Category Archives: Small Business Marketing Tips

One Week Until Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday

 

If you’re a small business owner and haven’t yet prepared for the upcoming Small Business Saturday (SBS) event on November 26th, you shouldn’t count yourself out. Sure, it pays to begin the planning process a few months ahead of time, but you’ll effectively pull this SBS off by considering some of these last-minute marketing tactics that have proven effective over the past several years. Consumers spend an average of $15 billion on this important day of the year for small businesses – will you get a piece of the action?

Below are 5 tips to prepare for next week’s Small Business Saturday!

Create an Offer and Push It

Use your social media pages to connect with your existing fan base and valuable prospects, then deliver a Small Business Saturday offer they can’t refuse. Becuase social media topics and messages tend to spread like wildfire, this medium can help you overcome a lack of time. Make the offer unique or truly advantageous for the shopper, then get it promoted immediately.

Ensure You’re Staffed with the Best

While this may seem obvious, you absolutely must staff your business (whether it’s e-commerce or a physical location) with individuals who are customer experience focused and will help you earn repeat business. Small Business Saturday isn’t about a one-day sales extravaganza. Rather, it’s all about creating new connections with clients who will hopefully become repeat customers. Arm shoppers with customized tote bags to use while in the store and/or to take with them as they go.

Get on the SBS Map

Maximize your business’ visibility during this important event. Go to the American Express website and add yourself to their map of businesses participating in Small Business Saturday. Then, head on over to Google My Business and register your company right away. You’ll start to appear on computers and mobile devices as potential clients search for relevant companies in the area.

Create a Blog Post

Provided you’ve already invested some time creating an online/social media profile, you’ll want to get a blog post out to promote the event. Link to the American Express Small Business Saturday page to add some weight to the event. Then, post about the history of the day and how important small businesses are to the national economy. You can even include the promise of a gift within the blog post – have the reader bring you a screenshot of the post and then offer them a $10 gift card back on any $100 purchase, or $25 on a $250 buy. They’ll likely spend the gift card with you, anyway.

Host a Holiday Open House

Plan a small event in your store or business with holiday sales, treats, and drinks for guests to enjoy while they shop. Put together simple gift bags filled with homemade cookies, bite-size candies, or a mason jar filled with ingredients for hot cocoa for the first 50 shoppers.

There are just a few days left until Small Business Saturday, so get your business ready, your inventory stocked, your employees prepped, and your marketing out there – and make it a great holiday season!

Building your Brand – Basic Fundamentals of Turning your Idea into a Business

You’ve done it.  You’ve finally decided to launch your business.  Now to get your name out there so you can have customers.  You have all these skills, but running a successful business requires more than just knowing the service you provide, it requires getting your business brand out there.  ready. Set. Go.  Here’s what you need!

Name

“Keep it simple stupid,” The saying our mom’s have been telling us our whole lives.  A name should be easy for your customers to remember, and even easier to spell.  Anything more and anything less and your customers will either never find you or not remember.

Logo

A lot of money has gone into studies about colors and shapes, but realistically, your logo should reflect your company. The best thing to do is think about all your favorite brands, gather up images of their logo and ask yourself what comes to mind when you look at their logo.  Do you think the person who created this logo wanted you to feel this way?  From there, write down what you like and try to incorporate it into your logo.  Once you have a prototype, think about investing in graphic design help from a professional.  Meet with them, tell them your vision and list out the qualities that inspired your prototype and w3atch them bring your logo to life.  Try to give them as much detail and direction as possible to keep cost down and money in your pocket.

Business Mantra

What solution are you providing? If you’re a lawyer, are you helping win cases?  Of course, you are just like all the other lawyers out there!  So what makes you different?  Is it your pay as you go pricing or your ability to communicate the law to the average Joe?  Think about the solution you provide, how you are going to deliver it and why they should choose you.  Write it down, and more importantly, make sure your business practices this every day, from you the business owner, to every employee who represents you.

Start Small, Build Big

If you are a lawyer, everyone you know and interact with should know you are a lawyer. Going to the grocery store and you strike up a conversation with someone, give them your card.  If you can’t sell your service to the people around you in your daily life, then throwing money at high dollar marketing plans will be risky.  If you say things like, “they won’t buy from me because they know me too well.”  Well then ask yourself, why they don’t trust you and work on yourself to build your brand and gain their trust.  Sometimes convincing the people that know you best will be your toughest test, but overcome those obstacles and you will set yourself up for success.

