Small business owners always seem to struggle trying to balance the time they spend working in their store, managing back office paperwork, and growing the business. It's very difficult to achieve the perfect balance of spending time with each of these tasks if no one showed you how to do it correctly in the first place.
Occasionally, you will find a small business success story in the news, and perhaps you wonder how they achieved their success. From my own personal experience, and from how I've helped other small businesses, I know that success is never achieved without teamwork. Success is achievable when a business owner is able to motivate their team to help build the business.
I feel that great success is within reach when the business owner trusts the team to contribute their own personal skills, without always trying to micromanage every task.
Last year I had a rather serendipitous moment when randomly reviewing a jeweler's website. I came across the Wixon Jewelers
website and was very surprised to see the incredible job they were doing with both their website, and their entire online social presence.
As it turned out, Jayme Pretzoff, the Director of Marketing with Wixon Jewelers, is a frequent reader of my Daily Golden Nuggets. Although he is an accomplished online marketer himself, he uses my Nuggets as frequent refreshers.
The scope of Wixon's online presence includes both a useful and user friendly site
and a full online social presence including:
* Creative posts to Google+
* Engagement on Facebook
* Direct tweets to Twitter
* More than 1000 pins to Pinterest
* A growing Instagram account
This is too much work for a single person to manage, but Wixon Jewelers was getting it done... Correctly!
In fact, since finding the Wixon website, I cited them on several occasions as the model jewelry store website for others to follow.
On March 13, 2014 Wixon Jewelers named the Small Business of the Year by the Minneapolis Regional Chamber of Commerce
and honored at the Best in Business Awards. After reading the press release for the award, I gave Jayme a call to see if he'd share some insights as to how they achieved their prestigious local status.
What follows are excerpted from my interview with Jayme Pretzoff from Wixon Jewelers.
Obviously the award had more to do with Wixon Jewelers' business practices and customer service as a whole, but their website and social media, in my view, is certainly a strong reflection of everything they do in the real world. That's not an easy task, and I wondered if Dan and Hope, the owners of Wixon Jewelers, knew what difficulties they would face in attempting it.
Jayme explains that Dan and Hope are good at recognizing trends and they knew they needed to bring someone into the business that would be able to focus on the digital process and integrate it correctly into their store marketing. They didn't know what it would ultimately require, but Jayme was tasked with taking it one step at a time.
Jayme explained that the team at Wixon Jewelers understands that the entire business and all the online marketing "started off as building one thing at a time and focus[ing] on it; and understanding that eventually this all comes into a big hub-and-spoke approach; and that each component really plays off each other as you get the cog and wheel going."
That overall understanding is something that I find most small business owners haven't been correctly educated in yet. So many aspects of business tie into, and support one another. You can't have poor telephone customer service if you want them to visit the store in person. You can't have luxurious advertising to lure customers into a store that hasn't been remodeled in 20 years while hoping to maintain that luxury appeal.
The smallest details of how you run the business, and how you portray your overall brand image, all ties in as part of the "hub-and-spoke" that Jayme mentioned.
Jayme explained that Dan and Hope were hands-on with the learning about the digital marketing techniques that he was bringing to the business. He explains that "they have a focus on hiring the best people for the position. They want people who are really going to add value, because they understand that they can't have their finger in everything, but they need to at least oversee everything."
There's always a goal of achieving success, but the more narrow you focus on a single task, the further you end up from the success. Inversely, when scattered on too many tasks,it is difficult to get any one of them completed. It takes a team.
As Jayme explained, teamwork is the key because they are "bringing people in that they trust, and that they know that are really, really good at what they do. That's been the key to Wixon's success because a business owner really is only one person, and they need to rely on others to drive different areas of the business."
As an internet marketer myself, I always find it difficult to be brought in at the last stage of the creation of a new marketing strategy. Many times the offline ads cannot be reproduced correctly online, and the final artwork provided from a print media agency is unusable online. As I shared some of my career stories on this topic with Jayme, he explained that Wixon has a really good solution..."Luckily we understand the process of online and digital media needs not to be an afterthought; it needs to be included in front end of the planning process. Now, more than ever, you can use digital leverage and traditional media platforms to really create that omni-channel approach. It's better when you're seeing everything as a strategy, rather than a tool. Using one thing to build off another, which in turn provides three times the amount of advertising power. Basically it turns into 1+1=3 when you leverage things like that. When you start off with traditional and digital in that initial process, and try to integrate everything together, that's when a lot of synergistic extra ideas come from that leverage."
To accomplish this integrated synergy, Wixon Jewelers brought Jayme into their team to work with the Creative Director and graphic designer already on staff. Together, they plan out the long term marketing, but also call upon others on the staff to provide additional support and input.
One area that the in-house staff has succeeded with, is blogging. That's such a difficult task for any business to start, and maintain over time. Many businesses have resorted to hiring outside writers who don't know anything about jewelry, but at Wixon, they asked their employees Jessica and Amy if they'd be willing to put their writing talents to work for the occasional jewelry blog.
Their blog posts sometimes come from questions submitted by customers, and they often plan ahead to publish blog posts that are topical for holidays. Jayme also explained that they will publish some blogs relating to specific topics when they know they can tie those posts to an upcoming event.
I know from experience that their type of pre-planning could never happen unless you have your entire creative team involved at the earliest stages of event planning. This should be a goal for all businesses to strive for.
Planning really is the key to success. I complement Wixon Jewelers for being forward-thinking enough to first launch their website in 2001, but until Jayme joined their team, the website had several poor incarnations. I've complemented Jayme in guiding them to their current level, and it asked him to share how he was able to guide Dan and Hope to such a complete online presence.
Specifically, I asked if it was planned out one step at a time or several things at once. "You can't just focus all your attention in website; and then launch social six months later; and then six months later go into an SEO integration push. You know, everything really needs to live within each other, and alongside each other. Because each is built off the other."
Although Jayme didn't specifically mention it, what he described above is extremely tedious. When jewelers come to me asking for an e-commerce website to be built within a month, I immediately tell them their expectations are unrealistic. Gathering all the pieces together the way Jayme explains takes months, sometimes 6 months, sometimes 9 month, and sometimes even much longer.
Sadly, during those initial months of preparation and planning, there's often a lack of visual results. This is usually a point of frustration for business owners when working with outside agencies because those agencies usually don't report the small steps in their progress. Meanwhile the business owners don't understand all the pre-planning and preparation, but they simply expect immediate visual results.
Certainly having full time digital and creative employees on staff would allow you to check in on their progress, and alleviate the fear that nothing is happening.
So the bottom line is that teamwork is the way you can achieve measurable success with your jewelry store. That teamwork might also lead to your own Small Business of the Year award. However, you can't expect to do it all yourself, and you need the right staff that will support your goals and the brand identity you want to create.
You should review the Wixon Jewelers website at http://www.wixonjewelers.com/
and all their social media profiles I listed above to see how much effort they are putting into it all.
In closing, I want to leave you with this last quote from Jayme, "There are a lot of business owners who feel that fans are the most important thing, saying, 'We only have 200 fans and our competitors [have] 6,000. We'll never catch them.' Of course you'll never catch them if you never start, so you got to at least get things going and then perfect your strategy later."