By Mike Dupuy
As a presenter and public figure, I have often been invited to share my experiences as a falconer or, as falconry is sometimes called, “advanced bird watching,” for businesses and non-profits whose customers/members have an interest in Birds of Prey. After over twenty years of presenting these type of programs, I thought I would share some of my observations relevant to marketing.
One, programs that cater to the core interest of a niche such as “interest in birds” benefit by creating a feedback loop with their constituent group. This is done by filling a need – the need is one of connection and understanding by your customers in their area of interest, BIRDS. Customers are people and people are always looking for information that adds value to their lives, this need also applies to hobbies and interest. When a store advertises that a falconer and Bird of Prey expert will be coming to “their” store to share information and provide the community a chance to see a raptor up-close, that fills a need.
By filling that need, the store reinforces its relationship with the customer and nature, simultaneously, creating added value.
Two, keeping relevant does not always mean what one might think at first glance. Say you own or operate a wild bird store, don’t assume that your customers would not be interested in some other aspect of the natural world. For example while doing a program at a wild bird store 20 years ago, there was another presenter doing a program on bee-keeping. I had long had an interest in beekeeping (many falconers I know have dabbled in it), so that program added value to my life and got me on my way to buying my first bee hive. Now I would not recommend doing a program on say baseball, but who is to say you could not start a craze of baseball style cards that have a bird on each with pictures of said bird and their natural history. Doing a program on, as an example, “increases in electric energy cost” might be a bust, but a “green” program like backyard solar solutions might peak your customers interest. The point is think outside the box, but make sure you don’t loose sight of who your customers are.
Third, make the experience “Sticky.” Okay so you have paid me a fee to come to your store and share my birds and experiences with your customers. You have advertised the event and get a nice turnout, but have you made the event “stick” in people’s minds as having been YOUR event? I always encourage my customers to buy a product I provide at cost, this product is a bookmark with a picture of me holding a bird in a public venue, a catchy image of a Bird of Prey and my contact information. This may seem self serving, and it is to an extent, but the reverse side of the bookmark has “your store” information on it, your hours of operation, your logo, your website, your phone number, the Facebook slug, whatever you want. Many people who contact me regarding programs say, when asked how they heard of me, reply, “I got your bookmark….” My bookmarks always reference how reading a book turned me on to falconry (relevant), parents usually encourage reading (positive), perhaps you could donate a hundred bookmarks to your local library after the event, I hand out leftover bookmarks because they are still relevant (free advertising). You can stick a bookmark in every customers bag. Yes, the program is over, but they will see that your store sometimes puts on interesting programs (“I’ll have to keep that in mind.”). Several of my customers have adopted my idea, but do not include the images of me or my birds (the very things that make the bookmark relevant). These store owners think they have taken a better path, but the problem is, no one really wants these “bland” bookmarks. Quite often when doing programs for Scouts or school children, they will line up for me to autograph my bookmarks. I suspect people use the bookmarks when reading and think back to that guy who had that hawk at their bird store – “That was fun, I wonder if they have anything else going on like that?”
The last piece of advice on keeping it “sticky” is inviting the press for your program. Local papers are always on the prowl for soft news and great images. I have been on the cover of many local newspapers. I have arrived at venues to find a major network camera crew waiting for me. Here is how you do it: call the media outlet and ask for the assignment editor, our the photo editor (they are the ones looking for images – and when I say I will be their with a hawk with a 3 foot wingspan, they love it). Your customers will come in for the next few weeks, saying I saw your store was in the paper – I wish I had known about that my son loves hawks…. (get them on your email list). The difference between a grade of A and a B can only be one point, when you invest in a program go the extra few inches to make it sticky.
When the hawk grabs its prey it does not let go, your version of that is to be the vendor that fills a need, that is relevant, adds value, and, most of all, is sticky. Think about it, what makes a bird comeback to the bird feeder?
By Shani and Jon Friedman
According to Nature’s grand design, hummingbirds have evolved so that their entire body form and purpose assists their ability to forage effectively. This accounts for their remarkable flying abilities (they can fly forward, backward, sideways, straight down and straight up, and hold their exact position while hovering), the development of their wings and muscular structure which enables that flight, and their tiny legs and feet. Of course, the bill has evolved as a highly specialized tool, which enables them to forage very efficiently on particular flowers and preferred foods.
Flying and Use of Feet
The details of the mechanisms of hummingbird flight are better addressed in a separate article, but it should be understood that their special abilities of flight help them in many ways. The ability to fly in almost direction, and to hover, is of critical concern when it comes to foraging. And, concerning their tiny feet, the primary uses of the feet are for perching and preening. Rarely does another purpose come into play. The rare exceptions come from observations of South American hummingbirds that are primarily insectivorous and use their feet for very short distances in their search for insects on the forest floor. Even when a perching hummingbird wants to turn around 180 degrees, it flies straight up, turns in mid-air, and lands in the desired position.
