Category Archives: Local Marketing

What You Need To Accept Credit Cards Checklist

The main appeal of credit and debit cards is their accessibility. Rather than having to carry a wad of cash that might not cover your purchases, a card allows you to carry a single piece of plastic — or numerous, depending on your shopping habits. Indeed, the number of people in the United States who primarily use cash for their everyday purchases has dropped to under 25 percent of the population, and that number continues to decline. Using a card to make purchases is simply more convenient for the consumer. Unfortunately, however, that comes at the merchant’s expense.

Retailers and other merchants need to know how to navigate the often-confusing ecosystem of accepting credit and debit cards. Otherwise, they stand to miss out on the business of customers who exclusively carry cards or have a small amount of cash on hand. At the same time, those merchants need to be aware of their security and legal requirements that are part and parcel of accepting card payments. As if all of that weren’t complicated enough, the advents of online and mobile payment options have their own individual requirements and infrastructures. Whether you’re a small business or a large one, accepting credit and debit card payments is nowhere near as simple as it is for a customer to make them.

Yet, accepting credit and debit card payments is a requirement for business of any type today. Businesses that don’t accept these types of payments run the risk of distancing customers who will feel inconvenienced. Any type of inconvenience has the potential to push consumers into finding other options, so there’s no excuse for businesses to avoid accepting credit and debit card payments. Even though the process of setting up the infrastructure necessary to accept these payments can be troublesome and complicated, some preparation can make all the difference.

Making processes simpler for your customers often means making things a little more difficult for yourself, but isn’t that what customer service is all about? By following the checklist from BluePay below, businesses can prepare themselves to accept credit and debit card payments if they don’t already. The advice covered in this guide can help businesses avoid many of the most common frustrations that come with establishing the framework needed to become part of the credit and debit card ecosystem.

Checklist Source: credit card processing company Bluepay

Stupid sales gimmicks

Do these balloons really make you want to come in and buy a car?

Why is it that when small business owners see a dip in sales, they reach for a gimmick? I’m talking about weather balloons flying 200 feet above car dealerships, people holding up signs on street corners, or the worst, and what I experienced twice this week, people in costumes.

Does the mattress store really think that a guy or girl in a mattress suit (exactly like it sounds!) standing on the edge of a busy highway is going to make cars stop, come in and buy a mattress? I saw this today on a 55-mph, 2-lanes in each direction, highway. The only thing we’re doing is swerving so we won’t end up with a queen-sized person on the hood of our cars.

And earlier in the week, I saw a young girl dressed like a sub sandwich waving at me from this same highway, only further up in the 40-mph zone. She looked cute, and I wondered how bad things were that she had to take on this type of job, when she could have been behind the counter, asking people to sign up for the shop’s mailing list, email list or whatever-list. I’ve been in the store before, and the only thing they ask is what type of sandwich they can build for you.

What really works for mattress stores and sandwich shops? Referrals for one. Weekly newsletters, samples, try-before-you buy demo’s and social media. And what about just talking to me, asking me what made me come in the store, or for my email address?

The only person who wins more business is the business who rents costumes, balloons and other oddities!

My advice to small business owners: give up the tricks, and become social sellers.

But wait! There’s more!

stop it

But wait! There's more!

As a business, the obvious overall goal is to make a sale.  We provide mouth watering deals and free services to draw our customers into our business.  We spend countless hours and money on developing an ecommerce website that makes purchasing an item as easy as 1-2-3.

Most companies (on and offline), after the effort to entice a sale, conclude with a “thank you” and escort them out of the store or website sometimes never to make a sale again.  Giving ourselves a pat on the back and a job well done head nod to our co-workers.

The reality is this is the perfect time to ask for follow up sale. Your customer is where you want them and in the “buying mode.”  Your customer is satisfied enough with your product selection to make a purchase.  They are accepting your business as worthy enough for their attention.  Once that customer walks out the door, they are now subject to be victim to other advertisements or enticing deals.

The job is not done at the conclusion of a sale, rather just beginning.  When a customer makes a purchase, they are saying to the business “your products or services are worthy of my time and money.”  This should be seen as more of an agreed upon business contract.

Let’s take a look at some enticing ideas to draw further sales from your present transaction.

