Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Sales & Marketing

38 Posts authored by: Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngIn an age when most of us spend a little too much time on screens (guilty as charged!), it is no wonder that small businesses seem to have finally read the memo that marketing today equals digital. 

 

That said, for some business owners, digital marketing remains a bit of a challenge. However, even though digital technology tends to feel like a very specialized skill, the good news is that that is only a façade. It really is not that difficult. It just takes a plan and some time.


CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

All of this begs the question: What works? Here is our list of the four most important digital marketing techniques:

 

1. Website: Yes, you must have a great website for your business. Period.

 

OK, with that out of the way, the next most important factor is that this is a place to not skimp - to do it right, and create something that is special and compelling. Your website is that important. It is the main portal where people find you today. Yours must therefore be clean, attractive, functional, easy-to-use, intuitive and informative. If a website looks cheap, the business looks cheap.

 

And don’t try to tackle this one yourself. Hire a designer, or find a reputable online point-and-click website design partner.

 

Additionally, and just as importantly, be sure that your website is mobile friendly. More and more people are accessing the Internet through their handheld devices:

 

  • Half of all searches are now done on a mobile device
  • According to Google, 61 percent of users will not return to a website that doesn’t load properly on their mobile device, and
  • 40 percent of those users will surf on over to a competitor’s website.

 

Digital marketing today means having a great, fast, mobile-optimized website.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: MOBILE MARKETING MADE EASY

 

2. SEO/Pay-Per-Click: Most consumers will begin online with a simple search (48 percent of users, in fact.) What this means is that you must invest a little time and money in your search engine optimization (SEO).  This means that you need to make sure that your website shows up in search engine inquiries by:

 

  • Creating specific pages that you want found
  • Including keywords in your website’s title pages and content
  • Using a good SEO plugin to analyze your pages and site

 

If you’re OK with spending some money, you should also consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. These are the ads that appear at the top and bottom of search engine results.

 

43380028_s.jpgEven if you don’t get organic SEO Page 1 Google rankings, with PPC you can buy your way there. How amazing is that?

 

The beauty of pay-per-click, as the name suggests, is that you only have to pay when a user clicks on your ad. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to increase website traffic, and ultimately increase revenue.

 

Google has a great SEO guide here.

 

3. Content marketing: Content creation is a powerful way to attract people to your website and social sites. Content creation can include anything from blog posts, to YouTube videos, email newsletters, and so on. The wider the array, the better the exposure.

 

The key is to create great content and have some of it link back to your site. Voila! Content marketing made simple.

 

4. Social media: Developing a robust social media presence is, as you know, one of the most important ways for you to communicate with your customers and spread your brand digitally. It is also a powerful way to keep current customers engaged, reach out to new ones, collect feedback, advertise events, and more. 

 

Additionally, if you are trying to connect your business with Millennials, then social media will be even more important – 81 percent of Millennials go on Twitter at least once a day, for example.

 

Can’t or don’t want to do all of this posting and clicking and blogging and tweeting yourself? No problem.

 

Hire a Millennial to do it for you.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngHow big is the screen where you spend most of your time online these days? If you are like most of us, you are probably guilty of spending a little too much time on your phone or tablet.

 

And that, my friends, is exactly why mobile marketing is so important.

 

While mobile marketing can certainly open a lot of doors, for a lot of entrepreneurs, it also poses a challenge. For many (well, maybe not you, millennials!) small screen digital marketing is a specialized skill that is not always easy to master.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve made it easy for you:

 

Make sure your website is mobile friendly: With an increasing number of consumers using their mobile devices, it is imperative that you have your website “mobile-optimized.” Even if you aren’t selling retail merchandise, your website is still the first place users will go if they need information about your business.  According to Google, 61 percent of users will most likely not return to a website if it doesn’t load properly, while 40 percent of those users will visit a competitor’s website instead. This is a huge chunk of your potential customer base, so make sure your website is ready for action.

 

Stay active on social media: Having a developed social media presence is one of the best ways for you to connect directly with your mobile customers. It is a great way to keep current customers engaged, reach out to new customers, collect feedback, advertise sales or events, further establish your brand, and so forth.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY LOCAL SEO MATTERS MORE THAN EVER (AND 4 STEPS TO SUCCESS)

 

Social media is especially important if you are trying to reach out to millennials – for example, 81 percent of millennials go on Twitter at least once a day. More importantly, about 80 percent of total time spent on social media happens on mobile devices.

 

Create a text campaign: Text campaigns are becoming one of the more popular and successful forms of mobile marketing. Businesses use text marketing to offer promotions, sales, coupons, free trials, etc., and it is an incredibly effective way to drive sales and create that all-important engagement.

 

It’s easy to get started. A simple “text campaign” Google search will provide you with dozens of text services you can sign up for, some more expensive than others (depending on what you’re looking for). Some notable ones include ActiveCampaign, Mozeo, Mail Chimp, and SlickText. The key is to create a compelling campaign and offer so much so that your customers will agree to let you text them, or they will want to text you (i.e., you get them to “opt-in”).

