Monday, April 27

The Art of Selling...

A young man from Wisconsin moved to Florida and applied for a job at a huge everything-under-one-roof department store.During the brief interview the store manager asked, "Do you have any sales experience?"

The young man replied, "Yeah, I was a salesman back in Wisconsin. I worked at a car dealership, a general department store and I also sold real estate."

The manager took a liking to the young man and gave him a job saying, "You can start tomorrow. Be here by 9:00 in the morning and ask to speak with Tom Barnes. He is the assistant store manager and he will show you what you need to do. I'll come down after we close and see how you did."

With that they shook hands and parted ways.After the store closed and the doors were locked up , the boss went to see how the young man's first day had gone. After looking all over the store, the manager finally found the young man sitting on a box in the stockroom, hunched over and looking exhausted.

"How was your first day, son?" he asked.
"It was difficult learning about all the departments and products you sell here sir," The young man replied.

Then the manager asked, "How many sales did you make today, son?"
The young man replied, "Only one."
The manager then asked, "Well, how many customers did you talk to?"
Once again, he replied, "Only one."
The manager responded, "Just one? Our sales people average 20 to 30 customers a day! How much was the sale for?"
"$101,237.65," he replied.
"$101,237.65!" exclaimed the manager. "What the heck did you sell?"

The young man responded, "First, I sold the man a small fishhook. Then I sold him a medium fishhook. Then I sold him a larger fishhook. Then I sold him a new fishing rod, reel and a whole tackle box full of lures and stuff. Then, I asked him where he was going fishing, and he said he was going down the coast. I explained to him that if he was going to the coast, he was going to need a boat. We went down to the boat department and I sold him a twin engine fishing boat. After that, he said he didn't think his Honda Civic could pull it, so I took him down to the automotive department and sold him a 4x4 Expedition."

The store manager, with a look of astonishment on his face proclaimed, "A guy came in here to buy a fish hook, and you sold him a BOAT and a TRUCK?"

"No sir!" The young man said. "He came in to buy tampons for his wife. While I was showing him where the tampons were, I said, "Dude, your weekend's shot. You should go fishing."

*PLEASE NOTE THIS IS NOT MY STORY/JOKE, just so wild had to share!!!

Wednesday, April 22

Question of the WEEK...

Steeping outside of the box for a moment!

What are you doing or have done to improve your sales and your overall business growth?

Web 2.0-Social Networking

Sites such as LinkedIn , Facebook, MySpace and Twitter
are popular social networking sites that allow users the opportunity to become members of like-minded, communities that can relay messages, pictures and sound with ease and speed.
Before you jump right in you should always do your research and be sure these sites work for you and your business. There may be other sites more relevant to your business. There are social networks for people over 60, booklovers and diabetics.

People are sensitive to over marketing...too much selling and promoting. So as with the Blogging Edition, your efforts have to be unique and engaging.

Advertising on social networks is still a new thing but many have been doing it. Many offer low entry price with the opportunity of selective niche communication. 'Social Ads', as many call them, could be great starting place for you to test your online marketing.

You can find me on the Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and LinkedIn as well, come visit me sometime...

Monday, April 20

WEB 2.0 Email Marketing...

A form of permission advertising, email marketing basically means that customers have opted to your publicity announcements, monthly updates, etc. via email. Your first step to developing an email marketing campaign is to collect email addresses. It would be a great idea to have your website set up to encourage people to submit their email address easily. You can also collect email at your job, craft shows/events or through a guest book.

There are many email companies out there but you want to be line with the new spam laws, monitor the responses as well as create a design template to make your communication/newsletter visually appealing.

Just a few to name:
Constant Contact

And there are so many more but I select the three because of the great reviews and suggestions of others who have used some the above names.

Once you get your list of emails you will need to then consider how you want to reach out to your customers. You can generate revenue through a newsletter, by mentioning a SALE in your shop or the availability of coupons. You can use your email marketing to build awareness about new products, new shops you have opened or where you r product is now being sold. ie: I have decided for myself to create sections, in which for customers in New York state I will send notice of what show I will be at...

