5 Things Small Businesses Can Do to Stand Out

I emigrated from Mexico when I was just eight years old and didn’t even speak English. Now, over 3 decades later, I myself am a successful entrepreneur and active member of my community. My journey has given small businesses and their owners a special place in my heart. Currently, I’m on the Board of Directors on the Minority Supplier Development Council and am active in the Hispanic 100, an organization that promotes Latinas in the areas of employment, procurement and social issues. I’m also involved with the Irving Chamber of Commerce and am a member of the 2019 class of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. I always recommend that small business owners look to their local chambers and other organizations for growth opportunities.

Consumers are constantly inundated with information from major tech, consumer products, food and beverage, and financial corporations every day. Small businesses often offer just as good (if not better) services and products, but it can be so hard to break through the noise on our smartphones and TVs. However, all hope is not lost! There are still many ways that small businesses can be successful in communicating with potential customers.

 

1. CUSTOMER TARGET BASICS

First, small businesses need to identify their target market. Understanding who fits into the target market will serve as a foundation for all other marketing decisions. There are many factors to consider:

Location Where is your business located? Is it near any heavily trafficked areas like a school, hospital or shopping center?

Age/Gender/Race/Ethnicity Consider the age of your customers. Do you cater to teens and college students or is your clientele made up of parents and older adults? Having an understanding of your basic customer demographics can help businesses utilize national demographic trends in business decisions.

Income Businesses should generally know how much money their customers make. Does your pricing reflect the income of your target market?

Behavior Think about the behaviors of your customers. Are they likely to be stopping by your business in the morning after dropping the kids off at school? Are students likely to stop in for a late-night study break? Are you open at 4 AM to catch people leaving the graveyard shift? Knowing this information can help businesses offer more effective hours and products.

Familial Status Does your establishment attract singles or married couples, families, or children? Knowing the familial status of your target market can help businesses determine how family-friendly (or not) their space needs to be.

Barriers Lastly, consider who is excluded from your products or services. Is it too expensive for some people or not accessible to a certain location? Barriers are okay – it’s up to the business owner to determine whether or not to remove those barriers or maintain a niche audience.

 

2. DEFINING YOUR CUSTOMERS’ WANTS AND NEEDS

Now that businesses have determined WHO their customers are, it’s time to thoughtfully define WHAT they want. The best ways to do this are a blend of direct customer interaction and general market research. Talk to your customers The easiest way to find out what customers want and need is to ask them. Business owners can socialize with customers and read reviews. It doesn’t hurt to come up with creative ways for customers to leave feedback, like written review cards or fun polls.

Talk to your industry peers/competition Your industry peers may have insights that you don’t about your customer base. For this reason, it’s important to have a good working relationship with competing business owners.

Mystery shopping (in person and online) There are many online services that will send “secret shoppers” who will visit your business and provide detailed feedback! Pricing will vary based on type of service required and size of business, but you can request a quote here: https://www.secretshopper.com/.

Stay up to date on the latest research This one is pretty easy! Find meaningful, engaging industry publications and devote a few minutes per day to perusing them. Feel free to share with your industry peers. This is a great way to build relationships with fellow business owners!

 

3. OPERATIONS BASICS

Now that you’ve figured out what your customers want, its time to put that information to use. Take their feedback and improve the customer experience by integrating customer wants and needs into your operations. There are a few really easy steps small businesses can take!

The Digital Experience Are your website and Google contact pages up to date? Additionally, any reservation system or contact mechanism needs to work flawlessly. Otherwise, customers will grow bored, distracted, or frustrated. Addressing small details like these will make the customer journey to your business seamless and easy.

Social Media Many small business owners make the mistake of spreading themselves too thin to adequately maintain their social media accounts. However, for social media to be an effective marketing tool, business owners need to approach it with a thoughtful strategy. Each post should serve a goal of engaging a customer towards a goal. Goals can include sales, brand awareness, follower growth, or event attendance.

Third-Party Services Consider engaging third-party services to save time and improve efficiency. If your operation is too large to manage alone, or you have a small team, there are countless reservation tools, social media management tools, staffing management tools, accounting software programs, and more to explore. If it fits into your budget, leveraging technology to improve operations never hurts!

COVID-19 Many customers have grown accustomed to changes implemented due to the pandemic. People expect higher levels of sanitation, more space, no-contact options, digital options, and more. This isn’t a bad thing! Businesses should view this as an opportunity to provide the best customer service possible. Maybe this means your company keeps no-contact delivery, or trades in a few tables for more space per customer.

 

4. DATA, DATA, DATA

Data is the key to developing and maintaining successful marketing strategies. It’s simple – business owners should know how, where, and when they are engaging with their customers.

