Zeitgeist Marketing: NYSC Takes a Cue from Weinergate

In previous posts, I've discussed the importance of paying attention to your target audience's changing needs, keeping an eye on what your competition is doing and taking advantage of Proximity Marketing as opportunities present themselves. Today, I want to share an example of what I call Zeitgeist Marketing, or creating key messages that reflect current events or trends at the forefront of our collective consciousness. While out and about in Manhattan the other day, I came across this sign in the window of a Midtown NYSC (see photo):

politicians, get in shape for your next scandalous photo.

Pump up your approval ratings. Join now for our special summer rates.

The sign's snarky copy stems from the recent Anthony Weiner Twitter photo scandal. But the subhead "Pump up your approval ratings" further speaks to the run-up to the 2012 elections and also includes a double entendre in the verb phrase. From concept to execution, this campaign — you'll have to excuse that pun — is brilliant.

Use the News in Your Copywriting & Design

Whether you're an entrepreneur, a small business owner, a national chain or a global enterprise, consider how what's happening in the news, in pop culture or in your community affects your target market. Or, as in the NYSC example, use it to craft your message toward a potential new audience.

Of course, you'll want to be careful not to offend your potential customers by crossing the line into vulgarity. NYSC avoids this caveat with aplomb.

While you may have your marketing plan for the entire year mapped out, promos can be just as mutable as your customers' tastes. Don't merely stick to what's worked for you in the past. Look to the world beyond your URL or your brick-and-mortar store — attention-grabbing, of-the-moment taglines await.

Onward,

Carla

Converse with me on Twitter.

Comparatively Speaking: The Positioning Tell-All

When it comes to marketing, how you position your company in relation to your competitors can speak volumes about your business, and also set its course for success. Conversely, if not kept in check, how you speak about your business can deter prospects from becoming repeat customers.

That’s why in addition to marketing materials, many companies create specific language (sometimes an entire vocabulary) for staff to use when speaking directly with customers.

So how best to position your business against your competitors? Let’s explore a scenario.

The Lowest Common Denominator A customer walks into your retail shop — a chocolate shop, for example — and while the customer does enjoy the products, she raises a health concern over the way the chocolate is handled. One way you wouldn’t expect the shop owner to defend his shop is by saying,

Misguided, yes, but across many industries, from manufacturing to retail food to professional services, I’ve heard this rationalization used often. I understand the desired effect is to pump up the company as compared to a competitor’s poor practices, but this reply does little to instill confidence in the well-meaning customer’s eyes, and it certainly doesn’t build loyalty. Such statements are meant to deflect attention from the matter at hand, leaving the customer feeling empty, invalidated and, most importantly, perhaps unwilling to grant the business owner with repeat business. It’s essentially a distraction technique, and it’s not a good one.

Compare Up, Not Down Just as playing a sport with players who are better than you makes you work harder to play up to their level, business owners should make realistic comparisons that push them to get better and better at what they do.

Take time to think which companies out there have a mission statement that’s similar to yours or operations that serve as a model for your company; those are the businesses you should be emulating in your daily practices, in the tone of your marketing messages and in your interactions with customers. Telling people your establishment is “the neighborhood’s answer to Starbucks” is a respectable and easily understood comparison.

Decide on Your Differentiator So what can you, as a small-business owner, say to position your business, and how can you say it in ways that build up your business while remaining respectful of other establishments? You need to determine your differentiator — what sets you apart from the competition. Some common considerations:

1. Emphasize Your Value

If price is what sets you apart, then emphasize your affordability when speaking of your competition. And remember, emphasizing price doesn’t mean that your product or service lacks quality; perhaps you provide most of the value at a fraction of the cost. In downtown Harrison, Paul’s Cleaners, 368 Halstead Ave., is able to offer 30 percent less than the competition for quality service, and that is how they position themselves.

2. Emphasize Your Service

Perhaps you provide such exceptional service that the difference in price is well worth it. Say you’re looking to display a special photo or piece of art. If you go to your local picture framer — for example, Igor at Masterpiece Framing, 243 Halstead Ave. — you’ll pay more than if you were to pick up a cheap frame at Target, but the value is far greater. What you’re getting in return for your investment is the skill of a craftsman who takes great pride in finding your perfect look, as well as someone who stands behind every frame he sells, so you know your special photo will remain a treasure for all to see.

