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Hot Summer Business Marketing Tips

August 4, 2022

Thursday Thoughts, Marketing Tips for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

August hits in the Northeast and the weather is blazing. Potential customers are either on vacation with their families, basking by their pools sipping cool drinks, or working in air conditioning try to pretend it isn’t too nice out to be working. What is the average small business owner to do if their business is not a “hot” industry in the summertime but rather cool due to sales?

As a four-seasoned, three-decade business owner, I can attest to being thrown off when I first began my companies not knowing how to attract consumers to my business when the world seemed to be on vacation and no one thought too seriously about business before Labor Day Weekend came. As summer flew by for customers, sales weren’t only dripping cold water, but dipping below projections.

The first thing an entrepreneur shouldn’t do if it is their first summer sales experience is panic. Take it from me, as soon as Labor Day comes and goes, school begins, vacations end, life returns to normal and so will your business. If you can’t wait until then to feel productive, here are a few tips from me and a few other women entrepreneurs I spoke with via Zoom yesterday about the subject.

* Get Creative – Creativity in terms of fun summer contests that draw consumers to your business website or social media pages to participate. One person gave away corporate bandanas made for dogs and held a pet contest. Another raffled off a painting from their coffee shop donated by a local artist. You get the idea, think about an event and promote it.

* Cross Promote – Partner with neighboring businesses or industry vendors on summer-styled events like a community baseball night, block party, summer soiree, or ice cream social. You can share email lists or gain new followers by gathering emails at the events themselves. These emails can be used for fall and winter sales campaigns.

* Thank Repeat Customers – Current and past customers know other potential future customers for your business. By creating a fun event or contest for current customers might inspire them to share where they are going or what they won from your business with others. You can also invite your customers to bring a guest with them to an affair you are planning to let them see and taste your business style.

Jill Bates – Howard Hanna Real Estate – East Rochester – Pet Contest

The last month of the summer is the perfect time to keep promoting if you can’t get someone on the phone or in your store. Remember if you host a contest or have an event take photos and share all your winners on your social media accounts because they will share them too and that will get your business in front of their circle of friends – hopefully making them remember your name the next time they need what you are selling.

Wednesday Wisdom: Kismet Business Connections

August 3, 2022

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

In early June, I had my last visit with a best friend who I met through Women TIES twelve years ago. She was just a woman entrepreneur whose name was repeated often to me. Although our paths hadn’t crossed, I asked her to be one of the speakers at my company’s annual “Inspiring Success: The Women TIES Retreat.” In only her positive way she replied, “I had a feeling I was supposed to speak in Skaneateles and here you are giving me the opportunity.”

Call it kismet, fate or destiny but that ask was the beginning of a unique and beautiful kinship that outgrew the traditional business sphere into deep friendship. She had something ethereal about her that drew me to her spirit. One day I requested she give me a special healing session in exchange for me giving her a marketing session. From those bonding experiences forward, we were part of each other’s lives in only the way that God plans.

Eight years after the Retreat speaking engagement, we met over lunch and discussed serious health issues facing both of us. Together we shared hope, compassion, and joyful solutions to our problems. Often, when I was anxious she would say to me, “Tracy, where is all that worrying getting you?” The answer was always the same, “No where, you are right!”

Never one to waiver in belief, she was certain of receiving a miracle to restore her to full health until yesterday. We often used our senses of humor to keep things light and upbeat while still diving deep into life’s issues. One day, she visited me poolside for some relaxation where I showed her my bald head emerging out of the water and asked her if I looked like a buoy. We laughed. What else can you do but choose joy and humor when all else is failing?

Today’s Wednesday Wisdom is to remind you that you don’t know when a simple business networking event, client agreement, or first-time purchase will be the start of something beyond an average entrepreneurial meeting and blossom into a unique friendship. We aren’t looking for friends when we are selling or buying, but sometimes emotional connections last beyond transactions. Have you counted how many meaningful bonds have occurred through your own business connections?

My heart is both heavy and light for the beauty of a lasting friendship whose brilliant light enriched and encircled my life for more than a decade. So, today of all days, make sure you count your blessings for all the people who come in and out of your life and business. I, for one, am eternally grateful for her.

