I’ve done it before, and I’m doing it again. I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again.
Back in April, 2016, I wrote another rebuttal article entitled, It’s NOT the “Economy” – It’s Your Bad Business Decisions. This article was in response to a USA Today article naming Farmington as the “fastest-shrinking city in America. I called bullshit – and I’m sticking by that.
Now, our local news channel is echoing the sentiment of many local business owners with a new story: State’s petroleum downturn affecting other businesses. The story isn’t actually new . . . the Daily Times wrote an article about 5 days earlier offering the same story: RedBrick Pizza in danger of closing its doors.
I only found the Daily Times article because of the KOB story – I don’t usually get wind of Daily Times articles.
Once again, I don’t agree with this new story – and here’s why:
State's petroleum downturn affecting other businessesThe KOB news story is here.
While there is no doubt that our local RedBrick pizza place is in danger of closing, the reason stated is false.
Sure . . . we are feeling the impact of the downturn in our local energy industries . . . but when you combine that with a strong resistance from local business owners to re-evaluate their outdated marketing strategies, you can’t place the blame solely on the shoulders of the energy industry.
What Happened to RedBrick Pizza?
To those of us who don’t know Matthew Brandt (I’m sure he’s a great guy), we were left out in the cold.
My girlfriend and I used to be regular customers of the local RedBrick. That is . . . until they suddenly closed the doors . . . leaving us out in the cold. It was a mystery that was never solved for us. We developed other habits while it was closed. We found other places that we liked.
When RedBrick re-opened it’s doors, we had no idea they were open once again. I’m not sure when we discovered that they had re-opened . . . but we didn’t see or hear anything about the re-opening. I think we heard from a friend of a friend who said they thought they might be open again.
One day, we gave them a call . . . sure enough . . . they were open. We started going again . . . but probably only about 1/4 of the visits that we used to make (at best). The polish was gone, their competition ate up their business, and we have different habits now.
Apparently, there were some other problems that frustrated customers. I missed those problems . . . because I visit other establishments.
“It’s [NOT] the economy”
A quote from the Daily Times article states: “Mahan believes the main factor in the pizzeria’s declining traffic is the downturn in the oil and gas industry.”
I hear this over . . . and over . . . and over again in this local business community.
I see business owners that are not checking off the marketing boxes needed for a strong business. I see these same business owners pumping money into outdated and ineffective advertising methods – leaving them no marketing budget for the things that work. These outdated methods don’t work – and when they yield no result, the conjured answer is usually “It’s the economy.”
I watch this happen while I watch their competition make the right moves and take their customers. When I approach and ask questions, I’m met with “It’s the economy.”
“It’s the economy” is an easy scapegoat. It’s out of your control and there’s nothing you can do but hope. But hope doesn’t pay the bills. Smart, calculated business decisions pay the bills.
The question that may keep you from closing your doors
On what is your marketing budget being spent? If your answer includes these:
- Ad in phone book
- Ad in magazine
- Ad in newspaper
If your answer includes the bullets above, there is a good chance you are wasting your marketing budget – and that a complete halt of all of that activity would actually put you in a BETTER position because your expenses would decrease with little to no affect on your revenue.
The Coffee Example
A few years back, I was chatting with the owner of a local coffee shop (that I really liked). The digital footprint of this coffee shop was very weak – almost non-existent. And there was no marketing strategy in place – no marketing funnel.
Business was slow. I heard the same thing I’ve heard from too many business owners . . . “It’s the economy.”
At the very moment this business owner said this to me, their competition was raking it in. Starbucks was seemingly having no difficulty (I don’t go there), and Durango Joes was packed every time I visited.
Fast forward . . . that coffee shop no longer exists . . . and Durango Joes opened a THIRD location in town about a month ago.
Was it REALLY the economy?
When an economy is in a slow-down, it’s even more important to only spend your marketing budget on methods that make you money. Most likely (there are always rare exceptions), the money you spend on print is wasted money. Spending money on print ads in phone books, magazines, and newspapers – and postcards and flyers – almost guarantees that you spend your budget on something that will not give you a return. It also leaves no room to budget for the things that will make you money.
Get your digital presence in order! In this day and age – this is VITAL. It is not a changing world – this world has already changed. The change already happened – and there’s no going back.
