Marketing in Turbulent Times

By Dick Helmey
President, trucolorGRAPHICS/FASTSIGNS
HWCOC Board Member and Former Chair

And, these are turbulent times to say the least. I don’t know what the true outlook is for the future, but I do have an abiding belief that this situation will be more short term than long term. So, the issue for small business and others for that matter, is how do we navigate the near term and prepare to come out of the gates when the economy gets back on track.

Near term:

If you can, now is not the time to pull in your marketing and sales effort. In Texas, many industries are still running and need goods and services. For your business, identify those and reach out to them to let them know how you are operating and how you can help. This is when your membership and relationships you have developed in the Houston West Chamber are most valuable. Now is the time to take advantage of those resources and to connect with fellow Chamber members. Everyone is looking for ways to operate more efficiently and maintain as much of their revenue streams as possible. How can you help?

Prepare for the other side:

Yes, Virginia, this will pass and when it does you need to be ready to take advantage of it. Now is the time to refocus on creating your marketing and sales plans and to develop all of those programs you never had time to work on. This isn’t unique advice, but it will be easy to get swept up in crisis management. Be sure that a key element of your crisis management is planning for the rebound.

From a marketing perspective, I have always been a firm believer in really understanding who your target audience is. Everything flows from that. Like a bullseye target, clearly understand what businesses and consumers are in the middle for your business and be sure you focus on that. The outer ring opportunities are now a “B” project. How can you help them in the next few weeks and on the other side.

Again, you’re lucky. You belong to the best business organization in the Houston area. Don’t forget that and let’s pull together.

Don’t Waste This Time

Top Five Ways to Get the Greatest Benefit While You Stay in Place.

Ed Ryland
ARVO Realtor Advisors

There are many things that you can do as a small business owner during the Coronavirus Stay in Place.The one thing you don’t want to do, is waste this valuable opportunity. Look at it like a “Staycation”

1. Processes. How many times have you wished you had time to document your company’s processes?This is a great opportunity to document and refine your processes. As your team members change and new people join your organization, documenting your processes can eliminate or reduce the time required to restart and train your personnel-making your entire team more effective and efficient. This can be an extremely good use of your time, and you will be glad you did it.

2. Training. What a great opportunity to train and retrain your personnel! Look for training tools and ways that you can help your team do their jobs better and bring greater value to your customers.

3. Personal CEO Development. This is a great opportunity to enhance your knowledge around your industry so you can become known as an expert. Keep a positive attitude. You no longer have the excuse of not having time to read, or focus on self-help videos and resources. Do those things you have been promising to do. Get your workout routine started (again). Look at this like a caterpillar in a cocoon. They emerge, as a beautiful butterfly. Take this time to work on yourself and when you emerge, you will be a beautiful and more powerfully engaged leader; stronger for yourself, family and company.

4. Pick up the phone. Not just to text, email or get on social media. Pick up the phone to call someone!Recently I spoke to my daughter about this.” Hey, this is your dad, how are you? I was just thinking about you and your sister and brother and wanted to call and say I love you and I’m so proud of the young people you have turned out to be. Call me back I want to hear your voice”. Call someone.It makes a big difference when you call and they hear your voice, and you hear theirs. You can encourage them, and they can encourage you. By the way, tell someone that you love them, tell your clients that you appreciate their business and that you will be there for them.

5. Look at how you can reduce cost. This is an excellent opportunity to look at every line item on your profit and loss statement and determine how you can avoid, reduce or eliminate cost during this challenging time.Is there an expense that you don’t need temporarily? Are there any expenses you can eliminate? Do you have contracts in place that you can now renegotiate for a reduced rate for period of time? This is a great opportunity to be creative and innovative to keep your business afloat until we get through this uncharted time. We will get through this. We will come out stronger and better than ever!

We understand that two of your largest expense items are your payroll and your facility lease costs. We have a commercial real estate Lease Relief Program designed to help small businesses. Contact our office if you need this assistance

Business Tips on How to Survive the Virus

By: Malcolm D. Gibson
M.D. Gibson & Bolen, P.C.

There is nothing new under the sun, including recessions. During my career as a lawyer, they have occurred roughly every twelve years. Covid-19 is my fourth. When an economic crisis strikes, the most important lesson I’ve learned is not to take the media too seriously. Journalists are not economists. Most bad news that is reported is only 50% as bad as its headline. The same goes for good news. Dig into the data yourself before making any new business plans. Over the years, I’ve learned to use each slow-down to assess how the business climate might change when the recession has passed and to adjust my marketing approach accordingly. For example, most companies will seek to emerge from recessions much leaner. This means more outsourcing. If you research what products or services were provided to a company by employees or vendors before the downturn, when business picks up again (and it will) you can be in a position to offer those products or services in a more economical “package” on a contract basis. If you don’t have all the deliverables yourself in-house, you can find joint venture partners to join with you.

I have also found that every customer needs something to weather a recession. What it is will vary from company to company, but there is always something. For example, an accounting firm may need introductions to law firms for referrals. Ask your customers what they need the most to ride out the recession. If you cannot provide those things yourself, find out who can. Using your network to help your customers’ find what they need to survive will enhance your personal brand with them. Whether you are successful or not, they will remember that you tried and return the favor when times improve.