Monday Motivation: Pierce Your Fear, Experience Awe

August 1, 2022

Monday Motivation, Inspiration, Wisdom for Women, Women in Sports, Women Entrepreneurs

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Archery

Like Katniss Everdeen in Hunger Games, my arrow sprung forward from the bow hitting the target on the first shot. Not quite as fast as her in reloading the second arrow by a long shot, the next one was carefully placed in the notch of the arrow rest, used to launch the projectile. Pulling back the mechanical release, I leaned my cheek into the peep sight looking at the green, yellow, and red pinpoints to line up my shot with the target circle. Release! A distant soft boom could be heard. Bullseye again.

One of the fascinating parts of trying new sports is not only the thrill of the experience of learning something novel, but also the new terminology of the techniques, equipment, and sport itself. I never knew what a “nock” was until I had to put the arrow’s nock (a plastic piece at the end of it) into the bow to help it attach to the bow string. Go figure, I only knew the word “knock” before yesterday.

Knowing most women have weaker back and arm muscles than men, I also assumed pulling back bow strings would be either difficult or painful, but thanks to the fact I was using my son’s compound bow, that consists of a levering system using cables and cams to bend the bow limbs and transfer the energy during the shot, it was easier to pull and hold. Like anything new, you needed to try it a few times to understand the mechanics.

Thrilled with my ability to shoot and hit the target spot from 25’, I climbed a tall ladder to a platform to attempt a 50’ shot. If I was to join my husband deer hunting this year again, I’ve heard bow hunting season is much warmer and beautiful, a girl hunter’s dream. Honestly, he didn’t think I could hit the spot, but again like Katniss, my arrow shot through the air perfectly hitting the bullseye. I might have found my new sport, I announced.

If I could impart any wisdom from my archery experience with you, it’s that trying anything new is exhilarating, slightly intimidating, and educational. Not all sports are alike so trying different ones has taught me instantly what I would try again once, or in the case of archery, try more often, adding it to my sports regimen. Biking doesn’t tone upper arm and back strength but archery does and it puts you in the beautiful elements of nature.

Second, pushing past intimidation at any level of life, business, and sports, makes us more courageous in some small way. Intimidation is both fear and awe so you must pierce the fear to experience the awe, just like an arrow leaving the comfort of its nock resting place to fly through the air into an unknown area feet away.  I can’t tell you what an arrow experiences in its flight, but I can attest to the thrill of letting one go now and I highly recommend the precision, strength, and excitement surrounding it.

Friday Vibes: Taking Big Risks

July 29, 2022

Motivation, Inspiration, Risk Taking, Friday Vibes

For some of us risk is assumed as we slowly ride up a steep roller coaster at a theme park because we fear heights. Other times, risk is equivalent to signing a lease on a new office building for our rising company. And sometimes risk is about starting radiation or chemo treatments for a cancer diagnosis. Risk comes in and out of our lives on a daily, yearly and decade basis depending on what type it is.

After writing yesterday’s blog post about being turned down for a new medicine that has an 80% efficacy rate for people like me with alopecia universalis, I felt in some control having stated my mind about the subject. Pulling my bike on my car, I figured I would work out the rest of my disappointment on a favorite bike path. As I entered the park to bike, my dermatologist called me to tell me they had a 30-day sample of the drug if I wanted to get it. “YES,” I said immediately.

P.T. Barnum Bearded Lady – Annie Jones –

The white bottle with orange cap felt like a gift from above, an answer to my prayers. As I biked through the happy emotions having received it (because I bike to let out bad and good emotions), I felt nothing but blessed. Would I begin taking it immediately, wait until tomorrow, or talk to my medical son first? The last time I took a JAK inhibitor I developed severe shingles in and around my right eye, with some cornea scars still on them, was getting hair worth risking my eyesight? Bald vs. blind is an interesting scenario.

If you are like me, you become less risky at night perhaps from tiredness or because you’ve taken risks all day long. So, first thing this morning, the white bottle stared at me daring me to open it while I listened to online mass and my quiet soul’s message. At ten a.m. I took the first pill. Who was I to turn down something the day before I believed I couldn’t get?

Today I ask you, what are you willing to risk for the betterment of yourself, your business, and even your health? Do you take risks after quietly listening to your internal wisdom or after you talk to someone? Do you follow your gut or your head more often in making risky decisions or is it a combination of both? Do you try something in order to help show others it can be done successfully helping to squelch their fears? Trust that whatever your decision-making process is work to your highest benefit.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Alopecia

Stay tuned and I’ll let you know if I grow hair, eyebrows, eyelashes, or just an Italian mustache and sideburns or if the medicine doesn’t work for me and I’m meant to be a permanently bald woman just trying to live her best life.