There is general agreement among ornithologists that certain nectar producing flowers have evolved along with hummingbirds, resulting in flowers whose general shapes and sizes accommodate the particular characteristics of the hummingbird’s bill size and shape. Hummingbird bills are as distinctive as the flowers upon which they feed. The size of the bills ranges from 1/2″ to equal to their total body length (from tip of bill to tip of tail). They range from very straight to extremely curved. As is true with many hummingbirds that are generalist feeders (meaning they can forage on a variety of flowers), other hummers are much more specific in the flowers they use. Generally, the specialists have the more uncommon, highly curved bills to enable them to reach nectar that other birds and insects would otherwise be unable to see or reach. Almost all flowers on which hummingbirds forage lack a landing place or perch from which the hummer can reach the nectar. For this reason, they depend on their ability to hover and feed. (It’s believed that feeders with perches enable the hummers to conserve more energy than expended while foraging flowers).
The differences in hummingbird bill curvature and length vary greatly, but among the most widespread hummers of temperate North America, this diversity is less apparent than in the hummingbirds of the tropics. Hummers and flowers found closer to the equator have greater diversity and numbers than those further from the equator.
Among North American hummingbirds, the tiny male calliope has a bill about 9/16 of an inch long while the female Black-chinned’s bill can exceed 3/4 inch in length. Female hummingbirds often have slightly longer bills than males. Among tropical hummingbirds, the variety of bill lengths and curvature is enormous. In length they range from the four inch shaft of the Sword-billed (video), nearly as long as its body and tail together, to the abbreviated bill of the Purple-backed thornbill (video), only 5/16 inch long. In curvature they range from the upturned bills of the Fiery-tailed awlbill and Mountain avocetbill to the strongly down curved bill of the White-tipped sicklebill (video), which is shaped like a crescent moon. Their names – Saw-billed hermit, Western Long-tailed Hermit (video), Hook-billed hermit, Green-fronted lancebill (video), etc. – suggest the individual forms of many other hummingbird bills.
Observing a hummer’s tongue while it feeds at flowers is nearly impossible. However, at backyard nectar feeders, close focusing binoculars greatly make this observation possible. Hummers insert their tongues into nectar at a rate of around 13 times a second! For many decades it was assumed that hummers lap up nectar with their long tongues. More recently, it was thought that some sort of capillary action was the mechanism that allowed hummers to feed on nectar. In 2011, even newer research was posted to the Internet.
If this research is correct, the tongue is split into two parts at its end. Each half is lined with hair-like appendages called lamellae. As the hummer extends its tongue, the lamellae capture tiny amounts of nectar. Then when the tongue is withdrawn into the bill, the nectar is mechanically carried into the bird as the lamellae are compressed.
Hummingbirds do not live on nectar alone. In fact, they consume considerable quantities of insects. Insects insure vitamins, minerals, amino acids, animal proteins, fiber, and essential oils in their daily diet. In places where nectar is not available at all times, most hummers switch to an insect diet.
The bill and tongue play a role in foraging for insects. Hummers glean insects in several ways. Some are caught in the lamellae of the tongue when ingesting nectar. Other insects are gleaned from various plants. Hovering around the bark of a tree or other plant (tree tobacco here in Arizona is a good example) hummers find minute insects that occupy niches other birds could not reach or find. Hummers search the rough texture of the plant or tree. Because they can hover and fly upside down, they explore the underside surfaces of leaves that might otherwise go unnoticed. Hummingbirds find spider webs and eat the insects caught in the web or even the spider itself. Spiders are, in fact, the major insect in their diet and baby spiders are preferred. On occasion, a spider’s web fatally traps hummers who then become a food source for the spider.
When insect hatches are plentiful, hummingbirds hawk tiny insects, like gnats and mosquitoes, on the fly – not unlike the flycatchers. While most flycatchers are equipped with stiff “whiskers” to assist in trapping insects in mid-air, they also have wide mouths to help ensure successful hunting. Hummingbirds don’t have these adaptations. Instead, they rely on their superb flight control. They outmaneuver and pursue insects until they catch them.
Hummers have often been seen frequenting the holes made by sapsuckers. They adeptly pick out insects trapped in the oozing sap. Some have seen hummers actually lick the sap as an important source of needed nutrients.
The tongues and bills of hummingbirds are as unique as their flying ability. Even though they are the smallest of birds, they are so well constructed, designed and adapted to their surroundings that they inhabit nearly all of the Americas. Their very existence makes the impossible seem possible.
Shani and Jon Friedman are owners of The Wild Bird Store in Tucson, Arizona. We thank them for allowing us to share this wonderfully written article with our readers.
Should you wish to use any part of the article, please contact Shani or Jon for permission.
This is the last in a four part series about branding your store. To recap just a bit, “branding” incorporates everything there is about your store’s image. It’s not just the logo, but the image that is carried through in the overall look of your store, and even the look of your employees.
In this final section we are actually going to talk about two things: merchandise display and employees and your brand.
Having Display Options is important. There are displays that you purchase, and those that are offered by vendors as an incentive to purchase more of their product.
