Category Archives: customer service

Linking Marketing and Sales with Kimberly Davis

Kimberly_DavisHaving previously covered social media (The Marketing Master Class – Social Media for Business), Kimberly Davis kindly invited me along to the third in her Marketing Masters Series. And this time the topic was Linking Marketing and Sales.

Kimberly started with a very simple definition; Marketing is anything that represents your company.

Marketing vs Sales
–    example of a football team – team is the marketing effort – the striker is the sales
–    Better if different people due to different goals
o    Marketing – long term – brand building – consistency – impersonal
o    Sales – short term – translates interest into a sale – personal (one to one)

Fear of sales
–    If your product is good, you are doing them a favour by telling them about it.
–    It’s is just a conversation – not a sales pitch
–    People buy from people they know, like and trust

Company name
–    You should be able to say what you do in two words
–    Forget witty tag lines that say nothing
–    Example – Campbell’s condensed soup – Sasparilla marketing detoxification

Target market
–    Forget your gut instinct – you can’t sell to everybody
–    Who is your ideal customer?
–    Create a profile for them – age, race, interests, position, salary etc

Selling the right thing
–    What is going to make you the most ROI (return on investment)?
–    Are you selling the right thing to the right people?

Identifying need
–    Where does it hurt for your customers?
–    Solve a problem
–    People buy what they want, not what they need.

Focus on the benefits
–    What are your benefits?
–    What problem can you solve?
–    How can you make their life easier?

Unique Selling Point
–    What are you USP’s?
–    Be ‘the only …’
–    Focus – If you try to be everything to everyone, you will be nothing to no one

The Elevator Pitch
–    It is the most important thing in your marketing strategy.
–    You have twenty seconds to make an impact.
–    Can you clearly articulate what you do in that time?
–    People will decide whether to file or forget you based on this.
–    No more that two short sentences long.
o    Who, what, why when and how?

Communication
–    Find the right words to use
–    Keep it simple
–    Focus on fears and needs
–    Read it out and hear how it sounds
–    Test it on lots of people and get feedback
–    Ask them to say it back to you to see what they remember

Kimberly’s elevator pitch for Sarsaparilla:
50% of marketing is wasted. Sarsaparilla is a marketing consulting and training agency that specialises in marketing purification – the process of detoxing your marketing, protecting you from The Flash, Fluff and Fakers, and helping you make more money with less.

  • Sales across the Marketing Umbrella
  • Branding
  • Business cards
  • Literature
  • Social Media
    .com
  • Merchandise
  • Eshots, flyers, emails etc
  • Website
  • Testimonials
  • Advertising

PR
–    Getting other people to say it for you

Networking
–    Time to use your elevator speech
–    How to get in out of a conversation – ‘I don’t want to keep you from networking with other people here’… Don’t be too obvious
–    Business Cards
–    Carry a nice pen – cheap pen = cheap company
–    Think beyond the person in front of you – they may know someone relevant
–    Ask for what you want – they may be able to help
–    Pay if forward
–    5 minutes per person

Ways to measure your return on marketing investment
–    Take an inventory
o    List of clients and what they buy from you
o    Review you client profile
    How many
    Average spend
    Repeat clients?
    Their profile – hobbies, interests etc
    When they buy
    Why they buy
    Survey with SurveyMonkey
o    Do your market research – not with family and friends
o    Gives you a starting point for measurement

  • Creating a process (funnel?)
  • Positioning
  • Permission Marketing
  • Incentivise your customers
  • Data capture
  • Generating new leads
  • Ask why people aren’t buying
  • Cost of customer acquisition
  • Retention / Customer service
  • Multiple revenue streams
  • Reminders
  • Experiential marketing

Pricing
Referral and Affiliate plans

Stop selling and allow people to buy from you

Find a mentor
A Hobby or a Business?

Sharon Wright and Magnamole 

Kimberly’s keynote speaker for the final slot of the day was Sharon Wright, who’s claim to fame is delivering the best pitch in the history of Dragons Den.