- Get your social media presence in order – at least Facebook.
- Begin to create or claim your directory listings – there are 100+ across the Internet – and ensure they all contain correct information.
- If you are a B2C business (business to consumer as opposed to business to business), you must encourage, monitor, and manage your online customer reviews on all review sites (there are many).
- Be sure you have an up-to-date website that works on mobile – it MUST work properly on mobile or you WILL lose business.
- Abandon your desire to have a “brochure” website, and turn it into a marketing machine – one that offers your visitors something they want or solves a problem for them in exchange for gathering information about them.
- Have a campaign in place that reaches out to a cold market – those people who have never heard of you. Do not sell to this audience – just introduce yourself.
- Have a follow-up campaign in place that capitalizes on your cold market efforts by re-targeting your cold market responses with warm offers to generate leads.
- Have a lead nurture campaign in place that educates your leads, builds trust, and helps them arrive at a buying decision that includes you.
- Have a campaign in place that makes offers to your warm market (your leads).
- Have a loyalty program in place that builds loyalty with anybody who purchases from you.
- Have a hot campaign in place that develops more sales from your new customers.
These are the basics of a marketing funnel. If you do not have all of these elements in place, you are losing business.
If your marketing plan consists of placing a print ad anywhere or boosting a post on Facebook asking for a sale, you have failed. You have failed your business, and you have failed your customers. You may maintain a small group of already-loyal customers, but as soon as somebody who is doing all these things correctly comes along . . . you may find that they will leave you too.
The restaurant business is big in Farmington. There are over 100 restaurants in town so there are plenty of choices – more than enough choices. I drive through East Main several times a day and most evenings. The restaurants are busy. I frequent several of these restaurants. They are busy.
Are these restaurants making record profits? Probably not – we are in an economic slow-down. But here’s the key . . . there are more restaurants opening than there are restaurants who are closing. With a slower economy and increased competition – you better be on your “A Game” or you could be in danger of closing.
There are restaurants (and other businesses) in town who are in absolutely no danger of closing. They may not be bringing in record profits, but they are doing enough business to keep things rolling. In fact, some businesses are doing better than ever.
One of my clients (a small, local auto dealership) is just finishing off their best year ever. I don’t believe it’s any coincidence that they are checking off many digital marketing checkboxes.
These successful businesses all exist in the same economy as the few that are in danger of closing. “It’s the economy” is a blanket statement – and one that includes everyone in your industry. If you make the statement, “It’s the economy,” and your competition is doing much better than you . . . guess what . . . it’s not the economy . . . it’s you.
And by making this statement, believing it, and sticking by it to the bitter end . . . you are actually helping to create “this economy.”
Is the “State’s petroleum downturn” putting a local pizza shop in danger of closing? You’ve just heard the complicated answer. The simple answer is . . . NO.
“Look for the Solution Instead of Something to Blame”
Ken Drives video segment
Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Too often, we’re quick to look for something to blame for slow business instead of identifying the problem and finding a solution. If your competitors are doing things that you’re not, and they’re doing more business than you . . . you need to fix that – not blame something that’s out of your control.
“Go Where the Eyeballs Are”
Ken Drives video segment
Thursday, December 1, 2016
You can’t have it both ways! You can’t say there’s no value in digital marketing AND complain that everybody’s face is always stuck in their phone. Take a look around. When was the last time you saw somebody reading a newspaper? Count the times and compare that to the amount of times you saw somebody staring at their phone. The rule has been the same for many decades – you go where the eyeballs are!
How Customer Reviews are Either Hurting or Helping Your Restaurant Business
Owner, Ken Collins Marketing
Ken has been deeply embedded in the world of public relations and marketing since 1990. Since that time, he’s worked in 3 countries, 15 states, and has excelled in 30 jobs for 17 companies before using that knowledge to leave the traditional work place and form his own marketing company in 2012.
Ken has developed his public relations and marketing strategies through his work with federal government, local government, corporate business, and small business. He’s worked with budgets that contained millions of dollars – and he’s worked with budgets that found it difficult to squeeze out a few hundred dollars. He has been using the Internet for marketing since the mid 1990’s, and he gets better at it every year.
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