Category: Small Business Saturday


For the April 2014 edition of the #HbgWingUp, the gang journeyed to Moe’s Bar and Grill on Gettysburg Road in Mechanicsburg.  Moe’s history for wings is very well-known, as they are multiple-time champion of Harrisburg Magazine’s Best Wings contest held every year.  This made it the perfect place for the Wing Up crew to try!

The crew itself is growing by leaps and bounds.  At last count, we filled the back dining room with 15 wing fanatics.  Maybe next time we should warn the establishment as the #HbgWingUp is developing a life of its own!  Considering it was a Saturday night, the place was relatively busy.  There was only one server so that led to some rumblings about slow service.  I even went to the bar to order a drink and was refused service by the bartender because I had an open tab at the back table!

That aside, the group all sincerely enjoyed the time with one another, but especially enjoyed the wings.  Moe’s has 12 different flavors of wings to choose from.  They range from sauced favorites like hot (or suicide) to a dry wing like Old Bay or Cajun.

 

A little bit of deliciousness!

A little bit of deliciousness!

I went with a saucy wing (Hot Honey BBQ) and a dry wing (Cajun).  While the Hot Honey BBQ was not anywhere near the heat level I was looking for, it still had a quality flavor that I would order again.  I was looking for quite a bit more kick as I’m not a fan of regular hot wings.   I love the heat in wings, but hot sauce itself usually lacks in flavor, and is just hot for the sake of being hot.  The dry Cajun wing was the star of the show, however!  I usually like my wings to have a lot of sauce, but wanted to try the wing itself to get an accurate idea of the flavor.  I can’t tell you how much I loved it!  I also was able to trade a wing out with a friend and her Old Bay wing was just as quality as the Cajun.

To top off the evening, Saturday night is Moe’s Wing Special.  For $11.99 you receive a small bucket of wings that is enough to feed two slightly hungry or one really hungry patron.  My advice would be to split your small bucket and get half of your wings sauced and half dry (with either Cajun or Old Bay).  You will not be upset with your selection!

Long known in the area for having some of the best wings around, Moe’s certainly didn’t disappoint the #HbgWingUp crew for April.  While the service wasn’t the greatest we’ve seen, the wings certainly lived up to their reputation as some of the area’s best.  Also, if you haven’t had the opportunity to join us, make sure to stay tuned to our Website (http://www.hbgwingup.com) or follow us on Twitter (@HbgWingUp) for all of the details about our next outing.

Paul M. Miller
Professor, Central Penn College
Social Media Editor, KollisionMedia

pmiller@kollisionmedia.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

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Before I begin to review Rachel Strella’s latest webinar, I must begin by saying how influential Rachel has been to my career.  I first met her at this year’s Social Media Summit at Harrisburg University.  Since then, I have used the things that I have learned from Rachel to help my career in such ways that I can’t even explain.  Rachel is an amazing speaker and takes the time to answer the many questions that I’ve had in the time we have known each other.  Thanks so much Rachel!

Since I work with many small businesses, I feel that this webinar spoke to me in ways that will not only help me, but my clients as well.  I want the focus of my business to be helping small businesses understand the importance of social media and comprehend the power and short-falls of the medium.  This webinar allowed me to have a firm grasp on how I can help small businesses employ social media strategies for their benefit.

Rachel discussed four major shortcomings for small businesses:  time, resources, money, and social media knowledge.  I’d like to take the time to discuss each of these in regards to the businesses I work with.  Time is a major issue for small businesses, mainly because many owners of small businesses find themselves “wearing many hats” as Rachel puts it.  Small business owners often are accountants, salespeople, social media editors, marketing managers, and many other jobs that they simply cannot afford to hire people to do.  This can be a major problem for them.

Resources also are also at a minimum for small business owners.  While many view resources as money; time, knowledge and even lack of employees would certainly also fall under this category.  For this entry, we will consider resources and money as one.  Because small business owners do not have the resources or money to employ salespeople or social media editors, both of these may lack in comparison to corporate competition.  This is one of the many reasons owning a small business can be a very stressful enterprise.

