Giveaway Monday – Review of a product for mums in business

You’re on the road to building your business, your head is full of ideas and you’re aware of what you need to know to become an expert in your field. You know you need to self-promote but how do you do it when there’s so many avenues to consider.

PR and social media for small business“From Unknown To Expert” clearly outlines the varied areas of PR and social media with no fuss explanations, covering branding, writing your bio, blogging, networking and many aspects of media. Of particular interest to me is the section on social media of which there are many options. Social media can be overwhelming, however Catriona Pollard demystifies this.

It has taught me how to set my pathway for my field of business. All the advice here can be adopted to whatever your field might be, using the Action Steps at the end of each chapter. The Action Steps are key, so use them.

No page unturned, my thoughts are clear allowing me to confidently strategize my next moves in planning business success.

PR and social media for small business

 

A little more on CP Communications

We are a public relations and social media agency providing strategic and creative solutions for clients driven by excellence.

From Unknown To Expert is your step-by-step guide for becoming a recognised expert using clever PR and social media.

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PR and social media for small businessReviewed by Lindy Dorne, Greater George

Greater George is my business in the making. I will be producing soft homewares and café wares – for the love of quality with a point of difference.

E: [email protected]     M: 0418 873 968

 

The giveaway:

We have 3 x copies of  ”From Unknown to Expert” to giveaway, worth $27.95 each. To win, simply comment on the blog what you find most overwhelming in your business by this Friday 28 November.

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Guest post written by Susie Campbell, Little Black Book

For free? Gotta’ be a catch you say? Nope. My motto is; don’t pay for anything unless you have to. Let’s face it, when you are new to business, everyone around you seems to be so much more efficient, have all the latest business gadgets and technology, seems to be in every magazine and just seems to be cutting it. You on the other hand, are about to launch and have a long list of all the ‘must haves’ which all cost an arm and a leg. But you need them, right? Wrong.

free marketing ideasBasically, you think that is the way to do it because the majority do it that way and your competitors have done it that way too. So throw out all those preconceived ideas and let’s try something different…stay with me!

First write that list of ‘must-haves’ and then cross out ‘must have’ and write ‘useful once I have my first (x) clients/turning over (x) amount’. You must now start your business on half the budget you allocated or better still, an almost zero budget. Come on, you are a mum and/or small business start-up, you want to run your own business, but you have virtually no spare cash to invest. Don’t let it stop you!

It is possible and I am open to anyone who fancies giving it a go, to challenge me! Service or product based businesses; the opportunities are endless. It is all about being creative; thinking a wee bit differently from the crowd, being driven by the fact that you have no money for all the usual business paraphernalia and by applying a bit of brazen cheek and asking for things! Swap, barter, trade, borrow…can’t afford a website, no problem. It can wait or you can find someone who will do one for you in exchange for your skills. Can’t afford to pay for ads on FB, no problem, swap posts with some businesses with the same target market. Need retail premises? No problem, stick your products into another store with products to compliment yours and pay them a commission or leave them on consignment. This is all about building and promoting your business now, to generate enough money to be able to afford the things you ideally want, later. And hey, you may find that you never need the things you thought you wanted and now have more cash to spend on growth! And why stop at playing with the small fish…you too can play with the big boys when you learn to think big!

I will leave you with this – I do not have a website, nor a Facebook page, however I have a growing business which I started less than a year ago and have clients across Australia and have not spent a dollar on advertising. I have a computer, a mobile phone, a mouth and a mind. Use em!

free marketing ideasSusie Campbell from Little Black Book

Marketing support and the use of some good old natter, to create lasting business alliances.

Contact Susie:  [email protected]                          0415 448 007 

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This article is brought to you by Nell Casey, Melbourne small business copywriter

Are you one of those people who’ve been prepping your business for the Christmas season since August? Yep, me neither.

Prepare Your Online Store for the Christmas SeasonBut it’s not too late. For many businesses, 20% of their annual sales happen in December. And with some extra prep now, you could push that number even higher.

So in the interests of a super-successful December and a January spent sipping cocktails by the pool, here are my top tips for getting your website or online store ready for the Christmas season.

