Pink Fire Pointer January 2013

Wild Weather Will Effect Local Economies

  As we near the end of January, all I can think of is how wild the weather has been! We know how much serious weather effects our personal lives but do we ever consider how much it hurts local business and industry? I am thinking back to the two snowstorms we have already had. Not only were schools and government centers closed but businesses were as well. While everyone likes an occasional day off, being closed or reducing hours for even 4-5 days out of the month is serious. It seems as though the only businesses that are benefiting are grocery stores and gas stations. 

It's snow wonder businesses are closing! Can we blame wacky weather?

  Take a look at your personal spending habits this past month. Where is your money going? For many of you, it is not small businesses. If it is, congrats and thanks for your support! Now look at the days of the month you spent your money and with whom. Notice a trend? It's not hard to spot. However, it helps you become self-aware of your habits. 
  When businesses have to shutter stores due to, well nowadays, even the threat of rain, that is hurtful to local economics. If it's a simple rainstorm, go visit these folks as they sit in their business wondering where everyone is. If no one is buying, then the state and community is not collecting taxes. Taxes help the community pay for projects that the residents feel are necessary. It is a small way to make an investment in the community. If you donate to local causes often, encourage others to do so. Many non-profits are not making it either. 
  If it is threatening a major wind storm, like today, I completely understand why you would stay in. But let's make an honest effort to patronize our locals as much and as often as we can! 

Why Salem needs to take a lesson from Roanoke City

 Sweet Pete's Yogurt and Tinkerings is among the many businesses that have tried to set up shop in Salem only to close within a year. Main Street, Salem, is dotted with open and vacant buildings. This is not an encouraging sight for prospective businesses. That is not to say that Roanoke City doesn't experience the same fluctuation. However, Roanoke has been working very hard to revive it's downtown area. Here is the reason why I see Roanoke City thriving over the next few years and where the collective of councilmen in charge of Salem and the community need to dig deeper.

  • Businesses can see improvements downtown. That's a big one. The City is pouring their efforts into the culture and quaint vibe of the area to improve foot traffic. 
  • They have a plan! This is the most important contribution to the success of a community! Find out what people want, do your research, and implement a plan to give businesses a reason to continue working in your community.
  • They support people who support them. Even if they cannot monetarily support businesses, they are encouraging role models and encourage others to support them.
  • They place importance on diversity and culture. Roanoke City places importance on the diversity of its' people and welcome new comers to town with open arms. I have not quite felt that same warmth from the townspeople unless they are like me, from outside Salem. That alone will keep businesses away from Salem.
  Another component that seems to be overlooked is the fact that Roanoke Doesn't Suck moved into town, in addition to an existing page called Main Street Salem. This cannot be done for free and it needs to worked on a full-time basis to make these pages successful. There are resources already in the community for City Councilmen to take advantage of and support. It is essential that the councilmen become more involved.

Social Media Typecasting

  Besides needing a plan of attack and policy for your social media marketing, you need to identify the best use of your employees to deliver your message. These key ingredients can be boiled down as tasks to the social media manager or distributed to the right people in your office environment. Take a look at the list below:

  • The Blogger. This person has strong skills in communicating and might be able to get into words the message you wish to convey. This person will have a strong understanding of grammar and the English language but will not be afraid to take risks. 
  • The Broadcaster. This person delivers all of your social media content across all the sites. This is the techno geek who walks around the office glued to her iPhone.
  • The Connector. This is the person who has a seemingly never-ending supply of people to talk to and knows everyone. This is your social butterfly. They can gather and disseminate information to the appropriate people for best delivery of message and content. 
  • The Creator. This is the person who daydreams and comes up with wacky new ways to connect with your customer. In today's market, you need to be memorable and even a bit kitschy at times. Guaranteed fun!
There are only four types listed here. What would you add to this list? I hope to modify it as more ideas come through!

Resolutions for your business?

  I have already talked about my personal feelings of resolutions on my personal blog. Since I worked retail for so long, I will share with you why small businesses should not try anything new in the upcoming year.

  1. Constant focus shift can harm more than it can help. Review what worked. Think deep about why those things worked. If you are not finished with projects that you began, make it a goal to continue working on them. It's ok to be ADHD, as a person, not as a business. Jot your list of things that worked and figure out how you will implement them on continuing projects. 
  2. Trash what did not work, at all. I find social media marketing does not always work. I find not breaking down big projects into little steps does not work. I find being overwhelmed does not work. The moment you feel overwhelmed, re-evaluate, or enlist help. Better yet, back-burner the idea until you have the resources that you need to make it work. 
  3. Take long term goals, break them down, and accomplish at least one step each day. This reminds me that I really need a good, big, desk calendar blotter. It helps give you the big picture, somewhat literally, of what it will take to get there. Let's say you have a major goal that you want to accomplish by June. Start with the end of the goal and work your way back to now. You may find it easier to handle. It will also ensure that the time frame is do-able. 
  4. Make collaboration the key to your business. Collaborate with new people. Collaborate with the enemy. Collaborate with like-minded friends. I see 2013 as a year of major growth, mentally, but only if you want it. 2012 was very divisive. I don't care if you have personal problems with the way someone thinks. It is all the more reason you should learn from them. If you know yourself and are comfortable with who you are then what is the problem with hanging out with people who are not like you? 
  5. Don't be quick to judge. This goes for people and situations. Take a step back. Is it really your concern? Is it really your problem? There is nothing wrong with sitting back and watching. I often grab a box of popcorn when watching my friends on Facebook because a lot of people create their own drama. Watch it unfold. You will learn more. 
  6. Support others, for free. Make it your way of giving back to the community. You don't always have to get something out of someone. Support your local people, paying or not. You can't build a tribe sitting behind a computer. Sometimes you have to go out and spend face time with them. Share their content even if it is not one of your interests. Supporting the community brings many returns in the form of references and good old word of mouth marketing. People like to talk just make sure that it is not always about yourself.