Another one of the four pillars on which the Main Street Movement stands upon is “Economic Restructuring”. Last week we discussed how one of our local businesses has been receiving tons of free publicity from all imaginable media sources; TV, radio, internet, magazines and newspapers. And they paid zip, zero, nada for any of it. Don’t you get excited when you, or someone you know makes it onto TV somehow? Don’t you get a sense of pride when you watch something you care about being applauded and broadcast to all corners of the universe? Yep, you do… we all do. So when TV producers want to send their production crews to do a segment (on their dime) which will glorify your place of business… Hallelujah!!
So as you can tell, this week’s column will continue discussion on basic marketing principles, but this time around we will also be looking at our regional outlook a little bit, trying to make sense of the bigger picture. So let’s back up and start at the beginning… And I’ll try my best not to make this sound like a boring marketing seminar.
Marketing 101: The Four P’s of Marketing;
– Product – The product or service are you offering.
– Price – The amount you charge for these offerings.
– Place – How/when these offerings will reach targeted consumers.
– Promotion – Raising awareness for these offerings.
People buy things for all kinds of reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with need. In this day and age, necessities are easy enough to get, but how does our community grade out when looking at capturing impulse purchases? More specifically niche items that can’t be found anywhere else. If you have successfully lured people into your shop, and are offering the right product, at the right price, at the right time… guess what? Other than just slam dunking the 4 P’s, you have probably just made a sale. It all sounds good in theory but the hard part can be getting there. Successful merchants survey the landscape, come up with interesting products to sell, and strive to make the customer experience a great one. And unless they’ve really come up with an interesting product that virtually sells itself, the successful ones are probably creatively promoting this product like crazy. Listen, the economic landscape in this new age is ruthless, and is it viciously attacking mom and pop shops all around the country, laying waste to the businesses of many wonderfully nice, trustworthy and upstanding people that don’t even realize they are in a war. A war for their own survival… The “survival of the fittest” is a universal law of nature that weeds out the unfit, the lazy, the uninformed, the unhealthy, the unimaginative, the un-flexible, and the unsuspecting among us. In other words, if your turn a blind eye to this new reality you could be in for a rough ride. I know that the above crafting of words and use of adjectives was a little harsh, but I was going for full effect. As we all know “subtle” can get ‘lost in the wash’ sometimes. Last year our group put our money where our mouth is and bused 25 local business owners on an all expenses paid, day-long destination marketing workshop hoping to help some of our local merchants. On the way back people were fired up and discussing changes they should be making, but unfortunately I haven’t seen many of these ideas implemented. I know we are all creatures of habit and it can be tough to break up routines… even if they are contributing to the problem. But truthfully, if any of our struggling local businesses can’t identify what their “signature items” are, and if they aren’t relentlessly promoting these signature items regionally like it’s the most important thing on earth, then it may be time to recalibrate priorities. And for those saying “who does this cat think he is… he knows nothing about my situation” – Hey, we just want the best for our local small businesses and honestly just want them all to succeed. Because…
As I’ve mentioned on several occasions on these pages, things are looking up around here. I’ve talked about the increase in sales tax collections which is an indicator of the sizeable increase in tourism that’s happening in this town. There will always be issues to resolve but things are generally in an uptick around here. The usual scope of this column is relatively small and focused, hence we haven’t really spent much time discussing the broader view of our general area and some of the regional factors that could affect us all going forward. But we are looking at several “game changing” type things going on around us, and we will all be remiss if we don’t identify these opportunities and plan for the upcoming shifts that are taking place around us. Here are some examples:
1. San Marcos is the fastest growing city in the United States the last two years in a row according to the U.S Census Bureau.
2. We have the monstrous Cherryville addition that is being planned on SH130 and Hwy 80. This mixed use development will add 4,000 homes and will have commercial zones planned for all kinds of retail and industrial business opportunities.
3. New technologies are coaxing the Luling Oil Patch back to life.
4. Not to mention the bigger oil plays happening all around us which will further contribute to economic expansion possibilities.
The bottom line is this. With all of this growth happening on our doorstep, we are probably going to see some of it filter into L-town. Some of you will unfortunately see this as a threat to your business, but this can really be an opportunity for those who choose to look at it that way. Those who figure out ways to tap into this growth, and have a plan to give these potential new consumers an awesome experience that makes them want to come back again and again, will see success. So let’s take inventory of what works well, try to identify what doesn’t work so well… and let the recalibrating begin!
“We have a strategic plan… it’s called doing things!” – Herb Kelleher
-Derek Hall, Luling Main Street Manager
“It’s a Main Street Thing…” The Luling Newsboy & Signal [Luling, TX] 12 June 2014: Volume 135, No. 12