7 Simple (and Cost-Effective) Ways to Show Customer Appreciation

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The best way to ensure repeat customers is to make sure the customers know you appreciate them. However, finding out whether the customers know this or not can be difficult. Sometimes they’ll let you know, sometimes they won’t.   cust apprec

Customer review sites make this easy; for instance, you can read real customer reviews on OpenTell.com, but even then there might not be enough information for you to gauge how they feel. Here are seven easy, and most importantly, cost effective ways of showing customer appreciation.

1. Personalize your service to them.

If you can, show a bit of personalization in the service you provide them. Leave a few kind words, or use their name on something. It doesn’t take much, and a little personalization goes a long way.

2. Check in with new customers. 

Send customers a report of your service, or give them a call after they buy a product and ask how it’s working. It doesn’t take long – you could even assign the task to a subordinate – but the simple gesture lets the customers know they are respected.

3. Create a ‘wall of honor’ of your best customers.

Many restaurants do this. Including photographs of your regulars on the walls makes the place feel more personable, and goes a long way towards building loyalty.

4. Give special treatment to long time customers.

Maybe on their birthday or on a special occasion, give your best customers a one-time deal or discount of some sort. Make sure it’s understood to be a single deal, but this will help build a relationship with your customers.

5. Remember their names.

This goes a long way. You see hundreds if not thousands of people each day, but by remembering the names of as many people as you can, you inspire fierce brand loyalty. Names hold power.

6. Ask for feedback.

Ask your customers how their experience was, and ask if there is any way you can improve it for next time. Most of the time the customers will be too surprised to answer, but this can be a great way of getting first-hand feedback.

7. Go out of your way to provide amazing customer service.

Don’t let rules and policies stop you. Bend them just a tad if the situation calls for it, and make sure you provide absolutely legendary service for a customer if they need it.

Following these seven simple steps will inspire customer loyalty and show your appreciation for them in ways they’ve never before experienced.

 

 

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Making Sure Customers Can Find You

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Once you have a customer, you want to make sure that you continue to get their orders in the future.   There are a variety of different methods you can employ to ensure that your customer will always have your contact information handy.

business card

business card (Photo credit: Sean MacEntee)

Reorder Labels

The first thing I recommend is that you have re-order labels that you put on your product.  Depending on what you sell, this may not always be possible, but try to locate a place where you can put your name and contact information on your products.  I recently was looking for a consultant I had ordered from in the past, but as she didn’t use re-order labels on her product, I couldn’t find her.  I even went through my emails but there was nothing.

Catalogues

A catalogue is an obvious location to put your information but people may not always keep them.  But due to the small cost of the label, make sure you put one on every catalogue that you hand out.  I have had people contact me a year later with their catalogue and wanting to place an order.

Business Cards

Another no brainer is to give out business cards to everyone you meet.  I always put three business cards in every order I deliver.  It does not matter if it is the person’s first order with me or their tenth, they still get cards.  You never know when they are going to want to contact you for something or a friend will want your contact information.  Women tend to hold onto cards for a very long time, so you should be giving these out to everyone.

Invoices

I suggest that you place your contact information on your invoices.  Whether you use a stamp or a sticker is your choice.  Not only does that allow them to contact you if they need to make a change with their order but chances are they will keep that invoice around and will have your information for the future.

Magnets

Magnets are a great option as your customer can put it up on their fridge and they will likely never lose it.  I do not know about you, but the magnets on my fridge have been there for years.  They are useful for holding things in place even if they are not places I have patronized for a long time.  But if I need to contact those places, the information is right there.

Regardless, it is important that you customers have a way to contact you whether it is a week since they last saw you or a year.  Make it easier for them by giving them your information multiple times and hopefully they will hold onto one to use later.

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Making an Online Sale Personal

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In the age of information, when everything is at our fingertips, it makes sense that more and more people are starting to favor shopping online versus shopping at the mall. However, a computer screen can’t replace human interaction, especially when purchasing big-ticket items like jewelry and electronics. Having the opinion of a customer service representative or personal shopper can be priceless and have a huge impact on whether or not you will make the sale. When running an online direct-to-consumer business, here are some ways to keep it personal to help out your bottom line.

