Monday, March 30, 2009

Tip of the Week: Social Media Marketing

Social media is a form of viral marketing; once you get it started there is no way to stop it. A few people will bite and then they'll send information on to their friends who will send it on to theirs. It is important to realize, however, that social marketing is not as easy as it sounds. You first have to get involved in and become part of the community you wish to market to. If you act before you are a part of that community people will not respond well to you. Then, when you try to market to that community again, you will be approached with skepticism.

Some may believe that social media is not worth your time. Those same people were the ones who thought that websites such as You tube and Facebook would never amount to anything. There is a lot of power in social media, the trick is figuring out how to effectively tap into that power. No matter what, choose your social media tactics wisely, problems are not easily solved.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Tip of the Week: Designing Your Website

A good website will have three to five images on the homepage including a good logo, an emotional image, and at least one product image. The logo should be placed in a prominent location, the emotional image should make the user feel something about your product, and the product image or images should portray the best use of the product being sold.

You can create a logo yourself using one of several design programs or you can go to a logo or graphics website and pay a company to create one for you. When looking for emotional and product images, you may want to contact your supplier, look on sites that sell graphics, or take some photos of your own. You can Google search an emotional image or use one that has been taken of someone using your product. You can also use a site like iStockphoto.com for professional images that cost only a dollar or two per image.

Once you find the images you are ready to design your page. When designing your webpage, it is very important to remember to use five design principles: proximity, alignment, repetition, contrast, and flow. Using these principles will make your site visually appealing to customers.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Tip of the Week: Internet Security

Every company needs to pay attention to how secure their computers and private files really are. Failing to protect and secure your computers is a liability. Hackers can hack into your system and steal customer or personal information; you are responsible for what is done with that information. Also, a lot of people do not know that it is possible for people to access your computer to send out spam email, attack other computers, or store unwanted files such as pornography on your computer without your knowledge. For this reason, it is very important to secure your computer.

ninety eight percent of all computers have some sort of spyware on them. Spyware itself is not so bad; it is a tool that a lot of advertisers use but hackers will sometimes piggyback on spyware to hack into your files. Identity theft is also a big problem. One in twenty Americans will suffer from identity theft this year. There are five hundred new viruses each day that can come against outdated software...update! That's why large companies have a large IT department.

Since our clients run small businesses, we suggest using Invisus Computer Security. This system offers IT professionals who can actually remote access your computer in the event of infection. Invisus will act as the IT department for your business. They offer security scans that can be downloaded. We recommend downloading and running the program to see if your computer is secure and if your computer security software needs to be updated. Scan your computer on a regular basis as there are always new viruses.

Monday, March 16, 2009

eBay Auction Management Tools Video

In this video Thrive Learning Institute Covers some of the ins and outs of the best ways to manage your eBay auctions utilizing eBay Auction Management Tools. Thrive Learning Institute understands that to make real money on eBay it takes the ability to close several auctions a day and manage them effectively so that you don't end up buried in the "paperwork". For more information visit www.whythrive.com .

video

Friday, March 13, 2009

Customer Service and the Online World


One of the most often neglected, but nonetheless most important factors in a successful online business is good customer service.

Why is it so often overlooked? Well, there are a lot of reasons. Many online business owners own multiple businesses, or have a job in the offline world in addition to their online business, and so are unable to keep up with a large volume of calls or e-mails from customers.

It is often also because of the idea of "online business" that online business owners sometimes fail to provide high quality customer service. Owners who view it is a type of "part-time" business simply don't include customer service in their plans.

But how important is it, really?

I can answer that with three words. Very, very important.

Want a longer answer? No problem. Here are a few major factors:

  • Better customer care increases the likelihood that you will get testimonials directly from clients, which means a more effective sales page.
  • Better customer care increases the likelihood that you will get good word of mouth for your website.
  • Better customer care increases the likelihood that you will get repeat customers.
  • Better customer care increases the likelihood that you will get links from other websites (the blogs or sites of your customers). That means a better search engine ranking.
  • Better customer care increases the likelihood that you will close sales.
So, let's look at what I just said in brief:
  • More traffic, more sales, and more profit.
If those things aren't important to you, then go dig a hole or something, because online business isn't for you. These are the most valuable things to online commerce.

