small business community

24 Reasons To Shop Small Business

Transition Marketing ServicesWe Shop Small Business & You Should As Well.

We do it whenever possible. Whether it is our coffee, the meat and produce for our summer barbecues, our gasoline or our clothes. If it is possible to support a local merchant, we do it.

Why? Because it builds community. Because these small business owners are people and these people are our neighbours, our friends and our family. They are a part of our community and a part of the local lifeblood of our cities. Supporting them is what any community minded citizen should be doing.

When you make a purchase from a big box store what is that money going towards? Corporate greed? According to a report by Bloomberg Business Week:

“…The AFL-CIO’s average CEO-to-worker multiple at big U.S. companies is 357 [x the average employee’s wage]. Bloomberg’s average ratio for Standard & Poor’s 500 companies is 204; the average of the top 100 companies on our table is 495. That is, CEOs of the companies on that table averaged 495 times the income of non-supervisory workers in their industries.”

How much do you make at your job? Imagine making 200 to 400 x that amount. In the words of Homer Simpson “that’s a spicy-meat-a-ball”.

Of course to cannot pigeon-hole all corporate sales. Obviously their profits go towards more than just Transition Marketing Servicestheir CEO and Upper Management paychecks. Profits from sales go towards their marketing, their sales, their manufacturing and the level of inventory they need to maintain to keep prices low. However consider what these companies actually invest locally – it is next to nothing. Not to mention what do they pay their employees? or worse yet, what do they pay the people manufacturing their goods? It is a pittance.

When we attempt to justify shopping at big stores in order to support their employees (and we have), we are really just supporting the concept of part-time employment on minimum wage with few or no benefits. In contrast recent studies indicate that local small businesses are the largest employer of financially solid jobs nationally in the United States.

Let's not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support it's underpaid staff.

Let’s not forget that Walmart actually attempted to take donations from others to support its underpaid staff.

Oh and all those big signs that corporations put up stating what they donate to charity? If their CEO is making even 200 x the average Canadian, that puts his pay scale at over 10 million dollars annually. Those lump sums that they state have been donated to charity? pretty meager in the grand scheme of things and how much of that is contributed directly from consumers at the til? We’ve all been asked to donate to the Children’s Charity or Foodbank in the midst of paying for our groceries.

All studies point to non-profit organizations receiving on average, 250% more support from smaller business owners than they do from large businesses.

Yes I know that I am standing on a metaphorical soap box right now and no it isn’t comfortable. Do I think that everyone can shop small business every time, all of the time? No. There are certain items that one simply cannot find at local shops and I understand that. However one cannot underestimate the need for our small business community. If the purchase can be made reasonably at a local small business, it is to all of our benefit to do so.

A healthy community begins with a healthy economy and small businesses are an essential part of this.

24 Reasons To Shop Local:

Consider what shopping local does:

