This Wednesday, March 5 is the sixth and final session of The Wealthy Retailer series, presented by the team at Canadian Retail Solutions, Scott Smith and Dan Holman.
Developing and maintaining CRM and cashflow management systems are a major struggle for small retailers, but Scott and Dan are the experts at solving this common retail problem. As our Managing Director Dar put it after the first session in October, "If you are a small retailer and you don't attend the rest of these workshops (there are 5 to go over the next 5 months) I'm going to call your mother!"
The previous five sessions covered customer relations management, small business marketing, effective selling systems, choosing and using a POS system. This Wednesday's session, from 7-9:30 PM, is "Cashflow and Profit: Understanding and responding to Key Performance Indicators to ensure proper cash-flow at all times." If that sounds like jargon, don't worry. Scott and Dan are pros, and the Wealthy Retailer sessions use a combination of education and interaction to explain each concept.
To register for The Wealthy Retailer, call 780-460-1000 or email email@example.com. The cost is $29 for the individual session; you do not have to attend previous sessions to register for this one.
For more information, please visit the NABI event page. The event runs 7-9:30 PM at the NABI Head Office located at 13 Mission Ave, St. Albert. Space is limited - register soon!
Scott Smith, General Manager and director of Retail Planning for Canadian Retail Solutions Inc.
Scott Smith has worked with retailers for over 20 years from the sales floor through all levels of retail management, operations, and marketing. Having worked with numerous retail businesses, Scott has a wealth of knowledge and experience with startup project management, inventory control strategies, marketing and social media programs, as well as being an industry leader in utilizing retail technology specific to the retail environment. Gaining many years of experience with top performing independent retailers added to his affiliation with Management One®, Scott brings a true passion and dedication empowering retailers to succeed.
Dan Holman, Management One® Winning@Retail™ Certified Retail Consultant
Dan joins the CRS Consulting Team having spent the better part of 25 years in the retail and service industries. Specializing in marketing & business development, inventory planning, operations and customer driven sales management, Dan has a true passion and very solid understanding of what it takes to be successful in retail. Dan is returning to consulting after spending the last 16 years in senior management roles with multi-store, home fashion retailers. In his years as a retail leader Dan has been heavily involved in every aspect of growing and nurturing stores to maximize profitability and is looking forward to continuing that trend with Canadian Retail Solutions and their clients.
Brittany Kustra is the Communications and Leasing Coordinator for NABI.
I had the pleasure today of hearing Jeff Archibald present his ideas on the topic of The Brand Lighthouse.
I was intrigued by the title of his presentation. What exactly is the Brand Lighthouse? As Jeff explained it, the Brand Lighthouse is the pillar of your brand: who you are, what your message is, and how you want people to feel when they think of or see your brand. Once you can answer those questions, the lighthouse will guide your branding and marketing decisions.
Jeff is the co-owner of Paper Leaf, a local design company. He wants Paper Leaf to be synonymous with design in Edmonton. They're not just a design company in Edmonton, they are design in Edmonton.
We know that marketing and branding are a struggle for many small businesses. Marketing won’t necessarily come easily to accountants, engineers, and psychologists. And with the amount of work you already have to do – developing a client list, delegating, bookkeeping – who has time for brand development, right?
The fact is, it’s a crowded, competitive marketplace for most businesses. Getting your name out there, and getting customers to remember it, is a very real problem. Many small businesses may think the solution is a flashy logo or loud advertisement. But Jeff reminded us this morning that while people may remember a bright logo, they won’t necessarily trust it. And a trustworthy brand is a strong brand.
People buy from companies they trust. When you are creating content – whether blog posts on your company website, business tips, or your annual report – remember to make it valuable, important stuff that people will want to share with others. That’s how you build a strong brand.
For those interested in hearing more, Jeff’s presentation was filmed and will be uploaded shortly to http://smbyeg.ca/.
Brittany Kustra is the Communications and Leasing Coordinator for NABI.
by Kurian M. Tharakan
The canning of foods was a novel and highly useful invention developed in the late 1790′s, prodded forward by a French military contest to develop a safe method for preserving and transporting food. One of the large constraints on military campaigns at that time was that the starting of wars was typically limited to the summer months as that was when food was most plentiful.
The military contest awarded the sum of 12,000 francs to Nicolas Appert, an inventor who discovered that food cooked inside a jar did not spoil until the seal was broken. Thus the canning industry and canned food was born. Over the next few decades, the processes became perfected, and canned foods became essential in military campaigns and in such expeditions as to the north and south poles. Eventually canned food rose to become a high status item in the pantries of many European households.
The strategy lesson in this story lies in the TCE, or Total Customer Experience. Although canning was invented in the 1790′s, the can opener WAS NOT invented until 1855 – a full 60 years later!! Until that time, customers relied on knives, bayonets, and other sharp instruments to remove the lids from the can, sometimes injuring themselves in the process. Relief came when Robert Yeates invented the lever type can opener that greatly eased the customer experience of getting to the contents of the can. It would be another 50 years before the double wheel design that we know today came into being.