So, here are a few quick tips to giving good customer service:
  • Display your contact e-mail address in a prominent location.
  • Respond to customer inquiries or complaints within 24 hours of receiving their e-mails.
  • Set up a phone to accept business calls. Either put a new message on one of your existing lines, or use a service like "Skype" to set up a new number.
  • Answer voice-mails within 2 hours whenever possible.
  • Make refunds easily for your customers. This does not mean paying for everything for them -- it means not trying to force them to not return the item, and trying to resolve their concerns as thoroughly as possible.
  • The line "the customer is always right" is both cliche and untrue. Anyone who has worked in customer service will tell you that the customer is usually wrong. But you should always approach calls and e-mails with the attitude that they are right.
Let me give a brief example of that last part. On my website, a customer tried to buy an item for about $130 with four different credit cards. They were all declined. She e-mailed me, furious that she had not received a confirmation that her order had been placed. I responded by phone, calmly explaining the situation to her, and saying that I'd be glad to take her payment over the phone, or that she could simply process the order again with a card that had at least $130 left on it.

Rather than doing this, she sent me an e-mail with her credit card information. More than that, it was one of the cards that she had already tried, and had been declined. I tried the card again for her, and called her again, to notify her that I simply could not process that card. I apologized, and asked if there were any other cards she wanted to try, or if she wanted to try a different method of payment. She said that if I couldn't accept her credit card, that she would just buy from someone else. Of course, I was tempted to tell her just how silly she was being, and that no one would accept these cards. Instead, though, I told her that I understood her concerns, but that it was not me but my bank that wouldn't accept those cards. I let her know that if she changed her mind, I would be glad to process the transaction for her.

A week later she contacted me with a new card to process the transaction. She sent a testimonial afterward as well, telling me that she'd been having a rough day, and appreciated my patience.

I spent less than twenty minutes overall in addressing her concerns, and the transaction landed me about $40 in profit. For those of you counting at home, that's about $120 per hour, if we were to calculate my "wages."

Again, let me repeat. Customer service is important to online business. How important? Very, very important.

For more on how an online coaching company can help your business thrive, simply visit www.thriveli.com.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Building a Following: It's Twitter Time!

Our last entry discussed the details of getting friends on different social networking groups, and how to get started, but this week I want to go more in-depth on one in-particular: Twitter.

Twitter, a relatively new phenomenom, involves "following" others and being "followed." Everyone can make whatever updates they'd like on their life or whatever else, and when you're following someone, you see their updates. When they're following you, they see yours. It's that simple.

But it's a bit hard to build a following if you don't know what you're doing. I'm going to give some step-by-step directions to help you get started on Twitter.

  1. Register for Twitter! Obviously important.
  2. Make a couple of updates. The first should tell the world something about you, and your business. The second should be something interesting. If you want to do one or two more to share other interesting facts or websites, feel free.
  3. Go to "Find People" at the top of the site. Search for a major keyword for your industry. For example, if you were to sell Motorcycle Parts, you could search for the term "Motorcycle."
  4. The list that pulls up will include people who have the word "Motorcycle" in their name or their description of themselves. The ones that have the most followers are listed at the top. Click on the first one that looks like it applies to your industry (so if the first one is "Motorcycles Suck," don't follow it -- go for "Motorcycles Rock" or whatever applies below that).
  5. Follow them! Now look at the right hand side. You can see how many followers they have. Click on where it says "### followers."
  6. You know two things about these people. 1) They are the sort who follow others in your industry. 2) They have some sort of interest in your industry.
  7. "Follow" down the list. Don't over-do it. Twitter may not like you if you send out 2000 follows in a day. Keep it reasonable, but add a lot of follows.
  8. Wait 48 hours. Check your e-mail. You should have several hundred "This Person is Now Following You on Twitter" notifications.
Congratulations! You've just leeched off of the following of others, establishing your own with people who are likely to be interested.

Of course, this is just the beginning, and there are a lot of tricks of the trade to be learned. To find out more about how a quality coaching company can help bring your online business out of the dark ages and into the modern world of social networking, just visit http://www.thriveli.com.