All posts by TheDSEF

DSEF & CBBB: Names Top Ten Scams of 2011

DSEF & CBBB: Names Top Ten Scams of 2011

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

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BBB Names Top Ten Scams of 2011

Better Business Bureau investigates thousands of scams every year, from the latest gimmicks to schemes as old as the hills. Our new Scam Source (www.bbb.org/scam) is a comprehensive resource on scam investigations from BBBs around the country, with tips from BBB, law enforcement and others. You can sign up to receive our Scam Alerts by email, and you can also be a scam detective yourself by reporting scams you’ve discovered.

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.

Seven Ways to Increase Friends and Build Your Network

Seven Ways to Increase Friends and Build Your Network

In this digital age, it is now easier than ever to interact with people all around the globe, so a solid network is within your reach.  Increasing your friends and building your network is a cost-effective marketing strategy that can lead to sales opportunities in a variety of ways.  Read on for seven ways to get started.

1. Don’t just attend events, be an active participant.  Deciding to attend workshops, conventions, and the like is a great start to meeting new people in your field.  However, you should make the most of your time there. Speak up, be helpful and get involved. Set a goal for how many new people you will meet at an event, and be consistent.  The more you do it, the easier it will become.

2. Hold off on the sales pitch.  When introducing yourself to potential contacts, DO share your name, business, and other relevant information.  DO NOT break into a prepared commercial in hopes of selling yourself then and there.  The relationship you want to build must be based on common interests and shared goals.  Save the sales pitch for a follow-up meeting or phone call.

3. Ask good questions.  When talking to people you’ve just met, asking questions shows that you are interested in what they have to say and that you are truly listening.  Take this strategy to the next level by asking the right types of questions that facilitate a worthwhile conversation.  For example, “So how do you like the food here?” will doom you to several minutes of small talk and get you nowhere.  On the other hand, “So what is your role in your business?” and “What are you hoping to get out of this convention that will help you in your business?” are more effective questions that get people talking about themselves.  Not only are you learning more about them, but you are building the foundation for a professional relationship. As you perfect your conversations skills you may want start with and develop a script to help you with this process.

4. Follow up.  So you’ve met several potential contacts; now what?  Don’t be lax about initiating the first phone call or email.  Remind the person where you met him or her, mention that it was a pleasure to meet, and set a time to discuss what you talked about earlier.  Furthermore, don’t wait more than a day or two after meeting the person to make contact. Make this a weekly habit to meet with new people.

5. Incorporate your online presence with your offline presence.  When you meet people at a networking event, be sure to give them what they need to find you online (your website URL, Twitter handle, etc.).  It’s also a good idea to arrange for face-to-face meet-ups with some of your online business contacts.  By integrating your networks, you enhance those relationships and build your business.

6. Ask friends to make introductions. When you’re at a social gathering or event, don’t be shy to ask your friends to introduce you to other people. Just like in tip one, set a goal for how many new people you want to meet.

7. Do something new. Don’t sit around and wait to be invited to a party or event. Make it happen. Find something new that peaks your interest or something that you have no concept of. Once you get there have fun, engage in conversation with others, and tag along with individuals you like. Again, set a goal for how many new people you would like to meet.

What are your ideas for building your network?  Please share them with us in the comments section below.

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

DSEF & FTC: Payday Mayday: Seek Alternatives to Costly Loans that Can Sink You

DSEF & FTC: Payday Mayday: Seek Alternatives to Costly Loans that Can Sink You

Today’s highlighted blog post from FTC/NCPW:

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Payday Mayday: Seek Alternatives to costly Loans that Can Sink You

The ads are everywhere — on the radio, television, the Internet, even in the mail. They refer to payday loans, cash advance loans, check advance loans, post-dated check loans, or deferred deposit loans. And their promises of quick cash to get out of a financial bind can be tempting to many.

For 13 years, the DSEF has been proud to partner with the FTC and other organizations to offer a wide array of education events and resources that encourage consumers nationwide to take full advantage of their rights and make better-informed decisions.