Too often, businesses focus entirely on perfecting the product at the expense of understanding the Total Customer Experience SURROUNDING the product. Things like:
Items such as these are often sources for angst among your customers and allow great opportunity for you to differentiate.
Browse, select, buy, play, organize all in one system.
By understanding the elements of the Total Customer Experience, entirely new opportunities for your business will open up.
Many people dream of quitting their jobs. The rat race, the 9-5, working for the man. Although it’s quite a leap, it’s one that many of us have dreamed of at one time or another.
Although there are many advantages to being your own boss, entrepreneurship isn’t always as fun and flashy as we may imagine it to be. At NABI, we see the ins and outs of entrepreneurship on a daily basis. Here are a few of the pros and cons of starting your own business.
Being your own boss: Anyone who has worked at a large organization knows that bureaucracy can be frustrating. Cut through the red tape by being the decision maker of your own company.
Believing in what you do: When you can stand behind the product or service that you’re selling, you can feel good about the work you’re doing.
You’ll gain incredible experience: Becoming an entrepreneur will provide you with skills, contacts and experience you’d likely never find at a regular 9-5 job.
Busy schedule: Although some of us aspire to leave our jobs to gain better work/life balance, entrepreneurs are some of the busiest people we know. Because the business is your baby, it will take up most of your time, especially in the beginning.
You won’t do what you love: A photographer with their own business doesn’t spend all of her time taking photos. She also edits, consults with clients, markets her business, and maybe even does her own bookkeeping. Be prepared to work on every aspect of your business, not just your product.
Lack of money: Most entrepreneurs don’t make enough money to pay themselves a salary right away. As revenue starts to come in, overhead costs may grow too. Consider how you will get by on limited income for a few months (or longer), and how much you love ramen.
It’s risky: We’ve all heard the statistic that most businesses fail in five years. Starting your own venture can be a very risky investment. But if you’re serious about it and you’ve done your homework, it might just work.
Ever considered starting your own business? NABI provides workshops, business coaching, and office space for entrepreneurs. Visit nabi.ca for more information.
This piece was published in the St. Albert Leader on Thursday, February 13, 2014.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 02/05/2014
St. Albert, AB: NABI, the Northern Alberta Business Incubator, announced today that Joan Barber and Malcolm Parker are the newest additions to the organization’s Board of Directors.
Ms. Barber, the Manager of Business Expansion & Retention for City of St. Albert Economic Development, says of joining the NABI Board, “NABI has been assisting with business start-up and acceleration in St. Albert for 25 years; I am very excited to be able to contribute to an organization that does so much for the economic vitality of our community.”
Ms. Barber brings to the Board of Directors:
Says Dar Schwanbeck, Managing Director of NABI, “In these challenging times for small business, it is encouraging that people such as Joan Barber and Malcolm Parker are donating their time to NABI’s cause. We are thrilled to welcome them to our board.”
As NABI looks ahead to a year of strong local business development, the organization is pleased to welcome Ms. Barber and Mr. Parker to the Board of Directors and looks forward to having their keen insights and business acumen at the table.
About NABI: The Northern Alberta Business Incubator (NABI) has been serving the needs of business owners in the St. Albert and surrounding area for 25 years. They offer entrepreneurs the office spaces, marketing resources, path-finding advice, coaching, inspiration, capital and networking connections to improve chances of survival and success at five years to 80%.
For more information, please contact:
Brittany Kustra, Communications and Leasing Coordinator
Northern Alberta Business Incubator
13 Mission Avenue, St. Albert AB T8N 1H6
When instant coffee was introduced in the early 1900′s, it was a huge disappointment in sales. Why? There was a general perception by the public that any housewife (remember, this was still the age of the housewife who stayed home and catered to all of her family’s needs full-time) who would purchase instant coffee was “obviously” a poor planner and lazy. This KIND of woman would never have the approval of her husband, or family.
The new marketing program had to tackle these negative perceptions head on, and re-position instant coffee as a liberator of the housewife’s time for the MORE IMPORTANT DUTIES of taking care of her family, with her husband’s approval. The result: instant coffee became a household necessity by the 1970s.
This is a classic example of Social Risk, which plays a key role in a purchase decision. Simply put, prospective customers ask themselves
whether they will earn the approval or disapproval of their social group by their purchase.
Another Example: If I buy a Mercedes Benz when I live in a Chevrolet neighborhood, will I risk having a bright, new, shiny, rock slung through its windshield? Conversely, if I buy a Chevrolet when I live in a Mercedes Benz neighborhood, will my peer group believe that I’m not doing as well as I once was?
Even dating can be seen as a Social Risk situation. When you bring that new guy or girl home to mom, or introduce them to your friends, the question of “what will they think?” is always present.
