Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - # 9 Live Storefront

This is the ninth & final posting in the "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities. With this posting you have at last the complete Cliff’s Notes version of the story of American Antiquities, for now … Watch for future postings announcing a free DVD summarizing 1 through 9 & more exciting innovations.

This last note for now in our series involves a service for allowing anyone who has access to the Internet to browse your business as though they were in the building. We call it "Live Storefront" & you can preview how it works from the index page. Click on "Live Storefront" & take control of a pan, tilt & zoom video camera & browse one of the rooms of our shop. We plan to announce the availability of this new service in the Spring/Summer 2010 edition of The American Antiquities Journal, which will hit the street in April. Imagine making money while you sleep by having your business open 24 hours a day, seven days a week with no payroll!

One word of caution, as is the case with most interactive services on the Net, "Live Storefront" works best with high-speed connections.


The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #8 Dot Com Boom # 2

This is the eighth in our series of postings & covers a period of time near where we are today at American Antiquities. We were & are doing so much it is not possible to convey in one sitting the scope of our services to existing customers, let alone new prospects. The non-option of cutting back to a simpler service in the middle of Dot Com Boom # 2 seems a sure plan for disaster, so we decided to use all the new interactive information services to spin the story of American Antiquities … the "Spin Zone." See Facebook, Twitter, You Tube, & our website for the whole story.

If you are operating an ongoing business & take the time to suffer through this series of text & video messages, you will find something to help your business do better. I literally guarantee it … see our warranty at the bottom of the page "Our Bottom Line for Improving Your Bottom Line" on the index page.

Trust me, we are not going through this "Spin Zone" rigmarole because we think we’re cute or clever … we are simply trying to convey on a clear, concise & contemporary manner who we are & what we do, for both your & our benefit. That’s the way it works the best. We both contribute to each other’s success symbiotically.


The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #7 Run Early – Use GPS

This is the seventh in our series of postings in the "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities. This episode deals with the trials & tribulations of travel … something with which I have extensive experience. For the record, just since the start of business December 1993, I have worn out nearly four vehicles driving more than one million miles soliciting business & delivering publications for American Antiquities. I have been lost in every major city within 600 miles of Springfield OH, &, unlike most males now understand it’s OK to stop & ask directions. Driving in an unfamiliar locale at night looking for a destination you have never before visited, using only a map to guide you can be very trying.

You may recall (See posting # 2) the original & overarching reason for The American Antiquities Journal was to help customers find you. Over the years we have upgraded & reorganized our Antique America inset maps to make them better, & until a few years ago they were the best we had to offer. Now we have two more print media publications, GPS Antique Atlas & GPS Atlas, & two websites GPSantiqueatlas.com & GPSatlas.com & offer on demand browsable CDs of both sites that are updated.

I cannot exaggerate the time, energy & money savings I enjoy using GPS when I am on the road. Handheld GPS units have been one of the most popular gift items for several years & use of the technology is growing in popularity as the concept spreads to cell phones & other devices. As usual, we were the first to see this coming & offer you a way to tap into it.


The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #6 ASK American Antiquities

This is the sixth in our series of "Spin Zone" postings & deals with the two-year period just after adjusting to cure our first bout with growing pains. The extra time we created for ourselves was used as planned to grow market share & expand our geographic footprint. That was the easy part.

The hard part was coming up with something sufficiently beneficial to offset the loss of contact we suffered by switching from a monthly to a quarterly. We clearly understood the parallel & complementary nature of our magazine & our website, & the importance of our shop to test the effectiveness of any new features. As we pondered options for the best next step, we decided to make our website more accessible.

We did so by building four ASK machines (Advertising & Sales Kiosks). We placed them at high traffic antiques malls throughout our market area & moved them regularly for maximum exposure. Keep in mind, the Internet was in its early years & few malls had Internet access & virtually no small shop had computers, let alone Internet access. We therefore out of necessity configured our ASK machines to operate without Internet access by utilizing a zip drive to provide a snapshot view of our website. We updated the zip disc often, but were looking forward to the day we could provide live Internet access via our kiosks … but that’s a subject for future postings. For then, we enjoyed the cutting edge advantage our ASK machines provided.


