Author Archives: brian

Big Banners Here – Next Day Service

At Kona Impact, we like to do business with our clients the way we like to be treated when we are the customer.

So, for example, we do not over-promise or misrepresent our products; that is, we don’t say our signs last forever (nothing does), and if a client does not have truthful information, we do our best to inform and educate him or her.

We also do not charge rush fees. Several companies in town will add 25% or even 50% to a project just because the client is desperate to get something done. We don’t do this.

One way we avoid problems with rush order is doing nearly everything in-house and keeping adequate inventory to handle rush orders. So, if a client needs a banner in a day, we’re ready, and to be honest, our costs are the same if we do it same or next day or in five days.

Below is a picture of a big banner we made for Tiki Shark, a well-known local artist. His work is awesome, and it is like no other.

We received the banner design on Sunday morning and came in to print it on Sunday afternoon. It dried overnight and we hemmed it and added grommets on Monday morning. It was ready for the client within 24 hours of getting the artwork!

The size, by the way, is 10 feet long by 4 feet wide: 40 sq ft.


There are a few places in town to get banners made, but be wary of up-sell charges for higher quality materials, hemming and grommets. These are all standard for us. Also be sure to ask about turnaround time; several local companies outsource banners and the turnaround time is more than a week!

Kona Impact | 808-329-6077 |

Hawaii County Visitor Arrivals and Business Planning

The vacation rental industry in Kona, Hawaii has two rates: “high” season and “low” season. The variation in room rates can be as much as 50%; that is a condo that goes for $200/night in February can go for only $100/night in May. The price of condos is elastic. Hotel, air fares and car rentals are mostly elastic, fluctuating according to demand and season.

For most other goods and services in Kona, you will find that pricing is mostly inelastic; that is, it does not fluctuate seasonally. Restaurants, grocery stores, tourist shops and activity providers charge pretty much the same year-round.

As such many businesses in Kona go through many profound boom and bust (very busy and profitable vs slow and marginal, if any, profits) cycles every year.

Here is the arrivals data for Hawaii County. July and December are the peaks with 140,000 visitors and September are and April are about 30% less with about 100,000 visitor arrivals. Note that the December arrivals tend to stay for extended periods—the snowbirds—and the July arrivals tend to be families that stay for a week or so. Thus, the December to April time is considered high season.

hawaii county visitor arrivals

What does this mean for business owners?

For starters, the time to do repairs, remodeling and take vacations is clearly May and September.

Here are some implications for businesses in Kona:

  1. Your website and online marketing should be in place and very focused months before the peak seasons. Starting in July or December will always put you behind the periods of peak demand.
  2. Online advertising should run in November and June, the times when most people are planning their vacations and making reservations.
  3. Advertising in July or February might be a complete waste of money, especially if your restaurant or tour is already at capacity.
  4. With a lag time of a few months for planning, design and production, March/April and September/October are the times to get your summer and winter marketing material ready.
  5. July and February are the times to optimize revenue. These are going to be the most profitable months, so be sure have all staff, systems and inventory in place.
  6. March/April and late August and September are great times to shed excess inventory through sales.
  7. Be sure to budget for the down times. April through June and September through November (except for Ironman in October) can be brutally slow.
  8. Run special Kama’aina promotions in the down months.

If you would like some help with your business’ marketing plans and materials, give us a call!

Kona Impact | 74-5599 Luhia Street | 329-06077

Value Vs. Price and Buying Local in Hawaii

I had two interesting conversations within minutes of each other last week—one with a client and one with another small business owner in Kona who was not a client.

I was helping the person (who was not a client) re-hang a banner that had fallen down. I noticed that it was of very poor quality, both in terms of printing and materials. In fact, the reason it had fallen down was that it was not hemmed and only had plastic tabs in the corners, which had ripped.

I asked the person where he got the banner, and he quickly answered:  “I got it online. I am a small business owner, and I need to save money.” I asked him what he paid for the banner including shipping and the cost of her time to set up and design the banner. He looked perplexed and said, “I paid $75, including shipping. My time was free.”

A few things came to mind immediately:

  1. How can he expect people to buy locally at his store if he is unwilling to do so himself? After all, what he sells can be bought online, and, I would suspect, that his products can be bought more cheaply online. He wants others to do what he is unwilling to do.
  2. His time is not free! If he spent an hour with the design and order process, that’s an hour he could not spend doing something else. Is his time worth $30, $50 or $100 an hour?
  3. If he had talked to us about his banner needs, we would have come very close to what he paid online. Kona Impact also would have had it done in one business day, and if it didn’t turn out right, he could have resolved the issue quickly.

About 30 minutes later, a client stopped by to pick up some things, and, as we do when time allows, we spent a few minutes “talking story”. This business owner is very successful, has probably 100 employees and lives a very comfortable life.

