Networked

Kent 2009 Ecommerce in Kent Awards - in with a chance?

ICELAB Through a contact in the LinkedIn Group Kent we learned about the Kent 2009 Ecommerce in Kent Awards. Our secure webshop is nominated (9th listing on the nominees page). The award is sponsored by Icelab.

Are we in with a chance? We might if we attract votes of course (hint, hint).

Perhaps I should tell you about the many products and accessories available in our web shop - all with their specific and informative product description, or about the 7 different delivery charges we have added - and which our clients can select themselves - instead of "one or two options suit all". Or the 4 different payment options we offer, from debit card to BAC's payment.

Perhaps this story will be in our favour? Two weeks ago our web shop received an order from one the largest wood-flooring manufacturers in Europe (at the moment we cannot tell you the name, nor the product they bought). We knew it would be used for a first test to see if this innovative finishing product would enhance their own products.

Delivery of the order was arranged in cooperation with the inventors of this eco-friendly product and within 7 days the goods were received in good order. We know this because we've checked on it - as focused on customer relationship businesses do. With the positive answer also came the request for a quotation for a very large quantity of the same product. And of course we will do our utmost best to give our best quotation for mutual benefit.

We are 'only' a small retailer in rural Kent UK, our secure web shop attracts (repeat) business not only from Kent, South East England, the whole of England, Scotland and Wales, in other words the whole of the UK - but also from renowend large corporations in Northern Europe (other retailers normally sell their products - are client, not supplier).

In with a chance? Can I ask you kindly to vote for us?


Two questions, one recommendation

  1. Are you a (small) business in Kent?
  2. Do you have a LinkedIn profile?

LinkedinKent If so, why not join the LinkedIn Group "Kent" and work, network, discuss and share news with other Kent located (small) businesses? It is a lively group with plenty of discuss topics weekly.

Contacts are made easily, no matter if you're looking for new contacts, leads, clients or quality suppliers or advisers. At the moment there are 135 members already but the more the merrier of course.

Through the group I've already come in contact (by starting a "discussion") with a regional National Trust and with two independent Kent based Estate Agents. Introductions like these make growing your business more easy.


Flooring the Consumer interview

Social Media is a funny thing, you meet all kinds of people world wide. Sometimes it's a Social Media Tool you share, sometimes it's a marketing method you both are implementing and want to compare results, and sometimes because - no matter where in the wide world the other is based - you work in the same type of business/trade.

That's how Christine B. Whittemore and I met - well, through a combination of reasons, the Z-list from end 2006 and the fact both our main blogs are about flooring:


Beginning this month CB asked me the following questions - as part of her weekly blog series: "Social Media bridging old and new" (and according to CB it also falls in the "Flooring It Differently" category):

  1. How/why did I get involved in Social Media?
  2. What do you like most about social media?
  3. What do you like least about social media?
  4. How have you used social media to promote your business?
  5. What 5 suggestions do you have for companies to implement so they can more effectively bridge old media with new media and connect with end users?
  6. Any other thoughts to share about effectiveness of social media in forging stronger relationships with customers?

I did warn her about my inability to keep things short (I keep things simple, that should be obvious ;-)) - did I 'floor the consumer'?

You decide, and do say hello to CB when your there.


Great quotes to get the week started

Last week social media contacts - friends - brought me some jewels of quotes:

Dawid Miracle published this one

"The difference between try and triumph is a little umph!"


(Dawid helps Building Successful Websites for Independent Professionals and Small Business Owners and co-founded The Advisory Gym on Facebook)

Long standing friend Kent Blumberg brought us this one - which made me chuckle

"A procrastinator is someone that can't take now for an answer."


(Kent is an Executive coach: Catalyzing your Growth and and organises tele-seminars on "networking for the shy and not-so-shy".


Blogapalooza 2008: looking back to go forward.

Like last year, Robert Hruzek over at Middle Zone Musings is inviting us to submit 12 blog-post (one per month) of 2008. It’s becoming one of those traditions really. And a good tradition it is too. Nothing gets the mind focused forward than looking back I’ve learned.

Label5th 2008 was truly an exciting year: the 5th Anniversary of Wood You Like, the end of the housing boom, the banking crash, the ‘credit crunch’, the tremendous drop of the stock-exchanges, the ‘banking rescue’ plans and at the end the free-fall of the pound.
Great tidings when you are in a business related to the housing market.

