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Articles Related to Small Business and Startups

Small Business Website Tips for Increasing Your Online Sales

November 17, 2011 by Dustin

Directing traffic to your website is only the first part of increasing your online sales. In the past we have often discussed the various methods for targeting your potential customers but what happens when they are actually on your website. Do your visitors follow through with a purchase or do your leads tend fizzle out? With this question in mind we offer the following suggestions to increase the likelihood of a sale once your customers are able find you on the Web. Increasing Website Sales

 

Ease Your Customer’s Fear:

With most transactions there are associated risks. It is very important to address these risks because they may immediately deter your potential customers. Having a secure website, a customer privacy policy, and offering a money back guarantee is just a few ways that you can put your customer’s fears to rest.

 

Create Value and Offer Incentives:

One of the great things about the Internet is that it allows people to easily explore their options however this can also make it hard for a business to stand out amongst competitors. It will help if you offer additional value whether it is through better pricing, a higher level of quality, or better customer service.

 

Display Genuine Testimonials:

The past positive experiences of your current customers can help encourage new customers to choose your products or services. People love reviews because they help them to predict their level of satisfaction based on the experiences of others. A positive and genuine customer testimonial can often prove to be a major factor in a visitor’s decision to choose your company over one of your competitors.

 

Build a Relationship:

Be sure to express product or service recommendations based on the information that your customers provide. Making a one-time sale might be your initial goal but you should always strive to build a long term or an ongoing business to client relationship. Nurturing this type of relationship will not only influence future business with that particular customer but it will also increase your reputation and show your potential customers that you care. Follow up emails, subscriptions, memberships, loyalty programs, customer satisfaction surveys, and product recommendations are all great ways to continue positive communication with your customers.

Additional suggestions include:

  • Allowing your customers to focus by limiting the number of products offered on each page.
  • Creating an attention grabbing headline for your products page.
  • Clearly expressing your products, how they work, and how it will benefit the customer.
  • Focusing on your visitor by using terms like “you and your” while avoiding “we, me, and I”.
  • Creating a sense of urgency without being pushy. For example use “limited time only” or “Available while supplies last”.
  • Using various color schemes and text formatting to grab your visitor’s attention.
  • Determining what methods, prices, or product features work best for your business and attracts more customers. (Split Testing)

These are just some basic suggestions that can be implemented to increase your online sales. I urge you not to stop here and continuously explore your own ideas to discover what works best for your business.

For additional tips please visit How to increase sales and 6 Sure Ways to Increase Sales!

Thanks for reading and Good Luck with increasing your business’s sales.

Dustin

CDTek.com

 

Dealing with Distractions and Staying Focused at Work

November 10, 2011 by Dustin

Distraction can be a major obstacle for most people in the work environment. Filtering out the noise and staying focused on your daily tasks is often much easier said than done. Our daily routines, electronic devices, and environment all have the potential to stand in the way of us completing crucial assignments. The average distraction takes a person anywhere from 2-15 minutes to recover from once the distraction is actually removed. In order to overcome these distractions and conserve your precious work time you should try to incorporate some of the following suggestions into your work habits. For the purpose of this article the daily distractions that we encounter have been broken down into three categories mental, physical, and environmental. dealing with workplace distractions

Dealing with Mental Distractions:

Have a Firm Stance-

Dealing with and overcoming distractions is no easy task which is why it is important for you to stand your ground. Know that your time crucial, understand that what you are working on is important, and recognize that it needs to get done.

 

Stop Procrastinating-

It is important that you break the habit of procrastination. Continuously pushing back work will only push it further from your mind and will make completing it even more stressful. People who say that procrastinating helps them because they work better under pressure are most likely just trying to justify a poor habit and would most likely work just as well if they were motivated to complete the task sooner.

 

Relax-

If you find that you are too stressed to work there is no point in stressing yourself out any worst. Find something that you like doing or and put your mind at ease for a little while. Try taking a few minutes for you by staying loose, listening to relaxing music, or reading un-work related material.

 

Be Well Rested-

Ensure that you get a good night’s sleep and that your body and mind is well rested, flexed, and ready for work. Exercising, reading the morning paper, and solving puzzles will help wake and keep your brain in gear.

 

Dress the Part-

What you wear often reflects how you feel. Wear the clothes that exude your confidence because it will most likely be shown though your work as well.

