Mount Pleasant/ Titus County Chamber of Commerce Newsletter
From the CEO Chamber Wraps Up 3-Year Strategic Plan With 2013 coming to an end, the Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Council is wrapping up its three-year Strategic Plan. The Chamber and its partners have had many successes during this Strategic Plan. Below are just a few of the accomplishments from the past three years:
Partner net increase of 10 percent;
Expanded Shop Titus County program by adding Eat Local, Drive Local, Wear Local and other industry-specific promotions;
Partner education on governmental affairs through Mount Pleasant Days in Austin and the Actions and Advocacy E-publication;
Increased partner services through the Total Resource Campaign;
Initiated and Completed a feasibility study for an Events Center in Titus County;
Strengthened the Leadership Mount Pleasant program by adding a Junior Leadership program and expanding the Leadership training component of the program.;
Increased volunteer engagement;
Created and cultivated a new Chamber brand through updating of the mission and vision statements and Chamber values;
Established a brand for Mount Pleasant and Titus County through the creation of “EVERYTHING TEXAS”;
Fostered local, regional and state-wide partnerships to better the region;
Promoted and will continue to promote Mount Pleasant and Titus County as a place that visitors can explore all that Texas has to offer; and
Selected as the host location for Be National, State-wide and Regional events and conventions.
In addition, the Chamber has won various awards including the 2012 Texas Chamber of Commerce Executives Media Excellence Award in Marketing. Mount Pleasant was also chosen to be a highlighted city on the Texas Travel Industry Association Study Tour last month. With the ending of this benchmark and the start of the next, the Chamber and its partners can celebrate the accomplishments of Mount Pleasant and Titus County!
Mission: To build economic prosperity by engaging businesses and the community.
Vision: We will be "Everything Texas." www.mtpleasanttx.com
Table of Contents From the CEO…...…………………………………………......………..………..….....…...2 About our Members…………….....……………………….....…………………..….…..….5 Meet the Staff.......................................................................................................….....6 Holiday Retail Outlook...................... ........................................................................7,8 Everything Texas Christmas..........………......……………………………………..……...9 Spotlight Member/Ribbon Cutting...............................................................................10 Business Spotlight Table/Ribbon Cutting.…...…………………….........…………..…..12 Fright-Tober/Economic Factors.....……………………………………………..……..…..14 6 Must-do Moves Before Social Media.......................…….…………………….….......15 Should You Automate Your Social Media.......………………………………..…..……..16 Be Social With The Chamber.....……………………………………………….………....17
Officers: Chairman: Martin Bell, Guaranty Bond Bank Chairman Elect: Shannon Norfleet, Titus Regional Medical Center Vice Chairman: Stephen Currey, Capps Insurance Treasurer: Brian Niblett, American National Bank Past Chairman: Jason Snodgrass, Stansell’s City Cleaners Directors: Beverly Austin, Northeast Texas Small Business Development Center David Hooper, Echo Publishing Diana Kennedy, Century 21 Landmark Matt Klump, Expert Computing Brad Lowry, Pilgrim Bank Dennis Newman, Newman’s Electronics Colby Parker, Mount Pleasant Industrial Foundation Tommy Shumate, Sisk Motors Wes Welch, Welch Gas Richard Witherspoon, Herschel’s Restaurant Jey Yancey, Offenhauser Insurance 3
Renewing Members 1st Texas Financial Services, L.L.P.
Pace Opportunity Centers, Inc.
American Cancer Society
First Christian Church
Performance Trailers by Parker
Antiques & Uniques
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Port A Jon, Inc.
Greenhill Villas of Mount Pleasant
Brown’s Glass & Mirror
Jackson Oil Co.
Bynum Chiropractic Clinic
Sam Russell, Attorney at Law
Calvary Chapel Mt Pleasant
Lake Country RV Park
Lavender Mermaid Farm
South Jefferson Baptist Church
Cannaday Financial Services/LPL
Little Giant Discount Center
St Andrews United Methodist Church
Carter Blood Care Stewart Center
Tabor Sanitation Service
Communities In Schools of Northeast
McCollum’s Cleaners & Laundry
Tennison Learning Center
Medical Center Family Pharmacy
Cypress Basin Hospice Inc
Momentum Motorsports& RV
Decker Vision Group
Mount Pleasant Rodeo Association
Winfield Independent School District
Mount Pleasant Toyota
Eagle Auto Glass
Open Imaging of Titus Regional
New Members Jordan Enterprise
Odd Fellows Lodge #66
Divine Divas Hair Salon
House of Payne Church of God
Meet the Fun Chamber Staff Mandy Stringer Mandy is the Chamber Online Community Manager. She is responsible for maintaining the Chamberâ€™s various social media sites. She also creates graphics and promotional materials for Chamber events and is an event photographer. Stringer, 24, moved to Mount Pleasant with her family in 2008. She is a 2007 graduate of Richland High School in North Richland Hills. She has studied Website design, art, and photography and plans to pursue a degree in graphic design from The Art Institute in Dallas.
