July 4, 2017

52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews

 Another of Sean Claes' 52 Weeks Projects
52 Weeks of Austin Music Interviews
I'm Sean Claes. I like turtles... and my marshmallows on fire... and Austin music.

Week 1: Scott H. Biram (1/10/12) 
Week 2: Heather Bishop (1/17/12)
Week 3: Ransom Jack (1/24/12)
Week 4: HONEYCREEPER (1/31/12)
Week 5: Alpha Rev (2/7/12)
Week 6: TRES (2/14/12)
Week 7: Jeremy Steding (2/21/12)
Week 8: DSGNS (2/28/12)
Week 9: Art Versus Industry (3/6/12)
Week 10: Butcherwhite (3/21/12)
Week 11: Will Porter (3/28/12)
Week 12: The South Austin Moonlighters (4/3/12)
Week 13: Granger Smith (4/11/12)
Week 14: Oh Look Out (4/29/12)
Week 15: Dave Madden (5/7/12)
Week 16: Snake Skin Prison (5/9/12)
Week 17: Midgetmen (5/11/12)
Week 18: Righteous Brisket (5/16/12)
Week 19: Emily Wolfe (7/21/12)
Week 20: Mark Allan Atwood (7/31/12)
Week 21: Moonlight Social (8/8/12)
Week 22: Sheer Khan and the Space Case (9/26/12)
Week 23: Deserts of Mars (3/5/13)
Week 24: Say Hello To The Angels (3/15/13)
Week 25Zane Williams (11/13/13)
Week 26: Stonekracker (7/5/17)
Week 27: Tee Double (7/11/17)
Week 28: Bobby Bookout (7/21/17)
Week 29: Space Cushion (7/25/17)
Week 30: The Boleys (8/1/17)
Week 31: Sunni Soper (8/8/17)
Week 32: Dongle (8/15/17)

January 2012: I'm embarking on a new challenge in 2012. I'm attempting to feature 52 Austin bands in 52 Weeks. Let's see how long it takes...

July 2017: Well... the 52 weeks will take more than 5 years as we're in July 2017 now and about to publish Week 25. Sorry.. but I swear I'll get this done at some point... I committed to 52 interviews and I'll deliver. 

So...
Are you a musician or member of an Austin, Texas Band?

Want to be interviewed?
 
What I Need:
1. You to reach out to me at seanclaesATseanclaes.com with a Subject Line that reads "52 Weeks Interview." We'll touch base with each other and schedule a date for publishing. 

What I'd LIKE to have happen is, the interview is published within a week of you playing a show. That was it's some promo for you. If you'd like to shoot me your poster for the show, I will try and promote it as well.


Timeline: On or before Monday of the week before your interview will publish, I will shoot you an e-mail with 10-15 questions, and I ask that you return it asap, or at least a few days. I publish every Tuesday by end of day. Example? Let's say I'm publishing an interview with Art vs. Industry on March 6, 2012. I'd have the questions to them by February 27.
Why?
You may be wondering why I'm doing this. Well, I'm a big fan of Austin music. I have been an entertainment writer for about 15 years and a magazine owner for about 5. It's never been about the money (although I wish it was a $100k a year job), but about advancing the music. In 2009-10 I did 52 Weeks of Austin CD Reviews. In 2010-11 I completed 52 Weeks of DIY Music Advice (Both of which are fully archived via those links).

The interviews will be published on INsite's Webpage .


Sean Claes is the owner of Austin's INsite Magazine and has been a freelance entertainment writer since 1996. If you like what you read... please share. To visit Claes' homepage, go here - http://www.seanclaes.com/.

November 23, 2016

Small Business Advice - Should You Join the Chamber of Commerce?


Chamber of Commerce – To Join or Not To Join

By Sean Claes
Working with small businesses on marketing, the question often arises, “Should I join the local Chamber of Commerce?”

My answer always depends on the business I am speaking with. While putting this article together I spoke with several business owners in the Kyle, Texas area as well as the CEO of the Kyle Chamber of Commerce. I’ve included quotes from them. Some asked to remain anonymous, so I honored their request.

There is no one good answer to the question posed, but there are a few questions to consider when making a recommendation. The questions deal with expectations and time.

