Category Archives: Marketing Tips

Three Ways We’re Trying to Improve Our Customer Service

Exceptional customer service is not a destination; it is a process of evolving and becoming better. I seldom see a business that does everything right all the time.

customer service word cloud

At the beginning of this year, Kona Impact set out to improve all our processes, from our invoicing and billing systems to our project management and communications systems. We put everything on the table and tried to find ways to do them better. Most of the changes we made are not visible to our customers, but they help us plan, implement and bill our projects more efficiently.

One thing we did was move to a space that is more than twice as big as our old office. This allowed us to have a dedicated production room, and a lot more storage space. The additional personal and work space is great, and it allows us to meet one of our primary goals this year: same day and next day turnaround on many of our products.

We now keep more than enough inventory to allow us to fulfill almost all banner, foam core, PVC and aluminum sign orders in a day. This is what we would want as consumers, so we are trying to provide this to our customers.

Another thing we did was to expand our deliveries to clients. So, for example, a customer staying at a resort in the Waikoloa area can, if the order meets certain criteria, expect same or next day delivery on a print or sign order. A local client can expect us to drop off most orders the same or next movie Everest 2015

fast delivery

Finally, we try to recognize companies that do an exceptional job at customer service. This might include a mention on our blog or writing a positive Yelp! or TripAdvisior review.

We hope that by observing others, we can learn and grow. Likewise, we strive to help new businesses by sharing what we have learned.

So, 2015 has given us some new ways to serve our customers better:

  1. More space and inventory to reduce production time and allow same and next day turnaround.
  2. Expanded delivery options.
  3. Focusing on learning and growing by implementing best practices we see with other businesses.

We’ve been meeting our goals most of the time, and have far exceeded them some of the time. Just last week we had a local restaurant bring in their large beer sign. We made a proof, got it approve, updated the sign and delivered it in less than 24 hours. We also put some vinyl signage on a local retailer the same day they requested it. Yesterday we had a consultant who needed several reports printed and bound that day. We did so and delivered them to the Mauna Lani, allowing her to spend two  more hours enjoying her time in Hawaii instead of driving to Kailua-Kona and back.

Are we going to get everything right all the time? Certainly not. Are we going to learn from our mistakes and seek new ways of becoming more customer-centric? Absolutely.

Kona Impact has been helping new and established businesses on Hawaii Island for since 2006. We’ve  seen boom and bust economies and have worked with hundreds of local businesses on their design and marketing needs.

Kona Impact   | 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

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 Makes Your Business Special?

Most markets are brutally efficient. Start doing a bad job providing products or services to your customers and someone else will. Become arrogant and over price and a competitor will come in and eat your lunch. At Kona Impact we have worked with hundreds of businesses over the years, many of which have thrived because they keep innovating and meeting their customers’ needs. We’ve also seen many fail because they haven’t.

The way to not only survive, but to thrive, is to be the best at what you do. By best, I mean the best products, service, order fulfillment, prices or some combination of these. These are what Marcus Lemonis of “The Profit” fame call the “3Ps”: Product, Process and People. Excel at all of these and you probably have a good business.

At Kona Impact, we have identified five things that we feel set us apart from any local competitor, and perhaps more importantly, people buying online.

They are:

Local Service. This includes having an office for clients to meet with us and discuss their goals and projects. This means being able to visit our client’s businesses and have a deep understanding of what they do and what works for them. You can’t get this online.

Fast Turnaround Time. For many of our signs, we can do them the next day, and in many cases, same day. We try to keep ample inventory of all of our materials to ensure that our clients to not have to wait while we wait for supplies.

Highly-skilled staff. All of the Kona Impact staff have been doing what they do for tens of years. We are not learning how to do what we do; we are highly skilled at what we do and are not using our clients’ projects and money for on-the-job training. This makes our work top quality and, because we are very efficient, our clients’ costs are kept down.

Community Involvement. We are actively involved in making our community a better place. We volunteer. We donate materials and finished products. We organize events for non-profits. While growing Kona Impact is not the reason we are involved in our community, the outcome of the contacts we develop and the goodwill our efforts create is a stronger business.

Local Knowledge. As people who have lived and worked in Kona for tens of years, we have a good understanding of what works and doesn’t work here. We often share insight and connections with clients, many of whom have moved from the Mainland recently. We love connecting clients with people and businesses that will help them grow or solve a problem. When businesses go online for most of their needs, they miss these connections, and from our perspective, they make a lot of bad decisions and miss a lot of opportunities.

Kona Impact local business

Spring 2014 Kona Business Report

Business activity has definitely picked up in Kona in 2014. As a business that works with tens of small and medium-sized companies at any one time, we have our finger on the pulse of Kona business community.

Winter 2014 – Good Times Continue

Most of the tourism related businesses had a good high season: December to March. A lot of the rental condos were fully booked this winter, so the rental agencies, cleaning companies and realtors had a good winter.

We have seen a slight decrease in visitor numbers—down 3.9% year to date—but average length of stay—9.64 days—remained steady and, partly due to higher room rates, visitor spending was solid. Visit the Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism website for a more data on the tourism sector.

