Tag Archive: gift_certificates

5 Innovative Ways to Generate New Business

In his great book The E-Myth, Michael Gerber says that many small business owners spend too much time working in their business and not enough time working on their business. Why is working on our business so important?

Because clients and customers leave.

They leave for all sorts of reasons – maybe they don’t need you anymore, or they found what you do somewhere else that is more convenient or cheaper, or they moved, or whatever. Working on your business means it is not a crisis when a customer leaves.

Here then are five innovative ways to work on your business – to grow your business – without breaking the bank:

1. Tap into the Power of Testimonials: Satisfied customers can be one of a small business’ best marketing tools. A testimonial impresses potential customers because it is an independent third-party validation that a business really is as good as it claims to be.

So get out there and ask some of your best customers to write you some letters of recommendation on their stationary. Then you can take these testimonials and:

Put them in your shop window
Add them to your website
Add them as an email tagline
Use them on your blog or e-newsletter
Use them in sales presentations

What about adding a video testimonial to your website? Talk about making an impact.

2. Boost Your Word-of- Mouth Advertising: We all know that word –of-mouth is the best sort of advertising there is. But aside from just waiting or hoping that a customer passes your name along, you can:

Create a referral reward system that gives customers a discount when they refer you business
Encourage comments on your Facebook page, blog or website
Ask your best customers to recommend you

Finally, check out the organization Le Tip; a group whose purpose is to foster word of mouth referrals.

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss.

3. Stay in Touch: One way to make a one-off customer into a loyal, repeat customer is to remain top of mind. If you want to get repeat business, your customer has to think of you when he or she has a need. They will more likely think of you if you gently, consistently (but not too often) stay in touch with them.

Here are two ways to do this:

Social media is all the rage for a reason: It works. Creating a Facebook page for instance is easy, and through contests and great content, you can get people to “like” it. Thereafter, that page becomes a friendly place to stay in touch. Tweeting can also be used.
Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch because it is permission marketing, that is, by signing up to receive your e-newsletter; customers are giving you permission to stay in touch with them.

4. Sell gift certificates and gift cards: You see gift cards for sale everywhere these days – at the market, in department stores, heck, I even saw some for sale recently at my car wash. Bottom line: Gift cards sell, it is estimated that up to 10 percent of all holiday sales now are in the form of gift cards.

Gift cards cannot only be used by large businesses. Any small business can and should create them as well. Also, if you currently accept debit and credit card payments, check with your card processor to see if they offer a gift card program.

5. Up-sell, but do it right: As you likely know, up-selling is the art of having a customer buy more than their initial purchase. Up-selling, when done wrong, is annoying, but when done right can help both you and your customer. The key is to offer the item in a helpful, non-aggressive way, i.e., “Did you know that if you buy two more gift soaps, we throw in another one for free?” If they say they are not interested, don’t pursue it any further, or you may be seen as overbearing and pushy.

What types of approaches do you use to get new business? What have you found that works/doesn’t work? Share your tips with the SBOC community below.

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here.

5 Ways to Rise Above the Noise of Holiday Promotions

Last year during the holiday season, my daughter decided that she wanted to get my wife a nice tea set because my wife had recently gotten into drinking all sorts of exotic teas. I thought that was a super idea. One Saturday during the height of the shopping season, we bundled up, gave my wife some lame excuse about where we needed to go, and headed to the mall where I knew there was a store that sold nothing but tea and related accessories.

I had been in the store once before and found it to be a calm, serene place. But boy, were we unprepared for what we encountered once we arrived. That holiday season the store had apparently caught Selling Fever. Everything was On Sale! (Except it really wasn’t). The staff was Super Excited! And while enthusiasm is great, fake enthusiasm is not, and hard selling enthusiasm is the worst. The woman who was “helping” us was 100% certain that the simple tea set my daughter had picked out “just would not do. I am sure that your mom would love some of this blended tea from India. And these stainless steel tea strainers would cap the present off very nicely,” she said.

A $40 present should really become a $110 present, according to the saleslady. When we demurred, she practically insisted. We left.

It’s not hard to understand how the tea store got it so wrong. The holiday selling season is a time when 1) many businesses make the bulk of their income for the year and 2) competition is the highest. But mistaking the need to sell with a hard sell is not the answer.

Click here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss.

Instead, here are 5 ways to stand out during the holidays:

1. Become a destination: Instead of the hard sell, try the soft sell. Create a cozy corner where harried shoppers can have a rest. No pressure, no selling, just a rest stop. Offer everyone who comes into your shop some hot chocolate or a piece of candy. Or, have Santa arrive every Saturday afternoon for the month of December. That sort of thoughtfulness is what makes people want to patronize your business.

2. Have a special event for your best customers: In your e-newsletter, via your social media, or your channel of choice, announce a “Best Customers Only Event.” For these customers, open your store during the off hours, put a few great items on sale, serve cookies and punch and watch the register light up.

3. Donate to their favorite charity: Tell your customers that for every, say, $100 they spend in your store, you will donate $5 to the charity of their choice. You could have a form they fill out indicating the charity. Most people love that sort of generosity of spirit, and the chance to give to the organization of their choice (by shopping no less) and may help them turn to you for business instead of a competitor.

4. Give them a free coupon book: Remember when you were a kid and you would give your mom or dad a book full of coupons that said things like

“Redeem for one car wash”
“Good for one house cleaning”
“One free mowing of the lawn”

Well, why not do something similar for your customers, only specific to your business? This allows you to give your customers a present that would benefit you both.

5. Sell Gift Certificates: Because people love getting a bargain. What about selling $25 gift certificates that customers can use or give away – for only $20?

With a little ingenuity, your holiday season can be a successful one (and you won’t even have to hawk imported, expensive teas from India to make it that way.) How do you raise above all the other types of holiday promotions? Share your tips below with the SBOC community.

About Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is one of the world’s leading small business experts. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. Steve is also the author of the Small Business Bible and his latest book is Get Your Business Funded: Creative Methods for Getting the Money You Need. A popular media guest, Steve is a regular contributor to ABC News Now and frequently appears on television and radio. His business, The Strauss Group, creates unique, actionable, entertaining, and informative multi-media small business content.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here