John Gifford

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16 11, 2011

What’s the Key to Successfully Marketing Your Business? You Need to be Consistent

By |2017-03-03T12:07:07-05:00November 16th, 2011|Categories: Blog|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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Marketing and advertising are illusions for many people; their theory, throw something against the wall and hope it will stick. Not so according to Alan Baker, President and Founder of Creative Marketing Concepts in Latham, New York. Alan,  a guest on my radio show  gave me the scoop on what it takes to make it work. By the way, provides information and tools for small business; look for blogs and podcasts by authors like myself who work with small businesses.

“Good marketing starts with good communication, says Alan, you must know who you are, what you do and know why a client should do business with you if you want to make it work. After that it takes lots of persistence and focus. With business being soft many companies start cutting expenses and often the first to go is the marketing. Businesses should cut programs that don’t show results but a good marketing program should be measurable. ”

Alan’s positive outlook shows in how he works with businesses. The key is to spread the word so that people know who you are even if times are tough. There are still customers with money and your job is to find them and entice them with your offers. A promotional piece is designed to provide added value to your customer and keep your business in the front of their mind. One of the things I found interesting is what Alan calls the “hobo pen.” I thought people bought pens so they could give them out for their customers to use. Alan assures me that the pen’s job is to travel from business to business and eventually wind up in a buyer’s hand. His trick; sign the restaurant   check with their pen and replace it with his pen!

Alan left us with three tips for using promotional materials that are worth noting:

1. Promotional materials are good for all size companies. Even the littlest of companies should have something to give their customers which has their brand and their logo. Products will successfully get your name out and keep it prominent in the market. I know whenever I pick up a pen, I always look at the name and the design of the pen. Promotional items can range from the usual coffee mugs, magnets, blankets, first aid kits and toys. In my case, I bought hot sauce bottles and Alan had a Red Hot Customer Service label made for me and a photo of my book.

2. Think about “spreading your name around” wherever you can. The object of promotional products is to maximize your profits and your investment. Before you choose your products set precise goals for your promotion. This will help you choose the right products for your business. Are you using the products to increase sales, show appreciation to loyal customers or to thank customers for buying your products? Not one size fits all so it’s important to have set goals.

3. Plan your promotions for the year. It’s wise to have a calendar for the year so you can plan how to spend your dollars. Holidays often mean larger expenditures, especially for your better customers so it’s wise to know what you have to spend.  Alan often helps his clients plan for the holidays as well as creating new ones for his customers. If Buca di Beppo can have a “Meatball Day” why can’t a mechanic have a “Wrench Day” and send out tiny wrenches with his name on them?

4. Get involved in Small Business Saturday.  This year (again)  it’s all about the SATURDAY following Thanksgiving when we continue to show our gratitude by supporting the lifeline of the American economy – our small businesses.  According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, there were nearly 28 million small businesses in the United States last year.  Over the past two decades, they created 65 percent of net new jobs.  Directly supporting the communities in which we live, every $100 spent in locally-owned, independent stores, $68 returns to the community through taxes, payroll and other expenditures, according to the small business advocacy group The 3/50 Project. My suggestion, go big, go Made in America, tout your small business and be proud of what small businesses have done for our country.

You don’t have to make this one up; American Express is out there again waving the flag for small business and investing plenty of dollars in our behalf. According to the Small Business Saturday Consumer Spend Survey 2011 61% of consumers plan to shop at locally-owned clothing and accessories stores on November 26.

Check out on Facebook  for  Shop Small on November 26th.

Marketing tools and instore signage :

You still have a few days left to get the “traveling pen” out there for Small Business Saturday.


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10 07, 2011

Part Two:When Change is in the Wind–Change! John Gifford

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00July 10th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Competitive Advantage|Tags: , , , , , , , |Comments Off on Part Two:When Change is in the Wind–Change! John Gifford

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John Fifford, publisher of "Indy Smallbiz"

When change happens, change.

This is a continuation of my  interview with John Gifford, publisher of “Indy Smallbiz.Indy.” John purchased a newspaper in 2008 and almost immediately realized that the present newspaper format was not where he wanted to be. With that in mind, John moved on to creating his “tribe” of people and what he calls  his “Boutique Marketing.” 

John you really had to take a leap,  how did you know what to do?

I didn’t know what to do but if you want to know what to do just ask your customers.  Unfortunately if the customer wants something different, no one wants to listen. We talk about customer service but it really begins when you start to listen to what customer’s want and then develop a model to make it happen. I was also looking for something that was exhilarating and I really liked. So my strategy was to rule out what I hated and focused on what I liked and what I felt I could do.

