July 22nd, 2014 • Posted by Stephany Toman • Permalink
After years of holding our collective breath, it appears that the economy is finally trending in the right direction. Growth is looking good, and inflation is under control. The big economic indicators bode well for the next few years, with projections of steady improvement characterizing the forecasts. This is a tremendous thing for small business, because once word gets out via national and social media that things are looking up, people will begin to breathe sighs of relief and allow themselves to enjoy services that reach further than just 'maintenance and necessary.'
Remaining top-of-mind with your clientele means gearing your marketing and promotions to 'meet them where they're at.' (Pardon the grammar, but the phrase works, here.) Where they're at may be in a place where they are giving themselves permission to purchase services that move a tad beyond the pure 'have to' into the 'ok, so I also want this add on..' arena. That can mean extending a 60 minute massage to 90 minutes, choosing to go with a deep conditioning following a style and highlight, opting for a mani/pedi combination in lieu of just regular manicures, or choosing the rejuvenating facial with ultra-softening mask over the basic facial.
Upselling now requires finesse and a good plan. Look at your service menu and consider ways that you might entice your clients.
Are there ways for you to add perceived value to the next-tier services without incurring real costs? When clients perceive they are receving more for their money, they're likely to invest in the next option 'up' the menu.
Will something as subtle as opting to list your services from most indulgent to more economical help? Order of sight matters, too. If your clients are seeing your most economical services at the top of your menu, they'll have to think harder about moving to the next level than if they see the most indulgent first and the middle option (the one you're wanting to encourage now) right below it.
Winning higher level sales means your clients will be enjoying services that they may have waited years to justify and you'll be generating a boosted revenue stream as well.
Now's the time to get creative with ways to enrich the experiences of your clients and create higher average tickets as you do it.
It's another win-win.
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July 18th, 2014 • Posted by Kathy Watts • Permalink
You work so hard to build your business and you want to help it continue to grow. Here are 3 healthy marketing habits you can start today to help you strengthen and grow your business in this economy.
Provide Excellent Customer Service
First and foremost, you want to make sure your clients are receiving excellent customer service every single time they interact with your business. From trying to find something on your website, to speaking to someone on the phone when they call, or the actual experience they have when they come in to make a purchase or receive a treatment, every interaction is an opportunity to build your relationship through stellar customer service. It should be the foundation of your business and an important part of staff training. Providing excellent customer service is the greatest indication of future success. It also allows you to build a relationship with your clients and that can make them even more loyal.
Be Consistent with your Branding/Marketing
Whether it is at your physical location, on your website, or via social media or email, make sure that your clients are receiving a consistent message with consistent branding. Make sure your logo is used across all communications. Clients are often much more comfortable with a uniform recognizable format to your blog posts or email communications. That way, they know as soon as they see it in their inbox that it is from you.
Maintaining a consistent message across all social media platforms makes your message even more powerful. This is not to say that every single place should have exactly the same format. A twitter message is very different from a blog post or a longer message on Facebook. But they should all boil down to a consistent overall message across all platforms.
By being consistent, you make yourself more recognizable. And by being more recognizable, your clients start to feel more familiar and comfortable with your business overall.
Analyze Your Marketing
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You put a lot of time and effort into coming up with your marketing campaigns and then promoting them in-house and via social media, email, and your website. But many people spend all their time coming up with marketing and leave little time to analyze what worked and what didn’t. And that is a big mistake. If you don’t take the time to figure out what is working and why, you’re just wasting a lot of your marketing time, energy, and dollars. So run statistics on what promo gift certificates are redeemed the most. Pay attention to your stats on Facebook and your website to see what posts are the most viewed or have the most responses.
July 15th, 2014 • Posted by Kathy Watts • Permalink
On May 15, 2014, the FCC proposed new rules to govern internet access. The new plan would allow internet service providers (ISPs) to charge extra to large companies like Google or AT&T for preferential treatment (such as faster delivery of information). The problem with this is that it then creates a two-tiered internet: a superhighway for businesses who can afford to pay and a dirt road for all of us smaller businesses. You can read more about net neutrality in our blog post from last month: Should You Care About Net Neutrality?
But why should you care anyway? Internet is still internet, right? Well, actually, it’s not. Net Neutrality is the definition of an open internet and it ensures our right to communicate freely. Without it, the internet is up for bid and those with the most money will have the most control not only over what sort of information you can send as a business but also over what your clients can receive as consumers. Without net neutrality, big companies such as Verizon or AT&T would have the power to choose whether or not your website is available and whether or not your clients can access it.
Here are just a few reasons why net neutrality is especially important for small businesses:
The loss of net neutrality will affect the ability of people to find and access your website
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People are busy these days and don’t want to waste a lot of time. When they pull up your website, they expect it to load quickly and easily. If it doesn’t, they may just decide it is taking too long and move on to your competitor.
Without net neutrality, small businesses won’t have the necessary resources to put themselves into the internet fast lane, which could mean slower load times, or clients who cannot even access your site due to their ISP deciding not to carry it (similar to cable companies). This means that the internet would no longer be a level playing field and it will most certainly hurt not only your ability to conduct business online, but also your ability to simply promote your business effectively online.
The internet will no longer be a level playing field
A free and open internet, where no ISP can decide what you can and cannot post or read, is a key foundation of Net Neutrality, and it is what the internet was based upon. Without net neutrality, ISPs would be able to give preferential treatment to those who can afford to pay for it, and users would no longer have access to everything posted on the web. It means that small businesses would no longer be able to compete on the same level as bigger companies. It stifles competition, but more importantly, it stifles innovation. Many small businesses would never be able to get off the ground without a free and open internet. It diminishes progress and the overall sharing of information for all of us.
For your business, it could mean that users in your area may no longer be able to access your website at all, or it may be buried underneath the results of bigger companies in your area, or those with deeper pockets. It would have a major negative effect on your online presence, unless you have the funds available to push yourself up to the superhighway. And the sad truth is that most small businesses just don’t have the funds to compete with larger corporations. Without net neutrality, we’ll fall behind the big guys, and that could mean the end of our businesses.
So what can we do?
The new rules were proposed on May 15, 2014, and we are now in the midst of a comment period, before the FCC makes their ruling on September 15th. Everyone is welcome to submit a comment to the FCC and we encourage you to do so.
But, more importantly, contact your representatives in Congress and let them know how important Net Neutrality is to you. Many feel that the only way to truly ensure net neutrality, is for Congress to make it a part of law, by adding it to an updated version of the Telecommunications Act, and there is a movement to do just that. This would take the decision making out of the hands of unelected officials at the FCC, and put it into the hands of elected officials, who are accountable to the American people.
There is a huge movement to protect and ensure net neutrality, but, as small business owners, all of us need to speak up and become part of the conversation. It is just that important.