15 Holiday Promotion Ideas To Keep The Register Ringing

The holidays are right around the corner. Are you prepared?

Holiday Promotions Ideas

 

The beauty of a small business is, we can be light on our feet. Besides, you still have a little bit of time and if you’re stuck with what to offer, this list should get you started.

The Add-On Bundle

Include a not-usually-offered or not-offered-before add-on to your product(s). It could even be a service.

Example: Get a personal coaching session when you buy this today.

The Value Bundle

Gather your best selling products and bundle them at a meaty enough price for you not to lose money but at the same time, give customers a deep discount compared to buying separately.

The Complimentary Products Bundle

Work out a deal with another company who offers complimentary products. Offer a free entry-level product, free trial, discount price or coupon that they can redeem at the other company’s store when they buy from you.

Example: Order a logo design, and get a 20% off coupon for web hosting at ABC host, or business cards at XYZ printers.

The Lifetime Access Deal

This works very well for continuity programs. Offer lifetime access at price that would make the product an incredibly low price if paid monthly over years.

Example: Don’t pay $19.99 a month. From now until the offer expires, get lifetime access for only $199 and never pay monthly again.

The One Year’s Product Deal

Slight different from the lifetime deal if that sounds too crazy for you to stomach. Offer one year’s access or one year’s worth of product for a great price.

Example: You’d normally pay $60 a year but for a limited time, pay only $30 and get the rest of the year free.

The 2 For One

When people buy two items of the product of your choosing, they’ll get both for the price of one.

The BOGO

This might sound like the same but it isn’t although technically the discount would be the same as the two for one. Offer a free item when they buy one.

The Reactivation or Return Bonus

Give customers a bonus when they re-activate their account or return to buy from you. You could offer a discount in place of a bonus but you’d want to be very careful that this is a short term deal and not to be repeated too often. Otherwise, you may end up with people who cancel just to wait for the re-activation bonus later on.

The Pick 3 Deal

Similar to the bundle deal, except this time, you let the customer choose what they want in the bundle.

The 10 Orders & Get Free Deal

Our local grocery store runs this deal regularly. You get a free holiday meal when you shop there 20 times. They do also require each receipt to be at least $20 to qualify and though 20 sounds like a lot. They start the campaign quite early so you have about 10 weeks to earn it.

Your customers may not need to shop with you that often, so you can always adjust the number of qualifying orders e.g. 10.

The $10 off $50 Deal

Instead of giving a straight discount, get them to spend a little bit more with you to qualify for the discount.

The Store Credit Deal

Offer customers store credit or store dollars when they buy from you today.

Example: Buy this today and receive a $10 credit you can spend right away or on your next order.

Private Sale

Reward your most loyal customers by giving them a special offer not found elsewhere. An alternative is to reach out to performing affiliates and offer a special deal just for their referrals.

The You Might Also Like This Offer

Dig into your customer data. Find out who purchased what. Offer them a bonus or discount for a similar or related product. If you don’t have one, consider an affiliate product. You may need to reach out to affiliate managers for the products to do this but can be well worth your time.

The Upgrade Deal

When a customer orders a product, offer them a better product or a higher end package. Something they would consider an upgrade for less than the normal upgrade pricing.

Example: Package A is normally $10 and Package B normally $30. When a customer orders Package A, offer them an upgrade to Package B for only $10 more.

Are You Afraid of Your Own Thoughts?

Of late, I’ve noticed that my down time has vanished.

Poof. Gone.

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I wondered why and when the answer presented itself, it was simple and yet profound.

It’s not because there’s more work on my plate. There’s always a ton of work to be done. No. I realized one day, the real reason is because every bit of down time that presented itself, is filled with something else.

Every spare moment, minute, or hour that’s not spent actively doing, I’ve filled it. By:

  • Reading a book
  • Listening to podcasts
  • Watching a webinar
  • Catching bits of a tutorial
  • Reading RSS feeds
  • Reading a magazine
  • Watching TED videos
  • Consuming that course that I bought weeks and months ago
  • Just about anything I can think of

In short, I’ve been filling those precious bits of down time that pop in throughout the day, with other people’s ideas. Others’ processes and thoughts. There’s an intense need to catch up or finish every book, listen to every audio, learn everything there is to learn.

Somehow, I’ve come to be afraid to spend time with my own thoughts – even if it’s a few minutes.

The idea of sitting on the porch without a book makes me restless.

The very thought of doing laundry without having something to listen to makes me anxious.

