Friday, September 25, 2009

WOW your customers with Free Gifts

Wow Them With Giveaways
Promotional marketing techniques that get buyers to spend money

Janelle Elms - Sep 21, 2009

I'm unsure why people think that just handing me a business card is going to engage me enough to get me to part with my money. As a consumer, I have many choices; a lot of companies are trying to get me to buy from them and, at the moment, I'm less willing to hand over the dough.

So how can you change my mind and get my money? Don't be typical—stand out. Take me away from traditional thinking about what you're trying to sell me. Allow your enthusiasm and excitement about your product or service to wow me.

In recent articles, we looked at useful marketing gimmicks for promoting your business and how to more effectively use your business card to achieve your marketing goals. In this article, we'll cover tips for wowing customers with your giveaways and marketing materials (not to mention, getting them to spend money).

Be flexible with your marketing
I was recently at Creation Fest '09 out at the Gorge in Washington. It was a very beautiful venue but it was so hot and there was no shade. Vendors were having a hard time getting customers to come by their booths. I then saw a brilliant retailer come up with an idea to market their products. Out to the main walkway of this outdoor event went two employees, each wearing a T-shirt with the business' Web site on it.

The vendor empowered these employees with two things that made this on-the-spot marketing opportunity a success: postcards containing product information and a water soaker/sprayer. People were flocking to get sprayed by the cooling water—and they weren't walking away without first getting one of those postcards.
Make your promotion match your product
Not long ago, I ordered a variety of light-switch plates from various online artists. I opened the first one. There was the light-switch plate I ordered wrapped in bubble wrap—that was it. The second one came in an envelope and included one of the free Vista Print business cards. For some reason the business card was about the artist's jewelry business. Even if I had kept her business card, I would have never connected her again with light-switch plates.

The third light-switch plate wasn't wrapped any differently, but the package did include another great product: This seller had thrown in a promotional item advertising their business name, e-mail address and Web site. It wasn't a business card or postcard; it was a mini screwdriver. Exactly what I needed to put up my new light-switch plate!

“Every time I use that screwdriver, I'm reminded of the great product I received from that seller”

It was such a delightful surprise. I, of course, saved it. Every time I pull that screwdriver out of the drawer to use it, I smile a little at the unique idea, and I'm reminded of the great product I received from that seller.

Be willing to do what it takes
I was walking through the local mall when I encountered a rather tall man, completely covered in bright-colored Post-it notes. People were gathering around him to find out what he was doing and what he was handing out. Curiosity didn't kill the cat, but it sure drove these potential customers crazy. They couldn't wait to find out what he was "selling"—neither could I. Upon a closer inspection, he was promoting an online reminder service. Brilliant! And he made sure that the hoards flocking to him all left with information about the company.

Be aggressive with your marketing
Grannie Annie from Hawaii doesn't let anything stand in the way of making sure you know about her products. Besides being one of the most insightful businesswomen I know, at 72 years old, she's also rocking the marketing part of her business. Check out the scooter (pictured, right) she travels to events with.

There's no empty space—the whole thing is covered in marketing messages. And her basket contains a marketing arsenal of business cards, postcards and samples she hands out to literally everyone in her path. Her marketing is focused with one simple pitch: Go to her eBay Store at

Use your tools in new ways
One of my favorite things to do is walk down Fifth Avenue in New York and window-shop, especially during the weeks following Thanksgiving. Everyone has such incredible window displays that just stun me. But that's all they ever did. They never inspired me to actually go in and buy items.

Then there was the window that got it. Inside was yet another incredible display with a fabulous outfit. But on the outside of the window was painted information about the clothing, the Web site link where you could purchase it, and a request to join the online group and talk about what you thought of the outfit.

The retailer was not only giving people an opportunity to spend money (especially outside of store hours), but they were also creating an active community that would participate in future promotions and purchases.

