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Chart Publisher Marketing Tips during Q-time

MESSAGE 1, March 23, 2020 CHART PUBLISHER LETTER: Charting Downtime has an Upside, Dear Chart readers,

Chart joins our family, friends, neighbors, all Americans and people of the World in a respectful quarantine during this unprecedented time of the coronavirus. We will continue online to bring you positive and uplifting news.

Our collective quiet time is a good time to be safe and to be informed. SO, BE INFORMED. It’s a good time to read or learn online about arts, humanities and history. Good news is found in history that pandemics pass, and all tragedies and fearful events mark their place in history and end. It’s also a very good time to nurture your spiritual self in this quiet space.

I appreciate the calls and emails to keep me connected to the community. Each of you are very important to me as a friend, of course, and also a small business owner. I’ll give some tips to other small businesses of how my ad agency used creativity in times of crisis. All challenges pass. This too will pass. Regards, Casey

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MESSAGE 2, Mar. 30, 2020, Dear Chart readers,

Yesterday, we were coming out of our 15 day quarantine and it was extended to April 30. We all have something we can offer to help America stay strong during this time. I will help with some marketing advice.

As promised, I’ll give some tips to other small businesses of how my ad agency made it through the days after 9/11 and the 2008 financial crisis. I also was put out of business from cyberstalking in both 2011 and again in 2013. The corona shutdown of 2020 will pass as well. If you are not a small business owner or manager, you can adapt this information for your career or personal life.

STOP and LISTEN

For starters, Q-Time (Quarantine Time and Quiet Time) is a gift. Ad campaigns start with MARKETING RESEARCH. So, this down time is a good time to assess what works and what does not. What could be done better or more efficiently or effectively? What shouldn’t be done at all? Who adds value and who does not?

I’m looking at my legal pads filled with detailed to-do lists. And guess what?  Most of it is obsolete or irrelevant. The to-do tasks might be useful in the future, but not now.

This Q-time is better served by being open minded and creative rather than holding onto last month’s busy-work to-do list, or trying to make long term decisions. Everyone else is in this strange global Q-Time, too. So, they presumably have time to give you feedback. So, draft a note and ask for input. Make it easy to respond with ten yes or no questions, or give a scale of one to five. What do your core customers want you to continue to do? What would they change about your service or product? After this Q-time, they may have different expectations, so find that out so you can begin to anticipate meeting their expectations. Mail isn’t ideal now with virus spread concerns so e-mail your questionnaire. This assumes you have a data base of your client contacts. You should! Then make some phone calls and collect your data for more specific input. Create a data base of the responses.

As part of my ad agency, I have provided marketing research for clients. I also freelanced for a marketing research company for restaurant chain clients. For example, one chain offered healthy menu items, but it confused the customers who came to that restaurant for comfort food, so they did not get new customers who wanted healthy options, but instead pushed away their core customers.

Your best customer is your current customer. Let’s start with how to best serve them. Let’s ask them!

Particularly businesses that have a long history tend to get in patterns. This is a good time to break patterns that no longer serve your business. We will all be working in a new environment and so now is a good time to get real with what you should take into your future. Make your written list, based on your client feedback, of what you plan to keep, what should be changed, what should be eliminated, and what should be added or enhanced.

This serves several purposes. It keeps you, the business owner or decision maker, thinking positively planning for the future. Also, some people are lonely while isolated and you might just perk up someone’s day by showing that you value their business and their opinions!

More tips to come. Blessings to you, Casey

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MESSAGE 3, April 6, 2020, Dear Chart readers,

What are your CORE VALUES? This year ACM Awards for Academy of Country Music, Nashville’s party of the year, was filmed on iPhones with stars in Q-time isolation and aired April 5, 2020. What struck me was the power of Americana in the substance of the music: family, hope, humility, kindness, togetherness, oneness, simplicity, wholesomeness, inner strength, faith. You peel back the show biz and big stage sets and simply show a solo singer with an acoustic guitar or piano and have their spouse film them, and it is suitable quality for national TV. As a former TV producer, I am amazed. Think about that. Substance. The substance and strength such that America is built upon.

