Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Marketing Your Small Business during Christmas

4 Marketing Tips You can Use this Holiday Season

Christmas can be a make or break
season for many small business owners
Believe it or not, Christmas is right around the corner and Thanksgiving and Black Friday are closer than we think. Although it may seem too early to begin holiday marketing, now is the time to start advertising your business and any holiday sales you may have coming down the pipeline. But, before sending yourself and your marketing team into a tailspin to get the process going, here are some marketing tips that can help get you and your business ready for the fast approaching holiday season.

Always Plan Ahead

While it may seem too late to dive into a full blown holiday marketing campaign, there is still time to get the most out of the few months you have left before the spending season begins. Just like with any great marketing campaign, it is all about planning ahead. Make sure to have a clear idea of what your message is going to be, who the target audience is, how you are going to market, and what the campaign should achieve before you begin. This does not mean you need to have a fully fleshed out plan with every single detail – as long as the business has a clear idea of where it is headed, the campaign is almost guaranteed to be successful even with only a few short weeks left before the holiday.

Make Sure Your Promotions are Fresh

When you have had successful holiday promotions in the past, it can be easy to send out the same promotions year after year. Business owners like consistency and sending out a recurring promotion every season may seem like a safe bet. The trick to holiday marketing is showing customers something they have never seen before and proving to them that they can benefit from the deals the business is offering. If you are dead set on offering the same deals this season, consider changing up how you market it. Redesign flyers, email, and other materials to grab consumer’s attention and consider adding a little extra giveaway to the deal, like an additional discount or multiple purchase promotion.

Remind Consumers How Much Time they Have Left to Buy

While you do not want to put customers into a panic about the amount of shopping time that is left before the holidays, it may work to your advantage to gently remind them that time is running out. Adding a countdown to your regular marketing flyers or cards and sending out daily social media messaging on Facebook or Twitter about how many days are left to finish their Christmas list is a great way to incite some type of urgency in consumers and get them out into the market to buy, ideally with your business. In conjunction with the countdown, make sure to create a buzz around your specific holiday deals and promotions to bring customers in and get them excited about your offers.

Make Sure to Say Thank You

Creating interest around your holiday promotions and boosting sales during this spending season is important for the business, but so is showing customers that their patronage is appreciated. Christmas and the holiday season is the perfect time to show consumers how much you care about them and how much their business means to you. Make sure to work in sending thank you or holiday cards to your best customers and even consider offering them exclusive deals for their loyalty to the business. This type of appreciation will go a long way, not just during the holidays, but for your business all year round.

Looking for more small business tips? We publish our tips twice weekly. To read more of our small business tips, click here.

*Photo Courtesy of Graham Hills via Creative Commons License

Saturday, October 25, 2014

What to Do with Customer Feedback

How to Properly Review and Act on Customer Feedback

stacy oquinn, dani johnson, small business, home business
Stacy telling his story at First Steps to Success
Gathering feedback from your customers is an important part of growing a business and offering an amazing level of customer service. But, once you have gathered this great information, what do you do with it? Usually, businesses simply share the comments of customers with their employees with hopes that the customer service or a specific area of concern will improve. Although this a great course of action, there is so much more that can be done with this information not just to improve your customer’s experience but also to improve your business and sales across the board.

Compile and Review Your Feedback Information

The first step in truly making the most out of customer feedback is to gather all of the information from all of the different channels and compile it into one place. Find a system that works best for the company when it comes to gathering data from customer surveys, social media, and other informational channels. Once you have all of the information in one place, it is time to really review what consumers are saying. Go through the comments and organize them into different categories – for example, use headings like “product issues,” “customer service,” and “overall experience” to organize the data.

Next, take a close look at any trends that may appear – is there one product in your line-up that seems to be failing over and over again? Is there a flaw in your customer relations department that needs fixeing right away? Are customers frustrated with the accessibility of your website or social media pages? If 10 customers are making the same comment, it is safe to assume that many more of your customers are thinking the same thing. Issues that continue to repeat should be addressed right away to help boost your customer satisfaction and let them know your business is listening to their feedback.

Share Feedback with Employees, Good or Bad

As mentioned earlier, it is a good practice to share customer feedback with your employees, especially those who interact with clients on a regular basis. Do not discriminate between positive and negative feedback – all types of feedback are great for your company, so make sure to share it all with your employees. But, sharing information is more than just forwarding comments on to employees through email. Find a system of sharing that helps employees stay engaged with the process but also shows them that you have reviewed and acknowledged the information you are sharing with them.