–    Took one day off in the first year of developing the idea.
–    Single parent entrepreneur
–    ‘Think big and you will be big’
–    Decided to start with the biggest BT
o    2 hours of negativity
o    6 Sigma proof required
o    Would be virtually impossible
o    Had never been done before
o    One positive – the product had legs

–    First paying customer was with Cromwell tools – told them BT was a buy (a bit cheeky)
–    From creation to market within 6 months
–    Strong self belief is 1st important ingredient for business success
–    Aim was to be the best presenter on Dragons Den – achieved this goal
–    Preparation (2nd key ingredient for business success)
–    Practiced her three minute pitch 100 times a day for three weeks
–    Read all of the Dragon’s books to help choose which partner to go with
–    After the show was aired Sharon received 7,000 emails
–    Was now working 22 hours a day, seven days a week.
–    Loneliness of starting a business (3rd key ingredient)
–    As time went on her self belief began to drop
–    Met Tony Larkin at the British Inventors show who offered to invest in her
–    Sharon has now sold her Magnamole to an American company keeping a 10% holding.

–    The most important lesson learnt was to trust her instincts, and get a business mentor. You are often too emotionally close to your business to make objective business decisions.

–    Story reminds me of one of my earliest blog posts on Dragons Den
Dragon’s Con.

Sharon’s book ‘Mother of Invention – How I won Dragons Den, Lost my mind, Nearly lost my business and ended up reinventing myself’, tells of her personal struggle as a single mother, inventor and entrepreneur.
It has been reviewed on my colleague Steve Van Dulken’s Patent Search Blog.

Our Marketing Masterclass with Alasdair Inglis of Grow

grow_header1A couple of weeks ago I attended this excellent workshop from Alasdair Inglis of Grow, the small business marketing experts.

I liked the fact that Alasdair started the half day session by saying that his aim was for everyone attending to leave with a minimum of five concrete things they will do for their business.

I was also impressed by the way he refuses to use PowerPoint. Instead he handed out detailed notes and had lots of photos on screen to illustrate his points.

Alasdair started by briefly covering the standard elements of a small business sales and marketing strategy:
– What are you selling
– What is your USP (unique selling proposition)
– Competitor analysis
– Who are your customers
– Lead generation – which methods are appropriate

He quickly launched into the marketing ideas and concepts we needed to understand to give us a competitive edge.

The first of these was understanding the power of customer testimonials:
–    These can be the most valuable form of marketing in the long run, especially if you manage to get an influential customer to sing your praises.
–    Work out what questions you need to ask to generate testimonials
–    Make sure they include some measure of the benefit of your product or service.

Then we looked at the power of case studies and success stories
–    These are more in depth than testimonials and can include video.
–    They should include the problem – what we did – the positive result
–    When making video testimonials make sure you concentrate on the sound quality over the visuals. It is worth investing in a directional microphone.
–    We have used our Success Stories on our YouTube channel to generate 200,000 views.

The power of having a customer database
–    For long term success you should have a database with all your customers details and purchases in one place. This could be as simple as an excel spreadsheet or a full CRM (customer relationship management) systems such as SalesForce.
–    The best way to think about what to keep, is what would someone need to know to keep your business going if you were away from the office.

Know your competitors – ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.
–    Take advantage of your competitors hard work to develop their products or services and their understanding of the customers they market to.
–    Sign up to your competitors email lists using your personal email address. Gives you insight into their marketing strategy.
–    Look at their websites and Facebook pages.
–    Use seospyglass.com to check out where your competitors are promoting themselves on the web.

Know your target market
–    Get to know your ideal customer – where do they live, shop, eat?
–    This will impact your choice of marketing strategy.

Understand the marketing funnel
–    Don’t try and get a sale straight away, build up to the sale.
–    You need to have a really good opening offer that hooks people in so you get them into your funnel.
–    Three examples
o    Free download – build up price as the customer goes deeper into the funnel.
o    First contact is a cold lead – move them from warm to hot to customer to raving fan
o    Initial enquiry from customer – build information until they become a customer.