 

Reward Your Self-

Celebrate your accomplishments don’t just move immediately onto your next task. Have some kind of system that lets your brain relax and take a short break from work. Moving from task to task without any acknowledgement is a surefire way to burn out quickly. Going out to party every time you finish your work is a little much but perhaps you can do something small and personal like check out your favorite website, get coffee, take a walk, or call a friend.

 

 

Dealing with Physical Distractions:

Take on Bite Sized Chunks-

Start with the easiest assignments. Once they are completed feel good about your work and carry forward with that same momentum onto your next job at hand.

 

Watch out for Menial Activities-

Menial activities like washing out your coffee cup, opening mail, and sharpening your pencils can be used as a welcomed distraction from work but they can also unintentionally take up too much time. Reserve some time in your schedule to complete these activities or you could also use these tasks as breaks in between your other job assignments.

 

Be Prepared-

Make sure you have what you need before you get started so that there are no excuses to take any unnecessary break.

 

Eat, Drink, Sleep and Exercise-

Make sure your body has fuel and is well rested. Exercise is a great way to stimulate your mind and body as well as to stay energized throughout your day. Drinking too much coffee can often make it hard to focus so you may want to consider drinking tea.

 

Filter out the Noise-

Soft music, soothing sounds, and static noise can be helpful with relaxing because it helps to filter out the other noise distractions that you might encounter.

 

Minimize Interruptions from your Coworkers-

Use your email auto-responders to let others know that you are hard at work on something that requires your full attention. If a coworker does stop you from working avoid being rude, try saying something nice, then explain to them that you need to get back to work and maybe set up a time to catch up later.

 

Set aside your Own Time-

Schedule some time to take care of the stuff that would normally cause you to be distracted while working.

 

Organize and Prioritize-

Use a calendar or project management software that lets you create task reminders and set priorities to your specific assignments.

 

Complete Tasks as they Present-

Try to avoid picking up the same assignment twice. Make sure that when you receive something, that you complete it and then move on, don’t do part of it and then come back to it later because that can cause more distractions.

 

 

Dealing with Environmental Distractions:

Close the Door-

Close your office door, close the blind, and concentrate on your work. Cutting out visual distractions lets you keep the task at hand in sight at all times.

 

Turn off what you don’t Need-

The computer, the Internet, and your cell phone can all be a huge distraction. If they aren’t being used turn them off so that you can maintain your focus on your work.

 

Check the Temperature-

Maintain a… Read the rest

Tips for Cold Calling Your Prospective Customers

November 3, 2011 by Dustin

Are your phone lines ringing off the hook with potential clients or are you with the majority of small businesses who have suffered a decline in customer activity? You have a business, you offer a product or a service, and you have a business goal but now what?

Rarely do customers seek out a business unless they are familiar with its background and brand reputation. If you need the customers, it is up to you to find them. It is your responsibility to target your audience and capture the attention of prospective customers. Advertising and marketing play a vital role in making your business appeal to a specific audience. Lately social media has provided companies with a tremendous, free, and effective marketing tool, however social networking sites are not the only tools available. There are plenty of offline marketing techniques, one of which is Cold Calling. Although cold calling doesn’t have the best reputation, if done correctly it can be a valuable sales tactic for your business.

Cold calling is the marketing technique of reaching out to possible future customers via the telephone. The term cold is used because the potential buyers are not expecting to be contacted nor have they had any prior communications about the product. Cold calling is the opposite of warm calling which is where the potential client directly expresses their interest in your services. Companies that warm call their customers typically gather information using post cards and website information surveys or subscriptions. Compared to warm calling, cold calling relies much more on guess work, calling the right person at the right time, having the right solution, and a little bit of luck.

Some might think that cold calling is only disliked by consumers however sales associates often dislike this technique just as much. For many companies cold calling customers can be one of their greatest weaknesses.

Why consumers dislike cold calling:

  • The majority of the time you can easily discover that the cold caller is uninformed about what they are selling.
  • These types of calls are often unwelcome interruptions and can distract from actual work.
  • Most of the time we probably aren’t interested in the products being sold.
  • Sometimes the callers can appear as being manipulative, too resilient by not taking no as an answer, and too chummy or fake in order to get the sale.

Why sales associates dislike cold calling”

  • They have to call someone they don’t know.
  • They have to call someone they that probably won’t be interested in their product or service.
  • They are discouraged easily because the high number of people who reject their sales pitch.
  • They have to perform a task that usually brings the worst out of people.
  • Cold calling can feel uncomfortable and repetitive, and the cold caller is often lousy at it.

