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2017

Through some top-secret contacts, I was able to snag a rare chat with St. Nicholas himself, good ‘ol, Kris Kringle, yes, Santa Claus!

 

Strauss: Santa, I know it’s your busy time of year so thanks so much for being with us today. How’s business?

 

Santa: Well, thank you very much, Steve! How’s business? Business is booming, I tell you, booming! You know, every year I make sure to make a list and check it twice. I want to find out who’s been naughty, and who’s been nice. I am happy to report that there have been a great many nice boys and girls.

 

I can’t say that’s true for all adults, but they are outside of my target market.Steve-Santa.png

Strauss: So, what’s your secret Santa? How did you get to be so popular?

 

Santa: You know Steve, I am a big believer in the motto, “Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.” That’s as true in my business as it is in yours, or that of your readers. I really listen to those little boys and girls, and then I make sure to deliver.

 

And by the way, I don’t just “deliver,” but I deliver on time. And that’s another thing. If you want success like mine, keep your promises to your customers. For me, I have a hard and fast December 25th deadline, and believe you me, that gets a bit exhausting. But I deliver!

 

Strauss: How do you do that all on your own?

 

Santa: Are you crazy Steve? That’s one of my secrets too – you need a great team around you. I have Mrs. Claus, and the elves, and my reindeer, and lots of loving moms and dads helping me to make Christmas a special day.

 

Let’s underscore that last point, dear Steve. You must share the limelight if you want to succeed in your endeavor, whether that’s bringing presents around the world or selling to folks in your neighborhood. Do I care if some of the kids think that it’s really their parents who deliver their Christmas toys? No, ho ho! We’re all in it together, Steve. Get a clue!

 

Strauss: Thanks, Santa, I will try. Any other management tips?

 

Santa: Well my boy, I think it’s a pretty darned good idea to trust your staff. They are more capable than you know. Take Rudolph for instance. Everyone always made such fun of that poor kid, but look what happened when I gave him a chance. That nose of his turned out to be a bonus. Lemons into lemonade Steve, that’s what I always say, lemons into lemonade! Ho, ho, ho!

 

Strauss: Santa, how is it that everyone came to know about you anyway? As recently as the 1800s, few people had ever heard of you.

 

Santa: Well, that just goes to show the power of marketing and branding, dear Steve, don’t you think? Do you ever see me without my red suit on? Of course not! People get a good feeling when they see me in that suit. That suit is my brand. I use it consistently to get my message of good cheer out to everyone.

And, if you haven’t noticed, I also have a great tagline – “Ho, ho, ho! Merrrry Christmas” I never fail to use that line. That’s a good idea for your readers too, Steve. Having a tagline gets your brand across in an instant, in fact, faster than you can say ‘Ho, ho, ho!”

 

Strauss: Thanks for your time today Santa. Any last words?

 

Santa: Well, I would like to steal a line from my friend Tiny Tim: “God bless us, every one.”

 

Originally published in USA Today; reprinted with permission of the author.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                        

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

For many small businesses, the beginning of a new year is slow. Your customers are digging out from under holiday bills and recovering from an excess of eating, drinking and celebrating. To attract new customers in the New Year, you’ll need to be creative. Here are eight ideas to get you going.

 

1. Do good. In January, people clean out their closets to make room for their new holiday swag. Collect donations of used products from your customers in exchange for a discount on your products or services. For example, a clothing store could give everyone who brings in an old pair of jeans 20 percent off a new pair. The same concept works for used toys, books, kitchen appliances or any products people are likely to offload this time of year.41392789_s.jpg

Read more on doing good: Evaluating Charity Requests? Four questions to ask

 

2. Try a daily deal. While not as hot as they once were, daily deal sites such as Groupon and LivingSocial can still be an effective way to attract new customers. Plus, the discounts appeal to budget-conscious consumers still paying off holiday bills. Deal sites will help you craft a deal that’s worth your while.

Related article: The Importance of Timing Your Promotions

 

3. Tap into the power of influencers. Bloggers, media and even local celebrities like a popular Little League coach are all potential influencers whose opinions affect your target customers. You can spread the word about your business to a whole new audience by reaching out to appropriate influencers and ask if they’ll review or otherwise mention your products or services.

Learn more about influencers: Boost Sales with Influencer Marketing

 

4. Give away gift certificates. Percentage-off coupons are a dime a dozen, but how often do consumers get a no-strings-attached gift certificate? Mail or email $10 gift certificates valid for any purchase of $10 or more, and prospective customers won’t be able to resist checking out your wares. Almost two-thirds of gift card users spend more than the value of the gift card, making this a win-win situation.

A few other ways to boost sales: 10 Easy Ways to Quickly Boost Sales

 

5. Hand out free samples. If your business is in an area that gets lots of foot traffic, giving away free samples is a foolproof way to attract new customers. In fact, three-fourths of consumers say free samples influence them to buy. The free sample concept works for service businesses, too. For example, a yoga studio or fitness club can offer a week of free classes, then give customers a discount on membership if they sign up at the end of that week.