Have an irresistible offer
–    What irresistible offer does your business have, so that people who first come into contact with your product or service make contact with you or buy from you?
–    Examples would include: first session free, money back guarantee, discount for first order, vouchers.

Understand the importance of having a clear call to action
–    Give people a compelling reason to get in contact.
–    E.G. On your website
o    Call you
o    Ask questions
o    Email you
o    Buy from you
o    Join your email list
o    Request information

Focus on benefits rather than features
– Look at all your marketing materials and re-word them.

Understand what problems do you solve for your customers.
–    What factors might make their business fail.
–    What market are they will be operating in – Information about their competitors and customers.

Be aware of approximately how much do you earn from each customer during their lifetime?
–    This will have a big impact on how you price and market your services.

‘If you sow seeds all year round, you get vegetables all year round.
–    Make sure you have a variety of customers, like a garden with a mixture of plants
–    This can help when a recession hits, or you lose one set of customers.
–    Examples:
o    Customer who buy or work with you once
o    Ad hoc customers
o    Regular repeat customers
o    Make sure you have a lead generation system in place that gives you a steady stream of leads.

Be aware of the importance of Search Engine Optimisation, especially on Google.
–    Google has revolutionised marketing, triggering a move from masculine to feminine.
–    Masculine – going out searching for customers using adverts, yellow pages and telemarketing
–    Feminine – waiting to found, by being attractive to your customers, let them come to you.

Alasdair covered quite a bit more during a very full half day, so I recommend you book yourself on and find out more.

One of the additional benefits of these workshops is meeting aspiring entrepreneurs, and it was here that I got talking to Bertie Stephens about Flubit. I’ve joined the fun Flubitron club

Service without a smile scores 2 stars

Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Seven Sisters - South Downs Way - Photo by Denise Infield

Having just returned from four days tramping along the South Downs Way along the Sussex coast, I am pleased to report that I managed to avoid thinking about work for almost the entire time.

However, two very different experiences as a customer reminded me of the importance of this aspect of business.

During our two days in the White Hart Hotel, one of the smarter hotels in Lewes, we only managed to get one smile and genuine interest of expression in us as customers.

This was in stark contrast to the The Star Alfriston, where every member of staff (even the room cleaner) was welcoming and friendly, and appeared to be genuinely concerned that our stay was a pleasant one.

So, even though the Star charged less for their rooms, our experience was at least twice as pleasurable. And of course, I will be happy to recommend this establishment to friends and family, whereas I will be suggesting they find an alternative place to stay in Lewes.

Having recently discovered Trip Advisor, I thought I would have quick look to see how the hotels ranked. The Star in Alfriston scored 4.5 stars out of five, on 56 reviews, while the White Hart scored 2 stars, on 101 reviews.

To quote Stan Lee, Nuff Said!

How elevated is your pitch?

Kimberly_DavisDuring the Apprentice Kim and her Marketing Masters Series, one of the things that stood out from an excellent day was the importance of an effective elevator pitch. The ability to summarize your business in 15 seconds is not easy, so important.

This is something I have mentioned several times before, including How good is your Escalator Pitch?

Kim asked the audience for examples of their elevator pitches, and although some were ok, they all paled into insignificance compared to her own pitch for her business Sarsaparilla Ltd. I didn’t manage to catch it word for word, but it went something like this;

Hello my name is is Kimberly Davis and I am the founder of Sarsaparilla a marketing consulting and training agency which can detox your marketing by protecting companies from Flash, Fluff, and Fakers. It specialises in helping you increase profits, maximise return on investment, and measure results.

It’s close to perfect, as it is concise, clear, explains the benefits, and leaves you wanting to know more.

Many entrepreneurs make the mistake of trying to explain everything they do, but then leave the potential customer to work out how they would benefit from the product or service.

