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4 Ways for Small Businesses to Show Customers They Care

4 Ways for Small Businesses to Show Customers They Care

Customers are often quick to spot a business that only cares about the bottom line. But the businesses that make it obvious that the customer matters? Those are the businesses that tend to get lots of repeat business. So how can businesses show customers that they aren’t just there to make another buck? Here are four ideas for small businesses to show customers how much they care.

Support a non-profit that customers care about.

Some businesses are built entirely around the idea that, for every sale, a donation is made to a charitable cause. The shoe company TOMS, for example, donates a pair of shoes to someone in need for every pair of shoes purchased. But small businesses don’t have to build their entire sales philosophy around charitable giving from the get go to show customers how much they care.

Consider a special event that donates a portion of all the proceeds to a local non-profit. Ideally, you should choose a non-profit that your target audience cares about or a charity that’s related to your industry. For example, a photographer specialising in children’s photography could make a donation to a children’s hospital or an organisation researching childhood ailments. If you still need inspiration, consider a charity related to the season. Give to an environmental organisation around Earth Day, for example.

Go beyond what’s necessary for customer service.

Good customer service is a must for businesses to thrive — but why stop at just good? Customers remember the businesses that went above and beyond. Don’t just fix the problem the customer comes to you with, but offer a coupon for their next purchase for their troubles. Reward employees that go above and beyond, like the cashier that helps the mum with the crying baby unload her cart, to encourage others to do the same.

Offer personalised service.

Customers remember the businesses that make them feel like they are more than just a number. Besides just remembering the names of your regulars, brainstorms ways to integrate personalised experience into your business. Consider software that will help track a customer’s preferences. For service providers, take a few minutes to ask a few questions to tailor that service to the individual, like finding out about a client before taking their picture or cutting their hair.

Go environmentally friendly.

More and more people are becoming aware of environmental issues. Some businesses have noticed and done things like ban plastic straws in the name of leaving less plastic in oceans and landfills. Try switching to environmentally-friendly packaging and letting your customers know about the switch. Consider using biodegradable paper bags instead of plastic. Brainstorm ways to reduce your trash. Both your customers and the environment will thank you.

Customers are more likely to return to a business where they felt cared for, not like just another number. That customer care can show in a number of different ways, from customer service that goes above and beyond to donating a portion of profits to a charitable cause.

2019 Point-of-Purchase Trends For Small Businesses To Watch

2019 Point-of-Purchase Trends For Small Businesses To Watch

An ad doesn’t do any good if no one sees it — but where should ads be placed to reach the ideal customer? A recent study by Frank Mayer and Associates recently pinpointed the current point-of-purchase trends in marketing for 2019, highlighting ever-changing advertising opportunities.  So where should small businesses direct their ad efforts in 2019?

Point-of-Purchase (POP) is a term used to refer to the placement of displays and ads, optimised to maximise the potential impact. POP can mean the difference between an ad or display with high impact, and one with minimal impact. By looking at POP trends, small businesses can brainstorm new ways to expand POP efforts.

Unique POP opportunities are created by crossing industries.

Traditionally, businesses advertise in their own industry to reach a specific customer. But the customer that buys your product doesn’t live on a figurative island and likely has other interests and activities as well. Crossing POP to another industry, Frank Mayer and Associates suggests, could open up more opportunities.

Small businesses can brainstorm ways to reach their target customer as they go out through their daily routines. If your target audience is mums, for example, consider the different places mums frequent like grocery stores and playgrounds, as well as the different online spaces such as mum blogs and apps. The advertising medium doesn’t have to be directly tied to your industry to be successful if it reaches the right people.

Businesses shouldn’t ignore technology, and in particular, augmented reality.

Augmented reality mixes both the real and digital worlds — and its becoming a prime spot for businesses to reach customers. Fashion companies have used the technology as a virtual dressing room, photographers can use AR to show clients what their prints would look like on their walls. Businesses can design their own Snapchat filters for a unique AR ad.

AR is growing in popularity because by mixing the real and digital world, consumers can integrate a product they are interested in into their own lives with just a smartphone. Brainstorm ways to use AR to stand out and offer customers a more personalised experience.

Convenience isn’t going away any time soon.

Saving customers time and effort has always been a good thing, but research suggests convenience will be paramount to reaching customers through POP in 2019. The study notes growth in options like programs for picking online orders up in store or using electronic kiosks for easier checkouts or customer service. Grocery delivery services are also growing in popularity.

Take some time to sit down and ask — what would make my product or service more convenient for customers? What can help them save time or effort? Pinpoint your customer’s pain points and find ways to ease them, and you’ll be rewarded with repeat business for that convenience factor.

