Tuesday, January 27

Search Engine Marketing...

Is your website working for you or are you working for your website?
As the world turns, the web evolves and so must your business.

Search engines allow you to appear in front of people who expressed interest in your product or service by typing a few KEY words relevant to your site. Your web link can appear in 2 places on a search engine page; as a natural result or a sponsored result.

Natural is the term for links that appear after a word or phrase is typed into a search engine. Sponsored links are advertisements you must pay for and are shown above or next to natural search results, which appears when keywords are typed into a search box.

The best way to gather keywords is to begin with some generic words then hone in more specific words-consider alternative words that mean the same thing. After you find 10 to 15 keywords they then need to be embedded into your meta pages. These are commands that describe the page it is coded to. Note they are invisible to your customer but important for search engines to find you. In addition to your keywords, search engines consider the viewable text of your site in order to determine its position in the results.

Paid Searches.
Paid search works somewhat like an auction. You bid on search terms for your product/service. Once you pay for the term(s) you develop a text-based advertisment for posting along side natural results, then pay-per-click when user click your ad. The advantage here is that your ad can appear near the top of the results and you get to set a budget that when met will automatically remove your ad. You should consider creating a budget; 1) how much you will spend over a period of time 2) how much you're willing to allocate for each click. The more $ you pay for a click through, the higher you will likely rank.

Keep in mind when it comes to generic terms, you are likely to be out bid by companies with bigger budgets. If you have the money, bidding on keywords can be a successful strategy for increasing your presence on-line, though it may not always lead to sales.

Monday, January 26

Maximizing Your Sales...

Growing your client base and gaining new clients/accounts is the basic elemnet of sales coverage.
If you are reevaluating your sales coverage, here's a few questions and tips to consider...

  1. Are you selling to the right market?
  2. How do your customers want to do business? A recent client study shows that many prefer to do business over the phone versus a face-to-face visit. This is because of tight schedules and time taken from actual sales the buyers can be conducting during the time of a face-to-face meeting. Larger buyers prefer to have the option to meet and to buy over the phone.
  3. When to do a face-to-face sale or a sales call? Face-to-face is valuable. It allows the buyer to see and feeel the product, but if your an experienced seller then a sales call is a walk in the park.
  4. Do you have alternate channels of distribution? This is basically networking. Are there people out there that can add some of your items to their sales? For example, if a friend makes a sale of a vase, they can add a greeting card with it. This will get that buyer interested in my card designs and bring them to my site just to browse and maybe later becoming a customer. Many people I knoe do this with business card exchanging, but an actual item is so much more affective, in my opinion. This tactic is also helpful with website/URL's/ Exchanging links can help drive traffic. This works by placing someone elses URL on your site as they do the same.
  5. Is your marketing plan and sales plan the same? Your marketing plan should back-up your sales coverage. You need to create awareness to help sales indentify new leads.

Friday, January 23

Jumpstart Sales with an ol'School approach...

Socrates taught his students to ask questions that will make others question their own assumptions. With this thought in the aspect of sales we can persuade buyers to open up, examine all consequences of their position and work with you or your sales rep to close a sale that works for both.

ie: "Mrs. Hill, I will like to discuss the products, which I mentioned in our phone conversation earlier this week. I would like to know your thoughts, so we can focus the meeting on what interests, questions or hurdles you may have."

The point is to get the buyer to tell you 'NO' before they can think of saying, 'NO'. How is this possible? Well if the buyer tells all the reasons why they think your product will not or why they can not accept your sale at the point in time, you can work with them and around any situation that comes up. Once the buyer has done that, you keep asking questions: "Tell me more..." "What would help me understand more..." "what can make this easier..."

Some inexperienced salespeople do not listen to the buyer.
Don't get impatient with the buyer, because they are stilling sizing you up. Let them talk and vent, don't just jump in with assurance that you can be better then other vendors. Inquire more on they feel on certain situations they discuss. This will help identify the buyers personal motivators and show you have remorse and care for them as well. Basically it gives you a better connection with the buyer.

Key point here is to listen to your buyer(s) with eyes and ears. Body Language speaks in volume. Keep the meeting/conversation productive while identifying what they need and want.

This is a true fact. I have not personally done this with shops, wholesaling, B&M's, but at craft shows I have exercised these tactics with people who have stopped at my booth. In return, a few shows have turned those same people into buyers through my website, with revenue in the hundreds.

Notes here were gathered from
'Sales & Marketing Management Magazine'
Article: 'Socrates Makes A Call' by DALE KLAMFOTH


Here are some basic SALES 101 skills:
  • Locate and manage your territory
  • Cold-Calling (it does work)
  • Plan and execute an end to end sales pitch
  • Understands the buyers business challenges and opportunities
  • Plan a successful meeting with prospective buyers
  • Follow the buyers sales process and what your product can do to help improve it
  • Know their competitors and their products
  • Negotiate
  • Close

Knowing the competitors selling strategies and creating a counter strategy for the buyer can be a helpful tactic in your sales pitch. You goal is to get the buyer in a place or state of mind where they can see your product as a great way to excel. If you must add a few things to the display of your product just to draw the attention of customers to your buyers shop that will build the relationship and give the buyer confidence in you.