What do YOU expect out of a Chamber of Commerce?
This first question to ask yourself is, why are you interested in joining a Chamber of Commerce? Do you expect a lot of personal promotion? Do you expect to gain business from the investment? Are you looking for a voice with the city you’re in and would like to join a group of others who have the ear of local, state and national government?
Kyle, Texas resident and owner of a Chick-Fil-A franchise summed up a Chamber membership this way, “Joining the local chamber of commerce shouldn't be evaluated as a revenue generating investment. Membership in the chamber is about showing support for the local business community. It's about service to a strong local economy and giving back.”
If your idea of a Chamber of Commerce membership is to use it as a personal business promotional tool… that your payment to join said chamber is akin to advertising dollars, you may be sorely disappointed. You will likely get a big “welcome to the Chamber” message that is shared with its members, maybe even on social media. If you have a storefront, you may even get a bunch of Chamber representatives into your business one time for a ribbon cutting (many chambers charge extra for this). After the ribbon is gone and the e-mail/newsletter is sent, it’s up to YOU to convert those one-off touches into customers.
One thing many don’t take into consideration is the advocacy side of Chamber membership, and if you’re a struggling small storefront business, this may not be on your radar. “The Chamber can quickly respond to legislative and administrative actions that would directly affect the interests of business in the region,” Kyle Chamber of Commerce CEO Julie Snyder said. 

What Are You Willing To Put Into It?
When your check clears and you become a member of a Chamber, your investment doesn’t end. It gains you entry into a network of businesspeople and a collective mindshare. If your business isn’t able to take advantage of this connection, a Chamber membership may not be for you. If you are willing and able to put in time, donate product or become otherwise involved in Chamber activities, your membership will usually be fruitful.
One local Kyle mom & pop storefront who doesn’t have the time or manpower to be active in the local Chamber’s events offered their opinion on membership. “We have figured out that the Chamber is not much more than a paid for networking group.  If you go to events and talk to people, you can get business one on one like that.  If you can afford it, you can sponsor events,” they said. “Other than that, it has not been of value to us.”  They preferred to remain anonymous.
This is a view that seems to be shared by many businesses that cannot take the time to be involved past their membership dues. “If you like to socialize and attend "networking" events at a cost beyond your regular membership fee, then this is for you,” another anonymous Kyle businessperson said. “If you're lucky the website will draw new business customers to you but you have to pay for any other kind of help.”
So, when thinking about joining a Chamber, think about how you can be involved as a member. “When considering membership, be looking for ways to give, whether it be time, talent or feedback, rather than looking for what you'll receive,” Baragas said.

Do you have to join a Chamber to be involved?
Events that the Chamber of Commerce hosts are almost always open to the public. There are free evening networking events at different businesses, breakfasts and lunches that are often hosted at a small cost (may be a little more for “non-members” but available) and of course there’s the big social to-dos. So, if you’re just looking for networking through the chamber, perhaps you should try going to a few of these events. Some business people find that attending these events are sufficient and they can network just fine without being an “official” member of the Chamber.

So, Should You Join a Chamber of Commerce?
That’s a big question, and it’s the question you might want to ask when you join ANY group. If you’re considering it, do yourself a favor and make an appointment with your local Chamber where you can gain a better understanding of what YOUR Chamber of Commerce does for your immediate area. Make sure your expectations line-up with the services they provide before signing on to be a member.
And remember, each business is different and each person will take their own experience from it.

The good:
“It has given us the opportunity to grow, not just as a business but on an individual level,” Greg Devonshire, owner of Kyle’s Milt’s Pit BBQ said. “It has provided us with resources to seek out professional advice as well as given us a way to give back to other members that may seek it.”

And bad:
“It may be different for others, but for us, who cannot go to events and cannot afford to be sponsors, it has not been worth it,” Anonymous.

It’s really up to you to make an informed decision.


 About The Author:
Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom. For more small business marketing advice, please visit - http://seanclaesdotcom.blogspot.com/p/small-business-marketing.html

April 28, 2016

Small Business Advice - Market Day Observations

Lessons Learned From Third Graders

By Sean Claes

A few weeks ago I attended my daughter’s school’s Market Day. This is where the entire third grade class gets together and each student (or teams of students) decide on a product they will make (or buy), price and sell. The concept is to teach kiddos about money management and entrepreneurship.