You’ll find a wealth of resources at www.ncpw.gov that will help you protect your privacy, manage your money, learn more about credit and debt, decipher advertising messages, and steer clear of fraud and scams.

Please take a moment to share the resources on this Web site with others in your communities and companies and, together, we’ll help build a nation of better-informed and educated consumers.

Charles. L. Orr
Executive Director

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Raising Money Smart Kids

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Raising Money Smart Kids

Today’s highlighted post from Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series:

Raising Money Smart Kids

Learn how parents can help their children develop a healthy attitude towards money. Janet Bodnar will share a wealth of suggestions, ideas and tips on raising money smart kids — from a young age to college bound teens.

Janet Bodnar

Janet Bodnar is editor of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine. During her career at Kiplinger, Bodnar has written about a wide range of topics on investing, money management and the economy. She is also a nationally recognized expert in the field of children’s and family finances, and the author of several books. Her latest book is Money Smart Women: Everything You Need to Know to Achieve a Lifetime of Financial Security (Kaplan). Praising Money Smart Women, Time magazine noted that Bodnar “avoids the patronizing finger wagging and sticks to giving advice that women can really use.” She speaks frequently on the subject of women and money. Bodnar’s “Money-Smart Kids” column appears regularly at www.kiplinger.com/columns/kids. It was chosen by Moneysmartz.com as one of the top financial columns online. And Bodnar is the kids and money coach on the AOL Coaches site.

DSEF proudly sponsors the free Money Wi$e Women Get Smart Teleseminar Series hosted by Marcia Brixey, Founder and President of Money Wise Women Educational Services and author ofThe Money Therapist: A Woman’s Guide to Creating a Healthy Financial Life. The series covers topics related to business and finances and provides women the opportunity to learn from professional experts in a safe, comfortable environment.

To find out about upcoming teleseminars, visit http://www.moneywisewomengetsmart.com/

A Sales Pitch that Doesn’t Sound Like a Sales Pitch

A Sales Pitch that Doesn’t Sound Like a Sales Pitch

In the past, sales pitches were intrusive and created to reach a wide population.  Now, with the dominance of the internet, effective sales pitches cater to individual customers’ needs.  They are not canned or contrived because the modern consumer can see right through it and has a wide variety of alternatives right at his or her fingertips.  Here are a few ways to frame your sales pitches in such a way that it allows you to promote your products/services without sounding like a pushy sales pitch, and even encourage others to market your products/services for you.

  •  Scavenger Hunt – This can be used to draw in new customers.  Use promotional items (electronic or paper) to start a scavenger hunt for a special first-time customer gift.  As an added convenience, you can create one totally online by taking your prospective clients on a guided tour of some relevant websites.  Start by creating a theme that works with your business, like food, jewelry, or health & beauty products.  Make sure the questions are easy to answer and that each item only takes a short time to find.  At the end of the hunt, your would-be customer is rewarded with a special gift!  You’ve now drawn them in to try your product, made it fun for them to share it with their friends, and you’ve promoted your business without the traditional sales pitch.
  • Giveaways – Many businesses offer free products or services for first-time customers, but usually some sort of purchase is necessary.  Consider a giveaway that stands out from the rest: one that literally gives something away totally for free. Offer it for free for first-timers, and wow them with your quality and customer service.  By doing so, you create a risk-free situation and promote your products/services through the giveaway without sounding like a sales pitch.  You have now started a relationship and given them a reason to share it with their friends.
  • Referrals & Rewards – Not only do you want to draw in new customers, but you want to reward your loyal ones as well.  Create and use a reward system for referrals that promotes your products/services.  Whenever a new customer makes a purchase, all they have to do is mention the name of the person who referred them.  That referrer then gets a special discount or promotional item.  Word of mouth is an effective method for bringing in new customers, so motivate your current ones by showing them how much you appreciate their patronage and recommendations.