Do It yourself Marketing vs. Paid Marketing

There’s time to go cheap and there’s times to spend the dough. Knowing when to and when not to can be tough.  But like step 4, start small and test.  Exhaust all your free options and take the lessons learned from them to figure out a solution for paid marketing techniques.  Perhaps contract work out to test again new theories you are not experienced with.  When you find someone or something that works, invest smartly and capitalize.  Many programs these days offer simple, easy to use paid marketing techniques for business owners looking to develop this skill set.  Watch the videos, contact the company and soak up as much knowledge.  Facebook business offers simple solutions but find someone with success using their programs so you can know what you are getting into.

There’s probably a million more things to list and even more to do, but starting with some basics to help you develop a roadmap to success will keep your wallet full and your knowledge growing.  Good luck!

Selling for Business Owners who didn’t know they would have to Sell so much when Running a Business

You wanted to open up a mechanic shop, a photography business or restaurant.  You love working on cars.  You can find the beauty of how light should reflect off the subject you are photographing.  Your friends have been raving about your chef skills for years and you never have leftovers after a night in the kitchen because everyone eats it all like it’s their last meal.  Whatever your skills are, you have now accomplished the dream of opening up your own business.  Now to keep that dream alive, you realize, you have to sell that dream to investors for money, your coworkers to work hard and your customers because you need their consistent business.

In this article, you’ll get the basic fundamental tools you’ll need to learn, or at least get comfortable selling. 

Greet

More than just hello, the greet starts as soon as the customer sees you or your business. Clean appearance, dressed for the occasion and an organized look even before saying hi will get you started on the right foot.  Make eye contact, shake hands sternly, and say “pleasure to meet you!”  After pleasantries, the most important aspect is to ask an open ended question, meaning, ask a question that can’t be answered with a “yes or no” response.”  For instance, if you’re a photographer, and someone ask what are your rates, before answering, get the customer invested by asking some simple question such as, “what kind of pictures are you looking for me to take, who are you giving them to, and what inspires you to take these?”

Understand

When the customer answers your questions, don’t interrupt, but listen. Absorb as much as you can and find things to build on.  Find what the customer truly wants from her interaction and experience with you and find a way to deliver the desired results.

Evaluate

Think, think, think – it’s okay if you don’t have an answer right away, just make sure you are asking questions to drill down as deep as you can to find what your customer wants. Gather all the info, confirm you have everything correct and then think about how you can match your service to her expectations.

Suggest

Now you have a few options to suggest and suggest away! It’s best to give customers a few options, at different price tiers so they can make the decision on how much to invest. Perhaps you baseline package offers what the customer wants, but a premier package solves a customer’s future issues making it easier for them in the long run.  Always suggest based off what they ask for and mention as valuable to them.  Never guess or assume what they need or don’t need as you are still trying to gauge a customer’s level of interest and readiness to buy.

Take Action

You’ve listened, you offered different packages and now you know what the customer is interested in. Time to take action.  This is the step most people are often afraid of.  They don’t want to come off as pushy and aggressive, but at the same time, you know you’ve offered a great deal and the customer just needs some reassurance.  To go along in our mock example, a suggestion could be during the negotiation process, to start snapping a few fun photos of the person on the spot. Show, sample and give them the fun, light hearted feeling of working with you.  Show the pictures to them share some more ideas and ask “what day do you want to take pictures?” or “a deposit today will lock in your date, do you want to use cash, check or card?”

Re-evaluate

The customer still isn’t ready. That’s okay!  Rome wasn’t built in a day.  If it still doesn’t work, list out the entire customer’s request again, and explain how each request is solved by your product and service.  Suggest they look up your reviews.  Offer them a low cost incentive for purchasing today or within a 24 hour period.  Tell them to talk it over with their spouse but make sure they have all the info in a clean offer letter with an incentive to purchase sooner rather than later.

Referral

Great news, they purchased. Your work isn’t done yet.  After fulfilling your customers request and making sure they are satisfied comes round 2. Ask them if they know anybody who could use your service.   Perhaps even offer a discount or finder’s fee.  Ask to be tagged in their photos on social media.  And last but not least, ask them for a review of your services on your website or social media accounts.  Always ask for a referral.