  1. It is Better For Everyone’s Bottom Line: Brock University research recently suggested that $3 billion would be added to the local economy if 5 million Ontarians spent $10 of their grocery budget on local foods each week.
  2. It Puts Your Taxes to Good UseLocal businesses require comparatively little infrastructure investment. They make more efficient use of public services than big corporations do when they enter the community.
  3. It Supports Local Decision-making: Local ownership ensures that important decisions are made locally by people who live in the community and who will feel the impacts of those decisions.
  4. It Invests Into Local CommunityLocal businesses are owned by local people. They live in the local community, they are more invested in the local community and they are less likely to leave the local community.
  5. It Encourages Local Prosperity: A growing body of economic research points to entrepreneurs and skilled workers, in an increasingly homogenized world, being more likely to invest and settle in communities that preserve their one-of-a-kind businesses and distinctive character.
  6. It Puts Money Directly Back Into the Local Community: The more money that says local, the healthier the community remains.
  7. Long-term Benefits and Diversity: A marketplace of multiple small businesses ensures local innovation and a wide variety of products and services that targets local interests and needs as opposed to a national sales strategy.
  8. Long-term Better Prices: When a marketplace consists of thousands of small businesses rather than just a handful of large corporations it helps ensure lower prices over the long-term.
  9. It Promotes Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurship fuels North America’s economic innovation and prosperity. This is a key means for families to move out of low-wage jobs and into the middle class.
  10. It Supports a Local Business Owner and Their Family: It provides food and clothes. It means dance lessons for their little girls and a soccer jersey for their son.
  11. It Supports The People Directly Around Us: People we pass on the street everyday. People who could easily be you or I.
  12. It Supports a Livelihood Not a Lifestyle: This isn’t another yacht, summer home or additional stock options for some CEO you’ll never meet. This is the needs of the people who live next to us.
  13. It Boosts Environmental Well-being: When sustainable local foods are grown utilizing humane animal practices and environmentally responsible methods we have assurance that our food is healthier and is making minimal impact on the environment. Likewise purchasing locally made products and services reduce the carbon footprint related to freight and transport needs.
  14. It Generates Environmental Sustainability: Local stores create a vibrant, compact, walkable town center. This reduces economic migration due to businesses expanding outside of the city centre. This in turn reduces automobile use, habitat loss, and air and water pollution.
  15. It Creates an Increased Number of GOOD Jobs: Small local businesses are the largest employer nationally and within our community. These small businesses create a healthy economic work force by generating REAL jobs.
  16. You Get Better ServiceLocal businesses hire people with a better understanding of the products they are selling. They know or get to know the local customers. Small businesses employees are generally more invested and happier which translates to better consumer experiences.
  17. It Promotes Cultural Diversity: Varieties of products, foods & services are based on the local shopping habits, creating an “culturally diverse” marketplace.
  18. It Supports the Future of Farming: Strong local farming ensures local goods can be grown and raised in the future.
  19. Local Food is More Nutritious: Once harvested, produce quickly loses nutrients. Since local produce is sold right after it’s picked, it retains more nutrients.
  20. It Promotes Bio-diversity: Increased demand for local food creates greater variety.
  21. Local Food Growth Keeps Taxes Down: Governments spend approximately $1.17 on services for every $1 in revenue raised by residential development, which increases taxes. Conversely for every $1 in revenue raised by a farm, a forest or open space, a government spends approximately $0.34 cents on services.
  22. It Supports Local Community Charity Groups: Studies point to non-profit organizations receiving an average 250% more support from smaller businesses than they do from corporations.
  23. It Reduces Chance of “Dead” Zones in Cities: Local stores make use of existing business spaces. This creates a lively, compact, walk able town center. This reduces economic migration related to big businesses expanding outside of the city centre.
  24. It Keeps Our Community Unique: Our local small business are a distinct part of what makes our community home. These one-of-a-kind businesses our OUR one-of-a-kind businesses. The create the distinctive character of our communities.
Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

Supporting local businesses and start-ups creates a healthy local economy.

When we make a purchase at a local small business we are setting into motion a series of events that can generate support and sales to several small businesses within the community. Several studies indicate that purchases made from independent, small businesses significantly increase the amount of money used to make purchases from other local businesses, service providers etc.

This creates a domino effect of sorts which further strengthens the economic base of the community.  Summaries of a variety of economic impact studies can be found here these include case studies showing that locally owned businesses generate a premium in enhanced economic impact to the local community and our tax base.

  • It supports the property manager of the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL trades people who maintain the building.
  • It supports the LOCAL students who work there (as opposed to outsourced workers through questionable recruitment agencies like Actyl)
  • It supports local product and service providers related to the manufacture and sales from that business.
  • It supports the LOCAL print companies that handle the flyers and posters and print ad’s (as opposed to the large corporate marketing companies).
  • It supports LOCAL tourism. Diverse small businesses are more attractive to tourists and vacationers.

This post came across my Facebook feed a week ago and honestly we couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves.

We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

Transition Marketing Services

Transition Marketing Services. Our passion is educating and equipping small business owners with the tools and strategies to succeed. We have made it our priority to know Specialized Marketing. We keep up to date on what is new, what is available and what makes the most sense for businesses of all sizes and backgrounds. We recognize that every Small Business is unique, and their Marketing needs to be as well. Visit us at our website and let us know how were doing or if you have any questions. TRANSITION MARKETING SERVICES – Small Business Marketing Specialists.

 

 

 

 

The Marketing Toolbox: Have You Heard About “BenchAds”?

Transition marketing ServicesAt Transition Marketing, our passion is small business. Any day that we get to assist a fellow small business in some small way, is a good day. It gets even better when we can provide a small business some exposure AND showcase some marketing tools in the process.

Creating Advertising Opportunities.

