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Launching a new product or service isn’t as easy as it used to be.

Launching a new product or service isn’t as easy as it used to be.

For good or bad, those days are gone. Today, the pace of news is limited only by the speed of light. Getting attention has become extremely difficult and the attention you do get is forgotten within minutes with the unceasing flow of even “newer news”.

New tactics are required by you to get the notice you deserve. So here are some steps for a successful launch in these fickle times:

  1. Start early. Start your outreach activities 6-8 weeks before the official launch date and then keep the news going up to, and beyond the official launch date.
  2. Make the product or service available to important influencers as a first step. Influencers can be friendly customers, prospects, or even bloggers who have a sizable online presence. Encourage these people to use your product or service and then write review articles or posts. These folks are also great resources to talk to analysts about your offering pre-launch.
  3. Brief industry analysts during this early phase, scheduling calls with these people takes time so do this early.
  4. Seed the social space with “leaks.” Target people who are naturally eager to learn about your offering. For example, ‘coming soon’ tweets and ‘leaked’ photos of your product create an aura of intrigue that builds interest.
  5. Don’t expect a “big bang” release unless your product or service is truly revolutionary. Unless you have a massive launch event planned, the official launch date should only signify the day your product is actually available.

So what are you waiting for? Take care, plan and GOOD LUCK !!

And don’t forget if you need any help Photo Direct is always here just give us a call on 1300 364 817.

Free Samples: Are They Good or Bad For Your Business?

Free Samples: Are They Good or Bad For Your Business?

As the old saying goes, nothing in life is free. But offering free samples is a long-time strategy that businesses have used to try to persuade customers to try a new product. Free samples can encourage customers to try a different product or upgrade their usual order. But how do free samples fit in to online sales? Are free samples good or bad for business? Here’s what small business owners need to consider.

Free samples can encourage customers to try new products next time.

Sending a free sample with an existing order can be a good way to try to encourage customers to buy a different or more expensive product with their next order. Just like free food samples in the grocery store, samples are a good way to encourage customers to try new things. Print shops for example, can send a colour corrected free print to encourage a customer to add colour correction to their next order. Other add-ons like paper upgrades can also be sent as free samples.

Samples can be considered wasteful.

The problem with free samples in online orders is that customers don’t have a chance to say no. The customer may not be interested and the product may go right in the trash, which is wasteful both financially and for the environment. Instead, businesses could to give customers a checkmark box that allows them to choose if they’d like the free sample or free upgrade. Another option is to offer a coupon for a free upgrade for first-time customers, ensuring the customer actually wants that upgrade while encouraging them to upgrade their next order at full price.

What samples do you give out to which customers?

Large businesses are using artificial intelligence to look at things like past purchases when determining what free sample to send. That may not be an option for small businesses — and can leave customers feeling like their privacy was violated. Perhaps a better option is to keep it to a small list of different free samples and to send only based on the current order, in other words be selective and strategic in your approach.

Free samples can be expensive.

While individual samples may not cost very much, in the long run, samples can add to a businesses’ bottom line. Businesses need to monitor sales performance before and after giving out samples to make sure that continuing to give out free samples still fits with the best interests of the company. If sales skyrocket after free samples, great, but if they don’t, cut back to keep the costs from piling up.

Free samples can be a great way for your business to encourage customers to try new or upgraded products. But, you should consider several different factors to make sure the sales tool is the right move before shipping out products for free.

What is an upsell and how can it boost your business?

What is an upsell and how can it boost your business?

Business and sales go hand-in-hand — but there’s one type of sale that costs less to secure and can significantly boost a business’ bottom line. Upselling means encouraging customers to buy more than they originally planned, often by adding discounted add-ons. But is upselling a good fit for your business? What can upselling mean for your business?

First, upselling requires balance, or businesses can scare off customers with higher prices. Done wrong, an upsell can leave customers feeling like the deal had “strings attached.” But, done well by you or your staff, upselling can boost sales and help turn first-time customers into long-time customers.

Upsells should be discounted products related to the original purchase, suggests entrepreneur Neil Patel. Without the discount or another compelling reason to add the other product or service, customers may just opt to wait since they weren’t planning on buying that item. A discount encourages the customer to add the product now instead of later and can help avoid the “strings attached” feeling.

