Posts Tagged ‘small business sales’

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Consumers are increasingly using mobile devices to buy

In mid 2015 Google announced that mobile-friendly websites will be rewarded with higher rankings on searches done using mobile devices. Ranking higher definitely means more exposure for your small business.

The latest consumer statistics show that Smartphones and emerging mobile devices e.g. Smartwatches are increasingly becoming more popular for purposes of searching the internet. Clearly, more mobile visitors are what entrepreneurs need in order to boost sales volumes. Accordingly, it’s well worth knowing just how to go about doing this…the infographic below will help you do exactly that.

How to Get More Sales From Your Mobile Visitors
Courtesy of: Quick Sprout

While it’s good to know that having a mobile-friendly website will help to enhance the success of your small business, it’s definitely worth appreciating the fact that you also need to work smart. You see, spending more of your time working doesn’t always mean you’ll be successful.

The key to being a successful person is not working more, but working less and working smarter. If you want to be successful, get more done, and work less, take some time to learn from these 7 practices of successful people.

How Successful People Work Less and Get More Done

Counterfeiters are so good nowadays, it's almost impossible to distinguish between originals and imitations...

Counterfeiters are so good nowadays, it’s almost impossible to distinguish between originals and imitations…

Counterfeit goods are also known as imitations. They are products that are manufactured and sold under another company’s name and without permission from that company. Today, the counterfeiting problem affects virtually every industry. Commonly counterfeited goods include car parts, electronics, personal care products, handbags and wallets, computers, shoes, jewelry and clothes. There are even imitations for medication.

Counterfeiting is big business around the world. It is estimated that $700 billion worth of fake merchandise is produced every year. Losses incurred in the U.S. as a result of counterfeit trading are estimated at $1 trillion annually and in excess of 75000 jobs. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has estimated that counterfeit trading may cost the global economy as much as $250 billion every year.

Closely associated with counterfeiting are two similarly despicable practices – tampering and diversion. Tampering involves altering of product ingredients. The consequences can be lethal. In 1990, for instance, 89 children in Haiti died after ingesting pharmaceuticals laced with antifreeze.  Diversion, on the other hand, involves the selling of a manufacturer’s product via an unauthorized seller or channel.

What risks does counterfeit trading pose for your business?

Well, in addition to lost revenues, counterfeits can potentially ruin your business’ reputation and erode its goodwill.

So, what are the various techniques that you can employ to fight the counterfeiting menace?

1. Registering your trademarks

Federal trademark registration is a vital aspect of brand protection. Doing this will enable you to enforce your trademark anywhere around the country. You will also get access to federal courts. You should also ensure that your trademark is registered in all countries where you do business. Foreign registration can assist in stopping the exportation of counterfeits that bear your trademarks.

Registering your intellectual property will help you to enforce anti-counterfeiting measures legally

Registering your intellectual property will help you to enforce anti-counterfeiting measures legally

2. Registering your trademarks with customs agencies

Your trademarks should also be registered with customs agencies, both locally and in countries where you do business. The U.S. Department of Customs and Border Protection (CBP) runs the Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) Enforcement program tasked with preventing the inflow of counterfeit merchandise into the country. Based on the information you have provided, the CBP will be able to curb the trade of counterfeits as it carries out its shipment monitoring mandate.

3. Investigating the market

As a proactive business owner you should regularly monitor the market to ascertain that what is being sold as your merchandise is actually genuine. Regardless of where you sell your products, online or through brick-and-mortar retailers, three factors should be able to inform your curiosity: price, packaging, and location.

You should regularly scour the market to see if imitations of your brands are being sold

You should regularly scour the market to see if imitations of your brands are being sold

Don’t hesitate to take immediate enforcement action in the event that counterfeit goods are found. Pursuing civil litigation will send out a strong deterring message to other potential sellers of counterfeits.

The following are some of the legal measures and settlements you (the plaintiff) can demand of a person (the defendant) caught selling imitations bearing your trademark:

  • Monetary compensation
  • A recall of the counterfeits sold
  • Ongoing audits of the defendant’s inventory and records
  • A permanent injunction preventing the defendant from importing and selling imitations

To practically distinguish your products from counterfeiters’ merchandise you can employ the following technological defenses:

4. Placing brand-specific patterns on clothing

The use of a partially invisible thread to produce brand-specific patterns on fabrics can help clothing manufacturers to identify and nab counterfeits. The thread used for this purpose is produced cheaply but is not easily reproduced. The customized patterns made with the thread are only visible under special lighting.