How Premium Gifts can uplift Employees

Premium gifts serve the basic purpose of your standard gifts, to reward good behavior and encourage your employees to strive for more.  Encouraging this type of behavior will make your employees feel respected and appreciated.  It will also help determine who wants to develop their career for the long term. Here are some reasons to give your employees the not just gifts, but Premium Gifts!

Thank you gifts

Numerous studies have often said employees love when their manager tells them “good job!” A thank you gift can go a long way to improving employee morale. It doesn’t have to be over the top or too expensive either.  It just simply has to display how thankful you are to have them on your team.  Consider a pen and journal set with a special thank you message.

Top Performer Gifts

everyone knows the saying of “Show me the money” but sooner or later, your staff will want to be recognized as the top worker bee.  Reward the person, the department or the company who performs the best.  Maybe it’s a special coffee mug, stainless steel water bottle or portfolio for them to show off around the office.

Most Improved Gifts

Keep morale in the office high by showing you notice the people putting in effort, trying to develop their skills and taking on challenges they once hid from.

Consistent Award Gifts

They show up every day, rain or shine, with the same can-do attitude. They put out the “fires” at work and find ways to still make the office life enjoyable for the people around them.  Need them to work a little late and they have no problem.  They are your consistent performers who you cherish.  Show them why you love to have them in the office.  Deluxe Lunch bags or ice coolers that resemble them grabbing their “lunch pail” and hard hat for a great day of work is a gesture to show how much they are cherished by your organization.

Team Award

Did accounting figure out a way to save on spending?  Customer Service find ways to keep customers coming back for more?  Or maybe sales knocked their quota out the park?  Reward the departments that show the best results and let their team celebrate together. Its important to foster an environment of winning together and rewarding the victories.

5 Great Promotional items to give out at Sporting events 

Sporting events are a great place to gain exposure for your brand. There you will find a diverse group of people in a relaxed environment, coming together for a common goal.  An easy way to connect with them is to offer promotional items they can use at the game displaying your logo to go along with the positive feelings of the game itself.

Here are 5 winning promotional items to distribute at sporting events:

Can coolers

Start simple. Most people in the lead up to the big game, from pro to college football, often enjoy more of the pregame festivities than the game itself.   Walking around in the tailgate section of a big game handing out can coolers for all the thirsty potential clients to keep their beverages nice and cool while keeping their hands dry.

Bottle openers

Those same thirty tailgaters will love bottle openers they can use that same day and to keep for future use. Bottle openers are great for targeting men and a high-quality bottle opener can go a long way for very little investment.

See Through Bags

We live in an ever-changing world of new security restrictions intended to keep us safer at large gatherings. The NFL in recent years has led a charge to only allow see through game day bags in for fans.  Being as these bags are not yet too popular, tis is a good idea to hand out these types of bags wth your logo on it as many people will need these at the stadiums.

Rally Towels

Down by 6 with 2 minutes to go. Bottom of the 9th inning, bases loaded and two outs.  Whatever the game is, rally towels do a great job of generating a positive reaction.  Seeing multiple people in the stands with rally towels, will get the people without a rally towel asking “where can I get one?”  And even better, rally towels often find their way into homes because people generally don’t throw towels away for no reason, instead they will try to find a reason to use your rally towel.

Pens?

I’m assuming if you’re reading this you already know the great benefits of the Pen. But did you ever notice that there are millions of different kind of pens, all doing the same thing, writing and promoting your business.  So make sure you get a good deal, with high quality ink and trustworthy service!

Too Many Drinkware options to choose from? 4 basic options and their advantages

With so many options to choose from, knowing which one to invest in can be excruciating.  Knowing the advantages and disadvantages of some of the options is the goal if this blog.  Here you can find some basic options to choose from and great ways to use these drinkware choices.

1) Coffee mugs: Full color vs. one-color

Ummmm Coffee! Who doesn’t love it and need it to get the day started.  Coffee mugs are a great promotional item that you know will be used.  Full color options give you the ability to display your logo the way it was meant to be.  Also coffee mugs offer large decorating areas to enhance your brand and logo with cute and funny comments or decorations.

2) Water bottle: Plastic vs. Stainless Steel

if your brand has anything to do with a life-style, water bottles can bring it to life. Healthy living, sustainable energy, green living or just out to display a positive refreshing message, water bottles deliver.  Like a lot of things, timing is everything and January for New Year’s resolutions is a great time to be giving out your water bottles for all the new gym membership owners.

