Category Archives: Uncategorized

Ways Small Businesses in Kona Can Exist in a Land of Big Box Stores

The reality in Kona is that the big box stores—Walmart, Target, Kmart, Lowe’s, Home Depot and Costco—all have huge advantages over smaller, locally owned and operated businesses and stores. The have economies of scale, strong distribution networks and can fill our Sunday papers with advertisements each week. If you want to sell toothpaste, paper towels or 2’ x 4’s you are guaranteed to be beat on price and selection.

That said, there are some ways small, local businesses do well in Kona. We work with a lot of these businesses at Kona Impact and have come up with four keys to beating the big boxes, or, at least, developing a strong, sustainable business.

Develop connections with other small businesses. I am always amazed at how some small businesses in Kona will buy everything they can online or shop exclusively at chain stores and franchises, yet they expect others to buy locally. When you talk with other small businesses owners, participate in a paddling team, attend church or participate in a Rotary or Lions club, you are connecting with people who might become your customers. Even more important, these local businesses have a strong “coconut wireless” system for referrals and information. Get involved. Shop locally. Get connected.

buy local kona

Be the source for expertise in your area. I do not expect the employee in the Walmart garden section to have any knowledge of plants. They are just there to ring up your sale. The local nurseries, however, have very knowledgeable employees and can help you figure out what grows where you’re at and what doesn’t. I don’t expect the guy at the 20-minute oil change to look at my vehicles the way my local mechanic does. Sure, he costs more, but in the end, I feel like I’m getting much more value.

Have what the big stores don’t. I watch a tens of construction guys a week pick up specialty lighting from the business across from mine. The builders know that their customers, the home buyers, want quality and specialized lighting solutions—not the kind of stuff you’ll find at Lowe’s. Kona Coast Office Supply doesn’t bother with the cheap, flimsy file cabinets you’ll find at Walmart: they have the good stuff. Keeping a good inventory of hard-to-find items and helping clients with special orders is something the big stores often fail to do.

find a niche

Make it in Hawaii. Target is a huge store, about 100,000 sq ft or more, yet the “Hawaii” section is minuscule, maybe a few hundred sq ft. Walmart’s Hawaii section is mostly items not made in Hawaii! Come up with products that can only be made here, whether it is Dragon Fruit jams, Mamaki Teas or tours in Hawaii. Go where they won’t go. Selling at the local farmers markets and village strolls won’t make you rich, but they are an ideal way to connect with customers and introduce them to your website, which will allow you to sell to them anywhere at any time. You also might want to try selling to Costco; they have a pretty good reputation of local sources for agriculture products and some consumer good.

We all know it’s ridiculous to try and beat the big box stores at their own game. You don’t need to; there are many local businesses and people that are eager to buy locally and support their community. The key is to offer something the big stores can’t, whether it is specialized products or services or awesome customer service.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

Great Results with No Effort….Really??

A guy walks into his annual physical with his doctor. He says, “You know, Doc, I don’t have lot of energy, I can’t play sports like I used to and, well, things aren’t going very well in the bedroom either.” man with no energy The doctor looks at his chart and says, “Well, you’re very overweight, and your blood work shows high cholesterol.

The guy replies, “Oh, that’s not good. How can I get my weight and cholesterol down?” The doctor answers, “Well, you need to eat less, eat more healthy food and exercise more. Those are three ways you can achieve better health. We have classes and program that can help.”

The man says, “I don’t have time to exercise; I love pizza and beer; and, I don’t want to make any major changes in my life. I’ll try to figure it out myself.”

The doctor’s answer: “Well, with no change, I guarantee tomorrow will be the same as today, only worse. There are no miracle cures.”

Later that day the man gives an online marketing consultant a call and says: “business is down. I know I’m not reaching my potential with my company. My customers say that can’t find my online easily, and my website is outdated. Can you do some magic to change this?”

The consultant looks at the website and runs some tests on the site’s visibility and says, “Well, your website is 8 years old, it’s only three pages and it does not meet Google’s guidelines.”

The guy replies, “Well, I don’t want to spend a lot of money or time on this, maybe just a few hundred dollars. Can’t you just do something with what I have?”

The consultant replies, “What you want is for me to take your old Honda and make it perform like a Ferrari. Can’t be done. Your website needs to be replaced. Fixing an old website is like fixing an old car; it will always be sub-optimal.”

Do you recognize your approach to health or business in any of the scenarios above?

We all want quick fixes and instantaneous results. The problem is that fundamentally changing your health or business requires fundamental change. At Kona Impact, we say that there are no home runs in marketing; that is; there are no singular actions you can take that will change everything for your business. Life and business are like that: results require effort and, yes, sacrifice.

Much of this effort requires professional help and costs. I hire a mechanic to fix my truck, and he hires me to help him get found online. We both know what we don’t know.

I suspect that many business owners that want results without meaningful effort understand the impossibility of this. I think these business owners are too focused on today and tomorrow to see the long term benefits of having a professional and solid online presence. They don’t see the thousands, tens of thousands or millions of dollars of business they are currently losing to competitors who do it better. They view a few thousand dollars as an unwanted expense and not an investment in their business.

At Kona Impact we have worked with hundreds of business owners over the years. We have seen some come and go and many who have started with nothing reach wonderful levels of success. We know there are no miracles and “home runs” in business; it’s much more complicated than that. If you want solid, cost-effective solutions for your business, give us a call.

 Kona Impact | 329-6077

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.

