Category Archives: Business Boosters

The Power of Word of Mouth

Word of mouth marketing has been a proven tool in generating interest, traffic, awareness and ultimately – sales. But how has word of mouth marketing changed in the past few years? With the advent of the internet, information is literally at your fingertips in a matter of seconds. Wide searches and reviews can generate foot and internet traffic for retailers and businesses.

However, one of the most important advances has been the use of social media for businesses. Forrester analyst Augie Ray recently wrote Word of Mouth and Social Media: A Tale of Two Burger Joints. This article discusses how two wildly popular restaurants rose to success – one over the course of 10 years, and the other – in just one year. How did this happen, and how can we all learn from this success?

- Twitter and Facebook engagement – get followers and fans and talk to them…it’s a quick, informal and viral way to disseminate information
o Offer prizes for contests such as trivia, scavenger hunts, pop quizzes, and holidays
- Use social media for promotions to drive and retain loyalty
o Offer special deals, sales, or insider information to encourage your customers and
prospects to visit often and enjoy the site
- Create videos on YouTube – product, sales, events…the possibilities are growing every day!
- Focus on time, not money.

Social media requires very little money to be successful, but it does require time. Devote time to creating interesting and compelling tweets and posts, and responding to your interactions. This type of activity fosters some of the most powerful word of mouth success available.

So get out there and be social start with us!

Test Your Business!

When developing a marketing and sales strategy for your business, there are many avenues, ideas and programs to follow. It’s overwhelming at times – Do I focus on message? Do I need a new design? Is my website performing? It’s enough to make your head spin! However, one of the key pieces of advice any consultant, marketing guru or successful businessperson can give is to test, Test, TEST!

Justin Premick published an article about his case study regarding his email efforts and how effective they were. The focus of the case study was comparing text links to html buttons in an email. He was trying to discover which type of presentation drove more sales and conversion. Not surprising, his initial results were that the colorful button drove more people to click. Rather than stopping there, Premick continued to test this in over 40 emails. His results showed that over time, these results were not true – in fact, the final results were that using “buttons” rather than tests was not the best long-run tactic to take.

So, why is this important? Premick stated it best:

  • What works today may not work tomorrow.
  • What works for someone else may not work for you.
Running a successful business takes testing and analysis to see what works for you and your business – so come up with a hypothesis and test it! Once you see what works for you, you can use those learnings to continue to refine your marketing strategy and get the most bang for your marketing dollar and time!

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Sizing Up Your Competition

When formulating a marketing and sales plan, one of the best places to start is with your competition – what better way to get a feel for what is working, what you can do better, and how to set yourself apart? As Steve Strauss discusses in his article How to Research Your Competition, using marketing research and competitive analysis is key in understanding the market landscape.

So just how should you research your competition?

1. Start with their website – it should contain history, product or service positioning and other useful information.

2. Do physical research – visit their store, call their customer service or purchase from them…what better way to see how they do business than to become their customer?

3. Speak to their customers – either literally or though their reviews and feedback.

4. Attend industry events – where they might present, attend or share information.

In short, once you do your homework, knowing what the competition does right (and wrong), can help you set your business and strategy apart and give your business the boost it needs.

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Going Green – for your environment, for your business!

Being eco-friendly and saving our resources is not just an environmental issue. It’s also a great way to save dollars in your business, and reach out to your customer and client base. Some obvious benefits of following the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” adage are: saving our environment, reducing waste, and saving money.

But what are the not-so-obvious benefits?

Why not use your ad message in a “green” way – like putting your imprint on a Shopping Tote? Many stores encourage the use of re-usable shopping bags, and some even charge for bags or boxes. What a simple way to keep your name and message in view!

Many offices are also downsizing their disposable supplies – that means no more Styrofoam coffee cups for some. Put your message on their morning coffee mug and encourage business and saving the environment.

Use these simple products to have an additional (and eco-friendly) way to stay in touch with your customers, and show them you care them, AND the environment!

For more tips on green business tips, visit

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Trade Show Pay-Offs

In the world of small business, trade shows can be some of the best investments that can be made. They offer an opportunity for live interaction (and in recent years, virtual interaction) with fellow business members, customers, partners and vendors within your specific field. Networking, advertising, learnings and demonstrations are carved out for a customizable experience for each attendee or exhibitor.

How can you make the most of these shows? Joanna Krotz discusses her strategy with Microsoft in her article “9 Steps to Making Trade Shows Pay Off”. She outlines key points, such as creating a strategy, research, having a backup plan and getting noticed. In the strategy of getting noticed at trade shows, there are a few schools of thought, however Krotz suggests a dialed-down, more personalized approach. Rather than overwhelming attendees with flashing lights and massive displays, she suggests using personalized coffee mugs with company information as a give-away with plenty of fresh coffee available at your booth. Also, she recommends collecting business cards to raffle off a single high-value item.

No matter how you decide to use Krotz’s tips, trade shows, if done right, can provide fantastic ROI in the form of leads, sales, relationships and thought leadership.

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Customers for Life

Identifying and reaching out to customers is a challenge that businesses face on a regular basis. But what about retaining customers — for life? Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, in Missouri, uses a “front of the line” program for their regular customers – meaning that in the dead of winter, if your pipes freeze, you won’t have to wonder how long it will take for the plumber to come out.

