7 Small Business Marketing Tricks for Busy People

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By Rhonda Abrams on Sept. 18, 2015

Copyright, Rhonda Abrams, 2015

This article originally ran in USA Today on September 18, 2015

As a small business owner you have a lot on your plate — creating your product or delivering your service, managing your money, motivating your employees, ensuring operations run smoothly.

Phew! How do you find time to actually attract customers? For an overwhelmed small business owner, how do you manage to take care of one of your most critical business tasks: marketing?

Each year, I talk to thousands of entrepreneurs around the country. The one question  I get the most: “How do I attract more customers?” Marketing is always top of mind, but often the lowest task on the to-do list.

The truth is you will have to invest some time into marketing. But think of it as just that — an investment. But how can you increase the return-on-investment? How can you get the most marketing bang with the least amount of time?

There’s no magic bullet, of course. But if you’re thoughtful, these seven marketing tactics can save you time and bring in customers.

1. Put your marketing on auto-pilot.

Email is still an extremely effective method of keeping your name in front of prospects and customers. Whether it’s a newsletter, announcement of special discounts, free content, regular communication into an in-box works. Fortunately, you can set up and schedule a whole series of such communications using services like Constant ContactVertical Response, MailChimp or others. You can easily set up a series to automatically go to every new prospect or customer who registers to receive communication from you. To entice prospects to provide you with their names and email addresses, offer them something of value in exchange. Once you have the addresses, auto-responders trigger so your series begins to go to their in-boxes.

2. Schedule a few hours for social media.

Your customers expect to see you on social media but that doesn’t mean you should be dealing with it all day long. Spend an hour every two weeks to plan what you will post for those weeks. Choose pics and write your brief posts. Use a tool like Hootsuite or TweetDeck to schedule your posts in advance. During the week, check in occasionally and respond to comments.

3. Focus your social media efforts.

Do you really need to be on absolutely every social media site? No. Stick to the social media sites that work best for you. If you have highly visual content — you run a restaurant or food company, a doggy day care or an art studio — Facebook and Instagram might work best for you. A company that sells creative items? Then Etsy or Pinterest might be the right choice. Are you running a B2B (business-to-business) company?  LinkedIn might be your best bet.

4. Join a local organization and go regularly. 

Nothing beats the effectiveness of face-to-face marketing. Yes, this takes time away from the office or shop. But it’s a great way to get new customers and generate referrals. If you schedule this, it becomes a regular part of your month.

5. Look for a strategic partnership.

You don’t have to do everything alone. A strategic partnership is a relationship with another company for promotion, distribution, product development, or add-on sales. A strong strategic partner that’s already serving your target market can give you a real edge in reaching that market. For example, if you run a yoga studio, you could work on a marketing campaign with a local spa.

6. List your company online.

This is a no-brainer. Make sure prospects can find you online when they’re looking for a business like yours. Spend a few minutes listing your company’s location, hours, photos and other business information on GoogleYahoo, Bing and Yelp.

7. Get help.

If you don’t have time to put some of these marketing strategies into place or to maintain them, hire someone who can.

Whatever you do, make sure you make marketing a priority. A bit of time now will reap rewards for months to come. The hardest part is just getting started.


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Focus on Task-Management, Rather than Time-Management, to Be Less Busy

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 This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President — anita.zinsmeister@dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 


“If only there were more hours in the day,” you tell yourself. You have so much to do and, no matter how effectively you use your time, there always seems to be more to do. Rather than try to use your time efficiently to manage your to-do list, focus on managing the list itself.

As business psychologist Tony Crabbe. points out, time management is a nice idea. If you’re careful to make sure you spend your time effectively, you can get more done. The only problem is, the result of getting more done is often having even more to do. The more emails you can send, the more you’ll need to reply to later. The more projects you can start today, the more projects you’ll need to finish tomorrow. Rather than try to cram as much as possible into one day, focus on managing your tasks first, then dole out your time:

In our infinite world, we will never be able to get on top of everything, ever again; there is just too much to do. In Greek mythology, when you cut off one of Hydra’s heads, two would grow back. Like with the Hydra, when we complete more tasks, all that happens is more appear to take their place—send more emails, get more replies. In essence, if we do more as a result of better managing our time, we don’t get it all done—we just become busier.