 

A few golden rules are:

 

  • Offer real benefits
  • Send out texts at regular hours
  • Don’t text too often

 

58624169_s.jpgStay on top of SEO and mobile advertising: 48 percent of users begin mobile research with a simple search. This means that you should invest some time and money in your search engine optimization (SEO).  An easy first step is to include keywords in your title pages; words you know people will be searching for. This will increase the likelihood that your website gets seen. There are many elements to optimizing your search engine results (too many to list here) so it might be wise to do a little research on your own. Google has a great SEO guide, found here.

 

The other option, aside from organic SEO, is to buy ads that will appear at the top of mobile search results. Google AdWords is an excellent service for this, and you only have to pay when a user clicks your ad. This is a sure-fire way to increase website traffic, and ultimately expand your customer base

 

Given that a majority of millennials are looking to grow their businesses right now (according to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report), reaching them where they spend their time makes a lot of sense.

 

It’s time to market mobile.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Have you ever watched the show Shark Tank? I love the ABC show for a few reasons: it helps me understand how smart investors analyze businesses, entrepreneurs and ideas.

 

Conversely, nothing gets me more upset on that show than when I see people who have put a ton of time, money, energy and effort into developing a product or business that is a good idea to them … but no one else. If you’ve seen the show, then you know what I am talking about – that entrepreneur who is crazy enthusiastic about an idea that solves a problem they had, but no one else ever encountered or worried about. They leave the show without any offers of money, and tell the camera that they are going to prove those shortsighted sharks wrong.

 

Example: The Wake ‘n Bacon – a wooden prototype alarm clock that wakes you to the smell of bacon. Fun idea, but probably not worth anything more than a second thought. Too bad the inventor didn’t vet his idea with others first who may have given him some valuable feedback that would have saved him a lot of time and money.

Steve Strauss.png

 

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

 

The secret to avoiding this fate is simple: Before you start, you need to discover whether or not there is a market for what you want to sell. Is it something people actually want to buy? There are two steps to figure this out:

 

1. Find a need and solve it: There is an old saying out there, “do what you love and the money will follow.” While noble and inspiring, it is also not always true. What if loved 18th century Flemish furniture? Outside of a stint on Antiques Roadshow, there probably are not a lot of ways that you could follow this passion and make a living.

 

Do what you love and the money won’t always follow.

 

The trick is to find something you are excited about (though maybe not necessarily “passionate” about) and figure out whether there are people out there who want or need what you want to sell. Is there a market for it? If so, what will they pay for it? Why would they choose you? If there is no one around who wants your proposed product or service, your business will fail. So, before you decide on a business, before you choose a name or get a business license, before you tap your 401(k) or credit cards, do your research and see if there is a market for your proposed solution.

 

Related article: Six Tips to Gain New Customers

 

Steve Strauss Headshot.png

2. Do your homework: Is there a market need for a coffee house in your neighborhood? Why would people choose you over Starbucks? What can you offer that they do not? Market research will tell you.

 

What you need to do is, without emotion, analyze your idea and solution. There are several ways to get the feedback you need:

 

  • Form a focus group: Gather your friends, family and colleagues – people whose opinion you trust – and run your idea past them. Do they like it? Would they personally patronize your proposed business?
  • Ask online: If you have a website, poll visitors. LinkedIn also allows people to post polls. Get some feedback. Twitter is also a good tool for this.
  • Check in with trade associations: Almost every business and industry has a related trade group associated with it and these organizations typically have a lot of helpful research and data.
  • Check in with the competition: Contact a business owner in a neighboring city who is in the same business. Because you are not in the same locale, he or she will be far more likely to give you some honest feedback.
  • Surf: The web of course is a treasure trove of information.

 

The important thing is to make sure that you brainstorm, so that when people hear about it, they are wont to say, “I like it, and for that reason, I’m in!”

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss.

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

                 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Happy December! ‘Tis the season to practice generosity, remind your friends, family, customers, and teammates how important they are to you, give for the sake of giving, and, yes, drive up your business sales. Time to put the elves to work!

 

Many small business owners get caught up in the assumption that the holiday season is busy and lucrative by default. While this notion is true, it is also a time when there is a lot of competition you’re up against.

 

During this time of year, there are still a lot of people who have yet to do their holiday shopping. Where I live, there is an open-air marketplace that has an annual “Festival of the Last Minute”. Open through December 24th, it is always super crowded this time of year.

 

In a similar vein, today we share some strategies to make you stand out and snag those very late, last minute shoppers.  

 

1. Reach out to customers, right now: Given all the chaos and noise that surrounds the holiday season, you should make a point to remind your customers that you’re always there and ready to help:

    • If you have a subscriber list, increase the frequency by which you send out emails. Most retailers increase their email rate to subscribers by 50% during November and December. Make your subject line catchy and noteworthy so that it gets opened.
    • Whatever you usually do on social media, do more of it. A lot more. Follow people, reply to all tweets and messages, and advertise.
    • Send holiday cards to your customers in the mail. People always appreciate the personal touch of handwritten snail mail.

