All posts by TheDSEF

7 Ideas to Personalized Business

7 Ideas to Personalized Business

Providing Personalized Business

As a small business owner and/or direct seller, you have a significant advantage over the ubiquitous “big-box” stores.  You can offer personalized customer service, which is something that bigger businesses simply cannot do.  These days, most shoppers are so used to being just one of many in a retail atmosphere, so they can truly appreciate the extra effort a small business owner or direct seller puts forth in making them feel like valued customers.  Here are some ways to personalize your business and give you an edge over your competitors.

  • Gift wrapping for special occasions – This can be especially helpful during the winter holiday season, but is a valuable service year-round.  In any given month, a customer has to shop for someone’s birthday, graduation, baby shower, etc. and a free or inexpensive gift wrapping service adds to the convenience factor.  It also shows that you are thinking of the customer’s complete needs, which don’t necessarily end once he or she has purchased your product.
  • Pick-a-day promotions and incentives – Several retail chains offer an automatic discount (10-20%) when you shop on a certain day of the week.  Why not let your customers choose a day that works for them?  Using a simple program like Microsoft Access, you can store such information for each customer.  Furthermore, you can certainly set limitations on such a promotion, such as weekdays only or one Saturday only per month.  No matter how you arrange it, you are offering your clientele the freedom and ease to shop their way, all the while rewarding them for choosing your business over others.
  • Suggested items – Another use for that database program of yours is to keep track of exactly what products or services your customers have purchased.  After a few transactions have been completed, you can begin suggesting new or existing items that they might be interested in based on those past purchases.  This is a great way to begin building a relationship with customers that they cannot get elsewhere.
  • Door to door delivery – A service like this adds great convenience and that very personal touch. If you have customers in your local area, offer a door to door delivery option. It gives you chance to wow your customer, to meet and connect with another potential customer on the other end.
  • Surprise your loyal customer – Once in a while, surprise one of your loyal customer with a balloon/flower and a free gift. This shows you are thinking about them and is a great way to brighten their day. It also gives you an opportunity to connect and check if they need anything else.
  • Support their causes – This is an incredible relationship builder. Let your customers know that your business has a heart and is willing to provide help for their charities. Either with your personal time and/or in discounts, products and services.
  • Follow-ups – Nothing says customer service like a human being on the other end of the telephone, which, unfortunately, is becoming less and less common.  After a customer has done business with you, a quick phone call to verify their satisfaction can go a long way.  There may have been something they didn’t like, but didn’t feel it was worth it to say something about; now you’re giving them the opportunity to do so, as well as offering to make it right.  On the plus side, it never hurts to hear when you’ve done a good job and made a customer happy from the get-go.

When striving to personalize your business, put yourself in the role of your customer.  Think about your past experiences as a consumer, good and bad.  What can you do as a business owner to prevent poor-quality experiences and encourage excellent ones?  Share your thoughts in the comments below!

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Developing a Spending & Debt Reduction Plan

DSEF & Money Wise Women: Developing a Spending & Debt Reduction Plan

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

Developing a Spending & Debt Reduction Plan

Becky House is the Quality Assurance and Education Manager for North Seattle Community College Foundation dba American Financial Solutions. She has over fifteen years of experience in training and education development with non-profit organizations. Within the last ten years, Becky has specialized in developing and presenting financial education throughout the greater Puget Sound area. She presents classes for community resource agencies, for private employers at local colleges and universities such as the University ff Washington Law School and the University of Puget Sound. She currently serves as the vice chair of the Asset Building Coalition of Kitsap County and is the secretary for the Kitsap Housing Coalition. In June of this year she was honored by Governor Gregoire for her work on financial education.

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/

5 Easy Ways You Can Give During the Holidays and Build your Business

5 Easy Ways You Can Give During the Holidays and Build your Business

5 Easy Ways You Can Give During the Holidays and Build your Business

During this season of giving, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of shopping for loved ones, preparing for holiday parties, and decorating our homes and places of business.  However, we all know the importance of giving back to those in need.  This holiday season, you can include charity into your business; you’ll be doing a good deed, but at the same time, you will be able to grow your business.

