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3 Ways to Make Online Sales More Enticing

Most retail businesses tend to hold sales around the same time — Black Friday, President’s Day, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day — the list goes on. But it’s hard to stand out in a crowded marketplace and be heard, especially in e-commerce, where your competitors are just one click away.

The key to success in any business is gaining attention in your market. Here are three sale-strategies to help you stand out from your competitors:

1. Birthday sales: Just because you’re not George Washington or Abraham Lincoln, doesn’t mean you can’t use your birthday as an occasion to publicly celebrate with a sale. I’m a big proponent of adding in personality-drive marketing into your business. Having a birthday sale when there are no other sales going on is a quick and easy way to stand out.

Get creative with your promotion. If you just turned 45, you can hold a 45 percent off sale. Or if your birthday was 1970, sell your $200 product for $70.

You can celebrate the birthday of virtually anyone — your husband, wife, children, favorite uncle or even one of your favorite customers.

2. Anniversaries: The first obvious anniversary is the length of time you’ve been in business. For example, celebrate your fifth year online with a blowout sale.

But how about your wedding anniversary? Or the anniversary of your parents or grandparents? Maybe your parents are celebrating their 40-year wedding anniversary and you give a 40 percent discount on selected merchandise.

Celebrate with customers and bring them into your world.

3. Unusual holidays: Sure, you’ll find lots of sales during the Super Bowl, but start thinking outside the box. Use the next Friday 13 to hold a sale so good, it’s “scary”. I know, it’s a bit cheesy, but many customers will enjoy having fun with your business. Have a sense of humor about it. Check out the various silly holidays throughout the year and see if you can use one of them in your sales marketing.

By giving people a reason to participate in your sale, you’ll instantly stand out and have a much better chance for success.

Source: Entrepreneur.com

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How to Create a Marketing Plan

Firms that are successful in marketing invariably start with a marketing plan. Large companies have plans with hundreds of pages; small companies can get by with a half-dozen sheets. Put your marketing plan in a three-ring binder. Refer to it at least quarterly, but better yet monthly. Leave a tab for putting in monthly reports on sales/manufacturing; this will allow you to track performance as you follow the plan.

The plan should cover one year. For small companies, this is often the best way to think about marketing. Things change, people leave, markets evolve, customers come and go. Later on we suggest creating a section of your plan that addresses the medium-term future–two to four years down the road. But the bulk of your plan should focus on the coming year.

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

You should allow yourself a couple of months to write the plan, even if it’s only a few pages long. Developing the plan is the “heavy lifting” of marketing. While executing the plan has its challenges, deciding what to do and how to do it is marketing’s greatest challenge. Most marketing plans kick off with the first of the year or with the opening of your fiscal year if it’s different.

Who should see your plan? All the players in the company. Firms typically keep their marketing plans very, very private for one of two very different reasons: Either they’re too skimpy and management would be embarrassed to have them see the light of day, or they’re solid and packed with information . . . which would make them extremely valuable to the competition.

You can’t do a marketing plan without getting many people involved. No matter what your size, get feedback from all parts of your company: finance, manufacturing, personnel, supply and so on–in addition to marketing itself. This is especially important because it will take all aspects of your company to make your marketing plan work. Your key people can provide realistic input on what’s achievable and how your goals can be reached, and they can share any insights they have on any potential, as-yet-unrealized marketing opportunities, adding another dimension to your plan. If you’re essentially a one-person management operation, you’ll have to wear all your hats at one time–but at least the meetings will be short!

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

What’s the relationship between your marketing plan and your business plan or vision statement? Your business plan spells out what your business is about–what you do and don’t do, and what your ultimate goals are. It encompasses more than marketing; it can include discussions of locations, staffing, financing, strategic alliances and so on. It includes “the vision thing,” the resounding words that spell out the glorious purpose of your company in stirring language. Your business plan is the U.S. Constitution of your business: If you want to do something that’s outside the business plan, you need to either change your mind or change the plan. Your company’s business plan provides the environment in which your marketing plan must flourish. The two documents must be consistent.

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

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Stop Worrying About Sales and Build Relationships

When was the last time you saw a billboard, TV or a print ad and said to yourself, “Wow that brand really cares about me and I am going to buy that product?” Let me guess: Never. What is stopping brands from reaching out to consumers personally and actually helping them out?