A Personal Perspective on Redirecting Hope

July 28, 2022

Thursday Thoughts, Inspiration for Women, Female Entrepreneurs, People with Alopecia

The denial packets are getting thicker. The reasoning for the rejections is still the same. Time and again the theory of needing something paid for due to “cosmetic reasons” is in every appeal response from Excellus Blue Shield. I’m not sure how to prove I don’t want to grow my hair back for cosmetic purposes.

In the height of losing 70% of my hair in 2007, I turned to a therapist to ensure any mental issues such as anxiety wasn’t causing a larger swath of hair to fall out of my head. Knowing there were many factors associated with why 6 million people get some degree of alopecia, made me question the “stress” angle, but I was running my company alone, producing 40 events around New York State without staff, and writing for our local newspaper, while raising two sons. Stress might have been a factor although I always love every second of my life and career, and alopecia runs in my family but neither my brother or father lost all their hair.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – 2017

“Tracy, where did your vanity come from,” my therapist asked one day. Hmmm, vanity? I bet if I asked every woman, I’ve ever met they would each answer what I said, “I’m not vain, I just want to look the best I can which includes having hair, eyelashes and eyebrows.” Duh…and the question came from a female therapist.

I know she was only trying to push my ego and trying to get me to see a person’s physical looks don’t really count in the scheme of life, it is what we possess inside those matters; but I wasn’t buying it. I’m not sure 15 years later I buy Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield either thus my dilemma in explaining it to people who don’t know me or what I’ve lost career wise as a public speaker in shedding my beautiful hair, long eyelashes and perfectly shaped (never tweezed once) eyebrows now that I’m totally bald with the disease.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – 2019

How do you get a corporation to see you just want to feel like an average female without double looks, questions about having cancer or chemotherapy, ignoring kids exclaiming they saw a bald man in the woman’s bathroom, and waking up each morning to a foreign identity? Simply, you can’t explain what looking good means, you have to feel it. How will an insurance company ever feel my need? Perhaps only if every person who worked for them got alopecia and had to face their own vanity issues in the morning sunlight?

I bike every day to escape feeling abnormal, to empower myself beyond my looks into trying to transform the physical strength and tone of my body to address my vanity issues. If the people denying the new medicine that brings back hair to a person, could walk in my shoes having sweat drip down their heads in the summer, freeze in their own house in the winter needing to wear a warm ski cap all the time, catch more illnesses from not having nose hair or eyelashes to protect them, maybe they would approve this medicine that is working for alopecia-stricken people like me.

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – 2022

Never wanting to be negative in anything I write, I simply ask you to be aware that sometimes you might not have the power to change your life the way you want because of someone else’s decisions or your own power. Redirecting hope is all you can do at times. My wish for you is if you need to do this in a current situation, you do it successfully.

P.S. When I was Google searching “beauty” images, not one bald woman appeared! Could this be my basis for rejecting the insurance denial and pushing farther to get the medicine approved?

P.S.S. FYI, according to hair regrowth could be within your grasp at 36 weeks – In clinical studies, some adults with severe alopecia areata taking Olumiant achieved 80% scalp hair coverage at 36 weeks. During clinical studies, some adults with severe alopecia areata saw scalp hair coverage of 80% or greater. For those taking Olumiant 4 mg once daily, some even saw 90% or greater scalp hair coverage at 36 weeks.

Wednesday Wisdom: Creative Contests

July 27, 2022

Wednesday Wisdom, Hump Day, Inspiration for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Contests are a bit thrilling to enter, wouldn’t you agree? The idea that a business offers a cool prize for something simple from you gets the mind dreaming. I’m sure there are professional contest entrants who only spend time entering and winning a chance for something of monetary value or an experience to brighten up their lives.

I’ve entered contests before and won like this past February’s trip to the NHL Allstar Game in Las Vegas through a company called Global Citizen which was a random draw winning. Back in Junior High School, I won a poetry contest and had my poem entered into a national book. There wasn’t any prize money, just a boost to my teenage ego. In 2012, I answered a simple Twitter question to win free tickets to see the Dave Matthews Band in New Jersey from a New York City radio station. I had to tell them my favorite song. Go figure, right?

NHL All-Star Game – Las Vegas February 2022 – Photo by Tracy C. Higginbotham

So, when I saw that yesterday #NationalAuntieAnnesDay was trending on Twitter, I discovered @AuntieAnnes was partnering with @CashApp to give away $30,000 from 9 a.m. – 9 p.m. to people who tweeted their names and how they would use the money. That’s a lot of “dough” to give away in a day so I thought, why not try my luck.