Give Your Website a Facelift

Many people (like me) do most of their Christmas shopping from the safety and comfort of their couch. When those people come across your website, you want to make sure it’s all up-to-date and showcasing you at your best.

Have your best products featured front-and-centre on the home page. Get some new product photos taken if you need to.

Go over all your website content to make sure it’s correct and up to date. Could your About Page be rewritten? Are your T&Cs still current? While you’re at it, add details of your cut-off times for Christmas shipping and any special conditions you have for returning gifts.

Make It Easy to Grow Your List

If you haven’t already started a mailing list then make that a priority this shopping season. With so many new customers coming to your site in November and December, it’d be great to be able to keep in contact with them in the future.

Decide on Your Blog Contingency Plan

Christmas shopping + busy time of year = no time to update your blog. Keeping up with your blog posts at the best of times is hard, but during the Christmas madness it’s almost guaranteed to be relegated way down your list of priorities.

Put in place a plan now on how you’ll manage your blog. You could pre-write and schedule a bunch of posts to keep you covered (recycling old blog posts is also handy for this). Or just place a little message on your blog letting visitors know that you’re taking a mini-break and will be back to producing awesome content in January.

Put On Some Special Promotions

With so many similar stores out there, you want to offer something to make yourself stand out. It might be tempting to discount your prices to drum up sales, but I don’t really believe in competing on price.

Instead, think of other things you can offer to your customers. What about free gift wrapping on orders? Or special gift bundles that you don’t offer at other times of the year? You could also provide an extra-long returns period for all those people shopping for gifts for others.

The great thing about all of these tips is that they’ll help your website stand out and get more sales beyond December.

What are you planning on doing to attract more sales on your website or store this holiday season? Are there any other things you’d love to know about making your website stand out to increase your sales?

 

Prepare Your Online Store for the Christmas SeasonNell Casey is a Melbourne small business copywriter, who’s passionate about helping businesses grow their online presence to get more in-real-life customers and fans. Find out what she wants for Christmas (and other, more helpful things) by connecting on Twitter.

 

Image courtesy of digital art / www.freedigitalphotos.net

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This article is brought to you by Tracy, Teething Bling Australia

With only a matter of weeks to go before Christmas, you may well be panicking about whether or not your business is ready for the silly (spending) season. Well fear not, if you make it a priority there is still plenty you can do to ensure you don’t miss out on the wave of excitement and gift giving.

Getting your business ready for ChristmasThis applies to service businesses as well as retail and/or wholesale. The first requirement is to know your customer – your best customer – the one who comes back time and again to shop with you. They say 80% of your sales come from 20% of your customers, and I have certainly seen that to be true. Your best customer will buy for themselves the first time, then buy a gift for a loved one and then tell their friends about your business. They love your brand and enjoy engaging with you on social media. You probably have a fair idea by now of their likes and hobbies: are they active outdoorsy people, do they love to cook and swap recipes, are they into craft, or is it all about family and traditions for them?

The second thing to realise is that email marketing will gain more sales than social media (the rule of thumb is emails gain four times as many sales). However, every business under the sun will be sending out newsletters over the coming weeks – you’ve probably noticed the increase already if you’re signed up to mailing lists yourself. People are being bombarded by products and ‘gift guides’, so you need to stand out from the crowd. Engage with your best customer (and the potential customers will follow), make it so they want to click through to your website – a box of crayons is not going to make that happen – so what will?

This is why knowing your customer is so important. What you need to do is solve a problem for them; the majority of my customers are mums with babies and young children, they most likely need help with things like juggling a baby and house guests, or keeping little ones happy with activities, while they get on with all the extra tasks that Christmas brings to every family. Young parents with their first baby may be looking for traditions that they can start for their new family. Make your newsletter about offering solutions to these real life issues (and put it in the subject line) – it could be as simple as a recipe or a free printable for the kids, or discussing traditions – but make it human, not ‘salesy’ – and draw people to your website by giving. When they like what they see they will linger for a better look and your generosity will instil a sense of trust.