My family was settling in Tennessee before it was a state, not too far from Nashville, building the first Presbyterian churches and the first college, Tusculum University. So, the performers were singing about my own personal roots, too. And I responded as my heart welled up, along with my eyes, with pride at what is possible when a foundation of goodness reigns.

A solid message from the show was in Luke Bryan’s song “Most People Are Good.”

Lyrics: “I believe kids oughta stay kids as long as they can
Turn off the screen, go climb a tree, get dirt on their hands
I believe we gotta forgive and make amends
‘Cause nobody gets a second chance to make new old friends
I believe in working hard for what you’ve got
Even if it don’t add up to a hell of a lot

…I believe if you just go by the nightly news
Your faith in all mankind would be the first thing you lose”

So, I had another more business-focused message for this week for small businesses. This is a more fundamental use of time and energy at this moment, for businesses, for our society, and for us as individuals. What is at your foundation? What are your core values? What are you selling and why? If all of the “show biz” of your business was stripped away, the lights and camera and action, the stage sets, the sound engineers, the publicity and social media spin, the roar of the fans, then what do you have to sell at your most basic level? Will it stand the test of time?

Now is a good time to strip back to the essence of who exactly we are, what we are about, and commit firmly to our core beliefs. Regards, Casey

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MESSAGE 4, April 13, 2020, Dear Chart readers,

Again, this is intended to help small businesses owners and managers. The advice is also easily adaptable to you and your personal life. We have already suggested to be informed, listen to clients for marketing research, and define core values. Based on core values, we can define a USP. In the Four P’s we are still working on Product.

LIST YOUR SUCCESSES. Write them. Not only will this remind you that you were successful once before, but it might also remind you of obstacles or challenges and how you overcame them. It will also lift your spirits to remind you of your successful outcome. Think back, what advantage did you have? What special quality was unique for you to offer for your products or services? In old-school marketing, this is a UNIQUE SELLING PROPOSITION or USP. Ad agencies like myself start here and creatively summarize it in a five word or less headline. As a small business owner, you may not have made a formal marketing plan or you may not have hired an ad agency to strategize for you. Well, in Q-time is a good time to plan and pinpoint exactly why a client should purchase from you. I always say EVERY DOLLAR IS A VOTE. It’s capitalism. Some people win and some won’t. So, why not equip yourself with a strong plan to have clients vote for you to succeed? You plan needs the four basic marketing P’s: Product, Price, Placement, Promotion. You can only plan for what you can control. So, you can’t control the marketplace right now or buyer behavior or disposable income or your competitors or a host of other necessary data to create your marketing plan for post Q-time. What you can control is your USP.

If that needs to be tweaked, there is no better time than Q-time in this pause. In the words of F. Scott Fitzgerald, “For what it’s worth, it’s never too late to be whoever you want to be. I hope you live a life you are proud of, and if you find that you’re not, I hope you find the strength to start over.”

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MESSAGE 5, April 20, 2020, Dear Chart readers,

For small business owners (and ourselves) we have already suggested to be informed, listen to clients for marketing research, define core values and list successes. Now we are going to BE AUTHENTIC.

On social media, people are posting their high school senior photos, so I found mine and posted it. Basically, PEOPLE DON’T CHANGE. I knew I was going to be a writer so got a journalism / advertising degree. So, for me, that has been a good career choice. For my small business, part of what I offer is ghostwriting services. When I talk to a potential client about writing their life story, it’s a two-way interview process. If I am not genuinely interested in their story and topics, I cannot possibly produce my best creative outcome for them. By being true unto myself, I do miss out on business, but I am authentic. If I take on a client, as a ghostwriting client, or Chart advertiser, or marketing client, I give my best heartfelt effort. In the same way, every small business owner or manager is authentically drawn toward certain products or services, and clients. So, concentrate on what benefits you the most, what you do best, who you like to do it for, and what you love to do. Now is a good time to shed those things that are not optimal in your business plan.