I have a sinking suspicion I’m not alone and have a theory why we do this. Because we:

  • Have such great ideas that are dying to bust out, that we feel intimidated by them. Afraid they’ll take us to amazing, yet frighteningly unknown places. So it’s just easier to crowd them out.
  • Are postponing or ignoring a big decision that has to be made.

Sometimes, it’s a combination of both. So we cram our thinking time with lots of information and ‘learning’ to avoid making the decisions we really need to make, or avoid doing.

I’m not saying that reading, listening to podcasts, watching videos and learning from others is a bad thing. Neither am I saying that utilizing your spare moments such as commute time to learn something is unproductive. It is productive. That’s how I managed to lose weight and keep it off – by reading, listening and watching others while I worked out.

However, we do need to leave some of those moments for our own thoughts. Perhaps even go as far as scheduling thinking time if you want to be intentional about it. Thinking time doesn’t require you to have anything in particular to think about. It’s about giving your mind some breathing room.

Thinking time is important so we don’t feel like we’re on the go all the time. Thinking time is required for us to process all that great information we read. It is needed for us to formulate plans. It is healthy for our spiritual and mental well being which is so important for us business owners.

I challenge you. Next time you are waiting in line at the doctor’s. Next time you have a few spare moments in between tasks. Resist the temptation to read, listen or watch. You can read at other times but for at least one down time a day – spend it with your thoughts.

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7 Habits of Great Decision Makers

As a leader, decision making is part of the deal. Ultimately, everything comes down to what we want to happen and that means we make the final call. It’s tempting to think that small business owners are naturally good at decision making. Maybe. We do make more decisions on a daily basis but the truth is, decision making may not come easily all the time, and certainly not for all leaders. Wherever you are on the scale of decision making skills, we can all benefit from learning from those who are great at it.

Future

Decide & Implement Quickly

When I was still working for someone else, I remember sitting at a meeting all frustrated. It was probably the 10th meeting we’ve had that year on the very same topic and I pushed my bosses – again – for a decision. I didn’t get it. They stalled. Again. Wanting more ‘data’. Again. I couldn’t move forward. Couldn’t do my job. Hardly surprising, our market share didn’t grow that year.

Sir Richard Branson, founder or Virgin has been reported to “make and implement decisions quickly — usually before our competitors in the market have held their fifth meeting on the same issue”.

We don’t make better decisions by stalling. Finalize and implement right away.

Be Brave

“Most people don’t have guts to make the tough decisions because they want to make the right decisions. So they make no decision, and that’s a decision.” Said Tony Robbins.

We aren’t going to make the right decisions every single time. We don’t have the ability to read the future, so the only way is to go forth bravely and try. Inaction is always the wrong decision. Think of it this way. We have the option of making the wrong decision all the time or the right decision sometimes. The choice is pretty clear.

Trust Your Instinct

This is the most intangible of all which can be scary. Perhaps that’s why many of us are afraid to go with out gut. Yet, it’s the one thing that many great decision makers and leaders rely on.

Tim Ferris says, “If you’re insecure, guess what? The rest of the world is too. Do not overestimate the competition and underestimate yourself. You are better than you think.”

Trust Your People

“If you want to hire great people and have them stay working for you, you have to let them make a lot of decisions and you have to, you have to be run by ideas, not hierarchy.” – Steve Jobs

Of course, you need to first trust you have hired the right people. If you aren’t convinced they are right for your company, why are they still there? Assuming they are the right ones – let go of that leash. It frees you up for other (perhaps) bigger decisions too.

Make Decisions Often

According to General Patton, “Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader.”

It is said that the skill of decision making is like a muscle. The more you use it, the stronger it will be. So ahead and work those muscles. It’s a sign of a good leader.

Make Decisions Based On What You Know Now

Sometimes, it isn’t possible for us to have all the information we need. More often than not, we only get glimpses.

Robert K. Greenleaf says it best in his book Servant As Leader. “On an important decision one rarely has 100% of the information needed for a good decision no matter how much one spends or how long one waits. And, if one waits too long, he has a different problem and has to start all over. This is the terrible dilemma of the hesitant decision maker.”

Have A Routine & Simplify Your Life

In his autobiography, Benjamin Franklin wrote, “The precept of Order requiring that every part of my business should have its allotted time” and he followed this with a now famous daily routine chart.

Having a routine means you won’t have to decide when you’ll do the daily stuff. Your mileage goes further when you simplify your life and reduce your choices. E.g. Eating the same breakfast daily.

