Well, 2009 is here after 2008 went out with a whimper.  2008 was a tough year for many small businesses with the crunch in credit, rising health care costs for employees, increased minimum wage and decreased discretionary spending by many consumers.  Seal Beach has been protected to an extent by having many residents with recession resistant incomes – often retirees.  At the same time there is a fairly stable base of energy and defense related businesses – Boeing, Energy Tubulars and Clean Energy, all of which are part of our community.  The opening of the Shops at Rossmoor and the Target Center both have continued to help the northern part of our town and sales tax revenue overall.

All that said, how can you work through these tough times?  How can you protect your business?  After all, as Harry Truman said, “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose yours.”

  • Look to creative guerilla marketing ideas from your business / employee team or associations you might belong to.  The Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce is full of creative ways to brand your business without spending a lot of money.  Try ribbon cuttings, customer appreciation events, anniversaries and related types of events to create a buzz around your business.
  • Here in Seal Beach, we pay a quite a bit per square foot, often between $3 – $5.  This makes simply having a storefront an expensive proposition.  Consider lease relief – we pay a great deal for our property and a vacant storefront doesn’t make any money for the property owner.  Talk to your property owner and have an open and honest discussion about your business and where it is.
  • Look to “impactful” advertising – advertise in a way which allows you to track the return on investment (ROI) for each dollar spent.  Now is a time to build transactions, not just brand for your business.  A great way to do this is through cooperative advertising.  Several businesses or business alliances will come together to buy a complete page of advertising, thus providing a discount to all of the individual members.  The Chamber does this currently with the Sun Newspapers for great value for our members.
  • Create partnerships with other businesses in ways that go “win-win.”  Perhaps there are services that you could use in exchange for other services.  Uncle Sam always has to get his cut, so be sure to appropriately document, but see how your business can work with others.
  • Referrals are alive and well!  One of the greatest complements you can give to a business is the power of your word in referral.  Nearly 100% of my business comes word of mouth and from the standpoint of credibility, nothing beats a great referral.
  • Join the digital age.  Have a website, keep it up to date and utilize networking at the business to business (B2B) level.  A great site to network is www.linkedin.com , or locally, use the Chamber web page www.sealbeachchamber.org to be seen by others.

There are many more ideas, and feel free to share them with me or the Seal Beach Chamber.  Remember, be sure to buy local to keep the charm that is Seal Beach.

 

Seth Eaker is the current President of the Seal Beach Chamber of Commerce and is the founder of Black Marble Consulting, LLC., a business consulting and marketing firm.