Of course, there was catch, you needed to open up a CashApp account so the winnings could be deposited as soon as you won. But hey, for those in need of money, setting up an account wouldn’t be a big deal. It was for me because I didn’t really want to open up an account, but I loved the ingenuity of two major companies working together to cross promote each other, gain new clients, and give away free money.

So, today’s Wednesday Wisdom isn’t meant to have you run out and buy a warm pretzel oozing with salt and butter, but rather for you to contemplate creative ways you could partner with other companies, you trust and align with, to foster a great contest via social media to not only give something away, but to increase your marketing exposure and email list for the busy fall and winter seasons.

Wouldn’t you like to see your company name trending on Twitter one day for doing something both imaginative in your marketing and good for your community? If you need help in dreaming, go out and visit an Auntie Anne’s store today and tell her a woman entrepreneur sent you.

Monday Motivation: What’s the Temperature of Your Business?

July 25, 2022

Monday Motivation, Monday Vibes for Women Entrepreneurs, Small Business, Female Business Owners

As the temperatures rose to the mid-90s last week in Syracuse everyone tried to stay cool in air conditioning and pools and partaking in iced tea and ice cream. There wasn’t much you could do but swelter in the warmth. The heat wave actually made me take the temperature in my business. I was interested in observing whether my business was as hot as the weather outside or as cool as the Freon in the air conditioner.

As entrepreneurs we ride the wave of hot and cold in our ventures. Sometimes our business is on fire – the phone doesn’t stop ringing, the opportunities pile up, our companies are talked about in the community and we’re making good amounts of money. The next moment the atmosphere is chilly – we lose contracts and clients, the phone stops ringing and revenue dries up like our back yard this July.

This week is the perfect time to ponder whether your business has been heating up or cooling down. If it’s heating up, do you know why? Are you prepared to keep doing what you have been doing right to keep the success flowing? Do you have the structure and staff in place to keep up with the pace? Are you celebrating your success and sharing the news with the media?

If it’s cooling down, do you know why? Should you analyze what’s not working and create a plan with improvements? Should you be conducting more sales or publicity to get things heating up again? What needs your attention the most right now to improve your current condition and future?

Today’s blog post is meant to have you stop and take the temperature in your company. What is warming it up and what is cooling it down. Is it your mindset, your structure or the economic climate? What should you do more of or what should you do less of to adjust the temperature to feel more comfortable within your business.

Remember, you can’t control Mother Nature’s thermostat but you can control your entrepreneurial thermostat. If you do it right, you can moderate the atmosphere making it extremely enjoyable and comfortable.

For the Love of Sports: Kayaking Inspiration

July 21, 2022

Thursday Vibes, Thursday Morning for Women Entrepreneurs and Women Who Love Sports

Glass is an unnoticeable entity unless you are missing it from a window. I dare say the sense of glass is most noticeable on early summer lake mornings when the tiniest ripples are ever so slightly seen.

Growing up on Lake Delta,  I witnessed within a year, summer, day and even hour how the changing of the wind speed and direction occurs multiple times during the day as I sat on my dock watching it; so early morning lake time was always best for water activities.

The beauty of kayaking with a light weight plastic solo boat is particularly breathtaking on harmonious mornings when the wind is dead, except for a bare moment of time when God knows you need a splash of it to refresh, and then there it is. Gliding along on water’s top edge as yellow-bellied carp jump up to catch flies for breakfast, black birds dip and dive to catch the same flies, and white cottonwood fluffs drift down gently to settle on the water without sinking, is a reason to take up kayaking.

Other times, like with my friend Stacey Murphy, you can kayak on a wild, windy day where the waves are more like ocean-size ones pushing you back rather than forward, giving hearts and arms an excellent workout and spirits an adventure. Never fearful of falling in, you just “ride with it” until you pass the high watery peaks or decide to relent and head into the river, that feeds the lake, onto calmer surfaces. But what fun is that really when unexpected turbulence leads to belly laughter and water-soaked clothes?

What I love most about kayaking, or any boating for that matter, is the freedom I feel on the surface of water, as if my body which is made up of more water than substance resides peacefully there. Whether it was sailing by myself in high school or now kayaking alone or with others, there is a tranquility to the experience every time.