This would make as many daily decisions as “automatic” as possible, leaving you more focus, more bandwidth for those critical decisions you may encounter througout the day.

This doesn’t mean your life has to become monotonous. Rather, you save the variety for areas or things you want to enjoy the most, and not on the mundane like what you’re going to eat for breakfast, or what you should start working on in the morning.

Did you find this useful? Don’t keep it to yourself. Share it.

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m4s0n501

How To Stop Selling and Start Educating.

I’ve just completed a workshop teaching branding to graphic design firms from Canada and the United States. As part of that training, confidence in selling is a crucial element in delivering branding 10587534_sto their customers. On the surface it would appear that selling is a crucial first step. “Selling” is a difficult skill for many of us – myself included. It’s something I work at tirelessly. Defining my brand and working at it is one part of my overall branding strategy. To me selling is a bit of a misnomer. I don’t so much sell, as participate in a conversation. This conversation involves engaging the potential customer is a discussion about their brand challenges and understanding just what it is that hinders it.

Sometimes the barriers are self-generated. These are things such as culture or negative past histories. We all know people who get in the way of themselves simply because they don’t believe they have what it takes to deliver on a desire. That lack of confidence holds them back. Other barriers are market driven like bad economies, dying industries etc.

I recommend to businesses they should immediately change the conversation and watch opportunities present themselves. Customers cringe at the thought of someone selling something to them. Whereas they embrace conversations that help them. They also enjoy talking about themselves. I often enter into conversations where i am providing entry level branding advice on the spot. This is a great opportunity for me to show how fast I am on my feet, and how confident I am in what I do by my willingness to share. It’s no different than when in a networking situation – the wisdom is that you give before you get.

Challenge your comfort zones. Drive yourself to succeed. Don’t let the words “it’ll never work” or the “time just isn’t right” ever pass your lips. I believe confidence comes from challenging yourself and believing that customers really do find you a source of value. An expert lies within all of us. Don’t trap yourself by assuming you know how others think of you. Sometimes that blank stare isn’t that they can’t believe how stupid you are but it is more, they are pondering the brilliant thing you just exposed them to, and they’re wondering how they can use that nugget to their advantage. I experienced that last thought more times than I can image when speaking to groups of people at a speaking event or in a sales meeting. Lack of confidence makes you think the worst. But when you believe in what you’re saying, those blanks stares are gold mines to opportunities.

It makes me smile to realize that the quietest person in the room is actually your biggest advocate. The word ASSUME feeds on a lack of confidence and is the biggest killer of opportunity. When you assume the worst – worst is what you get. It’s not a hard concept to understand. Because I am aware that I have a difficult timing reading people, I have learned not to assume what lies before me. I often watch that person closer and give them time to react to what I’m saying and I’m often rewarded. All of this within the confines of a conversation on branding. I don’t think you can sell branding as much as you can build a hunger for more knowledge. Satisfying that hunger is something even the most shy can deliver. Imparting knowledge is enjoyable and the thanks awarded following such an exchange doesn’t feel disingenuous or contrived.

Trust in your experience. There lies the root of your confidence, and with that powerful conversations await you!

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

To grow, every business needs new leads and new customers. Without a steady incoming flow of new customers, you would hit a plateau and eventually decline. There are different ways of achieving that but the quickest is to advertise. Doing it online means you get results faster. So how do you do it? Read on for a quick online advertising how to crash course. Let’s begin.

Online Advertising How To Crash Course

Who Are You Advertising To?

Do you know? Everybody is not an acceptable answer. While each online advertising marketplace you use will have their own target market options, you still need to clarify this up front. It’ll save you some time digging around later on and definitely make it easier for you as you navigate the different advertising marketplaces. So paint yourself a picture of your ideal customer.

  • Are they 30 – 40 year old men?
  • Women?
  • Do they have children?
  • What do they like to read?
  • What do they like to watch?
  • What is their idea of entertainment?
  • What other interests might they likely have?
  • What stage of life would they likely be in?
  • What could be their next lifetime milestone – e.g. Getting married, having a baby, children going to college, retirement.

Some people tell you, to only have one clearly defined target group. Personally, I think that depends on your product. Some of us have products that appeal to different types of people. They may consume your product differently, and even buy for different reasons. They are still a target group. So define these groups if they apply.

Who Are Your Competitors?