  • Help out local food banks. – Food banks are always in need of volunteers.  One way to help is to offer to pick up food door to door in your neighborhood and deliver it to the food bank.  At each pickup, leave a business card or flyer with a promotion to donate a percentage of your proceeds to the food bank.  However, be sure and ask for permission from the food bank or any charity you work with to leave your business card or other promotional item.  Those who are kind enough to be donating food will welcome the opportunity to continue giving back while doing their holiday shopping.
  • Donate products or services. – You don’t have to contribute cash to a local charity in order to have an impact on the community.  Instead, you can offer pro-bono services to help those in need.  Many school parent-teacher organizations sponsor tricky trays (chance auctions) to raise money for the band trip, new sports uniforms, or classroom technology equipment.  Consider putting together a gift basket for the event that includes information about your business. Gifts donated can be anything from jewelry and cooking supplies to yoga classes and spa days.  Your business will get some free advertising, and because you are actively benefiting the community, you may find yourself with a whole new customer base as well.
  • Host a family-oriented event. – Keeping in mind the needs of your customers, it isn’t difficult to plan an event that welcomes young families into your place of business.  How about a morning with Santa Claus?  Your customers bring their children in to meet Santa, get a free picture with him, and have some complimentary milk and cookies.  This is a hospitable way to usher in the holiday season, meet and greet your customers, and give your business a boost for the New Year.
  • Support veterans’ families. – Put together a thoughtful care package filled with your products or vouchers for services to send to local families of veterans or active military.  Include your business card and incentives for them to try your other products.  Not only will you be supporting our troops, but you may even tap into a whole new customer base.
  • Take advantage of community service opportunities. – Most churches and other nonprofit organizations perform regular community service.  By joining these types of organizations, you can make giving back a regular part of your business model.  Additionally, (again with the permission of the organization), you can leave your card and promotions to try the products or services your business offers.  This is also a suitable way to initiate contacts within the community that will allow you to continue your charitable efforts.

By giving back during the holiday season, you not only do your part in helping those in need, but you also encourage loyalty among your customers by showing that you have a vested interest in the community.  In these tough economic times, many people are looking for affordable ways to support their local business owners and would welcome such opportunities, especially as they prepare for holiday celebrations.

What are some ways your local businesses have given back during this holiday season?  Please share your comments with us below!

DSEF & CBBB: Can Google Find You?

DSEF & CBBB: Can Google Find You?

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

Can Google Find You?

Here’s how to boost your Google Search Ranking in 2 easy steps.

A few months ago, I wrote about what Google+ was and wasn’t doing for small business owners. Here’s what it’s not doing: welcoming your social network marketing efforts with business profiles on the site. Here’s what it is doing: offering you an easy way to demonstrate your relevancy and increase your ranking.

It wasn’t long ago that we were all scrambling to add Facebook “like” or “recommend” buttons to main websites, blog posts, and product pages. You may very well have a half a dozen or more widgets allowing your fans to link to your pages via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon, Delicious, and other link sharing sites. Some link sharing sites have staying power, and others were temporary fads. Only time can reveal whether new sites will appeal to users.

So, why do you need a Google+ widget?

Because it’s Google, obviously. The same company on which you depend to summon up your link in response to relevant queries is offering you an opportunity to embed on any site an easy way for your customers to validate your page to Google.

Whether or not Google+ will succeed is still to be seen. There’s no sense in going ‘all in’ just yet, in the same way that you wouldn’t invest everything to base your entire business on HP Touchpads. But a small, inexpensive, and simple campaign based on Google+ can improve your local search results and drive traffic—virtual or physical—to your site.

A few easy steps:

* Create a profile on Google Places

* Identify customers with Google accounts—those using gmail addresses

* Create an email campaign asking for online reviews on Google Places

* Embed code allowing customers to easily give you plusses on Google+

* Ask customers to share your Google+ badge

Google has recently made public their intentions to help every business get online. They have been unrolling the program slowly, overseas, and beginning in the US in the state of Texas. Google wants to support small business owners online; this much is clear. So don’t worry about the latest fad. Instead, just make these two sensible changes. Get on Google Places, if you’re not already, and get your Google+ badge so you can claim your piece of Internet real estate and start collecting plusses.

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.

Are You a Spammer? Tips to Better Email Marketing

Are You a Spammer? Tips to Better Email Marketing

Are you a spammer?

We all hate spammers. But what’s worse is having your friends and family think you’re a spammer. So, before you get caught up in all the excitement of your new business and the great idea of sending out a mass email to everyone you know about your new business, Stop! Ask yourself: “Is this spam?”

What spammers do:

  • Send emails to people they don’t know and/or don’t know well
  • Send emails to people who have not asked for the information
  • Send emails to lists of people (unless those people signed up for the list or have already done business with you)
  • Send emails with misleading content and subject lines
  • Send emails with no unsubscribe information

Here are ways to avoid being a spammer:

  • Send emails to subscribers only
  • Send emails one to one
  • Send emails with a working unsubscribe button/link
  • Send emails with truthful and appropriate content

Tips for better email marketing:

  1. Emails connected to current events and popular themes get better responses
  2. Use Facebook and Twitter to find subscribers
  3. Make sure that your emails are relevant to your prospects
  4. Offer promotions for becoming a subscriber
  5. Maximize your email message for mobile devices

If you find yourself in the awkward position of being known as a spammer by some, you should apologize to them. Having a successful business involves risk taking and sometimes an idea can misfire. When that happens you have to come clean, apologize, fix the problem and learn from your mistake.

