Small Business Help

Small Business help is here to provide you with no nonsense musings, helpful small business helpadvice, videos, information and tools on the following and more. We search the internet to find the very best of what’s on offer to save you time, effort and money.

  • small business issues in retail
  • small business issues in service industries
  • small business marketing tips
  • small business help
  • small business customer service skills
  • small business management
  • small business news
  • small business in social media

Whatever our businesses are, we all go though the same issues, fears and problems. It is my vision that together, as small business owners, we can provide encouragement and ideas for each other.

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Smash it Social – the Rundown

You are busy, I get it  

Here is the rundown

 

You want to know how Fan Reviews work and what is does in detail and how it can help your business attract new customers by using viral word of mouth

Click here

You Want to know the Price

Pricing to change to $US69.00  monthly fee includes access to the App, full training, general Facebook info, how to run Facebook Contests, weekly question/knowledge calls……( $4.95 trial for 2 weeks)

Is there a Guarantee?

30 days money back

My review and notes on the program

click here

To see the application on my small business (kids shoe shop) website

click here  and click on fan reviews

Can I set it up myself?

yes, there are hours of training sessions if you are a DIYer

 Leave a Comment  if you want to know more

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Attracting new customers by viral word of mouth – Smash it Social

In previous posts I have commented on word of mouth being the primary reason new customers walk into my kids shoe store. Friends and family members have mentioned my products and services at informal get together’s such as friends catching up, coffee mornings, family gatherings. And yet I still have persisted in paying for print and radio advertising with no discernible result.

Now I am a DIYer in my business, a one woman band if you like. I have set up my own website, based on a free template, as well as my business Facebook page, my twitter account and YouTube channel. All on a shoe string budget, but there comes  a point where paying further help is necessary. If nothing else I look at it as paying for the time I can spend on other business matters. Yes you can research to your hearts content on the internet for free information, but the cost is time.

So when I found out about Review Engine ROI I immediately could see the benefits of the system. Having a review tab on my Facebook page, that pushes out customer reviews to friends and family, providing what I like to call ‘word of mouth on overdrive’.

for my first post on Smash it Social (Review Engine ROI) click here

So I purchased the system. While I knew that I was a review system that linked to my facebook page, I have been surprized to find out that the system is actually a ‘course’.  And even more happy that the course was relevant and useful. I have dabbled in Facebook and thought I knew a fair bit, but under Nick Unsworth’s tutoring I have learnt new tips and tricks. ;)

I quickly came to the conclusion that Nick’s methods on how to use the system effectively and quickly are well thought out and  will give the best results. I have followed the formula and have received reviews on my business Facebook page. These have had a 2 pronged effect on me and my business.

Firstly when  each review is posted the ‘friends’ of the reviewer see what has been written on their timelines. What better way to build up trust in a brand or business is there than to see a review from people you know.

Secondly, the reviews have a had a personal effect on me.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day running of your business,  dealing with customers, trying to go the extra mile and providing quality service, that we forget the effect we have on our customers. So it has been lovely to read the comments in the reviews. How I’m actually making an impact!

So is it working?… yes it is. From my insights I can see an  increase in  ’reach’. From a steady 400-500 people to 800-900 in the 2 weeks that I have been running the review program.  At first I was scared about asking customers for reviews, so following the system I am running a little competition  (a draw with  a gift voucher prize) and my customers have been happy to oblige. I will run another draw in a few months in order to take advantage of  the Christmas shopping season.  I feel I am on my way to using social media to get a ROI,  new customers and more sales.

If you would like to find out more,  click here. There is no risk in buying as the comprehensive system is covered by a 30 day money back guarantee.

 

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How to get an advertising ROI on Social Media by using ‘word of mouth’

I’ve just come across a course/ system that  promises to actually give your business an ROI  on social media ( return on investment), specifically Facebook. While I have yet start using the system ( it’s not open for sale till next week) I have been impressed by the pitch.  Probably like you I have become more cynical on all forms of advertising and over-hyped press on social media driving business too my store. I’m sick of wasting money!