In a recent article on MSN’s Business on Main page, Keeping Customers for Life, companies like Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are used as a model for how to grow and retain your long-term customer base.
Here are some key steps used by companies such as Southwest Airlines, ED Foods and Crucial Technology:
- Deliver what you say you’re going to do
- Expect the best
- From there, go beyond the usual
- Watch your customer, not your bottom line
- Nurture lifelong employees
- Make customers want to stick around
- Be picky about your lifelong customers
Customers truly are the heart of any business – we simply wouldn’t exist without them, so remember: treat them well and your company will be treated well in return!
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Graphic Design – Tips on the Tools

Graphic design is a fundamental part of every business. From business cards to website, the design you select makes a statement about your company. If you are starting a business or perhaps looking to reinvent the look of your company I highly recommend working with an advertising agency or a freelance designer to establish a brand kit – business card, letterhead, website, and brochure. Keeping these elements consistent will help present a professional look to your customers.

Once you have your branding kit, at some point in time you’re going to need to make some changes. Depending on your design skills (and budget) you may want to try to make the changes yourself. Photoshop is the universal program to make these changes. Through Photoshop you can edit text, change colors, add images…basically, if you can think it, it can be done in Photoshop. The diversity of this software can make editing a document a little cumbersome and the program is not cheap. But, if you’re interested in making a long term investment, both in the software and tutorials on how to use it, Photoshop is the way to go.

For those looking to make some basic edits, check out the free design tools offered at According to the reviews, GIMP seems to be a close match to Photoshop and it’s FREE. You can’t beat that price!

Once you’ve got your program, the one thing to keep in mind when designing is it’s all about what you like. Design is very subjective so you can’t please everyone. If I can give 1 tip, it’s to make sure your text is legible. Many beautiful brochures are ruined because customers can’t read the text (too small, to light of a font color, etc.).

Don’t forget, if you have design related questions post a comment. I’ll definitely respond.

- Derek

Photo Courtesy of syazamst

Making a Promise Keeps Customers Loyal

I love Amazon’s guarantees. I spend hundreds at Amazon every year. The handful of times I’ve had a problem, they have refunded my money without any trouble. They’re getting way more of my business than other online retailers solely because I trust them.

Offering a guarantee may sound like a dangerous proposition for a small business, but quality assurances can offer major benefits to companies of all sizes. With a good guarantee, you can easily get all of the following benefits:

Increased sales. When customers are hesitant about anything, they are much less likely to buy. A guarantee assures there’s nothing to worry about. Aren’t you more likely to buy something you know is guaranteed?

Did you know 90% of customers say that a good return policy is very important to their purchase decision?

Reduced number of complaints
. As strange as it sounds, guarantees reduce the number of returns and complaints. The longer the guarantee, the fewer dissatisfied customers you have.

A point of difference. When looking at two similar products in similar price ranges, buyers are much more likely to try the one with a guarantee. Who wouldn’t?

A chance to improve. If you need to honor a guarantee, it can be taken care of through a replacement product or service. Doing the job again will not only help the customer, but also will help you improve your company.

Increased loyalty. Whether a customer invokes a guarantee or not, they will think highly of your brand for protecting them after the purchase. This feeling of goodwill is likely to turn into future sales and referrals.

Whatever your industry, a guarantee can build business and customer satisfaction.

Have you had any good experiences with guarantees?

Photo Courtesy of stephenliveshere

Keep Customers Loyal by Offering Rewards

A great way to maintain loyalty, beyond offering great service and a great product, is by offering a rewards program. You probably belong to at least one rewards program, whether it’s a sandwich shop card, credit card points or a frequent flier program.

Rewards programs work because everyone wants to be rewarded for doing something they enjoy doing anyway. Who says “no, I wouldn’t like a free sandwich now that I’ve bought my fifth one here?” There are a variety of different programs to choose from and I’m sure one of them can really help your company.

Frequency Cards. Create a card for customers to carry around and once they get enough stamps, they get something free. This system works best for businesses that have one main service or product, like a sandwich shop or dog groomer.

Spend $100, get 15% off next purchase. This system is similar to the one above, but it is better adapted for companies with multiple products and services, such as spas, retail shops, etc.

Schedule your next appointment now and get $10 off. This is a great offer for places like salons to get customers to book their next appointment while they are still euphoric from getting their recent service done.

Reach platinum level, get a gift. This program operates with a point system. For example, customers receive 10 points for every dollar spent. At 100 points, they earn a promotional pen. At 1000 points, they earn a company hat or a free service/product.

Refer 5 customers, get a $50 gift card. Referrals are great for every business, but for some, they are critical. Cell phone companies frequently use this program, offering customers a $25 credit for each friend they get to sign up.

If you want to keep customers loyal, you need to keep offering a great product at a great price with excellent customer service. But following these tips will help bring loyal customers back again and again.

Did you know Starbucks just launched a new rewards program? Customers who register their rewards cards online will be able to partake in free refills and wifi while in the stores.

What rewards programs do you take advantage of? Personally, I like my credit card’s cash-back rewards.

Photo Courtesy of mandamia