3. Emphasize Your Quality

Is there an aspect of your business besides price or service that sets you apart from the competition? Perhaps it’s a restaurant’s unique ambiance. Or it could be that your food is gluten-free, like 97 Lake in West Harrison, which also emphasizes that none of its dishes are frozen; every item on the menu is fresh and cooked to order. For many people, that will be the selling point that gets them in the door.

Talk Back Once you’ve determined what your value proposition is, you’ll be able to say it with confidence when speaking to customers about how you hold up against your competition. Give it a try, and e-mail me if you need help crafting yours!

Now get to it,

Carla

Visit saidandsung.com.

NOTE: This column was originally published in The Harrison Report. It is being reprinted here with additional photos.

Is Your Business Twitter-Fated? All Signs Point to Yes!

As a follow-up to our Forward Motion radio show on Tuesday, Nov. 16, in which host Carmen Carrozza and I discussed online marketing with INDIEbusiness entrepreneur Donna Maria Coles Johnson, I'd like to emphasize the overlying message we were trying to convey to business owners:

IF YOU'RE NOT ON TWITTER YET, YOU SHOULD BE.

Doesn't matter what product you're peddling or service you're selling; Donna Maria made it rather clear that every business can up its value by using Twitter to reach out to customers, fans and the general public, in hopes of making true connections with them — connections that foster long-term growth for your company, because common interests and circumstances (discoverable through social media likes, tweets, posts and comments) bring people together. Once relationships are established, you never know when that connection will lead to a sale or another opportunity for you or your company.

THE NO-FEAR APPROACH TO TWITTER

When I asked Donna Maria what she would say to a business owner who is afraid that he or she can't think of anything valuable to say on Twitter, or is afraid of not being able to dish out enough content, she summed up her answer in 3 words: "Get over it." She reassured our listeners that their tweets don't have to be pithy, or even industry-related for that matter. Simply sharing your favorite ice cream flavor, she said, can lead to a true connection.

Read Donna Maria's excellent blog post about how to "Get Over It" and get going on expanding your customer base through social media by clicking here or clicking the image below.

QUICK STUDY

Afraid you don't know the lingo or how to find others on Twitter or how to use keywords? Twitter provides a great getting-started section for businesses. The best way, however, is just to dive in and get started. You'll catch on simply by watching how other businesses use the space.

And to read up on etiquette, check out The Morning News' savvy guide to polite Twitter usage.

To listen to our Forward Motion conversation with Donna Maria, download the podcast.

LET'S CONNECT!

Follow me on Twitter and I'll be happy to follow you too. Can't wait to see you get started!

See you soon,

Carla "Mint Chocolate Chip" Fisher

Shop Talk: Holiday Shopping (and Promotion) Starts Here

The following was originally published in The Harrison Report on Nov. 5, 2010.

Shop Talk Business happenings in and around Harrison

Written by Carla Rose Fisher

Thursday, 5 November 2010

In West Harrison…

UNIQUE IN NEW YORK: Shop Talk's first reader write-in recommendation prompted me to visit West Harrison last week. Walking into 23 Taylor Square, I discovered a gift wonderland that smells like Christmas.

Taylor Square Shoppe can serve as an example for retail storeowners, especially for ideas on how to bump up store traffic and holiday sales. And since we all have holiday shopping to do ourselves, you should stop in and view the store’s unique offerings, because you just may find you don’t need to shop anywhere else.

It’s amazing how many items 750 sq. ft. can hold. Turns out, the wonderful aroma upon my entering was the Frasier Fir scent in the Thymes candle line, also available in hand lotion and other products.

Owner Maria Anella opened the shop five months ago, and is planning a grand opening in mid-November, just in time for the holidays. Having managed the Chilmark Gift Gallery at Prescription Plus in Briarcliff for the past 12 years, Anella jumped at the chance to open a gift gallery in West Harrison, where she’s lived for 20 years.

“I love this community, and I fill my store with things I love,” she said. “It really is my dream store, and I love what I do.”

As a local merchant and mother to a son who came up through the school system, Anella continues to be a hands-on volunteer. She’ll soon be joining the community neighborhood watch and the newly reopened Harrison Chamber of Commerce. During each of the weekly neighborhood car shows over the summer, Anella gave away $25 gift cards. At last week’s Halloween parade, she gave away Silly Bandz to the kids. She knows that freebies are a great way to get customers in the door.