 

UPDATE: Smash it Social (Review Engine ROI) Is now up and running, and I am following the course with great results, click on the ads for more info. Click here for my next post.

 

 

And here what really works in my experience, ‘word of mouth’. The majority of my new customers that come into my store have been referred by their friends, family and acquaintances. And what’s even better they BUY. They come in knowing that my products are quality and therefore cost more, so they are prepared.

While, I have not have  any personal experience with reviews on say, yelp or google. They have not been so common in my little city as say in the States, (though I  have seen  an increase lately). In my reading and research I have found that reviews are a significant driver for local new business.  It seems as though people trust reviews more than advertising, I wonder why…..

So here’s what I like about this new system. It combines Facebook with reviews. The reviews then are pushed out to friends of the reviewers….

 

It’s ‘word of mouth’ on auto pilot

 

Have a look at the sales pitch to see what  I mean :)

 

I would really be interested in hearing your experiences with social media. For the amount of effort and time involved, have you achieved a ROI? Have you new customer or clients, and has this resulted in repeat business? Are your fans on Facebook engaging with your brand and does this engagement actually mean SALES? My gut (unproven) feeling is that there are some industries/businesses that do well with selling via social media, by two way communication with their fans, and there are others that don’t……..Reviews though are ‘word of mouth’  via the written word ….

 

 Note: I may receive compensation from clicking on the links in this post

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Clearing Excess Stock – how about bonus deals

Clearing excess stock is a major headache for those in retail & wholesale. Cash is tied up and we need to free it  to buy in the new seasons ranges, hence

Clear excess stock - use  bonus offers

Clear excess stock - use bonus deals

the original idea for end of season sales. Something I have been watching here in my neck of the woods is the ‘Buy One Get One XX% Off’ ( BOGO), or ‘Buy One Get One Free’, and it sounds like it’s wide spread throughout the world.

According to a recent article in the Globe and Mail, which mentioned an (undisclosed) article  in The Journal of Marketing, customers are spending large on these types of deals. Even when 2 items are not required the deal just sounds too good to many shoppers and they just have to buy.

Now… if this works…it is a win-win for us that are trying to clear excess stock!. We get cash in and clear hopefully more volume. Of course my proviso is the conditions and discounts that have to be offered to get the best buy in from the customer. Is 25% off the second item enough of an incentive? Mostly it seems here that the large chains are offering Buy One Get One 50% Off.  Now, as a small independant buisness owner I hate the thought of following the big boys, but this may be something that we can use to our benefit.

Note that the offer conditions are important. To make it work to our advantage the second item has to be of equal or lessor value.

Clearing excess stock without too much of a margin loss

So how good is your math? Say the customer wants 2 items at $100 ($200), so the price would be $150 after 50% off the second item. The total discount in percentage terms is 25%off. The real winner is when the first item is $100 and the second lower, say $50 ($150 total at full retail) the price is now $125 only a 16.7% total discount.

The word is that customers love this type of deal, it seems to work really well with  FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) such as groceries, fruit and veg etc where perish-ability is a big issue for businesses.

But how about your business? Do you think this could be a good strategy to clear excess stock?

I would love to hear if you have tried it and it it work! So please comment.

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Advertising not working? Maybe your target market is not what you think

Advertising not working? check your customers demographics. Analysing data is not the easiest thing to do for most of us, but

Analyse your customers

Analyse your customers

when it comes to our businesses it may mean the turning point to growth and profitability. Black Label, an edgy fashion company set out to supply fashion to trendy young things but discovered  this was not their customer base.. Then they tailored their business on the needs of the customers, not the owners gut feelings . A great lesson for us all.

Advertising not working? Maybe your target market is not what you think

“It was like, ‘Holy crap, our customers aren’t 22-year-olds who are rebellious and against ‘The Man,’” Bi says. “Our customers are The Man.”