This sounds simple, but it is not always. As the 2008-09 financial crisis hit, I had added staff and signed an office lease off of Park Ave. in Winter Park. I knew the art gallery needed to be phased out but that would take years to unwind. Chart had local art hanging in 50 art host sites in restaurants, shops, luxury car dealerships, banks, and many advertiser locations. If you don’t feel passionate about a part of your business, or if it isn’t profitable in this case, plan to scale back over time if you can’t stop right away. During this downtime is a good time to make shifts or plan for shifts.

It’s a good time to concentrate on what you want to continue. Listen to your voice inside. During a month so far of isolation, along with the stress and concerns of unknown factors, brings out the TRUTH OF WHO WE ARE. The essence of your business is much the same.

Listening to the news during this Q-time, we have practiced critical thinking, deciphering what is truth in the messages. Likewise, your clients can sense the level of authenticity in your offerings and your marketing messages. Each of us adds our skills and gifts to our communities. The more we are authentic in how we spend our time and what we contribute to the world, the greater the rewards will be, both in a marketing plan and what is measurable only within ourselves. Regards, Casey

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MESSAGE 6, April 26, 2020 CHART PUBLISHER LETTER: Charting Downtime has an Upside, Dear Chart readers,

For small business owners (and ourselves as individuals) we have already suggested to be informed, listen to clients for marketing research, define core values, list successes, be authentic. Now we are going to get a PUBLISHER PEP TALK for HAVE NO FEAR.

After a month and a half of Q-time, we ask ourselves is our business “essential” to our clients? Insecurity can be natural with the deluge of messages hurled at us daily with the label we are “non-essential.” That is not how capitalistic America works. Small businesses create or fulfill needs or desires for products and services. We are all essential. We all have worked hard to build our businesses and now the gaslighting kicks in that maybe your clients won’t return. Maybe they don’t have the money for purchases or they won’t venture out into a germy world or they have replaced what you sell with something else. Don’t believe the negative thoughts. Get rid of the fear gear. The world is making plans to re-open. Go forward in confidence. The people who weren’t supposed to be there, will indeed fade away. It is springtime and time for hope and renewal, so right on cue, it is time to grow.

In my “Secrets of the Southern Shells” book is a chapter Replace Fear with Faith. Starfish Star feels alone, but she is not. Likewise, right now, you are not alone.

Last week was Earth Day and World Book Day and also in that week in April 2017, I wrote “The Rest” poem. I put the poem in my 2019 book “Catalyst in Palm Beach.” The gist is HAVE NO FEAR. So, I plan to take my own advice from my own books. Join me and let’s go about our lives and be joyful and purposeful. The end of Q-time isolation is nearing and the world awaits your presence. We are better connected and together.

In the words or Ernest Hemingway, “We could feel alone when we were together, alone against the others. But we were never lonely and never afraid when we were together.”  Regards, Casey

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MESSAGE 7, May 4, 2020 CHART PUBLISHER LETTER: Charting Downtime has an Upside, Dear Chart readers,

After almost two months of Q-time, Florida partially re-opens today along with some other states. Are our businesses out of sight and out of mind? Some say it takes 21 days to break a habit, some say 66. Regardless, for most small businesses, our core customers have had time to change their habits of buying our products or services. Many of our “usual” buyers now may have less disposable income due to financial concerns such as their income is down or they feel the crunch of the Market. They have had a lot of time to research options and shop online. So, in our re-start mode, our customers might be more finicky or want more perceived value. They might want to physically see owners and managers in your space. You then demonstrate that you are not fearful of being there and you show your commitment to success. For Chart memberships, some supporters paid 20 years in advance. Not that they wanted the value of the membership but they wanted to support my obvious dedication and hard work. Some friends would hand me $20 every time they saw me out and about promoting my business. (MUCH gratitude!) Every dollar is a vote and some people will support you simply to support you if you show up and ask. So, give both finicky and loyal buyers what they want.