That’s not to say that time management has no place in your life. You need to be able to effectively allot your time to the tasks you decide are important. However, if you don’t start from a place of prioritizing your tasks, your time management is just going to be an exercise in futility, trying to keep all the plates spinning at once.

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17 Ideas to increase sales you can us (almost immediatelty)

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 This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President — anita.zinsmeister@dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 


  1. Don’t be greedy.If you always try to profit from the first sale, you ignore the real value of the customer. This is a mistake. If you do not invest as much as you could to get customers – you will not get as many profitable customers as you might. Also, your competitor, who does know the value of a customer, can outspend or underprice you – or both.
  2. Concentrate on customers more than prospects.Research by McGraw-Hill into why retailers lost customers showed that 68% went elsewhere because of indifference or the attitude of their salesforce. Only 14% went because they were dissatisfied with the product or service and only 9% went to the competition. Your customers will remain loyal if you pay them attention.
  3. Go where the money is – all customers are not created equal.10% of cognac drinkers account for 50% of consumption. 39% of cognac drinkers account for 44% of consumption. The remaining 51% account for only 6% of consumption. So focus on the top 10%.
  4. 4Never lose an opportunity to cross-sell.Research by banks into the number of accounts held by customers and their likelihood of switching showed those with four accounts or more were 100-1 against switching, those with only one account had a 50% chance of switching. Your existing customer is 3-8 times as likely to buy as an identical non-customer. Someone who has responded to a promotion is twice as likely to buy. Anyone with any relationship with you, however slight, is more likely to buy.
  5. Never spend without testing.  Look before you leap.
  6. Test new products on customers first.They appreciate being treated as special – and to you they should be. The risk is lower: they are more likely to buy. Only if it sells well to them is it likely to sell outside.
  7. Never lose a chance to communicate.Here are some golden opportunities: When you have anything to say of interest to customers or prospects new product, price, offer, news. When they are about to decide. When your competitors are cooking up something. When something big is happening in the market.

Those who communicate most do better than those who do it least. Do not worry about talking to customers too often. Worry about being a bore. Talk whenever you have something you think will be of interest. But do not mail or phone just for the sake of it. Think constantly what prospects and customers might be interested in.

  1. Say “Thank you”.A retailer rang up a file of customers one month after a product had been bought to say “thank you; do you have any questions?” They didn’t ring a similar file, and researched the difference.

70 percent of those rung said they welcomed the call and would like more. 45 percent of those they did not ring said they would welcome such a call. Over the next 6 months 13% more of those called bought compared with the others. The average number of orders increased by 16% per customer called.

  1. Do you offer after-sales service?Sell it.
  2. Do you have a guarantee people fill in?Use questionnaires and build a mailing list.
  3. Do you offer account facilities or sell on credit and have to invoice people regularly? Sell them at the same time.
  4. Do you have accessories or software to sell? Do it aggressively, not passively, often there is more margin in accessories.
  5. If your sales force spends too much time canvassingand not enough selling. Get leads for them through advertising(and find out when prospects are interested).
  6. Do retailers or wholesalers dictate to you? Go round them direct to customersand build a database.
  7. Sell to your most recent customers first.They are usually your best respondents. The best time to sell is when they have just bought.
  8. Offer a store-card to best customers and create special events for them.They are about five times as likely to buy as casual customers. A special preview sale for them may be as profitable as the entire sale that follows.
  9. Watch for critical moments.In the prospect’s life e.g. marriage, new house, birthday. Before buying: sending for brochures, looking in stores, working out what they can afford. After buying – the “afterglow”; having a problem; time to buy again. These help determine your “contact strategy”. An example is: People often adjust their investments when they move house.

Bill Fryer is Creative Director of Bill Fryer Direct, a direct marketing agency in Warminster, Wiltshire. By talking to him you may get even more sales ideas. Send mail to bill@billfryer.com.

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9 Ways To Create (And Sustain) A Positive Work Culture

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 This week’s blog comes from:

Dale Carnegie Training Newsletter

By Anita Zinsmeister, President — anita.zinsmeister@dalecarnegie.com
Dale Carnegie® Training of Central & Southern New Jersey 

Effective leadership is not about making speeches or being liked; leadership is defined by results, not attributes.” Peter Drucker 

9 Ways To Create (And Sustain)

A Positive Work Culture

·         Word count for this issue: 565

·         Approximate time to read: About 2.3 minutes

@ 250 words per minute

Your staff is the engine that drives the success of your business.  To make your operation all that it can be, you must encourage your staff to work to the best of their ability.  Thus, developing and maintaining a positive work culture should always be a top priority.  Employees immersed in ahealthy environment generate far better results than those who are not.  That is why we put together a list of nine tips for creating the healthy environment employees need.

