Monday, March 30, 2009

A Wise Word About the Easter Bunny

Like most categories of spending this year, Easter spending is set to be down this year. Last year, consumers spent an average of $135 on Easter items. This year, according to NRF's 2009 Easter Consumer Intentions and Actions Survey, the the average consumer will spend a projected $117 on flowers, candy, clothes and food for the holiday.

Many  people still view Easter as the official kick-off to Spring.  So, with total spending expected to reach over $12 billion, there are still plenty of consumer dollars to go around. And since Easter is coming three weeks later than it did last year, it gives you some extra time to get consumers in your stores for Easter spending. 

The "buy local" movement is also picking up speed just in time for the Easter holiday season. Local businesses need to take advantage of this opportune time and advertise their Easter/Spring sales to get their share of the Easter spending season. 

A Tip on Organic Advertising

I have had a profile on Facebook for some time now and one thing that I have noticed is that the ads are as organic and ever-changing as my profile itself. In fact, the ads are always changing, and offering me things that seem to coincide with my interests as outlined in my profile. This is no accident. Facebook places ads that are specifically targeted to me. This is part of Mark Zuckerberg's plan to make Facebook profitable.

So, how does Mark Zuckerberg's plan influence your business? I'm not telling you to go out and buy Facebook ad space, unless that is part of your marketing plan. It is still not certain how well this type of advertising in the social media space works.

A lesson that you can learn from the college-boy wonder is to get to know your consumers. Read industry research. Read this blog. Utilize customer surveys. Ask customers questions. Then create marketing programs that address what the consumer wants.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising and Public Relations

Friday, March 27, 2009

Planning for Crisis

If there's one thing you can always count on, it is the fact that something, somewhere, at some point is going to go very wrong.

A lawsuit, an employee acting inappropriately, an accident, a major product flaw, a fire, a bomb-threat ... you name it. No business is exempt from the possibility of a crisis. 

How you manage yourself and your business in the first hour or two of a crisis, is critical. Yet most of us don't have any idea what we would do and instead of putting a plan into motion, we just react. Unfortunately, our first reaction may not necessarily be the best course of action.

It may seem like a stretch, but planning for a crisis situation really is a part of marketing and public relations, because it has to do with the way the public views your company.

So, sit down today and jot down some of the likely crisis situations that you may face in your industry and discuss a plan of action for each. Also, think about who you should contact and include their names and contact information in your Crisis Management Plan.

Hopefully, you'll never need it. But, if you do, it will be time very well spent.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations 

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Who Do Consumers Trust?

New studies done by JupiterResearch are reaffirming a long-standing, well-known fact -- consumers trust each other much more than they trust you. They understand that businesses who want to turn profits may have a bit of a hidden agenda, while fellow consumers do not.

What is new about this finding is the effect that this consumer attitude has on shopping in this digital age. With consumers looking to reduce their spending, 45% looked at 3 or more web sites to research their latest purchase. About one in five used internet resources to help them decide where to make a purchase. They are taking advantage of the community aspects of the internet and looking to user ratings and reviews, other third party sources, and online forums to help them make their purchasing decisions.

Collect good consumer testimonials and include them on your web site. Invite appropriate third parties to review your business services and include those on your web site. All of these trust-building elements can be added to your profile.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising and Public Relations

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Who Are You? Brand Your Business

Successfully marketing your business starts with figuring out who you are and what your story is. What is the personality of your business? Your business’s brand should be the core of your marketing messages, because those businesses with a clear brand are most remembered by consumers.

Too many businesses operate without telling their story to consumers. Branding isn’t a concept just for big corporations. Small businesses can benefit just as much from branding if not more, because small businesses have a more concentrated consumer base.

For example, if you run a pizza shop, do you take pride in serving the best deep dish? Does your pizza shop have a genuine Italian atmosphere? Is your store the hippest place for high schoolers to stop by with friends and grab a slice?

Work on defining the personality of your business and let the brand personality permeate through each sale, product development, and decor choice. This will set the stage so that when you are ready to create an ad, or to hire an accomplished agency to make ads, then they will be unique and memorable.

