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Beating a Recession – 5 October 1, 2008

Posted by David Dirks in Recession: How to Beat It!.
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Every person who owns and/or runs a small business should take a marketing/public relations course.  Why?  Quite frankly, most just can’t or don’t take advantage of a multitude of marketing pr opportunities to help promote and grow their businesses.

Let me pick on one group in particular here:  Sport shops.  You know, the kind that sell fishing supplies, hunting rifles, ammo, and other outdoor equipment you need.  Most are the first to complain about how the ‘big box’ shops have hurt their business, blah, blah.  Or they complain about the economy or how state regulations have hurt their business and on and on.  It’s enough to make your ears bleed.

You know what the truth is ?  They don’t do anything to really promote their shops.  They don’t hold any educational seminars at the shop or elsewhere.  They don’t create public events that would promote their shop and drive traffic.  They just sit there waiting for the angler or hunter to drive up and hopefully buy something.  If they do hold public events, they fail to tell anyone.  It’s quite pathetic.

What the ‘big boxes’ have learned to do is to create events that educate and draw the public into the store.  They hold a multitude of educational seminars and bring in expert speakers to do so.  The ‘big boxes’ know the value of marketing public relations events.  They seek to create something so that not a week goes by that there isn’t something going on that appeals to one outdoor group or another.

How do I know these small sport shops, which are scattered all around the landscape of this great country, stink at creating these kinds of opportunities?  Well, I write an weekly outdoor column (I turned a hobby into a business and another marketing opportunity!) and I can count on my hands how many times I’ve been approached by a shop with an idea.  Or how many times I’ve received a press release or flyer from a local sports shop.  How many times?  I only need one finger on one hand to count them and I’ve been writing this column since 1999.

Let me give you an example.  Not long ago, a gun shop changed hands with a new owner.  I only knew that because one day I noticed the sign had changed from “Bob’s Gun Exchange” to “Rix Gun Exchange”.   Bob decided to retire and sell the business which he had run for many years.  Now, here I am, the outdoor writer of a weekly outdoor column…do you think the new owner would reach out and let me know that he’s the new owner?  Nope.  Not a call or an email.  Like duh (as my teenagers will say)?  How can you be in an outdoor sports business…selling guns in this case…and not call or email the outdoor writer?  How about telling the outdoor writer you are hosting an event?  I don’t know if he has hosted an event.  I just don’t get it.  Are they waiting for me to come into the store?  I doubt it.  Perhaps business is so good that they don’t need any promotion.  Possible.  I don’t know.  What I do know is that I haven’t heard from them since they took over two years ago.  Like duh.

The ‘big box’ stores send me updates on events they are hosting every month.  Those get into my column each week.

I don’t mean to pick on sports shops only.  You could substitute just about any other small business and still make the same point.  If you’re in business, who should you be talking to that can help promote your business?  What kinds of events can your create every month to promote your business?  Don’t just sit there, do something!!!!


PS:  My outdoor column is published weekly in the Times Herald-Record or you can view it online at http://www.recordonline.com and go to the Sports section and find me there.



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