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12 Customer Dos & Don’ts

12 Customer Dos & Don’ts

From “12 Customer Do’s and Dont’s” by Geoffrey James and Inc.com

It’s easier to sell to existing customers than to acquire new ones, so it’s good sense to keep the customers you’ve already got.

Here are some simple rules to ensure that customers continue to come back for more.

DO put connection before content. Clients don’t want you to sell to them; they want you to genuinely care about them. Take the time to build a personal connection before you start talking business.

DON’T badmouth the competition. Only people who are insecure try to build themselves up at the expense of others. Show your competitors the same respect you’d want if the positions were reversed.

DO focus on individuals, not companies. You may be selling to an organization, but you’re doing it through an individual. Remember: ABC Inc. is not going to buy your offering; but Joe might.

DON’T give a sales pitch. Pitches are a great way to shut people down and pigeonhole you as a hustler. Even when speaking to a group, make the interchange a conversation, not a lecture.

DO engage with customers as equals. The client conversation should contain a feeling of mutuality rather than talking down to or being subservient to your clients.

DON’T attempt an “end run.” Bypassing a client or customer contact who is ambivalent or hostile will create an enemy for life. That person will constantly work against you … from the inside. You don’t want that.

DO keep the conversation mutual. Your goal is to earn your client’s trust by connecting with them, thereby creating a sense of safety. You can’t do that if you’re yakking away.

More from “12 Customer Do’s and Dont’s” by Geoffrey James and Inc.com

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide to Sage Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
 
7 Unique Ways to Get Massive Exposure From Your Articles

7 Unique Ways to Get Massive Exposure From Your Articles

From “7 Unique Ways to Get Massive Exposure From Your Articles” by Jessica Swanson and Manta.com

I’m sure that, as a small business owner, you understand the value of writing articles that educate and inspire your potential clients and customers. So, you write an article and submit it to a few of the top article directories. Your article gets a few views and perhaps even a click or two back to your website. And, this is where reality sets in. You’ve just spent an hour or two writing an article with only one or two visitors to show for your efforts. It’s pretty safe to assume that you are not enjoying the process of writing articles.

But, don’t give up too quickly. If you’re going to take the time to write an article, you just need to make sure that it works overtime for you.

You want your articles generating massive exposure with the potential of bringing in hundreds of new visitors to your website.

Here are 7 unique ways for creating extra exposure from your articles:

1. Offer to write guest blog posts.
There are thousands of blogs actively looking for guest blog posts. You can either start by researching blogs in your industry through a blog directory such as Technorati or, you can join a service such as Blogger Linkup that connects blogs and guest bloggers.

2. Submit guest articles to ezines.
Start by searching for ezines that cater directly to your target market. Subscribe to them and find out which of them accept guest articles. Contact the ezine publishers with a sample article that they can use in upcoming issues.

3. Research niche article directories.
You’re probably familiar with the big article directories. However, most small business owners can find niche article directories that are specific to their target market. To find appropriate article directories within your industry perform a Google search using “your target market” + “article directory.”

4. Offer to write for associations.
There are hundreds of associations that are eager for content to offer to their members. Search for these associations through Google by typing in “your target market” + “association.”

5. Submit to document sharing sites.
Turn your article into a .pdf document and upload it to document sharing sites such as Scribd

6. Upload to ebook directories.
Take a few of your related articles and turn them into a 10-12 page eBook. Upload your eBook to e-book directories like Free-ebooks

7. Rebrand your eBook.
Rebranding your eBook is a way to help it go viral. This means that you let your readers change the affiliate-links to their own, giving them incentive to distribute your eBooks to their own network. You can use a software program such as ViralPDF

So, the next time that you write an article, make sure that it brings you massive exposure and hundreds of leads to your small business.

More from “7 Unique Ways to Get Massive Exposure From Your Articles” by Jessica Swanson and Manta.com

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide to Sage Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business

7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business

From “7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business” by Joan Nowak and Manta.com

As you prepare your business for success in the coming year, will you focus your time and resources on sales growth? While it’s important, it’s often not enough. For sustainable growth and profit with a lot more control, spread your efforts around – creating small improvements in ALL areas of your business. It’s the formula for a business that is simple, fun and profitable!

