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Have you ever thought about how the username you set up for yourself talks about you and your brand? I’m not talking about the name you might use within your companies website or any forums they have, but on other sites where your potential customers see you.

Username for a userpage

Username for a userpage (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Let’s say you decide to go on a forum to promote your product. First of all, most forums have rules about self promotion but we are going to ignore that for this instance. this example also assumes that it is a forum with all sorts of information and discussion so where you are posting about your business is just a small part of the forum itself and may not actually be seen by that many people.

What type of username should you set up for yourself?

  • Name
  • NameLocation
  • NameProduct
  • ProductLocation

I am going to say that the last one is the one you want to go with or some similar combination. But you need to make sure that whatever you pick is going to be unique enough that you can get it on whatever site you sign up for. This is now going to be a part of your brand.

But, before you decide on something, you may want to check some of the popular social media sites to see if you can get that for your username as well. Even if you have no clue how to use that particular site, or if you even will use it, grab your name before someone else. You may want to consider registering that URL as well as those can be very difficult to get.

Some samples of usernames:

  • AmyCandlesUSA – This username is way too general and likely is already in use.
  • AmyCandlesCO – Not too bad as we know Amy sells Candles and is in Colorado.
  • COCandles – This might be a bit easier to get on the various social media sites.

It is always best to get an ID that you can use everywhere. Even if the site you are using does not allow you post that you are selling something, they may allow you use to a tagline or a signature where you can include your selling information.

I know I have posted a lot about how to act on social media. But does that mean I follow what I preach? Unfortunately, I have to admit that no, I do not. I will admit that I am trying to get better but it can be tough due to limited time as well as losing interest in the topic.   That said, it should be worth it or maybe it is time to close up shop and move on, right?

So what kind of rules am I breaking that I setup for myself:

Only Post Links

It is so easy to stop by a social media account, plug in a title and a link and go on your way. I have a spreadsheet with these all in it, as well as hashtags, for easy use in this respect. Not only do I do this with my business account but I do it with a personal account as well, although, I do not post nearly as much as I do with the others. There are some quotes interspersed with the links but the ratio is lopsided.   In my defense, if you are talking about a news story or statistics, you likely need to use a link but it does not have to be self serving.

Post Regularly

Some of my accounts are currently posting on a regular basis but not all. I had an account setup that was auto posting for me but due to the cost and not seeing the return on it I wanted, I cancelled it. As a result, I have to manually setup a lot of my posts and I just keep forgetting.

Be Current

If you have something like a website, blog, Facebook page, keeping current is important so your customers know what is going on. Again, I haven’t been. I have put up a few posts recently as the Fall catalogue is now out and it’s the most popular one. But if I post once a month, I am doing well.

What kind of rules have you set for yourself that you find yourself failing at? Do you know why this is?

When it comes to trade shows, there are a lot of people that you are competing with in order to get a table. For that reason, it’s important to reserve and pay for your table as soon as possible. But if they event is a few months in the future, you may be leery just in case something else comes up and you cannot attending. If this sounds like you, here are a few suggestions.

English: Table with marzipan sweets made by 'P...

English: Table with marzipan sweets made by (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Deadline                       

The first thing you may want to ask the coordinator is if there is a deadline for the first person to book the table. For instance, let’s say the event isn’t for 3 months; you may be able to hold the table until a month before the event without paying.   If this is the case, ask if you will be contacted if someone else wants to book so that you can get your payment in.

Refunds/Sell Table

Quite often, events will require you to pay for your table at whatever time you book it no matter how far out the event is. If it turns out you cannot attend, you can ask for a refund (but many places will not refund you unless they can fill your table easily) or you can see if a teammate wants it. If a teammate wants it, let the coordinator know that someone else will be coming in your place and that they are a member on your team. You can charge your teammate or just cover the cost yourself.

Waiting List

Sometimes the coordinator is willing to create a waiting list in case the first person has to cancel. This may also be because the payment from the first person is in the mail and has not arrived. If they put you on a waiting list, you can ask if the first person has paid or not. It’s possible that someone just requested the table last week and their payment is in transit so that person has the first dibs on the table. Do not push the coordinator too hard for information as they may decide just not to deal with you and not give you the table.