Align your marketing to the world of your buyer
The opera world is struggling with an aging audience and no upcoming customer base of 20 to 30 year olds. The opera establishment realizes it not only needs this age group to grow into the traditional opera audience; it also realizes this age group has more disposable income than any has in the past, and could help financially support this art world.

“None of these ideas took a lot of money, just a bit of creativity and thought about who the customers are”

Speight Jenkins, director of the Seattle Opera, is over 70 years old, yet this summer he announced a contest called "Confessions of a First-time Opera Goer." The rules were simple: Send in a video test of your announcer skills and say why you should have a behind the scenes sneak peak at the opera world. These videos were posted and voted on. Genius.

The Seattle Opera did very little work. The customers they were seeking did all of the marketing, using a medium they're very familiar with. These video links were, of course, sent to the family and friends of the entrants, engaging possible additional customers. And since they were done by people who didn't know about opera, the videos allowed others to let their guards down toward this usually pretentious event. Seattle Opera now has a younger, hip spokeswoman working for free, and creating a lot of powerful viral marketing press. The promotion continues with the winner doing video updates on her adventures in the opera house.
As you can see, for the most part, none of these ideas took a lot of money, just a bit of creativity and thought about who the customers are. Do I use business cards and postcards in my business? Yes, but they definitely don't look like the traditional versions of these. I also have bright-orange Rock Star graphics on the back of my car with my Web site and the phrase, "Choose Success. Are you ready to be a Rock Star?" People stop me all the time and ask about my business.

With my other business, Mermaid Caramels, I have an easy and simple way to do my marketing: I hand out samples. The soft sea-salt caramel is put into a small plastic envelope along with the business card that includes the Web site address. It's then sealed with a Mermaid Caramels sticker. The teal and brown branding is very visible, my call to action is included and most important, as soon as they taste the product, I know I will have an order coming. The total marketing package only costs about 6 cents more than just handing out the business card!
So how can you think different about your products, service and business today? What does your customer's world look like, and how can you be part of that in order to attract them?

A Unique business card / coupon... Scratch Off Tickets with your company info & let your customers "scratch" for a discount!

Monday, September 14, 2009

All my saved Twitter tools & articles

There are a TON of great tools to use for your twitter account.

I thought I'd list all my saved links for both tools and articles that are in my Fav. files. (was tweetlater) (need to use a browser OTHER than IE)

Friday, August 14, 2009

Google Docs for Business Partnerships

With forums... groups...boards etc. alot of "like minded" people meet. The internet has made us all "neighbors".

Having a web biz all by yourself can be really hectic so many people have partnered up & split the duties along with the profits.

Along with my personal bizes... I have a biz partner for a bunch of others. Now... we just live across town, however biz partners can live on different ends of the country with all the tools available.

Phones... IMs ... emails are just a few but a REALLY GREAT tool to communicate with a biz partner is Google Docs.

We use this for lists of sites... twitters...squidoo lenses ... blogs.... since I take care of the "social part"... I set up the list with all the logins (just in case I am "abducted by aliens")... and my biz partner has access to all that info.

Another Doc spreadsheet keeps track of orders that I have to get made & shipped. For our biz partner takes care of emails & orders.... puts them on the spreadsheet. Then I go to the spreadsheet... make the earrings, do the shipping & highlight & date the ones that are out the door.

We set up an LLC & all paypal & bank accounts are in our biz name so we both have access to everything. If you do ever get together in a partnership... make sure everything is in writing & everything is available to both partners. Have "duties" separated in writing & never "assume".

So with all the great tools out there, partnerships can be a great way to set up bizes!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Trick to linking your site in forums and message boards

You work so hard finding forums and message boards that match your interests & will target your potential customers. Let those posts, not only answer questions but also promote your site, blog, store or squidoo lens.

Most forums either don't allow posting your web address or have only 1 thread for you to post your site. HOWEVER... most allow a hyperlink (they have the "url" in the design bar when you post) Hyperlinks are picked up by Google, Yahoo & the rest of the search engines. This is the REAL reason you want to try to hyperlink as much as possible.