Annabelle Guzman Annabelle Guzman is the Chamber Partner Services Coordinator. She is tasked with making sure chamber partners receive the services that come as part of their membership in the chamber. A Mount Pleasant native, Guzman, 25, is married with two children. She is a 2006 graduate of Mount Pleasant High School. Guzman, who has been on staff since September 2013, said one of her goals is to encourage more Hispanic businesses to join the chamber. She does floral design for parties on the side and hopes to one day own her own floral business.
Karen Hollingsworth Karen Hollingsworth is the Chamber Event Planner. Hollingsworth, on staff at the Chamber since September 2013, handles the tourism and membership events for the Chamber. Hollingsworth, who has two adult children, has lived in Purley, a community just outside of Mount Vernon for 13 years. She moved to East Texas from Dallas where she worked as an event coordinator and meeting planner. Prior to taking the Chamber position, she was a personal chef and event coordinator for Timber Creek Ranch at Lake Cypress Springs.
Holiday Retail Outlook Mount Pleasant retailers are optimistic about the upcoming holiday season. While they recognize that consumers are still cautiously guarding their wallets, they are confident that their customers will spend. “I always try to be very optimistic, no matter what,” said Kasseigh’s co-owner Krisan Norris-Sears. “I think that people may be scaling back some; they may not be giving as elaborate gifts, but that’s OK. Kasseigh’s tries to have gifts in all price ranges, so somebody doesn’t have to feel like they have to spend a lot to give a nice gift.” Norris-Sears said the top sellers in the downtown gift shop include Pandora bracelets and beads, Brighton bags and accessories and Vera Bradley bags, totes and luggage. While the store cannot discount Pandora and Brighton gifts, she said the manufacturers also recognize that consumers are being more frugal, and have set some special holiday offers. “They are listening to the retailers,” she said. Other items that she expects to be big sellers this season are Lenny & Eva jewelry, a new boot line from Reef (the trendy flip flop brand) and TOKYObay watches and leggings that she recently discovered at market. “The style is to wear leggings with boots and a tunic-style top, but leggings are cold, so we found these fleece-lined leggings. We have those coming in and tall boot socks that are going to be fantastic,” she said. Mount Pleasant Sears owner Carl Randermann is also banking on the holidays to bring lots of customers into his “small box” store that specializes in appliances, tools, lawn and garden items, grills and mattresses. “Appliances are where our bread and butter come from. We sell the top 10 brands and nobody else handles that,” he said. He plans to draw customers into the store with weekly Hot Buys and said he expects the new Craftsman Bolt-On electric drill to be a big seller for do-it-yourselfers. The drill has nine interchangeable attachments, including a circular saw, a sander, an impact driver, a router and a jigsaw that are each sold separately. “You buy the main unit and then add the attachments all year long,” he said. Local Sears customers can also order anything that Sears sells nationally on their Website, said Randermann, who echoes his fellow retailers’ optimism. “We’re optimistic and we hope people will start moving in the fourth quarter because a huge amount of our volume comes out of that quarter,” he said. Two other local retailers are appealing to the consumer’s sweet tooth and holiday dinner plans. David Phillips, who owns Heav’nly Foods with his wife, Renee’, said Thanksgiving and Christmas are the biggest seasons for them.
