Businesses come, businesses go
By Lynette Sowell
My front porch
During 2019, I’ve enjoyed going through our newspaper archives from 1959, 1969, and 1979 for our weekly section called From the Vault. It’s a big year for our city – 140 years – and a big year for the newspaper -125 years, this October. I figured a trip down memory lane would be interesting and fun for readers, and my publisher was on board with the idea. We’ve had a number of sponsors to buy in with this idea too – the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, Manning Homes, Joey Acfalle, Fresh Pressed Coffee, and CCISD.
One thing I’ve noticed is the opening of many, many businesses in our city over the past six decades. Burger King opened 40 years ago this year, and I’ve seen articles for the first 7-Eleven being constructed in our city, Cove State Bank, and more. During my more than nine years at the paper, I’ve seen businesses come and businesses go, just in that short time.
I’m sure business owners would agree with me that getting the word out, then getting and keep customers is paramount to them staying afloat. How can a business owner do that while still keeping operations going? That’s the $100,000 question and there’s no magic formula for making that happen.
Last Monday evening I had the privilege of facilitating a workshop through our Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation. We talked about a business owner’s marketing toolbox. There’s no wonder-tool that guarantees a following and buzz.
I told those who attended that marketing is more than just advertising – it’s a complete picture of how you present your business to your customers and the community. I am a firm believer that a business marketing toolbox should contain a combination of digital, print, and in-person tools that are part of a complete package.
We talked about the elephant in the room – Facebook. Once a novelty for business promotion, it is becoming more and more of an echo chamber as businesses fight for notice among an ever-updating stream of information that include posts from friends of their vacation photos, yet another “event” being promoted, pictures of cats, dogs, meals, and clever memes. Facebook is “free” but owners of business pages discover that their posts aren’t getting the “reach” – views – that they once did. It can be a time waster. And how many of us have logged on only to see an event which already occurred that we might have been interested in? For that business owner, they’ve lost out on customers. The information then gets swallowed up in the ever-updating news feed and we forget.
I’ve heard it said that “no one reads the paper anymore” and that’s an extreme statement. Thousands of readers in Copperas Cove might disagree with them. They’re not no one – an intentional double-negative. As someone who manages the news flow in our office and also sells advertising, I’ve found us rising to the challenge of proving that statement wrong.
Many people toss unsolicited mail into the trash, but our subscribers have given us their dollars to state that, “Yes, I want the information you are providing to me.” It’s a readymade audience for a business. We also have a monthly digital reach that numbers in the tens of thousands online. I don’t believe that taking out one ad is a guarantee your business will be seen. There are no one-ad-wonders.
A good marketing and advertising plan includes a combination of regular, consistent exposure in three ways – digital, print, and in-person. Where in-person is concerned, what is a business doing for the community? Pause for a moment and think of a chicken restaurant in our city – we have seven. What’s the first one(s) that come to mind? I’m willing to bet that for many of us, aside from a national brand, we think of restaurants who have done more than just “sell chicken.”
Many larger businesses have a leg up on others because they have a marketing team that sets in motion a plan to get customers and clients and keep them coming back. Good customer service is important for that returning customer. No business has completely flawless customer service, and when mistakes happen, it is important to make things right.
Businesses need each other, especially smaller businesses. Again, I see a myriad of older advertisements in our archives from smaller businesses that are long-gone, and other businesses still operating. It’s important for businesses to understand the seasons and go with the flow, anticipating dry times and looking ahead to what happens if their most loyal customers PCS.
At the end of the workshop, I was excited to distribute advertising gift certificates that totaled more than $500 in value for those who attended. We’re not here just to take your advertising dollars and forget about you. Like the Copperas Cove News, the Copperas Cove Courier, the Copperas Cove Press, and our Copperas Cove Leader-Press, we are here to make a difference in our community and the small businesses we regularly support. I’d rather sit down with a business owner and come up with a plan than make a grab for cash. We are thankful for those who place their confidence in us. Whatever a business owner does to market themselves, they should be consistent, be aware, and be proactive. Marketing is a constantly evolving process that a business must work on over time.