Although Blank Label was targeted towards hipsters, artists, and other creative types, Bi explains that the majority of Blank Label’s customers were actually well-off white collar workers in their late 30s. Many were attorneys. They were the type of consumers who had previously been shopping at Brooks Brothers, not Urban Outfitters.

“We had a hard decision to make,” Bi recalls. “Do we try to still be this fun, rebellious brand? Or do we serve the customers who are letting us run our business?”

 

They chose the latter. For the next six months, Bi and Wong entered into marketing limbo. They revamped the site, and reworked its messaging. Since 89 percent of their customers bought shirts based on fit—not style—the founders re-focused their offerings to focus less on flashy design, and more on comfort.

read full post

Of course not to be overlooked here is the old ‘never judge a book by it’s cover’ adage.  Gut feel only goes so far, analysing your sales,  looking at the demographics of your database can throw up some interesting results. And if you are not on the shop floor then encouraging ground up reporting by your staff on who your customers are is an important step in deciding how and when to advertise.. Then it’s up to you to supply a message that is meaningful to those customers.  You may get a surprise and maybe this will help get you out of the advertising not working rut.

 

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Small Business Help – SEO for small business websites

There is allot of misinformation for us small business owners on SEO for small business websites. If you are like me and are self taught and a DIYer when

seo for small business websites

SEO for small business websites

it comes to setting up your business website and social media, you will have been aware of the multitude of internet gurus touting their products. Many state that they can guarantee your business to be at the top of the Google search engine results for your chosen (keyword) terms.

I’ve even had some phone calls to my shop asking if I would like to be on the top of the google results. Now, if they had  looked at my (shop) website and knew what my market is, then they wouldn’t have rung. I am quite happy to be were I’m at for now, I working on it. My niche, like yours, is quite competitive and I’m about number 4 for the country on kids shoes. Remember though that we have only 4.4 million in the country, so I guess that would be like being in the top 4 of Sydney, that’s not so bad. And on a local level, in my city I’m No. 1, but then I am the only specialist kids shoe store ;) .

Now these SEO experts can get results, though some are temporary by using bad methods, they can optimise your site to get ranked higher in Google. Many have a great amount of knowledge built up over a long period of time, so they can be worth the cost.

However, you can also DIY it. I have found this video produced by Google, which gives a 10 minute ‘cheat sheet’ on the best methods for SEO. After all this is straight from the horse’s mouth so if you are just starting out it is worth a watch. Alternatively want to make sure that your doing the right thing… watch on….

 

SEO for small business websites

 

 

I would love to hear any tips or tricks that have worked for your SEO for small business websites.

 

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Business Continuity and Disaster Planning – Ouch – Sounds like dirty words

In a previous post I wrote on lessons learnt on protecting your passwords  from hackers on the virtual world. But what about in the real world. How

Has your business a Disaster Recovery Plan

Has your business a Disaster Recovery Plan

confident are you if your business  was interrupted by natural or unnatural disasters, are you prepared?  Think about business continuity and disaster planning, yes it does sound like a bunch of dirty words, but  it is something that deserves your attention. Marvin LeBlanc’s business was caught up in Hurricane Katrina and he has been sharing lessons learnt from that time, read on.

 Business Continuity and Disaster Planning

“Sixty-eight percent of my income was lost in the first 100 days,” he recalls. “The insurance department in the state of Louisiana mandated all insurance companies to not send out premium notices. Premiums were waived. If you’re a full-commission salesperson and no one is paying their bill, you’re not getting income.”

LeBlanc had to figure out how to serve his customers with limited information — his clients had scattered all over the country — and zero employees.

He learned the hard way how to be prepared for a disaster: Backing up records, keeping bottled water and nonperishable food in the office and keeping a working generator on site is critical, for instance.

LeBlanc got asked to speak about his experience — first at local groups, conferences and nonprofits, but the speaking events always led to another larger event, and he now speaks all over the country.