Fortunately there are plenty of sources on the web to help write your own perfect pitch.

5-rules-for-writing-an-exceptional-elevator-pitch from the Small Fuel Marketing blog.

1. Explain your business in two lines
You have only a moment to explain what you do, but it can be hard to pare down an explanation to the details. Try starting with only a minimal explanation of just two lines. Focus on writing down what is unique about your business. You don’t need a perfectly formatted document; this draft is to get you to eliminate unnecessary words.

While you should mention what you do, how your business helps is actually more important than your particular methods. A professional speaker, for instance, wouldn’t just say that he gets up on a stage and talks. Instead, his pitch might include an explanation of the fact that he motivates employees to focus on quality — or whatever his speaking is supposed to achieve.

2. Add some excitement
If you aren’t excited about what you do, there’s no reason anyone else should get excited either. There was some sort of passion that lead you to get involved with your business; let it show through. In some cases, your reasons may be your elevator pitch.

Do you see a particular need for your services? Focus on that need, and a passionate pitch might just write itself. Results are another easy way to get excited about your business. Think about the numbers you celebrate — the milestones for your business.

3. Test your pitch
Find a few people that will listen to your pitch and give you feedback. Ask them what terms they didn’t recognize, where it was boring and where it was exciting.

Your listeners’ questions about your pitch are especially important. You don’t necessarily want to answer every question about your business in your pitch — getting prospective customers to ask a few questions is a great way to hook them — but if a test subject has no idea what you do after listening to your pitch, it’s back to the drawing board. It may take a couple of tries to come up with a pitch if your business isn’t particularly common.

4. Adapt to the situation
You don’t give your elevator pitch in a vacuum. It’s always part of a conversation. Your conversational partner probably has some specific needs that your company can help with — and he or she may have already described them as part of the conversation.

If you’ve already heard those specific needs, respond to them. Tell your listener exactly what you can do to help him; being specific is what can take an elevator pitch from the “I’ll be in touch” level to the “I’m calling you first when I get back to the office” level.

5. Be open to change
I actually learned this trick during a high school science fair: I was giving a pitch about my project to a judge and he asked a couple of questions that seemed pretty important. I started incorporating his questions, along with the answers, in my pitch. I’m pretty sure that it was that small change to my pitch that landed me a prize.

Your elevator pitch is not carved in stone. If you come across a better explanation of what you do, you ought to include it in your pitch. It’s even worthwhile to test out multiple versions of your elevator pitch and make changes based on the result. And if your business changes, it’s important to make sure that your elevator pitch reflects those changes.

15 Second Pitch uses a simple wizard to help you generate your 300 word pitch. It also has access to 14,000 sample pitches, so you can learn from others like this;
My name is Corey Lennox and I am a musician specializing in writing mindblowing songs. I write rock music to crystallize some of life’s most amazing moments and experiences. I’m a Berklee College of Music graduate who puts emotion first in his music. Check out what I’ve been creating- all my music is available for free. If you like what you hear, I encourage you to join my mailing list, or even just say hello!

 

 

The growing grey market in the UK

Retired man on bench

Photo Walter Groesel - Stock.XCHNG

Last night I attended a packed Insider Trends’ talk at the Business & IP Centre. Last time the topic was How to become a cutting-edge retailer, but this time Cate Trotter the founder and Head of Trends was talking about the rise and neglecting of the over 50’s market.

As a newly minted 50+ myself (well last September anyway), I was doubly interested in what Kate had to say, and was pleasantly surprised to hear that by 2020 the over 50’s will form the majority of Britain’s population. So that makes me part of the only growth market in the UK.

Once again Kate provided an excellent talk, and left the audience pumped full of relevant statistics and marketing angles.