So where do you start? Here’s the formula I recommend.

Planning. You don’t need a 50 page business plan. But you do need some clear, measurable goals with specific ‘actions’ you need to take to achieve them. Written goals and a simple action plan provide you with focus and clarity. So take the time to write down what you WANT (results or outcomes) and what you need to DO (actions) to make it happen.

Products/Services. When was the last time you actually thought about the products or services you offer? It’s more than just ‘what price should I charge’. Which ones are most profitable, which produce the most sales? Do your products and services still meet the needs of your target customers or do they need a facelift? Technology, competition and your customer needs change over time – make sure your products and services keep up!

Promotion. Sales don’t just happen. So what are you doing to attract new customers and keep existing ones coming back and referring others? Most owners associate promotion with marketing for new customers – and invest few (if any) resources on current customers. Big mistake. Make sure your plans also include tactics to turn your current customers into raving fans – who spend more, buy more often and refer other quality people to your business.

Processes. Streamlining and standardizing procedures make daily operations easier, efficient and more effective, whether you are there or not. They are also a key to increased profitability. As you plan for the coming year, make systematizing your business more of a priority. Start with just a few. Focus on those that save you time, increase sales, or fix problems that consistently erode profit.

People. No business operates successfully in a vacuum – we all need help from others. While we often associate people with employees, building a strong network of contractors, vendors and alliance partners for your business is equally important. Your needs will vary based on your business – but most small businesses have an opportunity to improve in this area. Have a method for hiring or developing new relationships with people who are committed to your customers and the success of your business.

Personal Development. As you grow and improve, so will your business. We are all familiar with the phrase, knowledge is power, but it also translates to earnings or income. And it doesn’t require a lot of time or money – just a commitment to learning and building skills and knowledge. Here’s a few things to consider:

•Invest 15 minutes a day reading and you will read about 12 books a year.
•Turn drive time into learning with audio books.
•Attend interactive workshops or webinars to improve knowledge gaps or simply get new ideas.
•Meet with and build relationships with other successful business owners so you can share information and learn.
•Work with a mentor or business coach who can help you find hidden opportunities, provide shortcuts to results and accountability to get more done.

Profit. You don’t need to be an accountant or financial guru, but you do need to track and understand the numbers that drive your business – beyond just sales. Here’s a few others to consider: average sale per customer or transaction, number of leads, revenue per employee, average accounts receivable, gross profit margins, customer retention rates and net profit. Monitor them and focus on activities that help to improve them – especially gross profit margins and net profit. If you keep them at the center of what you do, your small business will continue to serve your needs and the needs of your people and customers.

Remember, little improvements in ALL these areas will put more profit on the bottom line and in your wallet. So take the hybrid approach: bring together all the key elements that drive success – and you too will have a business that is simple, fun and profitable.

More from “7 Ways to Build More Profit Into Your Small Business” and Manta.com

 

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Your Live, Online Guide to Sage Peachtree Success
512.892.8990
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
 
What’s Standing in Your Way?

What’s Standing in Your Way?


From: “Access to Access” and Seth Godin’s Blog

What’s standing in your way? What would help you start and ship and create something of value?

Access to ideas is easier than ever before. You can see over the shoulders of the great leaders in every industry, instantly and for free.

Access to tools is easier too. Every digital tool in the world is easily available, often for free.

Access to markets? The internet brings every market segment into clear view and lowers the cost of reaching it.

Access to capital? It’s never been easier to find funding for an idea that’s enabled by the efficiencies the web creates.

Alas, the only access that’s harder than ever is access to the part of your brain that’s willing to take advantage of all of this. Precisely because it’s easier and faster than ever before, it’s easy to be afraid to reach out, to connect and to commit. No one can help you with that but you.

More from: “Access to Access” and Seth Godin’s Blog

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
Build a Killer Website

Build a Killer Website


From:  Build a Killer Website: 19 Dos and Don’ts and Inc.com

If you do it right, your website can be the best marketing tool you have.  Ilya Pozin, founder of the Web design firm Ciplex, on how not to screw it up.

