Re-Imagine What Your Business Can Be

Many small business owners are wondering what the future holds right now. Their doors are closed, they’re working online, or maybe not working at all. Even when businesses are allowed to open again, the marketplace is going to look mighty different. It’s a scary time to be a small business owner.

Yet in the midst of all this uncertainty lies an amazing hidden opportunity.

Opportunity? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. Periods of transition are make or break times for businesses. Multiple studies have shown that during recessions, those businesses that kept going through the bad times gained significant amounts of market share both during and after the recession. Major brands have launched and made their mark amidst upheaval. When others are frozen and wondering what to do, the businesses that use the opportunity to take control and move forward, step by step, are the ones that will be around for years to come.

So how do you move forward? We at Jersey Shore Marketing & Insights have worked with dozens and dozens of brands that are household names. We’ve helped them make sense of their data so they understand who their customers are and what makes them tick. We discover the values those customers live by, the passions and hobbies that are important to them, and why they buy the products and services they buy. With these insights, brands can communicate their value in a way that customers “get.” When a customer identifies with an idea that a brand embodies, they not only buy, but they come back for more. And they tell their friends.

Larger national and multi-national companies have many resources available to discover these insights, resources that small businesses in local and regional markets do not.

We think they should.

We’re working to bring that kind of service to the local level here at the Jersey Shore, working to develop the insight resources that small businesses need. We ask the right questions, dig deep, segment the data, and use it to position brands, connect with consumers, and increase sales.

Now is a pivotal time. Some businesses will close. But others will grow. The key is to truly understand and connect with your customers in a way that will resonate with them. It’s not a time to panic. It’s a time to re-imagine everything that your business could be and keep moving forward.

Jersey Shore Marketing & Insights believes in small business, just like we believe in the Jersey Shore. We want to be there to support your small business NOW, when both your need for that support and your opportunity to really grow and thrive are the greatest. So for the next two weeks, we’re offering FREE one-on-one consultations for local small business owners, no strings attached.

Yes, FREE.

Just tell us a little bit about where you’re at, and we’ll set up a free 30-minute video chat with clear, actionable steps you can take right now to help your business get to where it dreams of being in 2020 and beyond. Doesn’t your business deserve to be all it can be?

Click here to claim your free slot before they’re filled up. Offer expires 5/22/20.

Musings on the One Month Mark

Well, we’ve made it through one full month of Quarantine 2020. March 13th was the Friday that my kids were told to gather their books and prepare to study from home. And while I’ve done my marketing consulting from my home office for over a decade, for many others that was the date we suddenly became telecommuters for the first time.

For some of us it might not feel all that different, and for others it might feel a little strange, surreal… distracting. Working with all these people in the house. All. The. Time. Making too many messes, eating too much food, having too many needs that we can’t stay on top of 24/7 and still get our work done. And who used up the toilet paper again? Don’t they know we only have so much?

For others it might be distracting in other ways. Too much silence. Too much news. Too much worry about the future: our health, our families, our jobs, the economy, paying our bills, getting by until the next time we absolutely have to go to the supermarket, and wondering what we’re going to do if they are out of toilet paper, milk, cereal, and cleaning wipes… again.

Regardless of which camp you fall into, I want you to think back over the past four weeks. Think about the things that have been totally new to you. Think about the things that were uncomfortable. Think about the changes you’ve made. I want you to realize just how much you’ve learned about yourself, your family, your work, your business. Maybe you’ve learned something about your need for space or quiet or exercise or socializing or travel or simply food that you don’t have to cook yourself. Or maybe you’ve gained insight about your day-to-day routine, your busy lifestyle, or even your ability to be creative and resilient.

I truly believe that through all of these changes and all of this discomfort we feel in the “new normal,” there is something important to be learned. That something will be different for each of us, but there is wisdom to be gained in the experience. And there is value in seeking out that wisdom.

I recently read a social media post that really stuck with me. It was something to the effect of, “Don’t ask ‘Why is this happening to me?’ Instead, ask ‘What am I meant to learn from this?'” Whether it’s something you can learn about yourself, your family, your business — or maybe all of the above — there is definitely something we can learn from and use to grow.

I’m not a life coach, nor am I a family therapist. But here at Jersey Shore Marketing & Insights, we do help businesses figure out how to have a better relationship with their customers. Whether we can help you make sense of your business data, discover what your customer really wants and needs, put together a communications plan, or just brainstorm how to get through the next few weeks, we’d love to help you learn and grow in any way we can.

Only… just don’t ask us for any toilet paper.

