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September 2009

Facilitating "spur of the moment" decisions

As business owner you frequently encounter fellow business people and no matter what the subject at hand is, in the end the conversation turns to comparing "notes".

The costs of being in business

If it is not the state of the economy, the effect or lack of effect of the big "recession" the conversation is about business practices, marketing experiences, number of prospects/clients and the likes.

And about costs of course. What are your ads costing, what is your overall marketing costing you, how about the utility bills and what new ventures/activities are you contemplating? Eventually the talk ends in "value for money" when we turn to web marketing/web presence.

Like the discussion I had recently about our secure webshop. My conversation partner - a home-based retailer - had looked into launching a webshop too, but didn't appreciate the so-called "fixed costs" attached to an online shop. Paypal didn't appear professional enough - we use it with no effort at all for our "digital products" and don't think any of our clients regard us less professional for using it - all other online card processing companies set a minimum cost per month. We know, we pay a minimum per month for the pleasure - two minimum amounts per month to be honest (online card processing plus a hardware terminal in our showroom for 'real life' and phone/email card processing). She prefers to be sent a cheque through the post, even the fixed minimum cost for hardware equipment she couldn't see as necessary.

Cost or opportunity?

The home-based retailer couldn't see the "profit" in a monthly minimum cost for her type of products to launch an online shop. I begged to differ, we are in fact more than happy to pay this "cost".

The fact is, we don't see it as a cost - like we don't see our accountant as a "cost" but as an asset, but that is a completely different story ;-) - we see offering the facility to our prospects/clients to securely purchase our products online (or over the phone) as an opportunity.

Her prospects now need to wait to purchase what they fancy until my fellow business owner is awake and answering her emails/phone calls. Contrary to The Internet, she's not working 24/7 - unlike our secure webshop and online card processing facility.

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It happens frequently when we "open for business" - i.e. answer the phone, respond to emails during normal working hours - my inbox shows a purchase made online. Made during the late afternoon - after "opening hours", during the evening, even during the night or very early in the morning.
Our clients don't have to wait for us!

Facilitating "spur of the moment" decisions

The last time I've checked our online sales through our secure webshop, it counts for 5% of our total turnover. And it is rare those online purchases occur during working hours. Not world shocking, but for us more than enough to happily pay the minimum costs for our online card processing facility.

Because it also facilitates those "spur of the moment" decision we all make one time or another: you see something in a shop or online and decide there and then to buy it. Click a few buttons and voilà, purchase made. No regrets, no wavering waiting time: shall I or shan't I.

We also know that during working hours, having browsed our online shop, new clients call us to place their orders - most people want to talk to a real person and getting some extra advice. So we are also very happy to pay a minimum cost per month for our "in shop" card processing facility. The phone/email purchases from clients whom never ever set a foot into our showroom counts at the moment for 17.5% of our turnover.

22.5% turnover generated because accepting these minimum costs per month!

What do you see?

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Do you, like my conversation partner, see costs or do you see extra opportunities? Opportunities for your business because you offer your prospects the simple facility to make that "spur of the moment" decision. Shorting the decision cycle.

The Internet "works" 24/7, does you business or do you limit your sales opportunities to your opening hours and old-fashion payment methods? Just to reduce your fixed costs?

You tell me - in the comment box, if you like.


It's not the (Social) medium, it's the method - be consistent!

Ever since Martin Malden (re)converted me back to use Twitter as part of our webmarketing strategy my personal Twitter account sees an almost daily increase of 'followers'. If I wanted I could have had a tremendous number of followers, but since I'm not into "the number game" I tend to check out the latest new followers own profile page. If I like what I see/read I sometimes "follow back".

(Must say, most of my new followers I simply block. Just by looking at the difference between the number of "following" - very high - and "followers" - very low - you can count on it the account holder has some kind of automagically "follow everyone who tweets a specific keyword" set up. I always wonder if they ever read any tweets of all those persons they follow or just hope on the principle: someone follows me, so I follow back, to increase their number of followers with the single goal to sell to them.)

Automated welcome messages

Last week memsitebuilding decided to follow me. Checking out his profile page I saw Bo Nebbett is heavy into building membership sites, an area that does have my interest too, so I decided to follow back.

As many other Twitters memsitebuilding sends an automated welcome DM (Direct Message) to new followers:

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I don't know about you, but I read a question in the above DM - let me know if? And since I'm not one to leave a question unanswered I clicked the envelop icon to reply to this DM.

To my astonishment I received the following (again automated) DM back:

consistency in methods?

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How about that? Using automated systems is one thing, not even being bothered to read replies to your own automated messages is another. Reminds me of the article Justin Premick wrote and which started a very interesting discussion over at the AWeber's blog: "Do Not Reply " Address? Don't Bother.

IMHO another very bad example of 'netiquete' (online etiquette) - so Jason, if your reading this, another one to add to your list.

No matter which medium you select to contact prospects, clients and even friends, be it modern Facebook, Twitter, email marketing or old fashion phone calls and 'snail mail' letters: be consistent in the medium itself.

If you send out emails, accept email replies; if you send out Direct Messages on Twitter, accept - and read! - DM replies. If you make a phone call, don't hide your phone number and accept return calls etc etc.

How else are you going to build trust? You use one method for your own convenience but you don't allow your 'contact's to use the same convenient method. Marketing nowadays - or should that be always? - should be focused on the convenience of your prospect to contact you, not your own convenience.

Side note: I am still waiting for a reply when I did use @memsitebuilding

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E-Book on Simplifying Social Media Marketing Based on Collective Wisdom

In March this year Christine B Whittemore (known to many as CB the Chief Simplifier) "interviewed" me on how we as small retailer in the floorcovering business use (and profit) from the new modern web marketing tools and strategies. If you have been reading/following my blog you know how much we have integrated web marketing into our business and how - sometimes amazingly - successful that has been.

CB interviewed many more (retail) bloggers about their experiences and what tips/advice they have for others. This has now cumulated into the following.....(straight from CB's own blog "Flooring the Consumer")

CB-Ebook1 "Back in early December 2008, I decided - with inspiration from Mack Collier - to launch a weekly social media series about Bridging New & Old. I've been so impressed with the wisdom that these prominent and talented social media practitioners share that I decided - with inspiration from CK - to feature their responses to one question in an e-Book. Hence "Social Media's Collective Wisdom: Simplifying Marketing With Social Media - Book I."

The e-Book focuses on the question: "what suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?"

It takes the responses from the first 26 participants in the series. Since, as of this week, 34 interviews have taken place, there will be a Book II. I promise!

Social Media's Collective Wisdom Book I is available for free download from Simple Marketing Now.

I invite you to read it. I encourage you to share it with others. I think you will find the wisdom within compelling and thought-provoking.

And, then, will you let me know how you applied what's within?

The following very wonderful and wise friends participated in Book I. If you haven't yet explored what they do, definitely do so.

via flooringtheconsumer.blogspot.com