Have you used email marketing? How did you respond to a mistake you made in business? We would love to hear from you in the comments.

Image credit: pandemia

DSEF & CBBB: Should I Put My Social Security Number on a Job Application?

DSEF & CBBB: Should I Put My Social Security Number on a Job Application?

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

Should I Put My Social Security Number on a Job Application?

You’ve been laid off. Your full-time job now is looking for a full-time job. Naturally, you turn to the Internet.

Wow, there’s something in your field on Craigslist. It’s recent. The salary looks good. All you have to do is email them…and provide your social security number.

WAIT.

 

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.

8 Ways to Develop Good Habits and Overcome Bad Ones

8 Ways to Develop Good Habits and Overcome Bad Ones

Good habits are like driving a new car. Everything runs smoothly and feels in sync. You get to your destination efficiently and in style. You make a great first impression as you pull up.

On the other hand, a bad habit is like driving an old clunker. Everything has duct tape holding it together. You arrive late and must put yourself back together. You quietly hide and park far away not to be seen.

In business good habits elevate and bad habits become major pitfalls. Here are some ways to develop good habits and overcome bad ones:

  1. Just like in a map, “X” marks your destination. You need to write down the habit you want to develop. This is the big “X” on your map. Post your goal big and put it somewhere you’ll see it every day. Read it aloud every time you pass it.
  2. You must see yourself achieving your goal. Schedule a few minutes several times a day to imagine, visualize going through the process, and succeeding.
  3. Keep starting over if necessary. Consider previous tries to be warm ups, and don’t give up.
  4. Break your goal down into smaller and achievable steps.
  5. Create a mantra. Say it over and over again while engaging in the challenge.
  6. Partner with someone who can be your cheerleader, and help each other develop good habits or overcome bad ones.
  7. The biggest key is to do it for 30 days. Mark each day on your calendar and the action will become a habit.
  8. Create a certificate/diploma of achievement, frame it, and hang it in your office to remind yourself that you’re growing and succeeding.

It’s time for you to trade in your old habits that don’t work for new ones that elevate your business. Businesses have a lot of systems in place to create efficiency and results. This is a system that you can rely on as part of your professional development.

Do you think this process can help you? What tip would you like to add? We would like to hear your thoughts in the comments.

DSEF & FTC Consumer Resources: Hang Up On Credit Card Interest Reduction Offers

DSEF & FTC Consumer Resources: Hang Up On Credit Card Interest Reduction Offers

Today’s highlighted blog post from FTC:

Hang Up On Credit Card Interest Reduction Offers

You just got home from work and sit down to read the mail. There they are, like clockwork – your credit card bills. You look at the balances and then the finance charges and think, there’s got to be a way to cut the interest rates – especially since you carry a balance most months. You check your phone messages and, low and behold, there’s one from a company that claims it can negotiate better rates on your credit cards.

 

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

Direct Selling Education Foundation

 

DSEF Top Ten Business Tips

DSEF Top Ten Business Tips

Have you been keeping up with our daily business tips? We are always researching tips that are quick, practical, and easy to integrate into your business. Here are our top ten business tips from the past few weeks:

  1. Create a Referral/Recommendation Exchange for small businesses. Offer to refer & recommend people to your auto mechanic, dry cleaner, hair dresser, baker and others in your community. In exchange they refer & recommend you.
  2. Keep yourself focused during the day by creating a mantra to help you accomplish difficult tasks. For example – Move my feet and get it complete!
  3. Are you always searching for the right words? Develop and use a script to engage, and start conversations with people you meet. Practice the script until it becomes natural and the more you use it the more you will connect with people.
  4. Your brand promotes your strengths and how you service your target market, and it establishes a clear difference from your competitors.
  5. Organize a food collection for your local food bank & as you pick up the food leave a coupon w/ a discount for your products/services. Offer to donate a percentage of their purchase amount to the food bank (make sure you get permission from the food bank).
  6. Establish your business in your local market. It will make it easier to nurture and interact daily with loyal customers.
  7. Choose your social media tools based on your available time. If you’ve only got 20 minutes per day, choose just one, probably Facebook.
  8. Sell more by making it easier to purchase, adding more choices, promoting value, personalizing products/services and anticipating customer needs.
  9. Use testimonials to make a point, promote your message and/or overcome inherent objections to your business.
  10. Remember that when you are engaging a prospect/client, you are not only promoting the value of your products/services, but establishing the value of your relationship.

Do you have any tips to add to our list? Please share.

Here’s to your success!

DSEF & CBBB How Responsible Are You?

DSEF & CBBB How Responsible Are You?

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

How Responsible Are You?

Many years ago, when I was growing up, my dad told me: “A man is only as good as his word.” (My dad is one of these old-fashioned Idaho guys who says “man” when he means “person.” But I got the message.) I didn’t get it from what he said though.

 

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.