Keeping the second product or service related to the first is also important and works well with items that are typically needed together or wanted together. A print shop, for example, can also sell custom framing to finish off that print. For a service oriented business, a wedding photographer can offer engagement photos as an add-on or offer discounted anniversary sessions for previous customers.

Some upsells are completed during the purchase — like when you buy from an electronics store and they ask if you’d like to add a warranty. Other businesses approach upsells after the actual sale. For example, an online store can send customers a coupon immediately after their order, with a deadline to use that coupon to add to his or her order before it ships. Emailing customers after the sale with a special offer, related to the item they just purchased, is another form of upselling that can also be successful for many different types of businesses.

Another form of upselling isn’t an odd-on product, but encouraging customers to buy a higher-end product then the one they originally came to the store for. Discounts can help sway customers here too.

Upselling is favoured by businesses because it can help turn customers into long-time fans and boost the bottom line. However, your business needs to approach the upsell appropriately, or customers could be uneasy about even the original intended purpose. With a focus on discounted related products or discounted upgrades, however, your business can successfully create an upsell program that benefits both your customer and your business.

What are you waiting for?  PLAN and implement..

5 Retail Trends for Small Business in Australia to Watch in 2019

5 Retail Trends for Small Business in Australia to Watch in 2019

The retail space is constantly evolving, adapting to meet new technologies and changing with the demands of consumers. 2019 will be no different. So what retail trends should small business owners in Australia stay on top of in the New Year? What trends can businesses integrate to grow in 2019? Here are five ideas, predicted from the Retail Doctor Group, on 2019 retail trends.

Technology will influence sales from smart phones, subscriptions and voice control.

Technology trends often influence retail sales and 2019 is no exception. Smart phones are continuing to takeover a majority of online sales, so small businesses need to ensure any online ordering platform is mobile friendly. Subscriptions through online stores are also predicted to grow, and could spark ideas for growth for small business. A photo / print shop, for example, can run a subscription special for a monthly set of keepsake prints or photo-albums covering that month’s milestones.

Retail focus continues to shift.

Consumers are placing more importance on factors like experience over the actual product, RDG suggests. “Boring” stores will lose sales, the group says. Curation and customisation will help retail shops stand out from the competition and feel a little less boring so do something about this and NOW”.

Convenience shouldn’t be overestimated.

Customers often pick where to shop for convenience, like a brick and mortar store’s proximity, or the easy online ordering system. 2019 is a good time to make sure your online store is simple, and your hours convenient and easy to find online. Brainstorm ways to make ordering more convenient for your customers, and you’ll likely reap the rewards.

Data is king.

Personalisation and convenience is important — and data is the way to determine just what that means for your particular customers. Gathering data through customer rewards programs, surveys and studies can help retailers tailor their business experience to their particular customer.

Specialisation is a good thing.

Good news for small business — RDG predicts specification is better than generalisation in 2019. Most small businesses are already smaller speciality shops — but businesses can brainstorm ways to highlight this specialisation over the course of the next year.

Some predictions will make a bigger splash beyond 2019 rather than steady growth this year — trends like robotics and machine learning are just coming onto the retail scene, but likely aren’t at a spot for adoption by small businesses just yet. Pinpointing the latest retail trends can help businesses understand what customers are looking for and where to focus for improvements in 2019.

Call Photo Direct Support Office (03) 9894 1644 and one of our experts can and will assist you with your needs. Call us today!

5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

5 Ideas to Increase Post-Holiday Sales in January

The holidays have come and gone and the calendar has turned to a new year — and with it, the holiday shopping season has dissipated. For many businesses, January is a month of slow sales. Consumers overspent during the holidays and aren’t as actively shopping. But businesses shouldn’t just cross their fingers and ride out the slow season. Here are five ideas to increase post-holiday sales in January.

Encourage gift card spending (and exchanges).

After the holidays, consumers may have several gift cards to spend. Encourage them to spend during the slow season with sales and social media campaigns. Consider post-holiday needs and run a special focused on that. For example, print shops can offer discounted album for customers to print of their images from the Christmas-New Years season.

For retailers, January is often the biggest time for returns and exchanges. Push for the latter with specials, well-placed product displays, and excellent customer service.

Launch a unique marketing campaign.

Combat slow sales with a January marketing campaign. Brainstorm ideas for an unusual sale, new product, or social media campaign. If you’ve always wanted to try a video campaign on social media, for example, now is the time to try.