BenchAds.biz provided just that opportunity. They are a locally run company within the Okanagan / Shuswap area that provides exactly what the name indicates – advertising on benches. They provide a unique, budget friendly marketing and advertising opportunity to the local small business community. Needless to say when we heard about this business, we knew we had to investigate.

We had a chat with Carene Wooster the owner and operator of BenchAds.biz to see what marketing and advertising value they could add to local small business.

Based in Salmon Arm, BC, BenchAds is a family owned and operated company. The family has been connected with the business for as long as the benches have existed. Carene’s grandpa was in fact the one who originally fabricated the bus benches back when Salmon Arm’s Transit System first began.

Bus Bench AdvertisingTransition Marketing Services

The premise of the advertising is quite simple. Since the inception of the Salmon Arm transit system there has been a series of benches located through the city. Each of these benches provides a well situated, public advertising spot. BenchAds owns and controls these spots and for a small price you get to use them.

They are similar to the billboards you see along the highway, only slightly smaller and located in prime areas in the downtown core. They are priced at a fraction of what a highway billboard costs and provide a high level of exposure to both foot and vehicle traffic.

Outdoor advertising has undeniably always been effective. BenchAds provides this opportunity to the local business community at a highly competitive rate. If that is not enough to pique your interest then consider the following:

  • Unlike TV, radio or online advertising, viewers cannot change, mute or close the ad. If they are passing by the bench, then the ad is viewed – 24/7.
  • It creates brand exposure in new areas where none may have existed before.
  • Outdoor advertising is being seen by an increasing amount of traffic.
  • As mass transit increases in popularity BenchAds will increase in exposure.
  • According to the OAAA, outdoor advertising is one of the most cost effective advertising options in existence and provides a high ROI (return on investment).
  • Recent reports by Brandscience (via CBS here) found that for each dollar spent on out-of-home advertising, an average of $2.80 was received in sales.

Want more? Check out these case studies on outdoor advertising via the Pattison Group:

Let’s face it, small businesses need budget friendly marketing and advertising tools. BenchAds.biz offers just that; a unique alternative outdoor advertising option. One that places outdoor advertising within the reach of small businesses that could never afford that coveted highway billboard.

We’ll end with a note here from BenchAd.biz owner Carene Wooster:

We encourage our advertisers to advertise on more than one location. Personally I know that when I see a hamburger on a sign I honestly have a profound drawing to eat a hamburger!! Now, what happens if I’m driving around town and I see this big juicy hamburger 5 different times all from the same vendor? When I finally do decide to go get that tasty treat where’s the first place I’m going to think of? Advertising on multiple locations has a much greater branding effect.
One of advertising’s best kept secrets, bus benches can easily be overlooked when businesses are looking at their marketing strategies. People seem to get caught up in all the other forms of advertising and others naively think the viewing audience is limited to those who use the transit system! The fact is, everyone sees them! Next time you’re out and about, see for yourself! -Carene Wooster – owner & operator
For more info check out our website www.benchads.biz or like us on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/BenchAds.biz

Small Business: Partnering For Success

Partnering For Success.

One key concept we attempt to convey, both to our clients, and to the public: “Small Business Relationships are Key to Success”. Relationships with your consumer base and relationships with the local small business community. Both are intrinsic to business growth and brand development.

Developing Business to Business partnerships can make the difference in overcoming obstacles.

Business to Business (B2B) Partnerships

Developing partnerships with local suppliers, retailers and even competitors can be profitable for the small business owner. Relationships help us to overcome hiccups. They create goodwill and understanding. By taking the time to create these relationships, one positions their business and brand more positively in the eyes of the surrounding market.

By developing mutually beneficial relationships with surrounding local businesses, the small business owner creates a community in which he or she can thrive.

Relationships help foster partnerships. Partnerships take your business and brand to the next level. For example, partnering with suppliers can help a business to develop programs for more accurate inventory management (FIFO, reduced inventory, faster turn-around). These programs can reduce costs for both parties, thereby increasing profitability.

Partnerships can take on a myriad of different forms based on your business and your partners. As an example, we recently teamed up with a local web-host to offer a special promotion to our local small business community: A contest with a free customized website awarded as top prize.The contest is based solely on meeting the local business owners and it offers an ideal segway into further conversations, a relational stepping stone.

The website is in itself, a great prize, however we took it one step further. By partnering with this web-host, we were able to also offer free registration, and a year of free hosting. This partnership wins on three levels:

  • For any small business on a budget, this is high value prize. A little good will spread into the community.
  • This creates a deeper partnership with our web-host. Providing them with the opportunity to grow and promote their business at minimal risk.
  • Most importantly (to us) a dialogue is developed with the local business community.

