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Hey there, busy members!

We see you. You're juggling inventory, payroll, marketing... the list never ends. And we keep sending emails about events you don’t have time to attend, right? While these events can be incredible opportunities to learn and grow professionally, we understand that “getting together” isn’t in everybody’s calendar.

Patty Vanoven

Surviving a Difficult Economy (even if you don't want to use the "I" word)

For the past two years or so, it feels as if economists have been avoiding the words recession and inflation. No one wants to hear those terms. They’ve been pointing to economic equations and data to show we’re not “technically” in a recession because unemployment is low or the inflation rate is lower than it was this time last year. But if you’re feeling the pinch in your business, an economic turn of words means little to you.

Patty Vanoven

You want more business so it should be about you. Yes? No!

Beginning marketers often think a Facebook group is an ideal way to bring their target market together. And while we’re not discounting the truth behind that, most novice businesses make a critical mistake when creating a Facebook group for the first time.

Patty Vanoven

If you take the time to understand your ideal client, you will be much more satisfied in the long run.

If you are in a client services business (especially one where your clients might return over and over), one of the best things you can do to set yourself up for success is to understand who you want to work with and who aligns with your skills and talent.

Patty Vanoven

Whew! Can you feel it? The unofficial start of summer is here.

Summer is a season of change for many small businesses. School's out, vacations are in, and customer behavior shifts as people embrace the warmer weather and longer days. For some businesses, it’s a time of enormous revenue; for others, it can herald a long dry spell.

Patty Vanoven

If you’re selling what your customers need, you should also be using the language they do to find you.

This is not a comment on the actual item or service you sell but in how you present it. If you’re not using your audience’s language and talking to a need they’ve identified, you’re fighting a marketing battle, and you need to change that today.

Patty Vanoven

It's not about replacing your employees with robots.

The business landscape is noisy and crowded for most of us. But keeping your customers happy and engaged is crucial to your success and their return. Artificial intelligence (AI) offers a powerful toolkit to elevate your customer experience in ways you might not have thought of. And it’s not about replacing your employees with robots. As a business owner, you can leverage AI to make your customers feel valued and keep them coming back for more.

Patty Vanoven

You want to do more than just be recognizable and remain top-of-mind.

As a business owner, you are well-served by collecting emails and running an email marketing campaign if for no other reason than to remain top-of-mind with your customers. When they’re getting emails from you with exciting news and great deals (who couldn’t use those these days?) they’ll get used to hearing from you and seeing your name.

Patty Vanoven

How Thinking Bigger Can Help You Grow

As a small business owner, it's easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day operations of your business. You're constantly juggling tasks like managing inventory or staff, paying bills, and dealing with customer service issues. It can be challenging to find time to think about the big picture, let alone act on it. However, it's essential to think bigger if you want your business to grow and thrive. Now’s as good a time as any.

Patty Vanoven

Small business owners and solopreneurs learn quickly that they must wear many hats.

While this ability to work in every area of their business may save money in the short term, it doesn't take long to understand that multitasking can be bad for business. When your focus is diluted across many channels and business goals, you may find that you do a little bit of everything but never solidly complete anything. You spend a good part of your day putting out fires and starting projects and at the end may realize you didn't finish anything to your satisfaction.

Patty Vanoven

What the Remote Work Trend Means for Your Small Business

Do you work from home, or do you have a brick-and-mortar business? While COVID taught us about the convenience of working from home (who can give up a one-minute commute?), it’s been the inflated economy and increase in costs that have driven many small businesses to embrace a location-independent business. That could mean a big change for communities over the next five years.

Patty Vanoven

It might not be cost, location, or top-of-mind recognition

Ask yourself a simple question - what's holding your potential customers back from buying from you? You might think cost. Perhaps it's ease of purchase (online ordering), location, or not knowing about you. But there could be something much easier to fix than cutting your prices, moving, or rebranding / launching a huge marketing campaign. While all these things are important - pricing, location, and top-of-mind recognition - there is something else you could be doing to get more people in your business.

Patty Vanoven

If you’re a gig worker, or you use them in your business, it’s important that you are aware of recent legislation that went into effect this month.

The number of gig employees has grown exponentially over the past few years. In 2024, it’s expected there will be 76.4 million people working as freelancers and indie professionals). These people work in a variety of industries including ride-hailing (Uber, Lyft, etc.), food delivery, freelance writing, graphic design, consulting, and others.