Shop online

Shop online (Photo credit: Daniel*1977)

  1. Be present: Just because the sale is happening over the Internet doesn’t mean that there aren’t two parties on either end. Taking advantage of great tools like live chat, where customers can ask specific questions about a particular product or ask for advice can be the difference between a consumer buying an item online or going into a store to check it out.
  2. Have a good return policy: Your return policy is key for customer service, and often plays a direct role in whether a customer will give repeat business. If one of your clients isn’t satisfied with her purchase, having the ability to return it hassle-free will help her keep her faith with online business.
  3. Communicate often: Your website offers a wealth of information about your business, but the difference between a good and a great FAQ page can affect your bottom line. Don’t have control over you’re employer’s website? Facebook and twitter are great tools to help address customer concerns and inquiries. Think about it – if you were shelling out mucho dollars for a set of pearls with diamonds, you would want to know that you were getting great bling for your buck, and constant contact would play a big role. Focusing your store on customer service instead of sales breeds repeat customers.
  4. Socialize: Social media is a huge opportunity for consumers to interact with merchants, so keep it personal when utilizing social media. If someone airs a grievance, use discretion in determining which posts to keep or delete, and don’t be afraid to comfort a customer on a public forum. If other potential clients see that you care, they may bookmark your site.
  5. Be creative: As a business owner or operator, you are certainly creative, so put your brain-wheels to work to figure out the best way to achieve making relationships with your clientele. For some, offering the option of an interactive “dressing room,” where customers can upload an image of themselves and “try on” products may be the way to go; for others, it may mean offering a “Free Try-on Period” where you send home a few items with the understanding that the customer will get charged for the items they don’t send back within a few days of receiving them.

In the age of information, it seems like everything is done online: dating, college classes, and of course, shopping – but that doesn’t mean that these should be impersonal experiences. Keeping these tips in mind can ensure that your customers are happy with their shopping experience enough to return time and time again.

Carly Chodosh is the Social Media Manager at Pearl & Clasp, a pearl jewelry company that specializes in restringing pearls, pearl clasps and custom designed pieces.

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Talking the Talk: Six Musts When Trying to Reach New Prospective Clients

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To thrive among stiff competition, your business needs to always be reaching out to new prospects and winning them over. There are several good methods that should be incorporated into your regular marketing efforts.   billboard-advertisement

Stop Promoting to Anyone

Promoting to anybody with a pulse often wastes marketing dollars. Realize that everyone that sees your message is not going to be a customer. Develop an ideal customer profile of people that truly have a need or desire for what you sell. Adjust your marketing to focus on this target group.

Educate Prospects

People are often hesitant to buy when they are not familiar with your company or products. Provide prospects with lots of detailed information about the benefits and uses of your products and services. The more someone knows about your company’s offerings, the more they will know whether your services apply to them or if what you have to offer is really something they want.

Get Customer Reviews

Ask your current customers to write reviews. Customer reviews are a powerful way to attract new customers. People often read reviews first to discover all the pros and cons about a company’s products or services. Existing customers can provide unique insights that are helpful in this regard.

Establish a Relationship

Offer an online newsletter and encourage prospects to sign up. Use this opportunity to build trust by providing beneficial information about your company and products. When they like you, they will turn in to buyers. This also creates customer loyalty because they will actually feel like they are a part of something.

Give Away Free Stuff

A favorite business marketing strategy is to give away free promotional products to customers and prospects. Each item you distribute can be customized with your logo, and may also include a short tagline along with your contact details such as your URL or phone number. Choose popular items such as custom laptop bags by HALO that are useful and portable.  Promotional products are a wonderful form of marketing in that they will remain in circulation for years, making them an extremely effective and cost-efficient form of advertising.

Trade shows are ideal for giving away free stuff. People’s eyes light up when they receive gifts like HALO branded solutions promotional bags. Everywhere their bag goes, it will be seen by countless new prospects. Your business will get lots of effective advertising from these types of highquality products.

Cater to Their Desires

Know what potential customers really want when they seek out companies like yours. Successful selling involves figuring out what people want and then giving it to them. Conduct market analyses to find out what products and services are likely to attract customers to your business.

