Archive for July, 2010

Axxess Adds More Than 50 to the Next Edition

Friday, July 30th, 2010
Axxess Rewards is kind of like this!

Axxess Rewards is kind of like this!

Despite a somewhat tough economy out there I’m excited to publish our 12th Edition this upcoming October and can guarantee you it’s again another amazing membership – filled with hundreds of merchants and some amazing offers.

The past two years have been particularly hard on small businesses, certainly nationwide and definitely in our community. State street and Calle Real both have numerous vacancies – many of which were home to previous Axxess merchants. (About 20 of our clients are no longer in business!) And while the growth of new business is not as solid as years past, there is still growth and that’s important to recognize. Actually “growth” might not be as accurate as saying there is still “new life” because there are new businesses still opening up. So despite closures and much talk of sluggish sales, you can look forward to over 50 new business participants in the 2011 Axxess Book. (For you foodies, a few new additions include: Piatti’s, Roy, Billies, Chino’s Rock & Tacos and many more)

Some of these are new businesses while others are established businesses that have been around for years. All of them recognize the need for a steady local clientele and that’s where you come in to this story. Local merchants need your patronage now more than ever and many of them are willing to earn it – by offering an exclusive incentive to you – the Axxess Cardholder.

So try some new places and find some new favorites – break out of your normal habits and turn that Axxess Card into Swiss cheese! For a list of most new merchants that already have current offers visit our new online merchant directory. And when you go to these places don’t forget to tell us about it, we’ll even give you some free stuff for doing so.  Every time you do, you’ll also be automatically entered to win Axxess Dinner & A Show – a $50 restaurant gift certificate and 2 tickets to a performing arts show!

Where’s the Beef?

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010

The best time to step it up is when others are scaling back. When your competition reduces their advertising budget, that is the time for you to increase yours.

Two years ago, after our 9th Edition – we lost 74 of our 365 advertising merchants…a whopping 20%! And it hurt. It was cause for concern but we didn’t freak out. Instead I hired more salespeople, invested in more advertising (did you see our “recession proof” ads on the MTD buses?)

"Recession Proof" bus backs in 2009

"Recession Proof" bus backs in 2009

and built an entirely new website. The result was the most kick ass program we had ever done – our 10th Edition. And, we had our highest grossing year and our most profitable.

This approach was far from conservative but it wasn’t crazy, it was well thought out and well executed. Our “competition” was losing advertisers and was therefore scaling back. While they we’re moving backwards we moved forwards.

Whatever it is you do for a living, consider that point and recognize that now is the time to stand out! It’s not easy but it’s doable. (& for more on this, read the book The Purple Cow)

This year Axxess is launching an iPhone application. It wasn’t cheap for us to build but we’re committed to adding value to our merchants and to our members and this was another way for us to do that.

We created the Rewards Program, which has really started to take off. Locally there’s nothing like it and again, it’s us stepping it up to deliver more value to you.

These investments have only benefited our company and further separated us from the “competition”, therefore passing the litmus test question of “Hey, where’s the Beef?”

PS – iPhone app coming October, stay tuned.

No one’s down with Debbie Downer

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

Last week a friend of mine who lives in San Jose casually mentioned to me that he reads my blog and has done so not just once but each week. I was totally surprised and somewhat flattered too. This guy is pretty busy executive yet he finds a few minutes to actually read what I have to say? Unbelievable!

Since I never reveal my sources let’s call this guy “Tim”.

"Tim" can't stop talking about the Axxess Guy Blog

"Tim" can't stop talking about the Axxess Guy Blog

Tim reminded me of how public blogs are and that you never know who could be reading it. He went on to express his opinion that my blog always seems so negative. Really? But I’m probably the most enthusiastic high energy optimist I know! I went to the blog and tried to re-read previous posts with an objective eye but unfortunately I found that Tim was right. Sorry guys.

I try to talk about things that are relevant and interesting and in doing so I attempt to be funny and real.  It”s a balancing act in which my sarcasm often comes across more negatively than I intend, and just like the mass media – the good stuff often isn’t that interesting.

So “Tim” and the rest of you – I’ll put myself back in check. Hopefully, you agree that my photos are funny? Anyway, Thanks to Tim for pointing this out and setting me straight.

Is Social media really that social?

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010
Today's drug of choice by most

Today's drug of choice by most

Sometimes I feel pretty out of it when it comes to technology. I don’t have an iPhone (yet) and I barely use any of the features on my blackberry. I have accounts on facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter but I rarely login to them and when I do, I have no idea what I’m looking at or how to use the sites. I don’t even know why I have a twitter account because I don’t think I’ve ever used it. Maybe Jessica in my office is using it to send out Axxess announcements? Yes, now I recall that must be it.

Somehow these crazy sites know people who know people who somehow may know me. No doubt it’s cool, but do I really want to be “friends” with someone who I’m really not friends with? It’s kind of ridiculous. Yes – I do like to revisit old memories and see what people I’ve lost touch with are up to, but if it were important to keep in touch with them then I why didn’t I?

One hurdle for me is time. I simply don’t have a half hour a day to play around on facebook and I wonder why people I know, some of whom I respect post things like “doing laundry, then off to Trader Joe’s!” or “Happy Monday” – honestly, who gives a sh@!? Really? Don’t you have something better to do?!  And the concept of the facebook “wall” is still very confusing to me.

The more important issue to me is that much of today’s technology, although cool , entertaining and convenient has replaced real human interaction. For example, I have a client who I cannot seem to reach on the phone to make an appointment, yet she’ll text me all the time. Another client sends me messages through facebook only, and since I check my facebook about once a month I often am a little late responding to her. She sent me a message in February saying let’s meet next week to talk about the Axxess ad. I finally saw the message in April and when I responded (by calling her) she was perplexed at why I hadn’t responded sooner. I guess I didn’t realize that for many people the facebook message feature is as real and utilized as email and phone.

Email I obviously can’t live without but it should not be a substitution for real interaction. If someone is upset with me, my staff or something my company has done and emails me I don’t email them back. I pick up the phone and talk to them. And if it’s a client, I get in the car and drive over to them. Nothing can or ever will replace direct human contact.

Furthermore, most of us are not able to type 300 words per minute. So a basic email between colleagues might take me 15 minutes to type while a phone call to discuss the topic would only need 4 minutes. I think people have forgotten this and become too accustomed to the new technologies. I can be more articulate in an email but tone is hard to read and I certainly can’t be as charismatic – that I can only accomplish in person!

Lastly, I think email or these other forms are often a cop-out. For example, a man meets a woman at a bar and they exchange info. The next day instead of calling her he texts her. The texting goes on for a week or two before they actually talk and that point he asks her out. What a panzy. Get her number and call her!

Regardless, the technology is now so advanced and changing so quickly that as a member of this society and particularly if you’re in business – you must keep up & learn these new ways of communicating or you may as well get lost. I just hope that as we do, we stay “unaddicted” and we try to use the technologies consciously – d0ing our best not to lose the one thing we as people thrive on – direct human interaction.