When choosing which items to carry, Anella considers her customers. “I like to find things that are different, and I think, ‘What’s a great gift for a great price?’” Here you’ll find stylish gifts starting at $3. And handbags start at $24. Kids can shop for inexpensive gifts for mom and dad, grandma and grandpa. Bosses can shop for company gifts. No matter the recipient, Anella has great taste: A bracelet she carries was featured in last month’s issue of InStyle magazine.

A sampling of what you’ll find at Taylor Square Shoppe: accessories like scarves, including pashminas; jewelry, from funky costume jewelry to high-end designers like Judith Jack and Crislu, as well as vintage lines like Annie Koplik and Clara Beau; tween gifts; boys’ gifts; baby gifts; men’s and women’s watches; wallets; handbags by former Vera Bradley designer Stephanie Dawn; Lolita wine and martini glasses; the Tea Forte line of silk-infused tea; fancy walking canes; Voluspa candles; lint-free flour sack kitchen towels; and greeting cards, from the popular Champagne line to homemade cards, including handmade cards by Samantha Shopovick, a ninth-grader at Harrison High School.

A certified pharmacy technician in her former career, Anella is huge on customer service. It’s why she offers free gift-wrapping and free local delivery (including downtown Harrison, White Plains, North White Plains and North Castle), why she takes pride in creating custom gift baskets and why she offers discounts — seniors and teachers receive 10 percent off, as does anyone visiting the store for the first time. She also ships.

During my visit, store patron Marie Tedeschi came in for her custom-ordered gift basket. “I’m not normally a shopper, but Maria makes it so easy,” Tedeschi said. “She comes up with beautiful ideas all the time. I just love this store; it’s so convenient to have this here.”

Gift baskets are Anella’s specialty. For individuals and companies, she fills them with Ferrara products and other Italian imports and items carefully chosen for the recipient. She also creates fruit baskets, baby baskets and wedding baskets.

A smart marketer, Anella maintains a mailing list for sending postcards with valuable offers, and her son helped her post flyers throughout Park Lane. Since marketing changes with the times, Anella knew she needed to be on Facebook when she was shopping online and saw the ubiquitous “Find us on Facebook” tagline. She’s received great responses from her Facebook page, especially from Harrison teachers.

Holiday hours are Monday-Wednesday 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Thursday and Friday, 12-9 p.m., and Saturday 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Call 914-949-3800.

Talk Back

In what ways have you reached out to customers in your community? Are there promotion ideas aside from those discussed in this article that have been effective for your business? Comment and share!

Shop Talk TipTime to Post Your Holiday Hours

Even in October, I started seeing signs in storefronts advertising holiday hours, the most creative being Quizno’s, on the corner of Halstead and Harrison avenues: “Quiz the Season.” Posting holiday hours early lets your customers know you care about their busy schedules so they can plan errands accordingly. Be sure to post the holidays you observe, not just Thanksgiving and Christmas, so your customers know you won’t be open on those days. Read more on my previous post about tips for posting holiday hours.

Carla Rose Fisher is a freelance writer and Web consultant who specializes in marketing for small businesses and startups. She is also an award-winning songwriter and is on the Executive Board of the Harrison Chamber of Commerce.

Need help with your company's marketing and promotions? Visit saidandsung.com.

Returning to Forward Motion Radio Show

Tune in today (Oct. 12) at 4 p.m. EDT, as I make my third appearance on life and business coach Carmen Carrozza's "Forward Motion" radio show. You can listen live on 1490 AM WGCH.

As always, Carmen and I will discuss how we can assist small businesses and entrepreneurs in their marketing plan efforts. Listen in and call us at 203-661-5051 with your questions!

Cheers,

Carla

Husky Ways to Cross-Promote Sponsorships

The following was originally published in The Harrison Report on Sept. 30, 2010. Click to download a PDF of printed version of the paper.

Shop Talk

Business happenings in and around Harrison

Written by Carla Rose Fisher

Thursday, 30 September 2010 12:54
A BANNER START TO THE SCHOOL YEAR: My small-business heart was all aflutter a few weeks ago when those “Home of the Huskies” banners began appearing throughout the downtown area. To see the outpouring of support for our school athletics is a wonderful thing, plus the banners just make Harrison look so pretty. And guess what? More are on the way!The second shipment is due later this week, according to Lola Alvora, of the Harrison Booster Club. Her son, Duke, is a senior football player at Harrison High School. Alvora and two other Booster Club moms came up with the idea – Robin Basciano and Stacie Bogdany, whose daughters, Alexa (senior) and Angelica (freshman), respectively, are cheerleaders at the high school.

