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Showing posts from 2019

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Catalogs may seem like an outdated way to grab shoppers, but Athleta has maintained retail footing by using action-packed spreads (ladies trekking up mountains, paddle boarding across bays, and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…

Drive Fresh Traffic for Your Business

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A new era in business is bringing fresh flavor to Kohl's.
As traditional retailers struggle to keep their doors open, Kohl's executives are trying something radically different: a grocery partnership with Aldi. In March of 2018, the department store announced it would team up with Aldi to offer grocery sales in 10 of its locations.
"The key priority we have as a company is to drive traffic," Kevin Mansell, the chief executive of Kohl's said in a Thursday earnings call. "We're focused on traffic-driving retailers: Groceries, supermarket chains, they drive a lot of traffic. We're finally on a path where we're getting more [shoppers]."
In an age of online shopping, brick-and-mortar businesses have to hustle to make their company more relevant to consumers. Kohl's has experimented with lighter inventory, smaller stores, and more streamlined partnerships with companies like Under Armour and Amazon. Other retail giants have focused on addi…

How to Keep Your Business Focused Through the Subtle Danger of Mission Drift

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Life is full of good opportunities.
Good books to read, good events to attend, good projects to pioneer. But good things can knock us off track in pursuing the very best.
What does "the best" look like in your leadership?
It means doing what you are uniquely called to do in the style that is distinct to your personality, position, and organizational DNA. Living "the best" in leadership means that your most important job isn't to manage the budget, to develop new products, or even to lead your team.
Your most important task is to continually cast vision.
The subtle tension every leader will face is the reality of mission drift. Mission drift happens when we are pulled off of our message or our mission, whether intentionally or accidentally. This can be an irresistible force that results in loss of momentum or a crisis of identity, so strategic leaders build in measures to continually recalibrate. If you don't prioritize vision casting, you may end up navigati…

How to Use Silence to Strengthen Your Leadership Presence

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Jack Reacher is a fictional character in a series of crime thriller novels by British author Lee Child.
In the 1997 novel Killing Floor, Reacher randomly exits a Greyhound bus in Georgia and is later arrested in a local diner for a murder he did not commit. While questioned in custody, Reacher wields the power of silence to maintain his personal advantage:
"Long experience had taught me that absolute silence is the best way. Say something, and it can be misheard. Misunderstood. Misinterpreted. It can get you convicted. It can get you killed. Silence upsets the arresting officer. He has to tell you silence is your right but he hates it if you exercise that right. I was being arrested for murder. But I said nothing."
Communicate Authority with Silence
Silence holds immense power, especially in situations that involve negotiation.
As inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci said, "Nothing strengthens authority so much as silence." Dynamic leaders often use silence to th…

7 Banner Options to Raise Your Bottom Line

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As a small business owner, you need ways to grab attention and look your best, and business signage is your foremost advertising tool.
For high-traffic areas custom printed vinyl banners are an excellent investment. In terms of cost, a vinyl banner is one of the most inexpensive, most high-impact marketing tools.
Vinyl banners are also versatile, great for large exteriors, point-of-sale kiosks, welcome centers, or interior displays.
Studies show that good signage directly boosts a business' profits. Pole banners can add up to 15.6% to your bottom line and larger storefront signage may boost sales by up to 7.7%.
Banner Inspiration
Need some inspiration to get your creative juices flowing? Here are several types of banners that can give you a killer first impression.
Ceiling Banners
Get your customers looking up by taking advantage of your unused ceiling space!
Use ceiling banners for event signage, special events, product features, or welcome messages. Suspended banners or circular hangin…