Once they have reached your website you know what you need to do – at the busiest time of year convenience is the key – bundle your products together into gift packs; combinations that make sense for your business, perhaps a gift voucher for services, put a holly leaf on it! Offer specials for their friend or relative. For wholesale customers give bonus products with a certain minimum spend, make sure your stockists are aware of best sellers so they can be confident of making sales. Retail customers want boy/girl gift packs, gifts under $20 or under $50, offer free Christmas gift wrapping – that’s the easy part, the hard work is getting them in the door, so put your best effort into that.

Last of all you need to offer excellent customer service – with a smile! Your customer may be stressed, especially when we reach December, and products must be shipped promptly, allowing for realistic delivery times. Have a cut-off date for mail orders and stick to it – you don’t want a disappointed customer at any time of year, but especially not at Christmas. My customers often buy gifts for themselves (don’t all mums?!), so provide discount vouchers that they can use on Boxing Day and in January, when they can shop at their leisure and have the time to treat themselves. It’s a good idea to have some specials scheduled for immediately after Christmas, to give your customers an extra boost of good cheer. You can then sit back and relax with your family, knowing you have done your best – just go easy on the egg nog!

 

Getting your business ready for Christmas

Tracy is mum to two fabulous little girls and is the owner of Teething Bling Australia. Teething Bling™ is the original chewable jewellery, designed for mums to wear and babies to love!

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Christmas image courtesy of Nirots / www.freedigitalphotos.net

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Guest blog written by Debbie Hatswell, Story Mama

In a perfect world, we would all have been sitting down with our designers in about April to talk about themes and festive strategies. The designer would be providing a lovely suite of pretty things to choose from and we would have locked away our gift guides into some fancy magazine software ready to distribute in the coming weeks.

christmas gift guideDon’t know about you, but I am not quite that organised and our finance director says we have to create our gift guide on a pretty tight budget, which means we are doing what we can ourselves.

Here is how to create an online Christmas Gift Guide on a budget:

1. Inventory Management

There is no point heavily promoting an item that is going to be difficult to keep in stock or re-order. Customers will be annoyed by clicking on an item they want to buy only to find it is out of stock. So select the products you are promoting carefully. You also might like to consider whether you want to bundle up some gift items together so that customers feel they are getting something unique and valuable.

2. Format

There are some fantastic online tools that can be used to create a gift guide. Have a think about utilising your own website. We like to keep a bit of flexibility in our gift guide, and by using our own site we can substitute alternative items into the guide at short notice if something has gone out of stock for a couple of days so we do not miss out on sales. If you are using your own site for you gift guide, don’t forget to make it stand out.

At a minimum in your guide you should include a professional image and product benefits or review and include a clickable “buy now” call to action. Consider carefully your target market and the categories they may like to shop by. Is it by age? By Gender? By Price Point?

Some other tools you may consider using are:

- Mailchimp

- Issuu

Don’t forget to think about how your customers will be viewing your gift guide. It will need to be mobile friendly.

There are some great free design tools that can help your gift guide look professional like Canva and PicMonkey.

3. Keep it both trackable and clickable

Measuring visits to your site/ products and the return on your investment will be an important measure of success and what to repeat for next year.

4. Shipping & Timing

Make sure your customers understand how you are getting your products to them, and include Christmas shipping “last order dates” on your website. Consider the latest your most geographically remote client can order, and base your gift guide distribution dates on this. For us that means Early November.

5. Distribution & Promotion

For e-commerce, e-mail still has a higher conversion rate than social media, so ensure you are sending your gift guide out to your list. Remember that every retailer increases their rate of e-mail to customers at this time of year so have a good think about your subject line, your offer and call to action and how you can stand out from the crowd. Social Media and paid promotion can also be used to drive traffic through to your gift guide.

So that is how we create a gift guide on a budget. Hope that helps you create your own Gift Guide and that you have a successful Christmas season. You can take a look at our online Christmas Gift guide here for inspiration here.

 

 

christmas gift guideDebbie Hatswell is the Director at Story Mama, an online bookstore specialising in picture books for children. Story Mama helps time poor parents and early childhood educators discover recommended picture books for children ages 0-7. You can find us at www.storymama.com.au

 

Christmas image courtesy of suphakit73 / www.freedigitalphotos.net

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