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How To Get People To Come To Your Online Party

As a hostess, deciding to have an online party is a very smart one especially when it is difficult to get your friends and family together in your home for an in home party. Keep reading to find out how to get people to come to your online party once you have chosen a date, a place and a time for your party.

computer

computer (Photo credit: jaci XIII)

Tell your friends.

You should be sure to tell all your friends and family about your online party. Send out emails that give them the time and the URL of the website where your party is going to be held and be sure to let them know how very excited you are about the party and how happy they will be if they decide to stop by.  Evite.com is a great site to utilize to send online party invitations. If there are going to be any specials on certain products or free shipping or anything being given away, be sure to let them know at that time.

Choose Incentives.

While we are on the topic of giving something away or planning specials, know that this is something that you should definitely plan on doing. Everyone loves to get a special deal on something they plan on buying —  and who doesn’t love having a chance to get something for free?

Advertise your party wherever possible online. Take the time to find great places to advertise your upcoming online party. Make sure to pay attention to the posting rules in the sites you are looking to place an advertisement. You do not want to be accused of spamming. Forums for moms or for moms that work from home are excellent places to start advertising your online party.

Have Fun.

Make sure to really share your enthusiasm about your upcoming online party. If you are excited about the party and the products that are being offered, then it is very likely that you will get others interested and excited too.

These are just a few ideas that you can use in order to get people to attend your online party. Remember to follow up with last minute reminders and you are sure to have a fun and hopefully very profitable online party.

Managing your Social Media Accounts

Chances are you have several different social media accounts that you use for your business or for personal reasons.  But remembering to visit all the different websites, not to mention the passwords, can be a cumbersome duty.  Thankfully, there are some programs out there that will help you with this task.

The great thing about these programs is that you login with one ID and password and you have access to your different accounts.  They do require you to provide your username and password to start, and they request your permission to login to authenticate, but then you are set and ready to go.

Nederlands: Gebruikerspagina-icoontje

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hootsuite

This is the program I use to manage my accounts.  It is a web-based program which is great because you can access it from any computer that you may be on.  The free version lets you monitor five different accounts from various social media.  I personally use it to monitor Twitter, Facebook and my Fanpage.  But you can also add LinkedIn, MySpace and RSS feeds.  If you want to link and monitor more than 5 accounts on Hootsuite, you will need to pay for the service.

TweetDeck

I have recently started to use this program as I have more than 5 social media accounts that I monitor.  TweetDeck is a download so you do need to install it on your computer.  I am not sure if there is a way to set it so that you can use it on a second computer with the settings intact.  One benefit I have found to TweetDeck and Facebook is I can set it to view status updates and wall posts only so I do not get the game notifications like I do on Hootsuite.  You can hook up LinkedIn, MySpace and a variety of other social media accounts to this program.

These programs are capable of much more than just having all your social media in one place.  You can set them to watch for certain hashtags or words that are tweeted even if these people aren’t in your friends list.  You can program updates to be sent when you are going to be away or you know you can’t access your computer.  If you poke around in the settings, you can find different statistics about your account and what people are clicking on.

I know that these programs are not the only ones out there but they are the ones I am familiar with. Do you use one of these?  How about a different program?  Would you recommend it to others?

Using Social Media to Promote your Direct Sales Business

Everyone is using some form of social media these days whether it is Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or some other forum.  Google has launched their own version and there are likely to be other competitors to join in the fun.  Like anything else, to keep your business growing and moving forward, you need to embrace these trends as well.

Social Media Outposts

Social Media Outposts (Photo credit: the tartanpodcast)

Facebook

There is a wide variety of things that you can do on here.  You can create a business page (which is preferred) or you can create a personal page for your business.  You can use your own personal page with occasional blurbs about your business if you do not want multiple accounts; just make sure it’s a good mix of information.  Facebook allows you to share pictures, links and pretty much anything else you want.

Twitter

This site tends to be more about conversation, as it is like constant status updates.  You have 140 characters to post a comment, observation, etc and people reply back.  You can get some pretty good conversations going on and I have seen some interesting debates happen – it’s amazing what you can say in 140 characters when you want to.    It is still possible to share pictures, links and other information but it is harder to find historical items, like what Jane said yesterday AM if she posts a lot of information.

LinkedIn

Personally, I am not on this site so I cannot tell you much about it.  From what I hear, it is more about networking sites and there are more professionals on it.  I have heard of people making good contacts and it being a good option for them, so it does not hurt to try it out.

Google Plus

Google Plus has been around for a while now and many people have embraced it.  Some people prefer this site to sites such as Facebook as it is a bit more user friendly.  That said, I have not done a lot with this site so I cannot tell you much about it.  If you have a Gmail account, it easily integrates with it which saves you a lot of time and effort in setup.