Assume that the I-buy-this habit is broken. Sell the sizzle not the steak. Rekindle the allegiance. Remind your customers why they buy from you. An old advertising adage is, “When the business starts to flounder, run a photo of the founder.” This is an ideal time to be visible to your buyers. TAKE IT PERSONALLY and make it personally. You make a difference. You can help drive sales. You can help create a positive customer experience with your presence. You can reaffirm the personal connection to your business and the buyers.

For small business owners (and ourselves as individuals) we have already suggested to be informed, listen to clients for marketing research, define core values, list successes, be authentic, have no fear, and now we suggest to be personally present. And BUYERS … let’s support the businesses who are open and buy USA made products and services. Wishing all of us the best as we begin to re-open. Regards, Casey

p.s. tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. So, remember your favorite charities along with local businesses this week. Xoxo to all.

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MESSAGE 8, May 12, 2020, Dear Chart readers,

Artists and other creative people are the ultimate small businesses. Several Chart readers have contacted me and shared that they have initiated books and other creative endeavors during the 2020 down time. I will announce soon some small workshops to help authors complete their projects.

As a writer, like many of my artist, musician, filmmaker and other creative friends, I am content creating alone. Our creativity can actually thrive when we find solo time. However, without buyers or admirers or partakers in our creativity, it is not rewarding financially or otherwise. So, creative people (like all of us) require a balance of alone time and public life.

As Florida re-opens and we support our local small businesses, remember to engage and encourage your creative friends. A purchase or even a small gesture such as a “like” on social media is appreciated. I feel my creative friends, and indeed many of us who are balancing the desire to stay safe and yet still be a part of the world, will relate to a song I would like to share.

“The Lady of Shalott” is a lyrical ballad by the Victorian-era English poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. Based on the medieval Italian Donna di Scalotta, it tells the story of Elaine of Astolat, a young noblewoman isolated in a tower on an island near Camelot. Her lonely confinement as a singer and artistic weaver is cursed with death if she contacts life she sees only in a mirror outside of her tower. She is distracted from her restricted artistry by the singing below of Sir Lancelot of King Arthur’s Knights of the Round Table. She looks longingly upon the real world from her tower and, thus, her creativity along with her life ceases.  The folk ballad sung by Loreena McKennitt was released in her 1991 album “The Visit.” It’s quite beautiful. Click the link to the song on YouTube to listen:  https://youtu.be/DgaEd5hIxzI  .   Regards, Casey

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MESSAGE 9, May 19, 2020 Dear Chart readers,

Happy almost Memorial Day weekend. As we honor our military men and women who died serving the U.S., let’s also celebrate life and living. They died so we can have American freedoms. When I was gathering content for the first exclusive Palm Beach issue of Chart magazine in 2016, (I had Palm Beach sections in the Winter Park Chart magazine for years) someone suggested Lynne Barletta in Stuart. She is the Founder and Director of Visionary School of Arts and an acclaimed artist. When I met with her she gave me some notecards with her art. “Emergence” visually captured what I was sensing at that time, and several times since. In perfect timing, the image that faces my desk once again captured my full attention today. Notice the shadow is the United States and the Statue of Liberty. Art impacts our lives. It’s important to surround ourselves with positive energy and creative messages found in art, music, film and other creative expressions that give us encouragement or strength or simply peace and joy. I am completely inspired by this image. (Visit her websites Visionaryschoolof-arts.org and Lbarletta.com) Supporting artists and creative people with just a small purchase, like a $20 book or notecards or a ticket to a performance or event, helps them (us) to continue to create. If you need a book to read on the beach or on a boat or inside your abode, I know an author who will ship it to you. (Hint. Hint.) So, this week CELEBRATE FREEDOM. We have so very much to be thankful for in America. Regards, Casey

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