Location matters when it comes to placing products and ads. Looking at POP trends can help small businesses increase the impact of their campaigns.

Mum Marketing: 5 Tips For Small Businesses To Reach More Mum Customers

Mum Marketing: 5 Tips For Small Businesses To Reach More Mum Customers

Mums are amazing — and we’re not just saying that because Mother’s Day is right around the corner. Between raising children and managing a household, mums do a lot. For many small businesses, mums are a key customer with many mothers making the everyday purchase decisions for their households.

So how can small businesses reach this unique, but important group of customers? Here are five ideas for reaching mums.

Make shopping convenient.

The average working mum puts in 98 hours a week between her job and taking care of her family. The key take away? The easier the shopping experience is, the more likely mums are to return, because convenience is a big factor when you’re working 98 hours a week. Mums, for example, may prefer to visit the fast food restaurant that brings the food to your table because between the baby and the diaper bag, her hands or full. Or, mums may prefer to order online and pick up in store to skip the hassle of shopping with kids. The same goes for online shopping — a slow-loading website or app that’s difficult to navigate may make mums shop elsewhere instead.

Make your online presence easy to find.

Another study suggests that 80 percent of mums research a brand online before buying. How easy is it for customers to find information about you online? What does that information say? As you build an online presence, consider what the customers looking for you online will find. Encourage positive reviews with good customer service. Use key terms to make your website easy to find.

Use social media to reach out to mums.

Social media can be a key tool for reaching mothers. Besides the fact that you can specifically target an ad towards mums, many in this group use social media to unwind and laugh a little. Share relatable, fun posts on your social media page. Take out ads that are targeted towards mums for products that are specific to mums, kids and families.

Build a presence with blogs.

Those same mums researching products online before they buy are also frequent visitors to blogs — or there wouldn’t be such a thing as a “mummy blog.” Businesses can reach mums by writing guests posts for these blogs, or taking out ads on blogs focused on motherhood. Building your own blog with tips centred around your products and service isn’t a bad idea either.

Make reviews easy to find with a service like Yelp.

When mums research products online, they look for reviews. Make reviews for your product or service easy to find using platforms like Yelp. Encourage reviews by claiming your business on Yelp and similar sites. Don’t be afraid to ask for a review via a note in your email newsletter, a social media post, or even an in-store sign, just make sure to be tasteful. Other services like the reviews on Google Maps, Facebook and more are also great for making it easy for customers to find relevant reviews.

Mums are an important part of the family dynamic — and are often a big part of many businesses. Reach more customers through marketing tactics focused on mums, and keep them customers by offering a convenient experience.

How to Expand Your Business Using eBay

How to Expand Your Business Using eBay

Looking for ways to grow your business? eBay’s online sales platform could be the answer. Using eBay is straightforward, and there’s no fancy application process to get started with sales on eBay. Yet, eBay is one of the more popular eCommerce websites, which means you could put your product in front of a lot of people. So what’s the best way to expand an existing business using eBay? Here are five ideas.

Try an eBay store instead of basic listings.

Anyone can list products without upfront fees to sell on eBay. But subscribing to eBay’s store options allows businesses to create a custom store front page. With an eBay Store, you’ll also gain access to marketing tools and discounts that aren’t available otherwise. The format also makes it easier to promote your items and track sales, if you’re willing to spend a few bucks on the Store subscription.

Discount combined shipping to encourage more sales.

What’s better than selling one item on eBay? Selling two. Offering a discount to buyers who purchase more than one item from your store front can help increase your sales. Discounts will encourage buyers to order more than one product. Similarly, eBay will also allow you to set temporary sales to encourage shoppers to buy now.

Make sure buyers can find your listings.

Your products won’t sell if no one sees them. To build more sales on eBay, make sure your product listings are easy to find. User keywords in the title and description that buyers are likely to search for. If the product has more than one name, for example, integrate both to make it easier to find in a web search. eBay also has tools to boost listings inside eBay search results.

Mix your existing business with your eBay listings.

Expanding a business using eBay and starting an eBay-exclusive business are two entirely different tasks. Take advantage of the fact that you’ve already got a business up and running. Use existing resources like an email marketing list, your social media accounts, and even in-store flyers to spread the word that customers can also shop on eBay. Link to your eBay store on your website.

Understand how eBay is different.

Several things will overlap between selling on eBay and selling through your usual channels — but eBay is also different. Make sure you understand how eBay works before embarking on the new eBay expansion. Look through other listings for similar products and see how you can make yours stand out. Seller ratings are everything on eBay, so when you get that first sale, be sure to put your best foot forward on customer service to get started with a high rating.