Patty Vanoven

No matter the size of your business, if you are bringing someone new on, you must consider the onboarding process

Hiring is one of the costliest things you do as a business as it can leave you exposed and vulnerable. While a good hire can be a turning point in your business, a bad hire can leave you (and your employees) reeling. That’s why the interview and selection process are important. However, it’s what you do after that that will shape the employee and your team the most.

Patty Vanoven

Ineffective content is akin to a rude receptionist working at your front desk.

I can already hear the groaning—nobody reads, nobody likes to write. While we can argue these points forever and ever, it’s probably been a while since you looked at your business’ website content. If your content is stale and doesn’t resonate with your target audience, you need to fix that stuff now—even if you think no one reads anymore.

Patty Vanoven

A Short Guide to Transforming Your Hobby into a Business

A study from GOBankingRates published last summer cited that 42% of Americans want to start their own business (numbers are even higher than that among the younger generations). Whether it’s part of a work/life balance personal initiative, an idea to follow your bliss, or you simply want to change things in your life, if you have a hobby you want to turn into a business, we have some advice for you.

Patty Vanoven

Whether you are a company of one or 100, there are ways to help customers feel a “need” for you.

Does your morning begin post coffee? If so, then you know the importance of that routine (and caffeine addiction). Your morning just isn’t the same without it. You can create the same addiction to your business. It just requires a more carefully created artifice or brand. Without the help of caffeine or other addictive substance, you’ll need to use marketing and a persona that draws people in and makes them want to be a part of your business.

Patty Vanoven

When people join in on a decision, they become invested in its success.

For years now, marketers have touted word-of-mouth marketing as the most powerful, influential, and effective marketing out there. Business owners heeding this advice have begged, borrowed, and bribed people to review them. But it’s been an uphill battle for most. That’s because when customers have a good (or even great) experience, they are less likely to review a product or service than when they are disgruntled.

Patty Vanoven

Finding the Ideal Social Media Superhero for Your Business

Social media is a Hulk-size time suck, but it is also one of the most effective ways to connect with your audience. . And since everyone thinks they can post to social, there are a lot of ineffective people posing as social media superheroes.

Patty Vanoven

By investing time in establishing the right work space can improve your productivity, creativity, and organization.

Whether you believe in Feng Shui or not, you can transform your workspace into a harmonious and productive haven that will help you achieve more in the time it takes to watch your favorite TV show.

Patty Vanoven

YouTube offers a unique space for businesses to connect with their audience, showcase expertise, and build lasting relationships.

There’s an untapped goldmine out there for your business—YouTube. Beyond the fact that it is the second-largest search engine globally (behind its parent Google), YouTube offers a unique space for businesses to connect with their audience, showcase expertise, and build lasting relationships. It’s time to get over your fear of video and embrace the world of YouTube because it can significantly impact your business growth and reach.

Patty Vanoven

An easy change that will transform your business' marketing and how people see your business.

No matter what industry you're in, you can always learn from the techniques used in other businesses. Particularly if those techniques lead you to ideas that help you connect with your audience.

Patty Vanoven

AI is masterful at sentence construction and grammar, but can it convince your audience to buy from you?

I recently spoke with an SEO expert who swore that search engines are biased against AI-written websites (websites that have not one word written by a human). He said AI-written websites are something search engines are discounting for (marking you down) because of the possibility of the sites being fake or holder sites. I can’t speak to the truth behind this but if you do still want to write some of your own copy, here are three copywriting tips you can implement today that AI isn’t using.

Patty Vanoven

This isn't a question meant to see if you're still cognizant after the holidays

No, this isn’t a question meant to see if you’re still cognizant after the holidays. It’s a valid one derived from all the talk percolating about New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions are often these giant pie-in-the-sky ideas that are ways to massively overcorrect bad behavior. The kind of bad behavior most of us enjoy…until we don’t.

Patty Vanoven

How Chambers can make a Big Difference this Holiday Season

While making a commitment to supporting small business has become much more popular over the last few years, there are many types of small businesses. And some of them go unnoticed. These micro businesses need community support. By providing them with that support, we can foster community goodwill, promote collaboration, and be seen as advocates for business startups, a reputation that has far-reaching implications outside of the holiday.

Patty Vanoven

Getting on the "Nice" Business List

As of this writing, there are about two weeks left in the largest retail spending season of the year. If you own a small business and you want to ensure you bring in the most revenue possible in the next couple weeks, there are a few things you must have in place. Just as Santa is making his list and checking it twice, you should do the same if you want to be on the "Nice List."