The areas for partnership are there for any small business, they just need to be explored.

Business to Consumer (or Customer). Developing relationships gains repeat business. Image source: designzzz.com

Business To Customer (B2C) Relationships.

In many aspects the marketplace is changing. In order to communicate the social necessities for brand success, terms like B2C are making a come back . B2C is all about business to customer communications – relationships essentially. It is the means by which a business supplies goods, services and brand information directly to its consumers.

This term became far more frequent with the advent of online business – during the height of the .com period. It fell into obsolescence when that bubble burst, but has been making a comeback recently – more specifically since the initiation of what we now know as Web 2.0 – which encompasses such phenomena as Social Media. Some have even said that the B2C policy of the .com period is what helped usher in the new era of Web 2.0.

It could be said that business to customer relationships, is the primary purpose of Social Media Marketing. B2C is all about engaging your customers directly, supplying them directly and building your brand association and business with them directly.

Developing relationships with your consumer base is invaluable. Engage a customer, provide them with a memorable experience, create an association between a brand and a quality, and you will have them for life. Apple understands this – in fact their credo states “we are at our best when we deliver enriching experiences”.

Big Brands will spend tens of thousands of dollars attempting to “humanize” their brands – to make them accessible, to provide their consumers with a relational experience. The attempt to humanize a brand, is to do away with “cold corporate” image and create a brand that comes across as understanding to the individual customer. What is ironic is that many of these brands will spend money on advertising and marketing – when the money would be better spent on hiring and training support and after sales staff.

Small businesses however, are already perfectly positioned to take advantage of this brand aspect, to develop relationships one on one and create a brand image that cares about its products, services, people and end users.

Brand Power is built not directly on sales – but on quality products, services and relationships. Relationships create a powerful consumer bases, they create an atmosphere that is conducive to sales, thereby achieving the sale WITHOUT souring the consumers mind. Put another way, by giving the customer a positive experience, they will COME TO YOU to make the sale and they will return for subsequent sales.

To paraphrase “Build relationships and they will come”.

Build it and they will come so get active and build your business relationships.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing ServicesContact us for a free consultation.

16 Tips For Marketing On A Budget

Image Source: smallbiztrends.com

Clever Marketing Does Not Need To Always Be Expensive.

Small Business owners seldom have the budget for glitzy or high profile marketing and advertising. Small Business marketing often needs to be as unique and specialized as the business it represents. Here are a few tips for Marketing on a budget.

1. Get On Board With Your Local Press. Most local news outlets have resources available for the local small business community:

  • 1. You can go with a standard ad.
  • 2. A classified ad (billed per word).
  • 3. Issue a press release. A press release is a great way to get free exposure in the local media.

Check with your local papers and see what they have in place.

2. Support A Local Charity Or Campaign. This is something businesses should do either way, however by getting on board with community initiatives you can get a great deal of (positive) free exposure.

You gain terrific PR, build relationships within the local community and lend support to those in need. This is the type of Marketing that truly builds a brand.

3. Sponsor A Local Sports Team. This refers back to supporting local charities or campaigns. It is an excellent way to boost community relations and branding. Just about any amateur team would be glad to don your logo for the cost of a jersey.

It can be a great way to build contacts and good will with parents, athletes and athletics supporters.

4. Local & Online Business Directories. The Yellow Pages are still a consistent resource for most local consumers. Many communities will also have their own local business directory. These can be inexpensive means with which to ensure consistent exposure, primarily to people looking for local and specific services.

There is an slew of online directories available as well, however these should be researched and explored according to their relevance for your industry, your geographic region and their results in search engines.

Bulletin Boards are a free place to post your advertising. They should be utilized with thought towards how they will portray your brand.

5. Use Free Cork/Bulletin Boards. The one caution with this, is to be mindful of how an ad and its placement portrays a business and brand. One can place a printed ad on almost any community cork board – typically free of charge – however they need to be mindful of how it represents the company.

