Recently I was in a speciality Candy Store and my son had carefully selected out some different flavoured jelly beans, using the scoop and putting them into the provided packets for weighing. On taking the jelly beans to the counter, the owner of the store served us and proceeded to weigh them and tell us the price. Just as I was paying, she said, “these jelly beans are very popular, even though they are an American Brand”, I responded by saying "yes they are popular", she then proceeded to say “even though they are an American Brand they are made in Taiwan, I’d never eat them”!!! I really didn’t know what to say then, but replied by saying “well thanks for telling me that...now I’m not so happy to be buying them!!”
This store owner instantly turned me off her store, and I left thinking, that quite frankly, she was a total idiot! Not only had she put me off her products, she now had me wondering how many of their other products were made overseas and of low quality also?
My point in telling this little story is that business owners should really only stock products they believe in, like or have knowledge about. There is no problem selling things that aren’t your personal taste, but don’t put this point across to your customers as everyone has different likes, needs and opinions. Train your staff and train yourself. Arrange for “secret shoppers” if you are worried about how your staff are portraying your product, it really is the best way to find out accurate feedback.
Believe in your product and others will too…
Starting a New Business involves a mammoth amount of planning and organizing and while you as the business owner, are arranging council permits, furniture and employees, it can be easy to forget about the "little things" and think that you will organize them latter, but this is where business owners can go wrong.
Below are my top tips of the little things that often get forgotten when launching your new business. All of these items are imperative, so that your business creates a good impression instantly. These Little Things are all representations of your company. If you aren't organized with these, it will show and will turn people away, afraid that your business practices may be unprofessional also.
Remember that there isn't always enough time in the day to manage everything your new business will need, so don't be afraid for ask for help and get professionals in to help you out so you get the result you need with a quick turn around, great product and most of all, less stress for you.
1. Business Cards. It may seem like a "no-brainer" but it is suprising the amount of business owners that overlook this vital tool of business. Make sure your business Card is profressionally printed, has all of your contact details, address, phone numbers, websites/blogs and social media sites listed. Don't forget to include a recognizable image on the card (i.e. Your Logo).
2. Price Lists / Menus. So you have the products and the ideas, what will you do when some one asks for a copy of your menu leading up to the opening of your cafe, or a price list of your services prior to your opening day? Have these ready to go and in a one page PDF where possible, so you can email them easily to interested clients. Have printed copies on-hand also to give out when requested.
3. Appointment Book. Don't over look this one, especially if you will be taking appointments for clientelle or bookings for a cafe/restaurant. Have the book ready to go weeks prior to opening so you can book people in in advance.
4. Website or Blog. If you don't have the money for a website, set up a blog prior to your opening date. Include all contact information, a blurb about your business, your location etc. Make sure that clients can contact you and most importantly that they can sign-up for further information/updates by way of an email newsletter. Blogs don't cost anywhere near as much as a website, and can do pretty much the same thing. Getting your own domain name is advisable, if not create one to match the business name with your free blog provider.
5. Google Places Address. Ensure Your new business premises can be found on Google Places. This can take some time to set up so I would advise doing this as soon as you make a decision about your business location. Ensure that your map pin is correct when setting it up.
6. Adequate Signage. Tiny signs will not be seen. Ensure that your business signage is recognizable and easily seen from the road. (See My previous Post on this subject).
7. Email Address. Organize a profressional email address. Do not use your personal one or home one for business purposes as customers won't recognize it at all.
8. Social Media. Set Up All Social Media Pages. The main ones to consider are Facebook & Twitter (I would recommend setting up both). If your business is a brick and mortar one, set up a Foursquare account, if you are a restaurant, hotel or tourism business, set up a Tripadvisor Listing. If your business could benefit from sharing videos of your product, create a YouTube Account and upload your first introduction video. If you think that managing all of these pages is overwhelming, and it can be, hire a profressional for a small amount of money a week to manage these pages for you. Social Media is a great way to be found quickly online.
9. Get Your Message Out There. Organize an interview with your local newspaper or magazines. Send our a press release of your upcoming opening dates. You may be surprised just how many people read the local free paper. If you don't have the time to write a press release, there are some great small businesses who can do this for you. Remember don't be afraid to ask for help.
10. Mail Send Out. I know it may seem old fashioned, but people love to get an invitation in the mail. Send out an opening day invitation to your family, friends and include an extra invite for them to give to someone they know. Organize an opening party and invite other local business owners and community groups to attend. Make the opening "invitation only" and also use that email list that you have compiled from your blog/website if you have some signed up.
In my future blog post, read about my ideas for your "Business Opening Party/Event".
Remember... Don't forget the little stuff!
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Judi Gray is the Owner Operator of Blue Bird Internet Marketing and has been assisting small Businesses with their online profiles since 2011.