 

2. Never underestimate the power of e-commerce: Online shopping is an incredibly potent source of profit, especially during the holidays. If your site isn’t running quite right, call your tech today. According to a report from 2015, 57% of users will click away from a website if it doesn’t load in under three seconds, so make sure your business’s website provides a seamless shopping experience for customers.

Additionally, make sure that your site is advertising your holiday sales in a bold and festive fashion.

 

3. Not everything is digital: Remember the days before the Internet? Yeah, I hardly do either. In all seriousness, social media marketing and the digital space are not the only keys to your small business’s success. You should absolutely give just as much of your energy to your store’s actual in-house experience. In terms of holiday marketing, this might mean:

    • Getting festive. Put up some more holiday decorations, play Christmas music, and show your holiday cheer.
    • Selling yourself. Remember that face-to-face time with customers can be one of your most valuable marketing tools. Customer service is hugely important to any shopper, so get personal.
    • Hosting a fun holiday event in your store for the community. If you advertise free cookies, hot chocolate, and Santa, people will come for sure.
    • Offering free samples make a huge difference.

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngClick here to read more articles from small business expert Steve Strauss

 

4. Discounts, price reductions, and sales – oh my!: Almost everybody is searching for the best bargain this time of year, so when in doubt, come up with some exciting deals and rewards for shoppers. And most importantly, let the whole world know about it! Here are some ideas:

    • Make your own “Black Friday”
    • Include a free gift with each purchase
    • Limited time only sales – emphasize the sense of urgency
    • Offer small gift cards or coupons to customers who post photos or otherwise advertise their shopping experience on social media
    • Sell gift cards (which is the gift that is given the most)

 

So make your list, check it twice ... and keep selling!

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss

Marketing to Millennials

Posted by Steve Strauss Dec 15, 2016

If you still think that the largest group of consumers is the Baby Boomer generation, you are wrong. Boomers have now been supplanted by Millennials. There are more Millennials generally, and more Millennial businesses specifically, than Baby Boomers and Boomer businesses. So, whether your business is b2b or b2c, the demographic group you need to be thinking about is the Millennial generation, some 77 million strong.

 

Here are some interesting facts about the Millennials to keep in mind (according to the Pew Research Center):

  • 43% are non-white
  • They are the most highly-educated generation in U.S. history
  • 85% own smartphone
  • “Just 26% are married, compared with 36% of Generation X, 48% of Baby Boomers and 65% of the Silent Generation at the same age”

 

What does that all mean for your business? It can have many implications, but one thing is for sure - this is a new, different generation with different experiences and buying habits and we as small business owners need to keep this in mind. This is especially true as Millennials are nearing their prime spending years; by the year 2020, Millennials will make up 1/3 of all retail sales.

 

The upshot is that if you want your small business to keep growing and stay relevant, you will have to realize that there is a new sheriff in town.

 

How do we do that? Keep in mind the following:

 

Old advertising is out: By far, Millennials respond best to personable authenticity from the brands they consume. This means that traditional marketing campaigns do not work as well with them. The traditional catchy commercials, big billboards, and sly slogans may not make the cut anymore. With Millennials, inauthentic is out and authentic is in.

 

Social is also in: Understand that Millennials are native to the digital world and social media. You simply must robustly enter that space and establish a beachhead there if you want to catch their eye or ear (or wallet).

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

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

 

Consider: According to SocialChorus.com, for 95% of Millennials, friends are the most credible source of product information. This means that Millennials love user-generated content – i.e. customers posting photos of your products to Instagram. This form of “social proof” gives the air of authenticity to your brand that Millennials respect. An example of how to achieve this is to invite your customers to share their experiences on social platforms with your business’ customized hashtag.

 

It makes a big difference for Millennials to see other people genuinely enjoying your products or services.

 

Influencers influence: Maybe paradoxically, Millennials pay a lot of attention to popular influencers on YouTube, Instagram, and other social platforms. One possible way then to reach a Millennial is to team up with an “influencer” to promote your product. These types of referrals play into the authenticity and trust that Millennials look for.

 

Ethics matter: Another way that Millennials are unique is that they will put their consumer dollars where they feel it can make a difference. According to Entrepreneur, “85% of Millennials correlate their purchasing decisions and their willingness to recommend a brand to the social good efforts a company is making”. Tom’s Shoes did not become the hit it did in this era by accident. The idea of correlating shoe buying with shoe giving works in part because Millennials loved it.

 

So consider how you can do the right thing in your business, and then let your Millennial audience know about it. Partner up with a charity, or go green, or donate, for example. These may seem like small changes, but in truth they can make a huge impact.

 

There’s a new frugality: Here’s a big one: Millennials are worried about money. Since 2005, the number of Millennials choosing to live at home with their parents has grown significantly. No, this is not because they necessarily want to spend more time with mom and dad, but because money is an issue. That also might be why value is a big factor in how Millennials decide to make purchases. Show sympathy for that fact and give them some extra love; a sale or a great offer will go a long way in making Millennials fond of your brand.