Here is an example:

Say you are on a "moms" forum & I sell Candy bar wrappers for parties.

Someone comments on getting their 5 yr old's birthday party ready....

Say this forum does not allow websites... so I can't say "see some party favors at

What I might say is.... I bought some cute personalized favors & they were the hit of the party!

Hyperlink a KEYWORD in your post.

" My Sister just had a baby"...

My reply may be.... "I saw these ADORABLE Custom watches that you can put a picture on... great Holiday gift.. I bought my mom one with the grandkid's pics on it"

"What did you do today" thread

DON'T say " I blogged new recipes & added products to my video store

DO SAY " I blogged new recipes & added products to my video store"

Search engines are seeing keywords & the fact that they are linked to your site.
For message boards that don't have the hyperlink ability... then you just have to rely on a signature.
So just be sure to follow rules on different forums but I have not had any problems so far.

Happy posting all!

Saturday, July 18, 2009

A List of selling forums


Joining seller forums is a great way to get fabulous information on just about everything.
Also some (always look at posting rules!) allow promoting your sites, stores, blogs & more. Even if they don't allow any promoting... most allow signatures with your site address.

So here are a few that have been "a bucketload" of information & you can make friends at the same time.

The trick to finding forums you are interested in.... simply google your interest & forum or message boards. SAHMs.... WAHMs ... RVers .... Gardening .... Crafters .... pets ... dogs...
If you sell to a "targeted" group.... join in those groups too! And think outside the box.... if you are a travel agent, join some senior's or wedding groups. If you sell bath & body gift items, join "mom groups". You just never know who will be there & want to buy your "stuff". Google picks up those forums & the posts too!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Twitter or Not to Twitter

I have 5 twitter accounts & am fairly new. But in the few months, I have learned a few things.
First... It IS a great way to get hits on your site.... as long as you follow a few of the following tips:
#1: DON'T Tweet incessantly... every 5 min... I will either NOT follow you or Unfollow you really fast.

#2: Don't be spamming constantly. If that's all you have to say, then I won't follow or Unfollow you.

#3: If you are having a "chat" with someone I don't follow.... then "get a room" LOL. "listening" to a one sided coversation is just plain irritating.

#4: If all you tweet about are news articles after news articles after news articles... again, I won't follow or I will unfollow!

#5: Now... everyone puts such a high priority on getting as many followers as possible & follow all of them in return. When someone new follows me, I click on their twitter & see how they tweet & what they tweet about. If I find #1 thru #4.... I just choose not to follow. Don't feel guilty. I don't want to see all the garbage & miss the good stuff that I'm intersted in.

To track your link hits... this is a great place .
It generates a shortened url link for you & when people click on in in your tweets, you can see when, who & where they came from.

So there's a few tips for living in"twitterland". Follow us @kjscreations & @bgtogether

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Do-It-Yourself SEO - A Beginner's Checklist

There have always been do-it-yourselfers succeeding at web promotíon and search engine optimization. In fact, many of the established businesses offering web services today came from humble beginnings, perhaps nothing more than a college student with a laptop, an internet connection, and too much free time. The Web evolves as the result of the innovation and experimentation of individuals. The sharing of knowledge. The do-it-yourself attitude.

As text link brokers and mass link networking decrease in value and use of social media increases, it becomes more important for companies to have an internal approach and awareness of search engine marketing. Don't get me wrong; outsourcing to SEO firms is still a smart option. That said, making the most out of Web 2.0 usually requires some level of cooperation between SEO firm and site owner. You don't need to be an expert to know the basics of good SEO practices, and that added knowledge will be agreat advantage whether you're working along side an SEO team, or promoting your site in your spare time.