This year my selection of Kiss2 blog-post centres around keeping our business on track, one way or the other – which we did, although behind on last year’s great result our books also show a profit for this year. Main trick: we never wavered from our hedge-hog concept, simple but effective.

“Supplying high quality products best suited for our client’s circumstances, interior design wishes and budget.”

January: Team work, team building outside your company

Acorn1 Even when you run a one-man-and-one-woman business you need a team of experts to make the best of everything. ‘Our team’ of experts brought together one of our most talked about marketing efforts, The Acorn. So, thanks again Richard and Danny.

February: AWeber as conversation tool
I love AWeber – that’s by now a known fact – and even more so when I discovered that a simple submit form could do so much more to start a two-way conversation with a prospect.

March: Business Conversations, the new way
(Not a hard choice, turns out it was the only article I wrote that month! Must have been very busy with other things! - one sad fact happened that month too, my father-in-law passed away.)
Social media, progress in technology. Not always needed in business conversations.

April: The problem with “New Customers Only”
One of my pet-hates in regards of most business advice books: they all forget about one type of business. Still plan to write a book about it that does cover advice for these businesses – we’re one of them.

May: Common human reaction or common sense?
When the so-called "credit crunch" started to bite and a new media hype was born. Still no such thing as a free lunch in my book.

EcoverKissebook June: Kind request with a kiss gift from me
June seemed to be all about AWeber and my newest blog: “1 Plus 1 Makes 3, where combined expertise gives you triple value”. So I selected the post in which I give away my business novel (E-book version)

July: When the going gets tough...
Two reasons for selecting this post for July: it was Kiss2 200th post and a reflection on the first 6 months of troublesome 2008.

August: A month all about marketing efforts by others and us, not really sure which one to choose to be honest, but I go for the one that irked me most and was closest to home: Village Marketing

September: Book review: Content Rich by Jon Wuebben
Where last year I wrote plenty of book reviews, this year I seemed to have read only. Jon’s book stands out miles above most “copy-writing for SEO” books, getting the mix between the two of them precisely right – for any business.Stamp2ndclass

October: Why don’t I hear from them?
 My thoughts on spending a meagre 27 pence to gain more business and why most small businesses still seem to find that a too high a price – weird!

November: When wood turns digital
An example (true to the tag-line of my newest blog) of how combing various software programs can turn any product into a digital one. I’ve listed all the simple but very effective programs (or training courses) we used to turn wood digital.

December: The Principle of IST
Although December became a banking mystery month I decide to select this post because it is such a basic, simple and effective principle. Not just in business, in life too.

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2009 promises to be even more exiting! Over the Christmas period I’ve written our business plan for next year, just stay tuned here for all marketing projects we’re putting in the pipe-line.
Overall thought: I still have the best job in the world!

Wishing you a Happy, peaceful and prosperous New Year!


What's your accountant up to?

Mine is giving a talk during Paul Gorman's (business and marketing genius, who once more comes out of retirement) 2 days workshop - today and tomorrow:
Enough's enough - Economic Crisis Moneymaking and Business-Building Event. (And all 120 seats have gone very rapidly for this event.)

From the invite, only sent out to subscribers of his blog-site LeaveThemInTheDust:

Paul developed powerful and quick-acting marketing methods that not only protect and make business immune to downturn, but able to prosper and thrive more so than in 'normal' economic periods.

The reason this is possible is that customers -- and competitors -- are on edge. Everything is sharper than it normally is. Everyone is more acutely aware of money, alternative brands, products or services, alternative suppliers.
They are on the look out. They are searching for better value, longer-sustaining worth, and greater result from every pound they spend or invest.

This sharper environment is a gift from the gods to any business owner who is able to ethically provide to those sharper customers.

The moment you make yourself visible to the market place by putting out sharper marketing messaging, more descriptive explanations and illustrations about why you and what you sell is the only logical choice, and how you provide greater value -- in tangible ways the customer takes home and benefits by day after day -- then you win a greater percentage customers who wish to buy now.

My accountant will not only introduce Paul Gorman to over 120 budding entrepreneurs, he will also talk to them about his own favourite subject: "What a proper accountant can do for you".

Richard Calderwood FCA - Burns Waring Chartered Accountants and Business Consultants And believe me, if you have the fortune to work with one of the most pro-active accountants around you know that sustainable growth is in the books for everyone willing to listen and implement his sound advice. We did and still do and therefore are in good shape. Most of you know we are in a housing market related business, a small business with a small showroom in rural Kent, but we are absolutely in good 'nick'.