Limited time coupon:  Instead of a coupon being valid for a month, make the time period much shorter.  Creating a limited time offer only a couple days will give the customer a large sense of urgency.  The customer begins to realize that in order to use this coupon, it would make most sense to use it immediately.

A list of related or complimentary items:  Obviously this customer is in the mood to purchase certain items, so why not showcase more items just like it? Or, give them items that can be accessorized along with their purchase that most customers enjoy purchasing together.

Surprise bonus: Daniel Pink states in his book “Drive” that people obtain more pleasure when they receive an unexpected reward rather than an expected one.  When you reward your customer for making a purchase with small but generous surprise gesture after the sale, you create motivation for that customer to make immediate repeat purchases.

Of course, what strategy you choose will depend on the type of business you’re in.  But there is always a chance to create an up sell.

Four Ways Your Website Helps Automate and Expand Your Business

Every day, tens of millions of searches are conducted online by people looking for local service providers. How many potential customers are you missing by not having a web presence? Having a website today is not only “hip,” it’s mandatory. Companies with websites are in control of a resource that works non-stop, providing customer service, processing orders and gathering information.

The problem? Most businesses never reach their full potential because they fail to realize that websites are employees – employees that work to gather leads 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. The sooner you realize this, the closer you’ll be to reaching a new level of success; one that comes from possessing a global presence, a constantly networking and marketing tool, and a full-service establishment that serves your customers and potential clients effectively all day, every day.

Used properly, a website will change your online destiny and heighten your understanding of what your clients expect from you as a professional company, and, scary to say, what many of your competitors could well already know: websites have an enormous amount of power, both online and offline.

Your task is to harness this power in a way that works for you, and it starts by changing your mindset on what a website is, and why you either need one, or need to proactively put the one you already have to work. Consider this: radio took 37 years to get 50 million listeners. TV took 15. The Internet did it in less than 3 years. In today’s ultra-competitive economy, a website is your way of being heard.

First, your website acts as a customer service representative. Websites can provide customer service for your company like no other employee on your payroll. What other employee do you have that works non-stop, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year, for year after year after year? So leverage your website for what it’s great at: providing useful information about your business, such as your services and procedures. Recent news about your company or industry that may interest potential customers also can be posted to your website and updated regularly. Your website can and should provide unparalleled customer service on your behalf.

Second, your website acts as a public relations manager. Websites communicate who you are and help you connect with potential customers. Regardless of whether you’re locally famous or not, your website can make you known globally. By providing clear definitions, information and articles in simple terms everyday people understand, your website can make you more money and attract new customers. Not to mention the potential for making a more personal connection with people by including online professional biographies. A website thrives on attention, and when others reference it, link to it, and love it for providing what they’ve been desperately searching for, it shines brighter than ever, attracting yet more attention. By using your website and the knowledge you currently posses, you can become “the” expert who not only understands your own business, but how to communicate that understanding into the practical, hard-and-fast information surfers seek out.

Third, your website acts as a document provider. Websites can make the lives of your customers and staff easier. Ever faxed or mailed a form to a customer that they could easily have filled out online? Allowing your website to provide forms, general paperwork and documents with your company letterhead already in place saves everyone time and money. Your administrative staff will thank you, too, when you use your website to reduce both unnecessary office traffic and time spent needlessly explaining general documents. Do your clients and yourself a favor by providing forms, general paperwork and documents online.

Fourth, your website acts as an intelligence-gathering tool. We would all like to know what our customers are expecting from us before they say it, and there is absolutely no better way to have this knowledge in-hand than to allow your website to perform a bit of intelligence-gathering on behalf of your business. In this manner, your website is able to gather information and provide you with powerful insight that will improve all aspects of your business – both online and offline. Through feedback forms, website analytics and surveys, your website can be your company’s perpetual covert intelligence agent, working around the clock to help you get to know your clients so you can better communicate with them.

Essentially, the costs associated with creating, maintaining and distributing a website are minimal compared to the ROI your company will receive. Where else can you find a single, consistent medium to provide your company with ongoing customer service, public relations, document delivery, and intelligence gathering, which is not only accurate, but also complete?

With your website working for you fulltime, your company can level the playing field with larger competitors. A valid website will expose you and your company to global markets, while complementing the work you are already performing offline. By tapping the power of your website, you have hired an employee that never needs to be fired and that works just as hard as you do.