 

So there you go. As an old Boomer said (before he won the Nobel Prize in literature), “The times, they are a ‘changin’.”

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  ©2016 Bank of America Corporation

Is there any better way to get business than from a referral?

 

Think about it. A referral is the ultimate validation of a job well done. Flowing from an organic, positive reaction of how you do business, a referral is the ultimate word-of-mouth advertising.

Referrals are great because your best customers – those folks who love your business, products, and brand – become your advocates, your unpaid cheerleaders.

 

These days of course, referrals are even more important, after all, what is social media if not a way to share your opinion with the world?

 

So that begs the question: How can you get more referral business? Here are five ways that really work:

1. Be referral worthy:  The bedrock, bottom-line rule is that if you want people to refer your business, it must be referral-worthy. That seems self-evident of course, but in fact it can be one of those things that can be easily overlooked.
People don’t refer business to boring or mediocre businesses, but they do refer businesses that exceed their expectations and do something exceptionally well.

 

2. Work with your existing customers: According to John Jantsch, author of the book, The Referral Engine, getting referrals requires wowing existing customers. Jantsch recently told me that the steps to get a referral are these: Someone must learn about your business, try it, and like it eSteve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngnough to shop there again and again. Says Jantsch, “Only when they become repeat customers will they refer business to you.”

 

Once people find and like your business, Jantsch says, it is your job to make it easy for them to give and refer business to you: Create customer loyalty programs, offer frequent buyer cards, give people incentives for referring your business.

 

3. Connect: People refer business to people they like and trust. If your business is fairly nondescript and anonymous, it probably won’t get many referrals, but if you personalize it and connect with your customers, referrals are far more likely to happen. You could, for example,

 

  • Have a fun Facebook page that engages people
  • Interact with followers on Twitter
  • Have a friendly blog or e-newsletter
  • Ask people in the store how they are doing
  • Take customer surveys
  • Offer feedback forms on your site and on invoices

 

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

 

4. Create a strategic network: Another way to get more referrals is to find companies similar to yours and start a referral network. Here’s a simple example: You go into a dry cleaners and you see business cards on the counter for a florist down the street. At the florist, you see cards for the dry cleaners. Presto – both businesses are referring work to each other.

 

Other similar ideas include:

 

  • Sending out promotions to each other’s network / list
  • Offering free samples to each other’s customers
  • Having a joint sale

 

The beauty of this strategy is that it instantly doubles your reach. You gain a whole new audience – with an introduction by someone they already know and trust. And don’t just look for one strategic partner, look for many.

 

5. Ask: On Amazon.com, my book The Small Business Bible has about 40 reviews. Online, a positive review is word-of-mouth gold. But not long ago, I noticed that a friend of mine had over 100 reviews for his book. So I asked him how that happened.

 

“I ask them,” he said. Whether he is giving a speech or answering an email, he always says something like, “My new book is out, and I sure would appreciate it if you would take two minutes to review it on Amazon.”

 

It’s so simple. And effective. Just ask for a referral. 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2016 Bank of America Corporation

There are all sorts of ways that business owners measure success. It could be the number of units sold, the amount of seed capital raised, increases in website traffic, more conversions, increased buzz about their business, or any other number of things.

 

In the end, there is only one real measure for success in for-profit businesses: profit. After all, if you don’t make a profit, no other metrics matter. Profit is a simple concept in theory – it is nothing more than the difference between your wholesale costs and your retail revenue. However, there is nothing simple about it.

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

More specifically, the variance between what it costs you to buy or make a product and what you can eventually sell it for is called your profit margin. Ideally, that will be a fairly big number, expressed as a percentage. For instance, if you can buy a widget for $3 and sell it for $5, your profit margin is a healthy 40% (you make $2 on every $5 sale, 2/5 = 40%).

 

Some businesses, like restaurants or discounters for instance, typically have a very low profit margin (in the single digits). They make up for a low margin with volume sales. Other businesses sell less, but at a greater margin. Either way, the question almost all small business owners have, whatever their margin may be, is how can they increase their profits?

 

Here are three ways to increase your profits. They are:

 

1. Increase your prices: No, you probably don’t want to raise your prices, but take a look at the big picture: People are your customers for all sorts of reasons. There are things you do as well, or better, than your competitors. It might be your:

 

  • Location
  • Prices
  • Products
  • Value
  • Convenience
  • Selection
  • Expertise
  • Reputation

 

You will notice that price is only one of many different things mentioned in this list. The reason is because, unless your essential value proposition is that you are the least expensive (which is unlikely), then people choose your business for many reasons, price being just one.

 

Overall, while no one likes raising prices, and the fear of losing customers as a result of a price hike is a legitimate concern, it is equally true that all businesses raise prices. Consider this: When was the last time you stopped patronizing a business simply because they increased their prices? Right, that doesn’t happen very often.

 

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

 

So, if you want to make more money, and especially if you want to increase your profit margin, then consider charging more for your products or services. If you are still worried that it will turn-off your customers, test the new prices first before rolling them out across the board.

