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Inspire Consumers Through Action-Oriented Catalogs

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In the late '90s, Scott Kerslake was working at an infotech company in California, while passionately surfing and cycling on the side.
During long bike rides with friends, Kerslake noticed a trend: women complaining about a lack of fashionable female sportswear. Women wanted durable athletic wear that also looked cute on everyday outings.
Kerslake didn't hesitate. He quit his job, raised $700,000 in capital, and started a women's athletic clothing company called Athleta. By early 2018, Athleta had been purchased by Gap and its sales grew more than 25 percent every year since 2012.
Athleta attributes this success to a thriving online and catalog-based business model: as early as 2007, Athleta was shipping out 21 million catalogs with $37 million in sales.
Catalogs may seem like an outdated way to grab shoppers, but Athleta has maintained retail footing by using action-packed spreads (ladies trekking up mountains, paddle boarding across bays, and demonstrating impressive flexib…

Affordable Offline Marketing for Your Small Business

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Do you have a small business that could use a revenue boost?
Most marketing strategies are crafted around costly advertising campaigns, but there are many free or affordable tactics you can use to grow your business at any stage.
Here are a few offline marketing fundamentals to get you started, no matter how small your budget!
1. Take part in local events.
Sales are based on relationships, and relationships require connection.
Network in proactive ways by attending or taking part in local events. Get to know other small business owners and have your business card or flyer ready; you never know when the opportunity will present itself!
2. Create customized stickers or labels.
It's not just a kid thing – people truly enjoy stickers!
Create a colorful custom sticker and pass them out anywhere your target users might be. Stickers and labels can be used on car windows, water bottles, notebooks, and more.
3. Start a simple rewards system.
One of the easiest ways to boost your profits is by offeri…

5 Customer Service Phrases to Avoid (and What to Say Instead)

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In May of 2018, Barbara Carroll ordered three cartons of toilet paper from Amazon. The order total: $88.17. The shipping charges? $7,455.
Carroll wasn't overly concerned, as Amazon typically takes great care of its customers. But in this case, Carroll complained to Amazon six times and even wrote a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos. After every complaint, she received a form letter explaining a refund was impossible because the delivery arrived on time and undamaged. It wasn't until Carroll notified a local television station (and the story went viral) that Amazon took action. Months later, she was finally reimbursed.
While this case is extreme, every company has its share of customer service flops. In some situations, the problem is no communication. In other cases, it's inconsiderate attitudes.
Want to steer your team toward positivity? Here are five customer services phrases to avoid.
1. "No" (or) "I can't help you with that."
Even if a customer makes an im…

3 Reasons Direct Mail is Still Effective

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Long before television and online marketing, direct mail ruled.
One of the most popular examples of direct mailing can be traced back to Sears in 1888. The company sent a printed mailer to potential customers advertising watches and jewelry. Not long after, the Sears, Roebuck and Company catalog became extremely popular nationwide.
Today direct mail has received a bit of a bad rap. The term "junk mail" isn't exactly a compliment! Some refer to direct mail as an "old" form of advertising, thinking of direct mail as antiquated or off-target.
But is that really the case?
The fact is, many companies do use direct marketing. According to a 2015 study by the Data & Marketing Association, 57 percent of total mail volume was comprised of direct mail pieces.
Response to direct mail continues to be strong every year, generating leads for businesses across a range of industries. Consider customer response rates from these common marketing methods:
0.9% -- Online Dis…

Grow Adaptability in the Midst of Change

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"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or the present are certain to miss the future." (John F. Kennedy)
When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Change is inevitable, and the more we resist it, the tougher life becomes. The world changes dramatically each day, so adaptability is a necessary life skill and a critical leadership imperative. In his book Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, Dr. Guy Winch describes how even the youngest among us illustrate adaptability:
Three toddlers are given a difficult task to do. Each handles the challenge in his or her own unique way: one cries and gives up immediately, one tries the same strategy over and over, and one tries different methods until he finds one that eventually works. Clearly, the third toddler has a higher level of adaptability. His resilience gives him both the strength to persevere and the wisdom to overcome. But this raises one question: is a…

Test Your Brand Messages to Maximize Impact

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Donald Miller is an author, speaker, and CEO of StoryBrand, a company that helps businesses clarify their message.
StoryBrand helps hundreds of brands to eliminate confusion, connect with customers, and grow sales. Miller says many brands struggle to break through because they don't test their brand messages before sharing:
"We have a mantra at StoryBrand: If you confuse, you lose," said Miller. "The answer to confusion is always 'no'. When people are so close to what they offer, they tend to be either really vague or they speak inside language. I'm amazed."
"I'll actually say to somebody, 'Do you think on a scale of 1-10 that your message is really clear, from 1-10 with ten being clear?' They will say they are a 10. I will tell them to come up in front of the group [and] ask them to tell me what they offer. They will say, 'Nutritional packages that allow equestrian products to flourish.'"
Clear as mud, right? Miller say…

Savvy Tips for the Best Stock Photo Selection

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Image is everything.
Statistically speaking, compelling images average 94 percent more views, are three times more likely to be shared online, and significantly increase your likelihood of capturing new leads. Professional photos are a fantastic way to boost the impact of your brochure, booklet, or mailing. But if you're planning to use a stock image, here's some interesting info to consider.
A few years ago, the Marketing Experiments tested the performance of stock versus custom photos. They found that, when swapping a generic stock image of a woman with a photo of the ACTUAL founder (and a caption naming him), they saw a 35% increase in conversions. Later, the Nielsen Norman Group eye-tracking studies found that, when photos of "real" people were compared with stock photos, the stock photos were largely ignored. The conclusion? When it comes to design perception, humans seem to have a sixth sense for authenticity.
Unfortunately, most small businesses don't…