 1.  Advertise Openings In Trade Publications – When you are looking for a new hire, be sure to advertise through a trade publication.  If you do, you will have a better chance of finding a candidate who is sincerely interested in their profession.

 2.  Contact References When Hiring – Never hesitate to contact a candidate’s previous employers, as they can be an extremely valuable resource.  To ensure you reach them, contact them via phone as opposed to e-mail or letter.

 CLICK HERE to learn more
about Contacting a Candidate’s References.

 3.  Enforce Company Policies Consistently – The workplace should be a level playing field where everyone follows the same rules.  State policies clearly in a staff handbook and make sure rules are enforced equally throughout the company.

 4.  Give An Exit Interview – When an employee leaves the company, make a point of giving an exit interview.   Exit interviews are a smart way to learn more about your work culture and identify any problems you ought to address.  They also help minimize negative word-of-mouth from ex-employees.

 5.  Make Communication A Priority – Strong team bonds result in more positive work attitudes.  Furthermore, team communication is crucial for maintaining productivity.   Keep everyone in the loop and keep in contact regularly via meetings, e-mails and even a bulletin board.

 6.  Offer Creative Incentives – Competitive positions such as sales need not be incentivized with monetary bonuses.  Benefits like job-share and flextime can be just as appealing to employees since it allows them to have more control over their work life.

 7.  Use A Referral Program – When a position opens up, your employees may know people who would suit the role — and your company.  Encourage them to speak up by creating a formal referral program and rewarding them for their participation.

 8.  Welcome New Hires – First impressions are always important, especially in the workplace.  If a new hire feels unwelcome on their first day in the office, it will negatively affect their productivity.  It usually takes 60 to 90 days for new hires to acclimate, so make sure you do everything you can to make them feel welcome during that period.

 9.  Write Accurate Job Descriptions – If you want the right person for the job, you have to describe who the right person is.  When you advertise, give a detailed job description that includes level of skill needed, prior experience required and whether or not further training will be necessary.

 Executive Summary:  Every business should make sure its employees work in as healthy an environment as possible.  Be selective with who you hire, maintain a positive culture at all times and make sure employees who leave the company do so on a good note.  After all, your business is only as strong as its people.

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Communication takes more listening, not talking

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From: (Newsok.com)

Oklahoman columnist Charlotte Lankard writes about keys to communication.
BY CHARLOTTE LANKARD For The Oklahoman Modified: June 15, 2015 at 10:16 pm •  Published: June 16, 2015

“We need to learn how to communicate” is typically a  couple’s request when seeking counseling. It soon becomes clear what they really need is not more talking, but more listening. The communication has broken down because partners have been arguing about what the other is saying and not listening to understand.  

Everyone’s communication skills can be improved, but if couple’s counseling is not on your to-do list, take a look at a gem of a little booklet by mediator Doyle Barnett titled “20 Communication Tips for Couples:  a 30-Minute Guide to a Better Relationship” (New World Library).  He lists 20 tips and makes brief comments about  each one.

To give you a glimpse of how he thinks: He believes friendship should come first before a love relationship. He admonishes couples to not bring up important issues during rushed or stressful times of the day, and don’t use arguments and drama as a means to connect or get attention.

Barnett says if you really want to communicate it is important to use your mate as a sounding board, not a dart board, and to say precisely what you mean. I have discovered often what a person wants is simply to know he or she has been heard or understood. Whether or not you agree is not the point.    

“Defensiveness arises from insecurity and distracts us from the real issue, and no one but yourself is responsible for how you feel. When you react to your mate and he or she reacts to your reaction, you both lose touch with your initial intentions,” Barnett said.

Barnett believes it helps to make requests, not demands, and to be 100 percent honest 100 percent of the time — even when you know it is something  your partner probably will not like nor agree with — because it maintains trust.  

If you are intrigued, this little booklet may be the best $8.95 you’ve ever spent.

Charlotte Lankard is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice. Contact her at clankard@opubco.com.

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