Monday, December 15

Falling Retail Sales...Is there any HOPE in the horizion?

Retail sales for the 5th straight month declined in November, as people grew more worried of losing their jobs and the market continuing to tumble. The Commerce Dept said that reatil sales fell 1.8% from October.

A report in November showed gains that may have been a result of retailers giving deep discounts and the fact that Thanksgiving fell closer to the end of the month sparking more sales for Black Friday. Sales in elcetronics rose 2.8%, as did sporting goods, books and music stores. Clothing , furniture and restaurants also notched a few gains.

Also with the price drop of gas, consumers have a bit more to spend while struggling to survive this economic crisis.

The above facts of from the New York Times Saturday Edition (Dec, 2008).

This is important for us to know because our products may need to be adjusted. Because we are designs, manufacturers, though many do not mass produce, you produce goods that can and will be used by the public (consumer) and knowing where and what your customer is doing and going through is important to know so you are pushed to the side as a luxury that just cant be afforded at this time.

Its that time of year again...

Yes it is that time of year again for those of us who are running our businesses faithfully and whole heartedily. SALES Taxes are due December 22 this year.
Be sure to get them done soon and in the mail before you are hit with penalty fees that are just plain outragous. Even if you have no tax to pay still send in the form and send it in correctly so you are fined. In these time we need to hold on to everything we have...

End of the Year Business Planning...What are you doing to prepare for the New Year?

2008 is coming to an end and yes that means a New Year is upon us…
Are you ready for the New Year? Well today I want to pitch a few ideas and give you a few tips on how to be sure you are ready.

As I have been mentioning, create a budget!

  • First get a detailed idea of your 2008 expenses and revenue.
  • Next, project expenses and revenue for the remainder of the year. Having a picture/idea of a full year will help you know, what and where you need to cut back and/or alter for the coming year.
  • Once you have this financial picture/projection of your revenue and expenses for the year, you can create a budget for 2009, knowing how much you need for every sector of your business: material, production, shipping and profit.

    *Tip: start with revenue goals (February I want to increase 3% from 2008). Then do your expenses and overhead. Be sure to add your ‘just in case’ expense totals (March 2008 I spent $85 with revenue of $100, this year I need to cut some of that expense to really see my revenue).

    Now to the most commonly known business marketing tool and advice…
    Promote, Promote, and Promote some more!

    I for one know the best to get people to remember and know my company I have to be in their face. Greeting Cards are everywhere. In almost every store, on every corner, in every town, so I have a lot to compete with and ground to cover. The best way to do that, besides craft shows in different towns/city’s and states, is to give it away for FREE or offer a something a little extra… Whether you give a gift as favors, thank you gestures or for the holidays, the point is to get your name known and remembered.

    When doing this, remember you are in the business of making money not losing money, but your give-a-way should be of good quality. Set a limit, which should include production, packaging and delivery. Your give-a-way(s) should represent you and your business, so it should be something done with great effort as if it were a regular purchase, but still without exceeding a budget. We all know how important packaging is. Your items should be well packaged, because presentation means a lot. Besides you never know if the item will be giving to a third-party which could end becoming a future customer. I have learned that proper etiquette when sending an item is to include a note/letter whether handwritten or printed. This lets the recipient know you care and appreciate their business. I read somewhere that your gift or favor should be of relevance. I feel, as in my case, that the customer should be able to pick the theme. Makes no sense of me sending or giving-a-way a new born congrats card if they are not having children or no anyone who is…So I try to allow the person to pick a theme and in turn I would give them a card displayed or create a new card for that theme.

Wednesday, December 3

Holiday SALES?

Well the Holidays are officially here!
BLACK Friday has come and gone...
CYBER Monday has rode away...

So now whats next?
With the economy still folding down upon its knees what do WE the small guys do now?

I have read and seen so much ups and downs that can mean great things for some and even worse things for others. With all the major layoffs from the big companies out there, a report was out that many people have resorted back to the days of AVON, Tupperware and even handcrafting their owns goods for sale. In the beginning of this economic down fall I read some where that many big wig companies out there now have made great gains during down times like this. I think it all depends on how you are getting out there.

You have to think like this:
  • Big companies have BIG expenses, salaries and overhead
  • The little guys (us) are more down to earth, budget wise, and can work with prices that will make retailers and consumers happy and in control of their money
  • With BIG bills comes BIG prices that small businesses and retailers cant afford and, poof, enter the real little guys (us)
  • Patience is the key to winning the race, who says slow and steady doesn't make it last longer?

So if you did not get the HOLIDAY SALES you were looking for, don't be upset, but be determined to make 2009 your year! There is gonna be lots of space for us to grow...

the Power of E-Mail and E-Mail Marketing

It seems many businesses have turned to e-mail as a means to tackle today's marketing challenges by creating long-term relationships with their customers via e-mail marketing/newsletters. "E-Mail marketing has become the cornerstone of relationships," says Stephen Dietrich, president of Neoplane Inc. "Its a way to expand the dialogue, sustain the conversation, and engage in a true customer journey."

The Direct Marketing Association (DMA) expects there will be an increase in e-mail marketing by end of 2008. This is to say that many businesses are investing into e-mail marketing/newsletters. I for one can attest to this notion as I am sure you can to. Just thinking of how many times I've opened my inbox and seen newsletters/e-mails and promotional info from everyone and anyone on and off the web? Many of which I find to be helpful and interesting and then there are those that mean nothing and are just a big waste of space. Though with my newest boutique Handcrafted by LaMar , I do send newsletters to all prior and current customers to promote sales. I later found out that that could be a mistake in my attempt to grow sales, awareness/exposure and can be a sure way to be rejected.

A research indicates that e-mail marketing will grow by 75% in the coming year. Businesses often now send out newsletters to build a loyal following instead of an immediate response. In other words they create a buzz over a period of time of their product/service to get people talking...

How do you get e-mail addresses for this?
Well one way is at craft shows, fairs and festivals. I know for myself from the few I have done, I have had many people stop and my table and ask me plenty of questions about my cards and the Diaper Cakes I had on display. Never did I once think to offer more info, tutorials and other SALES or deals by gathering and send out e-mails. This would be a great way to get more exposure, expand and build a following.

The topic here today is not about contacting someone one time about a one day SALE, but about communicating on a continual basis between two people: you and your customer/prospect.

A key thing here is knowing when, where and how often. Everyone hates spam mail and no one likes an over crowded inbox. This is maybe the biggest challenge and pitfall in the whole scheme of things here with e-mail marketing/newsletters. As mentioned in The Advertiser, "another problem is the ever changing rules and regulations to e-mail campaigning and consumer taste."

Information of this post was gathered by La-Mar D Lynch
from The Advertiser "The Evolution of E-Mail" written by Ellen Neuborne