Saturday, July 22, 2017

What is hard to get but easy to lose?

Answer:  Customer Trust and Loyalty


Many people can rehash times when they have felt cheated or been abused as a customer.  However, unless they experience really amazing service - their appreciation is more focused on repeat use of the company's goods or services and an occasional referral.

If you take this posting to heart and build your customer service philosophy around it, things can really improve in your business.

Amazing service makes customers become a replaying commercial for your company. How can you keep customers happy?  Key take-a ways (each is done differently for different businesses).
  

1.  Honest marketing - deliver what you market

2.  Caring about your customer and their satisfaction

3.  Giving the quality expected for a fair and acceptable price

4.  Taking care of problems fast

5.  Keeping your word (on lead-times and actions)

6.  Going the extra mile - doing a little more than what is expected

7.  Letting your customers know you appreciate them


If you consistently deliver on the 7 key points above, you will conquer most areas that frequently lead to loss of customers over time and never get hoped-for referrals that make businesses grow quickly and with fewer marketing efforts.

The last item is one that is always underestimated.  People (all of us) respond to those that appreciate us.  Appreciation is the key to creating a retail/service team.  Such a team is based on existence of a loyal customer and trusted supplier.  Make sure your customers feel appreciated!





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Monday, May 29, 2017

Painting a picture with written communications



Choosing words carefully:


Every business uses written communication.  Sometimes communications are limited to business correspondence, and sometimes communications are advertisements.

Whatever the communication is, and regardless of the target audience, the small business needs to injects its personality and its excitements into all of its written communication.

Compare these two postings:

Option 1:


On sale today only, colorful ladies T-shirts.  We pay the shipping charges on orders made today.


Option 2:


Curvy-design ladies T-shirts in eye-popping colors!  Today only - super sale! FREE shipping!



Option 2 tells customers that the T-shirts will flatter because of their curvy design and fabulous colors.  It also creates a better sense of urgency about the sale and the fact that the shipping will be free as well.   Both ads have the same intention, but the second ad will have the edge when it comes to customers absorbing the content.


The next time you prepare a business communication, open up a dictionary or thesaurus.  There are many good ones on-line free of charge.

Look for power words.  Avoid boring words.  Avoid cliches'.

The goal is to make your postings as interesting as possible - to paint a picture of your product/service in an exciting light.  To make your company unforgettable.





Never under-estimate the power of the written word.  Think of the times you have been influenced by a product description when you have to choose between alternatives. 

Sometimes we get so focused on getting things done in a small business that we lose sight of the very small details that might be the difference between success and failure.  Put yourself in the place of your customer when you review your letters, contents and ads.  Always ask yourself these questions - 


  1. What would excite the customer?
  2. What information is the customer looking for?
  3. What inducements would give value to the customer?
  4. What would create loyalty in your customers?
  5. What power words can I use that aren't overused.  

Start painting a picture with words for your business today!



If you enjoy our posts, please come by and visit our unique website of products, all made in the USA for you!


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Sunday, April 30, 2017

Pulling Value out of Conferences

One of the ways that successful business owners learn to excel - is that of seeing opportunities everywhere.  That sounds easy, doesn't it?  But for most people it is not.



Because business relies on human interactions (purchases, conversations, sales activities, demonstrations, etc), it stands to reason that you would want to seek out places where you can increase your interactions.

Many businesses accomplish this by networking at trade shows, conventions and conferences.  If they are very effective, they will be prepared for power interactions.





The goal of power interactions is to squeeze every bit of value possible from your event attendance.

If you attend a conference and just mill around with the multitude of other people looking at exhibits or attending workshops, you are not extracting the maximum benefit for your business out of that conference.




 Ways to prepare for a conference:


  1.   Research - who will be there?
  2.   Reflect - which attendees/exhibitors can you partner with/sell to?
  3.   Can you improve your supply chain with new connections?
  4.   Categorize the attendees into groups.
  5.   Create a plan/materials for interacting with each group.
  6.   Be sure you look at the interaction from the eyes of your prospects.
  7.   Be sure that you are able to create real value for your prospects.
  8.   Practice your approach.