“We’ve seen banners like this in college towns and in a town in [New] Jersey,” Alvaro said. “When we saw these towns supporting their teams, we thought, ‘How about us?’” Initially, the Boosters had planned to keep the banners up until Christmas, but are hoping to keep them up longer, pending Town Board approval. They would also love to make this an annual event.

The banners represent any and all sports, plus band families. “They not only beautify the town, but also let any kid who participates in sports or activities know just how supportive the town is,” said Alvaro. In all, 95 banners have been sponsored, 50 percent by businesses and 50 percent by families and individuals.

The downtown banners were set to stretch along both sides of Halstead Avenue from St. Gregory’s on Broadway to the new flooring store near Parsons Street, but when they ran out of poles, the Booster Club decided to also make use of both sides of Harrison Avenue. Seven banners are up in West Harrison. Mayor Joan Walsh helped Alvora in her efforts to implement the idea, and also sponsored a banner, at the southeast corner of Halstead and Harrison avenues.

“These banners are for anybody who wants to just plain support the town,” Alvaro said. “The fact that Mayor Walsh and Judge Marc Lust’s family each sponsored banners wasn’t political; rather, because they simply love the Huskies.”

Funds raised from the banners will go to anything the teams need, as determined by the coaches. A portion of the money will also be given back to Harrison in another beautifying way, to buy flowers to plant in some empty flowerpots in downtown.

From a marketing standpoint, sponsorship should be touted. So I ask:

1) How can businesses maximize the visibility of their sponsorship?

2) How does the proximity of each banner to its storefront play a part in bringing about awareness?

First, I suggested to Alvaro that they announce the sponsors at the football games. After all, people attending games are those who most appreciate the sponsorship and are a captive audience. Since no more home games remain this season, Alvaro said she’d happily implement that idea for next year.

Second, Alvaro said each business decides whether their two-sided banner should be placed out front or anywhere in town. From my perspective, having one directly out front reinforces the pride in sponsoring the teams, but having one far away from the storefront potentially draws in new customers who otherwise may not have that particular store in their daily travels.

Butler Bros. Market Place Co-Owner Brian Butler was one shop owner who didn’t specify where the banner should be placed; he just happened to land a primo spot, along with Station Cleaners, at the bus stop on the northwest corner of Halstead and Harrison avenues.

“It’s where people stop at the light to make a right turn, and are idle waiting for the bus, so we’re very happy with our spot,” said Butler, who is proud to be part of something that is being done for the first time in Harrison. “Our major goal was to support the town and the school and the Boosters. We got on board early because we wanted to help give them a head start.”

For those owners whose banners are not located outside their shop, you can opt to put your street address or a relative address on the banner, such as “Across from RR station” or “three blocks down,” which helps town visitors. Alvaro said some businesses put their phone number or website. Butler chose to have the phrase “Fine Foods” included on his banner, as a way of describing the business. Just keep in mind: The more you put on the banner, the smaller the letters will be.

If you prefer, put up a small sign in your store: “We’re proud sponsors of the Huskies!” Or, create a promotion with a sign that says, “Find our banner and get 10 percent off!” and then offer 10 percent off to customers who tell you the location of your banner.

Alvaro hopes the banners help boost the local economy. “I used to go to dinner in the surrounding towns, but now that I see the support our dining establishments have shown for our kids, I now go out to dinner in Harrison,” she said.

If you are interested in sponsoring, contact Alvaro at 843-3377 or e-mail lolaalvora@yahoo.com. Alvora wishes to offer special thanks to Signs Plus in Mamaroneck, owned by Ron and Debbie Linsalto.

*****

A FOND FAREWELL: On Sept. 1, the small-business world suffered a great loss, as did I: My father, Anthony Arnone, passed away from cancer at age 71.

Though the bakery, deli and food importing business he owned and operated for 50 years is located in Erie, Pa., his legacy is here in Harrison, as he is the reason I am such a strong proponent of small business. Seeing how hard he worked throughout his life, and growing up in that family-business environment made me realize that opportunity is available if you have the passion and are willing to sacrifice and put in the hours. A lifelong Yankee fan, my father tried out for the Bronx Bombers when he was a teenager, but had to return home to take over the family store when his father suffered a heart attack. He sacrificed his dream, and created a new one for himself and his family. Thank you, Dad. I miss you and love you.