The water and land activity providers, including snorkeling, scuba, land excursions and Mauna Kea tours all report, anecdotally, a solid winter.

Spring & Summer 2014

Kona Impact has been working with a wide range of businesses that are gearing up for a solid spring and summer. The retail, real estate, light manufacturing, construction and tourism sectors of the economy seem to be especially poised for a good near and mid-term future.

We have seen rental space in Kona becoming much less abundant that at any time in the past four or five years. This, of course, is good news for building owners, and not so good news for startups and those looking for retail space.

As usually happens in Kona, the less desirable spaces, mainly the back-of-the-building and the 2nd floor retail and restaurant space is more affordable and available, but these spaces are often tough to develop into viable businesses. If you are looking at this type of space, be sure to get a full history of the businesses that have been there, and, to the best of your ability, why the businesses are no longer there.

Strategies for Successful Kona Businesses

At the most fundamental level, a business can only exists if there is a need for the product or service. Figuring that out, of course, is the difference between many “vanity” type businesses that are viable and self-sustaining.

The good news is that Kona is such a small market that only a few businesses can exist profitably in each sector. There are a few areas of the local economy that only can support one business. Find what these are and you’ll fulfill a need and have a good business. Become too nichey, though, and you’ll not have a big enough customer base.


kona businesses

Is Newspaper Advertising in Hawaii a Good Marketing Choice?

Here is a very common conversation we have had over the years:

Client: I’m looking for some ways to advertise local clients.

Kona Impact: Well, there is online, print, radio, television and direct mail. Include building and vehicle signage, too. What have you tried?

Client: I blew a ton of money on yellow pages ads. Didn’t get one call from those. I ran ads in the paper, but I didn’t get any business from them either. I haven’t tried radio, television, direct mail or vehicle signage.

We hear this time and time again: newspaper ads are a close second to yellow page ads in terms of lack of results. Is it true that newspaper advertising is a waste of money?

The answer is much more nuanced than the question. Our experience is that some ads for some things can be a reasonable investment. That said, for many companies, much of the time, newspaper ads fail.

Here is a good explanation of how and when some advertising mediums work and don’t work.

First, let’s look at the positives for newspaper ads

  1. Speed/Immediacy. If you have an event this weekend, newspaper ads, radio, social media and temporary signage are your best options. If possible do all the above. People look to newspapers for what to do and what’s going on around town. Concerts, festivals, fundraisers and public meetings are all the type of thing people look for in a newspaper.
  2. Older demographics. If your target is people over 65, newspaper readership is very high in this group. It’s very low for people under 45.. Selling hearing aids? Advertise in a newspaper. Selling youth-oriented products? Find a different medium: the under 45 crowd is getting their information elsewhere.
  3. Wealthier demographics. This is highly correlated with age; older people make more and have more disposable income.
  4. Known distribution. The ad sales people can tell you how many are printed, returned and distributed in a given area. Do not confuse distribution with people attending to your ad, though; they are two very different things.

Why newspaper ads don’t work

  1. Passive medium. Newspapers are the least disruptive of perhaps all mediums, with the exception of yellow pages advertising. By that I mean they only engage people visually, and this only happens if the reader views the ad, and after scanning it quickly, decides to pay attention to it. There is no sound, movement or interactivity.
  2. No targeting. They are primarily “dumb” ads; you pay for all the distribution, but only a small percentage of the readers are likely to have any interest in what you are advertising. This is also true for radio and television advertising, though with these you can target by time of day and programming. In contrast, an online ad can target women in Hawaii who are between the ages of 40-65 that have looked at the Ford website. Online advertising offers targeting options far superior to any other medium.
  3. Fleeting. Try to recall three ads (from the hundreds) that were in last Sunday’s newspaper. Newspaper ads just don’t seem to have a lasting impact on readers (see #1 in positives for exceptions) unless there is a high degree of advertising saturation. Hawaiian Solar is a company I have in my mind because of their daily, and very clever I might add, print ads. Most ads—if they are even noticed—have very little lasting effect. I always cringe when I see a business spend huge sums on one or two full page ads and then stop advertising. If you are planning on print advertising, plan on a lot of money over a long period of time for the most lasting results.
  4. Expensive. For a reasonably small ad in one of the main sections, expect to pay hundreds of dollars. Repeat that for several days or a few weeks and you’re looking at thousands of dollars. A solid online pay-per-click campaign could provide thousands of pre-qualified potential customers to your website for the same amount.

Simply put, even if a newspaper ad may be effective, it is not necessarily cost-effective and a good value relative to other mediums.

The right question to ask is not whether newspaper advertising is effective, but whether, of all the mediums available, is it the best choice? The answer to that is often “no,” though it is occasionally “maybe” and “yes”. Sure, other mediums can take more time and require more owner involvement, but that’s the point: newspapers often don’t work because the readership is not engaged in your product or service, or, in many cases, the readership is just the wrong demographic.

newspaper pile