When creating a non-sales pitch sales pitch, remember to frame it in such a way that the promotion includes marketing your products/services. If done correctly, people should feel like you are talking about the promotion and not delivering a sales pitch. Make them simple and direct, but most importantly, be genuine in your interactions with prospective clients.  They will appreciate your sincerity and your creative approach.

Please share your own ideas for a creative sales pitch in the comments below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

DSEF & CBBB: Helping Small Business Owners Manage Credit Wisely

DSEF & CBBB: Helping Small Business Owners Manage Credit Wisely

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

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Helping Small Business Owners Manage Credit Wisely

BBB and Capital One Managing Credit – Made Simpler Partnership to offer businesses tailored advice and easy-to-follow tips online for free

“Faced with the realities of the economic downturn, millions of small businesses have been forced to take a second look at their finances, including examining their spending habits and how they use credit,” said Stephen A. Cox, President and CEO, Council of Better Business Bureaus. “Regularly examining your business’s finances, including how and why you use credit, is important. BBB’s Managing Credit – Made Simpler provides easy-to-follow tips, checklists, and advice compiled to help small businesses better handle and successfully build their business’s credit record.”

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.

Using Clubs to Build Your Business

Using Clubs to Build Your Business

We all know that networking is an essential part of growing a business. Using clubs is a fun and effective way to network, develop relationships and build your business. For example, if you sell books, it would make great sense to start or join a book club. The goal is to gather likeminded people together, nurture relationships, and help increase business by using a social setting. Consider people in your target market, in your local community and current customers. Here are some club ideas to start or join.

  •  Book clubs – If you’re an avid reader, finding a book club will be easy and fun. You’ll be interacting with people who share your interests and also building a rapport as you gather with them on a regular basis (most book clubs meet once or twice a month).
  • Exercise clubs – Whether you’re into running, yoga, swimming, or the like, start an in-home or join a fitness club. Running a business is bound to pile on the stress, so decompress with some physical activity.  What better way to multitask then to exercise, share your opportunity and network simultaneously?
  • Moms clubs and/or playgroups – If you’re a parent of young children, this will benefit both you and them.  Playgroups are usually informal get-togethers either at someone’s house or a recreation center where the children have unstructured playtime; they also allow for the parents to socialize with each other.  For example, if you are a stay-at-home mom, you’ll be surrounding yourself with other moms in the same situation.  It’s an effective way to learn about the interests of others and share your own personal and professional interests.  For those that work outside the home during the day, many areas have playgroups that meet one evening a week.  Try a website like Meetup or Craigslist to find what is locally available.
  • Scrapbooking/craft clubs – If you enjoy arts and crafts, consider taking up scrapbooking.  You undoubtedly have a box of pictures somewhere that have never quite made it into an album, or perhaps you have hundreds of pictures still taking up space on your memory card.  Find a scrap-a-thon in your community where you can network while participating in a fun activity.  You’ll be able to share personal interests as you work with others who are displaying pictures of family and friends.  Scrapbooking can be an easy way to break the ice and introduce yourself to others.

Whatever kind of club you choose to network and build your business, it is important that you keep it social and enjoyable.  Your enthusiasm for the activity will help others get to know you, while you make new friends who may be able to help you in building your business.  Joining clubs not only leads you to build relationships and increase your network, but it gets you and your business involved in the community.  What are some of your ideas for using clubs to build your business?  Share with us in the comments section below!

Free e-book “Business Owner’s Road Map to Success.” It has over 50 pages of techniques for everything a small business owner needs to master, from business planning and ethical selling to a success mindset. It’s all there and it’s free for you. To get it, just “Like” our Facebook Page here: http://on.fb.me/KsIN6P Pass it on!

Crowdsourcing for Your Small Business

Crowdsourcing for Your Small Business

Crowdsourcing is a relatively new idea that small businesses can use to solve a problem or improve their business. This process takes a task usually done by individuals to a group of people or community for their input.  Here are some benefits and ideas to implement crowdsourcing for your business.