She never asks about price; instead she is very focused on getting the projects done quickly and to a high degree of quality. She is very focused on moving forward and growing her businesses, and she knows what she knows and knows what she doesn’t know. She is great at delegating.

The guy is clearly a price shopper; he only looks at the price tag and makes his decisions (however erroneously) based on cost. Value, personal connections, community and his own time are far less important to him. For certain, there are many people who approach business the same way.

Cheap Work Aint

The woman is a value shopper. She understands that price is part of the equation, but time, quality, durability, community, personal relationships and developing reliable suppliers are also important.

The woman, I’m certain, is a very wealthy; the man, I’m certain, is not.

If you’re purely a price shopper, give us a call, because you might be surprised.

If you’re a value shopper, definitely give us a call, as we’ve based our business on providing value to our clients. Whether it is same or next day service or sharing our local knowledge and connections, we strive to provide our clients with superior products and services.

Kona Impact | 74-5599 Luhia Street | 329-06077

Holiday Schedule

The Kona Impact office will be closed on Thanksgiving Day and Friday, November 28. We will re-open on Monday, December 1.

Enjoy your time with friends, family and loved ones.

Online Marketing Email: What is a Scam and What Isn’t?

If you have a website you have, not doubt, received many email offering you website design, search engine optimization, search engine marketing and social media marketing services.

If your own and operate many websites like we do at Kona Impact, you will receive tens of these email a day, as well as a handful of cold calls and other pitches.

How do you know what is a genuine and useful service?

Here are a few that should definitely avoid:

  1. Search engine submission. The value of this is almost nothing. It used to be that we had to tell the search engines to review our website. Nowadays there are only three search engines of value: Google, Yahoo and Bing, with Yahoo and Bing sharing data. They control well over 90% of searches, so take a few minutes and go to the Google , Yahoo  and Bing and you’ll have done what you need to do.
  2. “Guaranteed #1 on Google.” This cannot be guaranteed and any company that does is lying. Note: you can buy ads on the search engines, but you will only be shown as long as you keep paying.
  3. “We reviewed your website and found several problems…” Chances are they have not reviewed your website, and chances are your website does not have any or many critical errors. All websites have some technically incorrect code or design elements, but the true issue is: do these “errors” affect usability in important ways?” Chances are “no.” The content on your website most likely can improve and this is where hiring professional help can make a difference.
  4. Link building. Links to your website are a major factor how Google and the other search engines judge and rank your pages. That said, almost all (ok, all!) link building schemes are highly suspicious and can have the unintended consequence of lowing your ranking or getting your website removed from Google.
  5. “We have uncovered a secret formula for higher rankings” If you had a secret so powerful would you tell anyone? The fact is there are hundreds of elements to how the search engines rank websites. We know many of them and have a very good idea what is very important and what isn’t. Someone who claims to have proprietary information is lying.scam alert

We advise most of our clients not waste their time responding to spam email because 99% of them are for services that do not work in the long term.

What we recommend is that people go online and search for companies that offer the services for which they are interested. If a company ranks well on Google for “social media marketing” it is likely to be good at what it does: help businesses be found. Compare companies and ask a lot of question. Go over their websites and make sure you know what you are and aren’t getting. One thing you’ll find is that most spam email does not have an established company behind it.

And, of course, if something looks too good to be true……you know the rest.

If you are in West Hawaii and need some reliable, honest help with your online marketing, give us a call: 329-6077.

What is the best material for signs?

Most of our signs are printed and mounted on some material. Banners and posters are the exception: they are printed on the material on which they will be displayed: banner material and some sort of paper.

Other signs, however, are printed on vinyl or adhesive-backed paper and mounted to a substrate. Use will determine your substrate.

Here are some of the sign substrate options.

Foam Core

Foam core is a 3/16” material that is ideally suited to temporary indoor displays. Many academics and companies use foam core displays for conventions, trade shows and conferences. We typically print on an adhesive-backed paper and mount that to foam core.

The benefits of foam core include:

  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Rigid, making it ideal for displays on easels, and, flat surfaces

The downside of foam core include:

  • Easy to dent and ding – Doesn’t travel well
  • Low resistance to water and humidity

Gator Board (sometimes Gator Foam)

Gator board comes in many widths, but the most commonly used is 3/16”. Like foam core it is used a lot for indoor displays and wall graphics. Like foam core, we usually print on adhesive-backed paper or vinyl, and then mount that to the Gator board. It is an excellent alternative to foam core, especially when a more durable material is desired.

The benefits of Gator board include:

  1. Relatively lightweight
  2. Rigid and resistant to environmental factors like humidity
  3. Does not dent or ding easily

Gator board does have a few minuses:

  • Relatively more expensive than foam core
  • It can break in extreme circumstances


Extruded PVC, a solid, yet flexible material makes for an excellent substrate because of its ability to last a long time outdoors. It comes in 1/8”, 3/16”, ½” and 1”. It’s an ideal material for outdoor signs and indoor signs that need to last a long time.