8 Things Small Businesses Can Do NOW to Survive Both the Quarantine and the Recession

The world is a pretty scary place right now. Even those who are are lucky enough to stay healthy through this global health crisis may be feeling anxious and worried about how they are going to pay their bills. Small businesses are traditionally hit hardest during a recession, as they often depend on outside financing and have less room to cut expenses. Add in a quarantine, and well… it can be downright depressing. We get it.

But that doesn’t mean that you should throw in the towel. On the contrary, businesses that forge ahead during difficult times are the ones that come out stronger on the other side. How? Here are eight things you can do right now to help your business not only stay in business but be in a position to grow and thrive when the tough times are past.

  1. Remain visible. When all of this is over, people are going to be hungry to go out. To gather, to buy, to participate in all the things they had not been able to do before. If you own a restaurant, will it be your restaurant they want to go to first? If you own a clothing store, will it be your clothes they want to buy with their first paycheck? If you are a travel destination, will it be your destination they will be dreaming of visiting? If you are a health coach, will it be your gym that they are eager to join? You get the idea. Change your message to address the current situation, but keep your name out there. The more visible you are during this period of waiting, the more your business will be top of mind when your customers are able to go out and do things again.
  2. Make caring part of your mission. Customers today are extremely savvy. They can smell a salesman a mile away. They know when you’re not being authentic. They know when you are desperate. And when they sense any of these things, they will run in the other direction. Right now we are in an unprecedentedly dire situation. People are scared. They are lonely. They might be exhausted and stressed if they are front line essential personnel. Heck, they might be exhausted if they are telecommuting and homeschooling at the same time. Or they might be bored and at loose ends if they aren’t working. They might have battled the virus themselves. They might have even lost a loved one. Be gentle. You don’t know what anyone is going through, but what you do know is, it isn’t easy. Be the business that cares about the customer as a human being, not just as an income stream. If you truly care, people will sense that, and they’ll be more likely to buy from you and recommend you later. And you’ll feel better about yourself, too.
  3. Pivot your offerings. If whatever product or service you provide is not able to be sold right now, think about what can be offered instead. If you own a brick and mortar store, can you set up an online sales platform? If you own a restaurant, can you offer a safe and effective pick-up or delivery service? If you teach yoga classes, can you set up an online class instead? If none of these apply to your situation, what is something that people want or need now, in this time of quarantine, that your business can provide? (Need help brainstorming? Reach out, we can do that.)
  4. Check in with your customers. This isn’t an industry-specific slowdown. This is a global pandemic and few if any people are unaffected in some way. Your customers are going through the same things as you are. Check in with them. No, not to sell them anything. But to say, hey, are you doing okay? How can I help? Do you want to talk? I know, this is not getting you any more sales to just care about people. But who do you think they’ll remember when the crisis is over? The company that only wanted to sell them something, or the company that truly cared about them as a human being?
  5. Position your business as the leader. When you think about a business that’s a leader in its industry, what kinds of things influence that perception? Is it the brand that you hear about in the news? The one whose advertising you see? The one that educates and informs? The one that has a mission or belief you share? One that helps others? It’s probably a mix of all of these things. During downturns when budgets are tight, most businesses tend to cut back and lay low. Yet those who persist — with their mission, their business offerings, their advertising and promotions — these are the ones who have the greatest share of voice (that’s marketing-speak for the percent of all brand exposures that one brand makes versus all others). More exposure means more awareness, and that awareness can translate to more sales, now and especially in the future.
  6. Be ready for when things return to normal. If your business is one that is closed at the moment and you find yourself binge-watching your favorite Netflix series or scrolling through social media in your pajamas at all hours, this is a great opportunity. Use this downtime to plan what promotions and specials you’ll offer when the quarantine is lifted. You don’t want to be reactive, you want to be ready. Create some ads or social media posts that are ready to drop as soon as things return to normal. What kinds of promotions do you think people will want at that point? What inventory should you have on hand to satisfy your customers and seamlessly segue from crisis mode to recovery?
  7. Do something to give back. It’s hard to think beyond our own situation in times like this, but there are many people struggling right now. What can your business do to help? The news is filled with stories about distilleries that stop production to make hand sanitizer, about restaurants that send catered meals to overworked healthcare workers on the front lines, about fashion manufacturers that use their expertise to sew and distribute face masks. Does your business have some expertise that can be used to do good for your community? Think of it as an investment in goodwill. People will remember what you do when it contributes to the common good.
  8. Use this as an opportunity to reinvent and improve your business. If you have time on your hands now while you wait for things to return to normal, this is a perfect opportunity to revisit that “to do” list and see what things you can accomplish that you didn’t have time to do before. Is there a skill you wanted to learn? Some coaching you didn’t have time to take on? A new product or service you have been thinking about adding to your current offerings? Can you use this time to analyze your sales data? Send out a targeted survey to your customers? Elicit feedback from key accounts or missed business and incorporate what you learn into how you conduct business moving forward? Look at this extra time as an opportunity to jump ahead and improve your business rather than an obstacle to hold you back. Mindset is everything – you can do this!