Carla Rose Fisher is a freelance writer and Web consultant who specializes in marketing for small businesses and startups. She is also an award-winning songwriter and resides in Harrison. If you know of a newsworthy small-business happening in the area, e-mail carla@saidandsung.com.

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Want some fresh ideas to strengthen your marketing efforts? Contact me at carla@saidandsung.com.

Websites: Big-Business Value for Small-Business Owners

Still think you don't need a website, or that yours was a waste of money? Pshaw! Read my latest column below, which was originally published in The Harrison Report on Sept. 2, 2010. Marketing guru/freelance writer Allen Mogol contributed to the research of this column. Shop Talk

Written by Carla Rose Fisher
Thursday, 02 September 2010 13:46
Websites: Big-Business Value for Small-Business Owners“I spent all this money on my website, and it hasn’t brought me a single sale.” For small-business owners with sparkling, newly launched websites, this is a common lament. You’ve invested time and money in your website. Why, you ask, after three days — or three months — hasn’t my site paid for itself? Have I wasted my investment?

Probably not. Your website is a long-term investment. Instead of expecting your site to pay off immediately, consider that it takes time to attract and persuade a new customer to buy. A website can begin the process, but not necessarily seal the deal. A website can also remind your existing customers that you’re there for them 24/7, placing you on par with bigger businesses, and also let them know about new products, services, discount offers or special events. Your site can help keep you in the forefront of peoples’ minds when they need you, but may not necessarily result in an instant sale.

You actually may be getting business from your site without knowing it. If you ask your customers how they heard about you, you might be pleasantly surprised to hear how much of a traffic-builder your website has become. Especially if you’ve got video: Forester Research tells us you are 53 times more likely to appear on page one of Google’s search results if you have video on your website. And any good site designer these days will input keywords into the site’s coding to maximize its chances of being easily found on search engines.

5 key benefits websites offer:

1) Credibility. If your bank, favorite cable channel or preferred charity didn’t have a website, you’d wonder about its professionalism and reliability. By the very act of having a website, you’re telling your current and potential customers that you’re legitimate, current and committed to be there for them, not just now but down the road. When you meet someone in a business setting who makes a good impression, don’t you want to find out more about what they do? If he or she doesn’t have a web presence, it’s natural that you’d wonder about your new acquaintance’s level of expertise.

2) Convenience. Does that restaurant you’d like to try have vegetarian options? Is it wheelchair accessible? Busy consumers are used to getting instant answers not just when deciding where to eat, but when deciding on colors for their kitchens or where to buy school supplies. A website allows potential customers to get answers or even make purchases at their convenience, no matter what time of the day, often saving them the parking and traffic headaches that come with heading to actual storefronts. Whether refillable pencils or paint samples, a website transforms your business hours from 9-to-5 to 24/7.

3) Browsing. When potential customers are investigating a purchase, product photos online can result in a visit to your store when those customers are ready to buy, no matter if it’s tomorrow or months from now. It’s modern-day window-shopping. I recently watched an employee at a tea shop set up a stand in front of the store, offering free samples to dozens of passersby. Over 10 or 15 minutes, close to 50 samples must’ve been given out. And not one sampler walked into the store. A waste of time and product? Absolutely not. The product is delicious, and the shop made lots of impressions among tea drinkers that will likely pay off in the long run.

4) Reach. Let’s say you own a children’s furniture store. That’s usually the kind of store that potential shoppers will check out online first, before making in-person visits. They won’t go miles out of their way, not when they can go online first. And they likely won’t decide immediately. Your website is your chance to persuade customers to travel to your business, rather than go to the nearest one. Just know that the visit might not happen for weeks or months, as most people tend to research purchases — mostly through online reviews — before visiting the store to investigate further.

5) Branding. This may be the most important benefit of all. Your website is an ideal tool you should be tying in with all your other marketing efforts. In fact, you’ll increase site traffic by taking every opportunity to let your customers know you’ve got a website. Place your URL on fliers, your storefront display, business cards, coupons, menus, bags…virtually everywhere you promote your business. A website doesn’t operate in a vacuum; it’s part of your overall campaign. But you’ve got to make it known. Lots of companies Harrisonites do business with make sure their web address is prominent whenever they send out a postcard about a sale, an invoice for a previous purchase or a catalog promoting its whole line. Reminding customers about their websites gives customers a chance to find out more, and might persuade them to place an order or pay an in-person visit.