5. Using iridescent security images

Courtesy of Nanotech Security it is now possible to emboss a security image of your choice on your merchandise. This image can be applied on a variety of surfaces, ranging from metals to fabrics. This anti-counterfeiting measure will set you back a few pennies per unit. For counterfeiters, however, replicating your security image will be quite impossible.

6. Adding pigments to plastics

You can also opt to include custom additives or pigments in the plastics that your company produces or uses. Being specific to your company, these additives, and which can easily be identified with the help of a handheld device, will help to separate genuine merchandise from market imitations.

7. Using the uFaker app

With the help of the uFaker app you can be able to monitor counterfeiting activities that involve your brand. This information can then be forwarded to law enforcement agencies, private investigators and lawyers.

8. Using the Authenticateit app

You can use the Authenticateit smartphone app to identify, track and deter counterfeiters from selling imitations. Consumers can use the same app to ascertain the authenticity of a product prior to making purchase.

9. Using the Black Market Billions app

Yet another useful solution is the Black Market Billions crowdsourcing app. Users use the app to take photos of possible imitations and upload the images to an online map linked to a GPS locator. Alerts are then sent to consumers of counterfeited merchandise in specific locations.

10. Consumer education

Providing consumers with information about your product will help them to make informed purchases and effectively protect them from the risks of using imitations.

Effective education will help consumers to identify and buy original merchandise

Effective education will help consumers to identify and buy original merchandise

You can use various websites to share information about your product and where genuine merchandise can be purchased. These sites include:

DesignsFauxReal – A website that sells fictitious counterfeit goods. It educates consumers about the negative consequences of purchasing imitations.

The Counterfeit Report – A website through which manufacturers pass information about counterfeits to consumers. Consumers are encouraged to report counterfeits.

Unreal Campaign – This teen-focused website teaches young people about the economic, health and social risks that result from using counterfeits.

Making the sales process enjoyable will most likely draw even more prospects and customers to your business...

Making the sales process enjoyable will most likely draw even more prospects and customers to your business…

Just about everyone who has started a business is initially quite upbeat about finding customers, making sales and getting profits. This early gusto soon dwindles though when it becomes apparent that making substantial sales takes more than just being open for business.

Established businesses on the other hand are always looking to increase their sales volumes and therefore earn more profits.

As a business owner who is stuck with insufficient and/or mediocre sales volumes, it is perhaps time to take a step back and reflect about your approach to making sales. Are you really doing things right?

How about approaching salesmanship as an art form? This way you can perhaps start enjoying the process instead of merely thinking about it as something that needs to be done.

This shouldn’t be too hard.

In fact, all the suggestions here are nothing new. Implementing them with a new mindset however may be just what your business requires. Start enjoying the sales part of your business and let the enthusiasm rub off onto your customers and prospects.

1. Implement an effective pricing strategy

For most people, price comparison shopping is the only way to shop; it’s all about making smart purchases. If you are therefore selling your wares at astronomical prices as compared to your competitors, making decent sales is bound to be quite difficult.

Your price should make sense to prospects and make them willing to buy...

Your price should make sense to prospects and make them willing to buy…

You, in this regard, need to adopt an appropriate pricing strategy for your products and/or services. These two guidelines should be helpful:

  • Find out what your competitors are charging for their wares. If the quality of their products is similar to yours you may consider lowering your price slightly. If the pricing is influenced by product features, you can consider adding several more features to yours and then set your price slightly higher.
  • If you are convinced of your product/service’s superiority and that your high price is therefore justified, then by all means let customers and prospects know of the extra value they’ll get by using the same. Breathe life into your message!

2. Making the most of business upsells

Think about it.

You’ve most likely gone out to shop for something you really needed and ended up spending more than you had budgeted for simply because the sales guy convinced you that you needed one or two more things related to the original purchase. The ease with which you agreed to buy these extra things surprised you – especially because you consider yourself a responsible buyer.

Get your customers into the mood, give them hints, and make more sales...

Get your customers into the mood, give them hints, and make more sales…

This is the power of upselling. The sales guy simply got you into a buying mood, made the necessary suggestions, and you obliged.

How about you try this in your business?

Hint: First try it on regular customers; practice makes perfect.

3. Name your product/service appropriately

With effective branding you can make your product a household name...expect mega sales volumes once you get there!

With effective branding you can make your product a household name…expect mega sales volumes once you get there!

Effective naming of products or services typically takes into account several considerations:

  • Easy pronunciation
  • Ease of remembering
  • Simple association between the name and the product/service features and benefits

Nevertheless, there is nothing wrong with going for a unique product/service name. If this is how you opt to proceed just ensure that the name is easy to pronounce and write down. Coupled with effective branding, your product/service will very soon no longer be associated with outer space.