My accountant is an asset to our business, is yours?
Or is yours one of those old-fashion bean-counters: his hand hovering over a 'clock' to start the meter running when you're on the phone to him  - his invoicing "meter" that is, not the pro-active "giving you better, smarter ideas on how to sustain your business during these more difficult times" meter.

You can find out easily if you too have an accountant who is a true asset for your business, helping you grow or one who is not.
Answer a simple 14 question quiz (How to Choose Your Accountant) and receive a free 10 pages long report from - who else - my accountant to find out now.


Stress Facts

StresscartoonThis month's topic of my good friend Robert Hruzek over at Middle Zone Musings' group-writing project is "What I learned from.... Stress"

Now we all know that stress is not good, it's mostly associated as a negative state of being - something to avoid. I know very well, 'cos 10 years ago I suffered a burn-out, work-related. And let me tell you: that's not very, eh, pleasant.
(image courtesy of www.ghchealth.com)

But.... stress has many other meanings. My favourite online dictionary lists 14 of them, the first one being - coincidently? - the meaning I wanted to stress here.

  1. importance or significance attached to a thing; emphasis

When you are in business, be it selling products or services, you have almost expert knowledge of the matter - at least I hope you do because your prospects/clients expect nothing less. And being the expert you know what your product/service can and cannot do.

Your prospect/client has certain expectations, certain pre-conceived ideas of the features and benefits of your product/service. It is down to you - the expert - to stress the true facts of your product:

  • In our business, supplying and installing the natural product wooden floors, we have to stress the fact that wood works, always. It will react to the changes in the 'climate' conditions in your home during the 4 different seasons.
  • We have to stress the fact that wooden floors do need regular maintenance to keep its dirt-repellent character (and at the same time we stress the fact that regular maintenance enhances the beauty of the floor)
  • We stress the fact that a new wood floor needs to acclimatise inside the house; storing it in a cold garage or damp shed is definitely not the ideal place for it.

But there is more in running a factual, based on honest information, successful business. As business owner you have to stress the fact that it is not just the sales person's responsibility to create the long-lasting relationship with your clients. You have to stress the fact that the attitude of the receptionists, the dedicated attention of the dispatch department to every single shipment, the accuracy of the invoicing by the admin department is as essential to the long-lasting relationship as the sales messages.

Teamwork250w And boy, does that also count for a one man/woman band! You don't need to have 10, 50 or a 1000 employees to stress the fact that consistency in every dealing, every snippet of information or interaction to or with your client is one of the biggest factors of a successful, sustainable business.

That's what I learned from stressing facts
(I learned a lot too during the 6 months burn-out period I experienced all those years ago: the fact was that I received different messages from different managers all stressing different points of importance - and in the end that stressed me out ;-))


25 Words that connect us

After the 25 Words of Work/Life Wisdom project Liz Strauss is asking for 25 Words that Connect us:

It’s communication. It’s participation. It’s connection. It’s a blog post.

Here are mine:

At the moment I see
the sun go down
some of my connected friends
see the sun high
Where their morning coffee
is my lunchtime.

Karin H. (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)

Will you add 25 words of your own? (see here for the details and strict deadline)


Postive business news from Charing

Two weeks ago I 'ranted' a bit about 'Village Marketing' - how one village shop owner blames his prospect clients for his down-fall (for not buying from him).
In the same article I mentioned one of our convenient shops 'going the extra mile' for their existing clients - even during a two week long refurbishing of their shop. Quality products and quality service go a very long way in retaining clients and attracting new clients (something our butcher doesn't seem to recognise unfortunately).

This morning, while getting some groceries for this evening's dinner, I was rather happy to see a proud notice in our 'top-shop' convenient store:

Runners up Kent's Community retailer of the year 2008

So, hurray for Wady & Brett in our lovely village in Charing for continues high service with a smile and their constantly increasing ranges of quality products.


Time

Liz Strauss over at Successful Blog is asking for 25 words. Just 25 words of wisdom on something you see too much or too little of.

Here are mine - based on my irritation with businesses/companies not bothering to answer requests for information/quotes within normal expected time (2 - 3 days? at least tell me you received my question!) or ignoring the request completely - don't they want business?

Is speed of the essence
when requests are made?
My time or your time
what's more pressing?
Honest answers timely given:
great start in relationships

Karin H (Keep It Simple Sweetheart, specially in business)