Check out your most successful competitors and see what they offer. Find ways to put a unique twist on your offerings to stand out from the crowd.

In order keep business flowing in any economy, it is essential to market to prospects in ways that turn them into loyal customers. Use proven marketing strategies like these to spread brand awareness and increase sales.

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Four Promotional Items Your Customers Can Carry In Their Pockets

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A company’s promotional products should be both meaningful and useful. These promotional products can be imprinted with your company’s logo and contact details so every time they are used by current and potential customers, you gain marketing exposure. Offered at various special events, they should serve as a reminder of the company so customers will continue coming back to do business, and they should also be gifts that customers can conveniently use with fondness and appreciation.   Promotional Items

Key chains

Custom key chains are a popular item for everyday use or for a spare set of keys at home. Few things are more obnoxious than loose keys. Promo key chains come in all sizes and designs, along with a full range of colors. A flashlight fob add-on comes in handy and can be imprinted with the company name and contact information for easy reference.

Flash drives

Computer flash drives are a terrific memento that almost everyone can use nowadays. They provide a great way to transfer information from one device to another. With your company’s logo and name imprinted on them, they will serve as a constant reminder of your generosity and thoughtfulness. Many custom flash drives come with a folding insert key that provides convenient pocket storage and carrying. Frequent usage means your company will often be remembered with appreciation.

Loyalty cards

Your company’s discount or rewards card, perhaps good for a 10-percent or 15-percent discount, will be a constant companion in your customers’ wallets. In addition to offering regular discounts, your company loyalty card could be used to offer an additional discount during special sales events and to rack up points for eventual redemption. Many large businesses like supermarkets and banks use them routinely, so customers are beginning to expect them and appreciate the companies that offer them.

Pocket calendars

Pocket calendars with attractive, colorful designs are easy to find and use in a wallet. Checking dates from time to time will give customers added exposure to your company’s contact information and keep your business in the forefront of their awareness. Plus, the calendars can become a quick reference point for future appointments and meetings. Combined with pocket planners, they can take the place of, or work in conjunction with, an electronic reminder on customers’ smart phones. Some people prefer a printed planner to the electronic version. A calendar or planner provides a convenient way to check dates, schedule appointments and record contact information. If you are going to order calendars, be sure your product is the best by using the promo product leader.

Mementos and gifts like these are inexpensive to purchase for customer giveaways. Offer them at commemorative events, company celebrations, anniversary parties and other community programs where they are sure to be a hit. Consumers tend to remember and do business with companies that give promotional gifts that include contact information as a handy reference. Get yours ordered now and start building customer loyalty.

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Going the Extra Mile: 4 Ways to Impress Your Potential Clients

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Whether you are in business for yourself or work for someone else, you probably spend considerable amounts of time trying to build relationships with clients. And as everyone who has ever sold anything to others knows, products and services can be bought anywhere. It’s the relationship and related trust between a customer and his client that makes the difference. For this reason you are probably constantly trying to impress your clients. This article will serve as a primer for doing just that.   Going the Extra Mile

Be Professional

It might go without saying, but it’s still often forgotten that image is everything. Let’s say two people come to your office for business. One is unshaven and with clothes that are dirty and disheveled. He takes notes on a cheap note pad with a sharpie pen. The other is clean cut and dressed in a Brooks Brothers suit. His paperwork is neatly organized in a leather portfolio and he takes notes on an electronic device using a stylus pen. With whom would you do business?

Mention your VIPs

If a salesperson entered your office and told you that you were his first-ever prospective customer, you wouldn’t be very impressed, would you? On the other hand, if he told you about other clients who used his services with good results, you would be more tempted to buy what he’s selling, wouldn’t you?

People Love Free Stuff

Giving gifts is a great way to impress customers. And the gift doesn’t need to be expensive either. That’s what makes promotional products so effective. Not only are they inexpensive, but they can be personalized in any way you wish. Custom keychains and other personalized items can be imprinted with your company’s logo and contact details so every time they are used by current and potential customers, you gain marketing exposure.  Promotional products like these act as walking billboards, ensuring that you gain repeated marketing exposure every time they are used by recipients.