The benefits of using extruded PVC include:

  • Long outdoor life
  • Will not rot or separate
  • Easy to drill through and mount

In a high-heat and high-sun environment, PVC can warp if not mounted solidly to a building or sign frame.


Aluminum is the most costly common sign substrate. It can be difficult to work with, requiring a dedicated workshop. At Kona Impact, we do have a workshop facility to cut and prepare aluminum substrates.

Aluminum comes in many gages: we typically use 040, a flexible, yet hard aluminum material. We also work with thicker aluminum substrates and do have aluminum with an enamel finish. These are ideal for relatively small building signs.

Aluminum’s down side is cost, but it is a great material cut vinyl signs and long-term building signs.

What about wood?

Wood is generally a horrible substrate for signs. It’s not smooth and requires a lot of sanding and special paints to make suitable for any kind of vinyl material. Latex paint is usually made to be cleaned, which means it is not made for things to stick to it. Wood is also porous and will absorb moisture, which will cause it to warp. If you need another reason: termites.

At Kona Impact, we want our signs to look great and last as long as our clients want to use them. There is always a balance between cost, quality and durability. Want the highest quality and durability, and you’ll pay the most. Signs are no different from most goods in that regard.

We encourage businesses to give us a call and discuss their sign needs. We can usually present a range of materials and for a range of budgets. Give us a call at 808-329-6077 to get started.

Local Marketing 2014: Reaching the “Unreachables”

Local Marketing 2014: Reaching the “unreachable”

I was having a chat the other day with a few friends about how much some us have become “unreachable” by traditional local advertising.

We went through a list:

Phone book? None of us would admit to open a phone book in years.

Radio? We all listen to streaming radio like Pandora or Amazon Prime, public radio or audiobooks. None of us listen to commercial radio stations.

Newspaper? Only one out of five of us subscribe to the local newspaper, and the one that does reads it in a matter minutes, just skimming for the sports scores and reading the comics.

Television? All five have unplugged from cable TV. That doesn’t mean that we are not watching TV; we all use some form streaming TV: Netflix, Hulu and others.

This is a pretty resounding rejection of the main sources of media of our fathers. We all grew up with TV, radio, newspapers and yellow pages, but none of them have any impact on us now.

So, if you’re a looking to sell your services or products to people in your community, how can you reach them?

Here are ten ways that we use in Kona, Hawaii with varying degrees of cost-effectiveness:

  1. Locally-optimized websites. If you don’t have a website optimized for local search, you’re missing a huge opportunity.
  2. Lots of positive local reviews. Encourage your satisfied clients to review you on TripAdvisor, Yelp! or Angie’s List. Solve the complaints of your unsatisfied customers. If you get a back review, learn from it!
  3. Postcard marketing. Everyone still reads their mail!
  4. Storefront and business front signage. If you have traffic going by your business’ window, you have a marketing opportunity.
  5. Vehicle advertising. Whether its magnet or cut/printed vinyl, your vehicle will be seen hundreds of times a day; make it work for you.
  6. Community involvement. Rotary, Lions, paddling clubs, etc. are how people meet and make connections. Get involved and people will notice!
  7. Farmers markets, Village Stroll, community events. Do what you can to get your name and products in front of buyers. If you sell coffee, your sales will increase if people can taste it!
  8. Hit the pavement! Get out and drop off flyers or samples to potential customers.
  9. Local advertising on Google, Facebook and Bing/Yahoo. You can limit your ad displays to your local market. Many businesses overlook the power of local online advertising.
  10. Hire a blimp. (OK, this is not a serious suggestion; just want to see if you were still reading!)

If you’re business is still stuck in the 1990s for marketing, it’s time to take a look at some new ways of reaching new customers. For certain, the number of people unreachable by traditional marketing tools is going to grow considerably in the future. Savvy business owners know this and have begun to change their marketing mix.

If you need help with your marketing mix, give us a call at 329-6077. We’ve helped hundreds of local businesses get found and grow.

local marketing

Advice for New Businesses in Kona, Hawaii

The previous blog was on Start-Up Business Mistakes. This blog focuses on some things new start-up businesses in Kona, Hawaii should consider in the business planning stages.