Heav’nly Foods not only offers homemade bakery items, including custom cakes, pies, cheesecakes and cupcakes, they specialize in made-from-scratch prepared meals and side dishes. “For the holidays, we’ll do a lot of our chicken and dressings, yeast rolls, squash casserole and savory green beans. We also sell a lot of pumpkin and pecan pies and carrot cakes are usually pretty good sellers around the holidays,” Phillips said. He said they even have grandmothers who bring in their favorite family recipe and ask them to make it. “They don’t have to do the work or the dishes and they get to spend time with the grandkids, have family time,” he said. “We enjoy doing that, making somebody’s day, making their holiday.” Among their specialty requests for Christmas are Bible cakes, Cross cakes and Jesus birthday cakes, he said. At Sweet shop USA, optimism is also high as the factory bustles with orders and the retail store is brimming with handmade treats, such as their new Handcrafted Caramel Apple collection, with flavors including Milk Chocolate Pecan Caramel and Triple Chocolate. "Our hand-dipped and hand-decorated caramel apples have been seasonal favorites in our retail stores for years. We are so excited to now make them available yearround to our customers,” said Sweet Shop USA President Michael Moss. Another longtime favorite and frequent gift item is Mrs. Weinstein’s Toffee. Sweet Shop USA has expanded the line with several new flavors and updated packaging for the Christmas season. The line now includes Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Toffee Squares, Belgian White Chocolate Toffee Squares, and three flavors of Gourmet Toffee Popcorn. “I have a special place in my heart for Mrs. Weinstein’s Toffee and am so excited about the new packaging and product introductions,” said Krista Webb, Chief Executive Officer of Sweet Shop USA, the parent company of Mrs. Weinstein’s Toffee. “It is a fabulous product and deserves fabulous packaging. It will be exciting to watch the brand develop as we continue to expand the product line in future years.” With the traditional big box stores and national chain retail stores paired with the unique locally-owned shops and boutiques, Mount Pleasant shoppers have access to more than they might think. “Our downtown is unique. You can find things here that people might not even easily find in Dallas,” said Charlie Smith, executive director of the Mount Pleasant Industrial Foundation. Smith said Mount Pleasant’s manufacturers are back to their pre-recession employment levels. “That’s very positive,” he said. “Some are up significantly by 10 or 15 percent.” But, while national issues like healthcare and the job market continue to hold consumer confidence at bay nationally, confidence is rising here. “Confidence is rising, the housing market is rising. We’re back to building homes here in town. There are a lot of pluses,” he said. “I see nothing on the horizon that would say this is going to be anything but a very good year.” Shopping locally is one way to ensure a good retail season, he said. He encouraged consumers to “Spend wisely and shop locally.” “If you trade with your local merchant, you’ve saved money by not traveling and you’re investing in the local community by keeping sales tax revenues in Mount Pleasant,” he said. “At least look here first. See what is available and I think you’ll be surprised.”
Looking for a Chamber partner business? Wanting to Christmas shop at their store? Find their information at www.mtpleasanttx.com 8
Everything Texas Christmas The Christmas shopping and entertainment season kicked off in Mount Pleasant with the annual Downtown Open House on Sunday, Nov. 3.
Downtown Open House
Sponsored by the Mount Pleasant Downtown Merchants Association, the special shopping day is held every year on the first Sunday in November. Typically, the downtown stores are all closed on Sunday, but the shops were brimming with life from 1 to 5 p.m. to usher in the holiday season. “Most of the stores had specials and refreshments,” said Jessica Cameron, president of the association. “It’s an important event for downtown because it gives us a boost on the Christmas season and let’s everybody see what the shops are going to have in stock for Christmas. Cameron, the owner of Sassy J’s Salon on the downtown square, debuted her newest venture, Impulse Boutique, during the Downtown Open House, offering gift items, bags and jewelry. Cameron, born and raised in Mount Pleasant, said the event is also an opportunity for the community to show support for locally-owned businesses. “We need to shop local and support our small businesses. I feel like we all need to support each other as much as we can,” she said.
Deck the Halls
The Chamber’s longtime Deck the Halls shopping and arts and crafts show will have everything you need to get ready for the holidays. From gift items such as handmade soaps, paintings, clothing, and woodworking to Christmas décor, the Nov. 15-16 event is the next stop to tackle your Christmas shopping list.