The benefits of Crowdsourcing:

  • The process helps you find out exactly what your local clientele wants and/or needs.
  • Provides you with a list of people who may be interested in your products/services or opportunity.
  • Provide a formal way to gather feedback from neighbors and clients that will help you tailor your products, services, marketing, and customer care to the very people who frequent your business.
  • Keeps your marketing cost down. Ask people who frequent your business in person, and utilize free websites like Craigslist that let you post to one of several different categories, depending on your needs. The website is also localized by city, so you can find people close by to provide input you need. Social networks like Facebook are also an efficient way of reaching more people quickly. Keep in mind, though, that you want to engage your target market and not the whole world.

Here are some disadvantages to keep in mind:

  • It may take you a long time to assess the quality of each submission.
  • The quality may not be professional.
  • It will take longer to screen candidates and assess the data.

Crowdsourcing initiatives:

  • Provide your community/network with voting ballots they can use to vote on their favorite products/services. This will help you assess your current product/services.
  • Run a poster contest that asks participants to create an image that best innovates one of your products/services or highlights a new one they would like to see. Then invite the rest of your community to vote on the ideas to select a winner. This can help you develop new products/services.
  • Ask your community to create and vote on a motto that promotes your branding. This will help you promote your brand and improve customer care.
  • Invite your community to submit and vote on a “how to” video for a product/service that you offer. This is a great way to generate videos of your products/services and provide visual testimonials at the same time.

When crowdsourcing, you must offer some sort of incentive like a voucher or discount for participating or a prize to a winner(s). You’re also showing that you value your community and customer opinions and appreciate the time they are taking to help you.

What are your thoughts on crowdsourcing? What have been your experiences with it?  Share with us in the comments section below!

 

DSEF & FTC: Out with the Old (Computer): How to do it Safely

DSEF & FTC: Out with the Old (Computer): How to do it Safely

Today’s highlighted blog post from FTC/NCPW:

December 28th, 2011 by Lisa

Did you get a new computer for the holidays? Wondering what to do with your old one?

Since computers often hold personal and financial information, the most important thing you can do is ensure that its hard drive doesn’t become a treasure chest for identity thieves.

For starters, you should understand how your hard drive works. When you save a file, especially a large one, it is scattered around the hard drive in bits and pieces. When you open a file, the hard drive gathers the bits and pieces and reconstructs them. And when you delete a file, the links to reconstruct the file disappear.

But the bits and pieces of the deleted file stay on your computer until they’re overwritten, and they can be retrieved with a data recovery program. To remove data from a hard drive permanently, the hard drive on your discarded computer needs to be wiped clean.

OnGuard Online.gov has great information on how to clean your hard drive and dispose of your computer to help avoid identity theft. Click on this link to find out more.

 

DSEF & CBBB: New Website Provides Health Insurance Price Details

DSEF & CBBB: New Website Provides Health Insurance Price Details

Today’s highlighted blog post from the Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB)

– OCTOBER 11, 2011POSTED IN: HEALTH CARE SERVICESINSURANCE

As the price of health insurance continues to climb, many consumers are wondering why the changes occur. A new website aims to provide this information for every state beginning Thursday, reports USA Today.

With the passage of last year’s health care law, insurance companies are now required to provide this information to customers. The website, http://companyprofiles.healthcare.gov/, offers information regarding raises in price, as well as the company’s reasons for doing so.

Users simply click on their state, and are directed to a list of all health insurance companies in the area. The site also includes a section for customers to leave comments.

To read the full article, visit http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/insurance/story/2011-10-07/health-insurance-rate-hike-website/50682044/1

DSEF and Council on Better Business Bureaus (CBBB) fosters honest and responsive relationships between businesses and consumers—instilling consumer confidence and advancing a trustworthy marketplace for all.

About the Better Business Bureaus
As the leader in advancing marketplace trust, Better Business Bureau is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Every year, more than 87 million consumers rely on BBB Business Reviews® and BBB Wise Giving Reports® to help them find trustworthy businesses and charities across North America. Visitwww.bbb.org/us for more information.