Here are my notes from the evening:

Untapped markets: The grey pound – Monday 24 January

Profile Marketing Opportunities

–    The population in the UK is getting older, already more +60s than -16s
–    People are living longer
–    Family sizes are shrinking
–    Number of 90 year olds expected to double in 25 years
–    78% of income retained post retirement, but loss in commuting and mortgage costs increase available money
–    +65’s spending £100 billion a year Recession
–    Older customers are better prepared for economic decline than younger
–    Many are working part-time to bring in an income Segmentation
–    Important part of understanding your customers
–    Need to add more age categories. 50-65 and 65+ are not enough
–    Need to be aware of not pigeon-hole by age – much more diverse than the younger categories, due to widely varying life experiences

–    So use lifestyle segmentation instead

  • Live Wires – active and working, many interests, technology aware, spend on holidays
  • Happy and fulfilled – active, but more traditional, financially well off, lots of holidays, spend on quality traditional brands
  • Super troopers – often have lost a spouse, don’t like advertising and new technology
  • Living day to day – spends rather than saves, more interested in material wealth than time, tend to choose premium brands
  • Unfulfilled dreamers – hard working, dreams of un-achieved ambitions,
  • Rat race junkies – could retire, but not yet, into technology, more than one marriage

–    Need to be aware of sets of baby-boomers coming through

  • Flower-children are now approaching their mid 60s
  • So interested in green such as Prius cars and green funerals
  • Believe that old age starts at 72, not 65
  • More old travellers going further afield and more adventurous
  • The SKIers – Spending Kids Inheritance

Adapting your business
–    Attitudes, physical (eyesight) and cognitive (memory) impairments
–    Over 50’s buy 80% of top of the range cars (BBC news report)
–    But many have enough mainstream products (washing machine, microwave, TV). However, they might upgrade at point of retirement with help of lump sum
–    From products to services – or service related products (e.g. sport) less equipment for the home
–    Travel

  • Generally continues until late 70’s and early 80’s
  • GrandTravellers – grandparents and their grandchildren on holiday together – something relatively new and growing
  • Travel gripes – single supplements, insurance costs, active sports insurance

–    Clothes

  • Comfortable and cool clothes lacking in the market place
  • A younger style, but to fit an older shape
  • Children’s toys and clothes as presents

–    The Home

  • Home improvement rather than new products
  • B&Q
  • Employing independent traders + reputable traders marketed towards an older customer
  • Ergonomic tools (SandBug from B&Q)
  • Packaging older people can open – %80 are not – Primelife President
  • Smaller packs and designs – one person teapots (Debenhams small wok a bestseller)

–    Home health care

  • Philips Defibrillator – talks you through
  • Retrofit-friendly homes you can grow old in – e.g. doors wide enough for a wheelchair, room for safety handles – Joseph Rowntree Foundation – www.lifetimehomes.co.uk

–    Fitness

  • Pensioners are fastest growing group of gym members
  • Scope for specialist centres
  • Zumba – very popular with older dancers

Design

–    Product and service design, also websites and fixtures and fittings
–    A lack of interest in older consumers from mainstream companies
–    Specialist

  • Simplicity computers – replaces Microsoft Windows with 6 buttons – option to pay by cheque in the post
  • Tesco online shopping has an access setting
  • Photostroller – purpose built controller to access Flickr content
  • PostEgram – a Facebook app for printing out content
  • Presto – an Internet printer with a remote control system for the sender – customer doesn’t need a computer
  • Kaiser’s in Austria – e.g. easy to reach stock, reduced glare lighting, slip-proof flooring, pleasant places to sit, reading glasses to borrow, all employers over 50 – sales 50% above forecast
  • Odeon Senior Screen – with different snacks – coffee and cake instead of fiz and popcorn
  • Danger of alienating older customers who still feel young – if they can reject it, they often do – don’t want to be associated with ‘that group of people’ – they expect products and service to cost more