June Bisel

Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Relationships, Relationships, Relationships

Sometimes, the key isn't who you know, but if the people you do know trust you and respect you. A key ingredient to success in business (so important that I had to say it 3 times in the title) is your ability to develop positive relationships with people. For those in retail settings, the first step is showing consumers that they are of great value to you. 

But the importance of relationships transcends your company's dealings with customers. It's people that make businesses tick, and your company's relationship with those people can either help or hurt your business.

It is important to your business that positive relationships are kept between your company and its vendors, manufacturers, and any other entities that your company has contact with along the supply chain. When the economy is as bad as it is now, many businesses are looking to cut costs. If your clients trust you and feel that they are valued by you, then your company is less likely to be cut when budgets tighten. 

Find ways to establish trust and credibility to your corporate relationships such as making calls to ensure quality or being insightful in your offerings of new services. Don't make others feel that you are offering a different service just to fill some type of quota for the month, but rather because they will actually benefit from it. 

And enjoy your business relationships. After all, if you're like most of us, you spend a good amount of time doing business.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Monday, March 23, 2009

Professional Networking Opportunities Rise in Social Networking

According to the newest Nielsen Company online social media study, the fastest growing segment in social networking media in 2008 was in the 35-49 year old demographic. Facebook, the dominant player in the global social networking media world added twice as many 50-64 year old users as they did users under 18 in 2008. This is an indicator that the user makeup of social networking media is changing.

This means that more businesspeople will be on Facebook, Twitter, and on blogs. This trend can open up Facebook to professional networking opportunities, in addition to the social aspects that the social networking sites have already established. 

Think about adding clients as friends on Facebook, inviting them to your companies' Facebook groups, or following their tweets on Twitter. Professional interaction can become much easier and more personalized through these social networking media means if it is used properly.

Are you on Facebook? We are! Look for on facebook today. 

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Love for Twitter

I have to admit, at first I just didn't get the whole Twitter craze. Why do I care what someone else is doing right now? And, more importantly, why would anyone else care what I'm doing?

For those of you who are unfamiliar, Twitter offers a 25 words or less format for "tweets". It allows users to stay connected to those they choose to follow; and, with followers of your own, it allows you to stay connected. Twitter, combined with the ability to put the internet in your pocket with Blackberries and iPhones, opens up grand new possibilities in the social networking media landscape.  

Here's an example of just how cool it can be. One of the people I follow is Terry Moran, Co-anchor of Nightline. Just this past week, Terry was in the courtroom while AIG CEO Edward Liddy testified on Capitol Hill about the controversial bonuses given to executives. No electronic devices were allowed in the courtroom, so Terry would sneak out to the hallway as often as possible to keep his followers informed. Connect with Terry at provides an excellent complimentary service to Twitter. It is a directory of people who post on Twitter. Using WeFollow, you can find people who are knowledgeable in different interesting fields and learn from them through their tweets. I tweet about advertising from BBG&G's twitter page,

Any followers?

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Home Improvements Still Create Value

According to the 2008 AOL Real Estate Survey, 69% of homeowners in the US agree that home improvements will help increase their home's value... even as home values decrease.

And where do people want to invest their money? It's no big surprise -- kitchens, bathrooms, and master bedrooms.

In fact, a recent trend, caused as a result of the decline in the housing market, is that many people who had planned to move are now staying put and adapting their homes to better meet their needs. This could include elderly who are investing in a kitchen that is more "user-friendly", or installing a chair lift to second floor bedrooms. It includes couples who are adding on bedrooms for a growing family. It includes recent empty-nesters, like me, who always wanted a jacuzzi in the bathroom, a sun room out back, or a master bedroom large enough to fit a king-size bed and have a walk-in closet. 

There are plenty of opportunities if you're in the business of home improvement. Like every other industry, you have to know your customer -- who they are, where they are, and what's the best way to reach them. You have to know what's important to them, and you have to give them more than they expected. Make the experience of working with you so easy, and so pleasant, that they wouldn't even consider working with anyone else. Deliver quality. Deliver on time. And deliver it with a smile.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Make the Most out of Home Improvement Season

A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about the increasing popularity of home food gardening brought on by a tough economy. While consumers are getting their hands dirty outside in their gardens, inside the home, they are increasingly putting off home improvement projects. (The exception to this trend, I will talk about tomorrow).