Social media knowledge may be the most important of the four reasons listed above.  Many small business owners do not have the knowledge needed to conduct a proper social media campaign.  Many feel that simply having a Facebook or Linked In page is all they need to do.  Even if they do post occasionally, the content is not where is should be.  That is why I feel that hiring a consultant for social media is the one simple thing that businesses can do to help elevate their business if they do not have the knowledge already.  Hiring a consultant is not all that needs to be done, however.  You must implement a plan and stick to it!  You must set both short-term and long-term goals and stick to them!  There are ways to make social media work for you, but only with the proper knowledge and follow-through.

I like to compare social media campaigns to caring for a garden.  In the spring (the beginning of your campaign), you must prepare the soil.  You must buy quality product (social media consulting) and plant it at the right time.  From there you must care for your garden (post quality content) and water your garden (have short-term and long-term goals).  After a  few weeks, you will begin to see the “fruits” of your labor (Return on Investment).

Rachel made another interesting point in the webinar; there are a series of shortcomings that small business owners find themselves falling into.  The first shortcoming for small businesses is that they treat social media like advertising.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, social media is a two-way form of marketing.  Where traditional advertising is a one-way medium, social media allows fans and followers the opportunity to interact with the business in a whole new way.  Those businesses who view social media as a one-way medium will never see the advantages that social media has to offer.

Another shortcoming that Rachel discusses is the notion that social media will fix what is wrong with a small business.  This is one thing that I struggle to get business owners to understand.  Social media will not show ROI within a few weeks.  It may not show ROI within a few months.  But if you stick to goals that you have set for yourself, social media will become a valuable part of any business, be it small business or corporate business.  Many owners think that a one-month campaign is enough time to determine whether social media will work or not.  I encourage those of you reading this to understand that social media will never go away.  It is one long, never-ending opportunity to connect with your customers and clients in a new and different way that can add so much value to your business.

The one overwhelming theme from this webinar was this:  A small business owner with no social media training is like myself trying to fix my own car.  I have no knowledge how to fix an automobile, nor do I claim to.  Those owners need to understand, use, and leverage the power of social media.  This can only be done by hiring a consultant, taking classes or webinars or making a serious effort to learn on their own.  So please, if you are a small business owner, understand what course of action you need to take and take it!

For more information on Rachel Strella and Strella Social Media, follow Rachel on Twitter @RachelStrella

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

It never ceases to amaze me how much there is to learn about social media.  While I feel that I am well-versed in SM, I will never consider myself an expert.  Obviously social media changes constantly, but by viewing the Strella Social Media Webinar about Social Media ROI for Small Business I was able to have a better understanding of how to deal with the different levels of clients that I serve.  This webinar is still available at:  http://instantteleseminar.com/?eventID=32042523 and I highly encourage you social media editors and business owners alike to view the webinar and learn about how social media can assist your marketing plan.

One portion of the webinar that stood out to me was the difference between social media strategies for large corporations and small businesses.  Rachel was quick to point out that corporations obviously have a much larger budget and are able to do much more than are small businesses.  Small businesses simply cannot afford to pay someone on staff to do only social media.  Often times there is someone on staff who has a myriad of tasks at hand other than social media.  Simply put, social media is a skill and should not simply be delegated to a secretary or an intern.

Traditional advertising has often been viewed as a one-way form of marketing.  Whether it be a television commercial, a radio spot, a bus wrap or an ad in the paper, these forms of advertising offer no way to produce feedback.  Social media is a medium that embraces feedback almost instantly in most cases.  Social media offers not only branding for your business but also a way to network with your clients in real-time, something traditional ads do not do.  Often times, however, businesses view social media as a one-way form of marketing.  They put out a message and do not follow-up properly or engage fully.  Rachel made a statement that stuck with me, “Social Media is an ongoing relationship that never ends.” If more social media marketers would understand and employ this statement into their everyday thought process, social media could be much more advantageous to them.