So if you're on a "need to know" basis with SEO, the following points should illustrate what an overall plan should include:

1. Create Search Engine-Friendly Content
Unique web content is your most valuable asset, and ensuring search engines can read it is crucial. Text embedded in images or Flash cannot be read, so make sure you use important keywords, headings, and hyperlinks in plain text form. Instead of using images as navigation links, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) makes it easy to format those links to look more like 'buttons', thus creating powerful anchor text as well as making it visually appealing. Use heading tags properly and don't try to hide keywords or text by making it the same color as the page background or shrinking it so it can't be seen. Make sure the keywords you wish to rank high for are used frequently in the page copy but within reason.Now that you've created good content, is it actually being crawled? Copy and paste a page's URL into a search engine to see if it has been indexed. If you've just created the page, it may take a few days to show up. Aside from age, many factors can lead to web pages not being indexed by search engines, such as duplicate content (ie. a printer-friendly version of a page might be indexed and the normal version not, or vice versa); links generated by JavaScript instead of HTML; poor site architecture (ie. using too many sub-directories); lengthy, dynamically generated URLs using special characters; and orphaned pages.

2. Choose Your Keywords Wisely
One of the first steps of SEO, this one needs to be done properly the first time or all your future efforts and promotion could end up being wasted. Start by writing down general terms that describe your products, services or web content. Use keyword research services to investigate word and phrase variations. Wordtracker, KeywordDiscovery, and the Google AdWords suggestion tool are good starting points. The goal is to find those niche phrases that your target market uses to find sites just like yours and optimize your site for them. If the phrases do not get enough use by searchers, your profíts from ranking for them will be low. At the same time, stay away from general terms that are tougher to rank for (ie. like "art", "computers", "business", etc.) as a great portion of the traffic will be irrelevant and you'll break the bank attaining such competitive phrases.

3. Get Others to Link to Your Site
In theory there are countless ways, some traditional and some quite innovative, to get other web sites to link to yours. In practice, it can be easier said than done. Google defines a link as it pertains to rankings and SEO as a "vote" from one site to another. The more quality votes your site receives, the greater chance you have of ranking well. If a well established site links to yours, that link carries more weight than one would from a mom & pop shop or less reputable page.

If your site has useful content and is doing something unique, you're already ahead of much of the competition. People need a reason to link to your site, as very few will do it out of the goodness of their heart. Trading links can work, but link exchange networks have decreased in value and won't be of much use in competitive fields. Buying links, if you haven't heard, is a big Google no-no. While entire articles could be written on this topic, here are a few popular methods of acquiring incoming links:
* issuing company press releases with a link back to your site
* submittíng to reputable business directories such as Yahoo! and
* be active on related blogs by commenting and exchanging ideas
* if you have clients with web sites, ask if they would mind adding your link in a "partners" section
* participate in relevant forums and discussion boards with a link in your signature
* write and submit original articles to web publications in your field with a link in your bio
get involved in social media and bookmarking

4. Join the Social Media Revolution
The collaboration between Internet users and the development of online communities is at an all-time high. Social bookmarking sites such as, StumbleUpon, Furl, Reddit, and Technorati provide users a way to store their favorite pages and media online, and share it with others. These services also provide a way to promote your content or create a buzz over a product or service. Creating a Myspace page or Squidoo "lens" is also a way to network and share information.

However, if your goal is to generate sales, then you must provide something without the promotional hype. The reality of social media is that popularity is based almost entirely on public interest. If your information or media isn't unique or of interest to anyone, you cannot force success using social media communities.The key to using social media and bookmarking sites to your advantage is to not be shy. Getting your entries and content to the popular pages on these sites requires some hard work. Network with other users, bookmark and share useful content, create eye-catching titles for your entries, and tell your friends and co-workers about the content you have on these sites. However, don't force your employees to vote your entries up - this is social media fraud. If you have great content and simply share it with as many people as you can, it will see success naturally.These four points are a general guideline to follow for SEO. Search engine optimization experts and firms are a good outsourcing option in competitive markets, while the DIY attitude can yield great results for web site owners with smaller marketing budgets. If you're in the latter group, hopefully this helps get you started.