  1. Show Your Products/Services -Everyone loves browsing images. Everyone loves to browse products just like everyone loves window-shopping. Let your followers do some mobile window-shopping by showing them your collection of products that you are offering. If you are in a service-oriented business, you can show them how you provide your services to your clients. Using Instagram, you can show what your products can do, you can also bring them to your office by sharing a photo. You can always take your customers with you when you are using Instagram.   instagram-for-business
  1. Engage with Audience -Engaging with your audience does not only mean following each other on Instagram, or like and comment on their photos. It is about sharing a beautiful, high quality photos that users can’t see anywhere else. A not so common image of a product/service that can catch people’s attention. Share them photos that will let them experience your brand even just by looking at it.
  1. Post Regularly -If you just post one or two in a day, it may not be seen by too many audiences. Users can follow a lot of people in Instagram, your chance of being seen will increase if you post quality photos regularly
  1. Use Hashtag -Remember to always use the hashtag feature to get more followers. It is also a good way you can engage with your customers. You can do a contest asking them to use a particular hashtag for your contest by tagging their pictures of them with your products.

You can use Instagram for any type of brand that you want for marketing purposes. What you only need to do is show a picture to people.

Read last weeks article on Why to Use Instagram for Business

Author Bio:

This was written by a college student named Dawn Atkins. She is a techie person using her smartphone when she’s working in as part-time writer for bestessays.com.au . Dawn is also into traveling and playing soccer.

Image Source: http://mediafunnel.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/instagram-for-business.jpg

Almost all of the people nowadays depends on their mobile phone to do everything. From having apps to wake up in the morning, to finding a job and even doing a seven-minute workout. That is why, almost all of the business also set up their websites into a mobile-friendly outlook. This is the reason why it is a great way to use Instagram in your business.

Instagram is a free mobile photo-sharing app with millions of users. It was acquired by Facebook in April 2012 and launched a redesign on iOS. It is clear that Instagram is one of the most photo-focused social media that businesses should not ignore.     instagram-for-business

Why Instagram?

There are so many reasons why business owners should use Instagram for social media marketing. And here are seven of them that you should check out:

  1. Reach a Wider Audience -One of the obvious reasons on why business should use Instagram in their business is because it reaches a wider audience. It has a lot of users that you can target in promoting your products and business. It already has a web presence too, which means people on the internet can also see photos from this platform.
  1. Create Relationship with Users -You can create engagement with other users by liking and commenting on photos. You can always say ‘thank you’ to your followers who likes your photos so that you can establish a good relationship with them. Instagram can help you maintain your current clients and can also help you gain new customers.
  1. Get More Interest -By sharing photos of your products and services, you will be able to get new followers, that means getting more interested people about your business. Getting more interested people about your products can bring you more customers and can lead to a higher profit for your business.
  1. Promote Products/Services -It is one of the best ways to promote your products because Instagram has million of users worldwide that can see your photos online. Your followers can like and comment on your photos and they can also regram it to share on their own account. You can also connect your Instagram to your other social media accounts so whatever you post on your Instagram can also appear in Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is like hitting three birds with one stone.
  1. Exposure to Other Brands -It can also widen your exposure to other brands related to your business. You can just simply find, follow and do a research about them on Instagram. Examine if they are successful in using Instagram and try to use their strategy on your products too. You can learn from following them to know if you can still do something to improve your business.

Come back next week to learn How to Use Instagram in your Business

Author Bio:

This was written by a college student named Dawn Atkins. She is a techie person using her smartphone when she’s working in as part-time writer for bestessays.com.au . Dawn is also into traveling and playing soccer.

Image Source: http://mediafunnel.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/instagram-for-business.jpg

Have you ever received an invitation to a trade show months in advance and weren’t sure when to pay? It can be a tricky situation but there are a few tips I can offer you to navigate this situation and make sure that you get the spot.