Related article: The Value of Customer Loyalty − Infographic

 

6. Host an event. In-store events can draw new customers for all types of businesses. From an art show at a coffeehouse to live music at a record store from a book signing at a bookstore to a fashion show at a clothing boutique, the possibilities are endless. Try holding a teaching event that shows customers how to use what you sell while whetting their appetite for buying it. If you own a cookware store, for instance, hold a free cooking class and give everyone who attends 20 percent off anything they buy that day.

Learn how to host a live event: Using Live Events as a Marketing Tool

 

7. Partner with complementary businesses. Find a business that targets the same customers you do, but with a non-competing product or service. For example, a fitness club and a sporting goods store could partner up to offer each other’s customers discounts – linking to your partner business on your website will help drive traffic, too.

Think about bartering with another business: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

 

8. Hit the road. Branded business vehicles serve as nonstop advertisements for your business and work especially well for companies that make deliveries or travel to customers’ homes or businesses. One business in my neighborhood has a fleet of hot-pink vehicles with a logo, website and phone number in huge letters on all four sides. You can get your vehicles “wrapped,” which is sure to capture attention – search online for “vehicle wrapping” to find services near you. Park your vehicles on busy streets and in other high-traffic areas to maximize visibility.

More ideas on how to get publicity: How to Get Free Publicity for Your Small Business

 

 

About Rieva LesonskyRieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America,its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

If you have been around the Small Business Community for any length of time, you may have noticed that I make it a habit to collect small tips, strategies and hacks.

 

Here are 10 of my favorites for small business owners:

 

1. You need multiple profit centers. This is probably my favorite piece of advice and one I have shared several times over the years, and for good reason. It comes from Barbara Winter in her great book, Making a Living Without a Job.35722669_s.jpg

 

Here’s the hack: Just as Starbucks started out selling only coffee but now also sells food, music, Frappucinos and more, so too should you add additional profit centers to your business. Having multiple profit centers mitigates risk and evens out your business cycle.

Learn more about multiple profit centers: The Magic of Creating Multiple Profit Centers

 

2. Big business wants to help you succeed: This site is a great example. There is a lot of big business assistance out there once you start to look. Large companies spend significant sums of money to create products, tools and services with small businesses in mind; it would behoove you to take advantage of them.

Learn about the Bank of America Supplier Diversity program: BofA's supplier relations: vendor management

 

3. If you want to grow, team up: By the same token, just as there are big businesses who want to help you, there are also other small businesses who can help you. Creating a strategic partnership extends your reach into areas and customers where you typically would not have any. Finding businesses that complement (but do not duplicate) is synergistic, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Consider bartering: Bartering May Ease Cash-Flow Crunch, But Follow These Rules

 

4. There are three types of customers, and to grow, you need to juggle all three:

    • New customers
    • Existing customers
    • Exiting customers

 

Customers leave for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad.. As such, you need to create a constant funnel of new customers who become existing customers, so that they can replace the exiting customers. Cultivate and nourish all three.

Learn more about your customers: Understanding Your Ideal Customer

 

5. Market your business, and then market it some more: How do you find those new customers to replace existing customers? You know the answer. Marketing. Whether it is real world networking or online social networking, marketing your business is the key to keeping the customer pipeline going.

Visit our sales and marketing section to see the best advice on marketing your business

 

6. Be a great boss: The best small businesses – the ones with solid profit, low turnover, good morale, great products and happy customers – are the ones where the owner creates a great culture. Happy employees create happy customers. The key is to be a good boss.

 

And while you are at it, don’t forget to be a good boss to yourself, too.

Follow these tips to be a great boss: Want to be a Great Boss? Develop these Traits

 

7. Play defense: Most entrepreneurs like playing offense – finding customers, selling, being creative, doing that part of your business that you love to do. But great small businesses also know they need to play defense – they incorporate, have adequate insurance, save for a rainy day, etc.

A few more tips to managing your business

8. Understand little changes can create big results: Change can often seem big and difficult. In fact, small changes are the ones that often create big results. Add a new product or service, tweak a marketing campaign, make a great new hire.

Thinking of a little change, look into offering these employee perks: The importance of employee perks and how you can offer more than you think

 

9. Work on your business, not just in it: Michael Gerber’s famous piece of advice from his book The E-Myth remains as true today as when he first wrote it: By stepping back and looking at the big picture you get perspective, insight and you can figure out what changes – little or big – are needed.

Related article: Are you an Optimist or Pessimist? Why Your Perspective Matters

 

10. Say yes: People love small business because we can say yes.

 

      • “Can you stay open a little later so I can get down there?” Yes.
      • “Could you possibly get this to me by tomorrow?” Yes.
      • “Can I have an afternoon off this week?” Yes

 

Yes is one of the things that makes small business special. Use that to your advantage.

Related article: What’s your secret sauce?

 

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot SBC.png

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss                          

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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