Two months ago we planted some "me-seed-ges," how have they fared for you and/or your business?
If you have a small business in the area, no doubt you are excited for the warmer weather and the opportunity it brings! It's not too late to get those "seeds" planted for the summer but it is best to begin now if you wish to extend your reach to the incoming seasonal visitors. There's a lot of them, too, as Cedar Point alone draws a few million over the course of its operations! The islands attract more as do all of the other wonderful events and businesses that awaken this time of year. So pluck the strings of your early harvest as we explore how your business can better integrate into quilt of commerce.
1. Make sure your patch is still yours. Be unique in what you do, what you sell, or in the service you provide. Being a small business that alone may not necessarily attract people to you at first, but it will make their experience with you much more memorable for return business. Quirky little decorations can work as well as including fun extras that don't necessarily overextend you but can create a memory.
Example: One of my game distributors makes themselves memorable by including a baggy of five Tootsie Rolls with each order and a little note stapling it closed with a thank you and product reminder of what's upcoming.
2. Stitch together. Knowing what others like you are doing is important so you can work together to improve the business climate for all, be able to provide professional referrals, or even stay ahead in competition. Every business can lead to another. If we act as conduits we will all be able to showcase our livelihoods and area at large as a friendly, knowledgeable place.
[after referring a woman and her child to another store than Macy's to buy a toy]
KRIS: I keep track of the toy market pretty closely. Does that surprise you so?
WOMAN: Surprise me? Macy's sending people to other stores? Are you kidding me?
KRIS: The only important thing is to make the children happy. Who sells the toy doesn't make any difference. Don't you feel that way?
WOMAN: Who, me? Oh, yeah, sure. Only I didn't know Macy's did.
[in a following section the woman finds Mr. Shellhammer, the head of the toy department]
WOMAN: Pardon me. The guard said to speak to you. You're the head of the toy department?
SHELLHAMMER: Yes, madam...
WOMAN: Listen. I want to congratulate you and Macy's on this wonderful new stunt you're pulling. Imagine, sending people to other stores. Imagine a big outfit like Macy's putting the spirit of Christmas ahead of the commercial. It's wonderful. I never done much shopping here before...but from now on, I'm going to be a regular Macy customer.
3. Step outside your shop's vision to see how the overall picture is being presented. It is well worth a trip to your municipal website or offices in order to look at the zoning map and/or city plan. Look at which zone you are in and the neighboring blocks. What are the major corridors into and out of your area? Your municipality should have a general direction it is presenting itself. As well, you should certainly check out our tourism board, Lake Erie Shores & Islands to see how our area is being presented to potential visitors. The Funcoast, too, is worth not only reviewing but listing your events on the free calendar that is provided.
Example: Try talking with your local Chamber of Commerce or some kind of Downtown Association you may have for additional input, opinions, and contacts.
4. Spread your colors across social media. There are many different ways to do this that are worthy of a blog entry all on its own. But, for purposes of this one, I can only suggest you employ social media with a measure of regularity.You never know what will catch and go viral, but if nothing is put out then nothing ever can. It isn't too tough to make a video for YouTube or link your Facebook and Twitter together. There's so much that can be done to really let your year-round regulars you are here to stay and are knowledgeable as well as impress those from out of town with a great first impression!
Question: For any of you reading, if I get into topics like this would you prefer something in this written format or perhaps something like a "vlog" (video blog) that you can watch and follow along?
There's much to consider before summer really kicks off. I wish you success in whatever it is you do. Know that you are not alone. While other stores may not sell your widget or provide a certain service, in spirit we are all in this together to make our communities work (and lives fulfilled). If I can refer anyone to you, you are certain I will!