IBM @ CeBIT 2010, Hanover, Germany

IBM @ CeBIT 2010, Hanover, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Early Deadline

See if there is an early deadline for a table.   It could be that they are offering the tables to those who had the table first. Quite often, if someone organizes a second trade show, they will contact those vendors that attended the prior event first. If this is the case, they will likely give you a deadline to get your funds in or the table will be up for grabs.

First One Who Sends Money

Many times you will see that an event has something indicating that the first person to pay gets the table.   Start by inquiring to find out if your company is already represented. If not, ask if you can reserve the table and advise them that you will be sending payment and how you will be sending it.   Make sure to follow through and actually do it! If you cannot for whatever reason, talk to the organizer and see what arrangements can be made.   Depending on when the event actually is will determine the flexibility of the organizer. Tables that cannot be paid for within a reasonable time frame or do not have the payment show up will be up for grabs.   For me, I give them two weeks.

Deadline

Again, there is typically a deadline for getting your funds in. This is for a variety of reasons but one is so that they know your company is represented. Some events can be difficult to get into or they need numbers by a certain date to make sure that they have appropriate resources to accommodate everyone.

At trade shows, your team members are the embodiment of your company. Although your sales representatives are there to inform attendees about a product or service, the manner in which they do so will speak volumes about your company’s ethos, or guiding principles. Be sure to send your best people to staff your Trade Show Exhibits. Their knowledge of the business and their interactions with potential clients will do more to attract and repel sales than any infographic or promotional item ever could.

English: 2007 AutoTronics Taipei: Car Electron...

English: 2007 AutoTronics Taipei: Car Electronics Area. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

According to a 2013 Nielsen study, approximately half of all people surveyed said that they would be willing to spend more money on a product if they believed the company would use the extra money to improve society in some way. This study says a lot about the relationship between ethics and consumerism – people like to believe that they’re spending their money at ethical companies who are making the world a better place. It’s why McDonalds funds the Ronald McDonald house while being accused of not paying employees a living wage, and why Nike started the Nike Foundation after many years of sweat shops allegations. In both of these cases, companies are taking control of their ethos in the public eye. Fortunately, you don’t need to start a charity in order to capitalize on this mindset.

At trade shows, it is important to promote the idea that your company has both the best product and the best people. In order to do so, your representatives should be knowledgeable, personable, and diverse. Everyone is unique, and we all respond to situations and people differently. What some people may consider an enthusiastic and informative discussion with a vendor, others may perceive as a pushy sales pitch. Additionally, some individuals are more receptive to being approached by sales representatives than others. According to a recent study released by the Center for Exhibition Industry Research, more than 50% of men are comfortable talking with vendors they do and do not know, compared to 40% of women.

Sending a diverse range of personalities to represent your company at trade shows appeals your business to a larger audience, which will in turn increase sales. A booth manned by people who look and act the same subconsciously signals to the customer that product or service is only for people of a certain appearance and disposition. Avoid isolating customers and send the message that your business is for everyone. In order to appeal to the largest possible audience, your sales representatives should be as diverse and unique as your market.

Trade shows are great opportunities to increase brand awareness, interact with potential clients, and make direct sales. Make the most out of your trade show experience by diversifying your representatives’ personalities and appealing yourself to the largest possible audience.

Fall is here and we are entering one of the busiest times of the year for those in direct sales.  But yet some people are still facing an empty calendar.  If this is you, here are some ideas to help get people shopping and booking parties with you.

Untitled Project: FALL SALE

Untitled Project: FALL SALE (Photo credit: untitledprojects)

Product Launch

If you have a new book for the fall, or an insert to go with your main book, make sure people know about it!  Have people come to your house to check out the new product or even invite them over to help you open the box of new goodies!  If you are going to have people help you unpack, keep it to a select group (prior hostesses, biggest party hosts, or some other criteria) and offer them something special if they book a party with you before they leave.

Hostess Only Party

Have a launch at your house that is exclusive for previous hostesses and give them first pick of the days available in your calendar.  Do not forget to set hot dates where they can get an extra incentive if they book that day!

