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Monthly Archives: July 2009

Small Business Owners Flock to Twitter

2152131094_579d12c7b2_tThe latest article on how small business owners can benefit by using Twitter comes courtesy of the New York Times and it backs up what we have been preaching here at OCBizBlog.

Namely, that Twitter is a cheap and simple tool that can generate sales if you are willing to devote some time to it.

With 50% of small business sales coming from word-of-mouth, Twitter makes sense as as the digital equivalent.

Opening an account is easy but then two questions need to be answered:

Who will tweet and how will they tweet?

There are lots of advantages and appeal to being yourself on Twitter.  Many small business owners are able to translate their personality quite easily and connect quickly with followers.  Twitter generally has an intimate feel and sending out messages that signal you are a real person makes connecting that much easier.

But small business owners are notoriously busy so often the smart thing to do is to delegate someone to be your “Community Manager”.

We know of numerous businesses that assign someone 10 hours per week to tweet and that seems to work very well.

But owners need to direct and monitor what is being said to ensure the purpose of joining Twitter in the first place is being pursued.

And that begs a bigger question.

What goal are you pursuing on Twitter?

If you can take the time to answer that at the outset it will drive what you say and who you connect with.  It will determine how much time you spend on it.  And it will alleviate any potential frustrations.

From the Times article:

“For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.”

Think about that first line for a minute… their SOLE means on marketing.

That is big.

Why?  Because it costs you nothing but time and the upside can be massive.  There aren’t many marketing or advertising plans that can claim that.

If you’re a small business owner and not yet on Twitter, don’t waste another second and jump on board.

My United Breaks Guitars Experience

Flying from Raleigh, North Carolina to Boston on Saturday, my wife and I noticed a young guy with a guitar case in line to buy coffee.

After we ordered, we made our way outside the cafe and saw him opening his case on the floor.

Inside was a Taylor Guitar.

My wife couldn’t resist.

“Hope you’re not flying United.”

“Actually”, he said with a smile,  “I am.”

His look said he knew all about the “United Breaks Guitars” video which now has over three million views on YouTube.

We started talking about it and two other strangers joined in, also laughing and commenting on it.

The power of social media at work.

Here is the full story.

We have been visiting friends and family for the past week and I have committed to staying offline for some perspective.

It’s been really useful.

There is going to a different content strategy for this blog starting in August.

I am very excited about it.

By |July 20th, 2009|social media|Comments Off on My United Breaks Guitars Experience

A Tale of Two Orange Counties

orange-county-ncDisneyland meet Duke.

Tow Head meet Tar Heel.

Orange County, California meet Orange County, North Carolina.

What can I bring back from a family vacation in the Eastern OC that would help small businesses in our OC?

I count five things so far:

1.  Pride – Everyone hears about Southern Pride,  but until you actually see it and experience it, you realize how much of a difference maker it is.  They care about their little world.

2.  History – Yeah we don’t have much of it, but it’s worth reminding everyone of your past accomplishments because so many are faking it.

3.  Sense of Place –  Sometimes in SoCal it feels like everyone is just passing through.  If you can make your place a true hangout no matter what it is you have something worth talking about.

4.  Hospitality – There is nothing more effective in customer retention and prospect building that checking your ego at the door and accommodating others.

5.  Haste Makes Waste – If you slow it down a little and take more time that you normally would in everything you do, you may uncover a more effective and efficient way of getting things done.

We’re gonna do everything in Southern time today so I’ll let you know if I learned anything tomorrow.

By |July 13th, 2009|orange county, small business|Comments Off on A Tale of Two Orange Counties

Pink’s Hot Dogs School of Marketing

pinksThere are moments when I really miss living in LA.

Like grabbing a late-night dog at Pink’s.

They are probably the most famous hot dog stand in the country.

Been at the same location for 65 years.

The lines are always long.

Prices are cheap.

And the dogs, well, let’s just say they always taste better when you’ve stood in line for 45 minutes.

And that is precisely the point.

Standing in line to get a dog at Pink’s is an LA tradition.

You must partake in it at some point in your life.

And it’s a meritocracy, no skipping.

You could be standing next to Brad Pitt and he’ll wait right there along side you.

It’s not about the hot dogs.

It’s about carving a niche and taking a stand.

It’s about establishing and staying true to some core principles.

It’s about living your brand.

Sounds easy but it’s not.

That’s why there aren’t  many Pink’s.

How a Little KIND Forced Its Way Into Starbucks

kindsnacks” I’ve learned you just gotta live what you love.”

A friend of mine tossed that little gem out yesterday.  It sounds like another trite rah rah small biz platitude but it carries a lot of weight.

Especially when you see a perfect example of it through Daniel Lubetsky and KIND Snacks.

The New York Times recently featured Lubetsky and KIND as an example of small business success.

Lubetsky is the founder of Peaceworks, the holding company and manufacturer of KIND Snacks.  Peaceworks is dedicated to “the pursuit of both profit and peace.”  From their corporate bio:

“We pursue profit through our sales of healthful food products that are produced by neighbors on opposing sides of political or armed conflicts, whose cooperative business ventures we facilitate.  We pursue peace through our Peaceworks Foundation and the OneVoice Movement.”

KIND Snacks is the product that Lubetsky envisioned in every Starbucks around the world five years ago.

And what kept him going and eventually got his foot in the door was his passion for peace and conflict resolution which he pursued through his foundation.

Of course since 2004 he had been speaking with Starbucks executives and sending them his snack bars and press releases.

That’s what everybody does at a bare minimum to break into giant distribution channels like a Starbucks or WalMart.

But it was in 2007 at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that Lubetsky got his break.

He was there to speak about his philanthropic work with Peaceworks when he ran into a Starbuck biz dev exec he had known earlier.

The exec offered to give him a tour of Starbucks headquarters and an introduction to the food and beverage chief.

The tour happened later that year but still another year went by with no commitment from Starbucks.

Lubetsky kept at it.

He saw an opportunity in 2008 when he spotted an article saying that Starbucks was rethinking their food strategy.

He forwarded his contacts a Yale Pilot Study that suggested eating two KIND bars a day could contribute to weight loss.

This time Starbucks responded with an order of 500,000 bars for its 7,000 stores in the US.

Five years from the start of KIND, and Dubetsky’s Big Hairy Audacious Goal was realized.

It sprung from passion, focus and determination.

And a love for the space he was operating in.

Business as a lifestyle.

Business as meaningful.

Business as something that comes from the heart.

Not a bad business to be in.

Let the Orange County LinkedIn Revolution Begin

sven-linkedin-05-31-2009Sven Johnston is a man on a mission.

The Laguna Niguel resident  and biz dev exec at Escoe Bliss Communications has created a LinkedIn group called We are Orange County.

His desire (and that of almost 2,000 people who have joined him) is to get the #1 social networking site for business to recognize Orange County as a separate entity from “Greater Los Angeles”.

“If you have one person complaining, it’s going to fly under the radar,” Johnston said. “If you suddenly have a group of a 1,000 or more, I imagine an organization would listen.”

The issue cuts to the core of what many view as Los Angeles taking credit for the economic engine that is Orange County.

A county of 3 million people with a GDP equivalent of a small country certainly warrants a breakout, don’t you think?