Most big corporations are generally risk-averse and like to play it safe, when it comes to engaging with customers in public. Giant billboards, TV/radio ads or print ads on newspapers/magazines are all safe ways to market to people. It does not involve any direct interaction with customers and hence very little chance of a negative reaction, but the problem is consumers of 2013 are all blinded by traditional ads. Revenue from traditional advertisement channels are at an all time low.

It’s important to not only look at social media as a channel to get your message out there but also as a way to truly build meaningful relationships with potential and existing customers. Here are two ways that your company can make the most of your social media marketing efforts.

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Look beyond direct brand mentions.
Instead of simply monitoring and taking a passive approach to social media, businesses need to start being aggressive. Everyday there are thousands of people inquiring about potential purchases on Twitter but the brands are overlooking these conversations.

Watching for brand mentions and measuring sentiment is great but it doesn’t always lead to results. For example, in the U.S. alone there are about 6,500 posts on Twitter everyday where people are talking about buying a car and asking for suggestions about car make/model. This statistic shows a significant number of opportunities for every single major carmaker.

Unfortunately, most brands are currently happy to only listen to their brand mentions and respond to customer service issues, which significantly limits the potential of the brand.

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Start a conversation naturally.
Many brands simply do not know how to start the conversation. They think that because a person did not mention the brand specifically or the company’s Twitter handle that it is not proper to start a conversation. An important thing to keep in mind is that sparking up a conversation on Twitter is sort of like dating. The first thing you say to someone you find attractive or somewhat interesting isn’t going to be “will you marry me?” Instead, you’re going to enter that conversation with a sincere smile and start to nurture the relationship with some meaningful conversation.

Sparking up conversations as a brand works the exact same way. Brands should avoid seeming too pushy so the best bet is to engage with people without going for the immediate sale. In some situations a customer will be further down the buying process and in those cases, it’s perfectly fine to go in for the sell. But when that’s not the case brands need to focus on establishing trust and validation. If you look at the network structure of Twitter it is indeed ideal for having a conversation and not just “pushing” one way content to your followers.

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Related: A Social-Media Marketing Primer Even Your Mom Can Handle

For example, if a potential customer tweets “Thinking of getting a car this summer. Any suggestions?” This person is not talking directly to any specific car company, but if a representative from any major car brand reached out to him and just offered a suggestion, it might be well received. The best case is he will engage back and go into a local dealership of the brand that engaged with him. The worst case is he or she will ignore the Tweet. But even if it doesn’t result in making a sale, that person might broadcast the conversation to their followers by retweeting or liking it.

This type of interaction is known as “earned media” and is an extremely powerful form of “word of mouth” marketing. The power of engaging with your customers is endless, but the core lies at simply getting closer to them and genuinely helping them out. Yes, it will take time and effort to engage with people one-to-one, yes you will not start counting the dollars from the first engagement, but what you’ll do is set an everlasting impression in the mind of the consumer, in a way no TV/Billboard/Print Ad ever could. What are you waiting for? It’s time to get into the game.

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Source: Entrepreneur

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10 Tips for Writing Better Online Marketing Content

Traditionally, marketing sells by sending information to people. Marketers produce brochures, send direct mail or email, or place advertising. This is known as “push.” The marketer starts the conversation.

On the web, most contacts are “pull.” People come to your site to find information; the visitor starts the conversation. And you must converse—you must satisfy their information need before you can market to them.

Here are a few things to keep in mind as you craft your marketing content.

1. Marketers often think in terms of how to draw people in. On the web, the primary concern is not to drive people away.

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2. You have 10 seconds to convince visitors that your site deserves a closer look. A recent study from Microsoft Research found that first 10 seconds of a webpage visit are crucial to the user’s decision to stay.

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3. Reading is the primary action people perform on websites, but many people strive to read as little as possible on most websites they hit.

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4. Visitors come to a website to satisfy goals, to perform tasks, to get answers to questions. Think about your own online reading habits. Most often you are looking for something specific.

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5. Take the lead from content marketing and give users factual information as quickly and easily as possible. Because web visitors are so goal oriented, they do not want to be distracted by irrelevant information.

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6. Good web writing is like a conversation. Think of the questions your readers will ask, and answer those in your copy. Use short sentences, and keep it conversational. Show that you are a person and your organization includes people.

