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Monthly Archives: April 2010

Thinking Big About Small Business

Your advertising might inspire and move people if you can afford to pay millions to a world-class ad agency.

Heck it might even sell some product.

But the real trick is coming up with the idea to use a tape recording of Walt Whitman to sell Levi’s.

And that is nothing more than imagination.

Sometimes we are all too humble for our own good.

It’s not crazy to think that people can be inspired by you even if what you do is kind of boring.

People like different.  They look for it.  They appreciate it.

And so long as you’re covering the basics and able to execute at the level of your peers, then why not ratchet up the message to really set yourself apart?

Orange County Small Business Lending Way Up

Loans to small businesses in Orange County are up 172% over last year, according to the SBA office in Santa Ana.

“I’ve been at the SBA since 1988 and I’ve never seen an increase this big”, said Rachel Baranick to the Orange County Business Journal.

She added, “I think we’re definitely into recovery.”

SBA lending for the first three months of 2010 totalled $80.7 million.

Great news for all of us in Orange County.

Now the question is…

What’s everybody going to do with this opportunity?

Five Ways to Suck at Marketing Your Small Business

Still wonder why no one buys what you’re selling?

Maybe it’s because you…

1. Love killing trees.

Yes that would be an M1 Abrams Tank made from junk mail.  You’re blasting away and hoping – just hoping  – that you hit something and don’t piss anyone off.

Not likely.

Not even close.

2.  Ignore Social Media.

You know you should be doing something about it but you don’t.  It will soon drive you crazy while your competitors, many of them young and ambitious, find cool new ways to generate buzz without spending a dime.

Time to take a second look before it’s too late.

3. Hire beautiful dumb people.

You simply can not drive us any more crazy than to hand money to someone just because they are cute.  You know who I’m talking about…

The dopey desk jockey at the gym.

The barista who takes seven hours to whip up an espresso.

The real estate agent who glosses over the details because she has shiny WHITE teeth.

Stupid is as stupid does.

And smart people know their best marketers are the people they hire.

4.  Send Mixed Messages

True story.

Last week I had lunch with a couple of buddies.  They both like sushi so we went to a spot we all had heard was good.  We walked in and the place was spotless, but it was a beautiful day so we chose the patio.  We sit down and straight away notice a gazillion cigarette butts on the patio floor.

Total turn off.

So we go back in but the meal has already been tainted and so have we.

Every bite I take I wonder…where else are they throwing cigarette butts?

5.  Say You Don’t Have the Budget

Go ahead.

It’s not like we all haven’t heard it before.

At least we know where the money went.

See 1-4.

Yelp to Small Business – We are Not a Monster

Yelp MonsterYelp, the online reviewer of local businesses, announced today that they would make two significant changes to their site.

In response to small business owner complaints and class actions lawsuits, Yelp will now allow readers to click on a link to see reviews that Yelp has filtered out and advertisers will no longer be able to post their favorite reviews at the top of the page.

We know of several Orange County small business owners who will be very pleased by this.

Not sure if it can undo the damage that Yelp has brought to its brand but at least they’re doing something.

I liked Yelp when it first came out.  It’s a very cool tool and there is a reason they get 30 million visitors a month.   Consumers love it.

But a lot of small business owners don’t.

Most likely because Yelp is so powerful. Their most recent valuation came in at $450 million, Bono’s Elevation Partners gave them $100 million to play with.  They have reviewers that can post some pretty nasty stuff and there’s a lot of chatter about the need to pay them (see “advertise”) to protect yourself (see “extortion”).

Jeremy Stoppelman, Yelp’s Co-Founder and CEO, told the New York Times that he is hoping  the changes will “debunk some of the myths and conspiracy theories out there about Yelp and its advertising and whether those are linked.”

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I don’t think they are as scary as the guy above, do you?

If you have a Yelp experience you would like to share, let us know.