I started  Simon Sinek’s  model from his book, “Start with Why.” All organizations and careers function on 3 levels. What you do, how you do it and why you do it.  The problem is, most don’t even know that “Why” exists. In other words, ask yourself, what drives you? This is the impetus that will get you going in the right direction. 

Wilbur Wright was looking for a way for man to fly. He broke it into parts solving one problem and then on to the next. I identify with Wilbur Wright’s motivation: I like to solve problems. The problem I am solving now is how to use a publishing site as an “attractor,” both for readers, as well as authors. By helping  the authors to share their expertise online, readers will be drawn to their expert skills for meeting their business needs. Add a cross-promotional approach in which the authors promote each others’ articles via social media and email lists and you add a targeted increase in readers – readers that count, those who are already customers of other authors’ businesses. Deepen the connection with Radio programs hosted by the online authors and you are talking about a tightened bond through another means of communication, one that can provide immediate interaction between listener and host (otherwise known as author on the online publishing site).

See what is driving you; what really motivates you. I invented a new shoestring at age  5 , later on in my varied and checkered career I went on to work out a complex delivery model that needed to be solved for social services, and have been solving problems ever since, but until a little under a year ago I didn’t clearly identify to myself what was really driving me and motivating me.

Life is all about finding solutions. It sounds like the next phase will be very exciting and I’m glad to be a recipient of John’s problem solving mind and ideas for the future.

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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6 07, 2011

When Change Is In the Wind, Change. Part One

By |2017-03-03T12:07:08-05:00July 6th, 2011|Categories: Blog, Customer Service|Tags: , , , , , , , , |2 Comments

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Change will occur with or without youI met John Gifford the way we meet everyone these days, through the internet. Actually I tagged John in one of my blog posts and he called me. With only a couple of years in the newspaper industry, John realized he would have to change. His take on “print” is different than most newspapers and magazines.

I found it very inspiring, it’s all about change. I hope it gives you some ideas.

John Gifford is publisher of “Indy Smallbiz. Indy Smallbiz  is the new monthly news magazine that will focus on the needs and interests of the small business community in Indianapolis.

“The aim of Indy Smallbiz is to help businesses grow and increase their profits. As you read our news magazine, we want you to learn something new to help your business or to appropriate a business strategy from one of our stories into your own business. Foremost, we want our publication to evoke action on your part.” – John Gifford

John Gifford is an interesting man with unusual vision and foresight. As the newspaper industry was drastically changing, John was too.

John, originally you were in the newspaper business but only for a short time.

I had a print newspaper from 2008 until January 2010. I realized that all print was being affected by the internet so I looked for a niche to fill. Most publications were focusing on large businesses so I decided to look at small businesses. In Indianapolis there are 60,000 businesses and 45,000  (the small ones) were being overlooked. I realized they needed help and so I decided to reach out to them. My idea was to establish the model, clone it and take it across the country.

What did you do when you saw that print publications were losing their appeal?

I tried to get them to move to online advertising but it was a tough push, but I continued to focus on my website. I knew that print was going away.

What did you see as the problem?

In 1880  the predominant market was selling whale oil lamps and then Edison came in with the light bulb. In 2009 and 2010 I was still selling whale oil and whale oil lamps (print advertising) when the online tip-point came;  on top of that came social media. It’s all like swimming upstream with weights on. Why do that? I changed my approach in 2010, dropped the print edition,  and concentrated my efforts on to increase readership and connectivity. The online delivery system has no printing costs or costly distribution. It is based on creativity rather than dollars. Generation X and Y are tipping the balance against the traditional way of getting the message out. Everyday there are more and more online venues. I don’t need a zillion customers, I just need to cover a narrow area and make it deep. Small businesses: realize that marketing is the key to your business.

It’s not good enough to “be good.” You now have to be good at what matters. You don’t need brute force (dollars);  just find the system and spend the time. Being good won’t help you unless you find something to be good at; today it’s continually changing.

People will come by word of mouth, and today everyone is in charge of their own marketing and marketing remains the key to success. The competition is mind boggling because of the internet. I like to problem solve and the rest I will outsource to my “tribe.”

Do you have a name for your model?

I call the new model “Boutique Marketing” made up of “a tribe” of people who can work together and impact various customers and businesses. I have put together my “tribe,” a simple group of like minded people, added social media to the mix and have my new business partners. Instead of print with advertising we will all work together in a collaborative way to add value and grow this new model.

Stay tuned for the rest of the article and John’s Boutique Marketing ideas.

Lisbeth Calandrino is an award winning author, trainer and blogger. She is  author of the book, Red Hot Customer Service, 35 ways to heat up your business and ignite your sales. Lisbeth can provide speaking or customer service/ sales training using the principles of her book at your place of business or through video conferences.

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