Friday, February 5, 2010

The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #5 Growing Pains

This is the fifth in a series of "Spin Zone" postings & deals with our first set of important decisions precipitated by the way we were doing business. The problem arose because of our success, but could have been very harmful to our business if we had not made some adjustments. The crux of our dilemma was how do we continue to grow geographically & expand our client base & serve our clients as a monthly "street sheet?" i.e. hand-carry our publication to our clients & use them as distribution points to target the market.

We were at that time working in six states & running out of time to do all we need to do to operate as usual & grow. We were suffering growing pains.

The solution to the situation in which we found ourselves was threefold.
# 1 We switched from a monthly to a quarterly publication.
# 2 We upgraded our publication from a colorless loose-leaf tabloid newspaper to a tabloid magazine, stitched & trimmed with a full color front & back covers.
# 3 We used the extra time allowed by the changes to think even further outside the box for ways to better serve our customers, clients, readers & browsers.

See further postings for examples.


The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #4 Our Rapid Growth

This is the fourth in this series of postings to help you understand our services.  Although we are not at the midpoint of our message, I would like to pause and reflect on where we were in our evolution at that point in time.

The time was early 1994.  We had just established a working model of our entire business plan, and were poised to impress the market with the most cost-effective, interactive, multi-media marketing service available … all we needed to do was spread the word.

For the remainder of 1994 & most of 1995 our focus was to grow our market share & expand our market footprint.  We did so by hiring sales & distribution personnel, who not only accomplished our primary goals, but also provided valuable information about others in the market.  By year-end 1995 we had blanketed Ohio & grown into the five states that border Ohio.

During that same period we added features in our print media & experimented with imaginative ways to utilize the Internet to incorporate immediacy into our service.  The titles of some of the new features were the Events Calendar, More Select Internet Sites Directory, Snapshot Gallery, Shows Section, Fairs & Festivals, & Antique America.  Some of our early ideas regarding the Internet are still in the offing, but we were among the first to offer a password-accessed & managed WebStore in the form of a web page on our website.  The WebStore project was put on hold for lack of demand, but future postings will reveal other exciting Internet innovations.

Long story short, we found our legs quickly in the media business & used them effectively to jump ahead of our contemporaries & lead the industry.  We plan to maintain our advantage by constantly looking for creative ways to better serve our customers, clients, readers, & browsers.


Click here to view the video

Monday, February 1, 2010

The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #3 Our Website

This is the third in a series of postings which will eventually detail all our services in the order in which they were developed, so you might see the logic & enjoy the benefit of what we do.  Almost at the same time we saw the need for The American Antiquities Journal, we saw the need for AmericanAntiquities.com.  We were ahead of the curve in 1993 and have maintained our leadership to the present.  We are rarely at a loss for ways to challenge ourselves & have over the years tried & tested & accepted & rejected many ideas … the subject of which is for future videos & blogs.

For now the groundwork has been laid with our shop, The American Antiquities Gallery, our publication, The American Antiquities Journal, & our website AmericanAntiquities.com.

Go here to watch this video

The "Spin Zone" at American Antiquities - #2 Our First Print Publication

This is the second in a series of  postings we are making to explain in detailed & digestible form who we are & what we do at American Antiquities.  The subject of this posting is The American Antiquities Journal and, in particular how it came about & what it is meant to do.
The idea of The Journal occurred to us shortly after we opened our shop, The American Antiquities Gallery, due to most of our customers asking if we knew of other shops like ours in the area.  More often than not, they would also ask if we could recommend a good place to eat or spend the night.  Many would also be curious about other points of interest, such as museums, art galleries, & historic sites.  Long story short, we recognized very shortly after opening our shop, an opportunity to start a parallel & complementary business to serve an industry that benefited more than any I know from networking.  Thus was born, Dec 93, The American Antiquities Journal.

Go here to watch the video