You can always wing it with price bargaining, features, an over the top demo or with well known brand names, but with some of the points above you will be more likely to close a buyer faster and keep a relationship strong.

Wednesday, January 21

Keep In Sight What Matters... PART 2

A quick re-cap from Keep In Sight What Matters PART One:
We discussed the Golden Rule of Marketing, acknowledging that your website is truly a reflection of you
and the importance of it look, capability, load speed
and conversation with prospective customers and current customers...
To read more click here.

So your site is in shape and now you need to attract visitors... Online marketing is an extension of what you do offline. Customers become aware of the existence of your website your marketing activities like, placing your web address/URL on your business cards, mailings, email signatures, word of mouth, and advertising.

The more ways you get your web address in the face of your target audience, the more traffic your site will get. Networking with like minded business friends is an excellent idea; linking to each others websites. 'Email-a-friend' links encourages visitors to pass your site on and drives more traffic to your site. There is also affiliate marketing, in which your site appears on sites of related products/items, but you must pay them for each sale they generate. For some this may be the best way to go, but since we are looking to make this the simplest way of getting exposure I personally do not like affiliate marketing...

Search engines are the primary way people find your site. Natural search results are those which the system returns based on how popular a site is, while paid search generally refers to the ads that appear adjacent to the natural results. An idea is to ask owners of other websites (related to your business) to link to yours, as the more sites link to you the higher your site ranks with search engines. *We will get further into search engines later this week...

To know if what you are doing is a success, you should first determine what each particular action is worth to you, like What is the value of an email address versus a phone number versus and appointment or sale. On the internet you can test different methods quickly and cheaply. You can set up different landing pages on your website that will greet visitors from multiple sources. Each web page serves as a front door to your site, so the information presented needs to be relevant to the ad or site from which your visitor came from.

So basically here you what to remember first and foremost that your site is as important as a physical shop because as when a customer walks a shop they are looking to find and see what the store advertises to offer or sale. With your site (if you sold flowers) a prospect/visitor will be looking for floral themed product line, and they do not have the opportunity to talk to you directly so your site is responsible for telling them everything they want to know and when its just too much for your site to handle it must be able to provide that visitor/prospect with a way to contact you. Also, know that the web is your friend not your enemy because you can get tons of advertising without blowing holes in your pocket....

Stick around this week when we explore
Enhance your position in search engine rankings through SEO and SEM.....

Tuesday, January 13

Keep In Sight What Matters....

The Internet and opportunities in which to leverage your business are constantly evolving. Something like society, if you ask me. With some knowledge of the web and common business sense, you can make the Internet work for you.


Cost efficiency and scale are 2 great advantages of the web. If your business is online and primary online its open 24 hours a day whether you are there or not. It represents you to your target audience and prospects when its convenient for them-after a craft/trade show, from a business card they found stuffed down in their wallet or purse or by word of mouth. So your site should be a simple manifestation of your company, working with you, providing information and making sales.
If your website is product based, then it is every bit as important as if you had a physical store and requires the same amount of attention. If you are selling a service then your site becomes an extension of your sales force. An effective website will improve returns on all marketing activities.

A unique and innovative web design should be your goal to create a buzz, but does not have to destroy you before you can reap benefits of your business. Be realistic and practical about your sites layout so to attract and retain your customers attention.
Here's a quick checklist:
  • Is your site simple to understand and easy to navigate?
  • Whats the load time? How fast does it load?
  • Is it relevant and focused on customer information?
  • Does it provide customers an easy way to contact with you?

The information provided is a courtesy of OPEN BOOK American Express.
Stay tuned for part 2 later this week.

Monday, January 12

'08 Dow Winners and Losers

Well as a business person I always say its important to know what the enemy (competition) is up to and how well or bad they are doing. This important to me because no 1 idea belongs to any 1 individual.

Quick example:
I make and sell cards. Now if business 'XYZ' makes and sells cards and other paper goods I need to or at least should want to know how they are doing. This is because there may be a piece of the paper industry I am missing out on. Also if 'XYZ' creates a card design that is not selling and I happened to create a similar design, then I know it should go back to drawing broad and be modified...

Hope that example helped example my position a little.

Ok now to the winner and loser of the '08 Market:
The only 2 stocks to rise the most during the '08 economic slump were
Wal-Mart Stores with 18% gain and McDonalds with nearly 6% gain.
Family Dollar rose 36% in 2008
GM fell 60 cents/16%
Citigroup dropped nine cents or 1.3%

Now I am not a stocks and bonds expert but what those stats tell me is car items will drop if not dropping already because cars are not selling. Food you know will continue to sell. Banks are falling because of bad loans and the fact that people are scared of this economy and rather have they cash on hand instead of in some bank where they may not see it again. And last but not least that discounted items and stores will sell a lot more because people are holding onto their dollars really tight and are now more concerned with getting the right bang for their bucks...