So, I went to support my daughter in her endeavor. Every classroom in the 3rd grade hall was turned into a marketplace. They had posters up, items displayed and were there at their “booth” selling their wears. While walking around and interacting with the kids I observed some things that I thought were great and some things that I saw as mistakes that I have seen small business owners make.

I thought I’d share a few things I took away from the day by equating their Market Day to the larger business marketplace in the world.

My daughter & her friend... the young entrepreneurs.


1. DON’T TALK BAD ABOUT THE COMPETITION.
With the cost of entry (each child had to fund their own products) and the fact that it was a “sell from a desk” environment, there was bound to be overlap in product. There were several pickle vendors, cupcake vendors and stressball vendors. There were also a few other popcorn vendors…. Which is what my daughter decided to sell. I first bought from her, then walked around to the other classes to buy from kids whom I knew and a few that had some great and different ideas/products. I visited one child who was also selling popcorn. He looked at the popcorn in my hand and said, “That popcorn sucks, you shouldn’t have bought that, you should buy mine.” So, I told him that while I was going to buy popcorn from him as well, after he trash talked my daughter’s popcorn, he was getting no sale from me… and walked off.

Lessons:
  • You never know with whom your talking to when you encounter someone at your store. It might just be a friend, or worse the father, of your competition.
  • There is no reason to drag down someone else’s product. You’re not making yours look better, you’re making yourself look shallow.


2. HOW TO HANDLE HAGGLING.
Yeah, I know their 3rd graders, but I was having fun trying to talk them down on prices. Discounts are a real thing when it comes to business. What you have distinguished as your price may not be what I’m willing to pay for that product. I tried to spend my money on things that I thought were different and special. Things these kids took time to make and/or ideas that weren’t the norm. The ones that were innovative. One kid had taken popsicle sticks and rubber bands and made catapults out of them It was just cool. So, I tried to talk him into a 50% discount. He was really nice and said, “Let me go ask my teacher (whom is a friend of mine)” I ended up paying full price for the product just because of his approach. I also told quite a few people about his catapults. He handled it right. Other kids rolled their eyes when I tried it and some just gave me the discount.

Lesson Learned:
  • Treating your customer well sometimes turns no profit into expected profit.
  • Acting like you’re being put out or annoyed loses you a customer and any customers you may have gained by treating the situation with decorum.
  • If you can easily give 50% off of your product you either have overpriced your item or don’t understand the cost of what you’re selling.

3. ACT LIKE YOU WANT TO BE THERE.
By and large, this was a fun event for the kids and they were enjoying themselves. But there were a few that either sat there without a thing to say, that kept leaving their station or looked annoyed when people came to their “store.” I didn’t buy from them.

One child in particular had a fantastic idea… and it was totally inexpensive and could have net a large profit. He was doing Magic 8-Ball readings. For $1 you could ask two questions. The problem is… he had no signage, no pricing (had to ask) and no motivation to sell his service. I REALLY wanted to do it, but he talked me out of it… and then ran off to talk to a friend of his. I was totally into it, but he convinced me otherwise.

Lesson Learned:
  • When you’re selling a service or product, be excited about it.
  • Customers who want to buy from you won’t if you aren’t interested in selling… even if it IS a great idea/product.
  • If you can’t get behind your product, nobody else will either.

Over-all is was a really interesting experiment and one that my daughter was excited about taking part in ever since her 6th grade sister did it in 3rd grade. I hope there was a post-sale conversation that touched on the subjects I touched on above. That would make Market Day an even bigger learning experience than it already was.

If not, at least I got this article out of it and it is my hope that small business owners read this and if they see themselves in any of these situations, adjust accordingly.
Thanks for reading.

About The Author: Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.
 
Read more Small Business Advice via his Small Business Marketing page - link.

March 31, 2016

Small Business Advice - Wisdom From A Lemonade Stand

#8 in my Small Business Advice Series.
See the rest here: link

Wisdom From A Lemonade Stand





By Sean Claes



One Saturday in March I was driving through my neighborhood and I saw a bunch of kids hanging out on a corner near a park. One of them, a boy who looked about 7 or 8 years-old, was holding a sign and was running out on the street a little and flashing the sign at passing cars.



It wasn’t until I had already passed that I realized that there was a small table with drinks at the corner as well. It was a lemonade stand.



