do.

Jean Wright is a successful saleswoman and author. An excerpt from her upcoming book   Selling Confidence was recently published in Entrepreneur magazine.   [email protected]

 

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Do You have a Marketing Plan to Start the Summer Strong?

Many businesses focus on Memorial Day promotions, but June holidays also offer a number of opportunities for interesting promotions:
6 D-Day – A day for your business to honor active duty and retired military.
8 Best Friends Day – Give your audience a reason to bring their BFF to your business.
14 Flag Day – Fly an American Flag and offer free flag pins to customers. Restaurants andFather and daughter bakeries could offer flag-themed desserts.
20 Father’s Day – Lots of opportunities here for restaurants and retailers. And this year you can even take Dad out to a ball game!
20 Summer Solstice – The longest day of the year and the first day of summer! Encourage outdoor activities like picnics, backyard barbeques, winery tours, visits to theme parks and perhaps a zip-lining adventure!
21 International Yoga Day – This is a natural for yoga studios and places that sell yoga gear!

Emails are the best way to promote whatever specials your business is offering!

Ever notice how many emails you get from restaurants on Thursdays or before a big sporting event?
A whopping 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of a targeted email! (Source eMarketer)
If you’d like help with your email or social media marketing, contact us! [email protected], 301-514-1102.
We’re a Constant Contact Solutions Provider. Click this link and you can try Constant Contact FREE for 60 days!

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Fun ideas to spice up your October marketing

Fall isn’t just about pumpkin spice lattes!  October has a lot of holidays that can be used in your fall marketing!

The first day of October is International Coffee Day.  Yes, it really is a thing! If you’re a coffee shop it’s a great day to promote.  If not, you could celebrate by having a staff person hand out socially-distanced cups of coffee.

October 5 is “Do Something Nice Day.”  Don’t we all need more of that?!   It could be as simple as sending a card, an email or making  a phone call to your customers or clients.

October 5 is also World Teacher’s Day.  Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers‘ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. Show teachers extra love by offering them special discounts at restaurants, shops, services, etc.  Parents around the world surely value teachers more now than ever.

The first week of October is also Get Organized Week.  During that week you could plan your holiday marketing schedule, and don’t forget Small Business Saturday scrunched in there between Black Friday and Cyber Monday!

October 1- 7 is also Customer Service Week.  Remind your customers that your business is open, and what you’re doing to protect your employees and customers.  If you’re an in-person business, you might offer a bottle of water or some type of pre-packaged treat or giveaway.

National Dessert Day hits on October 14 – a perfect time for restaurants, coffee shops, grocery stores and cupcake shops to offer specials!

As if the desserts weren’t fattening enough, on October 17 we have – wait for it – National Pasta Day!  Restaurants and grocery stores can have a field day with that one!

Make a Difference Day is October 24, and it’s a good time to highlight the good deeds your business and employees do in the community.  Use photos on social media, signage, your website, emails to customers and clients to build good will around your business.

And finally, of course Halloween on October 31! But what will Halloween look like in a pandemic?  Here are a few ideas.

Finally, a tip from Constant Contact – 81% of online shoppers who receive emails based on previous shopping habits were at least somewhat likely to make a purchase as a result of a targeted email! (Source eMarketer)

If you’d like help with your email marketing, social media marketing, contact us! [email protected], 301-514-1102.

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Nine incredible ways writing by hand benefits our bodies and brains

I found this article about writing by hand in the Small Biz Bulletin published by the Governor’s Office of Small Minority & Women’s Business Affairs. I found it fascinating and wanted to share it.  I frequently take notes by hand and it’s true that I remember more than when I take them on my computer!

Read on!

Computers have changed the way we do just about everything, including participating in meetings, training programs, and networking events. In the wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as you sit in front of your computer, be sure to have pen and paper at the ready. Taking notes by hand offers some brain-friendly advantages. It connects you to the words and allows your brain to focus on them, understand them, and learn from them. Check out this great article with nine benefits of writing by hand.

9 Incredible Ways Writing by Hand Benefits Our Bodies and Brains

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