3) Glassware: Glasses – Size – Shots

Tends to not be used as daily when it comes to promotional items but does bring a high quality presence to your brand. Investing in Glassware will be playing the “long game” but will surely pay off.  Often times, people buy drink ware as a souvenir that brings positive feelings and promotional glassware will do the same.

4) Plastic Cups

Inexpensive drink items for the day will get people noticing your brand as strong as possible. If you can strike a deal with an event to hand out your plastic cups with your logo, great!  And even if you can’t, sometimes handing out your plastic cups at a sporting event, outdoor event or casual get together can do the trick.

4 Easy Ways on how to have a Successful Happy Hour with Clients

We’ve all been there, trying to open a new account, someone you’ve been prospecting for ages but just can’t seem to find the solution to closing the deal.  You call, email, mail and sometimes you even fly across the country but can’t get it done!  Sales are slow and you know if you can just get this one client, all the hard work will have been worth it.  Well, a good sales person knows that if you can’t get in the front – back – side door, well then, change the venue.

In this blog, you’ll find the basics on how to have a successful happy hour to set the setting on closing the deal.

1 – How to ask – It’s simple. Just ask.

For some, asking a client out can be scary, and for others it the perk of the job.  I often go with the basic “Hi XXXXX, I’ll be in town on this date, what’s a good bar or restaurant we can meet for happy hour?  I’m buying!” It’s simple, straight to the point, provides a small sense of urgency with open ended response, plus the client knows he won’t be spending much money to go to his/her favorite watering hole or place they have been wanting to try.

2 – People

Sometimes talking one on one can lead to some downtime or awkward moments as you try to get the client to relax and open up. So ask him if there is a co-worker or manager who might want to come with. The client will fill more comfortable and now you have someone else who you can try to convince in case you get stonewalled by your client.  And perhaps you may even find out better perspective of who the client reports to, what he struggles with in the office or what his manager looks for.  Tip: if they do invite someone, think about inviting one of you coworkers so you’re not out numbered and so if you stumble, you’ll have help to overcome obstacles.  But make sure they add value to the conversation and mood.

3 – Place

As mentioned earlier, try to let the customer decide. If you take them to a place they have wanted to try, it will evoke a positive experience.  Just make sure, it’s a place where you guys can talk so not too loud music, comfortable seats and a not too complex menu for picky eaters.  And have a backup place just in case you can’t get a seat or the place just doesn’t turn out to what you expect.

4 – Perception

Nobody like a Debbie downer. Stay positive, upbeat and remember just because you’re not in office, you’re still working and representing your company and/or business.  Keep the conversations light, ask more about them and listen to what they are saying, or even not saying sometimes.

5 Reasons Promo Calendars are Good Marketing Gifts

Promo calendars represent the perfect gift to help you increase visibility for your brand

Marketing managers across the nation will tell you promotional marketing gifts truly do work to enhance the visibility and prominence of a brand within a specific industry. Whether these promo items are used at a tradeshow as a handout for customers and prospects, or they’re sent out to clients or prospective customers during a high-volume mailing campaign, promotional gifts work. And there are few promo gifts that are as effective as top quality promo calendars. Continue reading

30 Days to Prepare for Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday is less than a month away. Are you ready?

It’s been several years now since American Express first promoted their newly-created Small Business Saturday (SBS), and it has now grown into a lucrative promotional opportunity for small business owners everywhere.

Sandwiched comfortably between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this relatively new “holiday” has made a lasting and sizeable impact on the number of individuals who choose to shop at small businesses instead of large retailers over this key shopping weekend.

In fact, according to CNBC, more than $14 billion has been spent each year, for the past few years, at local retailers on Small Business Saturday. To continue our series on preparing for Small Business Saturday, keep the following promotional tips in mind as the holiday nears:

SBS Tip 1: Get Started

It’s possible you haven’t done much yet to prepare for SBS. If not, that’s ok – just hit the ground running right now. Get the word out, talk to customers about the upcoming holiday, and begin talking to other businesses in the area to lock down cross-promotion opportunities. It doesn’t matter if you haven’t followed the preparation steps up to this point, just make sure you stay focused on making your business as visible as possible leading up to the holiday. You still have time to create promotional flyers and other local advertisements. You can also order gifts now and still have them in time for some small business marketing materials.