Sure, eBay is home to many business owners that run a business exclusively on eBay. But expanding to eBay is a good way for many existing businesses to expand their online sales. Try an eBay Store, create combined shipping discounts and more to help your venture into eBay go smoothly.

5 Tips For Starting an eBay Business

5 Tips For Starting an eBay Business

Selling products online is often one of the first things new entrepreneurs consider as a business model. The start-up costs are lower than having a physical location and online shopping is growing. eBay is one of the first platforms that come to mind when considering selling online. After all, if it’s easy enough for anyone to sell used household items, starting a business on eBay can’t be that hard, right?

An eBay business, like any other business, comes with it’s own set of challenges. Try these five tips if your considering starting a business on eBay.

Make sure you are familiar with the platform first.

Have you ever sold or bought anything from eBay? You should be familiar with eBay if you are considering using the platform to launch a business. Make sure you understand how the auctions work, how the “buy it now” options work, and what the typical listings look like. It’s a good idea to do some shopping there yourself. As you browse, ask yourself what tempts you to buy one listing over another similar listing? The answer will help you start an eBay business off on the right foot.

Treat your business as a traditional business.

eBay is just an online sales platform — eBay isn’t going to name your business for you, decide what to sell, or set your prices. In that manner, treat your eBay business as a traditional business. While you may be selling online, you still need a name, a business plan, and a strategy for turning a profit. What will you sell? How will you make your listings stand out from the other listings on eBay? Answer those questions before you get started.

Use good product photos and well-written listings to stand out.

eBay is a popular platform, which usually means there’s often more than one listing for an item. Your business will do a lot better if you make your listings stand out — and not necessarily by paying extra fees to boost them. Make sure your product photos highlight the product well with good lighting and a simple backdrop. Use a variety of images as well. Work to write a clear, interesting product description to help encourage buyers.

Research the market and trends.

What you sell on eBay will determine a lot of your business model. Besides working to find something that you can consistently sell at a profit, make sure to do your research to find current trends. Selling a product that’s seeing a growth or limited availability will be easier than selling a product that isn’t very much in demand. Be sure to stay on top of market trends as you determine what direction to take your business.

Don’t stop growing.

Once you get started, continue to evaluate your business. Keep track of which products sell quickly and which products take a little longer. Track the changes to your products, prices and listings, so you can determine what changes are helping and what changes are hurting. Consider other platforms to sell products online to expand beyond eBay.

Starting an eBay business isn’t a get rich scheme, but it can build a long term sustainable business if you take the right steps. Follow the trends, treat your eBay business like a traditional business, and continue finding new ways to grow.

6 Reasons To Support Small, Local Businesses

6 Reasons To Support Small, Local Businesses

Sure, when you need to buy something it’s easy to just head to Amazon — but can shopping with a small business instead make your dollar go further? Shopping at local small business can improve the economy in your area, rather than padding the pockets of a large corporation. While you shouldn’t treat all big businesses as the bad guy — since some small businesses sell products on Amazon, after all — it’s a great idea to consider local businesses first. Here’s why.

Shopping local keeps more money in the local economy.

If you shop at a big box store in your town, some of that money stays in the community. But if you shop at a small business, more of that money stays in the community. A recent study found the difference is between about 43 percent staying locally or 68 percent. Shopping locally with small businesses boosts the economy more than shopping locally from a big chain store.

Get to know your community.

When you shop local, you meet more local community. This can be especially important if you’re also a business owner yourself. Shopping locally can help you network with other businesses that may in return shop at your business. Or, you may simply develop a new relationship with another local, and that’s good too.

Shopping local has a smaller impact on the environment.

Driving out of town to shop and paying for shipments from overseas creates more waste and carbon emissions. Local businesses can be more environmentally friendly, especially if the products are also produced locally. In general, shopping from local businesses has a smaller impact on the environment.

Small businesses are more diverse.

You know that one restaurant or shop in town that’s unlike any other you’ve seen? Small businesses tend to be more unique than large corporations. And the only way to keep that uniqueness going is to support that business when you shop. Keep those odd-but-wonderful mum and dad shops going with local support.

Customer service improves with small businesses.

Large businesses have big support teams — but you’re more likely to start by actually talking to a person instead of a robot when you are working with a small business. If you make a purchase at a small business and need help, chances are, you’ll get better service from that local small business — and you can easily get support in person.

Supporting a range of businesses keeps prices competitive.

What happens if the only thing that’s left are those big box stores? Then those big box stores no longer have to keep their prices low. Shopping with local businesses helps keep that business running. The more businesses that are running, the more competition there is. The more competition there is, the more likely it is that prices will stay low.

There are dozens of different reasons to shop locally and support a small business — especially if you are a small business owner yourself. Support a local business to boost the local economy, create new relationships, and more.

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.