  1. Avoid the highly competitive business sectors. Fishing charters, manta night snorkel tours, burger restaurants and massage therapy are very over-represented in Kona. Find a different take on these ideas and you might have a business.
  2. Find a high margin business that doesn’t require you to compete on price. Most business owners vastly underestimate their costs and overinflate their sales projections. Solar, up until recently, has been a high margin business that did not compete on price. Now, with many new entrants into the area the past few years, that may be changing.
  3. Market your business creatively. Spending a boatload of money on radio or newspaper ads will only reach a relatively small percentage of the local population. Work on word-of-mouth advertising, community engagement and online marketing.
  4. Plan for a tough first year. Make sure you have enough to survive at least six months, if not a year, before you begin. Your expenses will be high; you can count on this.
  5. Be realistic. Someone else has thought your idea before you. Why did they not pursue the idea? Or, have they pursued the idea and failed? It might just not be that great of an idea. I can remember one water activity business we worked with at Kona Impact that was just boring. After 5 minutes doing the activity, I was bored. It was just a really bad idea and not something that people would spend their money or time on. They were in and out of the market in six months.
  6. Consider buying an established business. Look at the financials, talk to customers, clients and suppliers. Paying a premium for an established profitable business might be a good idea, as a lot of the risk will be gone.
  7. Location matters. Restaurants in alleys and off the beaten path pay much less rent, but suffer from very poor visibility. Parking, especially in the Alii Drive area, is troublesome, so much so that many locals avoid trying to shop in that area. The Old Industrial area is inexpensive, but it’s a ghost town at nights and on weekends. South Kona is lovely, but the population and wealth Is in North Kona. The Waikoloa resort area has high rent, a lot of visitors, but your business will be tied to the visitor industry and the ups and downs of seasonal fluctuations in visitors.

At Kona Impact, we know that business is hard on a good day and incredibly frustrating on a bad day. After nearly 3,000 projects in the Kona community with hundreds of companies, we have a good sense of what works and what doesn’t work. If you would like to put our experience and knowledge to work for your business, give us a call at 329-6077.

your success is our goal

Kona, Hawaii Start-Up Business Mistakes

Anyone who has been in business in Hawaii knows that doing business here can be difficult. This is probably true of almost everywhere, but Hawaii does offer some unique challenges. They include local customs, unique market conditions, isolation, high costs, permits and the permitting processes, taxes, insurance requirements and many others.

Here several things that many Hawaii entrepreneurs often miscalculate, disregard or completely overlook when starting businesses in Kona, Hawaii.

It’s Not a Huge Market

The population of Hawaii Island, which is called the Big Island for obvious reasons, is only about 175,000 people with the population in Kailua-Kona only about 12,000. There are approximately 1.5 million visitors to Hawaii Island a year with two-thirds of these coming to the Kona side, which includes the main resort area of Waikoloa 30 miles north of Kailua-Kona.

The take-home lesson is that we don’t have a large resident population, and the tourist population is big, but when you consider where they go—mega resorts on the Kohala coast—many of their dollars are not spent at locally owned businesses.

Everything Will Cost More

Gas today (8-13-14) is $4.30/gallon; a gallon of milk is $5.50. New vehicles often have a “local area markup” of $5,000, and a basic starter home on the Kona side will set you back at least $400,000. Many people come here from the Mainland to start a business and completely underestimate the costs of getting a business going and living here.

Traditional Marketing Options Don’t Work

There is no Kona television station, only one newspaper and the radio stations (like everywhere else I suppose) are highly fragmented. Roadside signs are mostly prohibited. Like everywhere else, the yellow pages have ceased to be effective long ago. Add to these, the trend for many households to stop cable TV subscriptions, and you have a residential population that is very hard to reach. If you are marketing to tourists, you will have to work with booking agencies and concierges who will take 20% (or more) of the booking revenue.

Mother Nature Can Change the Game Overnight

Kailua-Kona has an inactive volcano, which last erupted 200 years ago, on one side and an ocean on the other side. A large part of our oceanfront retail area suffered significant damage from the tsunami coming from Japan in 2011. In 2006, we had an earthquake that caused a lot of damage. In August of 2014 a storm just below the level to be called a hurricane hit the east side of the island causing substantial damage. So, you have dangers from lava, earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis that can become overnight game changers for local businesses.

Kona Impact has been helping start-up businesses in Kona, Hawaii navigate these often treacherous waters for years. We offer a complimentary initial consultation and specialize in developing design and marketing solutions for businesses of all sizes.

hawaii flag and man

At Kona Impact we deal with maybe 250 businesses a year. Most of the businesses are well-run and provide a good living for the owner. We look at many of them and say, “good for them.”

A few businesses we work with every year, however, are businesses we would like to own. Some are just widely innovative and create a good lifestyle for the owner. Others are very profitable and do well for the owner.

One business that is innovative, provides a good lifestyle for the owners, and is profitable is Pele Plantations. They have taken a beautiful piece of land in South Kona, built a gorgeous custom home on it and have developed an innovative Kona coffee business that can be run from their farm. Few opportunities exist where you can live in paradise, grow gourmet Kona coffee and run a successful business from a very nice home.

If you have any interest in owning a home, farm and business in Hawaii, check out, Kona Coffee Farm for Sale.

Kona Coffee Farm for Sale