My wife and I have this thing that we agreed upon when we were dating that we would never pass a lemonade stand without buying something. It doesn’t matter that I don’t even like lemonade, but these are kids that are being little entrepreneurs and we want to support them.



Anyhow… I passed this one without buying anything. I felt a little bad, but since I didn’t even know it WAS a lemonade stand until I was well past it, I figured it was OK.



That got me to thinking about small businesses and how they attract customers. A storefront is like a big billboard for your business. If people can’t tell what your business is just by driving by… why would they shop there? So, here’s two quick things that I believe are important to have when operating a storefront… two main things at which these kids with the lemonade stand failed.



A Plan

Much like those kids on the corner who were all gathered together with no outward sense of purpose, many businesses seemingly have no plan. No pitch.  Meaning this… who are you as a business? What do you want someone to know about you without asking?



You shouldn’t have to explain what your business sells to someone who walks in your door or walks by your shop.  Plan the layout of your business around the items you sell. Showcase the things you have and build them into the fabric of your store.  Many store owners assume people know as much as THEY do about their business. Trust me. They don’t.





Signage

People should be able to tell where your business is and the name of it as they drive by. Choose bright and/or bold colors. Something that someone just can’t miss. Don’t get too fancy with your logo because the object is to actually be able to read it.  Just the name of your business and maybe a 2-3 word descriptor. Did you know the greatest number of words that a highway billboard should have is seven? And your sign is probably not THAT big.



Also, make sure your logo is readable at a quick glance. If your logo looks like a death metal band’s logo… nobody is going to know who you are and what you’re selling… so I wouldn’t suggest it.. well.. unless you’re catering to the underground death metal set…  but I bet you aren’t.



Conclusion

It may sound a little silly, but you can really learn a lot from these kiddos. Really. With a little work, your “lemonade stand” could become more than something people drive by without thinking twice.



About The Author: Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.
Read more Small Business Advice via his Small Business Marketing page - link.

March 1, 2016

Small Business Advice: International Marketing

Four Considerations
When Marketing Your
Business Internationally

By Sean Claes
You’ve got a great company and product. You’re ready to grow larger than your shadow. You’ve been marketing locally or stateside but you have an untapped client base in the International market. All you need to do is translate your current marketing materials into the language of your new audience, ship them off, fly over there and nab some new clients, right?

Not so fast. There are a few things to learn when entering into a campaign to an International audience. Below we will discuss four things you definitely want to consider before making the leap across the pond. It could mean the difference between getting a new client and offending a nation.

Learn the Culture
You should already be aware of this on a small scale as America is a melting pot of cultural diversity. But, when you are entering into someone else’s culture you should be deeply aware of customs and business practices. You can easily lose a potential customer by not adhering to the differences in the cultures.

Did you know that in Japan, dressing in a dark colored suit and bowing (not hands) will make the best impression? How about the fact that in China, a gift is usually refused three times before being accepted?

Learning about someone’s culture is a great way to get to that next level and potentially gain their business.

Same word – Different Meaning
How you speak in your marketing materials can change depending on the audience you are attempting to reach. Different cultures, many times, will require different language. Sometimes the same word had different meanings.

Examples? The term “gift” when translated into German means “poison.” Using the word “enjoy” is fantastic, unless you’re translating it to Portuguese, where it is similar to the word “enjoar” which means to make sick.

So, before you ask someone to “enjoy this free gift with your offer” you should think again.

Oh, and if you do bring a gift to a potential client in China, don’t bring a clock… it is representative of death.

Meeting Etiquette
So, you landed a face to face meeting with an international client. Now more than ever you should assure that you know how to carry yourself in this social situation. You should walk in understanding their customs.

Canadians are very time conscious, so make sure you’re not late. In Japan, the most senior member in the room (for both sides) has the floor and others seldom (if at all) speak. If you are having a business dinner in China, be aware that there are many “toasts” so monitor your alcoholic intake closely.

Each culture has their own etiquette so do some brushing up before you make a blunder.


Non-Verbal Communication:
Did you know, if you flash the “peace sign” to someone with the back of your hand facing them in many countries you just flipped them the bird?

How great of a relationship ender would THAT be for an International client?

The “OK” hand gesture in the US usually means… well… OK. In France it means “zero.” In Japan a request for payment. In Turkey it is a sign of homosexuality.