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7. On the web, you can be informal and professional at the same time. Writing informally is not dumbing down; it is writing so busy people can understand your content.

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8. When writing web content, use simple words, active verbs, and meaningful modifiers.

9. When you write using simple terms, your site accommodates busy people, impatient people, the aging population, people who read English as a second language, and people who have poor literacy skills. (Have you ever heard anyone complain that a website’s writing style is too simplistic?)

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10. If users cannot find what they are looking for on your website, they will go elsewhere.

Source: Entrepreneur

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The 80/20 Rule of Sales: How to Find Your Best Customers

It is an old business adage: About 20 percent of your customers produce 80 percent of your sales. In my book 80/20 Sales & Marketing, I argue that this 80/20 principle also applies to time management, search engine marketing and far more.

The funny thing is that even with sales, business owners often ignore the 80/20 rule.

We’re all tempted to waste our time trying to please all of our customers instead of the most lucrative ones.

We are all conditioned to always respond to the stimulus around us. So if you obey the 80/20 rule, you are going always to feel as though you are ignoring something — because you are.

It will be an irritating feeling at first. And it particularly gnaws at Americans because we are prone to trying to treat people equally. The phrase is clearly written our Declaration of Independence, that all people “are created equal.” .

But all customers are not equal. Far from it. Some earn you an amazingly disproportionate amount of money, many make you a little bit of money, and some even waste your time. With the last group, you lose money selling anything to them at all.

Your goal should be to zero in on those 20 percent of customers who are essential for your business’ prosperity.

Here are some tips on how to do just that:

Mine your customer lists. Maybe it’s your email distribution list or your company’s Facebook following. But I still find it amazing how many businesses don’t bother to look up sales data on the customers. Apply the R-F-M rule: Check which customers on your list bought most Recently, bought more Frequently, and spent the most Money. Bingo. You’ve found a chunk of your 20 percent. Focus on them. Send them nicer Christmas gifts. Send them a postcard when you’re on vacation.

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

Study your geography. Delve into your point of sale systems and find out where your money-making customers actually live. You can do it really bonehead simple with thumbtacks on a map if you want; or you can do a detailed study. Either way, odds are people or businesses from certain neighborhoods or certain cities are providing most of your business. For example, I know that most of my business consulting customers come from suburbs of technically advanced markets such as San Francisco, Dallas and Washington, D.C. This is important knowledge because you can save money on Internet advertising and other forms of marketing by narrowing it to specific geographies.

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

Find your customer niches. The customers who buy the most expensive products or services almost always fit a peculiar demographic. They are noticeably different than everyone else. Stay open-minded as you figure this out, too. For example, I have a client who provides publicity for authors. Overwhelmingly, his hottest buyers are middle-aged divorced women. Many are rebounding from failed marriages and feel compelled to do something significant — like write a book. My advice to my friend is to subtly take advantage of this insight by publishing customer endorsements where the authors mention similar struggles. People who’ve experienced that pain can’t not notice. Those stories naturally attract similar authors to the business.

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Fire your problem customers. Inevitably, there is another 10-20 percent of customers who rack up support tickets and chew up phone time, and take away from you servicing your most lucrative 20 percent. If you’ve tried to fit a square peg into a round hole too many times with them, just stop. I’ve done that. I’ve said to customers, ‘I should not be consulting for you anymore.’ I’ve occasionally even blacklisted customers — or at least made a point to ignore them until they go away. Be polite and gracious about it, because you don’t want a bad online review. But still do it.

Sales & Marketing Expert Services? Click here to contact Rose Situbi and Owen Kabole

Pinpoint your ‘Silent High-Volume Buyers.’ Almost all businesses have a few of them — especially in B-to-B companies. They send in a purchase order every two months, and it’s usually a nice fat one. They truly are your highest-return customers. They require so little maintenance that you don’t even notice they’re there most of the time. Instead, you’re chewing up time on the phone with the squeaky wheel guy who actually costs you more money to service than he makes you. Ignore the problem customers, and direct your time towards relationships with the hassle-free, big spenders. Take them out to lunch. You’ll most certainly find there’s a product or service you have that they don’t know about.

It is so natural to want to pay attention to all of your customers. But you don’t need everyone — far from it.

Paddle away from the 20 percent of your customers who cause problems, and focus on the 20 percent who buy the most from you.

Source: Entrepreneur