Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Easy Street Designs now carries MacVan maps

Easy Street Designs at 109 Kiva Rd in Security, CO is pleased to announce we now carry MacVan street maps of Colorado Springs, as well as their Colorado map book.

Regular maps retail for just $4.95, the laminated version is $7.95 and the big map book is just $24.85. Other MacVan maps also available upon request.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

20 Cent Color Copies or Prints

Easy Street Designs' 20 cent color copy sale starts Monday! Two-sided, 39 cents. Upgrade to gloss just 3 cents more!

Customer provided file or hard copy, no full bleed.

$7.50 flat rate shipping anywhere in the continental U.S.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Traditional Values can Make For Happy Holidays

Many businesses count on the fourth quarter holiday season to make their year. With unemployment nearing 10% nationwide and an uncertain economy still with us, this holiday season will likely not be a blockbuster. However, that doesn't mean you can’t make it a jolly one.

Owning and operating a successful small business is not all about piling up cash. It’s about freedom, rising to challenges, meeting and exceeding people’s needs and expectations and generally making people’s day a little brighter and having fun doing it.

Whether you’re a religious person or not, the holidays are a time to focus on the real values in your life; family, friends, remembering good times past and creating new ones. Perhaps it’s because the days are shorter and the weather is colder that we have come to see this season as a time to concentrate on the warm and the bright side of life. Whatever the motivation, this is a good year to really take it to heart.

How does this relate to your holiday business strategy? Well, money may be tight for consumers this year, but they still want to reinforce personal connections and traditions. If you don’t currently carry greeting cards, maybe you should start. Unique, custom cards are particularly popular, but if you aren't the artsy-crafty type, a service like Leanin’ Tree can provide both the displays and the stock.

You may carry fewer of any given high end item, but don’t bail on them entirely. Many families will still choose to make high end purchases, just not as many of them. On the other end, you’ll want to offer low priced alternatives, but don’t go low quality. An inexpensive gift that lasts can be appreciated for years to come. A cheap trinket that breaks within a week might just foster disdain. Ornaments make a great low cost gift item. Whether it be a wreath, a wall hanging or something for the tree, it’s something that most everyone can afford and may even be passed along to future generations.

Don’t be afraid to deck the halls. Despite what you may have heard on the news, a festive atmosphere is not going to offend enough people to worry about, unless your business model is strategically targeted at killjoys. You don’t have to be a born again Christian to appreciate a good light show, even if it does involve a manger. You can also include Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Santa Claus...go nuts.

A great in-store promotion, especially in tough economic times, is drawing for free gifts or stuffed stockings for the kids. This year, rather than one big one, consider several smaller ones. Make the drawing at least a week in advance of Christmas. Kid’s love to unwrap surprises. It doesn’t have to be a new car or a PlayStation. Just something fun. A gift card or certificate to a local restaurant can provide an evening of family fun for your customers while also helping out a fellow local business owner.

In uncertain times, people often look to the past for comfort and for grounding. Think nostalgia. Traditional holiday books, albums and the toys and games you grew up with could be good sellers this year. On the “new stuff” end, think communication. While you may not want to go head to head in the cell phone sales arena, you could offer accessories like colorful cases and head phones. Flash drives are inexpensive and handy items as well. Speaking of comfort, maybe an assortment of chocolates on display near the register?

None of these things are going to lead you to record breaking sales this year. There will be some businesses that achieve that, but they will be the exception, not the rule. Adding some inexpensive, thoughtful items to your inventory may help at the margins however. More importantly you want to show your customers, and yourself, that a tough year is not going to bring you down. Remember what’s really important to you. It’s the fundamentals that will bring us through this economic fog, ready to move ahead in the right direction. Now is the time to reflect upon and celebrate them.

Penny Pinching Marketing

Times are tough. Budgets are tight. But you’ve still got to keep yourself out there in terms of marketing. There are some time-tested marketing techniques that require a bit more time and less cash than what you might focus on when cash flow is healthier.

If delivery of your product involves any kind of packaging, consider full color labels. A box of 100 - 2” x 4” Avery type labels can be had for less than $30. You can buy and print yourself, or your friendly neighborhood print shop can provide labels and full color printing for about $2/sheet (10 labels). At 20 cents a pop, it’s a cost effective way to create a bit more awareness among your customers and the people they deal with. It’s also a good idea to include samples and/or promotional items along with packaged or shipped items. Toss in some extras, so they can share.

If you’re sending out invoices, including a flyer, update, magnet or a couple of business cards likely wont cost you any more in postage and makes it easy for your existing customers to refer you to friends and associates.

If direct mail is no longer in your budget, consider door hangers. They don’t cost any more than postcards and even if you don’t have time to distribute yourself, it shouldn’t take long to find some enterprising individuals willing to do the job at 10 cents/piece. You may even be able to enlist your favorite non-profit to provide the footwork in exchange for donating what you would have paid hired help. Another distribution alternative is inserts in local, regional papers. Most charge about 5 cents per piece (not including printing). It’s not quite as direct as a mailing list, but at just over 10% of the cost of first class mail, it’s a great value.

Banners can be a great value as well. They can be used many times over and they’re portable. You can display them on your site and/or, for a small fee, many youth sports organizations and community events organizers will let you display them at games and other activities. Many new cars are not conducive to car magnets, due to the contours of the doors. But, if yours is, you might want to put your vehicle to work. Even if you only put them on while parked in a conspicuous location during business hours, it’s extremely cost effective. Just be sure to store them flat when you take them off.

Business card and calendar magnets are a perennial favorite as well. Again, if you want your current customers to remember and refer you, make it easy. What’s easier than walking over and looking at the fridge or the side of the filing cabinet or microwave while you’re talking on the phone?

Above all, don’t let fretting over a tight budget cause your execution to suffer. The customers you already have are your number one priority. Take good care of them and they will bring you others. If you run into a problem, be up front and communicate. Most will forgive a mistake. But if they feel like they’re being ignored or misled, they’ll take it personally. There are too many people competing for the same business for you to lose a good customer because you didn’t want to make a potentially awkward phone call.

These are not revolutionary new ideas. But they may be ideas that got brushed aside when you could afford to try other things. The key, when money is tight, is to focus not on what you can’t do, but on what you can do.