 

Companies that rely on cold calling as their primary source for generating sales are fighting an uphill battle. However this doesn’t technically mean that it doesn’t work, it just requires more effort and the right skill set. The following are some important tips to follow when you are using cold calling for your business.

Be educated, prepared, and sell the appointment:

Know what you are selling and how to properly sell it before you attempt a cold call. Research the company that you are cold calling and try to identify the decision maker prior to calling. Develop a proper opener and possibly a call outline of the topics and key items you want to emphasize during the conversation.

Always be courteous and display confidence:

Sales calls can often bring out the worst in people but it is extremely important for you to remain polite and respectful to all parties that you encounter when conducting a cold call.

Don’t underestimate the “Gatekeeper”:

The person situated between you and the decision maker is known as the gatekeeper. This person is usually a secretary or assistant that screen callers for the decision maker. When talking to this person don’t lie, or be rude, just be straight forward with them. In order to reach the decision make you must first produce a positive impression on the gatekeeper.

Respect the prospects schedule:

Ask them if it is a good time to talk with them about the opportunities that your organization or products can provide. If they are unable to talk with you at that moment then suggest a specific time to reach them, avoid general lines like “I will call you back at another time”. Instead ask “Would it be more convenient if I called back tomorrow morning at 10am”.

Carrying the conversation:

If you manage to make it through the gatekeeper and the prospect has the time to meet with you then it is extremely important to capture their attention early in the conversation as well as maintain it throughout. Try to utilize their name throughout the conversation to strengthen and develop the bond.

  • Be professional but enjoyable

Don’t be afraid to make them laugh or deviate to the occasional small talk. Being honest about a sales call situation can also provide some levity and small talk can help establish a relationship with the prospective customer. For example a cold caller may introduce themselves by saying “Hi my name is Jane and this is a sales call, I know most people hate sales calls, so I’ll be brief but I feel that there are some important opportunities that our service can provide for your company.

  • Project Emotion, Create Excitement, and provide value

Use past positive anecdotes and success stories to inspire positive feelings for the prospective client. For a physical product you can suggest a product… Read the rest

Offline Marketing Techniques for Your Online Business

October 27, 2011 by Dustin

With marketing today it is absolutely necessary for a business to develop a strong advertising plan and utilize a diverse set of marketing strategies.  In most cases, businesses tend to spend much more on the their company advertisement or the promotion of their products than the actual cost of production. In the past we have emphasized the different ways to market your company online however you should also keep in mind the opportunities that offline advertising has to offer. Marketing Word Cloud

The basic principle behind promoting your business is to express and convey the company’s goals, products, or ideas to the targeted audience. Businesses use marketing methods in order to maximize their brand recognition and customer awareness. With today’s technology it is fairly simple to market your business online with email, blogs, and social media sites. However, a well-designed marketing campaign should actually incorporate both online and offline promotional strategies. Due to the intense focus that has recently been directed to online marketing, some companies may have lost focus and have possibly missed out on attracting offline consumers. The following is the more widely used offline marketing strategies. Each of these methods can be used to increase your company’s brand and reputation.

  • Place your website’s URL in emails, letterheads, and business cards.

  • Give out complementary promotional items. For example you could give T-Shirts, fliers, bumper stickers, pens, and magnets all with your business logo or company website listed.

 

  • Advertise your company and the website’s URL in newspaper or magazine press releases.

 

  • Using QR codes so mobile users can access your website

 

  • Create window or storefront signs that display your website’s URL for both customers and potential customers passing your store.

 

  • Join local community groups to spread information about your company. (Business associations and Chamber of Commerce)

 

  • Create and Send Business Post Cards that provide contact information about for your company.

 

  • Contact your local business direct mailing advertiser. Design and create an advertisement for your local audience.

 

  • Sponsor local Events, Fundraisers, and Charity Functions.

 

  • Make sales calls or hire someone to perform “cold calling”.

 

  • Attend Business Trade Shows or Seminars to network with other industry professionals.

 

  • Use Word Of Mouth by reaching out to your contacts and spreading promotional information to friends, family, and acquaintances.

These are just a few tips for marketing your online business offline, for more examples visit 37 Original ways promote your Business . In conclusion, marketing should be a blend of online and offline techniques. The internet may offer a good environment to market your business but that doesn’t mean that you should limit your company’s reach to the internet and restrict your marketing potential. Almost every business on the Internet is performing online marketing which is why adding some offline promotional strategies can potentially help distinguish you from your competitions.

Thanks for Reading!