The most important thing within the webinar for myself specifically has to be the goal setting timeline that Rachel spoke of employing.  When starting any sort of social media campaign, it is extremely necessary to set goals.  By starting with 90-day goals, after the time period has elapsed you can evaluate these goals to determine what has worked and what hasn’t.  The next step should be a 6-month plan, in which after the 6-months you can again evaluate if your plan is working, what you can do to change it and where you would like to go in the future.

When getting started with a social media page, it is important to temper expectations.  There needs to be a strong balance between building your page and posting strong content for the readers to enjoy.  By offering something valuable to your readers, they begin to trust you and turn to you for information in the future.  When you first start a Facebook page for example, posting three times per week is a good place to start.  Any more than this, readers may get turned off if you are not offering value and strong content at the same time.  Any less than this, users will not engage at the level you are seeking.

The final point that I would like to emphasize is the importance of learning and understanding the skill that is social media.  Rachel made a great point in her webinar, “If you do not have the means to sustain your social media strategy, you should consider hiring an independent contractor.”  Often, you would end up not only having a better social media product, but saving yourself money in the process.  Keep in mind, as social media independent contractors, we want to see you succeed!

I appreciate the fact that Rachel Strella and Strella Social Media have begun producing unique content for the social media world.  I must say that I have great admiration for her and her company and look forward to her next webinar, Social Media and Small Business, Pitfalls to Avoid on October 15.  For more information please visit http://www.strellasocialmedia.com or @RachelStrella on Twitter.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Where would I be in my career without Strella Social Media?  Today, they held a webinar about starting, maintaining, and calculation of Return-On-Investment (ROI) for small business.  As someone who has not only been a fan of small business, but also involved heavily in social media, I could not have imagined a better topic.  Rachel Strella has a real talent for speaking and really excelled in her effort today.

I encourage everyone to view the webinar at:  http://instantteleseminar.com/?eventID=32042523, especially if you own a small business and are interested in the ways that social media can instantly become your friend.  Rachel offered many different insights into using social media for achieving  both short-term and long-term goals, online and offline.

One specific thing that I will take from this webinar is the importance of communication between the business itself and the social media editor.  In many instances, those doing the social media posts are not always employed at the business they work for.  While they may technically be employed “by” the company, they rarely are employed “at” the company and work from a remote site.  Without proper communication, this often can lead to lead to posts with little adequate content.  Rachel also stressed the importance of a scheduling calendar, which leads those on the creative team to understand what posts will occur at what time.  This also always allows proper promotion for larger events or specials on a monthly scale.

The Harrisburg area is lucky to have Rachel Strella’s social media presence.  She is an innovator in her craft and should be considered so within the community.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

As this blog has taken shape over the past year, I’ve certainly discussed at length Facebook, Twitter, and Linked In.  There is one social medium that I have yet to discuss, Four Square.  For those of you that don’t know what Four Square is, I will do my best to describe it:  Foursquare is a relatively new form of social media that allows you to check-in to certain venues on your mobile device (sort of like the check-in option on Facebook) and collect points and badges based on where you check-in and who you check-in with.  When discussing Four Square with friends that have never used it, they often say, “How is it any different from Facebook?”.  That is what I will attempt to describe in this entry.

The thing that really drew me to Four Square was their badges that you can earn.  For a list of all the different badges you can receive, go to http://www.badgeunlock.com/foursquare-badge-list/.  There are a whole variety of different badges that you can earn.  A few I’m most proud of are the Lock and Keystone (for visiting historical places in PA), the Trainspotter (using trains to travel), and the Porky (visiting 5 different BBQ Joints).  That certainly is not the only reason to like Four Square.

Fans of this blog surely remember my blog entry around the holidays regarding American Express’s Small Business Saturday.  AMEX has strived to make Small Business Saturday more of a year-round initiative as opposed to one day a year.  As a part of this initiative, AMEX offers a $5 savings with a $5 purchase at a great deal of local small businesses, including many restaurants, with the use of your American Express card and checking-in on Four Square.  This sounds almost good enough for me to get an American Express card because the vast majority of places I go are included in this offer.  Beyond the pluses of using Four Square with your American Express card, businesses can also offer special loyalty rewards to those that check-in one or multiple times.  For example, when I was in Philadelphia one of the places offered a free cocktail with the purchase of a sandwich and a check-in on Four Square.  As more businesses begin to use Four Square, almost everywhere we go we can receive discounts.