The Psychological Risk factor is defined as whether the product or service is consistent with the prospect’s sense of self-identity. For example: Your 16 year old son may like nothing better than to be seen cruising the strip in a snazzy red sports convertible, but the only thing available for the trip is mom’s mini-van. The situation presents a conflict between the available product and the teenager’s sense of self-identity.
When instant cake mixes were introduced there was also a great reluctance from most housewives to use the product. Why? Similar to the instant coffee story, the perception of “What kind of mother and wife would serve this to her family” was ever present in the consumer’s mind. The researchers discovered that the problem was that making the cake was too easy, and people did not feel “involved” in the creation. The solution: have them add an egg to the cake mix before placing it into the oven. This simple act of “creative involvement” reduced the anxiety of using the instant cake mix sufficiently for sales to take off.
Marketer’s must ensure that their product is consistent with the self-identity of their prospect and compatible with the prospect’s social aspirations within their peer group.
by Kurian M. Tharakan
In the movie Zero Dark Thirty, the US Navy Seal team raid on Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden's house was conducted at 00:30, or thirty minutes past midnight. If that raid were a sales and marketing operation, zero dark thirty would be thirty minutes too late!
Before I explain what I mean, let me provide some background. In the past few months I have consulted with numerous companies who believe they have a sales problem. However, in almost every situation the primary issue was identified as marketing and not sales. How did I determine this? By examining close ratios, or how many leads were converted into a sale. Although average close ratios vary by industry and market, if you are in a competitive environment and closing more than 25% of your QUALIFIED leads you are on the right track!
... weren't generating enough QUALIFIED leads to pursue.
In each situation above the sales team were expert closers but spent most of their non-sales time waiting for the phone to ring or following up on previous leads. Now some might say that these guys should be using their "spare" time prospecting for new leads, but, by definition, prospecting (lead generation) is a marketing function. Besides, these sales teams' skills and expertise are best used to close sales, but these companies' marketing efforts were not producing enough qualified leads for them to pursue.
... up to 70% of the buying decision is made PRIOR to anyone even talking to a sales person.
A properly functioning company will have a marketing process which creates a qualified lead to HAND OFF to sales. Let's name this crucial timeline juncture as zero dark zero. This is the point of truth where marketing delivers a "primed" prospect for sales to close. Primed is the key word. These are the prospects that have a preference to choose you from all of your competitors! If a company only STARTS their selling process AFTER zero dark zero WITHOUT HAVING PRIMED THEIR PROSPECT to choose them, they are at a severe disadvantage!
So, these clients don't have a sales problem, they have a lead generation problem. All of their future revenue depends on their sales abilities with UNQUALIFIED, UNPRIMED prospects. But sales abilities can only go so far with prospects whose minds have already been 70% made up to travel in other directions!
If we were to put this into the context of Zero Dark Thirty the movie, the vast majority of the plot dealt with the CIA unearthing, tracking down, and qualifying leads on Bin Laden's exact location. The seal team's actual on the ground time was less than 38 minutes from entry to exit, but it took over 10 years of research to pinpoint the location to attack.
So, if the primary sales problem is actually a lead generation problem, what are some things you can try? Here's a VERY BASIC list. Although not all of them will apply to your specific business, you should be using at least six on a consistent basis, with full measurement and tracking of the results. How many are you doing?
We all love a good story. The story of how two people met, or a dramatic story unfolding on the silver screen. But what’s the story of your business?
Say you’ve got a new widget, or maybe an exciting business service. You know your company has the goods, but the customers aren’t flocking in droves like you thought they would.
In today’s world of Facebook fans, Twitter followers, Yelp reviewers, and traditional word of mouth, consumers have more opportunities than ever to tell their stories of interacting with businesses. That also gives your business more chances to tell your story, too. The age of nameless, faceless corporate identities is rapidly becoming a thing of the past.
Your accounting company might be very special, but no one will know that if you aren’t telling your story. If you aren’t sure where to begin, then start from the beginning. Your customers should know who you are and how your company started. Did you quit ballet school when you discovered your love of numbers? What makes you unique is what will pique the interest of your potential customers.
A strong narrative doesn’t have to stop at where you started from. Social media provides a great amount of power to today’s consumers, but Facebook and Twitter are strong platforms for businesses, too. For a new business with a small marketing budget, this might be the ideal way to demonstrate how you get the job done on a personal level.
Anecdotes about team successes and client relationships can go a long way toward a good impression. When a dozen accounting firms are offering similar services, customers turn to a company whose values match up with theirs.
Use those customer stories to your advantage, too. Doing an excellent job for a customer will often lead to a positive review or recommendation, either online or offline. We all know that the advertising world is oversaturated and most ads aren’t making an impression on customers, but an account of your top-notch work, from your mouth or the client’s, just might.
Everyone appreciates a good story – what is yours going to be?
Do you have a question or topic regarding websites, social media, the digital world and business? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Brittany Kustra is the Communications Coordinator for NABI.
Northern Alberta Business Incubator Society
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