Carla Rose Fisher is a freelance writer and web consultant who specializes in marketing for small businesses and startups. If you know of a newsworthy small-business happening in the area or want more info on creating a web presence for your business, e-mail carla@saidandsung.com.

Need a writer for your website? Visit saidandsung.com to view my writing samples.

Action Figures: Answering the Call, One by One

More often than not, your readers, customers and clients — we'll collectively call them end-users — need things spelled out for them. Not in an insult-their-intelligence kind of way, but just a little prodding along so they know where to click next and why. Each clear directive you provide to your end-users so that they know which step to take next and for what purpose is what marketers refer to as a call to action. But in order for them to be effective, you must provide easy instructions.

For example, if you have a Web site that requires people to fill out a form, less is always more.

In the form below, note the two boxes beneath the form: One says 'Register' and the other says 'Home.' After filling out the form, the next step should be for the end-user to complete the registration process by clicking 'Register.' Take another look. You'll see there are a couple confusion-causing issues here:

1) The buttons are too close together (You shouldn't give your end-users too many choices; be simple by asking for just one call to action at a time.)

2) The 'Home' button is red in color, which means it stands out more to the user than the 'Register' button (Note: Red should be avoided on your site, if possible, since that color is often used for warning messages and errors.)

3) The 'Register' button looks less like a button than the more proportionately boxed 'Home' button

4) The 'Home' button is larger, so my eye naturally draws to it more than to the 'Register' button

Even though I'm a savvy Web user, I was fooled by the large red button, and I clicked it before realizing that I hadn't completed the registration process. As a result, I had to fill out the form again (frustrating) and click the 'Register' button first.

In this case, it would have been better to have a smaller button labeled 'Cancel' instead of 'Home,' making it clearer that the end-user has a choice between clicking 'Register' and canceling out their registration.

Action Done Right

A perfect example of clear calls to action can be found in the recent viral-video marketing campaign brilliantly executed by smoothie franchise Jamba Juice.

It begins with an eye-catching html e-mail (at left) that contains a link to a YouTube video.

Also, the subject line of the e-mail contains the interest-piquing phrase Cheeseburger Chill Smoothie — quite possibly the mother of all oxymorons — and it also includes one key component: the promise of a $1 off. That clues end-users in on the fact that they will be rewarded for what they read.

Once you click the video link, you are sent to YouTube to view the ad for the new smoothie. Go ahead and watch it; it's a lot of fun!

A screenshot of the video is below. Note the number of views.

The video uses parody as an engaging tool as well as a bouncy, catchy tune.

The actors in the video are so convincing about their love for the new smoothie that it can be hard for viewers to distinguish whether it's for real. If you read the comments under the video, you'll see a lot of people wondering aloud whether this smoothie is actually for sale. That kind of uncertainty creates a buzz (or controversy, even), and that buzz leads to large numbers of "You've got to see this!" hits.

The final shot of the video encourages viewers to visit a landing page, found at cheeseburgerchill.com.

Once there, viewers are finally given the explanation they were seeking as to whether the product is authentic.

The text on the landing page is written with a snarky tone, comparing the inanity of Jamba Juice making cheeseburger smoothies to fast-food burger joints now making smoothies (see below).

Then, Jamba Juice thanks the reader for "being in on the joke" (creating a sense of belonging with the Jamba newsletter community, making them feel smart and part of an elite group).

Best of all, after all those clear step-by-step calls to action, the campaign ends by providing a link for the reader to click to obtain a coupon for a $1 off any smoothie.

It's an excellent reward for their readers' time and attention.

Speaking of, why are you still reading this? Click the link above and get your Jamba Juice coupon! You've earned it.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

Want more tips and cool links? Follow me on Twitter.

Facebook.com/saidandsung

Today, my Saidandsung Facebook Page got its custom URL, also known as a vanity URL. Now, I can use facebook.com/saidandsung in promotions, whether verbally or written, and people can easily find my page. To get one for yourself, read this previous post. I will be using my page to offer people insight on more effective writing; links to fun design, copy and innovative marketing; and ways to be more creative. The Page also features a 'My Band' tab, where you can listen to the songs I've written. Finally, my two worlds of copywriting and songwriting are together on the same site!