–    Inclusive

  • Kindle – allows you change size of text and have text to speech
  • Nintedo Wii is becoming more popular in care homes – active game playing
  • ClearRX by Target in the US – simplifies medication for entire families
  • Ferrari Enzo – with wider doors and lower floor o    Harley-Davidson – trikes for the older market – still cool design
  • Mobilistrictor – a suit to age the wearer by 40 years – useful to test our store design etc
    – used by Ford when developing the Focus – e.g. boot has no lip, dash doesn’t reflect light – became Ford’s best selling car
    – used by Derby City General Hospital building design
    – General Motors used older engineers – key card and push button start
mobilistrictor_Richard_Hammond

Richard Hammond trying out the Mobilistrictor

  • Legibility of writing
    – Larger fonts
    – Bolder colours
    – Clearer typfaces eg Tireseais typeface
    – Use of icons and symbols
  • Interface design – e.g. Apple iPhone and iPad, Facebook (103 year old woman who uses an iPad to interact)
    – Additional advantage of extended appeal to disabled, parents of young children, those heavily laden – e.g. small trolley in supermarket
    – Involve audience in your designs

Marketing

–    Only 1 in 5 sticks to brands they now – happy to try new products and service, but as late adopters
–    Only 1 in 3 own a mobile phone
–    Less influenced by mass media as advertising does not reflect their interests, have become cynical, but not being wired, are more open to national and local marketing
–    More time to shop around – and more time to think if they really need it, so more critical, and more time to write reviews. Can become experts in new products
–    More time to tell their friends about products and services – word of mouth becomes even more important
–    Need to use younger (not too young) faces in images – or take out faces – e.g iPad just shows hands, so appeals to all ages
–    Retail and experiential – e.g. Harley Davidson stores – older are less likely to buy online
–    Only 1 in 4 over 65’s have used the internet, but this is growing very fast
–    Over 50’s represent 25% of online population, but those that are spend longer online
–    Silversurfersday – increase confidence
–    Raceonline2012 led by Martha Lane Fox from LastMinute.com – can buy a £99 computer, with a cheap wireless dongle from 3
–    Better designed websites – e.g. Jitterbug from Samsung aimed at older customers, who can call to order as well as online
–    Email marketing more effective with older customers – e.g. eldergym newsletter
–    Free magazines – e.g. Staysure magazine for the over 50’s – based on airline magazine model
–    Segmented approaches – e.g. Ninento DS using Girls Aloud and Julie Walters in different ads for the same product
–    Car adverts tailored to age group. E.g. the young are interested in loans, the older are not
–    Appealing to the adult child
–    Look for older people in marketing agencies, if you can find them.
–    Be aware of emotional issues associated to buying older products such as walking sticks or elasticized trousers

Conclusion
–    They represent the only growing market in the UK
–    They have time and money to spend
–    There is currently very little competition
–    Be aware that they are difficult to profile – very varied with more variety in the future

Approach requires
–    empathy
–    must not be patronising

A member-owned supermarket on my doorstep

Although I had noticed a new supermarket in Lamb’s Conduit Street passing by on My first ride on a ‘Boris Bike’. I hadn’t realised it was a revolutionary, shopper owned and supported cooperative until I saw it featured in my Springwise newsletter.

Though the first food co-op opened in the UK back in 1844, according to Google, such cooperatives have not been a familiar sight in Europe in recent years, despite a certain popularity in the United States. Until now, that is. In fact, with the recent launch of the People’s Supermarket, Londoners recently gained a new place to find affordable food.

Only members can shop at the People’s Supermarket, but they all get a 10 percent discount on prices as well as a say in how the store is run. In exchange, members pay an annual membership fee of GBP 25, and they also pledge to volunteer four hours of their time per month working as store staff. Because the supermarket’s workforce is nearly all volunteers, staff costs are kept low this way — an advantage that can be passed on in lower prices. Any profits that are earned, meanwhile, get put back into the store to bring down prices even further.

Food co-ops are not uncommon in the US, but it’s interesting to see their reemergence in the UK following a bout of unusually tough times. Could this be the beginning of a widespread comeback…?
http://www.springwise.com

The People’s Supermarket –  Identity Designed is a showcase and forum for those involved in the design of brand identities.