Point Of Sale System (POS) A modernized POS can drastically increase the amount of data available to business owners! Consider investing in a nice one that will track product sales, time of sales, repeat customers, and more. Some of them will even connect to a dashboard that aggregates additional data into user-friendly reports.

Social Media & Google After you’ve revamped your social media strategy, you should start seeing results. Pay close attention to which posts are performing better and which posts convert to a sale! Get familiar with Facebook and Instagram Admanager. Understanding metrics in those platforms will help you better budget funds to spend on social media advertising. Additionally, use Google Analytics to see which search terms lead customers to your page. This information can help you optimize your website to show in more search results!

Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) Depending on the size, scale, and mission of your operation, a CRM may be a great investment. CRMs can consolidate social media data, POS data, and web traffic into useful reports. Some will even generate suggestions for business owners! They can also generate leads for direct sales contact, send emails and other communications to customers, and auto-update linked platforms.

 

5. GET CREATIVE

Each business is unique, and there isn’t a “one size fits all” solution to successful marketing. In order to stand out, small businesses owners need to use the tools mentioned above to engage their customers in a special and memorable way. This can mean featuring customers on social media, promotions, contests, unique decor, merch and swag, loyalty programs, collaborations with other businesses, and partnerships with local charities. Get creative and have fun!

Should marketers use the term LatinX? It depends.

In my line of work, I often am the expert when it comes to outreach to Hispanic audiences. Because of the variety of labels that can apply to Hispanic folks, I’m often asked which one to use and for who. The short answer is that it depends on the audience and context. Take a look below for my data-driven take on Hispanic terminology.

Should Marketers Use the Term “LatinX”?

It depends. As a Latina business owner who works with hispanic-focused clients, I’m often asked my opinion about the term “LatinX”. While I agree that including all genders when speaking of entire demographics is important, I always point my clients to the data. Data on the subject indicates that most hispanic/latino/latina folks don’t identify with the term or use it themselves. According to the Pew Research Center in 2020, only 4% of Hispanics prefer to use the term to identify themselves. In fact, 76% of Hispanic adults haven’t even heard of the term. Most Hispanics prefer to use the term “Hispanic” followed by “Latina/Latino”, their country of origin, American, and then LatinX or other. We’ve validated this fact in several research projects we’ve led this year for national clients focusing on Hispanic adults 25+ and LGBTQ+ Hispanic folks. That is not to say that there aren’t appropriate uses for the term “LatinX”. In academic or LGBTQ+ circles, the term is much more popular because of its gender inclusive nature. LatinX indicates not only the inclusion of men and women, but also people with nonbinary gender identities. Additionally, of the folks who do use the term, most of them identify as women and are people under 30. If you’re producing an official academic communication, marketing to LGBTQ+ individuals, or Gen Z, you may gain more traction with the term. However, when attempting to reach Hispanics in general, our recommendation based on the data is to use the term “Hispanic”. Not only do people of all ages identify with it, it is also gender inclusive! If your organization is looking to most effectively and meaningfully communicate with the Hispanic community, please don’t hesitate to contact the Strategar team.

In this together.

It has been a few weeks since our last email that included what to do to flatten the curve. We have been in contact with many of you and the recurring theme is fear of what is to come and how we move forward once we overcome this COVID-19 pandemic.

As you, we’ve been watching the news and seeing the numbers increase around the globe. Today, it was confirmed that the United States has surpassed China and Italy in the number of Coronavirus cases.

While we remain hopeful and productive during these uncertain times, we feel there is a need to give hope. To that end, today we are releasing our “Be Human” message. We hope you find yourself remembering that after every storm comes the calm. We have no doubt in our ability to overcome this, but it will take work, empathy and working together to get through what’s ahead.

If there is anything we can do to help you communicate to your constituents during these uncertain times, let us know. Our mission to help brands connect with communities is what keeps us going. We’re here for you.

In the spirit of partnership during this uncertain time…

As many of you know, the COVID-19 virus has been designated as a global pandemic. Since day one, Strategar has been set-up to allow our team to work remotely. We have always had a flexible schedule with working from home as an option for everyone. All of our files and systems are on the cloud and we can access everything from anywhere with an internet connection.

We also have a strict stay-at-home policy if anyone is sick. No one in our office has been affected by COVID-19. While we are watching the situation closely, we are following the CDC mitigation guidelines to keep our office safe and healthy.

