With roughly a month left to Small Business Saturday, I thought I would share some ideas for a successful day!

The day after Black Friday is Small Business Saturday. There are many ways you can get involved in this event that promotes buying from small businesses. Here are a few ways you can make the most of this time for your business even if you have very little time to prepare.

1. Be open. You can’t take part if you’re closed. In fact, you may consider extending your hours for that day or for the entire weekend. However, if you do, you need to market this on social media and your website.

2. Contact your local chamber. Find out how they’re celebrating and how you can be a part of it.

3. Bring your store outside. If the climate and space allow, consider bringing a rack or some other showing of your business out to the sidewalk to draw people in. If you do, have a sales associate there with a portable payment option for frictionless transactions.

4.Create specials for that day and post them to social media. Or tell people to watch your social media postings for exclusive flash sales.

5. Host contests or special drawings to build the fun.

6. Send out a special evite to your email list about Small Business Saturday.

7. Tell your business story on social media or on your blog.

8. Update your website with Small Business Saturday occurrences, specials, contests, etc.

9. Invite a band or DJ to your business to create a special atmosphere.

10. Giveaway fun swag for the first several patrons.

11. Offer samples of your products.

12. Serve delicious food.

13. Place a few cinnamon sticks in a warmer to add a delicious smell to your business.

14. Download materials from American Express, the organizers of Small Business Saturday. You can print images, watch how-to videos, and more on their site.

15. Call all hands on deck. Increase your employee coverage so that you can provide very personalized service. If someone is stopping by for the first time, you want to ensure they leave talking about you in a good way.

16. Give a “friends and family” discount to everyone to start the holiday off right.

17. Don’t base your marketing strategy on Box stores. It’s easy for a multi-million-dollarcompany to take a loss on a few TVs to get people in the door but you don’t want to do that. Instead, play up what makes you different (more knowledgeable staff, excellent service, etc.).

18. Give how-to demonstrations or show people how to use your products or services in a new way such as a DIY craft or food prep.

19. Form partnerships with other merchants. This can be really effective when you offerpackages and referrals. A gym might work with a nutritionist to create a “wellness during the holidays” package or a nail salon might have a special offer with the local hair place. Even if you decide not to create a package of two business services, you can help one another through referrals.

20. Invite a costumed character to entertain the kids.

21. Give away something for free to the kids like a small snack or drink or host a craft table. It will keep them from getting fussy and give their parents more time at your business.

22. Invite a balloon artist or some other entertainment that will keep people in your store longer.

23. Set up a local celebrity sighting. If you own a bookstore, arrange for a book signing of a local author. If you own a spice shop, invite a local chef to come in and talk about using spice in holiday dishes. Make sure your local celebrity helps out with publicity by asking them to share your posts in their social media profiles.

24. See who else is celebrating. Search “Small Business Saturday” in your community to see who else is advertising their participation. In addition to the chamber, there may be other groups who can help you get the word out. Piggyback onto their celebration. When the water rises, it lifts all boats.

25. Do unto others. Just as you might look to get involved with others who are celebrating, make sure you are a good neighbor and retweet and share their Small Business Saturday posts and offerings.

Finally, a bonus tip: create something amazing that people will want to photograph themselves in front of. This can be a giant chair or a beautiful backdrop. Use your imagination. Then post a hashtag poster nearby so you’ll be sure to see what they share.

Even though Small Business Saturday is right around the corner, there’s still time to participate.Show your interest and help others find you through marketing and social media

It’s a week for changes in our community.

The Chamber’s Executive Board has voted to eliminate the position of Chamber Director and instead hire two part time people with specialized skills.

They are looking to hire a Bookkeeper; someone with experience with QuickBooks and very strong Excel skills.  This person will handle all the accounts payable, accounts receivable, payroll, taxes, billing, as well as sharing the general office duties and some marketing duties.

The second position will be Member Relations/Events Coordinator.  This person will spend time coordinating with all the chamber members to assess and fulfil their needs; they will plan and execute all Chamber events, working with the Executive Board and recruiting volunteers; as well as sharing the general office duties and marketing.

Between these two people, the office will be open from 10 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday; but will allow them both great flexibility.  One wakes up with a sick little one?  Simply call your counterpart to cover the office.  No worries about keeping the office open during vacations; there is always a second person available.

Anyone interested in applying for one of the two positions should submit a resume and cover letter detailing which job they are applying for and why to the Chamber office either in person at 106 N. Broadway in Herington, via email at [email protected], or through the job posting on the Chamber’s main Facebook page.  Resumes will be accepted through October 1.

Whew!  Where is this summer going?  It won’t be long now before the kids are heading back to school.  Let’s all be careful driving and watch out for those school buses.  We want to keep our kids safe.

September is shaping up to be a fun month. Be sure and put the Burdick and Hope festivals on your calendars.  Burdick’s Labor Day Celebration line up looks fun and you sure don’t want to miss the homemade ice cream.   Come out on September 7 and support this great community.

Hope’s Heritage Festival is getting bigger and bigger every year.  I can’t believe all the things that they have added to their line up this year.  Come out on September 12 and see me at the Turtle Races; always a fun time.

DSC_1649Speaking of the Turtle Races, I am desperately in need of some volunteers for that.  All my usual helpers have prior commitments on that date.  I could use someone to help me set up or tear down and I need at least one other person to help with the kids, watch the turtles between races, and help run the races.  Anyone that would like to volunteer would be greatly appreciated, even if you can only give me an hour before you go enjoy your day at the festival.

Don’t forget, we have had a change to the date of our next Social Media for Beginners class.  We had originally set the date for August 13, but because of some scheduling issues, we’ve moved it up to Wednesday, August 12.  Everyone is welcome to join us that day in the Chamber boardroom to learn the very basics of social media.  Bring your laptop, tablet, or other digital device and we’ll help you with hands on experience.  This class will cover the very basics of Facebook and other social media platforms including navigations, social media etiquette, privacy and security, etc.   An RSVP would be appreciated so we can be sure to have enough seating.  Please call 785-258-2115 if you plan to attend.

Our tabletop calendars go out on the last few days of each month.  If your group or organization has an event that you would like us to share, please get the information to the Chamber office as soon as you can, but definitely more than 5 working days before the end of the month.  We welcome information from all of the communities in the Tri-County area that our Chamber covers!

social media class poster

You’ve been asking for it and we are very excited to announce that we have set a date for our first “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Social Media” class.

On Monday, June 8, at 7pm in the Chamber Boardroom, bring your laptops, tablets, smart phones, and other digital devices; or just a handy notepad and pen. We’ll have a projection screen set up so everyone can see hands on practical uses.

We’ll be covering topics like basic navigation, lingo, privacy issues, hiding things from your newsfeed, “there’s an app for that”, and the all-important topic of social media etiquette. We’ll also have a time for a question and answer period so think about what you would like to know.

It would be nice to have a general idea of how many to expect, so an RSVP would be welcome.

Later we will be scheduling a “Social Media for Page Managers” class so stay tuned.

The Area Wide Garage Sale is this Saturday. To pick up a copy of the map and sale listing, stop by the Chamber office, the West Walnut Market, Sweet Creations, AmPride, Prairie Chic, or The Spot.

June 8, 7 pm, Chamber Boardroom

Spring is here and we’re all enjoying this warmer weather!

Rock Island Church Annual Lawn MowerSpring means time to think about lawn work again. The Rock Island Church is hosting their annual lawn mower tune up day this Saturday at the church. Big thanks to them for this great community service.

Saturday is also spring cleaning day for a lot of residents of Hope as they host their annual City Wide Garage Sale Day. Head on over for some great deals.

Friday the 17th is one of my favorite events of the year, the high school Promenade. Before moving to the area, I had never heard of this; but what a great way for the community to show their support of the local students. Come on out at 6:30pm and see our young citizens dressed up in their finest before heading off to their big night.

The next night, the Hospital Auxiliary will host the fun. Come on out to the community building for fun for the whole family. Kids games, Bingo, silent auctions, raffles, great food, and an exciting live auction; all benefiting the Herington Municipal Hospital.

The last weekend in April will round out another fun month with a street dance and cruise in Friday night streetand the Throttle Jockey’s Car Show and Drag Races on Saturday. Remember on Friday night, Broadway will be closed from Walnut to Main. Saturday morning from 6am to a little after 1pm, a good portion of the downtown streets including Broadway, 1st Street, Main, Walnut, Day, and McClaren. At past events, we’ve had issues with people going around the barricades. Please respect the safety of the event participants, plan ahead, and take an alternative route to your destination.

One of the best things about being the Chamber Lady is getting to help people and one of the number one things people ask me about is computer and social media. Because of that, we are in the process of putting together a social media/technology course.

Social media signsIt will start out with the very basics. Do you have Facebook to keep up with your kids and grandkids, but your newsfeed is filled up with all kinds of stuff you don’t want to see? I can help you with that. Confused about how to upload pictures or even how to set up an account? Our first class will be for the beginners.

The next step will be a class for people who manage a Facebook page for their organization or business. We’ll discuss the difference between a personal account, a page, and a group and why it’s important to use the correct one. Confused as to why your posts are showing up in a fraction of your fan’s newsfeed? We can help. We’ll discuss increasing your metrics, how to use Facebook insights, and how to create a successful social media strategy.

Because Facebook is not the only social media site, our third module will be about other forms of social media. Want to reach customers on Instagram or Twitter? Want to learn how to use Pinterest for marketing? Want to start an e-newsletter? Have you ever tried Yelp? These are all topics we’re planning on discussing.

What we would like to know is what kind of questions do YOU have? What topics would you like covered? Give me a call or send me an email or just stop me on the street and tell me what kind of things you want to know more about.

Was the weather last weekend a welcome change or what? We had lots of family in town and had a great day outside enjoying the sunshine.DSC_2116

Did you know that if you are a Chamber member, you can borrow all sorts of things for events like that? We took advantage of our Chamber membership and borrowed some tables and chairs as well as the Ladder Golf and Cornhole games. If you have an event coming up, just call the Chamber to reserve what you need.

DSC_2129Chamber membership is not just for businesses, we have a lot of individual members, you can even add your membership to your monthly utility bill so you hardly notice it’s there. Besides being able to borrow items for family events, you also get free faxing and notary services, extremely inexpensive black and white and color copying, and the ability to reserve the boardroom for small meetings. You also have access to someone who can help you design flyers and give you help with computer and social media issues. On several occasions, I’ve helped members with limited computer skills set up their Facebook accounts and use it. Besides supporting an organization that does a lot in our community, Chamber membership offers great benefits for businesses and individuals a like.

I hope everyone is enjoying this beautiful weather as much as I am! I keep saying that I hope winter is gone for good, but people keep telling me that it is probably too much to hope for. I’m going to think positive!

Easter3Hopefully the weather will stay nice through Easter though. The ladies of Beta Sigma Phi are planning their annual Easter Egg Hunt for April 4 at 1pm in Father Padilla Park for kids 8 years old and younger. Last year they collection 4,150 eggs and I bet this year we can all help them break that number! The Chamber received a generous donation of 30 dozen plastic eggs and we’re looking for people to fill them with goodies. If you are interested in helping give our kids a great event and you don’t have any eggs to fill yet, stop by the office and pick up a few bags.

March 21 is the deadline to have your eggs filled and taped and turned in. Primary drop off location is First Impressions, but I can take them at the Chamber office as well.

April is going to be a busy month, be sure and keep an eye on our community calendar on the Chamber website, tricountycofc.com, or on our Facebook page for all the fun details!