Open House

Already have your fall products?  Have an open house where everyone comes over to check out the new goodies.  Offer them an incentive if they book a party with you at that time or if they bring a guest who books or purchases.  Make sure you give them a good reason to attend!

Extra Host Incentives

Offering your past customers and hostesses an extra incentive can be a great way to book.  Maybe you have special dates in your book that are only available to them to book.  You could also upgrade the hostess gift for anyone who has a party that makes over a certain amount in sales.  If you have nothing on the books, offer an extra incentive such as a half off item for booking on one specific day!

Theme Parties

A fun idea for a party can be creating a theme.  For August, it could be a back to school party and everyone could bring school supplies to donate.  Another option in October would be an Orange and Black party for Hallowe’en.   You could have a Margarita party and have alcoholic and non-alcoholic versions and bob for apples.  There are a lot of ideas of what you could do!

Use the Phone

If none of these ideas get you parties, it is time to get on the phone.  Better yet, use the phone in conjunction with these ideas and get your calendar so full that you have to start a waiting list!

No matter what industry you are in or what you are selling now is the time to get in touch with your customers and get that calendar booked up.  With the bookings you get now, you should start filling your calendar and those parties should get your bookings that will take you from now until December.

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Depending on the supplies that you use for your direct sales business, back to school sales can be great for your business pocketbook.  You can get great deals on those products that you need year round.

Typically at this time of year I will pick up the following for my business:

Pens – A few boxes will go a long way, depending on how many people steal your pens

Paper – I try to use as little paper as possible, but sometimes it’s just easier

Stapler and staples – You probably don’t need this every year

Pencils – These always come in handy if your pens won’t work.  Can be particularly useful if you live in a colder climate where pens can freeze (great for using with mileage books)

Pencil Cases – When you buy pens and pencils, you need places to store them in.  This is especially true when doing parties where you are likely taking at least a dozen with you.  Also convenient for holding other items like business cards and calculators.

Notebooks – I keep one in my car for mileage and usually one in my party bag for notes to myself or to make notes for customers

Page protectors – These are great to put copies of specials in.

Duotangs – Folders with prongs in them.  If you like to give customers information to look at, this can be a great way to organize it.  Page protectors work great in here as the paper does not need to be replaced as often.

Flash drives – These have many names but they plug into your computer.  These are a great method for backing up data which you should be doing on a regular basis anyways.

Organizers – Back to school is a prime time to buy organizers and planners.  Students use them to track homework assignments and due dates but you can easily adapt them to your business needs.

Storage items – As back to school also means going off to school, you can find all sorts of storage solutions on sale.  This is a great way to get paperwork or inventory off the floor and into a system where you can find it later.

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With a direct sales business, sometimes you feel like you have exhausted all the avenues of finding sales leads. While researching other sources of leads, perhaps you’ve heard about purchasing phone leads for multilevel marketing. Is this a good idea?

A Cisco 7960G IP telephone

A Cisco 7960G IP telephone (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Generally speaking, purchasing phone leads is not the best way to get leads. One problem with lead generation companies is that the leads are not well-screened. The person you call might have no interest whatsoever. Lead companies sometimes recycle their lists so they can sell them to other people so you may be paying for people who have already been contacted by several of your competitors.

Another problem with purchasing leads is that many of them can be outdated. You have no way of knowing when the contact information was collected and people could have moved or changed phone numbers in the meantime. It’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting when you spend money on phone leads.

The best way to get leads for party plans and other direct sales businesses is by using your own website. That is the only way to ensure that the leads are genuinely interested. If you have the budget to buy leads, there are a few more cost-efficient ways to invest that money in your business. You could hire a writer to write a few articles about party plans and then use them to get backlinks to your website. This will increase your exposure and search engine ranking. Set up a contact form on your website to collect phone numbers and then you have your very own targeted phone leads.

If you are really stuck and looking to purchase phone leads, you need to conduct some research to make sure you are buying them from a reputable company that does not resell their lists.