Time Out says:
We’ve followed the slow and steady success of The People’s Supermarket, a carrot-packed co-operative outlet in Bloomsbury. Fighting off Tesco for a site in one of London’s most independently spirited neighbourhoods, The People’s Supermarket is a project close to the heart of celeb chef Arthur Potts-Dawson and ex-Marks & Spencer executive Kate Wickes-Bull.

The duo have rallied the local community into buying into the scheme – literally. Although anyone can shop at the store, full membership (which scores you a 10 per cent discount and a say in how the shop is run) will cost you £25 and four hours per month working in the store. What you get is fresh, locally sourced (when possible) supermarket fare, dirt cheap and airfreight free; new jobs for locals; and all profits going back into the business. For its founders, this is the beginning of a retail revolution – but for us, it’s a genuine alternative to the major supermarkets aggressively taking over our streets.

Though the first food co-op opened in the UK back in 1844, according to Google, such cooperatives have not been a familiar sight in Europe in recent years, despite a certain popularity in the United States. Until now, that is. In fact, with the recent launch of the People’s Supermarket, Londoners recently gained a new place to find affordable food. 

Only members can shop at the People’s Supermarket, but they all get a 10 percent discount on prices as well as a say in how the store is run. In exchange, members pay an annual membership fee of GBP 25, and they also pledge to volunteer four hours of their time per month working as store staff. Because the supermarket’s workforce is nearly all volunteers, staff costs are kept low this way — an advantage that can be passed on in lower prices. Any profits that are earned, meanwhile, get put back into the store to bring down prices even further.

Food co-ops are not uncommon in the US, but it’s interesting to see their reemergence in the UK following a bout of unusually tough times. Could this be the beginning of a widespread comeback…? (Related: Sustainable urban campground to be crowd-funded & managed — Crowdfunded breweries.)

Website: www.thepeoplessupermarket.org
Contact: info@thepeoplessupermarket.org

Less shopping choice for the New Year

Thanks to SpringWise, here is the perfect answer for those of you who aren’t quite sick of shopping just yet. I have to admit I am enjoying the temporary calm between Christmas shopping and the New Year sales.

The product comparison sites such as Reevoo offer millions of reviews on thousands of products, but this is often overwhelming if you just want to know what the best product is in a particular price bracket.

Just buy this one sidesteps this information overload by taking the cumulative ratings of reviews, to offer a single recommendation for each product category.

Nine categories are featured, including laptops, TVs, toasters and vacuum cleaners, with multiple price points available for each. The site simply offers an image of the best rated product alongside a brief list of features and the best price available — with a link to buy. If they want more information, customers can click through to Reevoo at any point to see the full range of products and reviews.

Smarta’s – Five top tips on selling online at Christmas

Once again Smarta have their finger on the pulse of enterprise with their Five top tips on selling online at Christmas.

Having purchased the majority of my presents online this year for the first time, I tend to agree that this mode of shopping is becoming key to business.

 

Online shoppers in the UK are expected to spend £162bn per year on internet purchases by the end of 2020. This burgeoning market is one that small businesses should not ignore. Thomas Vollrath, CEO of 123reg, has these top tips for online businesses looking to boost their internet sales over Christmas.

With the festive season fast approaching, setting up an online shop now can enable a business to take advantage of the 85% of UK consumers planning to spend money online this Christmas.

While many people shop online today, customers still have concerns about being caught out by fake websites and counterfeit goods. This concern is heightened even further at Christmas as people make larger, multiple purchases.

Therefore, a business must plan carefully to allay customers’ concerns by providing an online shop that embodies security, trust, reliability and good service: values that are central to online shoppers. A businesses online reputation is just as important as a real world one; a lack of the values above can result in a lost sale or leave a bad impression of a business’ brand.

The reverse is true, and businesses that that provide reliable, secure sites can expect to gain trust and long-term loyalty from festive shoppers. Because of this, its essential businesses that are thinking of setting up an online shop are aware of the these handy tips to make the most out of the Christmas season.