Between 2007 and 2008, home improvement sales dropped from $337 billion to $325 billion. This trend is likely to continue to decline this year with consumer's fiscal confidence continuing to decline.  

If you are in the business of selling home improvement products, perhaps you should provide homeowners with tips on home improvement projects on a shoe-string budget. Smaller projects that they can afford can make a big difference in the look of their home. Painting a room, installing new handles on kitchen cabinets, or putting new slip-covers on old couches can improve one's outlook on their space. 

Businesses should support consumers with good advice. Sometimes, helping your customers make the right choice, may mean a smaller sale for you now, but in the long-run they will remember your honesty and your good advice. Then, when they feel like they're ready for the big overhaul that they've been holding off on, they will be more inclined to give you a call. 

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Use Email and Go Green for St. Paddy's Day

Being it's St. Patrick's day, I thought it would be appropriate to write about something green! Green, meaning environmentally friendly, of course. 

In the world of marketing, email is an eco-friendly alternative to using paper to print direct mailers and newsletters. In addition to its positive environmental values, email is a very powerful communications tool for businesses looking for a way to integrate the internet into their marketing efforts. 

An article written by BBG&G Advertising President, Deborah Garry, which was published in the Hudson Valley Business Journal in '08 spoke about the power of email as a marketing tool. ( 

Enjoy the read.... and enjoy your St. Patrick's Day. And use this day to think GREEN!

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Monday, March 16, 2009

Preparing for St. Patrick's Day

I recently read an article about a bank who has taken to handing out biscuits to their customers. They are promoting a product line they call "Biz Kits" (get it, biz-kits, biscuits)... pretty clever!

Anyway, handing out Scones and Irish Soda Bread isn't a part of any product line here at BBG&G, but it is part of our Irish Hospitality here on St. Patrick's Day. So, anyone lucky enough to have an appointment tomorrow, or anyone who just happens to stop in for a visit, will be offered a cup of coffee or tea with some Irish fixins'.

Every year, I get phone calls and emails leading up to the big day, asking me for my scones recipe. So, here it is for any last-minute bakers.

June's Scones
2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (I prefer King Arthur's)
1 cup Stone Ground Whole Wheat Flour
1 TBS baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
8 TBS butter, room temperature
8 TBS sugar
1 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup chocolate chips (of course, you can use raisins, but soak first in hot water and then drain)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. In large mixing bowl, blend dry ingredients. With two knives, cut in the butter until the mixture looks like bread crumbs. Stir in buttermilk, egg, vanilla and chocolate chips or raisins.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured board and, with well-floured hands, knea the dough very gently 8 to 10 times... just enough to bring it together. Sprinkle on more flour as you need, to keep the dough from sticking (and it will!).

Divide dough in half, making two pie-shaped pieces. Cut into 8 pieces each (as if you were cutting a pie). Place onto greased cookie sheet, folding thin end over top. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake for 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Makes 16 tea scones.

Now, here are some options I've heard about, but haven't tried yet: Using ALL unbleached flour will make scones lighter, but not as healthy as using the whole wheat -- like scones with whole wheat flour are healthy by any stretch of the imagination!
OR substitute 1/3 cup cocoa powder for 1/3 cup unbleached flour -- can't believe I haven't tried that yet.

That's it... I hope you like them. Please let me know if you've tried the recipe and how they came out.

Have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!!!

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Friday, March 13, 2009

A Lesson to be Learned

Wow, I haven't heard so much talk about peanuts since the Carter administration.

The salmonella outbreak that was traced back to peanut product manufacturers has had a  widely publicized impact. The products that were tainted by the outbreak were recalled, plants that distributed the tainted products were investigated by the federal government, and some plants were closed down. 

The damage, unfortunately,  is still being done. Many consumers are unclear as to what peanut products were affected. Is it safe to buy peanut butter? What about Reese's peanut butter cups? Better safe than sorry, right? ... maybe I'll just stay away from peanut products altogether for awhile... just to be safe.

Unfortunately, this is the mentality that has caused peanut butter companies to experience their lowest sales numbers in years, even though peanut butter was not at all affected by the outbreak. It's a harsh lesson in what bad publicity can do and how important it is to counteract bad publicity with all of your strength and might. 

