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Have a fun and safe Independence Day weekend!

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Online Marketing Trends for Small Business: That Was Then, This is Now

When I used to train teachers, I always told them: You have one default way of teaching, and that is how you were taught and learned. Many good teachers get by with this; a great teacher, however, seeks new ways and is not afraid to innovate and change. If you don’t want to change, you should consider a different field.Watch movie online The Transporter Refueled (2015)

The same is true for online marketing: we all have a default way of looking at and practicing online marketing. These ideas and actions might not be fruitful. There might be many new opportunities that will grow your business better and faster, but you have to look for them.

on target with online marketing?

Here is my list of “old” and “new” for online marketing. If you find yourself stuck in the old, you need to start exploring some of the new.

  1. Set it and forget it vs. a “live” website. Long gone are the days when an effective website could be built and left alone to attract customers. We see ample evidence every day that websites need to grow, change and be updated frequently to gain what we call “google mojo”, search engine visibility. If you haven’t changed anything on your website in the past three months, you lack probably lack significant “mojo.”
  2. “tags” vs searchable content. We still hear clients say that meta tags, the hidden text on web pages, are important. Some are, but most aren’t. Google has ignored them for years, as do most the other search engines. A dynamic and well-thought out content strategy that is implemented is the gold standard for search engine visibility. This means words on web pages. Simple.
  3. D.I.Y vs outsourced. For a business that sees the value of effective online marketing, it often makes sense to outsource a lot of the work. The options are vast and a professional marketing consultant can help you choose efficient solutions. In “the old days” businesses outsourced a lot of their marketing: yellow pages, radio ads, tv ads and newspaper ads. The good news with online marketing is that you see results for several years; whereas, a today’s newspaper is tomorrow cat box liner.
  4. Untargeted vs. extreme targeting. Display ads, run and paid for by number of impressions (how many times displayed), were fine when our tools were relatively undeveloped. Now, I target online advertising to zip codes, specific websites, and I only pay when they bring a potential client to my website. We can now ensure that very few marketing resources are wasted on unqualified prospects. This is a huge shift. If you are not optimized for local search and advertising online to people in your community, you’re missing out.

What is a smart business to do if it finds itself with a stagnant online marketing plan? Or worse, what can a business do if it has no online marketing plan? The answer is obvious: learn and change! If you want to do other things with your time, find a skilled marketing person or team to help you help. Doing nothing will guarantee no progress.

Kona Impact | 329-6077

Spotlight: Five Exceptional Locally-Owned Business in Kona, Hawaii

buy locally

We all like to say that we support our local economy and want to keep our money in Hawaii. In principle, it makes sense to buy locally as the money spent at a local business tends to stay on the island and make for a more vibrant and dynamic local economy.

Here are five locally-owned businesses that you can easily patronize instead of the big box retailers or the off-island owned chains. I’d contend that the prices are about the same or less and the service is far superior.

Gas – One my favorite local gems is the Queen K Tesoro, located across from the harbor entrance. Owned by a local family that does a huge amount of good in the community by supporting local athletics and several non-profits, this is my go-to gas station. I like the E-free gas and the store is always stocked with great snacks and even a salad bar.

Propane – Alii Gas and Energy Systems is the easy choice for home propane. Pick up your BBQ propane at the local hardware store; you’ll want to call Alii Gas for residential large tank systems and off-grid power options. The service is awesome and the prices can’t be beat. Best of all, your money will stay on island as the business is locally owned and operated.

Office Supplies and Furniture – Kona Coast Office Supply is not one of our clients, but we rely on them for specialty paper, general office supplies and office furniture. Their selection for many items is often much better than the big box stores, and they deliver their furniture set up and ready to use. If you have ever bought inexpensive office furniture at a big box store and then spent hours assembling it, you know that a low initial cost will result in a big cost of your time to set it up.

Auto Repair / Mechanic – Other than a visit to the dentist, taking your car into the shop is typically a high anxiety activity. The costs can be high, and since the modern car engine is inaccessible to most people, we feel helpless when our cars need servicing. Raymond at Precision Auto has been my mechanic for years, in fact, since the day I met him. Honest, budget conscious and very detailed are  what I like about him and his staff. Another great alternative to a chain or off-island owned business.

Pest Control / Termites – One of the things that come with our year-round great weather is a whole bunch of creepy crawly things. If you’re a homeowner, plan for termites making a meal on your structure. Mason Termite and Pest Control is a great family-run business on the island. With years of experience and an abundance of aloha, they should be high on your list.

At Kona Impact, we are all about helping small and medium-sized local businesses thrive. The big box stores and franchises almost never buy locally, and the profits from these businesses are repatriated to the Mainland. We know that the big box stores and franchises will never support us, so we choose to buy from and promote businesses that will strengthen our community.

Kona Impact | 329-6077


A Model for Business Giving: Time, Talent or Treasure

First, this idea is not mine. I heard these three words first at a Rotary Club of Sunrise meeting several years ago. It has stuck with me throughout the years as a quick and easy way to remember what my company has to give: time, talent or treasure (money).

I get asked at least twice a week to donate to some cause. Yesterday it was a call about sponsoring a school’s folder; last week it was for printing flyers for an event, and two days ago it was mentor high school students. We said no to two out of three requests: sponsoring a school’s folder and mentoring high school students because we didn’t feel these would be a good use of our resources. Our experience with mentoring in the past, especially if it is school-directed, has not been good. We’d rather pay a young person to do actual work and learn along the way-a better win-win for all.

We have a few guidelines we use when deciding if we will give, and whether the donation will be our time, our talent or our money.

  1. Will the donation make a significant difference? There are many big organizations that received substantial federal, state and county funding. We tend to look at smaller groups that are self-funded or run on a very small budget. I like lean organizations, as I feel what I give them will make a big difference. A few hundred dollars to an agency that has a $2 million budget is unlikely to make a big difference.
  2. Is it a cause I believe in on a very deep level? Supporting education, children, the arts and the physically disadvantaged are what we focus on. These are part of what we know and understand, so groups that focus on other issues are generally less interesting to us. To this end we have given to Holualoa Elementary School’s literacy program, Deep and Beyond’s snorkel days and camps, Family Support Hawaii (Board of Directors), the Rotary Club of Kona’s Community Foundation (Board of Directors), Hawaii Island Growing Our Own Teachers (Board of Directors), and Aloha Theater/Aloha Performing Arts Company (new website and free hosting).
  3. Is our donation a multiplier? Providing PR materials for event multiplies our contribution many-fold. Providing expertise or consulting will help the entity grow or refine processes—a definite multiplier.
  4. Does Kona Impact get a PR benefit? Ok, the truth is that we want something in return. A nice thank-you letter is great and sufficient in most cases. Our logo on shirt, sign or email is good, too. If it’s for an event, thank your sponsors by name.

Last year we gave a $750 (retail) banner to a group. Their focus was something we believe needs attention. We will, however, decline future donations because we did not receive any recognition for what we had done: not a thank you letter, not recognition in the program, not even a call.

give us a donation

Note: please do not waste money on a West Hawaii Today mahalo ad! Send a simple letter or card to each donor instead! It’ll mean much more and it’s something they can put on the wall. Don’t waste money thanking us for giving money!

In the past Kona Impact used to write a lot of small checks; we now say no a lot and try to engage non-profits on a much deeper level.

 Kona Impact  | 329-6077

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 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