Increase Conversions with Great Closing Techniques

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The most expensive deal in baseball history was finalized this February in a casino.
The Phillies pursued outfielder Bryce Harper for months, introducing him to some of Philadelphia's finest, sweet talking him in the high-backed gold leather booths of the ARIA resort in Las Vegas, and ultimately offering him the most expensive deal in baseball history ($330 million over 13 years).
At age 26, Harper signed the longest contract in baseball history. In a casino that radiates the fragrance of mid-century Hollywood, the showmanship of the atmosphere embodied the glamour of the agreement. It was an epic conversion.
Just Sign on the Dotted Line
Sale-closing conversations can be nerve-wracking and nuanced.
No matter how impressed people seem during your presentation, there's no telling whether they will postpone or look elsewhere. After wooing your customer, it's time to take the plunge and ask for a commitment.
Here are a few keys to make this step easier.
Identify the Decision Make…

Four Ways to Disagree with Tact

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Life is compromise.
If you want to work successfully in teams, at some point you will face conflict. In one instance, you may be the manager correcting a team member. In other cases, you may need to "lead up" by disagreeing with a superior.
Either way, successful communication includes the ability to navigate conflict while putting people before the problem.
Here are four ways to prioritize relationship while politely disagreeing.
1. Don't Blurt
When you hear an incorrect statement, do you immediately or forcefully disagree?
How's that working for you?
Before you speak, consider how important it is to voice your opinion. Weigh the risks of speaking out versus the risks of staying silent. If you feel compelled to share, consider when and where is best. What context would be most appropriate or what channel would provide the least threatening avenue for your listener? Discussing issues privately (face-to-face) is ideal for minimizing tension or preserving dignity.
2. Prepare…

Use Short Deadlines to Get Lasting Results

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In a recent study published in the Journal of Consumer Research, scholars found that longer deadlines can be a detriment to workers.
The study asked volunteers at a local community center to answer a short survey about retirement planning. One group was given seven days to access the online survey, while another group had 14 days to respond. Results showed that, though the 14-day group gave more thoughtful responses, they were more likely to procrastinate or skip the assignment.
A second study revealed longer deadlines affected outcomes on tax filings. In this research, a short deadline group received their "lost" W-2 tax form later (closer to the filing deadline) and had less time to complete their taxes. Despite the setback, the short-deadline group spent less money than their peers to get the same job done via tax professionals or self-help software.
Beat Those "Last Mile" Blues
Do you struggle to take projects across the finish line in an efficient manner?
Th…

5 Elements of Stunning Letterhead Design

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Personalized mail is a special commodity these days, especially something that looks smart or sophisticated.
And everyone agrees that there's a huge difference between a typed letter on a bland white page and one aligned smartly on a beautifully designed letterhead.
While many view letterhead as an afterthought, it's time to raise the standard!
A sharp letterhead can communicate proficiency, increase response rates, and make your communication more memorable. As you craft a unique, professional look, here are some elements to help you cement your image without overplaying your hand:
1. Embrace Simplicity
One of the guiding principles of letterhead design is to make it flow simply.
While it's important that your letterhead looks and feels great in the hand, it should still play second fiddle to the communication itself. If designs are too bold, you run the risk of competing with the page content to demand reader attention. When in doubt, simple is best.
2. Represent Your Brand
Le…

3 Simple Resets to Squash Stress at Work

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32-year-old Amy Alabaster had recently been named VP in her company as a successful New York sales executive.
She had friends, a wonderful marriage, and many professional accomplishments. But one day, the weight of her responsibilities came roaring in as she awoke on a bench outside a West Village restaurant.
Alabaster later learned that she had fainted on a flight of stairs and her blood pressure was so low EMTs could hardly move her. Though she considered herself happy and healthy, doctors uncovered her problem with one simple question: "Would you say that you deal with a lot of stress?" Amy said this unraveled the real issue:
"I had never been asked this question before. Like so many other companies, mine had downsized after the economic pitfalls of 2008 and I had absorbed many responsibilities after the layoffs. I thought incessantly about work. I talked about it all the time. I couldn't turn off, ever. I checked emails and my blackberry constantly. I even d…