Patty Vanoven

How to get more sales through Fear of Missing Out

Years ago, when Black Friday was one day and not six weeks long, we suffered from fear of missing out (FOMO) when it came to bargains. We felt (which was indeed the marketer’s goal) that you had to buy at that moment or risk being charged more later. Rarely were we ready to purchase but we did so because we didn’t want to miss the deal. FOMO is a powerful sales motivator, and the holiday season is one of the best times to leverage that tactic for extraordinary revenue. Here are some tips on how you can do just that.

Patty Vanoven

If you think of the holiday season as just Thanksgiving and Christmas, you could be missing out.

Experts estimate that most small retail businesses earn about 20% of their annual sales in December and even more if you factor in November as well. While Christmas has been the front runner in most people’s minds for decades, there’s now a lot more mainstream celebrating occurring in the last quarter of the year, and your business should be a part of it.

Patty Vanoven

Inexpensive Sensory-friendly ideas for the holiday season

The holiday season can be overwhelming with the twinkling lights, music, and crowds under the best of circumstances. For about 16.5% of the US population, overstimulation can be torturous. Over the last decade, sensory-sensitivity condition diagnoses, such as autism, have increased. Taking this into consideration when preparing your business for the holiday season can make a huge difference in many lives. It doesn't require a huge monetary investment to make the shift in your small business either.

Patty Vanoven

Do you find yourself wondering how you’re going to compete with larger, national stores with big marketing budgets and attractive loss leaders that bring in a crowd?

How will you capture the attention of local shoppers, dinner, or service users? Well, we’re here to equip you with a set of insightful questions to ask yourself, your employees, and your customers for big returns this holiday. By embracing these questions, you will not only position your business for the holiday rush (and revenue!) but also foster a stronger connection with your local audience.

Patty Vanoven

According to the Wall Street Journal, sales could increase as much as 40% for stores that are welcoming and encourage relaxation and invitations to "stay a while."

It's the perfect time to capitalize on the festive spirit to attract customers and boost sales. As a small business you also want to invite people to linger, especially if you’re in retail. According to the Wall Street Journal, sales could increase as much as 40% for stores that are welcoming and encourage relaxation and invitations to “stay a while.” Holiday decorations and photo ops are great ways to do this.

Patty Vanoven

Princeton Auto Parke wants you and your family to stay safe on the roads this winter. By following these tips and advice, you’ll be ready for winter driving. And don’t forget: Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!

Princeton Auto Parke

Let’s explore the most common fears for business owners and the strategies for addressing them.

Starting and managing a business is no small feat. While you may feel empowered to start a business or work for yourself, it can be daunting. You may be facing a myriad of fears and uncertainties. Unfortunately, there’s no magical time that they go away. So, let’s explore the most common fears for business owners and the strategies for addressing them. One solution that can significantly ease these concerns is by working with the Chamber.

Patty Vanoven

Delving into the concept of experiential selling to capture the attention and loyalty of your audience.

As costs rise and drive up the costs of goods, your customers are looking for value. Providing quality products or services is no longer enough. To truly stand out and succeed, you need to deliver unforgettable, engaging, and emotionally resonating experiences to your customers. This shift toward experiential selling has become increasingly vital, particularly in crowded and competitive niches.

Patty Vanoven

What is Niche Marketing?

Do you have a limited marketing budget? Do you think what you can accomplish with your budget is less than ideal because you don’t have the money of a large company? While that may seem true, there is one thing you can do to really move the dial and maximize your small marketing budget.

Patty Vanoven

Are you getting as much engagement from posts as you desire?

If not, it could be that you are missing one or more of these critical steps. Your business's social media pages are a major asset that needs to be maximized for engagement. These tips will help you get the engagement you are looking for.

Patty Vanoven

With this Smart Content Marketing Tip

Content marketing has been around for a while now. It began when search engines like Google started ranking sites by—among other things—the quality of the content as perceived by the audience. This caused many marketers to increase the quality of their content.

Patty Vanoven

Small mom & pop businesses with field workers stand to gain much more with Teams and Microsoft 365 than do larger organizations, and they can get that improvement in hours or days.

County Quest Consulting

A Chamber Membership Is Worth a Lot More Than That.