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

Getting Found Locally: How Clients Find Coaches

How do your clients or customers find you? Do you ask?

One of the keys to successful local marketing, attracting and selling to people in your community, is gathering information about how people find you. One thing we do at Kona Impact is to ask every new client how they found us.

Was it a referral from an existing client? If so, I want to reach out to that client and say thanks.

Was it online? Did the new client click a paid ad or was it through organic search? The difference is important.

We keep this client acquisition data private, of course, because it becomes part and parcel of our marketing plans, budgets and strategic planning.

I can, however, share how coaches get their new clients. By coaches, I mean Life, Business and Wellness coaches, not soccer, baseball and swimming. This data comes from a marketing survey we did for FindCoaches.com an online coaching directory.

How do coaches find clients?

Of the following, what are the THREE most common ways your current clients have found you? (Check no more than three.)

Referral (from other client, friend, relative, etc.) 83.5%
Personal connection (you knew each prior to your coaching relationship) 67.1%
Your website 41.2%
Social media website (Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, etc) 23.5%
Seminar, retreat or training session 23.5%
Online coaching directory 14.1%
Print advertisement (newspaper, phone book, magazine, etc.) 5.9%
Online ad (Google AdWords, Bing ads, etc.) 2.4%
Radio or television appearance 2.4%
Direct mail 1.2%
Radio or television advertising 0.0%

As you can see, referrals and personal connections are critical for coaches to grow their business. Social media, seminars and coaching directories also had a role in client acquisition.

Traditional media–radio, television, mail–were seldom used by coaches.

The results are clear: if you have a personal services business, you need to get out in the community and make connections with people. Don’t neglect your online presence either; a website, social media and online coaching directories might make the difference between a few clients and a lot of clients.

Should you avoid the traditional media like radio, television, mail and newspapers? These might be missed opportunities for coaches, or, as many might assert, they are not cost effective for coaches.

Clients often ask us where they should be found. Our answer is always the same: everywhere! This is especially true when it comes to professional services: you want anyone who is considering your services to come up with your name first. Simply relying on one medium or strategy is clearly not effective. That said, the survey results clearly show that some of the old media are likely to be ineffective.

The other thing that comes from the coaching survey is the need to ask clients or customers how they find you. Keep records. Use this information to fine tune your marketing.

survey your clients

 

Donate Blood – Get Free Business Card Design or 1/2 Off 1,000 Cards

The Blood Bank is coming to the LDS Kona Stake at 75-230 Kalani Street tomorrow, March 12. Walk-ins are welcome.

Saving a life is probably why you would give blood. That’s reason enough in our minds, but if would like another reason, we are offering a free business card design or 50% off 1,000 cards on March 12 only for anyone who stops by before or after donating blood. The business card design is a $50 value and 1/2 1,000 cards is worth$42.50!

This is a one-per-person, one-day only promotion. Hope to see on Wednesday!

blood-bank-450

 

Advertise! Advertise! Advertise!

In the last post we looked at differentiation–developing products and services that different from what everyone else has. Today we’re going to look at advertising.

Very few people will just stumble upon your website. There are hundreds of millions (even billions?) of web pages out there. A new website is like a restaurant in the desert with no roads to it. You need to build roads to your website.

There are two ways people come to website: 1) type in or 2) link/referral.

Type in traffic is often overlooked by business owners. Every email, business card, print ad—every piece of your marketing collateral—should have your website’s address. If you are selling your services or a product, you want potential customers to know where they can get more information or make a purchase—your website.

Other crucial ways to increase your type-in traffic include offline advertising: signage, newspaper ads, magazine ads, flyers, postcards and any other marketing material. Don’t overlook offline advertising, as it is a key way to grow your online business.

Link/referral traffic comes from online advertising, a link from another website or a link in an email. There are many very good online advertising platforms, including Google AdWords, Facebook ad and many affiliate programs. Plan on investing some of your resources on these. Sometimes they have a huge return on investment; they should not be overlooked.

The point of this blog post is to emphasize that a website without an advertising plan is likely to be underutilized and ineffective. Allocate resources to advertising and carefully monitor results. Reduce or eliminate what is working and refine and expand what is working. Over time, you will have a very focused set of tools to help grow your business.

marketing-concept-web-500px

A Color is Not Always What You Think

Color is the most fundamental elements of design. For example, a red shirt, even if it is the same cut and fabric, conveys a different feeling and sense than, for example, the same shirt in black.

We often hear clients say that they want a particular color because it conveys some essential meaning of the business. This is usually true from their perspective, but that doesn’t mean that it is universally true.

For example, red, for signage, at least, conveys stop or prohibition in the United States. Our stop signs are red, as our a lot of “caution” signs. That same red in China, though, conveys happiness, good fortune and welcome. You’ll see a lot of red in many of the Chinatowns in major cities.

Blue, in designs for businesses, often conveys trust and reliability; whereas, the same blue used for a restaurant would probably be ill-advised. Blue, of course, is the color of mold and rotten food, which is why you seldom see blue processed food or many restaurant designs with blue. So, blue on one context is appropriate, inappropriate in another.

Pink is another color that has widely varying cross-cultural meanings. In the United States, pink is an effeminate color. In Japan, pink has many meanings, but one of the most salient is the use of pink for advertising so-called “adult services”–sex shops and massage parlors.

So, when you’re thinking color, try to consider how that color may be interpreted. Another good idea is to hire a design team that understands the use of color very well and one that help you make informed decisions.

Every Color Has Meaning