6 tips to get your business ready for the holiday rush

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Holiday crowd

1) Be trend savvy.

Find out what’s hot in your industry. You can talk to your vendors and customers or research your industry’s publications and websites to get insight on what’s popular this year. You want to make sure your business is providing what consumers want and make your product or service stand out.

2) Stock up on your inventory.

The last thing you need is to run out on some of your best-selling products. It’s important that you get the inventory you need before the holiday rush starts because there’s no guarantee you’ll be able to get the quantities you want later on.

3) Got enough staff?

Don’t wait till the last minute to hire seasonal help. It might not be difficult to find people looking for a job, but it’s not always easy to find the right people. Customer service is extremely important during the holiday rush and you want to hire people who are efficient and enthusiastic about your business.

4) Give attention to your displays.

Your front display is the first impression customers will have, so make it a good one. Replace or repair any lights or signs that aren’t functioning properly. Also, plan how you want to decorate for the holidays. Well thought-out decorations can attract more customers.

5) Have a Plan B.

Things don’t always go smoothly and having a back-up plan is necessary to avoid complications. Ask yourself what could go wrong and prepare for it. For instance, what if someone you hired doesn’t show up? Make sure you have other equally-qualified candidates on file.

6) Make time for your personal life.

The holidays can be a stressful time for business owners and it can negatively affect your personal relationships. Don’t neglect your personal life and you will find that you can run your business better and have less to worry about.

4 tips to get more online reviews

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If you think online reputation only matters for big brands, think again. The best form of advertising is word of mouth.  Well, word of mouth is now digital which means reviews.  In fact, 85% of customers check reviews before buying. Try these 4 tips to increase your positive online reviews!

Online reviews

1) Improve your customer service

It’s a well-known fact that customer service can make or break a business. Online reviews are no exception to that. Studies show that 72% of customers cite non-helpful employees as the #1 reason for bad customer service experience. The takeaway? Make sure you hire the right employees and that communication is clear so that you don’t frustrate your customers.

2) Consider asking for reviews

Note that I said reviews, not good reviews. The point is not to solicit them but to get the customer to share their opinion of your business. Don’t be pushy – after their purchase, simply let them know they can leave an online review of their experience. Let your customers know that their input is highly valued and taken seriously. If your customers are mainly under 30, you should simply make your online presence known since they’re likely used to sharing their experiences online.

3) Make it as easy as possible

The majority of customers aren’t going to go out of their way to search for ways to leave you a review. That’s why you need to make sure it’s an extremely clear and simple process. For example, put the URL on your receipts or reference it on cards you give out. This will vary based on the places where customers can leave reviews, such as your website, social media sites or review sites. If it’s on your website, make sure it’s relatively straight-forward and noticeable.

4) Deal with negative reviews

Don’t ignore them, don’t get defensive and certainly don’t insult them back. The essential thing here is to evaluate the problem and try to resolve it. If it was warranted, apologize to the customer, thank them and remedy the problem. You will find that 95% of unhappy customers will come back if you resolve the problem quickly. Keep in mind that it’s really all about numbers. The more reviews you get, the more likely you’ll have bad reviews. Some people will always complain, even if your business offers the best services or products. So your main goal is to have a lot more positive reviews than you have bad ones.

Your business should be listed on at least one review site. Some of the more popular ones are Yelp, Google Local and Foursquare. At the end of the day, the best way to get good reviews is to offer a service or product that is so good, people can’t help but tell others about it.

3 simple ways to “friend” your consumers

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Want to get your consumers’ attention online? You’ll need to stop trying to sell and start building a relationship on a more personal level. There are 3 simple ways you can do that and you’ll definitely spark your buyers’ interest.

Online shopping

Consumers are constantly bombarded with different media fighting for their attention.  How to win this fight?  Easy – with engaging content that speaks to consumers’ passions. Inevitably, there’s an influence on purchase habits. A study conducted by Google, TNS and Ogilvy showed that purpose influences purchasers.

According to the study, consumers are 42% more likely to purchase from companies that produce an emotional response versus companies that simply sell a product.

What emotions drive consumer behavior?

1)      Entertainment – Consumers want to laugh and feel good. An example of this is Vanguard at the Movies campaign which spoofed classic movie genres to show what using Vanguard doesn’t feel like.

2)      Connection – Consumers want to relate to you and what you’re offering. American Express used this to gain more attention by creating OPEN Forum, a social media community for small business owners to interact with each other.

3)      Information – Consumers are looking for content that helps them discover, explore or pursue their passions and interests. Marriott created two programs that are prominent examples of this: the Navigators platform, where guests can discover places to visit outside their hotel, and the RLife LIVE program, which helps guests discover new music, films, arts and food inside their hotel.

Consumer Emotion

The last reason is on the rise and particularly relevant to you as business owner.  Why? It means better consumers because they’re 70% more likely to have recently bought something online than those engaged by entertainment or connection.  They’re also almost twice as likely to give a good review.

With whichever method you use to attract and keep customers, the question you need to ask yourself is:  how does my message influence consumers?