Notes from Jeff York

Small business marketing thoughts from a marketing small business owner

Posts Tagged ‘economy

Huddling the family around the Netflix box

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home_content_box1Remember gathering the family together to sit by the old radio and listening to Amos ‘n’ Andy, The Adventures of the Thin Man, and Fibber McGee & Molly? Of course not. You’re likely too young. Most of that generation is gone.

TV burst onto the screen and as a society and we still participated in that new medium as a family unit. With only a few choices to select from (and many shows ported over from radio), prime time meant prime family time.

Enter cable with the ability to deliver a myriad of programming choices. Now seeking particular demographics became feasible. Audiences fractured. Broadcast, still dominant, sees its numbers dwindle to the point that it may be impossible to top M*A*S*H’s finale even with a Superbowl broadcast.

With the further splintering effects of a society that operates at a quicker pace, family activities prevented a coming together like we had seen in the past. Even the evening dinner came a casualty.

Enter today’s economic predicament. Shaky income situations leads to reassessment of free time and differing choices on what we spend money on. The bottom line, as I wrote about before, does it have value?

At the same time is the development of IP delivered content. Through vehicles such as iTunes, Hulu, and TiVo, we can get the content we want when we want it. And with the ability to connect devices to the big screen TVs we now have in our living rooms, we’re not confined trying to watch the content on a small iPod screen or sitting at our desktop computer. We can now sit down and watch the content where it was meant to be consumed.

So, I pose this question in hopes that it sparks a conversation; if we aren’t going out as much and re-assessing how we’re spending money, does that not invite a return to the days of quality family time? If we’re able to receive content according to both our tastes and time schedules via The Netflix Player or Apple TV, could we not begin to see the opportunity as advertisers of reaching large, demographically heterogeneous audiences again?

Does it have value?

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smartcarChristmas is right around the corner and the economy is still struggling. For all the reasons that we’re all now well aware of, banks and certain manufacturing sectors are on the brink of collapse. With continual bad news bombarding us throughout the 24/7 news cycle, you would think that everyone has cut up their credit cards and stashed all their money into their mattresses.

Yet, dig through doom and gloom stories and read the fine print. People are still spending money. What’s changed is the amount and the rational behind each purchase. What’s the driving force?

Value.

People aren’t spending money on new cars. People are spending money to keep their current cars on the road. People aren’t spending money on new houses. People are spending money on fixing up their current home and making it their castle. People aren’t spending money on vacations. People are spending money on high definition TVs and surround sound systems.

Why? People see value in these types of purchases. Keeping your current car on the road is cheaper in the long run than simply buying a new car when facing a big repair bill. Fixing up your home today makes your home more livable today and more valuable tomorrow. Vacations are nights out on the town are great, but night’s in with a nice TV and a sound system that rivals the theater is cheaper in the long run (really, how much is microwave popcorn?).

But you’re a business owner. How do you take advantage of this shift in thinking?

Simple. How do you project value of your goods and services to the customer? If you’re thinking about packing in your marketing efforts because of the economy causes you to believe that you can’t make money, then you’re examining your marketing efforts from the wrong angle. Talking about how your goods/services are cheaper doesn’t mean value. Today’s consumer is happy to spend more today for something that will perfectly suit their needs and last a long time.

Here’s an example. When gas broke the $4/gallon mark, you might have thought that owning a Smart Car dealership would be like printing money. Here’s a street legal car that drove forever between fill-ups. Once the initial wow-factor wore off, people took a good look at the car. It is an impractical two-seater with just enough room for the driver and his lunch. Consequently, it’s been months since I’ve seen one on the road. No value.

Focus on the value you offer your customers. Play up what’s in it for them. And keep marketing. The pie is smaller. If you want the same amount of income, you have a take a bigger slice of the smaller pie. That means taking from your competition. How do you do that? Smart Marketing.

It’s sink or swim time

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cmswim_article_wideweb__470x3910The election’s finally over and the economy is still the topic at the top of the news. Besides business issues which I have talked about previously, individual families are also continuing to feel the pressures. After all, a family is like a business with incomes and outflows, profit and loss.

During these difficult times, people are turning to the Internet for information on how to deal with their particular problems. I was thinking that this week would be the perfect opportunity to share with others what you are doing to keep your family’s proverbial head above water. Are you currently in the market for another position? Are you thinking of picking up a part-time job? How secure do you feel in your current position and what are you doing to make yourself invaluable?

I hope that you share. During these trying times, we all need to stick together.

Written by Jeff York

November 8, 2008 at 3:18 pm

Climbing the ladder

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For a moment, let’s pretend that the fundamentals of the economy are strong.

How are you climbing the ladder these days?

That has got to be one of the most difficult tasks facing professionals during the best of times. As you approach management positions and beyond, the opportunities start to get smaller and more competitive. As part of a group in their late 30’s to early 40’s, my generation has been trailing behind the baby-boomers our whole lives. This is a generation now looking toward retirement (remember, we’re pretending the fundamentals of the economy are strong). Behind us are the ultra-me Gen Y generation looking to either move up or move on quickly.

What do you do to position yourself to take that next step? What challenges are you facing and what are you doing to prepare? Do you have any stories to share about how you’ve successfully negotated this path?

Written by Jeff York

October 25, 2008 at 11:40 am

Marketing in a difficult economy

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As a business owner, current economic times provide you with endless challenges and possibly sleepless nights. When you’re worried about dwindling sales and if your bank is going to pull your credit line, it’s hard to think about growth. Ever wonder what the smart business owners are thinking about during these turbulant times?

How do I grow market share?

There it is. The smart businesses around us are thinking about turning these challenges into an opportunity. They are getting the message out there about their goods and services. They are developing top-of-mind awareness in the public at a time when their competitors are pulling marketing dollars off the table. Why? Exactly for that reason. The best time to build market share is when there’s no opposition.

In the past, I’ve written about cutting through the clutter and getting your message heard. Times like these make that task much easier. Fewer messages mean it’s easier to remember yours. Put your message out there. Repeat it over and over. If you do that, what do you think will happen?

In a recovery situation, you will be miles ahead of your competition. You will have built tremendous value in your brand and increased your opportunity to gain market share.

I know it’s hard to think along these lines when it seems like the sky is falling and money is tightest. But this truly is an opportunistic time. If you’re thinking about cutting back on your marketing budget, I would caution you to perhaps examine your strategies and concentrate your efforts to maximize success. If you’re thinking about cutting your marketing budget altogether, I have a message for you from your competitors:

Thank you.