You may think it strange to think about competitors for advertising. Truth is, this just goes to show how far online advertising has come. You want to list out your competitors because in most ad marketplaces, you can target your ad to people who follow or are interesting in your competition. This is a fantastic opportunity to take advantage of. So know who your competitors are. Brainstorm and list as many as you can. Consider also indirect competitors.

Prepare Your Advertising Materials

Again, each online advertising marketplace will have their own requirements but there are a few things you can prepare ahead of time. Among the key things, is your core advertising message. What exactly are you advertising?

Are you promoting a sale? Do you want people to opt-in to your mailing list? Sign up for a webinar? Install an app? Pick up the phone to call you? Complete a survey? Download a cheat sheet?

Once you know this, then you can create some ads. For banners, this is somewhat easier because popular sizes are uniform across the Internet. For text ads, prepare a few variations since each channel will have different word count limit so you need to have some flexibility.

It would seem obvious, but in case it isn’t, prepare your landing pages. Make your landing page deliver or match up to your ad’s promise. Consider – what would you expect to see if you were clicking through your ad? Do everything you can to make it easy for people to take the next step so you’re maximizing your ad spend.

Locate Ad Marketplaces

Now comes the fun part. Placing your ads, but first, you need to know where. Here are some great places to get started.

Many of these places make it really easy and it’s all self-serve. Some may also assign a rep to help you. The actual steps differ from one network to another. In general, what you need to do is create an account, select your target and enter/upload your ad.

More Online Advertising How To Resources

Is it really that simple? The short answer is yes. However, this isn’t called a crash course without reason. There are a multitude of things that have been simplified and in some marketplaces, you have to make sure you’re playing by the rules or get kicked out. To cover those, this post could end up as book.

Thankfully, we don’t have to because some fantastic online advertising how to resources already exist. If you’re committed to advertising and want to make sure you don’t waste time nor money, check out the Bring Your Own Traffic course.

10 Financial Habits of Successful Entrepreneurs

Have you ever wondered why that delicious new restaurant that you loved and all your friends loved, that seemed busy ended up closed by the beginning of the next year?

10 Financial Habits of Successful EntrepreneursThe automatic assumption is that there is a lot of competition out there, so the restaurant just didn’t have a chance. Usually, there is a lot more to it than that. If you have a good business idea, and have done your due diligence there is no reason you can’t be successful no matter how much competition there is.

It all starts with having good financial habits. There are some habits that successful entrepreneurs have in common.

Write a Business Plan

Every business, no matter how small or what kind of shoe string budget you’re starting with needs a business plan. Even if you just write a one or two page business plan you need to go through the motions of writing the plan because it forces you to study your industry, the competition, and evaluate your own skill level.

Keep Accurate Records

Saving receipts along with using a financial accounting or bookkeeping software to help keep track of your records will help you evaluate your financial position on any given day. You should easily be able to look at what expenses you had for any given project, without understanding that, you can’t know if your prices are right. In addition, you should know exactly what you need to earn to keep your business running, otherwise known as your break-even point.

Have an Appropriate System

No business can run properly without a system, or even multiple systems. This is true whether you are working alone in a sole proprietorship or whether you have 500 employees. Without systems in place that you can perfect over time you’ll just be running in circles repeating mistakes. This can cost a lot of time and money.

Develop a Realistic Budget

Start with understanding your break-even point then around that create a realistic budget for all the different areas of your business so that you can run your business appropriately. A lot of business owners go out of business due to not understanding budgeting, the cost of doing business, and the idea of keeping their own hands out of the cash drawer until they make enough to pay themselves. Don’t be that person.

Track Expenses

I’ve already mentioned that tracking expenses is important but it’s amazing how fast little expenses here and there can ruin a business. A five dollar a month expense here and there seems small, but if you’re not getting the most out of each of these small expenses, it’s better to eliminate them when you can. Running lean and mean will get you further in your business and avoiding pennies leaking out of your business can ultimately save thousands.

Manage Cash Flow

Another issue that successful entrepreneurs understand is cash flow. If you have a service based business, no matter how big or small, you’re going to have varied levels of income over each week and month. You’re also potentially going to have issues with clients paying you on time unless you get the money up front. Even if you sell tangible goods the income of an entrepreneur isn’t exact so it makes budgeting ore of a challenge. If you find creative ways to manage cash flow you’ll find that you’re less stressed and more successful.