  • Make sure it is a professional and clean ad – it should portray professionalism and associate the business with experience.
  • Place it nicely – square it up, fasten the corners, keep it neat. Don’t slap a thumbtack off centre and call it a day – that looks shoddy.
  • Make it catchy – corkboards fill up fast and typically wind up cluttered. The ad needs to stand out and grab attention.
  • Monitor it – It will eventually wind up behind other posts and ad’s. If this happens it will look dated. Cycle it out with new ad’s to keep it fresh and ensure it is at the top. Many billboard owners like a date placed somewhere on the ad to indicate it’s age (this enables them to clear dated posts) work with them and help them maintain the board.

6. Hand Out Business Cards To Everyone. In the age of online and social media, printed mediums are still highly relevant and nothing reinforces your word-of-mouth campaign like business cards. They are inexpensive and easy to keep on your person at all times.

Typically they print in groups of 250, 500, 1000, 2000 – with costs being reduced with each increase in quantity. Keep in mind that 250 cards can last a long time, so do not be afraid to hand them out and hand out more than one. When we meet with clients we will typically hand them three or four cards, this provides for their misplacing them or handing them out to colleagues.

Business cards are one of those items you want to revise every once in awhile. Hand them out while they are fresh and you will not have a bunch of obsolete cards when you revise your information.

7. Let Fly The Flyers! Going back to the relevance of printed materials, a flyer is a great (inexpensive) way to draw attention from the local community. Included in papers, door to door, or exchanged with other businesses along with business cards – they can increase brand awareness and draw attention to your services.

This ties in nicely with posting free Corkboard ad’s as flyer’s can be utilized also for this purpose.

8. Product Placement / Venue Exchanges. Brand yourself publicly at events and venues with product and logo placement.

Example: If you are a DJ make sure you have a banner, flyers, business cards and wear a shirt with your logo – brand yourself to the public. The amount of business that can be procured at a wedding, by a good photographer or DJ is incredible. Don’t ruin the wedding by networking, but be prepared if guests come to you for information.

9. Hand Out Branded Swag! Whatever your budget may be, there is a Merchandising manufacturer out there that can accommodate, so get some merch’ and hand it out! Useful items like pens, shirts, hats, mugs etc. will get used and make their way around.

As with all other materials, put some thought into type of “swag” that matters to your industry and have some fun making it. The more creative and relevant the merchandise, the more likely it will see use.

People love gifts, it is a great way to establish relations and create a positive experience for your clients. As with business cards, hand them out frequently and freely.

(Hint: Make sure the pens are decent quality – shoddy pens quickly find their way to the bottom of the bin)

Drive your marketing! Vehicle decals and wraps are cost effective and guarantee exposure. Image Source: indepthwraps.com

10. Decal Your Vehicle. Hank Yarbo of late Corner Gas fame exemplifies this concept in a rather unique way with his “Hank Board

A personal vehicle is literally a moving canvas. Brand it with decals and graphics and it effectively becomes a billboard wherever you find yourself. There are a number of businesses that offer this service – the price versus the advertising exposure makes this a top value option.

11. Advertising On Public Transit. Depending on the communities mass transit infrastructure, there can be many advertising spaces available in buses, taxis and trains. Check with your local transit authorities, these spaces can be surprisingly inexpensive.

12. Join Online Networking Communities. LinkedIn is likely the top source for these type of groups. By connecting with groups relevant to specific industries and the local community, one can gain both, an audience and dialogue opportunities.

13. Trade Shows. Local trade shows can be a great way to boost both, customer awareness and client engagement. For the price of a booth or table, one gains the opportunity to network with relevant, and local, small business groups and individuals.

14. Socialize With Media (Social Media). Blogs, Facebook, Pinterest, there are numerous online avenues that (at no charge) provide the opportunity to increase online presence and engage customers, both current and potential.

(Hint: Visit blog posts on “Social Media Engagement” or “How To Find A Good Social Media Specialist” for more information on this)

15. Reward Your Current Customers. Build goodwill with the current customer base and the word of mouth campaign will pay back the efforts a thousand times over. Offer incentives, “swag” (see tip 9) and insider info.

16. Web Updates. Basic web updates can be a great, cost effective way to keep customers interested and coming back. Fresh content, news and designs are the means for consistent engagement. One should never underestimate the value of increasing online traffic and engaging the online audience.

No matter what size the business, customers need to be communicated with. There are many inexpensive and effective marketing avenues available – if you know where to look.

Small Businesses have several key advantages over their larger competitors. Recognizing and leveraging them can drastically impact success.

Ben Erickson is a Design & Social Media Specialist with Transition Marketing ServicesContact us for a free consultation.