When I speak to small businesses about the chamber, the businesses that have let their memberships lapse often make it sound like a gym membership. “I didn’t really use it.” What they’re missing when they make comments like that is the behind-the-scenes benefits of chamber membership. Just as your investment grows in a savings account in a bank, your business investment in chamber membership is growing even when you aren’t actively participating. Here’s what you’re getting that you may not even realize:

Patty Vanoven

Ever notice how some offers are irresistible?

Ever notice how some offers are irresistible? You didn’t even know you needed the product or service. Then you saw the offer, and BANG!, you’re whipping out your credit card. This isn’t by accident. Someone down the line carefully created the offer that caused you to act with wild abandon. And you can do it too for your business. It just takes a little forethought.

Patty Vanoven

Is Chamber Membership Worth it?

Have you ever attended a chamber event? If you’re not a member, you’re missing out. Before you think you don’t have the time to attend events, it’s important you know chamber life is not just mixers and ribbon cuttings. Chamber membership is one of the best-kept secrets for free or nearly free business resources like webinars, lunch & learns, and written collateral. Plus, a whole lot more. Chamber membership is one of the best business investments you can make for the money and return.

Patty Vanoven

Like fire, Microsoft 365 is an awesome servant but a terrible master. Learn how to use 365 properly and you’ll have a business that is head and shoulders above the competition. Use it poorly, and you can seriously hurt your business.

County Quest Consulting

You heard me right!

In the bustling world of small business, as entrepreneurs and professionals, we often find ourselves caught in the whirlwind of routines, habits, and attachments that no longer serve our growth, personally or professionally. In the pursuit of success, we accumulate emotional baggage, physical clutter, mental burdens, and antiquated processes that hinder us from experiencing the success we truly desire.

Patty Vanoven

A Cheap & Easy Way to Improve Your Branding

Have you ever heard the phrase, "You are the company you keep?" It has good and bad ramifications, doesn't it? It's often applied to young people and their friends. But did you know this "Halo Effect" influences customers as well? And you could be using it in your business for amazing results.

Patty Vanoven

Do you think of LinkedIn as something to be used solely by job seekers?

While the world's largest professional network is widely recognized as a platform for job seekers and recruiters to connect, that’s not all it can do. Its potential goes far beyond job hunting. For savvy business owners and professionals, LinkedIn offers a treasure trove of opportunities to find customers, strengthen their brand, and expand their network.

Patty Vanoven

If you’re on Instagram, the answer is probably. And it’s easy to do.

Facebook err…Meta does it again. We have yet another social media platform to consider. Usually when advising businesses on whether they should participate on a social media platform, I ask them who their ideal client is and then we go by demographics. If your ideal customer is on the platform, go for it. If not, skip it—unless you just really enjoy being overextended in your posts and social media attention. But threads isn’t exactly a new platform. Well, it is technically. But if you have Instagram, it feels more like

Patty Vanoven

Why is Shiny Bad for Business?

Have you ever seen the movie Up? In it, there’s a scene where a talking dog (he has a collar that translates his thoughts) is explaining his voice, only to be derailed by the passing of a squirrel. You may know this example as “shiny object syndrome.” Whatever you call it, it’s becoming a big problem for businesses and entrepreneurs. Here’s why and what you can do about it if it’s interfering with your success.

Patty Vanoven

NFIB Small Business Optimism Index May Result Highlights

Recently, the May NFIB Small Business Optimism Index results came out. While thy were certainly not surprising, if you're feeling concerned about your business, you're not alone. Seeing what others are struggling with (and what they're doing in the face of these struggles) can be helpful.

Patty Vanoven

How Business Owners Can Standout at Networking Events

"There is no one alive more youer than you" Dr. Seuss

Patty Vanoven

Why is a Growth Mindset Important?

Why is a Growth Mindset Important? (Hint: over 50% of business professionals across all industries are succumbing to it)

Patty Vanoven

If you’re looking to market specifically to seniors and other older demographics, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

It’s predicted that by 2040, 80.8 million residents of the US will be over the age of 65 (currently, we’re at 47 million). That’s more than double the number in 2000. With more people staying active longer, they’re more apt to make their own buying decisions. Many seniors are working longer. In some cases, this means more disposable income. Here are a few things you can do to be more appealing to an older demographic.

Patty Vanoven

Are you Ready?

Changing your SEO Strategy to Meet the New World

Patty Vanoven

Why small companies should get involved in workforce development

Access to a skilled workforce Enhanced competitiveness Talent retention & attraction Building stronger networks

Patty Vanoven
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