But there’s more.
In Russia it’s deemed odd and impolite to smile at strangers. In Bulgeria the American head shake for “no” is their gesture for “yes.” In Asian countries, prolonged eye contact is considered offensive.

The gist is, make sure you learn what non-verbals mean in that culture.


--

There are many other things to consider when delving into the International space with your marketing. These are just a few examples to help you along your way on the journey. 

 About The Author:
Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.

Read more Small Business Advice via his Small Business Marketing page - link.

February 24, 2016

Small Business Advice - Three P's of Differentiation

-->
Three P’s to Differentiating Yourself
From the Big Box or other Competitors








Chances are, if you’re a small business owner, you identify with the single-location, mom & pop shops (that all reside in Kyle, Texas where I live) that I mention second in all of these scenarios.



So, how do you play with the big boys that seem to have a set brand, identity, and deep pockets... who offer an item that is similar to yours? It’s all about differentiating yourself and playing the local card.
 
How do you do this? Weave your business into the thread of the community. Be a presence. Do things that your national chain competitor can’t, or won’t do. Give someone a reason to shop at your store… other than you are local.



In this article I will share what I call the Three P's of Differentiation – Personality, Price, and Participation.



The Owners of Cross Plants and Produce pose with Santa
surrounded by their annual Christmas Tree Forest.
They've got personality!
Personality

You need to have some… or at least your store does. You’ve got to give someone a reason to shop with you. Do you have something eye-catching as your storefront? Once someone walks in, are they greeted with an interesting looking place beyond the four walls that house your products? Do you rotate your inventory so someone has something new to see (even if it was already in your store before) when they walk in? Do you have a mascot? Are you, the owner, memorable? Is your storefront?

New customers tend to come back to a place that looks inviting… and current customers will most likely tell friends about a place that has character.



Price

Are you playing the price game with the big box stores and coming out even or winning? If so, it might be a good marketing approach to talk about it. “For about the same amount as you spend at a chain store for a shirt, you can come in here and find something you won’t see anywhere else.”


Maybe you can’t compete with the big box on price. That’s OK. Sometimes it’s even better. You have a better product, so it costs a little more… but it’s worth it. “Our shirts may cost a little more than the one you pick up at a big box store, but they come from small boutique companies who do shorter runs, meaning you can pick up a beautiful blouse that hardly anyone else has. Treat yourself or your loved one to the best.”

Now, don’t under-price yourself or you might just come off as cheap. You have to make enough to pay rent, employees, electricity and anything else that might come up at your storefront. Oh, and make sure YOU get paid as well. Why are you doing it if it’s something that you aren’t able to make a living at it?  The common rule is “keystone.” Whatever you buy a product from your supplier for… you should AT LEAST double that price for the consumer. That way you can pay for the roof & support you need to operate a business.  

If you sell something that is really expensive.. chances are you’ll have to settle for a lesser markup… and if you sell something really inexpensive, you might get away with a larger markup. Do your homework and see what similar things are going for… then you’ll have your answer.



Volunteering to hand out water at Mile Marker 1at a 5k.
The (former) owners of Tiaras (L), a Realtor and an owner of a
local computer solution business. Participating.


Participation

Participate in your community. There are many ways to do this. This is where I think about time & money. You have to spend one of them to participate.



You can make the time to meet new people by volunteering on boards, at events, and for community committees. Get to be known in the area as a small business that gives back on a personal one-to-one level. This is the “pound the pavement” way to get your business’ name out there.



You can spend the money (or product) to support things in town like school events, community happenings and non-profits that interest you and/or your customers.



My suggestion is to set a budget for participation, be it volunteering or monetary, because there is only so much you can do without compromising your life and/or your business’ profit.



I hope you see value in this piece and you have a chance to evaluate your own business to see what you’re doing to answer to the three p’s of differentiation. If you have any questions or feedback, please let me know. Thanks for reading.





 About The Author:
Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.
Read more Small Business Advice via his Small Business Marketing page - link.

February 17, 2016

Small Business Advice - Reach New Customers

-->
Three Ideas To Reach New Customers
Beware of the “Me and all my friends” mentality. In order to have a successful business, you must look outside your own circle of connections.  I have about 3,000 friends on Facebook… about 200 I know in town… but there is no way my circle of friends can sustain a business. Yours either.