Also, make sure to mention the trends you are seeing in the data and suggest or implement ways in which the business and the individual employees can help to improve negative comments or to continue to offer great service that customers have praised the business for in the past. It is also important to share positive feedback to help make employees feel as though they are doing a good job for customers and the company – if a customer calls a specific employee out by name for great customer service, make sure to give special recognition to that individual to help encourage more positive behavior.

Would you like to see more small business tips from Stacy O'Quinn? What?! You have never heard of Stacy? Stacy has created a six-figure small business using Dani Johnson training and now helps other entrepreneurs do the same thing. Learn more about Stacy today and then contact him to see how he can help you create your own successful small business. Click here.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Improve Your Business by Listening to Your Customers

Why Customer Feedback is Important to Your Business

home business, customer service tips
Remember "Good" Customer Service?
Like we have so often been told, the customer is always right. Because of this, it is vitally important to make sure to listen to what customers are saying and take their feedback into serious consideration. Often, listening to customer’s needs and wants can lead to improving your business practices and even your products and services. Not to mention, showing customers that the business cares about them and their opinions will help to improve customer retention and help to gain lifelong business from them. Customer feedback is especially important for small business, so encouraging these types of comments, good or bad, can have a huge impact on a business’s success and also their customer relationships.

Know Your Business’s Strengths and Play to Them

One thing that small businesses have that many larger businesses do not is personality. Customers truly appreciate being able to interact with actual people and getting to know them on a first name basis instead of interacting with a website or customer service representative over the phone. This is one of the most powerful strengths of small business, so it is important to play to that strength when it comes to customer comments and feedback. When dealing with a customer face-to-face, consider polling them live on the spot – ask them what they think about a service or product and ways they think you can improve your business or customer service. Asking them in person will show that you care about what they have to say, making them more likely to be honest and also do business with you again.

Use Social Media to Gather Information

Social media is a treasure trove of great information – customers are more likely to post their thoughts online, from the safety of their computer screen, instead of expressing them in person. This is especially true for negative feedback. Do not be afraid to ask customers to post their thoughts online, but make sure you or someone in your business is actually monitoring and addressing these comments. A hair salon, for example, could ask happy customers to post before and after photos on the business’s Facebook page – this will help to gain more exposure through word of mouth, especially if the customer goes on and on about how much they love his or her new hairstyle. It is important to note, however, that negative comments are also useful. Make sure you handle negative feedback in a proactive and positive way and work toward making changes to eliminate those issues within the business.

Understand that You Do Not Know Everything

One of the most important things to remember when it comes to gathering customer feedback is that you, as a business owner, do not know everything. Make sure to really listen to what your customers are saying and take their opinions into serious consideration. Customers see your business from a completely different side of the counter, so the comments and feedback they give may be true for a large majority of your customers. Making changes that make customers happy makes them more likely to make purchases as well as much more likely to recommend the business to friends, family, and colleagues. Word of mouth is the number one way that a business can market itself, so make sure the words your customers are saying about your business are good ones. In our next blog post, we will discuss what you can do with customer feedback to take your business to the next level.

If you found this tip useful, you may want to talk to Stacy O'Quinn in person! Stacy has helped dozens of small business owners using the techniques he learned during Dani Johnson training seminars. Stacy created a six figure small business and can help you do the same! For more information about Stacy and to learn how he can help you, click here

Friday, October 17, 2014

Where You Should and Should Not Spend Money Starting Your Own Business

When to Scrimp and When the Spend

dani johnson, stacy oquinn, first steps to success
Stacy at Dani Johnson Training
Starting your own business is an exciting endeavor, not to mention a very expensive one. While it is important to acquire the things the business needs to operate, it is also important to stay within a budget and make sure you are not over spending on unnecessary items. When starting a business, many business owners have to cut back on their own personal expenses and trim back their lifestyle to help get the company off the ground. While this may be what needs to be done to get started, there are some things you should keep in mind when it comes to spending money to start a business. Here is an outline of when you should consider scrimping and when to spend when getting your company going.

Spend on Quality

For most businesses, certain materials need to be purchased in order to deliver products or services to consumers. When it comes at acquiring these items, quality wins over quantity every time. When consumers purchase anything, they want something of quality, and quality products are made from quality items. When a consumer purchases a product or service from a business, use it and see how well-made it is, they are more likely to do business with that company again in the future. It is important to note, however, that quality is not equivalent to expensive. Make sure to take the time to test different materials in all price ranges and even market-test them – this will help you decide what the best materials are for the price as well as choosing materials that will make your customers happy.

