The Small Business Advisor NEWSLETTER for August, 2002
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Notes, tips, etc
Ten Easy Ways To Keep Customers
Pro-Net - A Free Marketing Tool
Irresistible Sales Offers
NEW POSTAGE RATES ARE NOW IN EFFECT. Sorry, folks, it's another
increase. When shipping be sure to check the cost of using UPS or FedEx
? might be cheaper. New rates took effect June, 30, '02
First Class Mail - 1st ounce: .37
Additional oz - .23
Stamped Card - .25
Priority Mail, up to 1lb - 3.85
Express Mail, up to 1/2lb - 13.65
Express Mail, over 1/2lb, up to 2lb - 17.85 Certified Mail charge - 2.30
Return Receipt - 1.75
Insurance, up to $50 - 1.30
Insurance $50.01 to $100 - 2.20
FREE FROM THE IRS: The Small Business Resource Guide, CD-ROM 2002
provides critical tax information to small businesses including forms,
instructions, and publications. The CD also provides valuable business
information from a variety of government agencies, non-profit
organizations, and educational institutions. The CD contains essential
startup information needed by new small businesses in order to be
successful. Copies can be ordered from the IRS by calling (800) 829-3676
or visiting http://www.irs.gov/smallbiz.
USEFUL SOFTWARE DEPARTMENT. Want an easy way to back up your entire
harddrive? Look into Drive Image 2002 by PowerQuest. Inexpensive and a
very neat way to generate complete backups. http://www.powerquest.com.
TRAVEL SUGGESTION. Save time and hassle at the airport; ship your
luggage to your destination using FedEx (usually cheaper than UPS).
LONG DISTANCE TELEPHONE TIP. Don't forget to check each month's
statement to ensure you are not being overcharged AND that you haven't
been "switched" to a new long-distance carrier! To check who your
current carrier is call (toll-free) 1 700 555 4141.
BUSINESS INSURANCE. Just a reminder that if you are operating a
home-based business the chances are good that your homeowners policy
will not cover business-related losses. However, most insurance
companies can accommodate your small business needs. Check with your
agent. Do it now before you forget.
TECH TIP (Microsoft Word). Here are two, little known but very handy
key-stroke combinations you will find useful:
Shift+F3 allows you to change case. (Hold down Shift and cycle through
options by repeatedly depressing F3).
Ctrl+right bracket allows you to increase font size by one point.
Repeated use will keep adding a point. Ctrl+left bracket reduces size by
Highlight the text you want to change.
TEN EASY WAYS TO KEEP CUSTOMERS
by Robert Sullivan
You are probably spending a good deal of time and money finding
customers but don't forget than keeping them is just as important. Maybe
even more important. Remember that it is much less expensive keeping a
customer than finding a new one. Keeping customers means keeping them
satisfied - do this and you gain another sales person for your business!
Satisfied customers love to talk about their positive buying
It is important to try and see yourself from the customer's perspective!
Little things make a difference. Be willing to change anything that
makes a customer the least bit uncomfortable. Call your own business -
did you get a friendly voice? The help you needed? Would you call again?
I'm sure you don't need reminding but ... just in case ... treat your
customers just like you would want to be treated!
These suggestions will help you keep existing customers:
1. Make sure your employees understand that a customer is as important
as you and that their continued employment is directly related to how
that customer is being served.
2. Stay in touch with existing customers. The best customer is a repeat
customer. Let them know you're still around - use e-mail, phone calls,
send birthday cards, postcards, etc. I get a birthday card for my car
each year from the dealership - very clever!
3. Don't use an answering machine unless absolutely necessary. If you
do, keep your message short and to the point - don't waste your
customers' time! Again, if possible, don't use "multiple level"
answering devices. Press 1 for; Press 2 for; etc. Doesn't this drive you
crazy? Your customer is no different. If possible, answer the phone
yourself. You are your own best sales person.
4. The customer is not always right BUT if you find yourself in a
situation in which you are trying to satisfy a customer remember that
you want this customer back! Be contrite and attempt to educate rather
than argue. You may lose but ... you may win!
5. Remember that EVERYone is a potential customer so treat everyone
accordingly. Don't be fooled by appearances, etc.
6. Make sure your telephone is answered within TWO rings. Before picking
up the phone put a smile on your face. It's hard to sound unfriendly
while smiling. Be upbeat and stay focused on the call.
7. Periodically provide something free for your existing customers.
8. Have "preferred customer" sales.
9. Remember that "your computer" is never at fault. If a customer has a
problem it's YOUR fault. Don't make your problem the customer's - fix it
10. If you deal in an expensive product or service with only a few
customers, follow up each sale with a formal written communication
thanking the customer for their business and letting them know you are
always available for further assistance.