Since we work on a variety of projects relating to stopping the contagion of diseases in food, we wanted to share the CDC guidelines:

To Protect Yourself

Clean your hands often

Illustration: washing hands with soap and water

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.
Illustration: Woman quarantined to her home

Avoid close contact

man in bed

To protect others

Stay home if you’re sick

 woman covering their mouth when coughing

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow.
  • Throw used tissues in the trash.
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

 man wearing a mask

Wear a facemask if you are sick

  • If you are sick:  You should wear a facemask when you are around other people (e.g., sharing a room or vehicle) and before you enter a healthcare provider’s office. If you are not able to wear a facemask (for example, because it causes trouble breathing), then you should do your best to cover your coughs and sneezes, and people who are caring for you should wear a facemask if they enter your room. Learn what to do if you are sick.
  • If you are NOT sick: You do not need to wear a facemask unless you are caring for someone who is sick (and they are not able to wear a facemask). Facemasks may be in short supply and they should be saved for caregivers.

cleaning a counter

Clean and disinfect

  • Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • If surfaces are dirty, clean them: Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.

Products with EPA-approved emerging viral pathogens 

If you need to reach us for any reason, please see our information below. 

Yareli Esteban
CEO/President
Cell: 972-948-3781
Email: yareli@strategar.com
Dean Willis
COO
Cell: 214-282-1376
Email: dwillis@strategar.com
Joshua Patron
Chief Creative Officer
Cell: 469-346-9168
Email: joshua@strategar.com
Angelica Ocampo
Brand Story Thinker
Cell: 469-285-8141
Email: angelica@strategar.com
Molly Gonzales
Brand Account Director
Cell: 806-773-6123
Email: molly@strategar.com
Pablo Ocampo
Brand Account Coordinator
Cell: 214-830-4839
Email: pablo@strategar.com

365 days of Gratitude

With the holidays approaching, the time to reflect has come. 2019 has been filled with change, growth and joy. I am grateful for the time spent with family/friends and the opportunity to do meaningful work in a great industry.

Professionally, this year has been filled with great opportunities, one of which was participating in the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Business program. A takeaway from the program was the connections made and relearning some of the fundamentals of business ownership. I also walked away with new friendships and I’m incredibly grateful to have met other business owners who are also creating great opportunities for the teams they lead. I would definitely recommend the program to any entrepreneur looking to grow or expand into new offerings.

Another great opportunity that arose this year, was speaking at panels and conferences. From empowerment to professional development, I am discovering my innate sharing personality, is a great fit for these events. Thank you to everyone who invited me to speak.

Lastly, one of the greatest opportunities of this year was doing meaningful work with the Strategar team. We volunteered at the North Texas Food Bank for North Texas Giving Day, Frisco ISD Career Day and are currently working with the non-profit ROSAesROJO on a health awareness initiative for Latina women. It’s remarkable to see our mission come alive each day and what a group of people can do when they come together for great causes.

As Thanksgiving approaches this week, I’m curious what you’re thankful for and what you’re looking forward as this year and the end of this second decade of the new millennium nears to a close.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

National Hispanic Heritage Month and National Boss’ Day

With a team comprised largely of Hispanics, we wanted to celebrate the last day of Hispanic Heritage Month. This team was not built by accident but as a part of our CEO Yareli Esteban’s American Dream.

Her story starts like any other immigrant story but she has truly made it her own success story. She immigrated to the U.S. in elementary school and by the time she graduated High School she was recognized as a National Hispanic Merit Scholar in high school. She earned a full academic scholarship to attend The University of Texas at Austin where she earned a bachelor’s in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Following UT Austin, Yareli has spent 15 years working in the communications industry, where she led multicultural insights teams for large advertising companies and managed brands like: Chevy, Univision, Whataburger, Bank of America and Sprint.

As a part of her American Dream, she started Strategar in 2013. Strategar is a boutique advertising agency, focused on helping brands connect with communities. She believes the power of the collective is a strong force and is committed to working with brands that are not only for profit – but for purpose as well. At Strategar, she has developed training materials for both U.S. and migrant workers and she has worked with a pool of university clients to ensure graduating seniors understand the path to affordable college options. She also works with the department of agriculture in Texas developing various campaigns that range from educational awareness to economic development strategies that impact millions of people.

Outside of her advertising life, Yareli likes to give back to her community. Many of her efforts support education in bicultural and bilingual classrooms. She also volunteers across North Texas schools and mentoring programs fostering education among the most diverse and socio-economically challenged communities. Later this month, she will be moderating a panel at the Hey Chica! Latina Leadership Summit and in February she will also share her expertise at the National Association of Bilingual Educators’ (NABE) national conference in Las Vegas, where she will lead a workshop on best communications practices. She’s also a proud daughter, sister and aunt.

We are so proud of her accomplishments and journey, not only as a Hispanic woman but as a great boss and caring human being.

Camp Strategar, planting seeds for the future

About three years ago we started Camp Strategar. The week long program started off with my niece Eliana Sandhir, who was 10 at the time. We wanted to give her a real life project to make the most of her time.