Yes, I know… you have a network of friends and folks who frequent your business are considered friends as well… but that still isn’t enough to call your business a success. Unless you sell something that is needed frequently (food products for instance) you can’t count on the same people coming by week after week. And even if you do have a steady stream of regulars, you can’t count on them forever. If some of your regulars don’t make it in that month… you shouldn’t feel the sting on your bottom line. If you do… you’re not being smart about your business.
Jewelry booth at the Kyle Fair & Music Festival (2007)

As a small business, you should ALWAYS be looking for new customers. The best way to reach new customers is by being a good, solid business that people WANT to check out.  Make sure your house is in order. Do you make sure you provide a positive experience to each and every person who comes through your door? Do they WANT to come back? Would they tell others to swing by when asked if they know a place to get the product you sell?


The question remains, how do you reach people you don’t know? Where do you find new customers? Here’s three places you are likely to find new folks.


Word of Mouth

Cost: Free

This is the most powerful kind of promotion and it’s also sometimes the most dangerous. It’s powerful because people ask their trusted connections for advice on where to buy things. If your circle of friends tells their circle of friends about you… and then they tell their friends… you’ve got a good thing going.


How is this dangerous? Two reasons. First, People tend not to share good experiences and/or recommend things to others. Secondly, negative news travels faster than anything I’ve ever seen along the information highway. Want to test it? Post something positive about a local business on social media. You will likely get 4-5 replies and a handful of “likes.” Now, post about a negative experience on the same page…. And watch it BLOW UP.


As a journalist, I’ve written stories and features on a variety of subjects and also kept a personal blog. I have a rule that I guide myself by and that is to only talk positive. Personally, there is so much negativity in the world that I don’t believe I need to add to it. But, every now and then I have what I call “soapbox moments” or something I feel so strongly about that I feel I need to let the world know.  In 2009 I had an issue with a contact lens company that wouldn’t honor my coupon. I blogged about it. I have over 2,000 hits on it and 7 comments.  That was without posting it past my personal social media. It’s my 4th most read post on my blog of 11 years (467 blog posts.. this will be 468).  


The point is…. Bad news travels MUCH faster than good news. So, make sure each customer walks out with good news to share. And there’s no fault in asking people to share about your business… and invite their friends to swing by.


Participate In Events

Cost: Moderate

Is there a 5k happening in your area? How about a Farmer’s Market? A festival or celebration? Community gathering? Events at schools or businesses that allow vendors? Be there. Especially if it’s free or has a low cost of entry to reach a great amount of people. Especially if you have a product that you can set up in a booth and sell.


But here’s the deal with events. They can be a great experience or a horrible waste of time. There’s a little “luck of the draw” when you participate. Make no mistake, though… they are what YOU make of it. If you sit in a chair and let people walk by you and when they stop you shrug and say “grab a flier if you want” you’re likely not going to have a positive experience… but it may not be the fault of the event… it may be because of your attitude.  On the other hand, if something is poorly attended and you are a shining light of positivity and have fun and make sure that everyone is aware of you and your product, you might gain a good amount of interest in your product and people may talk about you. 


Advertise

Cost: Medium - Heavy

Every facet of your business is advertising. Your storefront is advertising, your product labeling is advertising, the signs you post, the sticker you have on your car, the shirts you and/or your employees wear… all advertising.


But I’m more talking about the outward advertising here. I posted a recent blog with five ideas to promote your business for free – link – so I’ll stick to some that have a price tag to them.  Now… let’s note that you MUST have a strong message and action to go with your advertising or it doesn’t matter what you’re selling.


On a small scale, having fliers and cards to hand out is a good idea. ALWAYS have some handy. Make sure people you talk to about your business walk away with something in their hand that enables them to reach you and/or find your store when they’re ready to purchase something. Advertising collateral is key to marketing yourself.


Are you in a niche market? Is there a trade show for your product? If you sell pet products, there’s a Global Pet Expo coming up (link). If you sell decks, there are several woodworking trade shows coming up (link). If your product is perfect for a wedding party, check out the Bridal Shows coming up (link). There is likely a Trade Show on a scale you can afford to match your business and help you get introduced to new customers. Google “your business” and Trade Show to see if there’s something there for you. Oh, and make sure you have advertising collateral.


