By Deb Bixler
If you are looking for new strategies for selling you need to know what it is that makes you shine above your competitors.
Knowing what makes your business truly unique is what will help you thrive with your customers rather than just blend with the masses. Find out what helps you differentiate your business from all others by knowing just where to look.
Direct Selling Strategies
What are your direct selling strategies?
Many business owners don’t realize that they are literally driving their business into the ground by using the same old selling tactics as everyone else.
If your direct selling strategy involves a twist- be it a link to a website tutorial or a cute magnet or pen that showcases your company name- then you are moving in the right direction to make sure that your business is truly different in its own way.
Don’t be afraid to narrow your niche down. When you firmly believe in what you are uniquely offering you can then attract the ideal customer. Many believe the opposite that a narrow niche will eliminate some leads.
We are taught in direct sales that you should be marketing to EVERYONE but really it is impossible for everyone to be your ideal customer. Define yourself better and you will be defining your customer better.
Your business personality is part of your direct selling strategies.
Consider Your Business Personality
How is your business’s personality? There are literally 100′s of methods of direct Selling so what makes you different?
What is your sales personality?
Is it upbeat and friendly like every other business in your industry, or does it take on a more serious tone?
Does your business reflect a common ‘tone’ expected of your niche? If so, you may want to consider differentation by way of creating a whole new personality for your business.
Perhaps taking a ‘green’ approach to something that is normally serious, or adding humor to a positive atmosphere can make all the difference for your business and make you really stand out. Or is it the budget lessons or healthy tips that you offer or even are you more controversial than most?
This is branding YOU, not just your direct sales company! You need to sell yourself first and your company second.
Simple direct selling strategies will help you stand out. For some people, differentation is no piece of cake.
However, there are smaller ways to make your business stand out so you can have the edge on your competition without having to change your whole direct sales strategy.
Try switching from business cards to key chains, hire someone to check your email so messages can be returned faster than your competition, and make sure that you are choosing terms for your product(s) that your competition isn’t using.
Sometimes, simply going from ‘organic’ to ‘healthy green’ can make all the difference.
Make sure that no matter what differentation tactic you choose to use, it isn’t so different that it actually compromises the message of your business. While you want to remain unique, you don’t want to sacrifice your business’s overall integrity just to make it stand out. You want to differentiate, not reinvent your image, after all.
How do you make your business stand out from the rest?
By Mike Zammuto
The Internet has long been likened to the Wild West—and not without reason. On the Web, a certain kind of lawlessness seems to prevail; people can say pretty much whatever they like, about whatever subject they like, and they can do so with impunity. It matters little whether their comments are truthful, or whether they are outright defamatory. On the Internet, it seems, anything goes.
This kind of freedom may be nice for consumers, but it can be dangerous for businesses and brands—and for small companies, in particular. There is, in the end, nothing to prevent online consumers from posting negative (and fallacious) reviews about your brand; there is nothing to prevent rival companies from smearing your name, and there is no way to completely stop the spread of Internet rumors or negative news stories about your brand. Again, on the Internet, anything goes.
This is not meant to sound alarmist. The good news is that small businesses that know about these common reputational threats can do much to defend themselves. Some of the gravest reputational threats are rounded up below, along with some strategies for preventing them.
If you haven’t heard anyone talking about doppelganger domains just yet, you will soon; this is an increasingly prevalent tactic that large, duplicitous companies use against their smaller competitors. Basically, a rival company might sign up for an online domain that corresponds with your company’s name—and then, your rival will use that site to parody you, to lampoon you, and ultimately to run your company into the ground.
There is an incredibly easy fix here, however, and it’s as simple as taking a few moments to buy the rights to all of the domains associated with your brand. These include YourBrandName.com, .net, and .org; you may also wish to sign up for the domains associated with your key executives, and with your branded products. Go through GoDaddy.com and none of these domains ought cost much more than $20 apiece. This is a simple and cost-effective way to protect your brand’s online integrity.
A much pricklier and more complicated subject is that of user-generated reviews. Review sites like Yelp.com, Urban Spoon, TripAdvisor, and Foursquare are gaining in prominence and influence all the time. It is not hard to understand why: simply put, more and more consumers are using these sites to base their purchasing decisions. What this means, however, is that online review sites can either make or break your small business, and even a lone bad review can lead to a drop-off in sales.
