Business Owners, if you are having trouble developing a strategy, ask for help. Ask a friend, neighbor, or fellow business owner. Talk about your business to anyone who will listen, sometimes these people can offer a fresh perspective to your challenges. Recently, I was speaking with a friend about a business that she had no experience with. After listening for a minute she offered an idea that was purely golden, one the had evaded me for the past year. It's like when you're working on a puzzle and that person looks over your shoulder and quickly puts three pieces together that you had just been blankly staring at.
Strategy in Action
The Bodega is preparing to launch a new e-commerce website. The plan involves pursuing an unfilled niche, but it's going to remain a secret until around April. We'll keep you updated on how it works out.
Tom Anderson has posted a statement of pure ambition on his property at 4th and Main. The sign states that in 2012 the Carolina Theater will reopen. The property will not be a pure theater as it once was. Instead it will be a large multi-use space that will accommodate large crowds. I see it as a climate controlled alternative to the Peanut Warehouse. The store-fronts on Main St. are also getting a major makeover. I'm happy to see a property owner with an aggressive strategy to make his space profitable, while also improving the overall appearance and charm of the downtown.
Newsweek Story Offers Insight for Conway
A few weeks ago I stumbled across a pretty interesting article in Newsweek. It was about a town and its Main Street program. I really appreciated the honesty of those interviewed. At one point a person says that on a scale of 1 to 10 he thinks his downtown is a 5. Throughout the article you pick up this "half way there" theme. I think it's healthy to be honest with yourself about your situation. It really does help to identify weaknesses in order to fix them. Anyway, it's a good story about a resilient downtown and its Main Street program. Read it here - How to Save Main Street, Newsweek.
On Marketing Gurus, Posers, Snobs
I was at the dentist the other day and had a few minutes to flip through a local business publication. I came across an article touting an opportunity to attend business development classes, for a fee of course. The course titles were intriguing, many of which were geared towards marketing and the Internet. I make it a habit to check the credibility of a teacher before paying for their expertise. I checked out the twitter, facebook, and website of the class leader. The website was quite amateurish, with poor navigation, no search engine credibility, and disastrous visual design. The facebook and twitter were just average. I guess I'll pass on the class for now. If you're looking to learn more about social media, SEO, e-commerce, etc; try to find a teacher who has actually been successful in that field. Look for free videos, blogs, and podcasts from best selling authors. If you like what you find, buy the book. Think first, spend less, and gain more.
On the opposite side of the coin was a facebook comment from what I consider to be one of the most talented and awe-inspiring marketing firms in Myrtle Beach. The comment linked to a blog that cracked on a sign touting $300 website design. The article claimed that such a website would do more harm than good, and that basically such a cheap website would be worthless at best. Let's try an analogy to examine their assertion. Everyone agrees that a new BMW is better transportation than a moped. What if the moped is all that you can afford and it gets you to work on time? I'd consider that a worthwhile investment. The value is in the results produced measured against the cost. The average small business can not make a $4,000 to $10,000 investment on their web presence. I personally built a website for $500 that became a business's most productive marketing tool. We should also note that numerous businesses have had success from free or inexpensive do it yourself websites. I agree with part of their premise, that some businesses could seriously damage their reputation if their customers saw them on a moped..err..$300 website. I just think we should be careful not to insult the scrappy small entrepreneur who feeds his family with hard work and a shoe-string budget. The BMW dealer does not lose business to the scooter shop, they have totally different customers. If the BWM dealer posted an article cracking on mopeds, I think we would all find that a little snobbish too.
CCU Students Working For Downtown Conway SC Again
This semester there are two Marketing Research classes working for Downtown Conway, SC. Last semester the class focused on marketing to all demographics. This semester the focus shifts to tourism marketing. Also, this semester one of the classes is under the guidance of Hillary at Conway Main Street. I look forward to hearing what their research produces.
Eddie Paul has entered into the mix and is now an official partner with the website. You've probably noticed the movie reviews from his friend Luther, who will become a regular contributor to our content. Visitors can look forward to seeing more podcasts, articles, and videos as we step up the production of content in 2011.