Do you have a commercial? You can either do it yourself or (I recommend) hire a professional to shoot a video about your product. Once you have a 15-second, 30-second, and 1-minute commercial shot, you can post it up to YouTube and share it via the Internet. Also, you have something you can take to Internet shows, websites, television stations and even radio (audio only of course) to help promote yourself. Dealing with buying media is a slippery slope though, so having someone who knows how to deal with salespeople in these positions is key to get the best deal possible for your money. 


This is a commercial for a small, local business in the town where I live. Lone Star Delights.


These three things are not the only way to get your word out and meet new customers, but they are all good starting points. This article is just an aide to hopefully get you to thinking outside your network of friends and into the world. Thanks for reading.



 About The Author:
Sean Claes has worked with Mom and Pop shops, International Corporations and the Music Industry on their branding, marketing, events and communications for more than 15 years. This article is just a sample of the observations he's made over the course of that time. For more information or to see how he might be able to help grow your business, contact him at seanclaesATseanclaesDOTcom.
Read more Small Business Advice via his Small Business Marketing page - link.

February 12, 2016

How Many Songs Does Drew Kennedy cite in his song "A.M. Radio?"

Dissecting AM Radio by Drew Kennedy

Photo from http://www.drewkennedymusic.com/


By Sean Claes
So... listening to Drew Kennedy's "A.M. Radio" today I realized he pulled words from his lyrics from songs one might hear on the radio... A.M. radio for that matter. I have been listening to this song and singing along with it for a few months now... it even made my family Christmas CD... but I didn't catch that he included nods to some great classic country songs until today.
  
Below is the video... the lyrics.. and footnotes with the songs I think he's referencing.

I reached out to Drew and asked him... and he sent me the correct list.. so below are the actual references... not just my thoughts...  so the correct answer in the title of this post is.... 9. (I originally had 16.. guess I tried too hard to read into it)


Here's the song:




"AM Radio" by Drew Kennedy

 
I got a hot cup of coffee(1) warming up my hand
I keep a beat on the handle with my wedding band (2)
The DJ plays The Gambler(3) after Ramblin' Man (4)
Driving through Winslow, Arizona (5) in the middle of the night (6)

I got a map in case I need it on the passenger side
And I’ve been on the road since nine o’clock Tulsa Time (7)
 

Chorus:
I’m fifty thousand watts from Dallas

 And I’m forty-seven miles from home
Say a prayer to save me from static
Thank God for a.m. radio, for
A.M. radio.

Pushing my luck against the dial taking bets against the fields
And I would stop to Pop a Top (8) but I might lose it in the hedge.
I would make it out to Needles (9) they put me on the bill
I’m fifty thousand watts from Dallas
And I’m forty seven miles from home
Say a prayer to save me from static
Thank God for A.M. radio, for A.M. radio.

I’m fifty thousand watts from Dallas
And I’m twenty seven miles from home
Say a prayer to save me from static,
Thank God for a.m. radio, thank god for a.m. radio, for a.m. radio.

1. Marty Robbins - "Another Cup of Coffee"
2. George Jones & Tammy Wynette - "Golden Rings" video
3. Kenny Rogers - "The Gambler" video
4. Allman Brothers Band - "Ramblin' Man" video
5. Eagles - "Take It Easy" - video
6. Mel Tillis - "In The Middle of the Night" video
7. Don Williams - "Tulsa Time" video 
8. Jim Ed Brown - "Pop A Top" video video
9. Hoyt Axton - "Never Been To Paris" video

(Drew said the chorus was free of intentional references... but I see references to Bo Diddley [27 miles], Alan Jackson [Dallas] and Rosanne Cash [50,000 watts]... but that might just be me trying too hard...and I was told the Rosanne Cash song came out after this one was written)

Edit 2/14/16: I posted a link to this on Facebook and this observation was made by an Antony Silas: " I always thought 50,000 watts from Dallas referred to WBAP 820 in Dallas. It is a 50,000 watt AM station that can be heard in the smokey mountains at night if the weather is just right."

 
There you go.

Where can you find yourself some Drew Kennedy?
Well.. check his site for tour dates... and how to buy his music.
I highly recommend him.
http://www.drewkennedymusic.com/ 


About the Author: Sean Claes has been a music journalist for about 20 years is the owner of INsite Austin. He's also the author of a 52-week series of advice for DIY musicians - link. Enjoy.