You can’t blame vendors for wanting you to carry a full line of their products. The good thing about that is the look is cohesive and usually attractive. But the remaining displays can build up and become a nuisance when you have to move on and try something new. Here are a few key questions to ask yourself when deciding whether it’s worth it or not:
If it can be reused in the store, then it might be worth having around. Is your stockroom clogged with displays that you might like to use, but not right now? Let’s clean up the joint! Get rid of displays that really won’t be that useful or attractive. For those that can be reused, find another place for them. We had an inexpensive storage space, but lots of store owners use their garage.
(P.S. If your garage currently holds a lot of displays – maybe it’s time for spring cleaning. Go through them and decide if some can be discarded, sold or otherwise taken out.)
Oh, my goodness, is there a lot to choose from! Hopefully, when you first opened your store you made good choices by installing slatwall and finding displays that give you lots of options.
We always liked Maine Bucket Company. They offer lots of ideas that gave our store a nature/outdoors-y look. We used barrels for lots of things – mostly seed, though.
Even with Maine Bucket Company, though, be sure you are purchasing display units that will fit properly in your store, and give you options when merchandising. Look for options that will offer flexibility and fit the feeling of your store.
Here are a couple of tips:
Funny how people don’t always like to buy the last one of something, yet they still want to think they have found a one-of-a-kind item that won’t be found in their neighbors yard.
We walk that fine line between these two ideas. For the sake of stocking, don’t forget if you have another of something that is displayed on the floor. Likewise, when it’s the last one – that’s a good thing! There won’t be one in every yard on the block!
Purchase a piece of lattice at Home Depot and have them cut it in half for you. Then, get extra strength fishing line and ceiling hooks (whichever kind you need for your ceiling).
Hang the lattice pieces from the ceiling using a double strand of fishing line from each corner. Now, use hooks of varying lengths from Erva to hang merchandise. For a really great look, hang merchandise from fishing line as well, using only a small hook on the bottom. It’s a great clean look.
We used to display a few things in birdbaths. They are so easy to do that with – perfect height, holding just a few things.
Careful not to display too many things in birdbaths, though. Remember that the bath is for sale too, so you don’t want to detract from it’s appearance by filling them up with too many things.
If possible, try to carry your branding through to you and your employees. Shirts carrying your logo or, at least, store name on them offer a look that is consistent.
On a different note, one of my best friends and a store owner in Utah is fond of wearing a birding vest and a particular hat. Everyone in town knows him as the “bird man” of that town because of his consistent, personally branded appearance.
Hope this series has been useful. As always, call me if I can help!
By Marsha Pearson
This post is especially for users of Constant Contact. One of the best reasons to send an email is to get in touch with as many people as possible. In today’s social world, it’s a good idea to be able to encourage your email readers to easily “share” your email information in as many ways as possible.
Constant Contact is a great company to work with because they already see the value in social sharing and they realize that nowadays people share, not just by forwarding emails to friends, but by sharing on Facebook, Twitter, and occasionally other social websites. They also realize that some people don’t want to socially share emails, so you have an option NOT to share it.
The truth is, though, as retailers, it’s always a good idea to give customers as many opportunities as possible to share the information you are offering with friends. With Constant Contact, you can easily add Social Share Links right to the top of each email that you send, giving customers the options you want them to have.
Here’s how you do it:
1. When you are on the edit screen, that is, the screen on which the email content (body) is edited, you will notice a “Message Options” button right at the top right, next to the “Save” button.
2. Click on the button, and a pop-up screen will open. Check the box next to the “Social Share Links” and click “OK”.
3. To see how this will look in your email, go to the “Preview” screen. You will note the small bar of buttons that will appear at the top of your sent emails, giving customers a chance to easily share the email on social media sites.
NOTE: One final point, I have noticed that, as you copy your “master” or other email, you will have to re-select the option each time. I have sent a note to Constant Contact and hope that they will change this so that, if you make a master email form and select the social options, it will still be selected on a copy.
As always, I’m here to help! As a business partner with Constant Contact, I can answer all of your questions and help you get the most out of your email campaigns. Just CONTACT ME or call me at 215-392-4850.
Do you know a great nature photographer?
Lynx Edicions, publisher of the Handbook of the Birds of the World and the Internet Bird Collection, announces the launch of the First Edition of the HBW World Bird Photo Contest, created with the aspiration of becoming the most important bird photography competition at the world level. The contest aims to encourage and disseminate knowledge about birds, while at the same time inspiring creativity in the art of photography. To these ends, its focus is on photography that is ethical, grounded in the utmost respect for the conservation of birds and their habitats, and without unnecessary digital manipulation.
The jury will select 3 winning photos, 10 honourable mentions and 4 special prizes.
OPEN FOR ENTRIES THROUGH MAR – 26 – 2012
Top prize is $10,000.
This video was shared by Jon and Shani Friedman, owners of The Wild Bird Store in Tucson, AZ. The photography is astounding and I am sure that you won’t be able to resist watching the entire thing.
With Earth Day on the horizon, please feel free to reshare this with your customers. They will absolutely love it!