There are many different social media sites out there that are nowhere near the size of these sites so you do not hear of them.  These tend to be more specialized but those that spend their time there tend to stay longer due to more common interests.  If you try searching for your industry and social network, you may find some of them.

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Using the Internet to Promote your Business

When it comes to the Internet, you could spend days upon days promoting yourself and still not be done.  Most methods have a free option as well as a paid option – which you use, will depend on your finances, budget and where you feel you will get the most bang for your buck.

Internet!

Internet! (Photo credit: LarsZi)

Classified Ads – Many people these days use sites such as Craigslist or Kijiji (popular in Canada).  The advantages to these sites are that they are free but due to this, they can be full of spam.  The people I know who use Craigslist have a hard time keeping their ads up as they tend to get pulled as others can report the ads which can happen on Kijiji as well.  Kjijii allows you to pay to have your ad highlighted in a variety of methods to get more people to notice and hopefully increase the return on investment.

Social Media – There are a wide variety of different sites that you can use to promote your direct sales business.  One of the most popular sites is Facebook simply due to the way that you can communicate with others and get to know them and engage them in conversations.  Other popular methods are sites such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Google is now getting into the game.

Websites/Blogs – Another great option to promote your business is to have a website or a blog.  This is separate from the consultant site your company provides as you are 100% responsible for the content.  You can use this to highlight different aspects of your business from customer specials, sign up specials, new product or anything else you want.  You can find places to host your blog for free and there are other places that cost money.

Paid per Click – Some people prefer to pay for advertising clicks.  For instance, you can buy ad space through Google where you pay every time people see your advertisement.  I have heard that there is a large learning curve with this type of advertising though so make sure you do your research well before investing in this.  It is a good idea to check your company’s internet advertising policies as some companies do not allow this.

No matter what method you try, it is important you give them time to give you results before you move on.  This means trying something for at least a month to see what types of results you are getting from it.

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Making an Online Sale Personal

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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Spread The Word With These 5 Awesome Marketing Tools

It’s no secret that the new frontiers of marketing are composed of a digital landscape. With this in mind the social media era has revolutionized the way we listen, converse, market, and analyze. Technological innovations have created limitless avenues and here are 5 of the coolest tools out there to help you compose your marketing attack plan:

Computers Monitor

Computers Monitor (Photo credit: yum9me)

1.    SocialMention

Totally free, this incredible search tool runs a virtual fishing net across the web to scoop up every time your keywords are referenced. SocialMention cuts out the fat and provides you with real-time research on just exactly what’s being said. This service also provides statistics about sentiments, keywords, and top users so you can monitor your audience with ease.

2.    HootSuite

Between Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or LinkedIn profiles managing your social media can quickly become a full-time job. HootSuite simplifies life by creating a dashboard that puts all these resources in one place, allowing the administrator to flip effortlessly between tabs, schedule automated posts, and observe relative effectiveness. If you’re using more than two platforms, this is a must-have to manage your social media as well as gather social media metrics for future campaigns.

3.    Klout

It’s easy to become obsessed with this innovative influence measurer. Klout assigns you a 1-100 score that is a comprehensive figure signifying the reach of your influence, telling you where it’s strongest, and indicating who’s influencing you. Companies using Klout are provided tools to monitor their audience and really track their effectiveness of social media marketing.

4.    Agora Pulse

Lots of social media marketing tools provide advanced statistics and moderation helps, but Agora Pulse simplifies and expands by building your business fully customizable Facebook apps. Mobile-friendly websites are one thing, but providing your market with an convenient, centralized app to track your presence on their device. This is essential because, as any marketing director can tell you, having as much information on your target audience as you can is essential to effective campaigns.

5.    SparkNode

In the modern world it is essential that every respectable business have an official and optimized website. Sparknode.com is a leader on this front, offering VPS (single server) hosting and top-tier Cloud hosting at affordable rates. Hosting your server has never been easier with new cloud based hosting opportunities!

It’s an exciting era for entrepreneurs, and promoting your product, service, or brand has never been easier. Be sure to tap into these incredible resources as you expand your reach.

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Party Cancelled? Use that Time for Business

Have you ever had a party cancel at the last minute and you cannot rebook that time?   All is not lost, you can use that time to get other things done for your business.

Newgate Wall Clock - Brixton

Newgate Wall Clock – Brixton (Photo credits: West Elm)

Customer Care Calls

Take some time to call customers and see if they have any issues with the product or any questions.   Many times, people cannot be bothered to let you know they had a problem, they just decide to shop elsewhere.   Be pro-active and find out before that happens and you will likely retain the customer.

Advertising

Chances are, you could spend more time advertising but you never get to it.  Use this time to do that.  Place ads online on various social media, look for classifieds or other sites that will let you put up an advertisement.  If you always use the same ads, take a look at them and see if they are still current and relevant.  Update whatever needs to be changed.