PRO-NET - A FREE MARKETING TOOL
by Robert Sullivan
Pro-Net (http://pro-net.sba.gov) is an electronic gateway of government
procurement information for small businesses. It is a marketing tool and
a "link" to procurement opportunities and important information. Pro-Net
is a cooperative effort among The Small Business Administration (SBA)
and a number of government based minority associations.
Pro-Net's database contains information on nearly 200,000 small,
disadvantaged, 8(a) and women-owned businesses. It is used by federal
and state government agencies as well as prime and other contractors
seeking small business contractors, subcontractors and/or partnership
opportunities. Pro-Net is open to all small firms seeking federal, state
and private contracts.
Businesses profiled on the Pro-Net system can be searched by SIC codes;
key words; location; quality certifications; business type; ownership
race and gender; EDI capability, etc., making it a great procurement
Businesses can easily include their company information (profile) via
Pro-Net's website at http://pro-net.sba.gov/ by filling out a form. Once
listed you will be responsible for your business profiles and other
Profiles are structured like executive business summaries, with specific
data search fields that are user-friendly and designed to meet the needs
of contracting officers and other potential users.
Profiles also provide vendors an opportunity to put a controlled
"marketing spin" on their businesses. Companies with "home-pages" can
link their web site to their Pro-Net profile, creating a very powerful
The Pro-Net website also provides a number of useful links to other
sources of procurement opportunities.
Get listed today - it's free.
IRRESISTIBLE SALES OFFERS - The Siren's Song To Faster Sales
by Dan McComas
Your mission is to get your prospects or clients to act on your offer
sooner than later. That means using interactive marketing techniques
that ask them to write, phone, request free literature, take advantage
of a free initial consultation or seminar program, return a coupon or
send a check. Remember, your prospects need (and like) to be given
clear, precise directions and it's your job to tell them what to do!
People don't like to change or try new products and ideas. If you're
convinced that your product or service can help them (and you'd better
have that conviction or your sales will suffer), it's to your advantage
and the benefit of your prospects to motivate them to try your offering
now! Unfortunately, people are slow to move. Most will not respond to
your first offerings. But that's exactly why your "9/18" Relationship
Marketing System is up and running, right? It's up to you to tell your
prospects, clients and customers what you want them to do and to make it
easy for them to do it.
Rewards Give People A Reason To Read, Listen And Act FASTER!
A publisher offered university professors a choice between an attractive
pen and an abacus if they would read several chapters of an innovative
computer textbook, provide their comments in writing, and return a
survey card by a particular date. The promotion worked like a dream. It
prodded the professors to open the book, read the chapters and consider
a new way of presenting introductory computer curricula. Additionally,
thousands of cards were returned and the publisher's salespeople, armed
with each professor's favorable comments or concerns, were able to gauge
their prospects' degree of interest and answer objections faster.
Your Offers Must Be Relevant
Try to create offers and premiums that will logically tie in to your
product or service. Can you see how the pen and abacus mentioned above
were appropriate premiums for professors in the textbook market? Offers
and premiums are only limited by your imagination. Here are several
examples to stimulate your thinking and rocket your response rate:
Offer free consultations, examinations, seminars, estimates,
demonstrations, catalogs, samples, gifts and survey reports. Ask for
action-write, phone, request free literature. Provide a money-back
guarantee. Announce limited qualities. Use "bill me later" statements
(however, give them something extra if they pay with cash now. Success
magazine is giving away a free motivational book when you pay with cash
to renew your subscription). Use early-bird discounts. Offer "mystery"
gifts. Offer private sales or charter memberships. Promote limited time
offers. Offer free special report, booklet, book, audio/videotape, or
checklist (e.g., 17 Ways To Boost Direct Mail Response; Money-Saving
Negotiating Tips For Meeting Planners). Make one-time only offers. Use
referral gifts. Offer multiple gift premiums. Use sweepstakes and
contests. Include a detached reply device. Use involvement devices like
check-off boxes. Provide free shipping. Offer a bulk-purchase discount.
Make a get acquainted offer-3 free widgets-can cancel after that. Use
800 number answer lines or hotlines.
Why are offers so effective? Think about human nature. People naturally
respond better to deadline pressure (remember exams?) and will act
faster if they feel they're going to lose out on something. So, whenever
possible, try to create a sense of urgency with time-limited,
product-limited, one-time-only offers and fast-response discounts to
boost your chances for greater responses and results.
(Dan McComas is an author, public speaker, and corporate trainer can be
reached at email@example.com
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