Visit my Facebook page and click Like to stay in the loop and to hear my tunes. Hope to see you there!

And send me the link to your Facebook Page.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

Discussing Marketing with Business-Savvy Radio Host Carmen Carrozza

One of my clients, Carmen Carrozza, has a weekly business show on WGCH AM1490. When he asked my ideas for what to name it, I came up with Forward Motion because as a business coach, Carmen is always helping people move forward — individuals looking to land a new job, entrepreneurs launching a new venture, sales teams setting game-changing monthly goals.

I've appeared on the show twice: on 5/25/10 and on 6/22/10.

During my latest appearance, we discussed marketing as it relates to the Social Web, and ways to keep content fresh. We went into what companies of different sizes can do to get more value out of their marketing dollars, by spreading their key messages across allchannels, from their Web sites to blogs to newsletters to Facebook to Twitter.

The biggest message that I was looking to impart to the listening audience was that everything you do as a business owner is an opportunity to promote yourself. This was most evident in my June 19 blog post, in which I describe how experiencing National Donut Day at Dunkin' Donuts sparked an idea for how adjacent small businesses can capitalize on the marketing and promotions of neighboring businesses, especially the large-budget franchises. Carmen and I also discussed some of the work I have done for his business.

Feel free to comment on this post to answer me this: Now that we're almost 7 months into 2010, what's the most effective promotion or marketing effort you've run this year?

With forward motion,

Carla

Get help with your Web site, brochure, newsletter, social media efforts and more at saidandsung.com.

Saidandsung Returns to WGCH … Listen Live!

Business coach Carmen Carrozza and I had such a great time discussing business marketing on his radio show back in May that he's invited me back! Tune into tomorrow to "Forward Motion" on AM 1490 WCGH, from 4-4:30 p.m. Stream it online by visiting WGCH.com and clicking 'Listen Live' at the top left of the show's site.

Carmen and I will be discussing how I've helped his marketing efforts as well as defining which marketing works best for small businesses, large companies, B2B, mom-and-pop shops, retail and professional services. Call in at 203-661-5051 to ask your marketing questions!

You can read more about Carmen on his Web site.

Thanks for reading,

Carla

saidandsung.com

WGCH extends to the Bronx, parts of NYC, the North Shore of Long Island, Brewster and all of Westchester.

Saidandsung Is All Talk … Radio, That Is.

Tomorrow, I'll have the pleasure of being a guest on business coach/life coach Carmen Carrozza's radio show, Forward Motion (named by yours truly). The show will be broadcast on News Talk AM 1490 WCGH, out of Greenwich, Conn., from 4-4:30 p.m.

You can stream it live online or tune in old-school — the reach extends to the Bronx, parts of NYC, the North Shore of Long Island, Brewster and all of Westchester.

This is a thrill for me because it gives me a chance to discuss how I got started with Saidandsung.com and what sort of challenges I've experienced, as well as how awesome my clients are. Plus, it's really great of Carmen to want to promote my business!

You can read more about Carmen on his Web site.

Listen if you can, and thanks for reading,

Carla

Saidandsung Quoted in Article on Small-Business Branding in Small Towns

As a result of my previous post, an article was written in The Harrison Report and I'm quoted in it. Below is a reprint of the original article, published on May 20, 2010.

Much thanks to Managing Editor Mark Lungariello for initially finding what I had to say in my blog interesting enough to work it into a story!

Signs of the Times

Written by Paige Rentz and Charlie Johnson

Thursday, 20 May 2010 18:33

Branding a business in Harrison

When Violet and Sean Gerguri opened their new bakery on Halstead Avenue at the site of a failed bakery at the beginning of April, many customers thought that the previous store had merely reopened after a hiatus.

This was because the Gerguris, who had been flooded out of the shop they owned in Hartsdale, found the new space perfectly ready for them to get to baking. They didn’t change the tables, the flooring, the racks, anything. Even the words painted on the windows fit their business perfectly, so they remained.

The couple soon found that even with their new name – the somewhat generic “Bakery and Patisserie” – stamped across their awning, they still had to contend with the previous tenant’s reputation in the village. Ms. Gerguri said that her new customers suggested ways that she and her husband could differentiate themselves: stickers added to their plain white boxes, flyers, signs on the door and windows.