Businesses need to create a flow of positive publicity and community outreach on a regular basis  to ensure their reputation in the public is, well... positive. By keeping communication open and honest with the public, they have established credibility and have created a relationship that will make crisis management easier to manage if a similar event happens to them.

Being involved in the good of your community, sponsoring community events, joining committees, or serving on local non-profit boards is a great way to ensure that the public's introduction to your company name is a pleasant one. It is also a good way to let your community know that you are not just in it for yourself, but that you are committed to the community as a whole.

What have you done for your community lately?

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Other Side of the Coin

Yesterday we talked a bit about the value of coupons during tough economic times. Today, I thought we should discuss the long-term dangers.
While two-for-ones, discounts, and enticing coupons may keep your customers buying your products or walking through your doors, let's think about the buying habits you are creating and the damage you may be doing for the long-term equity of your brand.
Once consumers get accustomed to using coupons, two things happen: 1) they start thinking that in all reality, your product/service was overpriced to begin with, and 2) it may be very difficult for you to restore a full-price mentality to your shopper's buying habits once the economy recovers.
So, what is the best way to proceed? Perhaps it is all in the way you present the discount offering. Show your customer that you are offering the discount because we're all in this together. For many local businesses, you will actually be taking on some financial burden yourself in order to make this offer to them. 
Why will you do this? Well, when it comes right down to it, it's because you want to stay in business. But let's remember why you started this business in the first place. It's most likely because you knew you had a product or service that would be of value to your customers. And, if you've stayed true to your vision and to your commitment to your customers, then it most likely is of value.
Whatever marketing route you decide to take, be true to your customers. Be honest. Offer them value. Put them first. And let them know how much you appreciate them. Maybe it's with coupons - maybe it's not.
June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Coupon Value Increases As Dollar Decreases

Although it is not a marketing tactic we often recommend at BBG&G, there's no denying that coupons can successfully increase business during tough economic times. Considered 'responsive tactics', coupons are designed to trigger consumers to choose your brand. Coupons and similar cost-saving promotions are also a way to let your customers know that you care about saving them money - and consumers are responding well. 

A customer who walks into a store with a coupon has the full intention of purchasing at least one item. Once they're there, it is up to you to entice them to make multiple purchases. This can be done through strategically displaying your merchandise, through in-store point-of-purchase displays, through excellent customer service, and by simply knowing what is important to your customers -- what do they want? what do they need?  

Dining out is often one of the first luxuries to be cut from the budget when people's pockets are hurting. Ruby Tuesday's, the national restaurant chain, experienced a drop in sales in fiscal 2008.  Using newspaper inserts with coupons, coupled with television commercials and in-store promotions, they are successfully attracting diners to their "two for one" promotions and other cost-saving specials. It's still too early to say for sure, but it seems to be working.

Your small business may not be able to afford full-page newspaper inserts, but there are plenty of local newspapers that offer very affordable advertising rates for small businesses. And, this is a perfect opportunity to integrate the internet into your marketing plan, if you're not already doing so. If you have a company web site, you can offer downloadable printable coupons there. If you don't, or if you want something a bit easier to manage, provides paid members a platform to upload coupons and other marketing material for a low annual rate -- and you don't have to be a programmer to use it.

If you're a consumer, and looking for national brand coupons, check out  

Do you know of any other web sites where businesses can upload coupons, and consumers can download? I know there are a lot out there. What's your favorite?

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & PR

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

As One Doors Closes, Another Opens for Small Businesses

Now that the Circuit City has closed its doors in the Town of Wallkill, an opportunity for smaller electronic stores has presented itself. With Circuit City going belly-up, the estimated sales opportunities for businesses nationwide is in the billions of dollars. Although all evidence points towards Best Buy and Wal-Mart as the two dominant companies that will profit from the end of Circuit City's 60 year run, your small electronics business can carve out its own share of the potential profits.

One tactic that is sure to sway consumers your way is to give them the better deal. 40% of consumers said that price was the main reason they chose Wal-Mart or Best Buy over Circuit City.