Things NOT to do:


  1.   Approaching prospects with only your needs in mind.
  2.   Having a 'get this over and move to the next one' attitude.  
  3.   Not focus on your customer's problems and needs.



Remember - this is an opportunity to create long term business relationships!  Maximize your business by building powerful allies, suppliers, and customers.  Take advantage of the large group of people and companies you will be coming into contact with.  



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Until next time!


Friday, April 21, 2017

Kaizen in your business

What is it?  How does it relate to your business?

Kaizen is a term that I seldom see any longer.  But it is a powerful term.  A strategic term. A concept.  A way of living and conducting business.

Kaizen is a japanese word - it embodies the entire conception of continuous improvement.  It brings to mind the philosophy of constant adjustment and fine-tuning.  It also helps eliminate stress - and the flurry of disorder that happens for those that make major changes too frequently, without keeping small grains of benefit as they appear.

In a small business, the owner starts out with a huge learning curve - doing anything necessary to  jump-start the delicate enterprise.  It is fairly common to see that enterprise operating in a lop-sided fashion.  Business strengths are fostered at the expense of subtle business components that are vital for the long run.  Eventually the business can topple because of this lop-sided structure.


Kaizen can help a small business remain in balance and grow towards perfection and success.  Think of every fine-tuning instance as a small monthly step.  Examples:


  1. Create a tiny improvement in sales
    - Evaluate and make a small change to a commission plan
    - Put small advertisement cards on restaurant corkboards
    - Give a referral gift
     
      2. Lower Costs
                    - Change brands of coffee at the office
                    - Review and improve an ad campaign to cut waste
                    - Install an efficient hand dryer and eliminate paper towels



The concept of Kaizen is if you continually evaluate things associated with your enterprise, and tweak them to become the best, you will gradually step to higher levels of success.

This incremental progress should become your STATUS QUO.







Do not be complacent - reach for more sales - fight against waste and failure ... be a person who practices Kaizen in your business!




If you enjoy reading the updates to our small business blog, please take a look at our wonderful products.  We would also enjoy hearing from you if you have suggestions for new products - just use the contact form on our website!

Here is a new piece that was designed for our female sharpshooter and law-enforcement fans - the center ring is an actual 44 cartridge base that was reclaimed and repurposed from a shooting range - plated with fine rhodium, sporting a red Swarovski Crystal! :


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Until next time!!!  






Friday, April 7, 2017

Strengthen your greatest asset

What is the greatest asset of your business? 

The greatest asset of a small business should be the owner.  The owner is the nexus point for creativity - the gumption to keep going - the coach and mentor for business contacts, employees and suppliers.  Small business owners in this country provide most of the employment opportunities and take tremendous risks.  They work long hours.  Passion and ideas is their fuel.

 Do you protect your greatest asset?  Do you develop yourself to become the best you can be?

Apart from eating properly, managing stress, exercising and sleeping enough (which are hotly contested subjects) - do you continue to develop the value in yourself?

Three Ways to develop your mind and your abilities: 

 

Learn


One of the best ways to expand your capabilities, your business success, and your life in general is to become an avid reader - a person who studies subjects they do not know well.  Not only will this help you to improve areas you are weak in - but it makes you a more rounded individual and increases the common ground you have with all the contacts around you.  Here are some of my favorite books (all of them have become classics)!


How to win friends and influence people - by Dale Carnegie

Think and Grow Rich - by Napoleon Hill

Don't Shoot the Dog - by Karen Pryor

Getting Things Done - by David Allen

The Richest Man in Babylon - by George S. Clason

Unlimited Power - by Tony Robbins 


There are so many more - but these came to mind instantly - so they must have made the biggest impression on me.   With books, YOU can set the pace - but regular reading will turn you into a much more powerful entrepreneur.  





 

Observe


Be aware of what is going on around you - what is happening in your area - what changes will impact your business (services, deliveries, taxes, employment issues, etc).

If you sit back and are not assessing these things you are just plain not keeping up!
  • your environment
  • your products
  • your opportunities
  • your competitors
  • your financial circumstances
  • your performance in light of your goals

 

Change


Ouch!  No one wants to change (at least not most of the people I meet!).  How can we all improve ourselves?  By being willing to change - that is the first step in being able to do it!