If you would like help analyzing your data, surveying your customers, making sense of your business offerings and promotions, brainstorming new ideas, or thinking about ways to put these ideas into action, we can help. Set up a FREE 15-minute consult with Jersey Shore Marketing & Insights by emailing your name, the name of your business, and best times for a consultation call to We love to brainstorm and we’re here to help!

Our New Addiction To Distraction

Have you noticed lately that you’re unable to pull yourself away from a constant stream of news watching and social media scrolling? You try to work, but find yourself distracted by the barrage of posts, news segments, and articles about the coronavirus. It’s well after midnight but your legs won’t move and your mind keeps saying, “one more post/video/article, I’ll go to bed after just one more.”

Sound familiar? You’re not alone.

There’s a reason you can’t pull away, and it has nothing to do with being addicted to social media. A psychologist explained the phenomenon as a throwback to our ancient ancestors’ fight, flight, or freeze instinct.

Our response to today’s coronavirus threat is similar to that of our caveman ancestors reacting to the threats of their time. If they sensed danger, they would stop, look, and listen for a wild animal hiding in the brush. Today, our threat is just as real, just as invisible,and just as deadly. By freezing in front of our TVs and laptops and mobile devices, we are like those cavemen stopping, looking, and listening for the danger we sense is nearby. Only instead of freezing to look for signs of the approach of a sabre-toothed tiger, we freeze in front of the media and obsessively scroll for more news about the spreading virus.

So understand, our distraction in the face of what’s going on in the world today is actually a normal and instinctual response to the stress we feel. A little bit of this stress response is healthy, but we don’t want to be stuck here, numb and immobile in our anxiety. Instead, we can take some healthy steps to help the stress response pass.

Some healthy steps we could take include meditation, deep breathing, or praying. We can journal, sing, paint, or create. We can exercise our bodies with movement or exercise our minds with a puzzle or game. We can use this time to clean out a closet or organize the pantry.

Perhaps the best way to break the freeze response is by taking positive action and finding a way to help. This can mean donating money to relief efforts or calling for a takeout meal to be delivered to a healthcare worker on the front lines — especially if you’re also support a local restaurant in the process. If you’re braving the grocery store, see if you can pick up some milk or canned goods to leave on an elderly neighbor’s stoop.

Call your parents if you are lucky enough to still have them. Have a video chat coffee date with a friend who lives alone.

The distraction we’re now experiencing stems from our feelings of increased stress, and is compounded by our very necessary social isolation. Taking some sort of action can help break this freeze response. We aren’t able to reach out and touch right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t safely reach out from where we are.

5 Tips for Surviving and Thriving in Your New Home Office

As Americans adjust to suddenly working from home, many of us for the first time, there’s more than clearing a space on the kitchen table and connecting our laptops that we need to consider. A few tips from a veteran telecommuter:

1. Set expectations. Everyone in the household needs a space to work or study. The smaller your space, the more distracting that might be. Let others know when you need quiet time without interruption for a call, class, or teleconference. If you don’t have a home office where you’re able to close the door, be creative. A walk-in closet or even your car can be a quiet space to take a call or watch a webinar.

2. Plan ahead. Do you have everything you need to get to work? Laptop, cell phone, charger, earbuds, pens, notepad, folders or some other system to organize your work? Set up folders on your computer and in your email account so that you can easily find files by client, date, or subject.

3. Work healthy. Have some tea, coffee, or lemon water handy, as well as healthy, easy-to-grab snacks. Plan a set break time to come together with other household members for your “lunch hour.” Wash your hands, then eat, chat, or take a short walk.

4. Sit up straight. Set up your workspace with ergonomics in mind. If you find your make-shift office has you slouching over your laptop, use a box or some books to position your screen and keyboard more comfortably. If you don’t have a proper office chair, place a small pillow or rolled hand towel at your back for lumbar support. Natural light or at least a good desk lamp is essential.

5. Ask for support and support others. It can be isolating to work from home, especially if you’re used to a bustling workplace. Reach out to colleagues to check in on projects you’re working on together. Send a quick email to clients to see if they need anything. At the end of the day, spend some time connecting with family and friends on whatever video chat platform you use. Tele-visiting in real time can help bridge the distance. And while we often hear reminders to check in on the elderly and those who live alone, it’s also important to remember people who are always on the go. Those who are most outgoing and socially active often feel the jarring effects of social distancing most strongly. We’re all adjusting to this new normal. A quick call or chat message can mean more than you know.