Like many of you, as the new year approaches, I find myself looking to the future. In 2020, the Kirksville Area Chamber of Commerce will mark its 105th birthday and I will complete my 11th year as the director. The wonderful thing about an organization that has been around that long is our history. We have a well-respected history.
History influences the future. In my short time here I’ve seen ideas surface and as we began to explore them someone in our midst knew it had been presented in the past and whether or not the outcome was successful. Unfortunately, because of our age, most of those early leaders are no longer here to guide us. This year we lost an incredible link to our history when Harriet Beard passed. She was a wealth of information on past projects and her passion held steady till the end. It’s unlikely her shoes will ever be filled. We will miss her.
It has been suggested that as we move forward our organization do a SOAR assessment. It’s similar to a SWOT Analysis, only it’s not reflective of our past; it’s present and future thinking. SOAR stands for Strengths, Opportunities, Aspirations and Results. I want to focus for a moment on the third letter, A for Aspirations. How does the Chamber want to be perceived? As future generations reflect on our organization, will they find it to be an organization worthy of their investment of time and resources?
I like to think of the Chamber as being the one who Connects the Dots by facilitating relationships between business and the rest of our community. Here are my own personal Aspirations for the Kirksville Area Chamber of Commerce:
I think the future looks bright and I welcome 2020 as an opportunity to serve our businesses. Are you a business owner and not yet a member, give us a call. We would love to add you to our network and help you connect the dots. Please check us out at www.kirksvillechamber.com, like us on Facebook and follow us on Instagram at KVchamberofcommerce.
From Thanksgiving to Christmas there’s a battle that occurs for consumer dollars. The big guy against the little guy, the brick-and-mortar versus the online retailer, everyone is looking for a bigger piece of the pie. It’s time to start thinking about your holiday marketing.
If you want to improve sales, mobile is it. The average person looks at their phone 46 times a day, with people in the 18-24 age bracket checking it 74 times, according to TIME magazine. They research, watch videos, make purchases, and get directions to stores. If your site isn’t mobile ready, you’re missing customers and your organic search listing is being penalized, as Google takes mobile into account.
In addition to having a mobile-friendly website, look for ways to reach your buyers on mobile. Consider deals for people looking you up on their phone. That’s a very warm lead. Do all you can to convert it to a prospect. Also, if you get moving quickly you could get your site optimized for local keywords that would help you score better in local search.
If your social media presence isn’t as strong as you like, start today. This very minute. Select three platforms and dedicate some significant time to developing a personality on them and posting and interacting with people on a regular basis. The holiday time is a great time to do this because you can push contests and there are tons of ideas for content. Aim to post several times a day and interact with people in between those times. Use a scheduler like Hootsuite. I often schedule posts during the evening hours while I’m unwinding.
Reviews are the lifeblood of a lot of businesses. Ask for them, read them, and respond to each of your reviews. Remind customers how much they mean to you and make it easy for them to do so. One local business that served ice cream used table tents to remind people of the importance of reviews to their business. That’s the perfect time because they’re sitting at the table looking at their phones anyway.
If you have a product that is conducive to it, create gift sets. There’s something about things put together in a way that is appealing. Just ask Bath & Body. Their gift sets are wildly popular and an easy go-to gift for someone who doesn’t want to put together something on their own.
Offering gift cards is a great way to sell more at the holidays. If you don’t want to handle the administrative headache of doing so, check with your chamber. They may have a local currency program where they handle the administration and your business is one of the participating merchants.
Contests are wildly popular on Facebook and Instagram, particularly picture-taking contests like “Share Pictures of Your Shopping Treasures.” It not only gets people excited about your business but also gets them talking about it for others to see. Don’t forget to use a hashtag.
A Final Word on Improving Your Holiday Sales
Sales are impulsive so let logic go. Find ways to meet customers where they are and that usually means online. Competition is fierce but if you use social media and reviews to your benefit, you can show them a different side of you and stand out from the crowd.
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Associations North (formerly Midwest Society of Association Executives’) Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Socialfish. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.