You also have “friends” on Four Square, similar to Facebook.  In my experience, I only have a few friends that even use the app and that makes an interesting conversation piece when you see that individual the next time.  They may have gone to New York City to see a show, and you see that they visited.  Next time you see them, you can immediately say, “Hey, how was the show in New York?”.  You can also comment on friend’s check-in if you have recommendations for the place where they are or just want to see how they are doing.

Finally, Four Square lets you search for certain places near you.  This can be most useful if you are unfamiliar with the surroundings.  Say you are in Philadelphia at the Liberty Bell and would really like some sushi.  If you go to the search bar and type in “sushi”, you will immediately be shown all of the local sushi places and their distance from you at that moment.  You can also see their menu and prices, as well as comments about the restaurant from other Four Square users.  Pretty cool, huh…

As with everything, there is always a negative side to any social medium.  Some people argue that allowing people online to know where you are could be detrimental, especially with the crime rate in major cities.  Here is an interesting article from CNet about a site, pleaserobme.com that uses people’s Twitter feed to show when people are home or not (http://news.cnet.com/8301-13577_3-10454981-36.html).  This is certainly a valid point that you should be very careful what you share and how you share it, but Foursquare cannot post where you are ever.  Only you can check-in and that doesn’t even need to be shared with friends if you choose it not to be.

I am a huge fan of Four Square, for all of the reasons I’ve listed here and more.  Next time you are out and about, give it a try and see what you think.  And for those of you that already use Four Square, comment here and let’s think of some new ways to spice it up a bit.

Paul M. Miller

pmiller@solutionsforadvertising.com

Twitter: @SolutionsforAdv

LinkedIn:  http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

In part two of the Small Business Saturday blog, I will be discussing my interviews with owners of two small businesses in the Harrisburg area, Bart Kaminski of Kollision Media and Tim Tatge of Provider Select.  The interviews that I conducted with these two gentlemen really provided insight into the small business landscape.

Bart Kaminski (@KollisionMedia) of Kollision Media has been a freelance employee of Solutions for Advertising for more than 3 years now.  When we aren’t keeping him busy doing design for our website, media kit, or advertising ads, he has built himself quite a small business.  He is a skilled graphic designer and makes awesome web sites for his clients.  I began discussing with him the advantages of operating a small business.  Bart thought that he had an advantage over his corporate competition because he doesn’t have the overhead of having to maintain an office with a staff.  He has the ability to work within a set budget because of this reason.  When I asked Bart who his corporate competition was he mentioned JPL Productions (although I’m sure there are many more).  While the quality of his work is on par with his corporate competition, he has the advantage of catering explicitly to his clients’ needs.  To quote Bart:  “People prefer a casual atmosphere for meetings instead of a board room with “suits”.   Small business needs this personal touch.   The ability of communicating with your client and making them feel comfortable allows you to connect with them on a different level without the corporate persona.”

I then asked Bart about the future of Kollision Media.  He began describing his ideas for his social media corner on his website.  In the very near future, Bart is going to include a section of his website that can promote his clients in a different way than before.  He envisions an open forum that allow people to post reviews and allow the client to post new products, services, or specials all in one place on his website.  He is also including in his fees banner ads on his site and direct links to clients Facebook, Twitter, and website.  I encourage you to check out Kollision Media, and keep him in mind for any graphic design needs.  I truly want to thank Mr. Kaminski for his time and wish Kollision Media great success.

Website:  http://www.kollisionmedia.com

Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/kollisionmedia

To conclude my interviews regarding Small Business Saturday, I spoke with the owner of Provider Select, Tim Tatge.  Tim has been a longtime friend of mine, and recently won a grant from the state of Pennsylvania through Ben Franklin Technologies.  The interview I conducted with Tim did not specially speak about his small business versus corporate competition, but how you go about starting a small business if you have a great idea.  I don’t want to go into great detail about Provider Select, as it is truly in its infancy, but Tim did provide amazing insight to a program available in Pennsylvania for entrepreneurs looking to start a small business.