If you keep old accounting ways - you may have book-keeping errors.

If you don't automate you can't manage a growing product line.

If you cling to old methods, your production might lag.

If you do not look for new markets your sales will dwindle.

If you don't keep changing - you will not grow.


If you Learn, Observe and Change - you WILL see benefits:





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Friday, March 31, 2017

Brainstorming, Goals and follow-up

Small businesses face many roadblocks

Designing and building a great product is only the beginning.  Small businesses are faced with setbacks and difficulties that can be daunting - and seldom have extensive resources to deal with them.  There can be challenges in every facet of the business:

  • Design

  • Manufacturing

  • Sales or Marketing

  • Administration

  • Company facilities


    One simple technique for dealing with setbacks is 'brainstorming'.  It is a useful means of getting new ideas and finding innovative solutions to problems.

    The best brainstorming sessions are where you have:

    • A focused review of a major issue or problem
    • The right people to involve (experts AND key employees)
    • Rules for Safe engagement (no idea is a bad one) 
    • A comfortable, productive environment 

     

     

    Description of a good Initial Session

    • State the problem clear terms
    • Define a goal (dollars, savings, outcome, etc)
    • What actions are needed to achieve the goal?
    • What are barriers to the actions?
    • How can you overcome each barrier?
    • How to measure improvements/success?
    • Assign the actions to responsible parties.
    • Write it all down - Agree.
    • Determine when to review progress.



     Plans are only plans without action

    • Brainstorming is planning - but followup counts.
    • Action is the means to achieve the goals.
    • Each responsible person must fulfill their assignments.
    • Measurements must be made for each action.
    • The goal should be continually restated by all.


      


    Regular reviews/adjustments are critical

    • Are improvements coming about?
    • Where are weaknesses in the plan? 
    • What is not working?
    • What is working?
    • Fine-tune, Fine-tune, Fine-tune.
    • Actions that bring success = procedures.

      

     

    Does this seem too formal for your small business?

It is almost impossible to succeed without this kind of focus.  It also never hurts to focus your actions on problem solving and goal attainment.  Brainstorming and followup!




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Friday, March 24, 2017

Small Business Selling Products at Booths

A niche opportunity


Since we are a small manufacturing company, we are constantly looking for ways to get our products known.  Sales on the internet come about in a very technological way.  But sales in person usually mean a retail location.

An interesting opportunity available to the small manufacturing business - is Sales via Booths.  There are some amazing venues in every state in the country which present some great sales opportunities to small businesses.  Some businesses literally produce their products until they have enough - then take it all to a venue that offers booths for a special event or periodic grouping of vendors. 



Where are booth opportunities?  Here are some of the more common ones -

          • State and County Fairs
          • Local business fairs (wineries, tracks)
          • Craft Fairs (Does your merchandise fit)
          • Traveling Shows (Outdoors, RVs, Food)
          • Large events at convention centers


Advantages of booth sales:


          •  You can hit it hard and go home
          •  Low Vendor Charges for the space
          •  You work when YOU want to
          •  Get feedback right away on products
          •  You can enjoy talking to customers

Disadvantages of booth sales:


          •  Custom tablecloths/tents/lights
          •  Hard work to set up and tear down
          •  You have to pack/transport your goods 
          •  Comply with regulations
          •  Keep good records - pay your taxes

 Secrets of Booth Success:


Being in the public eye is tough for some people.  It is important that you like to work with people and talk to people.  Know your merchandise - Be positive.  Give good customer service.  Find out what your customers like and do not like about your merchandise.  Ask them to refer others to you.  The world belongs to the go-getters!  (But don't be pesky!)  And be sure to smile!


There is so much you can benefit from, being out among your customers.  And remember - do not disagree with them. They are giving THEIR opinion.  Are the prices good?  Are the sizes, colors and features great or do they need to be tweaked a little?

When you return from the show - make yourself a 'lessons-learned' report.  

 Sometimes when you are an entrepreneur, you fall in love with your product and the way that you do things.  If you are not open to fine-tuning, your business will never grow to its full potential!


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