4. Embrace targeted content marketing

Dispatching your marketing contents all over the place simply because you have the budget for it is a haphazard and cost-ineffective tactic to gain more sales. Away with these hit and miss marketing tactics!

Targeted content marketing is about knowing your product and your ideal customers

Targeted content marketing is about knowing your product and your ideal customers

A statement I came across recently made me smile: “Wonder why there are no Lamborghini and Porsche ads on TV? Rich guys don’t watch TV!”

This is what targeted content marketing is all about. Don’t demean your product/service by marketing it to everyone; direct your messages to your customers and prospects.

This approach will deliver the following benefits (in addition to increased sales):

  • Lower marketing costs
  • Lower customer acquisition rates
  • Higher conversion rates
  • Higher customer satisfaction – which is very essential

5. Offering free samples

Giving out free samples is an effective way to increase prospective customers’ confidence in your product/service. After all, seeing is believing.

Offering free samples typically encourages prospects to buy...

Offering free samples typically encourages prospects to buy…

If you have a food catering business, for example, you can offer to treat some prospects to free delicious lunch. Practically convincing them of your culinary expertise will most likely see them hire your services.

6. Advertise your product/service effectively

Ads help to spread the word about products and/or services 24/7 and they’ll therefore greatly augment your marketing effort.

Well designed ads easily attract prospects and encourage repeat customers leading to increased sales

Well designed ads easily attract prospects and encourage repeat customers leading to increased sales

Effective advertising has everything to do with attracting prospects attention and describing what the benefits of using a product/service are.

In designing your ads therefore, ensure that they are so well designed that it’s impossible to ignore them. A creative graphic designer’s services will come in handy here.

Secondly, spell out your product/service’s benefits honestly – no hyping; undersell and over-deliver.

Thirdly, choose appropriate advertising mediums. Think about where the ad will be more effective – your target market’s behaviors and preferences will help you in this regard.

7. Introduce rewards programs

There are plenty of ideas to choose from for this increased sales strategy including basic ones like “buy 2 get 1 free” and more complex ones e.g. those where shoppers earn points which can be redeemed for certain products once they accumulate to a certain number.

"Buy 2 get 1 free" is a really effective way to attract customers and increase sales

“Buy 2 get 1 free” is a really effective way to attract customers and increase sales

In addition to marketing your products/services, these initiatives will actually help to increase sales, and additionally help to create customer loyalty.

8. Make the purchasing experience more convenient

How much effort do prospects have to put in before they can use your product/service? If transacting business with you borders on doing work then you can be sure that your sales volumes will be proportionally low.

Whether you have a physical or online store, you have to do all you can to reduce customer effort.

Go to your customers - most of the effort should be yours, not theirs.

Go to your customers – most of the effort should be yours, not theirs.

A brick-and-mortar store has to be conveniently located. Purchasing should be just as simple; customers shouldn’t have to shuffle from one office to the next to get clearance – a one-stop desk will make all the difference.

For an online store the concepts are really quite similar. All the links should be functional. Filling out forms should be easy. The shopping and shipping processes should be easily understood and doable. Any potentially troublesome processes should be made easy for customers e.g. through the use of screen shares on Google Hangouts.

9. Practice superb telephone etiquette and offer quality customer support

Placing your business’ telephone number on your product or ad implies that customers and prospects can reach you over the phone. It therefore makes no sense why no one at your end bothers to pick up the phone. You don’t pick up = Lost business.

Answering the phone promptly and correctly is good for business...

Answering the phone promptly and correctly is good for business…

Telephone etiquette is really a no-brainer; handle prospects poorly over the phone and say goodbye to a potential sale. It’s that simple.

You and the team should therefore style up with regards to telephone conversations, and more so when handling regular customers. Answer the phone graciously, strike up a brief conversation just to ease the tension, and then handle the business. Creating a cordial business relationship will go a long way in helping to foster customer loyalty, a win-win situation.

10. Tier your customers

It’s true that regular and new customers both bring revenue to the business by purchasing products and services. There is however need to show and treat regular customers in a manner that portrays your appreciation for them. It is really their continued support for your business that has enabled you to reach your present success.

Make esteemed clients feel appreciated; show them that you value their business

Make esteemed clients feel appreciated; show them that you value their business

Appreciation can be shown in a variety of ways, starting with the most basic e.g. greeting them by name and even ushering them into your office while other customers are served at the storefront. Appreciation can also extend to tangible benefits e.g. discounts, extended credit, free delivery, etc.

Why would such an esteemed client want to take his/her business elsewhere?