Understand Tax Law

One of the things that get a lot of businesses in trouble is the owners not understanding fully tax laws. If you live in the USA a great book to get is Small Business Taxes Made Easy – but do remember that tax laws change and that you’ll need to find out what’s changed and updated since the last publication. Business owners, even small business owners who work from home have found themselves in financial trouble due to not paying their quarterly taxes or self-employment tax. This needs to be part of your education and budget.

Save Money for the Future

Part of your budget should include saving money for the future of your business, as well as the future of your family and the two should be separate. You need to have a business account where you shoot to have six to eight months’ worth of money equal to your break-even point in the account. Plus, you should do the same for your personal savings account with liquid cash that is available for six to eight months of living expenses covered.

Understand the Value of Each Dollar

This might seem silly when you first read it. Of course, you understand the value of each and every dollar you spend and bring in. But do you really?  Are you spending time on your business doing things that someone else could do faster, and less expensively than the hourly rate you command? If you can do work that brings in $150 an hour and you’re dealing with customer service email you’re wasting about $130 an hour.

Get Professional Help

After you’ve educated yourself on the tax laws of your country, and understand basic financial vocabulary it’s important to seek out professionals that can help you. Hiring a bookkeeper or a CPA isn’t as expensive or as hard as you might thing and typically their value is made up in your savings and the business advice they can give you based on their knowledge of not just your business but the others they serve. One caution here is to ensure that you do understand everything you sign, like any profession, there are unscrupulous people. Get references, and check them.

Financial Freedom Finally, even if you already have a successful business without doing any of these things, if you want a long-term business that can be passed down to your children or sold when you are ready to retire, you need to back track and get started getting your financial plans in motion and developing financial habits of successful entrepreneurs so that you’re able to stay successful today and well into the future.

 

Is Your Brand Living Someone Else’s Life?

A brand is essentially the reputation of any company. In the day-to-day operating of a company, it’s confronted by a plethora of challenges. It takes a particular sort of person to grow a company while hurtling these obstacles. Brands that I admire are typically ones that are leaders in their category. There are the obvious ones that catch the global eye. Companies like Apple, Google and Virgin. But locally there are also companies whose brand shines. They are on the front lines and manage to lead in their own ways. Their positioning differentiates them and that difference rewards them.

Is Your Brand Living Someone Else’s Life-081314

Then of curse there are the other companies. They’re the ones living some other brands life. These are the obvious brands that rely on analyze what the leaders are doing and mimic them. They believe that since Nike uses a swoosh, then dah, if they use one too they will become as successful as them. This of course is quite a stretch. But you see it every day.

How many hamburger joints follow the McDonald’s model? I’m surprised they don’t adopt a clown of their own. Notice how all auto dealers look exactly the same. Grocery stores also follow each other.

Where someone dares to break the mold and forge out with a brand that screams leader, the public usually rewards them. The norm is broken and they rise to the top. iTunes changed the way music was sold. Amazon revolutionized book distribution. Whole Foods showed traditional grocery a thing or two. Richard Branson and Virgin break boundaries all the time. He seems to take normalcy as a personal challenge. Steve Jobs as well.

In my own community, I see companies copying other companies all the time. I recognize that a major cause is a complete lack of confidence. The desire to BE an entrepreneur but not the where with all to actually behave like one. They all have this wait and see philosophy. Odd, the thing is they’re not waiting for themselves – they’re waiting for you. You take the risks on an idea, if you have some success they’re quick to swoop in and copy you.

I had a leading window and door manufacturer who did a fabulous job retailing his product. He was flustered by the fact that once his flyers went out, the leading competitor would mimic everything he did. As a credit to his sense of humour, he grew so tired of this that a week before his flyer ran he’d send the owner of that company a heads up as what he would be offering. It gave him the last laugh.

All laughing aside it spoke to the lack of confidence that manufacturer suffered from. It made his brand an also ran. His company name should have been called “Me Too!.” You can look exactly like any company you wish. You can behave like any company but your can never BE that company. The cultures are different and the leadership is different. A brand has to be authentic to be successful. If you’re copying then there’s nothing authentic about your brand and it’s not fooling anyone. It’s the reason Apple outsells anyone else even with a substantially more expensive product. The other-lifer’s – THEY’RE NOT APPLE. THEY’RE NOT AMAZON OR GOOGLE.

You are you. It’s that simple. To be great your brand has to lead not follow. If you follow someone else you are by definition already behind. Following doesn’t put you out front. Living someone else’s life pays homage to the original. Makes sense when you think about it.