 

2. Sell more: If you don’t want to increase your prices but still want to increase your profits, then your second option is simply to sell more. Selling more means you will make more. Yes, this is self-evident, but it is also a fact.

 

One way to do this is to do an 80-20 analysis. The 80-20 Rule states that 80% of your profit (or sales) come from 20% of your products or from the top 20% of your customers. So the question to answer is this: What are your top 20% products? Who are your top 20% customers? That small percentage of products and customers account for the vast majority of your sales.

 

Once you know the answer to that, then the path to more sales should be evident: Concentrate on those sorts of valuable products, find more of that type of customer, and you will make more sales that will make you more money.

 

3. Decrease your overhead: Think again about that profit equation I mentioned earlier: Profit is the difference between costs and sales. The first two ways to increase profit have to do with increasing sales. The other way relates to the first part of that equation – decreasing your costs. Selling the same amount at lower costs yields increased profits.

 

The challenge is figuring what to cut, and then how to cut it in such a way that it doesn’t eat into sales. Cutting overhead must be done with a scalpel and not a cleaver. Be judicious. See if you can find a cheaper supplier, or if you can reduce labor or insurance costs. Buy in bulk. Give employees an incentive for keeping costs down.

 

Increasing your profit is certainly possible, but it will require keeping close tabs on your margins and finding ways to alter the profit equation to your advantage.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steven A. Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steven A. Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steven A. Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

These days, social media is utilized for a variety of business purposes. Not only is it used to prospect for new customers, but it is also a valuable tool for communicating with current ones, and building your brand to boot. Therefore being out of the loop when it comes to social media platforms is a recipe for disaster; the conversations are going to happen whether you are there or not, so you need to become a social media advocate.


If your small business is struggling to harness the power of social media, here are a few tips to help you better utilize these platforms:


1. Have A Plan: Social media isn’t something you can just jump into, it should be thought of as a strategic marketing tool that requires forethought and proper planning.


First, figure out what social media platform most of your customers are on and follow them there. If you personally like Twitter, but they are mostly on Facebook, then you need to move to Facebook. Beyond that,

  • Plan out your content for the month, taking into account the various specials, deals, holiday sales, etc. that your company will run. Use a tool like Hootsuite
  • Put together a list of “spontaneous” content ideas to post when you have some time to interact with your follower base. Even though you will more than likely wind up going a bit off script at times, the existence of a plan will mean that you always have something to fall back on.


One book I like a lot that can help you plan your social media efforts is 30 Minute Social Media Marketing by Susan Gunelius.


2. Focus on Others: This is another place where the good ‘ol 80-20 Rule applies. Make 80% of your posts about others, and only 20% about you or your business. Nobody wants to be friends with the person who is always talking about themselves, especially if that person is really a business.


With social media, you have to give to get.


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


3. Be Helpful: When you run a business, there is a fairly clear expectation that you know what you are talking about, and nothing gets that point across better than offering up valuable advice as needed. The same has to become true with your social media posts. Dishing out informed, helpful advice will help set you up as a go-to expert in your field, paving the way for people to organically find their way to your business.


4. Post Shareable Content: I once interviewed a guy who mastered the art of sharing. His website gets about 15 million visitors a month, and he does zero advertising. It’s all from social media sharing. What’s his secret?


He said, “Steve, people will share something when it moves them emotionally. Either they find it funny, or quirky, or cute, or touching – that sort of thing. Positive emotions work better than negative ones for sharing, although anger gets people to share things too.”

So for us in the small business world, that means you need to offer up the type of content that encourages sharing, because by doing so, you are automatically expanding your reach without adding work time to your already busy schedule.


5. Interact with Your Followers: This is the key. People like to feel like they are being heard, so make sure that you are listening to what your followers are saying and then responding when appropriate. Retweeting positive messages, responding to customer complaints, answering inquiries and offering advice are all great ways to show your followers that you’re not just a robot mindlessly posting content. Humanizing yourself helps others connect with your company on a more personal level.


About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.



Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngSomehow, here we are on the cusp of another holiday season.

 

With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Cyber Monday, Christmas, and New Year’s, it is no secret that this time of year is make or break for many small businesses. People right now are getting ready to shop and spend, and the good news is that with the economy humming, holiday sales are expected to break some records, both online and off. For small business owners, that means there is a lot of opportunity to break some of your own records this year.

 

So, what do you do and how can you take advantage of this special moment?

 

I would like to suggest a few different ideas; ideas that are (hopefully!) different than your run-of-the-mill ‘have a holiday sale’ sort of thing. And, while a sale is all well and good (see below), you simply have to do more than tell people to ‘shop here!’ if you want to get noticed. To be heard above the din this time of year, you need to do something different and memorable, such as:

 

Have a holiday contest: Consider the bakery that has an annual “Holiday Gingerbread Contest.” They recruit some local celebrities to judge it (including a local TV anchor to ensure good press), offer great prizes and publicity to the winner, and every year it is a hit. The bakery gets tons of publicity, and of course, sales follow.