Shoppers have been changing the way they shop. They are expecting the same quality for less. This was a trend that began establishing itself well before the recession. Give them better prices on products. Offer consumers a free laptop inspection. Brainstorm to discover new ideas to bring former Circuit City customers to your doors.

It is not always easy to beat Wal-Mart on price, but you can compete on knowledge. Use your sales staff to establish your business as viable source of information on electronics. Yes, Best Buy is known for its knowledgeable staff  and their television advertisements boast this. But when the customer is in the store, does their brand promise carry through? Does the high school kid in Best Buy always have an answer for your electronic questions? Or can you always find a sales associate? 

Give yourself the advantage and make sure that your sales staff is more knowledgeable than those at Best Buy and Wal-Mart.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Research-The Unsung Hero of the Marketing Program

Research s key to any successful marketing program. Often it's also the main reason behind why other programs fail. We've all heard the phrase, "What you don't know won't hurt you." And as we all know, this phrase is usually used by someone trying to avoid telling you something that is going to hurt you. The same applies to marketing.

Read my latest article published in the Hudson Valley Business Journal describing ways to make the most out of your marketing program through smart research strategies.  

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising and Public Relations

Friday, March 6, 2009

Customer Relations Build Brand Loyalty

Your devotion to your customers is becoming one of the most important influences of what makes consumers love you and continue to come to you - or abhor you, and take their business straight to the competition.

This increase in demand for value is not just a by-product of a bad economy. Excellent service has always made customers likely to return. Who doesn't want to go to a bar where everybody knows your name? Companies need to consider brand loyalty marketing, to let the customer know that they are appreciated.

Customers want a heating company that will inspect a broken heater before charging for repairs or a store that will offer to bring their heavy bags out to the car.

Developing new ways to assist the consumer is a prime opportunity for a company to differentiate itself and become memorable to the consumer.

The concept of offering different services to consumers also applies to the internet. Midas provides tips and advice about a car's exhaust and brake systems to help educate the consumer. Furniture giant, Ikea, lets consumers design a bedroom through their web site.

Use your marketing communications and service offerings to show your customers that you are devoted to them. Research proves it will pay off for you in the long-run.

June Bisel
Partner, BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Got a Green Thumb?

Food prices continue to rise. The economy continues to decline. So what is an average American to do? Grow your own food!

The National Gardening Association's most recent survey findings are indicating that growing numbers of people (including myself) are planning to grow their own fruits, vegetables and herbs. In fact, gardening is expected to increase by $7 million in 2009. And 54% of those surveyed said that they are turning to gardening in order to save money on food bills. Another 48% are interested in growing food that they know is safe from pesticides and growth hormone products.

This is an opportunity to thrive! In 2008, consumers spent $2.8 billion on home food gardening and in 2009 it is expected they will spend considerably more. You can be sure that this is a trend large retailers, like Lowes and Home Depot, will capitalize on. But if you're a smaller business that sells gardening tools, soil, seeds, fencing, or other gardening-related products, make sure to reach out to your customers and benefit from this new trend. offers an affordable method of marketing for businesses large and small. Sign on as a member and let us assist you in having a successful 2009!

June Bisel
BBG&G Advertising & Public Relations

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The Internet's Social Networking Movement

We all know that the Internet is the newest incarnation of the wild western frontier and that marketers are desperately trying to figure out how to strike gold on it. One thing that you smart businessmen and women can do to see where the Internet is going, is to ask your kids how they spend their time online. When they tell you that most of their time online is spent on Facebook or Myspace or Twitter, it is an indicator that the Internet is quickly moving towards social networking media.

Consumers appreciate companies that use their websites as more than just an opportunity to talk about themselves. Creating dialogue between businesses, among consumers, or between the company and its consumers are important ways to make an impact through the web.

Skittles is creating a substantial buzz with their new web interface, turning their company website into a social networking portal, with its Facebook page as the homepage and links to its, YouTube and Flickr pages. Besides generating an incredible buzz on the web and among those in the industry, the benefits of this experimental move have yet to be determined. But we do know that word of mouth is one of the pillars of Marketing, and starting dialogues on the Internet is one of the most innovative ways to get people talking. Use to start a conversation about your services, or to give advice to the BusinessCardContacts community, and explore the newest frontier of the Internet.