Small Business Twitter Tips for 2019

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If you're a small business owner, you know time is limited.
Usually, your task list far outweighs your capacity for meeting your goals. When identifying social media objectives, you have to be clear on the what, why, and where you will engage.
How Can Twitter be a Valuable Resource for You?
Stats show that Twitter is still an effective way to connect with a broad range of customers.
Forty-seven percent of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit that company's website, and 75% of companies with an online presence are now using Twitter for marketing. Twitter's own study found that Twitter users, compared to the general online population, were more likely to discover or try new things and were more receptive of change. Twitter can help you reach broader audiences and engage with a generation that values interaction and experience.
As you evaluate your Twitter marketing in 2019, be clear about your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness? Offer cust…

Four Design Keys Every Novice Can Master

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Ever feel stuck in a rut when it comes to your print or graphics capabilities? "It's impossible," you say. "I just don't have an eye for design."
There's hope for even you!
In today's generation, incredible graphics, fonts, and digital capabilities are literally at our fingertips. And while design may not come naturally to you, everyone can make their projects look better. Whether you're creating newsletters, small advertisements, or presentations, here are four concepts that are fundamental to every well-designed print project.
1) Proximity
The main purpose of proximity is to organize.
When you begin your layout, remember that items relating to each other should be grouped close together. This reduces clutter and gives your reader a clear sense of structure.
When you're thinking about proximity, organize your elements as groupings that form one visual unit rather than scattering around several separate pieces. Physical closeness implies a relat…

How to Survive the Off-Season Sales Slow-Down

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Vancouver's Whistler resort, owned by Vail Resorts, is currently the most-visited ski venue in North America.
But as one of Vail's 19 prestigious resorts, Whistler still deals with the reality of seasonal slumps. Part of Whistler's off-season strategy includes summer activities like carnival games, ziplining, and bear-viewing.
Vail has recently taken a more aggressive ticketing strategy as CEO Rob Katz made the $899 "Epic Ski Pass" the centerpiece of its pricing structure. This upscale pass provides visitors unlimited skiing at Vail's 19 resorts and partial access to dozens of resorts worldwide.
The effect has been substantial, with 2018 revenues rising 41.5% in just one quarter! With the Epic Ski Pass, Vail also removed discounts for skiers paying in advance on one- and three-day passes, instead limiting these discounts to early-season purchasing. While this has drawn criticism, county councilman Steve Anderson praised Katz's bold move in incentivizing …

Four Strategies for Crafting Unforgettable Content

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Andi Bell, the World Memory Champion of 2002, appears to have memory superpowers.
He can memorize the order of several decks of cards and recall them on the spot. How does he do it? Bell uses a location-based memory strategy, like this:
Bell picks a route through London and walks it repeatedly until it is fixed in his mind. As he walks, he associates cards of the deck with a character (like a bear or a pineapple), then connects each character and card with a site along his route: the bear becomes the House of Parliament, the pineapple becomes Buckingham Palace, etc. In this way, the deck transforms from a string of facts to a story to share. Each deck has roles that come to life mentally as Bell "walks the plot" of his route in London.
Make Your Words More Memorable
While you may not have memory superpowers, we all recognize the power of retention and its impact on marketing.
When you share memorable content, it shapes people's perceptions and positively disposes them towa…

Use Powerful Visualizations to Make Your Message Clear

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Communication is the key to human connection.
But adequately sharing information can be more difficult than you may think. George Bernard Shaw said the single biggest challenge in communication is the illusion that it has taken place!
Experts estimate that 65 percent of people are visual learners, so one of the easiest ways to communicate with people is with pictures. A well-structured chart, graph, or data visualization can do wonders for sharing your insights with customers, team members, or your superiors. And with easily accessible tools you can use illustrations to:

Get your message across quickly
Make complex data accessible to many
Make your report or presentation more visually appealing
Create a more memorable, lasting impression
Whether you're reporting the household budget or spicing up slides for a presentation, stretch yourself to try one of these options this month.
Vertical Bar Charts
This is a simple option for comparing data grouped by distinct categories. Vertical bar ch…