To further illustrate this point, consider the results of a survey of law firm clients taken some years ago. When asked what was most important to them in hiring a law firm, they did not choose how often a firm had won or lost legal cases, its fee schedule, or its response time. Far and away the leading criteria was whether the law firm had its clients’ best interest at heart. Never discount the value of loyalty, especially during hard times.

It’s easier to get to know your clients on a personal level when business is slow. Rather than discussing legal issues, I have used the time (free of charge) to ask more about how their company operates. They have always been happy to oblige and that I cared enough to inquire. The more I learned the better position I was in to offer economical legal services down the road. I also learned about their interests outside of the office, such as non-profits and charities, and how I could help them support these causes.

When recessions hit, I have discovered that trade associations often seek to provide their members with information about how to weather the storm. I’ve always asked our clients if they belong to any such organizations and, if so, I’ve offered to make a short presentation to the group at no charge about legal issues during hard times. It’s given me a chance to enhance the image of our client before a group of its peers and to promote our firm.

Another tactic I’ve used in the face of a slow-down is simply to become less specialized. There are always areas of expertise that you enjoy more than others and they tend to become specialties. But promoting your full range of skills will increase your universe of potential clients.

Finally, when business slows, I’ve always tried to focus on finding and/or keeping smaller customers. While it may be may mean making some price concessions, in an environment where businesses are being forced to close every day, I prefer to have ten small clients than one big one. It helps pay the light bill.

Why a Strong Chamber of Commerce is Good for Business.

By Dave Gilkeson, Vice President of Operations & COO
Westchase District,
HWCOC 2020 Board Chair

Dave’s Top Ten List of Questions to Ponder.

Remember the chamber tag line – In Business, For Business!

For members considering membership renewal – even in today’s economic environment – please take a moment to examine your investment in the Houston West Chamber of Commerce.

10. Has the chamber assisted my marketing efforts? The strongest form of advertising is word of mouth. How can you not afford to have other chamber members passing your name onto business prospects?

9. Does belonging to the chamber assist my business’s credibility?

8. Does belonging to the chamber advance the careers of myself or my employees through their personal development programming?

7. Has the chamber provided our members as an advocacy for business issues with Government officials? And if you can’t say yes to this, then has the chamber provided access to Governmental officials through it’s monthly programming with the Governmental Affairs committee?

6. Has the chamber given my business exposure through the networking programs or ribbon cutting ceremonies (which number in the hundreds per year)?

5. Have I gotten involved with the Houston West Chamber and has it been a positive experience for both me and my business? And the more I get engaged, the more other members can advocate with other community business leaders and elected officials.

4. Have I received marketing benefits from the chamber though its email and website communication pieces?

3. Have I received additional branding recognition through the chamber’s website and social media presence?

2. In sponsoring / supporting the chambers events, have I assisted in supporting other non-profits that have received recognition and financial assistance as a result of the event?

1. Is this the most-friendliest, most positive, and most multi-referrals chamber on the planet or what?

You should be able to answer yes to all of the above questions, but even if that is not the case, examine your investment in the chamber, you should still be able to cost justify this marketing arm of your business.


10 Steps to Build Brand Loyalty.

By Michael Mallon
Storyteller Promotions 

If you are in a business that prefers Loyal and Devoted customers as opposed to those who shop solely on price, or convenience, or speed, then there are some steps you need to take to create that Raving Fan. I have spent the last two decades studying the brands that have created loyalty amongst their followers and they all share these qualities.

1. They Have a Simple Single Stated Purpose – Simon Sinek, calls it your Why. Some refer to it as a cause, a belief. It is a vision of the future that does not yet exist, yet you are dedicated to expend all of your resources to achieve it, AND, you can utter it throughout your organization in one simple sentence.

2. They Understand Purpose vs Task – You and your team may perform many tasks, but know that deep within is that purpose and its pursuit. They know that each and every task or role within the organization exists for one reason and that is to pursue the purpose.

3. They Have Courageous Leadership – The company’s leadership is willing to adhere to the pursuit of the stated purpose and standards of care. They are willing sacrifice short term gains for the long term vision. They are willing to jeopardize losing the wrong customer to maintain their brand integrity and care for the right customer

4. They have Prioritized Standards of Care with identified & Specific Acceptable Behaviors that each and every team member displays at each and every interaction with the Brand.

5. They Educate their team members as opposed to Train them how to perform a task. They know that a team member who understands Why they perform a specific function, in a specific way, at a specific point, creates an environment where people are fulfilled at the end of the day.

6. They have Trusting Teams that possess a consistent & overwhelming desire within the group to get better at what they do, how they do it and for whom they do it.

7. They have A Deep Understanding of the Expectations of the people within their organization and those who use their services or product. They anticipate their needs, wants and desires, and seek to exceed them every day.

8. They Know What Competes against them instead of Who; they play the long game of business and know that sometimes you don’t run with the pack. They focus on being a better version of themselves as opposed beating their perceived competitor; instead of running to win, they run to be a better runner.

9. When things go wrong, and they always will, They Attack the Process that led to the mistake, NOT the People involved.

10. They are Conscious of the Show created by the expectations of the people they serve. Shakespeare famously said, “All the World is a Stage”; the smart brands Give their customers what they NEED, even when, THEY DON’T KNOW, THEY WANT IT