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DECEMBER 2016

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BC

Denton Record-Chronicle

Enterprising Voices

Marketing in December can be tricky spirit of the season, so to speak. Something simpler would be much more effective, something like: “50% off gifts for loved ones.” And then actually living up to that promise: making the sale not about selling product or consumerism but about giving a gift to someone you love. Working that into the store itself, the decorations, having your employees bring it up. Making it a thing.

How to promote your business without ruining the holidays arketing is a nuanced science, and never more so than during the holidays. Black Friday is a recurring phenomenon for a reason: People love to shop and retailers need to finally start turning a profit for the year. But I think it’s more than that. It’s the semi-official opening of the Christmas season here in the good ol’ USA. We aren’t just excited for great deals — we’re excited that the holidays are here. And while we all sort of know this somewhere in the back of our brain, many of us still have a sort of visceral reaction to brands blatantly appropriating an event to sell us a product or a service. It doesn’t matter what kind of business it is or what the event is that they’re trying to use to make a sale — we just kind of don’t like it. And it can go wrong — fast. Just look at the mattress store in San Antonio that based a sale on Sept. 11. You can watch the video, if you can stomach it. It’s beyond tasteless — it’s someone blatantly trying to profit off one of the greatest tragedies in our country’s history: https://youtu.be/2ZmM-2gj5Gc. That is an extreme example, but it holds a lesson: Businesses that try to use a yearly event or trending topic to promote themselves often fall flat on their face. That mattress store shut down indefinitely, by the way.

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This lesson applies to the holidays, too Now, the holidays are not Sept. 11, but they’re still very much something we think of as sacred and untouchable —

Heather STEELE | COMMENTARY

Your business has values, you’re allowed to show ’em

a day and time that’s meant for family and friends, religious observance or spiritual reflection or even just a break from the constant influx of marketing we see every day. We don’t like seeing them used to profit, and they can be incredibly controversial. Just ask Starbucks — their “holiday cups” sparked anger on social media last year, and this year it’s gotten worse. And yet, as a business, the holidays are a once-in-a-year opportunity to get feet in the door, eyes on the website and sell more than you’ve sold all year. To finally get in the black. People are looking for presents — for others and themselves. Many will soon have bonuses lining their pockets (or just savings accounts to blow), all in the spirit of the holiday season. And a very vocal portion of this group is ready to be offended by just about any marketing you do during the season. So, how do you get around it? How do you do what’s right for your business (making a profit) while still respecting the spirit of the holidays?

Just because the holiday season can be a difficult subject to tackle in the modern area doesn’t mean you should stay away from it completely. On the contrary — it can be done, if done intelligently, and for many businesses it should be done. You’re allowed to say, as a business, “We have a set of values and beliefs that inform what we do. During the holiday season, we celebrate those things, and we hope our customers do too.” And if your customers don’t share that with you, perhaps they’re not the right fit for you. No business can really afford to miss out on the holiday season, certainly not in retail, but really anywhere. It’s a time when people are spending money, and it’s right for a business to do its best to turn a profit for the year. You just have to do it with taste and class, to uphold what you believe in while still respecting the beliefs of others. And that, I think, is the spirit of the season.

Know your audience Co-opting Christmas probably isn’t the best way to go

Justin Tallis/Getty Images

Shoppers carry shopping bags along Oxford Street on Saturday in central London. about this, and though plenty of people will love the ad, you risk turning off some important customers. If you know your audience, know your customer base and have a clear idea of their likes and dislikes, it may be appropriate to go over the top with the holiday theme. If you have a strong Christian customer base and it aligns with the core values of your business, featuring

Biz on the Wire

Christmas prominently in a marketing or advertising campaign may be exactly the right move for your business. For other businesses, keeping a generic “happy holidays” theme may be appropriate for their customer base. It all depends on your brand, your values and the people you serve and their values.

Be subtle In either case, subtlety is

key. An ad covered in Santa Clauses boldly declaring that “Santa shops here, and so do his reindeer! Come into our store to find some real Christmas cheer! Get the presents that make or break your holiday!” is very much using a tank where a feather would have been more effective. It’s sloppy, but more importantly, it’s missing the point of this particular holiday — the

Calendar of Events APIs and IPAs, hosted by TechMill, meets every other Tuesday at Harvest House, 331 E. Hickory St., for a techcentered hangout.

Denton County Young Professionals host meetings every Wednesday, except for the first of the month, at Loco Cafe, 603 N. Locust St.

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 17, 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 31, 6:30 p.m.

Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 25, 7:15 a.m.

Argyle Planning and Zoning Commission meets the first Tuesday of the month at 308 Denton St.

Denton County Young Professionals hosts a mixer at a new business each month. January’s mixer will be at Komodo Loco.

Tuesday, Jan. 3, 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, Jan. 5, 5:30 p.m.

Denton Black Chamber of Commerce meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Denton Housing Authority, 1225 Wilson St. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 6 p.m.

