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Monthly Archives: February 2009

A Visit to The Orange County Farmers Market

Wanna know how you sell in a recession?

THIS is how you sell in a recession.

Get great cakes at dolcecakes.net.

Orange County Restaurant Week Starts Sunday

ocrestaurantweekIf you love food and Orange County, then next week is your week.

Beginning Sunday, February 22, close to 100 restaurants will be participating in Orange County Restaurant Week.

No tickets are needed, simply dine at a participating restaurant, which you can find on the link above.

For more info, you can also check out OCFoodies.com.

What Happens in Vegas Could Happen in Orange County

erinpryor1“Vegas, baby. Vegas!” Vince Vaughn’s character Doubledown Trent famously shouted in the 1996 movie Swingers.

Who can blame him for the excitement?

Is there a better place to party?

The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority doesn’t think so.

Which is why, in a reeling economy marked by dwindling tourism, they paid Sports Illustrated to bring the 2009 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit party to town.

Southwest Airlines got in on the event by providing a Boeing 737-700 “wrapped” in a swimsuit photo of cover girl Bar Rafaeli to charter the models to and from New York (see below).

barrefaeli1

The LVCVA doled out the cash, while the hotel and casinos put in their bids to host the party with LAX at The Luxor claiming the grand prize.

LAX provided the venue, accommodations for the models, etc. and the top-shelf open bar free of charge.

Why, you ask, would they give all of that away?

Two words: genius marketing.

LAX got all  18 models, including cover girl (and Leonardo DiCaprio main squeeze) Rafaeli and Andy Roddick’s fiancée, Brooklyn Decker, a performance by six-time Grammy winner John Legend, a bunch of  celebrities, and a couple thousand executives and fans.

But the biggest thing they got (that you can’t put a price tag on) was publicity.

The event was covered across the country by both local and national newspapers, websites and television stations.

Typically in a tight economy the first thing businesses cut are their marketing and advertising budgets, but the rub is that marketing and publicity are what attract consumers to business in the first place.

Granted, we all don’t have million dollar budgets to throw around and the OC is far from being “sin city,” but this marketing template can be pared down to work on a smaller scale here in Orange County.

It requires a combination or creative thinking, strategic partnerships and grassroots marketing.

People are always looking for different and fun things to do, so let’s bring them something!

Erin Pryor, formerly with Salon.com and Sports Illustrated, blogs here often and every Friday.  Leave a comment for Erin or email her at erinepryor@aol.com.

By |February 18th, 2009|marketing|3 Comments

For Small Business Cash is King

green field with blue skyYou have to spend money to make money.

There’s just no way around it.

But you have to have some first.

The $787 billion stimulus package that President Obama will sign into law today has provisions in it for small business that should help gain access to capital.

The stimulus bill authorizes the Small Business Administration to reduce, and in some cases eliminate, the fees required to participate in their loan-guarantee program.  The program insures banks against default by small business borrowers.  The bill also increases to 90% the percentage of qualifying loans the SBA can guarantee.

If small businesses need money right now, the bill offers “small business stabilization financing” which provides funds to pay off existing loans.  The SBA will provide up to $35,000, which small business can then use to make up to six months of payments on previous loans.  The loans won’t have a payment due for the first year and businesses will have five years to pay them off.

Other stimulus measures for small business include: microloans, hiring incentives, equipment expensing, loss accounting and unfreezing the loan market, so that small business loans can be resold to investors.

For more on what the stimulus package means for small business, see here.

Most small business owners we know, have passion, desire and a drive to succeed.

They work long hours and care about their employees.

They have great ideas and work on improving their products and services.

But without money, they simply won’t succeed.

Money gets to the true heart of the matter, just like a good marketing plan.

The point being…that it doesn’t matter how great your product or service is.

What matters is the business system you have built around it.

No system, no plan, no money, no business.

In this environment, all those without a system, will be exposed and suffer.

So create a system with metrics and goals and take advantage of the help that has just become available.

Do you agree with this post?  Let us know if you think the stimulus bill will help small business.

Small Business Can’t Afford Small Mistakes

goingnutsEverything matters when you’re a small business.

You are playing it so close to the edge that one wrong move can send you spilling over the side and down into a gulley.

What I find more frustrating than anything is the small mistakes.

The typos in an email.

The inconsistencies of service.

The unanswered phone call.

The ignored customer.

Nobody’s perfect.

But staying busy and just showing up is not going to work in this climate.

We challenge ourselves and our clients to 30-Day Blitzes.

Choose one area where you are weak and devote yourself to improvement for a single month straight.

The next month pick another area to improve and so on.

Perhaps you will learn something and establish a new habit that will stick.

Habits constitute the core of your business character and become a barometer for customers and prospects.

Are you someone worth paying?  Should I ever come back?  Do you care?

Small mistakes can be avoided.

Try a 30-Day Blitz and see what happens.

Local Valentine’s Day Help for Orange County Slackers

erinpryorChocolates plus flowers equals standard, or in other words, boring.

Yes, Valentine’s Day is a contrived holiday that requires a grip of cash to be spent on those you love, but if you’re going to participate why not mix it up a little?

Don’t get me wrong, I “love” love just as much as the next girl, but I’d prefer to receive flowers on a random day rather than one on which my guy feels obligated to send them.

There are a ton of alternative options, many of which are right here in your backyard.

First things first, you have to get the card. Inkwells Paperie in Corona del Mar is one of my favorite local card and gift shops. They have beautiful stationary as well as unique and somewhat untraditional cards for all occasions.

Next, if you feel so inclined, is the gift.

Many people love candy, and that’s not a bad option, but if you’re looking for something sweet may I suggest an alternative? Donna B’s Gourmet Cookie and Bakery Boutique in Laguna Niguel makes some of the best cookies I’ve ever tasted. They come in four different sizes and a ton of different flavors ranging from your classic Chocolate Chip to Oatmeal Toffee to White Chocolate Macadamia Nut. They don’t stop there either. You can also purchase cakes, cupcakes and cookie dough for those who like to do it themselves.

If you decide to go big with your gift, and surprise your one and only with a car, boat, new home or something of that sort, finding something to “wrap” it with can be challenging. Not to worry, the Irvine-based company King Size Bows has got you covered. They are the company that does the large bows used in the Lexus holiday commercials. Their bows are shipped year around, are reasonably priced and easy to assemble. Problem solved.

Another option this Valentine’s Day is to plan something fun and memorable. It doesn’t have to be a 5-star restaurant or anything that will drain your pocketbook. Why not go on a picnic, or make dinner at home? A Market in Newport Beach has a variety of phenomenal sandwiches, salads and pastries, not to mention a tremendous selection of cheeses, wines and other gourmet delights that will fill a picnic basket or make for a fabulous spread on the dining room table.

A great way to cap the day or evening is to catch a movie at the Lido Theatre in Newport Beach which was built in 1938 and has since been restored. Nothing beats a classic.

Regardless of what you decide to do, it is important to keep in mind that there are a lot of local businesses that can not only meet your needs, but also add a little spice and romance to this Valentine’s Day.

Erin Pryor, formerly with Salon.com and Sports Illustrated, blogs here every Friday.  Leave a comment for Erin or email her at erinepryor@aol.com.