Tim had a successful career as a drug representative for Pfizer, one of the largest drug manufacturers worldwide.  After electing early retirement, Tim found his days with little meaning.  He knew he was still able to work and must do so to save his sanity.  He began doing research and found a company called Ben Franklin Technologies (http://benfranklin.org/what-is-bftp/who-we-work-with/entrepreneurs).  BFT is a company that is giving grants from the state of Pennsylvania to help promote the creation of small business in the state.  I was surprised to hear that our state actually had this sort of thing.  I’m proud that Pennsylvania understands the importance of small business and how our state can benefit from the creation of it.

The process, however, is not very easy to complete.  According to Tim, here was the timeline for his business to go from idea to winning the grant:

Step 1:  Contact Ben Franklin Technologies and pitch the business.

Step 2:  Being chosen to enter the program (not everyone is chosen).

Step 3:  Begin an eight-week training session at TeleCelerator in Carlisle.

Step 4:  Each week you have classes to prepare you for your final pitch.

Step 5:  Develop and present your final elevator pitch for the panel.

Step 6:  Be chosen to receive grant money.  In the case of Mr. Tatge’s group, there was a total of $10,000 awarded, $8,000 to Mr. Tatge and $2,000 for the runner-up.  Tim mentioned that over the course of these classes, the full $10,000 is rarely awarded in its entirety.  Tim was extremely lucky and his idea should be considered as one of the best.

At this point, this is where Tim finds himself today, between Steps 6 and 7.  The one thing about winning this competition is that you are not simply awarded a check and sent on your way, you have an advisor that controls the money and how it is spent.  It is now Tim’s job to put this plan into motion, and the wheels are already turning.  Mr. Tatge looks to the new year for getting the business up and running,  “I think that January, February, and March will be the most important months for this business.  I have so much to do and so little time if this idea is going to get off the ground.”

So if you have an idea for a small business, Ben Franklin Technologies is a great way to start making your idea a reality.  Tim should truly be commended for his perseverance and dedication in winning this grant.  Hopefully, in the coming months Provider Select will take off and be another success story for small business.  Stay tuned.

It has truly been a wonderful opportunity to speak with Cory Lauer, Bart Kaminski, Pete Anderson, and Tim Tatge on behalf of this blog and Solutions for Advertising.  While each of the businesses are quite different, it certainly is refreshing to know that in this ever corporate world, small business is still at the paramount of our thoughts.  I would really like some comments about the concept of shopping small and would love you to share any stories about your holiday shopping regarding this.

For my next blog, I am thinking about doing something about QR Codes and their prevalence in new media.  Due to the holidays, check out our Facebook page for announcements about when this blog will be posted.  I will promise my loyal readers that I will have a new blog up prior to Christmas, but it will be my last until the new year.

Paul Miller

http://www.facebook.com/solutionsforadvertising

Twitter: @solutionsforadv

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

Small Business Saturday is a very needed concept in today’s landscape.  I have had a very unique experience working with Solutions for Advertising over the past five years; to see how and why we as a small business can thrive in our current financial landscape is quite fascinating.  To be able to offer a better value and a more personal involvement with companies and events is what sets Solutions for Advertising above our corporate competition.  For the purpose of this blog I interviewed owners of three small businesses based  in the Harrisburg metro area:  Tim Tatge of  Provider Select, Bart Kaminski of Kollision Media, and Cory Lauer of Top Secret Gourmets.  I asked them similar questions; why do you think that your small business is above and beyond corporate competition?  What strategies do you use to obtain clients?  I’d like to share some of the unique insight I received from these interviews, as well as discuss the event itself.