This morning I kayaked much farther than I first imagined as the beauty of the glide and peacefulness of being alone doing something athletic propelled me further. Only when my arms and shoulders got tired after an hour did I turn around to go back regretting the decision as soon as I made it. Where else would I find harmony like this in my day?

I knew the answer as I lifted my kayak onto solid ground and carried its heavy weight back to my car. There wouldn’t be the exact feeling unless I wrote about the experience to inspire others to try this peaceful sport along nature’s finest waterways where they can find harmony themselves.

Wednesday Wisdom: Summer Business Mornings

July 20, 2022

Wednesday Wisdom, Inspiration, Motivation for Women Entrepreneurs, Female Business Owners, Small Businesses

Onondaga Lake Kayaking Morning

As the dark coffee grinds settle to the bottom of my French Press awaiting hot water to transform them into a fresh, tasty sip of goodness, the humid breeze rushes through my kitchen window carrying the scent of basil and tomato plants outside of it. A purple butterfly flitters by as I looked through the pane as I gently push the top of the press down into the glass container mixing with the grinds. “Ooh, summer business mornings are really good,” I say to myself.

Looking for inspiration for today’s “wisdom,” I check the weather forecast, see no chance of rain (even though it wouldn’t matter to my athletic spirit if there was some), drink my coffee and throw my bike in my car. Adorned in pink so I can TikTok a message to my friends with cancer, I drove to my favorite lakeside bike trail and make my video, upload it, and bike for 45 glorious minutes taking in the smell of the water, missing the geese strolling slowly in my path, and nodding periodically to another biker with my bald head and Ray Bans. “Aah, summer business mornings are really good,” I once again say to myself.

Onondaga Lake West Trail Biking Morning

Around 10 a.m. when my morning mental and health check are done, I turn on my computer and type away this message for you today. Why write a Wednesday Wisdom on a Wednesday if you feel inspired to write it on a Tuesday? Answering business email requests and phone calls fell into line after the writing, and there was still time in the day to contemplate writing some more since checking social media showed numerous members off enjoying vacations. 

So this particular Wednesday Wisdom, born on a beautiful summer morning, is to remind you that entrepreneurship is different in the summer so if you’ve delayed your own daily health or mental routine to soak in the goodness of the season, reset your soul, stimulate your mind, or purely enjoy friends or family at poolside visits that can only occur this time of year, realize you are missing out. Guilt doesn’t work well when the sun is shining. Staring at the phone to ring for a new contract doesn’t happen if clients are on vacation. Wishing for a rainy day so you can do more work, is wishing away this exceptional time of year. Don’t do it. Change your thinking.

Onondaga Lake – July 2022

Not long until you see winter jackets hanging in the stores, school buses practicing runs, green lawns turning yellow as they age, and the calendar flipping to Labor Day weekend. Don’t blow the best, and sometimes, most fruitful time of year to fill yourself up with all that is essential – coffee, poolside sips, writing, biking, swimming, eating with friends – because summer business is such a short lived gift. Enjoy it.  

Tuesday Thoughts: Keep Moving Forward

July 19, 2022

Tuesday Thoughts, Inspiration, Motivation for Women, Female Entrepreneurs, Sister Business Owners

As I watched a television series come to an end, a major character, who was dark and cruel, admits that one crucial decision he made twenty years prior set him on a life of bad choices. One critical moment created the trajectory of the rest of his actions and decisions. With heavy regret, he realized if he was more mindful about that choice and let it ‘go’ years ago he would have had a better life.  He wished he had been “forward thinking” instead of stuck in the past.

After reading a short story on survival, a woman who had tragic and unexpected circumstances occur in her life talks about her will and determination to go on. She said, “Every morning I woke up (literally and figuratively), put my feet on the floor, took a deep breath, fixed breakfast and did everything I always did. I used my routine to keep me moving. I continued moving forward.”

As women entrepreneurs we have experienced tough entrepreneurial moments when we’ve lost a client, made a poor decision, experienced a regretful moment, or lost faith in ourselves. The question is, “Have we let that moment, that event, that decision, affect us and our business negatively or positively?” Like the first character, have we remained stuck in a bad decision from years ago that still influence or harm us? Or like the second character, have we moved forward from a bad situation knowing the only way to move on is to go forward?
Today remind yourself that what matters most is the fact we cannot go back and change our past – past decisions, poor choices, or wrong turns. We must continually think and move forward realizing we are always given opportunities to advance ourselves. It is up to us to set the goals, devise the strategy and most importantly control the way we think so we can move forward freely and at peace.

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