In the month-and-a-half that the bakery has been open, business has begun to pick up little by little, she said. The main battle is luring the first-time customers through the door because she is confident that once they have a taste of what her bakery has to offer, they’ll surely return.

That battle for foot traffic is all about branding, said Carla Rose Fisher, a Harrison resident who works as a freelance writer and web consultant for corporations and small businesses. “I think that signage is so important,” she said. “For small businesses, a few simple, small adjustments could make a big difference.”

Fisher said that measures like temporary signs or banners proclaiming “Now open!” or sandwich boards advertising specials can make a huge difference to passers-by.

Bagelicious, another Halstead Avenue hot spot, kept the same name when the shop changed hands, but the store expanded its menu to include a large selection of sandwiches and other offerings. In such a situation, the shops should make use of a temporary sign reading something like “under new management,” said Fisher. “Unless they hear it through the grapevine, they won’t know.”

Fisher singles out Rue Des Crepes as a local business that “does a really good job of trying to get people in the door.” At 261 Halstead Ave., the restaurant’s outdoor seating and other inviting features make it a prime target for foot traffic.

Noting a recent store that opened before its sign could be approved by the town, Fisher said that it had been unclear that the business had already opened its doors. “It’s hard for a new business trying to break through,” she said, especially with the time-consuming process required to complete all the necessary approvals before opening.

Town Councilman Joseph Canella (R) said, “The town really needs to be sympathetic to the needs of businesses in general given the difficult economic times,” but that as far as signs are concerned, he thinks the town could use more regulation down the road. “By and large, I think we’re pretty user-friendly,” he said of the process of introducing a business in Harrison.

Just as small businesses in the downtown are struggling to draw in foot traffic, properties along Westchester Avenue seek to do the same on a much larger scale with car traffic from the I-287 corridor.

One property has floated a possible amendment to the zoning code of the SB-O zone (which covers office parks) which would allow more liberal signage for those complexes. Town Councilwoman Marlane Amelio (R) said that a drawing of the change that would be implemented indicates the addition of a rooftop sign at the petitioning complex on Westchester Avenue, a sign designed to be visible from I-287.

Harrison Mayor Joan Walsh (D) said that she is in favor of broadening the scope of allowed signage, within reason, as a means to help customers locate businesses in town. “This is a medical complex,” said Walsh of the office park requesting the zoning amendment. “I think it would be helpful to the patients referred to that building to have the sign.”

Although she said that she preferred not to have the sign measure the entire width of a building, visibility from the interstate would not be a bad thing. “If we limit it to 287 and say it can’t be seen anywhere except 287, then I don’t have a problem with it.”

Though she wants Harrison to be a place that attracts businesses, Amelio worries that any loosening of signage regulations will lead to a deterioration of the town’s aesthetics.

“We certainly do not want to discourage business,” said Amelio. “We want to welcome business but at the same time protect the value of the area.”

Amelio sees lightening of signage restrictions as a slippery slope that would eventually diminish much of the suburban beauty people often associate with Harrison.

“My concern whether it’s one [sign] or four is it establishes a precedent and a precedent that I do not think serves Harrison well,” she said. “Once you do that, it changes the character of the area.”

Amelio added that prior businesses seem to have had no trouble establishing themselves under current signage regulations.

Cannella not only wishes to keep the SB-O zone signage requirements the same, but he also feels that greater restrictions on signage in downtown Harrison could improve the look of that area in the future.

Several years ago, he and other town board members examined changing the signage code to create more uniformity, a measure that would have been “substantially more restrictive,” he said, modeling their recommendations after policies in towns like Scarsdale, which has had very rigid restrictions on signage in place for years.

“They just didn’t develop any traction,” said Cannella of the previous recommendations, “but the goal is desirable.”

However, ultimately there will likely always be a divide between visibility and aesthetics when talking about signage. As Fisher noted, businesses cannot rely solely on “grapevine” advertising to develop a strong customer base.

What strategies businesses are permitted to use in the future to visually attract potential customers could depend on the progress of the economy. If more people are searching, whether for doctors or bakeries, businesses can certainly hope that even modest signage will keep them easily afloat.

To read The Harrison Report and other town newspapers, visit http://hometwn.com.

Need some assistance with your business branding? Visit saidandsung.com to see how I can help.