Tuesday, July 26, 2011

What The Digital Shift Means to Your Business

A few years ago I was doing speaking engagements on the subject of Social Media and inviting people to "Join the Conversation".

Despite the insistence of some of my current co-workers that Social Media is not new, and that they were using electronic bulletin boards back in the 1990's, we are now in a new age of Social Media.

The difference is it has moved from the tech-geek to mainstream.

Just a couple of days ago I read a tweet about 3 generations in one family are all on Twitter, Facebook and now Google+.

The shift from traditional, old school sources of information, entertainment and communication to digital is having an effect on businesses because your customers are shifting to digital.

What is Traditional & Old School? Here's a few examples:

The Daily Hometown Newspaper. This was the way to get all the in-depth information on everything current from the previous 24 hours. The Sunday Classified section was where they made lots and lots of money do to the help wanted sections and full page automotive ads.

The Phone Book. Now we Google it.

The Evening TV News. CNN and the other 24 hour networks made the ABC, NBC & CBS nightly broadcast unnecessary.

Music Radio Stations. I hate to say this but unless a radio station is providing local content that you cannot get elsewhere, there is no need for many of them to exist. And I worked in that business since I was 16.

Some of these Traditional, Old School sources will adapt, reorganize and survive, if they get their business model organized to stay profitable.

And some will stay strong for years to come do to external factors which include:

Generational habits: Face it, some folks prefer not to change. My Mom (who passed away in 2001); preferred to give her credit card number to a stranger over the phone to place an order, than trust the "internet-web-thing". I wonder if she were alive now, if she would have changed.

Technology changes: I wonder if there is some secret pact between car makers and radio broadcasters to always include a radio in every vehicle that is sold. I believe that is a primary reason for the survival of radio broadcasting. However, with the inclusion of web access in newer vehicles, this could signal the end. It will take years however due to the number of older cars that dominate our roads.

How is your business involved in this shift?

By the way, click here for a study with more info.

The words of Scott Howard aka ScLoHo

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

You are in the People Business

I started writing this in March:

No matter what you produce, provide, sell....

No matter how automated and sleek your systems are...

No matter if you wear jeans or a three piece suit...

You are in the people business.

There's a couple of coffee shops on the same street in my town that have very different personalities.

My favorite has been in business for over 10 years and has switched coffee providers once or twice, changed some of the details and each year they seem to do a little remodeling.

They used to have live music on Friday and Saturday nights. They don't anymore. They used to be open late on weekends. Now they close at 8pm every night. They have a couple of the original staff, and the others that work there fit in to the culture.

Most of the furniture is old, some is getting a little threadbare, but it is a comfortable place to go and get a bite to eat, a white mocha, a smile and a little conversation.

Down the street is another coffee shop that roasts their own beans and is also family owned. They moved from across the street to the same side as the first shop and expanded their offerings.

Along with having coffee, they also have a full service bar and on Friday and Saturday evenings they would have a special theme menu that would include ingredients from their garden and recipes crafted from their own chef. Coffee shop #2 really had it going for them as a place that my wife and I would often visit for dinner on Saturdays.

Not anymore.

Recently on a Saturday night at 6pm we walk in the door and notice the weekend menu's were not out. They were on the door, but not on the tables or at the bar. The owner and his wife are usually there when we show up, but not this time.

Instead of feeling comfortable, it felt like sort of weird. The guy at the register was busy counting change, the young woman who took my wife's drink order not only had to pull out the recipe card but had to ask what kind of liquor to use and she seemed very unsure of herself.

When I asked for a menu, they said they aren't doing the weekend dinner menu on Saturdays, only Fridays. Which was very disappointing since the read the menu as we walked in and was trying to decide which delicious items we would enjoy. Instead we had a drink and left.

It's now 4 months later. Neither one of us have been back. As a matter of fact, a couple of days ago, she asked me if coffee shop #2 was still in business, as we drove by on Saturday afternoon. That's not the lasting impression you want to leave with your customers is it?

And yes, they are still in business.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

1st Things 1st

In my previous life as a radio advertising sales person, it was common for my co-workers to sell advertising schedules.

An advertising schedule is simply a certain number of ads in a specific time frame and a specific medium for a specific price.

Businesses owners would negotiate on these items and contracts would be signed and that is the way most advertising is bought and sold.

This is stupid, wrong and a waste of money.

But it is common practice.

Let's make sure you do things in the right order.

You want to make money by selling your product or service. Your Stuff.

You need to get the word out about your stuff you want to sell.

Instead of blindly buying advertising, or creating a website, a Facebook page, or even attending a networking event, you need a strategy and a map.

If you were sitting where I am right now in Fort Wayne Indiana, and decided to go to Nebraska, where my step-daughter lives, you would probably prepare for the trip.

If I was driving, I would need to look at a map or ask my step-daughter for directions on how to get there.

I would also make sure I had my car checked out so I could make the trip safely, and have enough money to pay for it.

Most business owners put more thought and planning into their vacation than they do their marketing.

Before you spend money on advertising, marketing, or your vacation, do some planning and research.

Talk to an expert, a professional, someone who has the knowledge to get you where you want to go.

That's what I do with my team at Cirrus ABS. Drop me a note: SHoward@CirrusABS.com for help.

The words of Scott Howard aka ScLoHo

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Where Did They Go?

Ever wonder about the customers you don't have anymore?

Where did they go?

Some have moved out of town.

Some have died.

Some simply don't need what you are selling.

Some have found an alternative.

It's the last one that should concern you the most.

You need to find out what that alternative is and why it became an alternative for your customers.

You also need to find out why you are losing customers.

No matter how many new customers you have coming in your front door, if you can keep them from going out the back door, you should see your profits increase.

Now go do your homework.

The words of Scott Howard aka ScLoHo