Social Media

Have you meant to start social media accounts and keep putting it off?   Why not do it now?  Or maybe you have accounts that have been neglected?  Do some updating.  Maybe you can find a partner that you can work with to make sure you stay updated in the future.  I have a friend who will update my Facebook page with images and new catalogue information when it comes out for me.  It is greatly appreciated as I never seem to remember!

Clean Your Samples

Take a look at the items that you take with you to your parties.   Do they need to be wiped down?  Are they still in good shape or could they stand to be replaced?  If you aren’t sure, err on the side of caution and replace them.   If you can’t afford to replace them, do what you can to make them look better.

Organize Paperwork

Most people could always stand to deal with paperwork so try and at least track down your paperwork and get it organized.  You can deal with it another day if it will be too time consuming but if you find it now, it will be ready to go.

You already had this time set aside for business; you may as well still use it.  And just think, you won’t have to find time to do these tasks on another day!

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

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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Riding Out the December Sales Slowdown

With December comes a slowdown in sales.  Your customers are out partying, they are doing their holiday shopping at the mall, and they cannot wait for product to come in as it may not arrive in time.   Depending on where you live and how long shipping takes will determine when the slowdown starts.   But there are plenty of activities in your direct sales business that you can work on and take advantage of in this time.

december

december (Photo credit: Chiot’s Run)

Cleanup

If you are like me, your office can get messy.  Now is a great time to tidy up and put things where they belong.  It also will make your life easier as you are trying to accomplish other activities.  You may be surprised by what you find.  You may want to clean up before you attempt anything else as you may find items you will need for other activities.

Bookkeeping

If you are a person who keeps putting their bookkeeping off, now is the time to do it.  The sooner it is done, the sooner you can get your taxes done.   Make sure to gather all your paperwork before you sit down to make life easier.  If you have kept everything organized and in one spot, it will be that much easier.

Access Supplies

Go through your supplies and determine what you need to restock on.   I always seemed to be losing pens so now is a good time to restock your party bag.  Add more order forms, catalogues or anything else that you may require.

Inventory

If you tend to have a lot of product floating around, make a list of what you have.  Consider selling it to those who need last minute gifts or ideas.  You may be amazed at how much money you have tied up in product that is just sitting around and doing nothing for you.

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Six Ways to Advertise your Product on a Budget

Advertising on a budget can take time, effort, and some know-how, but it is possible to undertake a marketing campaign without an investment of undo amounts of money. The way to participate in a marketing campaign without much money is to be inventive, resourceful, integrated, and to take an approach that is active, even creating an event around which to create a natural buzz. Here are a few ideas to jump-start marketing on a budget.   Six Ways to Advertise your Product on a Budget

Create an email list serv.

Create a list serv around your product by offering free samples outside stores or libraries, public places, etc. and then ask people to fill out a survey, give some feedback, or give a testimonial. Create an email list serv around the people who respond.

Throw an event at which the product is sponsored or featured.

Try to get the local newspapers or blogs to cover it. A plug here for your product will be a great way to get a word in edge wise in terms of media attention. If a product give-away works, try to make it fun and memorable, even newsworthy. When starting their ice cream company, Ben & Jerry’s in Vermont, Ben and Jerry, the company’s owners, used to plan ice cream give aways, which became part of local charm.

Develop your own creative ads.

Develop your own print ad by working with a graphics artist who needs experience. You can partner with them and make a trade. Have them develop your ad practically for free, with the idea that he or she will benefit from doing the ad in terms of being able to list it on his or her vitae as a piece of work for their portfolio.

Sample your products.

Develop free give-aways to stores and businesses in the hope they will buy the product. Free samples can be a great way to get your foot in the door in terms of selling products. If someone tries your product and really likes it, they are likely to buy more to take home and share with their friends and family. If you don’t have a product or service that you are able to give away, you can still try to show off samples of your work.
Be creative.

Finally, try to be creative. Think outside the box about how to reach new audiences. Participate in craft fairs or farmers’ markets if the product is specialty or food-related. Have fun with the marketing, relax, and get creative. If you aren’t sure where to start or you aren’t familiar with the different marketing choices available to you, check out your local marketing exchange to gain connections and get ideas on where to post your ads.

Use Social Media.

It’s free to sign up for social media. Facebook and twitter are great ways to share news about your product. You can post reviews, giveaways, or coupons to encourage people to like you page or try your product. You can use your social media as a basis for all your other efforts. You can get the word out about any giveaways or post promotional ads you have created onto your page.

Starting a company can be a daunting task. You may know you have a quality product, but don’t know how to spread the word. You don’t have to have a big budget to start marketing your product. Believe in yourself, the product, and create a to-do list to check off the strides you make. Remember to be honest in your assessment and do your best to create a buzz around your product.

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