Here are some top tips when selling online at Christmas:

1. Businesses selling online need to build trust with users by displaying contact numbers throughout their site. This shows there is somebody to talk to should a customer encounter a problem. Businesses can expect to receive more enquiries during the festive season, so they must be aptly prepared to deal with this. It’s also important to encourage feedback, as this makes customers feel valued and can add to a business’ services.

2. Festive shoppers are likely to make larger multiple purchases, so need to be reassured that confidential information given online is safe. This can be done by displaying security accreditation, such as an SSL certificate which verifies that the site is legitimate and hosted on a secure server. Businesses should also offer money-back guarantees if possible, and terms and conditions should be written in plain English and be visible on the site.

3. Christmas purchases are often done with someone else in mind, so the buyer may be somewhat unsure of the product they are ordering. Because of this, businesses must be really transparent when it comes to their goods, with photos of the products being sold included, alongside detailed descriptions and clear pricing.

4. Customers are more likely to buy from a site if they can relate to the person behind the webpage, and this is even more so during the festive season when shoppers must make choices between a number of etailers. Adding pictures, videos and a blog to a website will give customers an insight into a business and help to build rapport, which can turn into custom.

5. With so many online retailers selling similar wares, be sure to research your competition. It’s as easy as running a simple Google search. This will help you to set your price points and compete on extras such as postage and speed of despatch. But don’t make the mistake of undercutting your rivals too much. While you might generate more sales, the reduced margins could hit your business later.

With people already beginning their Christmas shopping, now is the ideal time for a business to be pro-active and get online.

Businesses which remember the best practice tips above could find that an online shop adds to their business by extending their ability to achieve awareness, lasting customer loyalty and increased sales, during the festive season and beyond.

Every (snow) cloud has a silver lining

As usual SMARTA have their finger on the pulse and have published an article on How to deal with snow as a small business.

As for me, I have been trapped in my rural idyll of Balcombe for two days now, as there are literally no trains running up to London (Passengers spend night on abandoned train).

However, one beneficiary has been our village shop, which has had its busiest two days in recent history, as those villagers who are not fortunate enough to own a four-wheel drive vehicle are unable to do their supermarket shopping.

Every time I go up to the shop, there is a queue of customers waiting to be served. But I am wondering if the beneficial impact of the snow will end once it disappears (no sign of that at present), or if residents will have re-discovered a valuable local service for future use.

Dealing with the Customer from Hell

Although surrounded by 15 million books here at the British Library, and unlike WoodsieGirl, I don’t get nearly as much time to read as I would like.

However, in the last few weeks I have managed to get through several, thanks to my epically slow train journey, and my speed reading training from Alex Garcez the The Speed Reading Coach.

As part of my aim to constantly strive for better customer service within the Business & IP Centre, I bought a copy of Dealing with the Customer from Hell – A Survival Guide, by Shaun Belding.

It is a great book because he recognises that in most cases customers from hell did not start the day in that mode (or mood), but circumstances have lead to the behaviour we are seeing as service providers. He reminds us that we have all probably been, or come close to acting as customers from hell, when things have gone particularly badly for us. Once we start to see them in that light we can begin to move towards resolving their problem.

Shaun also points out that we are not taught at school, or in most workplaces, to cope with bad behaviour. So when we are confronted with it, we go into shock and react, rather than calmly respond appropriately and with humour.

We also can be badly emotionally scarred (and scared) by these experiences, which can negatively influence our behaviour in future customer interactions.

One of the most important messages, is that you can’t win against customers from hell, but in most cases you can win with them, and so resolve the situation to everyone’s satisfaction.

Shaun introduces the LESTER acronym for the six steps to take to resolve customer problems:

  • Listening to your customer
  • Echoing the issue
  • Sympathizing with your customer’s emotional state
  • Thanking your customer for his or her input
  • Evaluating your options
  • Responding with a win-win solution.