Sadly, though, responding to negative reviews is rather difficult. Certainly, small businesses should make it a habit to monitor their reviews and to post grateful responses to the positive ones, and even to instances of genuinely constructive feedback. Responding to negative reviews—outright unreasonable and defamatory ones—is less advisable. That’s because small businesses are threatened not just by reviews from real consumers, but also by fake reviews, planted by rival companies—and, in some cases, by disgruntled employees!
So what’s the best response to negative reviews? Really, the best response is no response at all. Rather than draw further attention to those nasty reviews, companies are encouraged to work on building up plenty of positive reviews from their faithful customers. Simply ask for those reviews, and rest assured that padding the ballot with these positive notices will significantly dampen the blow of negative ones.
Internal PR Errors
Several months ago, there was an instance of an American Red Cross worker logging into the charity’s Twitter account, thinking it was her private, personal Twitter feed. She proceeded to post about getting drunk, which is not exactly the kind of thing supporters hope to see on the Red Cross Twitter feed. The whole incident was an honest mistake, yet it reveals one of the biggest threats that companies face in the Age of Social Media—namely, their own employees!
Any ill-advised or poorly-worded social media post can threaten your company’s online reputation. One solution is to make sure that your social media posts are handled only by members of your team who really understand the corporate vision—and not by, say, an intern or a part-time employee. Additionally, password-protecting your accounts—and changing those passwords with regularity—is essential.
Online Reputation Management for SMBs
The bottom line is that the reputational threats that loom on the horizon for small businesses are truly numerous—but that doesn’t mean SMBs are powerless to defend themselves. These reputational meltdowns are far from inevitable; on the contrary, they can be protected against through the implementation of these online reputation management strategies.
By Tiffany Matthews
To be or not to be: that is the question…
One of the most well-known lines in literature, this phrase opens a young man’s soliloquy in Hamlet, the tragic play by William Shakespeare. The young man in question, who happens to be titular character, ponders on the meaning of life–whether it is worth it or not to stay alive when your life is filled with one hardship after another.
“To be or not to be” remains a timeless question that will drive you into introspection if you are still unsure of your writing path–to be or not to be a writer? If you’ve decided to follow your heart and become a wordsmith, you then ponder on the next big question, “To publish or not to publish?”
The Publishing Dream
For many writers, the dream of publishing their own book is an elusive one. Becoming an author doesn’t happen overnight. Just like when you become a writer, you need to read a lot and write a lot before you can become a competent writer. To be an author, it’s gonna take courage, tenacity, hard work, self-confidence and optimism. If you’re determined to get published, the next question to consider is which type would you choose–traditional publishing or self-publishing?
The path to getting published is riddled with grammar, thousands of words, many rewrites, and brutal rejections, especially when you opt for the traditional route. It can take years before manuscripts are turned into books and some don’t even get to see the light of publishing day. You will have to send multiple pitches to not just one but to several publishing houses and even that isn’t a guarantee it will be picked up. If you can afford to wait a few years, use that time to work on your writing, hone your submissions and learn more about the publishing business.
Don’t be discouraged by rejections. Author Stephen King went through many rejection slips before he got published. But he didn’t let that stop him. He remained optimistic and continued writing. As time went by, the rejection letters became a little more encouraging, with one telling him he had talent and that he should submit again. A decade or so later, he finally published his first novel, Carrie, and the rest is history.
If your attempts at publishing traditionally take you to a dead end, you can consider your second option, self-publishing. While this choice can narrow the time it takes to get published, it means more work than when you publish traditionally. First of all, you need to have considerable knowledge of what publishing entails like designing the book, editing, illustrating and even the marketing, promotional and sales aspects. You’ll also need a good dose of self-confidence, hammered by years of experience in the writing industry. You should also set a reasonable time frame to accomplish everything, like one year.
One thing you should remember is that when you self-publish, you are considered to be the publisher of your book and thus, must embrace whatever legal responsibilities that come with it. If you are on a budget, you can get affordable prepaid legal services to help you whenever you encounter legal issues during publishing.
Books Don’t Appear By Magic…
Another thing you must keep in mind is that books aren’t made overnight. Your first manuscript will go through several edits, rewrites and fine-tuning before you can pitch it to traditional publishing houses. If you decide to self-publish, you will have to do the brunt of the work, including tirelessly promoting your book online and local bookstores in your area. But if your story is worth sharing, word-of-mouth recommendations and glowing book reviews might just land you a deal with traditional publishing house.
If you haven’t started writing that book you want to publish, today is a good day to start. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from accomplishing your publishing dream. You can make your dream come true if you try. Be empowered by what Stephen King said in his book, On Writing,
“You can, you should, and if you’re brave enough to start, you will.”keep looking »