Scrimp on Office Space

There are many different types of businesses, so choosing the right office space for your company is going to be a potential money-saving decision. Chances are, unless the business needs a storefront right when it starts, the company can manage with little to no official office space. There is nothing wrong with starting a business in your home office, basement, or garage to get off the ground and moving to an external office space when the business is showing a profit or high success.

Depending on where the business is based out of, some rental office spaces can run thousands of dollars a month! This expense can really cut into a business’s overhead, especially when it is not making a lot of profit in its infancy. Even if you must have an office at times to meet with clients, there are "rentals" available when needed that will provide you with the equipment, personnel, and atmosphere needed.

Spend on Website Services

In today’s market, it is tough to start a business without a Web and mobile presence. Although this may seem difficult to attain, the truth is that the Internet is overflowing with affordable, accessible tools that can help make the business’s presence known. It is important, however, to make an investment in quality Web programs and tools that will help to make the business look professional.

Some companies offer the ability to build and maintain a website for less than $10 a month – keep in mind, though, that you often get what you pay for when it comes to Web services. Many of these inexpensive contractors are often outsourcing the work overseas. Simply put, the quality of work is not there and it will reflect on your business. If you unable to do the work yourself, you are much better off putting up a respectable template website with quality content and Internet marketing services and then upgrade as the business begins to enjoy some success.

How is your small business doing? Could you benefit from a small business mentor? Stacy O'Quinn has been using Dani Johnson training to help business owners succeed for years. In fact, it is this very training which enabled him to create his own six figure business that is still operating today and growing in income every year. For more information about Stacy and to find out how he can help you, click here.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Save Money on Christmas Time Shipping for Your Small Business

Simple Packing and Shipping Tips to Help Your Business Save Big this Holiday

customer gifts
One practice that every small business owner should have is purchasing and sending Christmas gifts to their best customers. This is a great way to show how much your customers mean to you, and that appreciation will go a long way when it comes to future sales and referrals to family and friends. When it comes time to package and ship these items, it can often become a costly, headache inducing process – making sure the items get there in one piece as well as keeping on budget can be very difficult. Luckily, there are some simple tips to help you make the most of sending Christmas gifts to customers.

Saving Money on Shipping Boxes

Sometimes, the most expensive part of shipping Christmas gifts is the materials to get them in the mail. One area where you can save some money is with shipping boxes. First, consider recycling old boxes and using them to send out your gifts. Before reusing old boxes, always remember to remove the old shipping label – if the old barcode is scanned by mistake, the gift could end up at the wrong address. Additionally, many major shippers and the U.S. Postal Service do provide some free packaging and box options. Depending on the weight and dimensions of what is being shipped, the box may actually be included in the price of shipping it. Always make sure to explore these avenues before purchasing boxes.

Include Business Information in Your Package

While this may not be a money saving tip for shipping Christmas gifts this tip work two-fold - including a greeting card and a business card in the package is a great way to help establish relationships and possibly boost sales in the future. Not only is this a great way to connect with customers and encourage them to contact you, it is also a way for the shipping company to be able to return your package to you in case the outer label is removed in the mailing process. In the event that a package is damaged or the shipping label is damaged or misplaced, some shipping companies will open the package to look for a secondary label or other return information. Having the package returned to you will give you the opportunity to try and ship it again and will stop the package from being lost in the mail forever.

How to Properly Package Baked Goods

Many business owners send customers cookies or popcorn tins around the holidays. A great way to save money on holiday gifts is baking these homemade goods yourself. If this is the route you choose, make sure you know how to properly package baked goods so they can arrive to your customers in one delicious piece. Cookies and other baked items should always be placed in a tin or food container first and then packaged into a shipping box. Second, line the bottom of the box with your chosen packing material and place the food container in the center. Finally, fill in all the sides of the container, making sure to shake down the material so it is firmly packed to help ensure it does not move around in transit.

What do you mean you don't have any small business customers to send out gifts to? Are you ready to find an opportunity that can help you create a second income, or possibly become your main stream of income? If you have ever been to a Dani Johnson seminar, you may have seen Stacy O'Quinn on stage talking about Dani Johnson training helped him create a six figure income. Now, Stacy tries to help other business owners create their own six figure income. For more information about Stacy and to find out how he can help you, click here.