Your point is to keep your name in the mind of the customer. Its also to establish communication between you and your customer(s).

Friday, April 17

Web 2.0-the Blogging Edition

Using sites such as Wordpress, Typepad or Blogspot only takes a few minutes to set up and start communicating with the world. Many businesses have started blogs and they have proven to be a very effective way of positioning ones business in the light.

It is suggested that your blog not too SALES-oriented, post too long or too polished...
Your blog becomes your voice, NO, the voice of your business and/or brand.
It is important to keep your blog post frequent, as to keep it on top of the rotating list and to be found by those searching for topics or things you may have posted. Frequent updates/post need not to be time consuming but will encourage readers (bloggers) to come back and pass your blog on to others...

Wednesday, April 15

Question of the WEEK...

Have you been BRANDED?
Though you may be a small business or an even smaller business. How do you make yourself stand out from the rest of the many other sellers like you, whether online, vending or in shops? Will customers remember you and what you sell? How?

Your E-Shop Setup Basic Q&A...

Q: Does one need, if any, legal documents when setting up and running an online store?

A: YES! Whether you are running an online or actual store, you need to the proper legal documentations. When in the web you are exposed to unauthorized access or data theft, so it is best to set up your business as a corpration or LLC (limited liability company) rather then as a sole proprietroship or general partnership. A corporation and llc limit your personal liability as the latter two do not.

There are also the factors such as taxes and legal issues depending on your choice of business structure. A corporation has strict rules to adhere to, such as forming boards, issuing stocks and marking periodic filings (this varys statet to state). It has been recommended that you incorporate because the cost is way less to form then an LLC.

Your business will also need a federal tax identification number (you get one from Your state Dept of Taxation and Finance can authorize you collect sales tax from in state residents. Some states require online stores/retailers to collect taxes on sales to out of state buyers. This means you would have to contact each state, register your business with its taxation department and file to collect sales tax. If not you could be subject to back taxes and penalties.

Monday, April 13

Using a BUZZ to build on...

We all know the best way to get ahead is to get people talking and inquiring about our wares. This is the best way to get more business and exposure.

Well heres a bit of info to think about. Big businesses/companies do the same thing but for different reasons then many of us. These companies set up blogs, boards or communitys to help them understand the people/buyer, see what they like and how they could ultimately improve their product(s).

Boards/communities are started to get people talking about the latest product. Questions and thoughts like:
  • What are your thoughts on this product?
  • What should the theme, color, shape and full picture should/should've been?
  • What would have made the product better?
  • What made you buy it or what will make you buy it?


Many us sell our wares on sites where feedback of our service, communication and end product can be left. But I noticed that many times the feedback is just praise and glory. Nothing wrong with that at all! But wouldn't you like to know what they truly thought? Like if maybe, for example, I sell cards so if the buyer or anyone else for that matter thought the birthday card would be nice or better as an all occasion card. Maybe they felt the colors could be differnt. Maybe not a flower bug a beetle...How much they would and wouldn't pay for that type of card.

There are just so many questions I have alone! A focous group or community would be so helpful in growing ones business and improving ones products for future sales.

This was just a thought but a deep one we should consider...

Look for the Handcrafted by LaMar Community blog coming soon where buyers can share thoughts of coming card designs and alreay available designs.

Friday, April 10

Question of the WEEK...

For many of us we are currently in our second to fourth years or more of running a small business.

How have you grown, changed or restructured your business
to keep it going forward? Whether through slow sales or a economic failure, such as what the world is going through now...

Questions to ask yourself when business is in trouble...