Businesses can also begin focusing on the next holiday. Photographers, for example, can run specials ahead of Easter or Mother’s Day.

Host an event or contest.

In the slowdown after the holiday, why not create your own reason to get customers in the store? A contest or event is often a great way to boost a business during a slow down. Host an event to battle the winter blues. Run a giveaway on social media. Encourage customers to come into the store with in-person contest entries.

Reach out to holiday shoppers.

If you’ve been collecting emails and information from holiday shoppers, now is a good time to use it. Follow up with holiday shoppers and reach out with an exclusive offer, just for previous customers. Word the email like a friend, not a business — ask about their holidays before launching into any sales materials. Be sure to keep emails short and infrequent — no one likes junk mail.

Focus on ways to improve while shopping is slow.

Sometimes, a slow down is exactly what a business needs. If that’s you, instead of focusing on reversing the slow down, take the time to take a breather, and work on business tasks that can’t be tackled during the busy season. Update your website. Plan social media posts ahead of time.  Improve the appearance of your store. Invest in new tools to help your business run smoothly. Take the time to service equipment, like printers and computers.

The holidays may be over, but the work never stops for small businesses. To fight the slow season, try new ways to bring customers in like encouraging gift card spending, launching a campaign, hosting an event, reaching out to previous shoppers, or simply focusing on improvements that can’t be mastered during the busy season.

Contact the Photo Direct team on (03) 9894 1644 and use our expertise to build your business for 2019 and beyond.

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

5 Ways Small Business Can Prevent Dangerous Cyber Attacks

Small businesses are increasingly encouraged to step up digital efforts — and for good reason. But while investing in a digital reach and digital tools can boost your bottom line, it can also make your business vulnerable to cyber attacks. Big businesses aren’t the only ones attracting hackers — and small businesses with smaller budgets for cybersecurity can be more vulnerable. A recent report suggests that cyber attacks against small businesses are on the rise.

So what can small businesses do to protect their companies and customers from hacks? Here are five things small business owners can do to prevent cyber attacks.

Download a good antivirus software on all computers and mobile devices.

Protecting your small business starts by making it not worth the extra effort for hackers to get in, under any guise. Make sure your office devices use an antivirus software. Look for a software that helps protect against viruses, ransomware and malware. Anti-virus is a small investment that can help protect your company from expensive cyber threats in the future.

Don’t forget to protect your mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets, with antivirus apps designed for your device. And before investing in any smart device that’s connected to the internet, consider if the smart convenience is really worth it and make sure the device has security measures in place as well.

Use a firewall to prevent data theft.

Firewalls limit the ways in which your internet connection can send data — which also helps keep data more secure against hacks. Firewalls can be software or a device that you install on your internet line — and for the most protection, small businesses can use both. Hiring a professional to set up the firewall is often the best route.

Use two-factor authentication and be wary of any email links.

Phishing schemes aren’t always targeted to individuals — because why get into an individual’s bank account when you can get into a businesses? To avoid phishing, use caution whenever clicking on a link in your inbox. Phishing attempts look like they are coming from a legitimate company but instead send you to a site where you unintentionally give away your data. Always check the full sender address before clicking on a link. Anytime you need to type in sensitive information, go directly to the url yourself instead of using an email link.

Keep customer data encrypted and use an SSL security certificate.

Online stores save data like payment information for later — and hackers might target that information instead of yours. Make sure you use software that encrypts any customer data — check your current software to ensure that customer data is encrypted.

An SSL security certificate is also a must for any small business completing transactions online. An SSL is an extra layer of protection that protects credit card information — and many web browsers will now warn customers if they are trying to buy something from a website that doesn’t have a valid SSL. Besides protecting customer data, using an SSL will help customers feel more confident when buying from you online.

Make a cybersecurity plan for your entire small business.

Chances are, your small business isn’t just you. Make a plan so employees know the best practices for keeping data safe. For example, this plan should tell employees to install software updates every so often, since updates often include patches to correct vulnerabilities. Your plan can also include a guideline on changing passwords often and whether employees are allowed to use flash drives or connect to a personal social or chat network.

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

What’s Next? 5 Key Retail Trends Experts Predict for 2019

As the calendar begins to approach the end of 2018, business are already looking to the next year — and the trends that come along with it. Analysing retail trends can help small businesses identify where to grow next to keep up with what customers are looking for. So what retail trends are experts predicting for the next year? Here are a few trends for small businesses to keep in mind.