John Bazemore/AP file photo

Ram pickups sit on the lot at Landmark Dodge Chrysler Jeep Ram on Jan. 5, 2015, in Morrow, Ga. The U.S. auto safety agency has opened an investigation into complaints that another 1 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles can roll away after being shifted into park.

Auto roundup: Smart fires reported By The Associated Press DETROIT — U.S. safety regulators are reviewing eight complaints that the engine in the tiny Smart Fortwo can catch fire. The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 43,000 of the two-seat cars from the 2008 and 2009 model years. The agency says in documents posted Tuesday that in six cases owners saw smoke, the check engine light, or heard an unusual noise before seeing flames. The other two fires weren’t observed until the cars were stopped. All eight owners told the agency that flames rapidly engulfed the cars. No injuries have been reported. In one of the complaints, the Texas owner of a 2008 Fortwo told NHTSA that he heard a loud pop from the rear engine compartment while driving on the Dallas North Tollway on Oct. 12. The owner pulled over to check the

noise and saw flames coming from the engine. “Had I not pulled off to the shoulder when I did, my story would not be coming directly from me but from my obituary,” the owner wrote. “MercedesBenz has been notified of this death trap, yet have not chosen to recall or check into the issue.” Owners who complain to NHTSA are not identified in the agency’s database. NHTSA says it will investigate the cause of the fires and how often they happen. A recall is possible although none has been issued. Messages were left Tuesday with Mercedes-Benz, which makes the Smart Fortwo.

Feds probe Chrysler rollaway issue DETROIT — The U.S. auto safety agency has opened an investigation into complaints that another 1 million Fiat Chrysler vehicles can roll away after the owners shift transmissions into park, a problem similar to the one being blamed in the death of

HEATHER STEELE is the founder of Blue Steele Solutions. She can be reached at heather@bluesteelesolutions. com.

Star Trek actor Anton Yelchin. The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers Fiat Chrysler’s top-selling vehicle, the Ram 1500 pickup, from the 2013 to 2016 model years, as well as the 2014-16 Dodge Durango. The rollaway complaints are similar those that prompted the recall of 1.1 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and other vehicles this year, although those vehicles have different shifters. Yelchin, 27, known for playing Chekov in the film series, died in June after his 2015 Grand Cherokee pinned him against a mailbox pillar and security fence at his home in Los Angeles. His Jeep was among the vehicles recalled in April because of complaints from drivers who had trouble telling if they put the consolemounted shift levers in park after stopping. The government says Rams and Durangos have dial-like rotary knob shifters that are linked electronically to the transmission.

Denton Chamber of Commerce hosts its Smart Business 101 series regularly for members at the chamber office, 414 W. Parkway St. The event is free for members and $15 for nonmembers. Tuesday, Jan. 24, 11:45 a.m.

Denton Chamber of Commerce hosts a monthly business networking lunch at Hilton Garden Inn Denton, 3110 Colorado Blvd. Admission is free, and lunch can be purchased from the venue for $13. Friday, Jan. 13, 11:45 a.m.

Denton Hispanic Chamber of Commerce holds lead generator luncheons the second Tuesday of the month. It is held at Sidewalk Cafe, 2900 Wind River Lane, and admission is $5 for members and $10 for guests. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 11:30 a.m.

The Denton League of United Latin American Citizens No. 4366 meets the third Saturday of the month at the Denton Senior Center, 509 N. Bell Ave. Saturday, Jan. 21, 9:30 a.m.

Electronics recycling takes place at The Cupboard Natural Foods and Cafe, 200 W. Congress St., the second Saturday of each month. Drop off computer-related electronics for recycling. Visit www.computercrusher.com for a list of acceptable items and more information.

Lake Cities Chamber of Commerce holds weekly coffee meetings at rotating businesses on Wednesdays. Locations will be listed at www.lakecitieschamber.com/ chamber-events. Wednesday, Jan. 4, 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, 7:15 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 18, 7:15 a.m.

Little D Open Coffee Club, hosted by TechMill, meets every other Tuesday at West Oak Coffee Bar, 114 W. Oak St., to discuss technology and startups. Tuesday, Jan. 10, 8 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24, 8 a.m.

NodeSchool Denton, hosted by TechMill, meets every other Saturday at Aura Coffee Shop, 1306 Hickory St. Saturday, Jan. 14, 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 28, 2 p.m.

Sanger Chamber of Commerce holds a networking luncheon the fourth Wednesday of every month. RSVP at http://sangertexas.com. This month’s luncheon will be held at the Sanger Chamber of Commerce, 300 Bolivar St. Wednesday, Jan. 25, noon

Saturday, Jan. 14, 8 a.m.

Who to contact Scott K. Parks Managing Editor 940-566-6879 | sparks@dentonrc.com Jenna Duncan Business Editor 940-566-6889 | jduncan@dentonrc.com Sandra Hammond Advertising Director 940-566-6820 | shammond@dentonrc.com Shawn Reneau Retail Advertising 940-566-6843 | sreneau@dentonrc.com


December Denton Business Chronicle 2016