 

Go free: People love free, especially when they may be a little stressed out by spending too much, so offering them something for free would be welcomed. For instance, maybe you have Santa come to your store every Friday during December while you offer everyone free cookies and hot chocolate. Kids would love it, as would their parents, and your shop would most certainly get noticed.

 

Or what about creating a free gift-wrap station at your store? Undoubtedly many of the things they will wrap will be items they purchased from you.

 

So the question is, what can you offer people that’s a free loss leader?

 

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


Get in the holiday spirit: Provide ways for customers to donate to the charity of their choice when they shop with you, and offer them a discount for doing so.

 

Have a B2B holiday party – before everyone else: Invite your best clients and customers to a holiday party, but don’t have it in December. For example, have it closer to Thanksgiving, and have ‘thanks’ be the theme.

 

Have a sale – but not like everyone else: Everyone will be having a Black Friday or Cyber Monday sale and accordingly, many of those sales will get lost in the crowd. But yours won’t if you have a Terrific Tuesday sale, or a Wacky Wednesday sale. There is a mall near me that has a “Festival of the Last Minute Shopper” every year during the week before Christmas. That's the idea.

 

Create a sale – chosen by your customers: One of my favorite pieces of business advice ever was given by a SCORE counselor who said, “Ask them what they want, then give them what they want.”

 

That would be an especially great way to engage with your network using social media. Ask your customers what they would like to see on sale, and then put those things on sale.

 

Send out humorous holiday cards: We all get lots of holiday cards, so in order to be memorable add in some humor to your greeting card. For example, one business made sure their holiday greetings would get noticed: the law firm sent out their cards as their “criminal alter-egos.” Humor works and is memorable.

 

So you get it. The idea is to get into the holiday spirit, but in a way that is just a tad different than everyone else. That is what works.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 


Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.



Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 

_________________________________________________________________________________________________



Icon-sm.gifUp to 40% of annual sales can come during the holidays, so we’ve compiled some simple ideas, tips and best practices to help you have the best season possible.  Click here

We have all seen them, those dusty mission statement placards that hang askew on an obscure wall in a business somewhere that say things like, “We are 1000% committed to creating an exceptional experience for our customers.” And somehow, ironically, these tend to be the businesses that seem the least committed to customer service.

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

A recent survey found that 80% of businesses think that they deliver “superior” customer service, and yet only 8% of their customers felt the same way.

 

Let’s do a little thought experiment:

 

  • Think about the last salesperson that really annoyed you. What was it that bothered you? Maybe it was a salesman at the nice clothing store who was far more interested in upselling than helping you, or the checker who was so busy talking on her phone that she couldn’t be bothered to ring you up?
  • Now think about an employee you have recently met who was great. What did he or she do right? It is probably some combination of being personable, professional, sharp, and sincerely trying to help you.
  • Finally, what are your feelings about these respective businesses?

 

  1. Your employees are a reflection of your business.

 

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

 

“Great customer service” is one of those things that small businesses now is important but in actuality may not be something that gets prioritized. And that’s because, as our little thought experiment shows, customer service, or rather the lack thereof, is one of the very few things that can viscerally turn off a patron. It is that important.

 

This is especially true today when customers have the ability to very quickly and easily post their experiences of a business – right now, on the go, using their mobile phone. People are more likely to complain about a negative experience than to share a positive one. The latter happens, but statistics show that it is the negative event that gets people fired up enough to post online: Happy customers share their experience with an average of 9 people, whereas unhappy ones share theirs with 16.

 

Consider additional statistics from the survey mentioned above:

 

  • 40% of respondents said that having a positive experience with the staff of a business is the main reason they would be likely to spend more money with a company.
  • When asked about why they gave up on a brand, a whopping 73% of people stated that their reason was due to rude or incompetent employees.

 

How your employees treat your customers is directly proportional to the success or failure of your business.

 

The good news is that it is not all that difficult to create a culture where customer service is more than a tired motto nailed to a wall. It is really a matter of making it a priority. If you make great customer service a part of your culture, if you spotlight it in training, memos, employee reviews, and actions, your staff will get it.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation



You have likely heard the old maxim,: “it takes six times more money to create a new customer than it does to keep an old one.” And it’s true. Loyal customers are the bread and butter of your business; they are the reason you get to stay in business. Indeed, one consistent thing I have seen over the years is that the best small business people work hard to foster customer loyalty because they know that, like a good politician, their base is critical to their success.

 

So what works, and what do your peers do that you can emulate? Here are a dozen ideas that have stood the test of time:

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

1. Find out what your customers like and need: Of course, you know that you need to do your job for your customers exceptionally well if you want them to stick around, that is a given. But what really creates customer loyalty is to take that step further: Speak with your clients and find out what their needs are and whether there is anything extra you can do to fulfill those needs. It is that personal touch (as you will see throughout this list) that can make all the difference.

 

2. Return phone calls, emails, and texts promptly: Yes, it is so easy for a customer or potential customer to get in touch with you these days that it can sometimes be a pain, but customer service superstars see it as an incredible opportunity. Promptly replying to an inquiry (within 24 hours should be the benchmark) sends the signal that you are on it and that you care.