Artificial intelligence is growing.

More and more, artificial intelligence is changing the face of technology. But retailers could see shifts too because of this technology trend. Today, shoppers can ask Alexa to order them something — that’s a prime example of artificial intelligence working inside retail. Small businesses probably can’t afford to develop their own digital assistant, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore the trend. AI software can help streamline your tasks and save time, or help customers save time. Watch out for AI trends that could help in both, like Messenger bots for answering commonly asked questions or smarter software for helping customers design photo albums.

Shopping isn’t just one channel any more.

Today, more customers are looking at multiple channels before digging out their wallet (or digital payment). Retailers with more than one way to buy will likely be rewarded. Besides a brick and mortar store and website, consider selling on social media outlets, in apps or with third-party companies. While there are more ways to buy than ever, the traditional isn’t going anywhere — statistics predict 45 percent of consumers prefer the physical stores anyway.

Think personal and custom.

Shoppers have always loved a bit of personalisation — remember how easy it was to find your name on a pencil or a key chain in the 80s and 90s? But what’s changed is the technology that makes personalisation easier to do. From including a first name in those marketing emails to creating custom photography packages, brainstorm ways that your business can offer a custom experience. Personalising ads by reaching out to target groups is also a good idea — if you also respect user privacy.

Recommendations are still essential — and easier than ever.

Word of mouth isn’t going anywhere, but it’s becoming word of fingers — those written reviews play a big role in business today. While online reviews have been around for awhile, experts predict increasing importance on recommendations, in whatever form. Make it easy for customers to leave a review by adding a review tool to your website. Encourage reviews on your social media page. If you don’t have one already, claim your business on review sites like Yelp and Google’s listings.

Focus on mobile reach.

Online shopping has been around for some time, but mobile shopping is getting its time in the sun. Statistics show a growing number of consumers are shopping on a smartphone, not a desktop computer. Start by making sure your website is responsive, looking good both on desktop and mobile. Consider outlets that are easy to access from mobile — like selling through social media. Make sure your online ordering system is just as easy to use on a smartphone.

5 Ways to Build Your Social Media Following

5 Ways to Build Your Social Media Following

Social media can be a great tool for small businesses — but once you get started, that follower count seems to creep up rather slow. Building a social media following is even more essential ahead of busy seasons, like the upcoming holidays. But you don’t need to wait years before you actually have a significant follower count, with a few tricks, you can accelerate your social media presence. Here are five ways small business owners such as print shops and photographers can increase their social media following.

Share fun, informative content.

First things first, no one is going to follow you if all your posts are marketing. Create content worth following — that means something that’s fun or informative. Create funny memes centered on topics related to your business. Share links to helpful articles. Craft tips that are helpful for your target audience. For example, wedding photographers can share wedding planning tips. The more worthwhile your content is, the easier growing your follower count will be.

Run a contest.

Shares can drastically increase your reach and the number of followers. Creating a contest is an easy way to encourage shares and new followers. Give away something related to your business — like a product or gift card for a service. In the contest, require entrants to like your page and share the contest post. Those actions will help boost your follower count and help new people to see that contest. Online contest tools can help make contest planning a bit easier.

Create an exclusive coupon for followers.

Another way to encourage followers is to share exclusive offers on your social media page. That gives customers a very good reason to follow your page in order to see and use those discounts. Think of email coupons, but on social media. Facebook, for example has an option for businesses to create an offer. This creates in-store or online coupons for customers to use.

Make it a two-way conversation.

Too often, small business social media pages are all talk. One of the best ways to increase followers is to engage with them. Besides just creating posts, comment on other posts, and share posts from other users. When followers comment on your posts, be sure to respond or like the comment. Social media is about being social, not a one-way conversation.

Try boosting posts.

Social media advertising can often reach hundreds of people just for a five dollar bill. Experiment with boosting posts and targeting your business’ audience. On Facebook, for example, a wedding photographer can advertise only to couples that list engaged under relationship status. Try boosting images or video, offers or helpful links.

Social media followers climb slowly at first — but once you start sharing the right kind of content and interacting with other users, those numbers grow quickly. Always share worthwhile content that’s fun or informative more than you share content that’s strictly marketing. Try contests, coupons, conversations and paid social media ads.