*Courtesy of Jay Goltz Fortune Small Business (FSB) Apirl 2009

  1. Hows your cash flow? Is it dwindling profits or both?
  2. Has the problem been fixed? Is it fixable? ie: If you marketing idea isn't working, have you dropped it and tried something different? Why not?
  3. Is your industry going bad, making it hard to make a profit? Or is it your execution/plan, whether its pricing, cost of goods, location or venues where you sell your wares over saturated?
  4. If this is fixable what will it cost? Will it be worth it to fix? How long would it take to be fixed?
  5. Is quitting an option? If it is, what are consequences? Do you have loans outstanding? Will you lose your home? Will you have to file for bankruptcy? Will you have tons of raw material that could not be sold to help you see some type of return?
  6. Would it be better for you to change your craft? What if you started on a new craft and carried the burden of designing 2 different crafts? ie: Maybe you are a jeweler...maybe start doing knit.
  7. Do you still have the hunger you had when you first started? Do you still have the fight to go on?
  8. Being strapped for cash and dealing with the obstacles of running a small business can wear you down...
  9. Can you start all over with a fresh idea to improve what you already started?
  10. Are you still having fun? Again do you have the passion that you had when you first started your business? In the beginning it wasn't just about the money it was thrill and knowing that you can do this have fun, enjoy yourself and then make money at the same time...

Just a few questions to think about as you restructure, grow and expand...

Again we are Getting Back to the Basics!

Thursday, April 9

Getting Back to Basics...Pt2

So, as I always do when I feel I am not doing enough I made my list of prioritys.
I looked at it over and over and over and said why is it that if I know what should be done and needs to be done why are we not going further?

My mother though helped my regain focous. One day on the phone while discussing how business was she said, "Remember you only started selling your cards a year ago. It takes many businesses years to see any growth and profit." Right then I realized she was right and I was too caught up in the fact that I had a 100 sales online in one year, my #1 goal for 2008 by the way, and I had just got a new site up,
Handcrafted by LaMar , which seemed to be getting great hits.

So again I drew up another plan, but this time this plan was like I was starting from scratch just with more insight. After all the post I did here trying to help and share with others the things I learned and was learning, I took some of my own advice, tips and tricks to make them work for me.

I did a paid search ad with MSN, and for 2 months straight I pulled in over 2000 hits each month. I finally got a budget down right and have been on it to the teeth. I booked shows early for this year so I could have more time to create and dress my table, appearance is everything. I started to recycle more, for example, I have tons of scrap paper and found ways to make cards out it with fresh new looks. I also went back to the drawing the board and recreated some old designs and certainly made new ones too.

So this year look for great new post and tons of myself on this blog. When I say myself I mean all the experiances from the topics I shared with you... I hope to see you around.

Tuesday, April 7

Getting Back To Basics...

Hello again...
I first want to apologize to all my faithful followers, readers, bloggers and friends who have read this blog, supported this blog and was to let me know I have fallen off...
But like many of you I need advice and help to keep my Small Business afloat. So I did what I hope many of you do when after you've read one of my post, considered the facts and took some advice.

Yes, I took some of the advice I was preaching (cant wait to share that with you all) and most of all I took it 'BACK TO THE BASICS'...

Yeah... I needed to go back to the day and time when I first decided to turn making cards into a business. I needed to find that young, fresh off the bench, ready to play game. I needed to re-define my target audience (still a work in progress). I needed to hone in more on my craft instead of just focusing on selling, marketing and showing off my 100 sales (was just doing the same thing over and over).

What I did first?
Like I said I looked deeper into who my audience was. I feel when it comes to handcrafted cards everyone should have one, buy one and/or get one. The truth of the matter was that that wasn't the case. I began to realize that I sold better to those who were throwing parties, doing events, weddings, baby showers, or restaurant owners. I know that sounds like a lot but it really isn't or at least it wasn't. I also took notice that few people bought cards in bulk. Those who did were of what I call my 'higher end' clientele.
The next thing to do was to use all resources I could get my hands on. I had my future wife take cards to her job... Did Holiday Cards for her sisters job at a very low price (way low)... My mother took a look book to her job... Even got a few co-workers to buy cards (tons of them too...).
The next thing was to redesign the look of the cards. Step outside the box. Use images I would never thought to use before and colors I would never.

What did this do in the long run?
Well I am not at a hundred thousand yet and its still just me at the controls...
But it did help with my exposure.
It got out there.
It got me a few great returns buyers (YAY!).
And most of all, it help keep the spirits up when it seemed as the economy was gonna ruin much of everything...

Stay tune for the second part of "GETTING BACK TO BASICS"