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Breaking The Chains!

Everyday, customers and business owners are bombarded with billboards, logos, print and electronic ads from huge corporations. With annual ad budgets that are more than our businesses' SALES in an entire year, our small independent businesses are getting squeezed out of consumers minds (and wallets) more and more each year. But the good news is, there are ways to fight back and "break the chains":

  • Build that website and perfect your online presence.
  • The Internet is one place where, compared to print and other forms of electronic media, the playing field is relatively level. A website filled with loads of great content will be loved by the search engines like Google and Yahoo!, and because of that, customers that may not even know where you are can find you and buy online. If you own a retail store, start an e-store. If you own a restaurant or a service-related business, offer a gift certificate or printable coupon. Starting a mailing list on your website with the latest news, events and special offers is a great way to get (and keep) loyal, regular customers. The options are endless, and best of all, content is the Internet king, not slick, flashy, repetitive advertising. If you aren't comfortable with all things Internet, there are many companies that are, and can help you with web design, web hosting, search engine optimization, and web marketing.

  • Join (or start) a co-op or business association.
  • "Strength in Numbers" is more than a catchy phrase, it is becoming a necessity in our current business climate. Trade organizations can purchase products together to get better rates and buys, they can advertise together with direct mail coupons and newsletters (another big money saver), and they carry more political clout by appointing representatives to call on state legislatures or even Congress in order to promote legislation favorable to small independent businesses. If your area doesn't have a trade organization, or does but you feel it doesn't meet your needs, start one! The National Federation of Independent Business is a great resource with representatives in all fifty states and Washington D.C.

  • Don't mimic Corporate America
  • Advertising is not cheap, because the prices that the large corporations are willing to pay for it have priced it out of the reach of most small businesses. This is not necessarily a bad thing; let them have all of the cold, impersonal, beat you over the head repetitive advertising! People only care about this on Super Bowl Sunday anyway! Always go for the personal touch. If you own a restaurant or retail store, introduce yourself. Let them know you appreciate them coming by, and you can't wait to see them again. Always offer coupons or incentives, and be as unique, creative and memorable as you possibly can. Remember that "word of mouth" advertising is so great you can't put a price tag on it. Put yourself in the customers shoes, and stay there! Don't ever do what you want; do what they want. Don't just market your business, market yourself. It leaves an impression, and with the sorry state of customer service today in most (chain) businesses, people won't forget it!

    Remember, you are an independent business because you wanted to do something new or different, so promote yourself accordingly. Here's to you "breaking the chains" and becoming successful with your chosen endeavor.

    Jason Gober is the owner and founder of Independent Business Online (http://www.myibol.com & http://www.shopindies.biz), providing web design, hosting and web directory resources to independent businesses. He can be reached anytime at sales@shopindies.biz.

    Feel free to reprint and distribute any articles from Independent Business Online in their entirety, including email and website links.

    In The News:

    Strasbourg Christmas market gunman shot dead
    Thu, 13 Dec 2018 15:25:00 +0000
    The man suspected of opening fire at a Christmas market has been shot dead, the French interior minister has said.

    Chelsea fans accused of antisemitic chanting during match
    Fri, 14 Dec 2018 06:32:00 +0000
    Chelsea fans have been accused of racist chanting in their Europa League draw away at Vidi on Thursday night.

    Flight turns around after human heart left on board
    Fri, 14 Dec 2018 07:40:00 +0000
    A flight from Seattle to Dallas was forced to turn back after a human heart was left on board.

    US Senate blames Saudi crown prince for Khashoggi's death
    Thu, 13 Dec 2018 21:14:00 +0000
    The US Senate has passed a resolution stating Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is responsible for the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

    Yemen rivals agree ceasefire in rebel stronghold
    Thu, 13 Dec 2018 12:18:00 +0000
    Rival sides in Yemen's civil war have agreed a province-wide ceasefire in Hodeida, the United Nations says.



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