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Edwin Binney, along with his cousin, C. Harold Smith,  formed Binney & Smith in 1885. The company created many things, like a new type of black coloring used to make black car tires and later school supplies.  But at the gentle nudge of Edwin’s wife, a school teacher, Binney & Smith did the unthinkable.  In 1903, they created a better and cheaper crayon that was easier for children to use.* Prior to that, children used lumps of colored clay or chalk to draw.  And although Binney & Smith didn’t actually create crayons, they did give children eight colorful possibilities enclosed in a little yellow box that unleashed infinite possibilities.

In today’s business environment, it seems hard to come up with fresh new ideas.  So much has already been done.  To a small business owner with limited resources, this task can feel overwhelming.  Though challenging, if you equip yourself with a written plan and a purpose, there is light at the end of the tunnel.  First, take a little pressure off of yourself. You don’t have to re-invent the wheel with your business idea, necessarily. But, you do have to spin that wheel differently in order to make an impact that will resonate well with your prospects. Do what your competitors are not doing. That involves research – studying the competition.  Have a written plan of attack and execute it.

To help get you started, ask yourself these questions:

  • Who is doing what I do now? 
  • If I’m really honest, are they doing a good job?
  • What are they NOT doing?
  • How can I do this better?

If you take the time to answer these questions in-depth, you should have a pretty good idea of your value proposition. Now, that you’ve found that hook, determine the bait you’ll need to draw them in? You have to adapt here as well. Look at how social media has changed the way companies market to customers.  It’s no longer interruptive but engaging. It’s not so much about how many dials made or mail pieces sent, but how many relationships are built and connections made.  Social media didn’t creating marketing, believe it or not.  Social media has, just as Binney & Smith did, however, improved upon a platform that was not keeping pace with current and future wants/needs. 

Each year, Binney & Smith make well over three billion crayons, enough to go around the world six times.*  Now its your turn.

 **Support Local Businesses: Nashville Geek.  Owner: Andrea Farr.


*Source: Lives and Times: Edwin Binney – The Founder of Crayola Crayons by Jennifer Blizin Gillis

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