The program is very important to me. I feel it helps her get a real world view on topics that go beyond the classroom as well as instilling a strong work ethic in her. It also helps build skills that prepare her for school and life in general. Over the past three years, the program has evolved. This year, the topic evolved from food and nutrition to gender equality. We chose the topic together during a family dinner discussion about the United Nations’ 2030 sustainable goals which include so many important topics like clean water for everyone, ending poverty to gender equality. We both felt that gender equality was an interesting topic to research and an important issue to address.

To help her undertake this big topic, we invited a new camper to join us this year. Marissa and Eliana both worked independently on their presentations but shared their ideas with one another. The week’s activities consisted of researching the topic, answering daily questions and compiling all the research into a presentation. On the last day of camp, our team was presented both their findings and proposed solutions that could solve gender inequality.

They came up with five solutions to solve this important issue: 

1) Create educational materials gender positive

2) Parental rights that treat men and women equally post the birth of child

3) Appreciate a woman’s work through equal pay

4) Stopping girl bashing

5) Inclusive decision making to achieve equality for all

We were so impressed by the presentation and ideas. We have uploaded the deck to slide share, you can see it  here.  In the years to come, we hope to expand Camp Strategar to include more girls and boys who are interested in learning and providing real world experience.

If you have any ideas or are interested in having your teen join us next year, please drop me a line.

Strategarian Awards for Public Service

At Strategar we believe in giving back to the community. We are involved in non-profit and professional development organizations, dedicating our spare time to volunteering.  Volunteer work often goes unnoticed but there are instances when volunteers get recognized for their work.

Our Brand Story Thinker, Angelica Ocampo was recently recognized at the 2019 American Advertising Federation (AAF) National Club Achievement Awards. As the AAF Dallas Public Service chair, one of her duties was to write a Club Achievement report that recapped club projects and initiatives that helped the non-profit community in Dallas.

Angelica’s work on the Public Service report helped the club place 2nd, an improvement from last year’s 3rd place. Her experience has motivated her to continue as the Public Service chair for the upcoming term.

Strategar’s ties with AAF don’t stop with Angelica, our newest Strategarian, Vivian De La Cruz is also a member. I actually met Vivian at an Ad 2 Dallas event, I was a panelist sharing career advice to a group of young professionals. Vivian is the copy writing chair for the Ad 2 Dallas Marcom team and is working as an account coordinator, writer and social media expert at Strategar.

Learn more about AAF Dallas and Ad 2 Dallas below.

About AAF Dallas:

AAF Dallas is the oldest civic organization in the Big D and has been the trusted business partner by connecting our corporate members and sponsors since 1908.

Our working board of volunteers is dedicated to our mission to protect and promote the wellbeing of the advertising industry through our government relationships, to provide thought leadership to our members through innovative programming, to attract top talent by supporting and growing future industry leaders via our Educational Foundation, to foster diversity in advertising, and to honor advertising excellence.

About Ad 2 Dallas:

Ad 2 Dallas is an affiliate of AAF Dallas for advertising professionals who are 32 or younger.

Through networking and educational events, public service opportunities, and social gatherings, we help up-and-coming professionals gain the skills and contacts they need to become tomorrow’s industry leaders.

Younger Population Is A Growth Opportunity for All

Watching season 3 of “Stranger Things” this past weekend, I was reminded of my experience as an 80’s kid. We saw when the Berlin Wall came down, the Challenger explode, Reagan’s 1986 Amnesty Reform and so much more. Wrapping up the millennium, there was also a lot of excitement around the 2000 Census. The hypothesis for many pioneers of Hispanic marketing then was that the 2000 Census would validate the enormous growth of the Hispanic/Latino population from the 1990’s.

It’s amazing how quickly 20 years have passed and how the consumer continues to evolve. Reading Pew’s latest research published this week, it is astonishing to get confirmation that Hispanics (18% of the U.S. population), contributed to 50% of the country’s growth from 2008- 2018. Growth is driven by U.S. births, or homegrown as I like to call them, but the population growth is slowing down some, and the median age has shifted from 26 to 30 years old.

What does this mean for brands? 

Targeting Latinos has transcended language. Depicting culture and community is just as important to Latinos as language once was. This mindset is supported by media, proximity to LATAM, and social networks. In this millennium, we (Latinos) have become mainstream with a plethora of crossover artists, food, and even celebrating “dia de los muertos” as shown in the Pixar movie Coco.

Having spent 20 years in the business, I’m excited to see what this youth accomplishes in the next decade. My advice to young Latinos is to stay humble, have fun, study, take care of your body, and save as much as you can. Also, use those pennies to travel and see the world. On the money and education front, culturally, many of the U.S. Latino homegrown population came from little means and there’s still a big opportunity to learn more about money and financial literacy. These are areas I predict will continue to develop in the next decade. At Strategar, we are exploring creating content that will raise financial literacy and close the educational gap. I am very excited about what’s to come next for U.S. Latinos. What are your thoughts on how the Latino population will evolve over the next decade?