Small Business Saturday was created by American Express as an initiative to promote small business in the holiday shopping season.  The event is celebrated the day after Black Friday and prior to Cyber Monday.  Black Friday and Cyber Monday often cater to corporate-owned businesses like big box and online retailers.  The concept of SBS centers around spending your money locally and keeping it in the community.  While the event is over, American Express proclaimed it a great success on their Facebook page (http://www.facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday).  It does bring up an interesting concept:  Why not make a plan to spend more of your money locally?  Instead of just doing it for one day a year, making it a habit in our present and future landscape to shop small helps keep money in the community.  Small business is the backbone of our nation and should be embraced.

My first interview was with Cory Lauer (@tarheelch) of Top Secret Gourmets.  TSG is a spice company based out of Harrisburg that has won over 40 awards nationally from four different competitions, including 20 awards from the National Barbeque Association and 15 Scovie Awards.  When interviewing Cory, he expressed how amazing Top Secret Gourmet’s rise was.  Each person I spoke with I asked the same question:  What sets you apart from your corporate competition?  In Cory’s case, he thought that the sheer quality of ingredients was the most important thing.  He thought that the corporate competition (mainly from McCormick) didn’t have the quality due to sacrificing quality for cost.   He also explained how McCormick’s need for advertising campaigns directly impacts its final product.

Top Secret Gourmets uses the midstate area to do much of their business and truly are a small operation.  Knowing that a quality product is still able to succeed because of their business savvy is a refreshing feeling to have.  Top Secret Gourmets is one of the better small businesses on social media as well.  They are having a recipe contest once they get to 100 Likes on Facebook or 50 followers on Twitter, and I think I have the recipe to win.   Let’s try to get them there:  Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Top-Secret-Gourmets/192077154166353?ref=ts) and Twitter @TSGourmets.

Top Secret Gourmets has 8 different rubs and spices, including their most popular (winning 13 different awards) X-Hot Habanero and Lime and my personal favorite KC Hickory Rub.  Cory also was happy to announce a new spice rub called Caribbean Pirates Gold.  While it was still in production and didn’t want to let too much get out before it was ready, he did tell me that it was a mustard based rub, the first time TSG has attempted this.  Cory also said that on their website (http://topsecretgourmets.com/) they will have online ordering within the next month, a step that has been in the works for quite some time.  Cory views this as the next big step in the business as his opportunities to expand reach great possibilities and I wish Cory and Top Secret Gourmets the best of luck.

I did speak with the Owner of Solutions for Advertising Pete Anderson in regards to the trend of giving small business a chance and he had this to say:

“Small business Saturday is and should be important to anyone who wants to retain the mom and pop stores that used to line the main street of most small towns.  You constantly hear politicians referring to small business as the ‘engine’ that drives the economy.  This makes it even more important to support local merchants when possible because the odds are that you have more family and friends working for these companies than you would imagine.  Small businesses also tend to be more eager and responsive to customer needs and requests, and support other local businesses with their b2b purchasing.  Small business Saturday is something that any conscientious consumer who is concerned about the state of their local businesses should support. “

I truly appreciate Mr. Anderson’s comments because Solutions for Advertising is a successful small business in the Harrisburg area, and supports many great causes there including:  Bethesda Mission, The Autism Society of Greater Harrisburg, and Contact Helpline.  Giving small business a chance can greatly impact the future of the Harrisburg area and hopefully the nation at large.

Part 2 of this blog will discuss what you can do if you have an idea for a new small business and views from other small businesses in the Harrisburg area.  This will be posted Friday, December 9.

Paul Miller

http://www.facebook.com/solutionsforadvertising

Twitter: @solutionsforadv

Linked In: http://www.linkedin.com/pub/paul-miller/3b/b5/495

This week I wanted to take a look at the recent Small Business Saturday and interview some of the small business owners that make the central Pennsylvania area a hotbed for these businesses.  This week’s blog will look at the event itself, but also have a look at the corporate landscape through the eyes of a small business owner.  I interviewed owners from the following businesses:  Cory Lauer (Top Secret Gourmets), Bart Kaminski (Kollision Media), Tim Tatge (Provider Select), and a word from the owner of Solutions for Advertising, Pete Anderson.

I think this blog may be so large that I will need two seperate entries.  Look for a final copy of part 1 on Monday (December 5), with part 2, being completed Friday (December 9).