These are just a few things a business owner should know
when it comes down to designing, production and wholesaling...

Marketing and Advertising Online 2009

This year it is more important to get your products and services seen and heard...
Online Marketing/Advertising creates opportunities that allow you to reach new customers.

With new tools emerging everyday on the web for user interaction, business owners can no longer afford to sit to the side when it comes to marketing their products and services via the web.

The online world assists, aides and compliments existing practices; it doesn't make them obsolete. Though it can be overwhelming at times, because of the lack of technical expertise, cash flow, time and the millions of other businesses with money already out there competing for the attention of consumers, this month we will explore multiple avenues we can use to promote, market and advertise our products/services at our maximum potential via the web.

So stay tuned this month for post like:
  1. Keep your Sights on What Matters (a 2 part series pertaining to 'The Golden Rule of Online Marketing' and 'How to Attract Visitors and the Measure of Success')
  2. Search Engine Marketing
  3. Social Networking WEB 2.0 (Blogging, Social Networks and more...)
  4. Web Stats/Analytics (Hits, Views and more...)
  5. The Wrap Up... (The Future)

Please if there are things you would like to add to any post or topic or if there are topics I did not mention or touch that are important to you email us at smlbiztlk@yahoo.com and I will be sure to review it and post it...

Remember this blog and information is for you and those like you, the small to smaller business owner, and those inspiring to become business owners. All information on this blog is gathered from multiple resources (magazines, webinars, seminars, newspapers, e-zines and business associates) and from the experience gained in the few years of business with La-Mar Lynch.

Friday, January 9

Retail Economic Forecast...

I feel as a business owner it is important
to know whats going in the economy whether it affects you or not.
The economy has been failing for months going into the holidays and the reports are in...

Macy's down 4%
Gap down 14%
Neiman Marcus down 28%
Walmart up 1.7%

What does this mean?
Well depending on what you are selling it can mean nothing or it can mean so much. There is a known fact that many brand name companies today have grown and succeed during poor economic times. With this knowledge you can plan and budget 2009 sales more efficiently. No need to lower your prices and/or cheat yourself of profit but you should know what your consumers are thinking and feeling with a market now on its knees...

I have started this blog preaching the budget aspect and still I stand by it because if you budget correctly you will be able to withstand the hike in prices and other wild things that may happen this year, while still providing affordable quality handcrafted goods...

There was also mention during the holidays how many people were not shopping as they have done many years before. They were buying handmade items. Craft stores seen small spikes in sale as the holidays drew near, because as one customer said, "Its easier to make a gift a then to spend money that may not be there tomorrow..." This just comes to show you how things will change this year and how it can be better for crafters and sellers alike...

Keep up with me as we journey through 2009 and this failing economy.
Become a follower, see and read facts that may help you!

Monday, January 5

Getting into the New Year Swing of things!

The Year has begun and there is so much to do...
Where do we start and where do we go from last years sales heading into the future? Well allow me to share with you a few tips and pointers I am sure will get you off to a great start.

  1. First of all breathe... For many, it was a hectic but extremely fun first year selling our crafts anywhere we can. To the pros out there...well Congrats on yet another great year. Back to us FRESHMEN we have to get things in order. So I suggest the first step being to go over last years stats. Review your books, evaluate you C.O.GS (cost of goods) Expenses compared to what you actually made. Be sure your books are in order because we are also entering tax season. Look at what you spent the most and where you made the most. This will surely be helpful 2009....
  2. Concentrate on formulating a budget and sticking to it the best way you can. If you spent hundreds on things,whether items/projects or events, which had no return, you should reconsider doing that again...
  3. If you didn't do your research last year then do it this year. Google the items or service you are providing and see what others are doing, charging and saying about it. There is always something going on out there and the best way to stay on top of things is to be in the middle of it...
  4. Advertise! Yes I said it ADVERTISE!!! No I am not saying go buy a $300 ad on some website for a week, but do the FREE Stuff, keywords, pay per click, Project Wonderful, Own the Hour, etc. I did this last year in December, no lie I had 6500 views the next morning... Excited? Heck yeah I was! But then really mad with myself because I did so late in the year! The more people see you the more your name is burned into they subconsciousness.
  5. Join Social Networks and do creative Blogging. Social Networks are great more because of the motivation that can almost literally jump out and get you. They do help get you a few sales too... (SMILE) But a Social Network is worth its weight in gold because other then motivation and new friends you find out things you never knew about selling, even about your craft. Blog? Sure why not! just be sure to be creative... I have seen so many blog doing the same thing its kind of nuts. They say blog as often as possible, like everyday. Funny thing is the some of the ones that do not blog everyday are way interesting and fun to look at and read then those that have a post for everyday...

Hey its just something to think about, to get you off on the right track for 2009!