Over-Deliver

Everybody remembers the instances when someone went an extra mile and came through when it wasn’t expected. Even better is the fact that these little gestures often don’t cost anything to deliver. Go the extra mile. Over-deliver and under-promise. Make the client feel that he is special and that you went out of your way to give him something extra. Chances are good that your actions will be rewarded and probably even reciprocated.

If you’re looking to expand your client base, it is worth it to strive to impress those who could be potential customers. And remember, in many industries, anyone could be a potential customer—so every aspect of your business needs to run smoothly and be ready to impress. You never know when a potential customer is watching!

 

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Giving Away Some Products Can Gain You Much

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When it comes to running your own business, whether it is direct selling or not, it can be scary.  Your income is not guaranteed and you are careful about spending your earnings so that it will go further.   But when you are approached to donate or give away a product, it can send your heart into palpations due to the lost revenue.  Fear not, there are many valid and good reasons for giving something away.

Lucky Door Prizes

Lucky Door Prizes (Photo credit: Mosman Library)

Cheap Advertising

By giving something away, you are getting your name out there.  Chances are your name is going to be mentioned at least half a dozen times.  Make sure you give them many business cards to put out with your item so that if people are interested in purchasing one if they don’t win, that they can contact you.

New Customer

If the person who wins your product is not familiar with what you sell, they will be now.  Hopefully they use it and are able to tell people about how they like it and then they will buy more.  Even if they do not like it, they may know people that would and will make sure to inform them.

Customer Conversion

You may have a customer that is on the fence about your product.  Maybe they have heard about it and want to try it but are not willing to spend the money.  If they have a chance to try it, it may be enough to push them over the edge to make the purchase.

Potential Customers

If you are doing a door prize, people are going to enter.  People see free and they want it. On your entry slip, you want to make sure to get a phone number and an email address.   You can then add them to your email list and hopefully convert them to customers.  By letting people know you are giving something away, they are more likely to stop at your table and check things out.

An item for giveaway does not have to be expensive.  It could be something that you won from your company, a discontinued product or something that you ordered for demonstration.   The business you gain should offset the cost and you will be ahead in the long run.

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An Online-Only Direct Sales Business – Is It Do-able?

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As more and more people are online, and are more comfortable with online shopping, people are looking for ways to run their direct sales business online.   I had someone email me through this page asking if I knew of any direct sales company that could be done entirely online.

Computers Monitor

Computers Monitor (Photo credit: yum9me)

The quick and simple answer is no. 

The more complicated answer is below:

Many direct sales companies have made changes to their business mode and how they operate that you are able to offer a website where customers can shop.  Some websites do allow online parties so that if people want to shop who do not live near the host, they can and the host gets credit.  If you do not have that ability, you may have the option to input a party manually and have the product ship directly (probably a bit more in freight costs) to the customer.  This still allows the host to benefit.

Once you have established a customer base, it is possible to continue running your business strictly online.  Personally, I have not done an in home party for well over a year.  All of my customers are repeat customers who shop via email or through my website.   But that said, the majority of them were already customers (not necessarily mine) and then they found me and shopped with me.  Several actually started their email with “I don’t want to have a party but can I still order?”

That said, you can advertise in many places online to get business.  You can setup ads on classified sites, local buy and sell, social media or anywhere else.  If you do a good job, you will get shoppers who will come to your site and buy.  They may start small at first to determine if they like the product or they may contact you to try and get a sample before committing more funds, just in case.

As you build up, you can get more sales through this method and potential change all your business here.  But there will always be those who will not shop online and will want to see the product in person.

Do you disagree?

 

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Talent Search: Five Ways to Recognise a Superior Salesman

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Not everyone has what it takes to succeed in the world of sales. For every person who can make a thousand-pound sale in one phone call, there are several people who struggle to connect with customers. Learning the five things you should look for in a salesperson will help you find the right man or woman for the job.

Tenacity

A good salesperson is someone who is tenacious and has a never-give-up attitude. When that person hears someone say no, the individual steps things up and does whatever it takes to make a sale. This might involve offering a larger discount, showcasing the benefits of one product over another, or calling that client back on a regular basis until the customer agrees to buy.