 

3. Be reliable: Customers frequent your business because they need something you provide. If you provide it consistently and reliably, they will be loyal customers. If you don’t, they won’t.

 

4. Help, don’t sell: One of the reasons customers become brand advocates is when they trust that you have their best interests at heart. Helping a customer is more important than making the sale. When a customer comes to you with a need, help them solve that problem, whether or not that means buying your solution.

 

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

 

5. Recommend your competition: To really create customer loyalty, when appropriate, let them know if someone else might better serve their interests on a particular issue. Personally, I find that my most loyal customers are those with whom I have recommended my “competition” on occasion. When that happens, I really am helping and not selling.

 

6. Under-promise and over-deliver. Most clichés are clichés for a reason, like this one. A tried-and-true way to impress customers and get them to stick around is by doing more than you were asked, more than you promised, and more than is called for in the contract.

 

7. Be a conduit of information: When you see an article that makes you think of a certain customer, pass it along. Recommend a book, movie, product, or video. Clip something out of a magazine and send it to them (snail mail will really get their attention!)

 

Your e-newsletter and social media posts can and should also be a resource of information for customers.

 

8. Remember them: Don’t just contact your customer when you want them to re-order, instead, stay in regular contact. You can send birthday and holiday cards, or a thank you note, gift cards, whatever it may be, this lets them know you appreciate them.

 

9. Reward great customers: Another way to make customers feel special is by giving them something that the general public does not have access to. This can be a special sale for regular customers only, a discount coupon available to them only, or a customer appreciation day.

 

10. Remember the golden rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” should be the mantra of anyone looking to create long-term customer loyalty.

 

11. Empower individual employees to solve problems: When something isn’t right at some restaurants, servers don’t need to go to a manager to fix it. They have the ability – on the spot – to offer free food or whatever is needed to make someone happy. Similarly, at some manufacturing companies, customer service employees can swap out products, offer refunds, provide free consulting, or send out free batteries.

 

Customers really appreciate this sort of thing.

 

12: Make it impossible for them to leave: The bottom line is that customers become loyal when your business shows its appreciation for them, and does its job so well, that they would be foolish to go anywhere else.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

When I was getting ready to start my first business I did as much reconnaissance as I could. At the time, I was still working for a big law firm, making good money and I had a very nice benefits package. Additionally, my wife was pregnant and we had a toddler scampering around the house. Needless to say, there was very little room for error.

 

One of the best pieces of advice I received was from a wizened old lawyer and businessman who had a very successful practice for many years. Here’s what he told me:

 

“Once you get started Steve, you will be inclined to spend most of your time catering to your current clientele. And while that is of course important, I want you to remember that you will need to juggle three balls, not just that one.”

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

“What I am saying is that there are three types of customers,” he went on. “New customers, existing customers, and exiting customers. You need to pay attention to all three if you want to succeed. People will leave your business for all sorts of reasons – they might move, or find someone cheaper, or get mad at you, or their needs change, whatever the case may be. The only way to replace clients who leave is by consistently working to create new ones. Then, later, those new clients will become existing ones. Later still, they will leave too and you will have to have even more new ones. You will need to always be juggling new, existing, and exiting customers if you want to stay in the game.”

 

That advice remains as true today as it was when he first told me over 20 years ago, and that of course begs the question: How do you, in fact, get new customers?

 

The popular answer today is “social media!” And while it’s true that social media must be a part of your marketing mix, let’s look at the top three tools that have always worked best:

 

1. Advertising: The tried-and-true, 800 lb. gorilla way to get new business is by advertising. Television, radio, and newspapers all can trace their evolution and growth to being the great advertising mediums of their day. They grew because they helped businesses grow.

 

And not only does advertising work, but because of the Internet, it is more affordable than ever. Back in the day you might spend a lot of money advertising with the hope that the right person would see your ad and call you. It was expensive because you also were paying for a lot of eyeballs that would see the ad but never call.

 

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

 

These days, with Google in particular, your ad dollars go a lot further. You can create an ad targeting people by searching for specific terms that relate to your business and only pay after they see your ad, like it, and click on it. That sort of specific, targeted lead beats spending mass money on other mass mediums.

 

2. Marketing and Public Relations: With advertising you spend money directly on some sort of communication medium where you tell people about your business, however, marketing is a different sort of communication, one that ideally is a bit more subtle. With marketing, you still are communicating with the public about your business, but the message isn’t “buy now” but rather, “look at us and what we can do for you.”

 

Marketing works to get you more business because it keeps you in the mind of the buyer so that when they need what you sell, they remember you.

 

The marketing tools available today have vastly increased and improved also because of the Web. Whether it is social media (see, it can’t be avoided!), e-newsletters, your website, or YouTube videos, the types of marketing methods that exist for small businesses today are amazing and should be taken advantage of.

 

By the same token, PR is another powerful tool for gaining new customers. Having a website or television station do a story about what a unique business you have is the type of legitimacy and marketing bonanza that cannot be bought.

