Clear Communicating

Optimizing the local, independent business

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In my community in Cleveland’s inner-ring eastern suburbs, Walmart just abandoned its old location and moved less than a mile away to a newer, gianter, superer Walmart. It has increased the size of its food section – making no secret of an ambition to take yet more business from the two independent grocers that still thrive here.

The character of my community is defined in large part by the independent merchants who operate here. Many of these small-business owners have made ...

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The oppression of the wrong quadrants

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This is so simple, so obvious, it probably doesn’t need to be stated. Except that I first heard it a couple decades ago and have used it every day since. So maybe a brief mention:

The Productivity Matrix is a simple tool that helps you make sure you’re doing the right work at the right time.

Stephen Covey had a matrix ...

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3 local marketing best practices: Be seen, be known, be remembered

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Success in marketing isn’t about finding the one thing that works; it’s about cultivating a range of activities that, cumulatively, bring in the customers you need. Some of the best activities cost little and exploit your own interests.

Here are examples from 3 Cleveland Heights businesses that do a good job at making themselves seen, known and remembered:

Community involvement: Every year on New Year’s Day, Tommy’s Restaurant hosts a ...

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Social media marketing: Where to start

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Most business owners rightly feel they have better things to do than play around with social media.

At the same time, it’s not an exaggeration to say social media has revolutionized marketing. It allows any business to engage in “content marketing” – essentially developing its own audience at little or no cost, and engaging with them to drive interest in sales. To ignore this is to ignore the behavior of your customers and prospects.

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Exploiting the ‘Best of the Heights Awards’

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Nominations have begun for the 2013 Best of the Heights Awards. If  your business is located in Cleveland Heights or University Heights, this local recognition program provides an opportunity for free and low-cost marketing. Here’s how this year’s program works, and how to take advantage of it in your business:

How it works

The program is a little bit different this year. It’s being run in 2 rounds. First is an open nomination period ...

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A single metric to compare different publications

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You’ve received quotes for advertising from two publications or websites; one wants to charge $150 and the other $350. How do you know which is the better deal?

Creating an apples-for-apples comparison between different publications is difficult because it involves so many variables.

The most common calculation for this job is cost-per-thousand (CPM), which measures the amount of money it takes to reach 1,000 people. You can use it for any medium ...

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The need for local news

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I think Seth Godin is brilliant and I love his blog. But he misses a pretty big point in this post:

Understanding local media

Essentially, he is saying that newspapers must now serve communities of special interests. (Right so far.)

But then he largely dismisses the special interest of a community based on geography.

Here’s the problem: Seth Godin’s brilliance is based on being outside the box. He is a wonder when it comes to seeing things from a different perspective and ignoring ...

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Advertising 101: Frequency v. size v. color

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If money were easy to come by, every ad would run in every issue as a full page. But a buck is hard to make and compromises are a fact of life.

So what’s more important: running a big ad or running an ad often?

Advertising – any advertising, whether print, online or broadcast – works best through repetition. Look at it this way: You know that if you send a direct mail piece or a mass e-mail, only a small percentage of ...

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It’s 2013; get a website already

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If you ask a room-full of small business owners whether they have a website, a surprisingly large number will look you straight in the eye and say, “I don’t need one.”

This group tends to include some of the smallest businesses, like handymen, gutter cleaners and house painters. But it also includes a surprising number of businesses with higher overhead and more at stake: mechanics, limousine services, even some restaurants and retailers.

But today, a website is like a telephone and a ...

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