Important Dos

Set smart goals.  And make sure they’re measurable. Here are a few great ones a Web designer wants to hear: increase conversion rates, increase sales, generate more leads, reduce overhead, and improve brand awareness.

Plan on becoming an SEO wizard.  Sure, you’re going to want help from the pros and eventually you might even need your own in-house SEO expert, but search engine optimization is something you need to know about too. It has one of the highest ROIs in marketing. Plus, do it right and SEO can literally put your marketing on autopilot, allowing you to focus on improving the quality of your business, instead of figuring out how to bring in customers to your site. Start reading SEOmoz and stay up to date with SEO changes by reading sites like searchengineland.com.

Use open source tools. You could go with a proprietary content management system (CMS) but that means you’re typically stuck with one company and paying hefty license fees to boot. Do yourself a favor and go with an open-source system—I like WordPress and Magento—that any developer can access.

Think about your mobile strategy simultaneously. Research the percentage of your visitors that are likely to use mobile devices to access your site. If it’s high, you may want to consider building a separate mobile version of your site, or even an app. If it’s relatively low, just make sure your website works on smart phones, but don’t invest into a mobile version.

Steal from your competitors. Before you build your site, check out your competitors and write down the things they do well. If you like the look and feel of another site, there’s no reason not to start with something you like and then make it your own.

Develop your content. The biggest slow-down in the Web design process is content. If you’re going to sell products on your site, get product photos and product descriptions ready. If you sell services, you’ll need a description of each service. Get as much of your content together before you start building your site—it will save you weeks. And while you’re at it…

Write with calls to action in mind. Good calls to action allow visitors to quickly decide what they want to do next. Having a big sale? Don’t just write a banner that says “50% off all products.” Write one that says “50% off all products, CLICK HERE to view them.”

Always answer the question “why?”.  Have you ever walked up to someone you’ve never met, handed them a business card, and walked away without saying a word? Likely not. If you want people to do something on your website, such as sign up for your newsletter, don’t just put up a box that says “enter email” or even “sign up for newsletter”—you’ll get a very weak conversion rate. Tell them why they should do it: “Sign up for our newsletter to receive weekly specials.” Same thing goes for Twitter and Facebook logos. Just putting them up isn’t smart. Tell people why they should follow you on Twitter or friend you on Facebook. What will they get out of it?

Trust your Web designer. I tend to see the worst end results with customers who come in with a “I know what I want, just do what I tell you” attitude. You hired an expert because they know more than you, right? Let them do what they do best and they’re more likely to meet and often exceed your goals.

More From:  Build a Killer Website: 19 Dos and Don’ts and Inc.com

Suzy Payne Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website: www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.
Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob

Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob

“Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob” from Kim Dixon and The Sage Peachtree Insider

These services can be a great way to bring new customers to your business. But before you go offering up one of these deals, you need to understand how they work and make sure you can handle the increase in business.

These three services are very similar. All of them allow you to sign up to receive email alerts, or you can go directly to their web sites to see the latest offer. Usually the offer is good for 24 hours, with a different offer each day. And all three have free mobile apps for SmartPhones and the iPad. That’s where the similarities end.

With Groupon and LivingSocial, the customer purchases your coupon upfront and the service pays your portion to you (typically half of the total price of the offer). A good example is a coupon for half off the price of a product or service, good for 6 months up to one year.

Scoutmob has a different approach. Customers request the coupon and receive it for free. As a merchant, you pay Scoutmob a small fee for each customer who redeems a coupon at your business. Scoutmob is available in many cities already, and they have plans to add a new city each month.

In most cases, you won’t be making money on the coupon; it’s really just another form of marketing. Your goal is to make the shopping experience so great that customers want to return, and they’ll want to tell their friends about it…………

More from: “Groupon, LivingSocial, and Scoutmob” from Kim Dixon and The Sage Peachtree Insider

Suzy Rabb
Sage Peachtree Certified Consultant
Sage Solution Provider
Passionate about Small Business
 
Send email to suzy@121-business.com
Website:  www.121-business.com
Join my professional network at Linkedin and follow me on Twitter.