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Does Your Firm Accept Credit Cards? Maybe You Should.

This week, we contracted with an award winning local landscape firm to do some stone and brick work on our property.  We met with the owner to sign the contract so work could begin.  When I asked if they would accept credit card payment for our deposit, we were told their company doesn't accept credit cards.  Interesting.  I thought most every small business today accepts credit cards for payment. Credit and debit cards have taken over the world.  Those, myself included, who still write the occasional check are looked at strangely.  Change takes time for most people.  Yes, I do pay bills and make purchases online, but I have become more and more cautious about who gets my credit card information.  Far too many hackers [...]

By | August 3rd, 2017|Customer Experience, Strategic Management|0 Comments

Influences on Small Businesses for 2017: Competition & Customer Behaviors

'Designing Strategies' eNewsletter July - August, 2017               Volume 14     Issue 78   Any small business owner or manager who has been operating over the past ten years has experienced big time changes coming at them.  It is no secret that changes and external  influences on small businesses are a constant we need to prepare for.   Any not willing to do necessary zig-zagging required to change strategies or pivot on a dime may well be gone now.  We have been facing more than a few significant external changes, trying to stay afloat.  Let’s limit this discussion to just two of the enormous influences on small business es and their success.  Two of those influencers and disruptors I [...]

Strategies for Change: Be Alert, Be Aware, Be Strategic

The world as we know it is coming to an end!  Sounds an awful lot like the childhood story, Chicken Little, doesn’t it?  Remember that story about Henny-Penny running around the barn yard telling everyone the sky is falling after some innocent thing fell on her head?  Definitely not a good strategy for dealing with change.  Unlike every other day, something new and different happened - something changed.  Strategies for change should be top of mind for every small business owner who is passionate about the success of their firm. Notice the key words in that first sentence are "...as we know it..."  The statement can sound scary, some may react with fear and frustration, but in reality, “…as we know it…” really only means [...]

By | June 20th, 2017|Strategic Management, Strategy, Trends|0 Comments

Offline Marketing Is Alive, Well and Great For Local Marketing Campaigns

Small businesses have been told that old-school traditional marketing methods are extinct.  As extinct as dinosaurs.  They are things of the past.  They don't work anymore.  Old-school methods are too costly.  Offline marketing methods take too long to become effective.  You HAVE to move to online marketing channels.  I'm here to tell you it just isn't true.  I'm here to tell you that offline marketing is alive, well and works great for local audiences.  Sure, the Internet has opened some new marketing channels for us.  They may be less costly, but unless we do it exactly right, they won't work for us either. By now, everyone should have heard just about everything conceivably written, podcast or video taped/digitized about online marketing.  We've been told that it [...]

By | June 20th, 2017|Marketing, Strategy|0 Comments

Your Unique Definition of Success – The Foundation of Your Small Business

'Designing Strategies' e-Newsletter Volume 14               Issue 77   Success – what does it mean?  From a quick Google search, Success is defined as either:  the accomplishment of an aim or purpose, or the attainment of popularity or profit.  Ask any small business owner or entrepreneur what they want to get from their start-up enterprise and odds are, they will respond with:  "Success.” or "I want to be successful."  Sounds about right, doesn't it? In reality, those answers are simply not enough.  What does success mean to you, as an individual, small business owner?  This isn’t a trick question.  There is no right or wrong answer to this.  It's time to think about your unique definition of success.  What [...]

By | June 2nd, 2017|Newsletter, Strategy, Strategy|0 Comments

Prepare for First Client Meetings: 5 Important Pre-Meeting Sales Tactics

Relationships with every serious prospect starts out with them being complete strangers to us.  Or, perhaps they know us but not what we have to offer customers.  Once a prospect becomes aware of our company, products and services, they have move a step closer to becoming a real, paying customer. That is when it is time to prepare for first customer meetings. Take time to plan before taking an arbitrary shot at convincing a customer your products and services will best solve their problem.  Prepare for first client meetings ahead of time to achieve the best results.  It pays off big time to develop a Sales System Strategy focused on taking someone from that total stranger status to a wildly enthusiastic cheerleader with experience as [...]

By | May 16th, 2017|Customer Relationships, Sales|0 Comments

8 Important Management Factors That Affect Small Businesses

'Designing Strategies' newsletter March - April, 2017            Volume 14  -  Issue 76   There are eight important management factors identified by Neil C. Churchill and Virginia L. Lewis in the Harvard Business Review.  They apply equally to any small business start up.  Four of the factors apply to the business owner.  The other four apply to the small business itself.  Their research noted factors that affect both the small business owner and the business entity itself.  Those factors are as follows: Important Management Factors for the Business Owner Personal and Business Goals Without specific, clear cut goals, a small business owner is aligned with failure.  With nothing specific to aim for, strategies and tactics can be pointed in too many [...]

Your Company Needs a Blog. Blogging is a Great Marketing Tool

Of course, your company needs a blog.  In our opinion, the answer would be a definite Yes!  Any company needs a blog for a number of reasons.  There are so many benefits to having a company blog.  "What benefits?" you might ask. Glad you asked - here are just a few. Blogs let companies of all types and sizes  connect with potential clients and build relationships. That is what is known as lead generation.  Blogs provide a platform that allows small businesses to 'show their stuff'.  Customers look online for a company to solve their problems.  They can find valuable information about your firm's capabilities and knowledge base through blog content.  You can build and support your company brand too. That said, we'd like to [...]

By | April 17th, 2017|Marketing, Strategy|0 Comments

Content Marketing:  What It Is and What It Can Do For Your Small Business in 2017

The hot buzz word in online marketing for the past several years has been Content Marketing.  OK, technically it is two words.  Content marketing has grown right alongside social media.  “Fine,” you say.  “What the heck is Content Marketing and how does it affect me or my small business?" Fair enough.  Let’s start off with a definition of Content Marketing to clarify what it is and then move on to what it can do for you.  According to the Content Marketing Institute (CMI), this article defines content marketing and what it is all about: “Content marketing is a marketing technique of creating and distributing valuable, relevant and consistent content to attract and acquire a clearly defined audience – with the objective of driving profitable customer [...]

By | February 6th, 2017|Market Planning, Marketing|2 Comments

Grow Your Small Business By Adding and Empowering Employees

'Designing Strategies' eNewsletter Volume 14                     Issue 75   If a typical day at your small business involves staff waiting for you to come into the office so they can get your approval of progress on a project, it's not a good thing. If employees are standing in line to get access to you to answer questions, that's not good either. Odds are your firm is in Stagnant Stalemate mode. Your firm is not growing. It is not expanding. Staff can't accomplish anything because you have a death grip on control over every little minute detail of operations. Give it up! You have become the bottleneck blocking our firm’s progress. It's time to give up some [...]

By | January 28th, 2017|Employees, Growth, Newsletter, Strategy|0 Comments