 

3. Referrals: Having a satisfied customer tout your business is marketing gold and is sure to bring in additional business. And yes – at the risk of sounding like a broken record – the Internet has changed and amplified this strategy too. How? Consider the plethora of places online where people can discuss and rate your business, whether it is Yelp, or forums, or comments on blogs and social media platforms. 

 

The good news is that one thing hasn’t changed: The way to get that all important word-of-mouth is still the same as in the pre-Internet era:

 

Do great work.

 

If you do great work, offer fair prices, have exceptional customer service, stand behind what you sell, fix what’s broken, take care of your staff, and exceed expectations, you will get people to refer business to you.

 

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation


Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngFor a small business owner, two of the most important but often overlooked tools available for success are 1) networking and 2) strategic partnerships. It can be a great leap of faith to give up the stability of a typical corporate career and venture into the uncertain waters of small business ownership; often, that venture can be a lonely and challenging one. However, an important fact to remember is that you never truly have to do it on your own. That is where networking and strategic partnerships come into play and why they can be so vital.

 

Simply put, they expand your team. Leveraging the expertise, skills, and advice of your peers via networking and partnerships can not only present you with new, valuable, and sometimes unexpected opportunities, it can also ease your workload and expand your customer base.

 

Whitepaper-icon.gifIn this whitepaper therefore, we will look at both tools: How networking can help you grow your business, how utilizing strategic partnerships can portray your brand even better, and how both options can ensure that your company continues to evolve and expand.

 

Click here to download the whitepaper "The Power of Networking and Strategic Partnerships" (PDF)


You have no shortage of options when it comes to ways to grow your business: You could add a new product line, open a new location, hire a salesperson, get a loan or expand production.

 

However, you would be hard-pressed to find a better, more lucrative, and faster-growing option than e-commerce. Total online shopping has seen double-digit growth each year for at least the past five years in a row. There really is nowhere else you can look to in the economy and expect to find this kind of growth for as far as the eye can see. According to the consulting firm A.T. Kearney, “an online presence [has become] a low-risk way to test new markets and complement existing store footprints.”

 

It would behoove you to hop aboard the e-commerce train because not only is it leaving the station, it is gathering a big head of steam as it does.

 

Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.png

 

How do you do that? Here’s how, in four easy steps:

Step 1. Get an e-store: An e-commerce store consists of two parts.

 

The first part is the front end of the store – this is the website your site visitors see. Think about Amazon.com. When you visit that giant e-retailer, you encounter deals, specials, a shopping cart, product descriptions, and so on. That’s the front end.

 

The back end of your store is the part that only you see. This is where you would have a dashboard that displays your inventory, sales figures, checkout system, and other important analytics.

 

So when starting your e-commerce research, you will want to look for a provider/solution that offers an elegant looking front end and an easy-to-navigate back end.

 

Step 2. Get a merchant account: The front and back end of your store allow you to take orders and track merchandise, but they do not actually process payments. For that you will need a merchant account. A merchant account is an account with a financial institution that processes credit card or other online payments. Bank of America offers a full range of merchant services and products.


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

 

Step 3. Upload products into your store: There are two ways to sell products online. You can either sell your own products, or you can sell someone else’s products, which is called drop shipping.

 

In the case of the former, it is really just a matter of taking good-looking digital photographs of your physical inventory, uploading them onto your site using your dashboard, and then adding snappy product descriptions.

 

For the new e-commerce entrepreneur however, drop shipping offers an attractive alternative. There are literally thousands of wholesalers and distributors who have products for you to sell. As you do your research, look for those who offer to sell their wares via drop shipment. With drop shipping, you upload pictures of the wholesaler’s products onto your site and the beauty is that you do not actually need to stock the items or fulfill the orders – the drop shipper does all of that for you.

 

So the way it works is this: You upload the drop shippers’ products onto your site and sell them. When an order comes in, both you and the drop shipper receive notice. Payment goes partially to you and partially to the drop shipper, and the drop shipper sends out the product to the buyer.

 

Step 4. Fulfillment: Of course, you will need to fulfill and ship the orders if you are not working with a drop shipper.

 

This is not a little detail. Sending out orders on time, accurately estimating the cost of shipping, dealing with returns and refunds and guarantees are where you make and break your name in the world of online sales.  But, if you do it right, you will capture your share of this emerging new bonanza of a marketplace.

 

About Steve Strauss

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. 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. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss.

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here



Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Steve Strauss. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.

©2015 Bank of America Corporation

 


Steve-Strauss--in-article-Medium.pngSmall business owners typically have no shortage of ideas and plans for growing their business. The challenge for many of them, however, is that executing those ideas can oftentimes be challenging as they realize the day-to-day reality of running the business. Finding the time to strategize, let alone implement those strategies, is not easy.

 

That is why creating a marketing plan is so important. A marketing plan is a strategic tool that allows you and your team to think ahead and create concrete plans and specific systems for the marketing of your business and increasing the sales of your product or service.

 

Click here to read the full whitepaper (PDF).




Filter Article

By tag: