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What Do We Need to Make Our Store a Reality?

Jenya and penguins at the Salem Holiday Market 2018

I was asked what we need to make our store a reality, and the list I came up with was long and filled with all the things you might expect. However, the first thing we need is to learn how to get people to the store. We’ve had a Facebook page, an Etsy shop, a Patreon, an Instagram account, a now-deleted YouTube channel, an Amazon author page, and a website long enough to know that we don’t know how to get people to any of those. We tried ads. We’ve cross promoted. I’ve used all of my SEO knowledge to rank us higher. I’ve taken classes in marketing, gone through five day challenges, and spent a month with a marketing guru; nothing has worked to bring sustained traffic that converts to buyers.

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The Fussy Duck in Salem, Or: Penguinate.com

Truck at Fussy Duck in Salem, Oregon

The Fussy Duck in Salem, Or is a locally owned, small business that brings together several other small businesses and gives them a place to display and sell their creations and products. Whether you’re looking for handmade items, like penguin plushies, cool wooden signs, snazzy holiday fragrances, or you want a vintage toy that reminds you of when you were child, the Fussy Duck has a treasure waiting for you to find it.

Penguinate.com is one of the small businesses you can find at the Fussy Duck. Our penguins are waiting for you to adopt them for the Christmas Season, read more about them, our books and what the Fussy Duck has done for us!

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The Fussy Duck in Salem, Oregon: Support Small Business Saturday with the Brass Button

Truck at Fussy Duck in Salem, Oregon

The Fussy Duck in Salem, Oregon is a locally owned, small business that brings together several other small businesses and gives them a place to display and sell their creations and products. Whether you’re looking for handmade items, like penguin plushies, cool wooden signs, snazzy holiday fragrances, or you want a vintage toy that reminds you of when you were child, the Fussy Duck has a treasure waiting for you to find it.

One of the purveyors of treasure is the Brass Button. Owner and Designer Carlie Childs took time out of her busy schedule to talk about what the Fussy Duck means to her, what you can find in the Brass Button space, and her favorite holiday tradition:

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I Deleted My YouTube Account

Google's Clean Design is a part of its marketing communication

I deleted my YouTube account. I will no longer be watching any videos on YouTube or through embedded YouTube players. On Nov. 18, 2020, YouTube sent out a change to their terms of use. In it, they stated that they now reserved the right to place ads on any video they saw fit. If the creator of the video wasn’t in the YouTube Partnership Program (YPP), he or she would not receive any part of the ad fees for that video. YouTube would take all the money and leave the creator with nothing.

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Everything You Think about Hard Work Is Wrong

adult business commerce cook

In America, you’ve been told that if you work hard, you will succeed, and for most people, that means get rich. However, hard work isn’t the only thing you need. You need to have talent, luck, and to find the right occupation for you. Minimum wage workers have some of the hardest jobs in society. (If you’ve never worked at McDonald’s, you don’t know how difficult that job is, especially if you’re working with a crew of less-than-motivated teens or for a disgruntled, entitled customer.)

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August is the Month to Shop on Etsy: Win $5,000

Adopt one of our penguins on Etsy and you could win $5,000

Etsy and Mastercard are teaming up to give Etsy shoppers $5,000! From now until the end of August, one lucky shopper on Etsy will receive $5,000 as a thank you for supporting small business and handmade items. I suppose I could probably write that information in another way, and psychologists would say I need to write it six times in order for you to remember it and 22 times in order for you to take action. However, I think more of you than psychologists.

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Better Search Engine Rankings for Small Business

Google's Clean Design is a part of its marketing communication

Shopping online is the new normal for many Americans, and your business needs to be able to provide its services to where people are. If you’ve neglected your online presence, are looking to expand your business via your website, but don’t have a lot of money to invest in advertising, you need a strategy that will help you garner organic pageviews through higher search engine rankings with search engine optimization.

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A New Way to Do Business: Thrive, Don’t just Survive

A new way to do business to thrive not survive

Coronavirus and the resulting restrictions have devastated and frightened the American people, businessmen, and entrepreneurs. Small businesses are going bankrupt and closing their doors forever. Larger businesses aren’t faring very well, either. Only a few mega-businesses have gained market share and profitability, including Wal-Mart and Amazon. However, this flies in the face of what we’ve been told about smaller businesses, and it means that every business has to adapt to a new, different model of accomplishing its core tasks. In short, we need to find a new way to do business.

Small Businesses and Entrepreneur Advantages

In a healthy economy, small businesses and entrepreneurs are supposed to have the advantage of being able to quickly adapt to market changes. They can pivot to offer new products and create new strategies because they aren’t tied down by bureaucracy and traditions. The ability to change on the fly has been touted by experts as the reason why small businesses survive and disrupt large businesses. It has also been emulated by larger businesses to stay competitive. Unfortunately, the ability to change seems to have been unable to help small businesses survive COVID-19.

Disadvantages of Small Business

In an unhealthy economy, which the U.S. is experiencing due to coronavirus and the exacerbating political policies put in place over sound medical advice, small businesses don’t have the capital to sustain themselves or their employees. Brick and mortar stores rely on foot traffic and in person sales to boost their bottom line. When those things fail, what can a small business do to survive, especially one that was already hanging by a thread. It’s clear that many retailers don’t have the answer as well-known brands declare bankruptcy.

A New Way to Do Business

Small businesses need to change the way they do business. This will require an adjustment time, a change in mentality, and a whole lot of effort and learning. In order for small businesses to survive the next few months to year, they need to embrace the power of the Internet, figure out how to deliver the personalized service and convey that it gets delivered, and partner with other businesses to create synergy. Fans who love a small business need to help by getting the word out, leaving reviews, and making purchases when possible.

Power of the Internet

Some small businesses don’t have a website or have one they don’t use. Don’t let this be you. Weebly (if you’re not worried about international pageviews) and WordPress are easy to use and can get you started without too much trouble, even if you’re Internet inept. Your website can host a blog and be monetized with ads to provide additional revenue. Depending on the package you get, you may be able to sell digitized products as well as your regular stock on hand. If you’re not great at writing, hire someone to provide you with regular blog posts. Make sure you find someone who is willing to work with you, knows search engine optimization techniques, and can help you with keyword decisions.

Power of Video

You may also want to look into starting YouTube channel to promote your products with video and provide engaging content. (This can be monetized more fully later.) This can be especially useful for businesses that have moving, visual components. If you need more personal interaction, you might consider Zoom. Karaoke bars, for example, could host a sing off. Magicians, like Paul Draper, can offer their shows online. Musicians can do the same. Video offers a personal connection that photos can’t convey.

Power of Service

You need to meet your customers where they are. Some will be at your Facebook page. Others will be on your website. Some will want to pick up their items. Some will prefer delivery. Your business needs to provide these services without hesitation and with joy. Being able to process credit cards is something that you already do. Get a Paypal account or other electronic way to take payments as well. Provide your customers with better service than ever if you want to retain them.

Power of Connection

The Internet provides one form of connection, your business needs to make sure it provides another. As people have to stay inside and are less likely to go out, when your business has to remain closed even when people are out, you still need to provide that personal connection. An email list is good, but it’s not enough. You need to connect with each one of your customers and find out how things are going for them. If you’ve built this connection in real life, it should be a small matter to take it to the Internet. If you haven’t, you’ll need to work hard at finding an approach that delivers your personality and positivity.

Power of Partnerships

Every small business around you is in the same boat. If you can team up with one or more business to provide each other with services and to refer your customers to, you’ll be ahead of the curve. When people work together, their returns become greater than what they would have gotten on their own. Rather than looking at each other as competition for limited funds, start seeing how you can come together to synergize. Create something greater than the sum of its part, and you will be more successful.

It’s about Thriving not Surviving

As a small business if you’re thinking about surviving, you’re in trouble. The stress of surviving will cause you to make poor choices. Instead, you need to think boldly and figure out how you’re going to thrive in the new paradigm. You didn’t get into your business to survive, you got into it to be successful. In order to do that you need to be able to make clear-headed choices that take into account the information on hand. Then you need to apply your abilities to pivoting into new and better modes of doing business. At some point, you may find the old model isn’t even worth keeping. If you’d like a consultation for your business and how to move it forward, contact us.

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How to Build a Digital Press Kit for Artists and Writers

Digital press kits are good for all types of media, including newspapers.

(I originally published this story at medium.com.) With all of the options for publishing these days, you may not even realize that a blogger or a journalist was looking for something to write about you or your work. They hit upon your website, thought they could do a story, and realized that there wasn’t enough there for them. Or worse, they had a story written and didn’t have any photos or media to go with it. Maybe they tried to get a hold of you, but you weren’t available. The story missed its deadline and was never published. One solution to this is a digital press kit. Here’s what you should have in your press kit.

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