“It’s such a fun Christmas event for the whole community,” said Faustine Curry, Chamber president and CEO. It not only encompasses around 65 vendors who set up booths at the Mount Pleasant Civic Center, but promotes the wide variety of holiday gift items available from the downtown merchants. “The local merchants bring items to the civic center and we host vendors from all over Texas, Oklahoma, Louisiana and Arkansas,” Curry said. “It’s a great place for people to shop and get excited about the Christmas season.” This year there will be a special shopping event on Friday evening. From 6:30 p.m.—8:00 p.m., shoppers will experience the VIP treatment. Appetizers, refreshments and live entertainment will help get shoppers in the Christmas shopping spirit! For this special event, the Chamber is requesting that shoppers RSVP at the Chamber, 903.572.8567. There is a small admission fee of $3 for shoppers. The doors open at 4 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 15 and at 8:30 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 16. More details on Deck the Halls are on the Mount Pleasant Chamber Website. www.mtpleasanttx.com 9
Member Spotlight Column: Titus Regional Medical Center Our Passion. Our Promise. Your Care. With 60 years of service and over sixty medical staff providers, Titus Regional Medical Center is proud to be a vital part of such a caring community. You have challenged us to provide higher levels of specialty care close to home – lessening additional burdens that oftentimes accompany illness. It’s hard to even reflect back just a decade ago on the services that were unavailable to our region… Cancer patients no longer have to endure extensive and expensive daily travels for treatment with the Patty & Bo Pilgrim Cancer Center. Lives are saved through critical timely access to our ER/Trauma Center. The Breast & Diagnostic Health Center is improving women’s health outcomes. Hyperbaric oxygenation is preventing amputations due to non-healing wounds at our Wound Healing Center. Geriatric patients are receiving timely interventions through Rehabilitation, Skilled Nursing and Behavioral Health therapies. Lung cancer patients from across the nation are seeking pioneering treatments here. Boardcertified specialists now offer weekly services in Mount Pleasant through our Visiting Specialists Center. Healthy lifestyles and preventative care are embraced through the Wellness Center. Help us mark our successes during TRMC’s 60 Year Celebration on Sunday, December 8th 2 – 4 pm in the hospital lobby.
Jazzercise Mount Pleasant 313 North Church Street Mount Pleasant, TX 903.517.3640 Jordan Enterprise 903.575.7168 www.mtpleasanttx.com
Divine Divas Hair Salon 2208A W. Ferguson Road Mount Pleasant, TX 75455 903.563.90211
Core Athletics 2717 Greenhill Road Mount Pleasant, TX 903.717.8812
Golden Gals Candy Co. & The Bake Shop 210 West 2nd Street Mount Pleasant, TX 75455 903.577.3434
Twilight History Tour
The Mount Pleasant Economy Unemployment Rate August 2013
**Due to government shutdown the October release date for the September unemployment data has been rescheduled for November 22, 2013.
Sales tax (August 2013)
% Change 30.80% 14
% Change 3.50%
6 Must-do Moves BEFORE Social Media With everything changing so quickly these days, it’s easy to lose track of the basics: spend your marketing time where it will do your business the most good. That means to focus attention on your market and how they make the decision to visit your business. The pace of change can be especially overwhelming for small businesses Many of them know that they need to do “something” in social media but they’re not sure where to start, and they’re looking for some help to guide them through the noise. What are some good first steps? Where can they make the biggest impact online? Do These Things First: If we were talking to your members/partners who were starting at zero (or close to it) in social and digital marketing, here’s what we’d recommend: 1) Big picture and strategy come first. Have them sit down and define their ideal customer or guest and describe their market in a few sentences. Where are those customers right now on social media (Facebook? LinkedIn? Twitter? Instagram?) In general, what sort of information could the member/partner share on social media that might appeal to their particular market? Photos – of what? Information – about what? Video – of what? Customer service – how? Make sure they stop and think at this level for 30 minutes before doing ANYTHING else. 2) Think about how visitors and customers find you today, and how that’s changed in recent years. More from search? Do word-of-mouth referrals include online mentions? More referrals and mentions from social media, and if so, from which platforms? 3) Do you know why customers or guests come to your place of business? If you can’t tell you what brings people through the doors right now, they need to work on being more knowledgeable about your customers. That’s who you will be trying to connect with on social media, so you’d better know those folks pretty well. 4) Do you have a website and does it provide good basic information such as where you are located (maps, please!), what you sell, operating hours and contact information? 5) Have you claimed your business on Google Places? It’s the single biggest move that will help you be found, and listening/ responding to reviews is a basic social skill. If you are feeling ambitious you can claim your business listing on Bing and Yahoo as well, but first take care of the 800 Pound Google Gorilla. 6) If you are a restaurant, make sure you claim your business on Yelp and are set up to respond to reviews. 7) If you are a hotel/motel, make sure you claimed your business on TripAdvisor and are able to respond to reviews. 8) THEN you will be ready to talk about launching on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, etc.