“Back then I didn’t have a fee, I was just telling my story,” he says.

Friends and acquaintances were also encouraging him to write a book, a process he says was so emotional that he didn’t start until two years later. (His book Come Hell or High Water (Life Lessons from Hurricane Katrina) was published late last year.)

LeBlanc learned so many lessons from Katrina that it’s hard to count. Besides realizing he could create an entire second stream of income for himself through speaking engagements and writing, LeBlanc says that he is better prepared as a business owner for a disaster and able to connect with his clients.read the full post here

 

How do you think your company is set up if disaster struck? Do you have a disaster recovery plan? Are your computer systems backed up and how would you (and your employees) cope without an income for 6 months.  And don’t become complacent, here in New Zealand after the 2nd Christchurch earthquake in February, 2011 over a year later many businesses have folded or having difficulty in maintaining profitable businesses. And though unreported lately in our news media I expect the people of Japan still reeling from their earthquake. Also consider, while your physical business may be unscathed what about your customers? How would a a sudden drop in demand effect your business? And don’t forget computer backups.

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Branding your Small Business – 101 – the basics

Have you noticed the ‘power of the brand’?  or have you been long aware of the importance of branding. Your small business need to have it’s own brand identity to succeed. Now, I’ve only just come to the realisation in my own business, that I do need to start learning  and hopefully understanding how I can build a strong brand idenity.

After reading an article  today in The Washington Post on 5 crippling branding mistakes I feel I am making a start. You may have had experience and knowledge of the branding process so this could be too basic, if not then read on.

 

 

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/small-business-owners-avoid-these-five-crippling-branding-mistakes/2012/06/12/gJQAvrBWYV_story.html

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One Small Business Step – Reducing our Environmental Impact

Going green has gone from being a ‘hippy’ movement to mainstream in the last 2o years, at least it has in my small

Reducing the small business environment impact

Reducing the small business environment impact

country at the bottom of the South Pacific. Business are becoming more and more focused on reducing their environment impact and carbon footprint.

I came across this article today  and wanted to share some quick tips that any small business can use to reduce their impact and then if another follows this step, and then another one, and then another one, we end up… well you get the idea… with a Giant Leap.

Here’s a taste:

Beyond carbon footprints, there are many other things businesses can do to minimize their environmental impacts. The nonprofit Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) reports that, first and foremost, businesses should shift the paper paradigm—the average office tosses out about 350 pounds of paper per year per employee. “Reducing your waste and purchasing paper with post-consumer recycled content can help save trees and nudge the pulp and paper industry, one of the most environmentally destructive industries in the world, toward a less damaging path,” NRDC reports. Some easy ways to do this include: setting printers to use both sides of a page (or designating a “draft tray” filled with paper that’s blank on one side); buying copy paper with a 30 percent or more post-consumer recycled content; collecting used paper separately for recycling; and stocking bathrooms with post-consumer recycled tissue products. source http://www.pottsmerc.com

Has your company taken any steps to reduce it’s environmental impact? or any great ideas that you would love to share? Let us know so we can also share it with our readers.

 

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LinkedIn – a lesson on internet security for your business.

When commenting on the issue of  the hacking of  millions passwords of LinkedIns  users John Sileo in the Washington Post shares a

LinkedIn - a lesson on internet security for your business.

LinkedIn - a lesson on internet security for your business.

personal story of how his on line identity was stolen and  used  (in my mind) a horrific way. It’s ‘there by the grace of God go I’ sort of stuff. John also gives some great tips on what to do after the hack as well as  more general advice about on-line security.

Increasingly as both individuals and small businesses owners our web footprint gets larger and larger every day. So my advice is to read this article and act, ignore this to your peril.

LinkedIn – a lesson on internet security for your business.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/business/on-small-business/how-small-businesses-can-avoid-a-data-security-disaster-like-linkedins/2012/06/08/gJQAALjwNV_story.html

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