Name one thing

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What is the one thing that you do to go out and get customers to try your product, or purchase it again.

The catch is it can’t be a magazine ad or a traditional media buy. No mass mailed coupon or such.

Is it a unique card you personally hand out? Some social campaign thingy? Do you reach out personally on Facebook?

What works for you? Tell me @spirocks on twitter.

I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Limits and Entrepreneurs

For people who start new businesses and build brands from scratch, limits are the lifeblood of creativity. It is frequently said that ‘It would be nice if money were no object.’ Well it is, so is the employee talent pool, getting the best locations, the customers in your market, and about a thousand other things. The entrepreneur recognizes all these things, finds a niche and builds an offering that delivers value people are willing to pay for.

All these things are limits, they are the parameters of the current possibilities for the business. Embrace them, squeeze them like your own child, they are yours and they are the reason you will succeed. It is important to feel that way about them, for they should be the fostering ground of your creativity, the hurdles that create what is unique about what you offer.

Limits

To train your brain that way is to embrace the limits, and to dominate them. It may be easy to get lost in the day-to-day functions of your business, and lose sight of what parameters you are working within, but that is where discipline should kick in and get you back on the path you know you need to be on.

The ancillary benefits of that discipline are many. It is easier to train your employees when you have a defined framework to work within, and what you do will be clear to your customers. It wont be a messy collection of exceptions, it will be clear, concise, and easy to understand.

In Employee Training: Due to our size we carry three brands of the major liquor varieties, for instance for Vodka: Grey Goose, Tito’s, and Reyka, These three represent three price points and all offer exceedingly high quality. Grey Goose is the leading ultra premium vodka in sales, Tito’s is an excellent American made and gluten-free vodka, and Reyka is a small batch premium vodka from Iceland. With these three we will be able to deliver vodka drinks in three price points, $11/$9/$7 — make notes of any customer complaints about this selection and be sure to include the brand requested, as managers will tally them and adjust the three brands if needed. Be sure to offer the customer a taste of the brands we carry if they are not familiar.

I believe that too often a new business creator focuses on the limits as reasons why they can’t make a situation work, instead of embracing them as the guideposts to help navigate them to success. The first step is identifying your limits, then planning to deliver value within the parameters. That discipline will give the business the matter of fact nature that it needs.

In the above example, if someone wanted a dirty vodka martini and they were unhappy with any of the three vodkas offered, they would be in a tiny tiny minority, say 3% of the population of vodka drinkers. Yet every bar has a plethora of vodka bottles, many which do not sell much at all, taking square footage, time to inventory, store, and clean. If you multiply that over and over in various undisciplined categories, what is the true cost of not staying within limits? I would wager that it is far greater than any profit you will make from serving the ultra-picky 3%.

Thoughts and comments?



I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Don’t just rent your friends from Facebook

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Too many business owners have an online strategy which relies on garnering as many likes as possible for their Facebook page. This is wrought with peril and here is why:

At any time, and they do it often, Facebook alters how you connect with these people to further their goals. Which all revolve around making money off of these connections. They want you to rent your friends, plain and simple.

So as time changes, the investment you have made in those connections is adjusted, filtered, and rearranged to become more profitable for Facebook. Recently they altered how many of your business posts people who liked your page see if you don’t pay to promote them.  Its time to focus on making connections with these friends and followers as permanent as possible.

The answer for most of you: Build your email list. Start today, make it worth their while. How much should you invest in time and money? Answer one question: What is a permanent connection to your customers worth to you?

I am Spirocks on Twitter.

What is your Threshold for Celebration?

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I can imagine that may seem like a strange question. I truly understand that, but really, at what level/threshold do you take a moment away from anything else you do to celebrate something? I believe people benefit from celebrating things at a lower threshold than is common.

As a business owner, manager, really anyone over entry level you are a leader of people, try not to forget or ignore that for too long. You will benefit from celebrating true steps forward with your people. Yes, celebrate steps, that is the basic tenet of this argument.

Celebrate more.

Let’s not wait for a year end goal, or a doubling of sales, or the ‘ends to any means’. I want to note: this need not be a business only idea, why wait until a year after a wedding to celebrate a ‘Real’ anniversary, why not send flowers to her for months on end to celebrate your monthly anniversary of the first kiss you shared?

Identify what the first step is to getting where you dream of going, when you take that step celebrate it. Whether that is launching your business into a new market, or marrying the person of your dreams. Celebrate the first kiss, celebrate the new menu with the team that will deliver it, celebrate the first deal of a new salesperson.

Spring Shoot

Don’t wait for something huge to celebrate.

Time is your most valuable currency, don’t waste its value with inaction. -CP

Doing that has two huge negative effects, and a million (or so) smaller drawbacks. The first big one is that by waiting you require the team to rely on inner motivation to get where you want to go. That doesn’t sound like a good start to me. The second big drawback is that the celebration seemingly has to be bigger the farther along you go. For that matter, celebrating can be as simple as sincere compliments, acknowledgement of a person or team in front of their peers, sharing a few beers (after work if need be). That’s the thing when you celebrate smaller things; the celebration is easy and fun.

After Work Gathering

Surprise people.

Celebrate accomplishments they may not know you noticed, do something impromptu or without fanfare that celebrates, and in doing so recognizes, accomplishments. Those small steps to the goal you have set. Motivation pours out of actions like that in many forms. Your team will feel appreciated, taken care of, and free from worry about if their toils are noticed.

Lower your threshold and enjoy life more. This is your life remember, you can build an environment that works for you.

I am Spirocks on Twitter.

Dominate Instagram Marketing: How to Increase Your Brand’s Local Audience

Instagram has held the distinction as the fastest growing social media network for over a year now. For brands like yours, it puts the ability to get close to your targeted local audience in the palm of your hand.

This requires a healthy dose of inspiration be it artsy, humorous, insightful etc… it also requires you to have a solid understanding of the ins and outs of Instagram. That is what this post is about.

1) Follow the most influential local Instagrammers, interact with them.

Start by finding those that have tagged your business in a post, either by mentioning its name, or by geotagging photos at your place of business. These are happy customers who you must follow and interact with. Like their photos and let them know you are fans of them too, that good feeling is the beginning of an amazing instagram relationship.

Look for others in your community who are active on Instagram and follow them, like their content, get to know what they find interesting, finding customers that will sing your praises is a great thing. Remember you are great at what you do, once they give your business a try you will make them wish you had found them on Instagram earlier.

2) Hashtags are key to getting found, here is how to use them.

While I have a post devoted to this topic on its own, I will give you the cliff notes version here. Focus on finding the relevant hashtags for your post, making up a funny word may be entertaining for your followers but it isnt going to get searched for often if at all. Consider a fitness related post that included the hashtag #beeeasstmodelegdaaaaze versus #squats #legday #workout… clearly the latter post would transcend and be found more often. Studies have shown that including three or more hashtags in your post drastically increases how many people find it. In fact up to 7 are acceptable to Instagram users.

As far as local marketing goes, use hashtags that relate to the town/state/university that makes up your target audience. For instance I use the #andover hashtag frequently for my restaurants in downtown andover. It both relates to those who live in town, and to the prominent boarding school Phillips Academy Andover that is in town.

3) Pull back the Curtain, and do it frequently.

Intersperse images of what you are selling with behind the scenes pics of your team, your office, previews of future offerings… let your audience feel privy to your process and in turn they will feel a part of it. For instance showing pictures of our recently launched sunday brunch dishes is a good way to let people know how amazing they are, but showing them pictures of a bar full of people having a blast eating them is another angle. Those ‘product in motion’ or ‘experience’ images are often even more impactful. Try something different and let your audience look forward to finding your next image… be you, be human, share you business story. It may be your everyday, but to a lot of people it is very interesting and your providing a window into the happenings can make them feel much more comfortable taking the plunge and becoming a customer.

I am Spirocks on Twitter.