You know that they need to “something” in social media but you are not sure where to start and how to get through the noise.
Final note: If some website help is needed and possibly some assistance needed in setting up a social media account, you can find a listing on the Chamber’s on-line membership directory—http://www.mtpleasanttx.com/Computer-Services One thing to remember is to stick with web designers first and foremost and look for those who are savvy with WordPress or other content management software. Whoever you chose to use, be certain they are competent in the basics of web design and SEO (Search Engine Optimization.) Looking pretty is nice, but beautiful work that doesn’t also support your SEO goals is not helpful. Brains have to come before beauty…. Need some help with the basics? Tourism Currents offers a complete course in developing social media campaigns for tourism related businesses. http:// www.tourismcourrents.com/ 15
Should You Automate Your Social Media? What does it mean to “automate” social media? Two things, usually…. 1) Automatically publishing the same update across multiple social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. and, 2) Pre-scheduling content to publish automatically when you are not actually at your computer. Is either one a good idea? Is either one an effective use of social media? The answer is: sometimes, but only when you’re careful about how you use time-saving technology. Think about the best ways to connect and communicate with the humans in your market, not just the best ways to broadcast your blurbs as easily as possible. Automation is understandably attractive to busy people who are trying to manage social media accounts on top of all the other tasks of the day, but you will often sacrifice effective marketing in exchange for saving yourself a few minutes. Don’t Automatically Send the Same Content Everywhere The problem with automatically publishing the same update across multiple channels is illustrated in the screenshot above. When a business’s Twitter stream is entirely auto-generated from Facebook updates, it checks a block for the organization (“Sure, we’re on Twitter!”) but the results don’t make any sense for the visitor or guest, it isn’t particularly helpful and it doesn’t encourage interaction. The business is not being an effective digital concierge: answering questions, making suggestions and recommendations, sharing the cool photos that visitors are taking in town or otherwise being social on social media. Every communications channel is different. The audiences on each one are different. What works on one doesn’t necessarily work on the others. A radio spot does not work that well on TV, a newspaper ad is not a good fit on the radio and something posted on Facebook may not translate to Twitter at all. The “@” symbol means something on Twitter but not on Facebook. Hashtags are standard on Twitter and Instagram but are brand -new (and still annoying to many) on Facebook. The #FriFotos hashtag is big on Twitter but not Instagram. You can tag and give shout-outs to other people and organizations on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ but it’s a slightly different process on each one to do so. That matters because it is important to make your content shareable through tags and links, which connect it to the rest of the social web. That’s one way that people find it, and then find YOU. Using Automation to Preschedule Updates May Make Sense Let’s be realistic – sometimes you need to set up your content to publish itself automatically when you are tied up with other things, or you want to spread out content timing because your audience is not all online at the same time. That kind of automation can be effective with your market IF you are prepared to respond to any reactions. One cardinal rule to follow is never to post the same thing across all channels on the same day. What is posted on Twitter on a Monday will be slightly re-written for a Google + posting on Wednesday with a Facebook post on Tuesday, etc. Then leave yourself plenty of leeway to add posts each and every day regarding things that come up that are appropriate. Want to know more about connecting with visitors, guests and customers on social media? Tourism Currents offers many courses in developing social media campaigns for businesses at http://www.tourismcurrents.com/.
Be Social with The Chamber Times have changed! Decades ago when people where starting their own businesses and wanted to communicate, they likely sent a telegram or picked up a telephone receiver and asked an operator to dial an alpha numeric code—”Murray Hill 2977” - over a crackly line. That is, if they weren’t dispatching a manservant to hand-deliver a handwritten note on parchment sealed wax. These days, the Chamber of Commerce has marshaled all forms of communications technology to connect members to one another and to share important messages that resonate with them. Using the magical platform of social media, the Chamber has watched its collective voice go viral. The result is an incredibly powerful and collaborative discourse, an interactive and democratic exchange of ideas and best practices that exponentially enhances our impact. Be sure to check us out on www.mtpleasanttx.com. Note that we are regularly uploading news and content the web about important developments that affect issues you are facing every day.
Mount Pleasant/ Titus County Chamber of Commerce 1604 North Jefferson Ave Mount Pleasant, TX 75455 www.mtpleasanttx.com (p) 903.572.8567 (f) 903.572.0613