Dustin

CDTek.com

 

Using a Facebook Fan/Like Gate to Attract and Retain Customers

October 21, 2011 by Dustin

Could your business benefit from utilizing a Facebook “Like-Gate”? A year ago most people were unfamiliar with the term Like Gate and those who were familiar with it probably where critics. The primary reason for why this technique first caused controversy was because it basically begs and bribes someone to like your Facebook page. Additionally this technique also faced criticism because it only ensures the initial “like” and doesn’t necessarily generate loyal customers. Nonetheless it seems to have now become one of the more common practices for businesses on Facebook. The concept behind a fan/like gate is to offer exclusive content to your Facebook visitors once they have “Liked” your page.

Facebook's Like Icon

Facebook’s Like Icon

Benefits of a having a “Like-Gate”:

The main benefit of utilizing a “like-gate” on your business’s Facebook page is that it helps attract new visitors and gains your company page more fans. The fans that you acquire using this method can also later turn into valuable customers. A “Reveal-Gate” can also help with increasing your brand awareness and gives you the opportunity to build a better customer relationship with those who decide to like your page. Having a “like-gate” can also help you weed through the visitors and determine which of them will actually be customers. Most of the time the people who “like” your page are doing so in order to learn more about your company or the products that you offer. However this can also become a negative reason for having this type of barrier.

 

Negatives of having a “Like-Gate”:

As we mentioned, a like gate can filter out the customers from visitors but because the “Like” barrier often promises some kind of reward, customers may temporarily accept your conditions in an attempt to gain access to a one time deal. There is no way to guarantee a loyal customer using this technique unless you continue to offer them deals or create a positive and lasting first impression. Some feel that a “Fan-Gate” will devalue true fans of your company and that it also cheapens the notion of actually liking something. Customers are often quick to click the “Like” button when they know that they are going to receive some kind of benefit from this action. By offering an incentive it lessens the value of the customer instead of giving them the chance to experience and like you on their own terms. Another problem with a “Fan-Gate” is that it can be expensive, not necessarily to create but to maintain the promotions promised. If your page is able to offer an incentive as well as sustain the customers future business it could potentially be worth it, however the problem occurs when customers have no intention of being a returning customer without the promise of future discounts.

 

If You Choose To Use a “Like-Gate”:

If you find that is beneficial for your company to use this kind of customer generating device then you should try to follow some of the following tips.

  • Let them know that liking the page will give them access to special offers, news, tips or other information your audience is interested
  • Visually tell the visitor what to do when they land on the page. Some use arrows pointing at the “like” or you can also copy and paste a picture of the “Like” button on your page design.
  • Avoid gimmicks and stay true to your brand.
  • Strive for authenticity and exclusivity.
  • Monitor your results and utilize the method that works best for you.
  • Focus on quality over quantity and reward loyalty.
  • Deliver a Strong Call-to-Action & Compelling Reason to “Like”
  • Try to avoid begging or seeming desperate to have the user “like” your page.

 

Designing a “Like-Gate”:

  • Decide what type of incentive you want to offer in order to attract fans.
  • Design the look of your “Like-gate”. Design two web pages, one for “non-fans”, who haven’t yet clicked “Like” and one to show to those that have.
  • Implement the “Like-gate” on your Facebook Page.

Some common “Like-Gates” offer things like having a First glimpse access to new content, Exclusive access to register for events, special coupon discounts, free shipping, and Giveaways.

 

How to Get a “Like-Gate”:

There are two different ways a company can employ a gate, they can either create one or purchase a pre-existing template. Creating one is more complicated and will require some coding knowledge. Creating a “Reveal Page” requires the use of an iFrame to pull in PHP code from a separate site. For business less computer savvy they can easily purchase a Facebook Building Application from a company like North Social. Customers can these applications on Facebook. The suite costs about $20 a month and comes with a 14 day free trial. Once purchased, there are over 15 different types of apps to choose from and each can be easily assigned to your company’s Facebook page. Some of the applications that North Social offers include the following.

Deal Share -Create and launch a viral deal on your Facebook Page where you can set the number of registrations required to unlock a group discount.

Exclusive – Visitors unlock a “fan exclusive” download by sharing a wall post (supports audio, video, documents, printable coupons, and more).

Fan Offer – Convert visitors into fans of your Facebook page by rewarding them with an exclusive coupon or invitation to a special event.

Sign Up – Create contact forms, online surveys, and invitations to capture valuable information directly from your Fan page.

Sweepstakes – Launch a sweepstakes on your Facebook Page in minutes with this all-in-one… Read the rest