SBS Tip 2: Website Maintenance

Even though the holiday focuses on small businesses, you should still expect customers to view your website and make buying decisions before ever stepping foot in your retail storefront. Ensure your site is up-to-date and provide easy access to the products that will be prominently displayed in your store. Your website will help steer your success this Small Business Saturday, but make sure you have your specials well displayed by signage throughout the store.

SBS Tip 3: Hammer Social Media

Nearly 65% of adults are active on social media, with some age demographics spending several hours per day engaged with one or more social media sites. Ensure that your Facebook page and Instagram profile are up-to-date and there is active dialogue surrounding Small Business Saturday. You could offer a Facebook- or Instagram-only promotion that ties into the day, or simply use your pages to feel out consumer interest. Ask your followers what they’d like to see in the store and what is most important to them this holiday season.

SBS Tip 4: Join the Fun

Just because SBS is tucked between two major shopping days doesn’t mean you can’t have fun, too. Take advantage of the fervor surrounding Black Friday and Cyber Monday by creating your own Small Business Saturday marketing promotions that start on Friday and run through Monday night. There is no reason why Saturday should be the only day to focus on – instead, create a 4-day extravaganza with in-store giveaways or refreshments that will draw in customers throughout the long weekend.

Small Business Saturday is right around the corner with only 30 days left to go. As you plan your Small Business Saturday promotions, give people a reason to shop locally at your store and see the business results over the big holiday weekend.

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items for Your Brand

5 Best Trade Show Swag Items

If you’ve ever attended a trade show or other large, industry-level event, you know that those little plastic bags the attendees are toting around probably contain more than just pamphlets and flyers. They’re often full of promotional giveaway products and trade show swag items that are handed out by exhibitors in order to provide a memorable link between the tradeshow, the exhibitor, and the attendee.

Consider the following gifts as some of the best trade show swag items to hand out to prospects and clients alike:

Trade Show Swag Item 1: Power Banks

power-bankTalk about effective swag. Power banks are coveted promo items because they can be used by virtually anyone in your industry. Long days on the trade show floor require an easy access solution to keep gadgets fully charged.

Try to keep your branding as minimal as possible, as no one wants a product that overtly shouts the company’s brand message and feels like an advertisement. Keep it simple and classy, and your clients will have a trade show swag item they will appreciate and use daily.

Trade Show Swag Item 2: Promotional Pens

promo-pensThough there is no shortage of pens in the world, you’d be amazed at how effectively you can market your business when you employ a batch of top-quality promo pens.

The trick here is to emphasize quality over quantity. Cheap pens often find their way to the back of the desk drawer or the trash can in no time. You’ll want your company to be synonymous with quality; not with a pen that easily falls apart.

A pen that writes smooth, fits comfortable in the hand and has a nice, sleek design will bring positive value to associate with your brand.  Make sure you check out the Paragon Pen & Stylus Tip, great for writing purchase orders and navigating your tablet as you present your product or service line.

Trade Show Swag Item 3: Lip Balm

lip-balmWhether you live in a cold weather area or a bright, sunny part of the nation, promotional lip balm is a thoughtful and useful gift that is universally applicable to virtually any client.

Go for unique patterns and imprints, but shy away from scents or flavors that are too strong, as they might be off-putting to some. Try simple flavors that appeal to the masses, like mint, lemon, vanilla, and raspberry.

Trade Show Swag Item 4: Reusable Water Bottles

water-bottleLogo water bottles are highly effective as trade show swag, as they are inherently useful and promote a sense of responsibility. Your customers will love minimizing their environmental footprint, while also enjoying a convenient way to stay hydrated at all times. You can brand your agency’s name on the side of each bottle, where it will dutifully advertise your business with each sip.

Trade Show Swag Item 5: LED Flashlights

lakFlashlights offer plenty of power and terrific battery life, and are quite inexpensive, especially when purchased in high volume quantities. Consider some of the flatter variants on the market today that takes up little room and delivers super bright light. In particular, keychain flashlights are hot trade show swag items.

The ever popular LED Flashlight Key Chain contains a shiny metal barrel with laser engraved finish.  Bring high value and functionality to your promotional items ensuring your customers will use these promotional items daily.

The five promotional items listed above are highly effective and can make your swag bag as appealing as possible during an upcoming trade show or marketing campaign. When looking for the best trade show swag for your next event, consider the value of the gifts you’re providing, no matter how big or small!