Friendly

People who are naturally friendly succeed in the retail and sales worlds more often than those who are cold or a little withdrawn. Customers want salespeople who can walk a thin line between being friendly and being a little too personable. This approach does not work for all customers, but is wonderful for many others. The salesperson has to be able to give the customer a feeling of camaraderie in a short span of time.

Outgoing

The sales world is a field dominated by extroverted and outgoing people, and there is no room in that world for introverts. No one can expect to make a sale without having an outgoing personality. These are the people who can make clients instantly feel comfortable. They can make small talk, remember names, make jokes, and make customers want to buy. Their comfort creates the client’s comfort, and thus they are much more likely to buy. They are also able to ask the questions that other people may shy from without a hitch in their step.

Self-Starter

Self-starters are the people who can make decisions on their own and work away from the office. They do not need someone standing beside them or holding their hand, and they can work in an office setting or on the go. Finding these salespeople isn’t always easy, but you can use job sites to find the right applicants. Sales Vacancies and similar sites let you search job postings and find qualified people looking for jobs when you post a listing.

Disciplined

According to Lawrence Watkins, discipline is one of the most important skills necessary in a qualified salesperson. Watkins points out that those with discipline have the ability to follow through and make sales after others would give up. It might take twelve cold calls before finding a sale, or it might take a dozen calls before a client agrees to buy, but a disciplined worker will stick with it.

The best salespeople have a variety of skills and traits at their disposal. They never give up, they follow through with clients, and they can work in a variety of different settings. Use this list to narrow your search.

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A recent college graduate from University of San Francisco, Anica loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she’s used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with her here. If you need professional training resources and staffing help for sales positions, Anica recommends you check out Sales Vacancies.

 

 

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Eye on The Prize – 5 Ways to Make Sure You are Reaching Your Target Market

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Marketing campaigns take time and money to complete successfully. Setting specific demographics and targeting your audience requires you to carefully assess your business needs and the type of clients you want to attract. Many elements contribute to reaching your target market, and perhaps you merely need help in bringing all of those elements together. The following tips will help you increase the visibility of your company, allowing you to reach the target you’re aiming for.   Eye on The Prize - 5 Ways to Make Sure you are Reaching Your Target Market

Determine Your Audience

What every business needs is a plan of action consisting of three components. Select three demographics that you want to track. Your chosen demographics could include age, occupation and income. Once you decide on your demographics, write the criteria down. Ask visitors to your website to complete a short survey to determine if your website attracts your key demographics.

Create a Plan

A plan provides direction and gives you what every business needs to succeed in marketing. Consider what your customer demographic wants and use that information to create a plan, put that plan into action, review the outcome and modify your website based on the information gathered. A failed plan can help still help you grow your presence as long as you learn from your mistakes.

Broadcast Appropriate Information

Determine what you want to accomplish. A plan to simply drive more traffic to your website doesn’t provide enough specific information. You need to determine what product, service or value you can provide to your visitors. Feature content designed to attract new visitors prominently on the home page. Provide additional content on inside pages and make sure every page on your website links in some way to your navigation scheme.

Provide Free Stuff

Everyone wants free stuff, but it has to provide some sort of value. Visitors to your website need a reason to come back in the future. If your company provides a babysitting service, offer the first hour free when the parents pay for three hours. This not only encourages new clients to try your services, but it guarantees that you get paid for three hours of service.

Incorporate Reader Participation

Any text on your website can theoretically draw in Internet traffic. Start a blog and let others comment on the blog. The more activity you get on your website, the better you appear to search engines. New visitors can check out what others say about you and get the assurance they need to buy your product or service. If you’re not sure what every website needs, make sure if anything, you have a site map and a “contact us” page, so that you can interact with your target market and they know how to reach you.

 

With all of the advertisements we hear and see everyday, it can be discouraging to try to stand out to your audience and make sure your message is being heard. That is why you need all the help you can get when it comes to making your voice the loudest, not only among other businesses in general, but among your competitors, especially.

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