Monthly Archives: May 2012

Increased Agility Drives Business Success

Laurel Tielis

Are you flexible? I don’t mean can you do a split, although I’m impressed if you can. Nor do I mean can you touch your head to the floor without bending your knees. That’s great in Yoga class, and I concede, it probably means you’re holding less stress, which is good for both your body and your business.

But in business agility relates to how quickly you can change, whether it’s your merchandise or your marketing, your design or display, to make sure you’re giving customers exactly what they want, when and where they want it.

As business is moving at an unprecedented speed, every company, no matter its size, needs to move just as quickly. If you’re not nimble, you’ll lose sales. Being able to pivot, to change course, has been the key to success for companies from Facebook to Twitter to Groupon.

Now Macy’s is attempting to be more nimble. Recognizing Amazon’s success with its distribution centers located near major population centers, the department store chain has started shipping online orders from the back room of about 35 per cent of its 800 stores. In effect, it’s using them as warehouses to fulfill orders more quickly, and at lower cost. It’s able to do this now because of advances in technology which make it possible to immediately update the status of merchandise.

But even with the improvement in a tech sense, the shift wouldn’t have been possible if that powers that be at the chain weren’t willing to shake things up; if they weren’t open to new possibilities.

And when you think about, why should they make changes. Macy’s has been consistently successful; profit is up a whopping 38 per cent, while online sales have increased by more than one-third. But because they’re savvy, they’re not thinking about what has happened, they’re thinking about the future. They’re making these changes now because they want to make sure of Macy’s continued success.

That’s a good lesson for all of us to keep in mind. No matter how well things are going at any given time, we have to be open to the new. Today, we all have to be futurists.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

Read Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales, for easy and effective ways to bring in more business.

Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis

Tagged , , , , ,

Who’s the Biggest Yahoo of Them All?

Laurel Tielis

We are a nation of liars. We lie about our height, weight, age, and income. We tell “white lies” to friends, ” That dress looks great on you,” and we put off people we don’t want in our lives, by claiming to be busy, even when we’re not.

We tell half truths as well. When I wrote the society column for the Miami Herald, I remember a woman saying she had dinner with Luciano Pavarotti the previous night. She had, as one of the 600 people at the charity event. Here’s another way we inflate what we’ve done: A term at a university easily turns into a place where we got a degree–with honors!

So in one sense lying on a resume is no big deal–except when it is–when you get caught. What was Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson thinking, or wasn’t he thinking at all, when the resume with inaccurate information was created? I don’t know. Thompson doesn’t have a degree in computer science, but he makes the claim he does. That’s bad.

What’s worse is that Yahoo’s SEC filing has him listed as having that degree. So does the company’s website. And when Thompson was President of eBay‘s PayPal division, it, too, included the undeserved credential.

Let’s leave Thompson to his fate, and talk about you, and your business. Why should this story concern you? Well, if you’re sure that everything about your business, and everyone working for and with your business, is 100 percent kosher, it needn’t concern you at all.

But people are people, and all too often they say and do things that can affect your business. (Think about Dior and designer John Galliano, who signed his own fashion death warrant with his racist rant.)

What Yahoo is facing, and what you need to know about, is Crisis Communications 101. It’s a four step process to rescue a rotten situation.

Crisis Communications 101

  1. Choose a spokesperson and have him or her admit there’s a problem–don’t try to cover it up or downplay it. (We all know how well that approach worked for former President Clinton.) Yahoo called the unearned degree an “inadvertent error,” which is not a smart thing for a company already in trouble to do.
  2.  After the admission, comes the apology. Just as in nursery school, if you’re wrong, you have to say, I’m sorry. Thompson, in a memo to Yahoo staff, claimed “full responsibility,” and said, “I want you to know how deeply I regret how this issue has affected the company and all of you.”
  3. Promise to fix the problem. Explain the steps you will take to correct the situation, and also what you plan to do so that it, or something similar to it, doesn’t happen again.
  4.  Then you have to make good your promises.

Here’s hoping you never have to get involved with crisis communications. And here’s hoping that Yahoo follows these steps. As for Thompson, what do you think should happen? Is he the right person to lead the company?

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, follow me on Twitter @laureltielis and read Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis

Related articles

Tagged , , , ,

Destination Stores Attract More Customers

Laurel Tielis

Noted football coach Vince Lombardi told players, “If you aren’t fired with enthusiasm, you will be fired with enthusiasm.” Guess what? It’s the same for your retail business.

It’s the enthusiasm you bring to your store and your story that differentiates you from competitors. You can’t be halfhearted at a time when brick and mortar stores, no matter their size, are challenged by online retailers.

Remember Show and Tell?

So how do you let people know how much you value them and their business? You “show” your passion in everything. It’s obvious from the way you listen to and learn from your customers. It’s there in the care you put into merchandising your store and displaying products. It’s apparent from the attractive and eye-catching entryway and window, to the appealing dressing or seating areas, to the cleanliness of your restrooms.

It’s also the way you answer the phone, and how promptly you return messages. It’s in your smile and your service. You show your passion for you business in everything you do.

You also convey the intensity of your connection to your customers by aligning with other retailers in your area, by sharing your expertise through involvement in your community, and by supporting and partnering with local charities.

Tell Your Story to Increase Sales

You “tell” your passion in mainstream and social media. Anything you do that’s out of the ordinary, that contributes to your brand, to making you a destination—whether it’s a theme party, a special service, or a change in your hours or your venue—needs to be written about on Twitter, posted on your Facebook page, shared on LinkedIn and Google +, discussed in your blog, covered in your e-newsletter (extra points for creating a hard-copy one that you distribute in-store and mail out to your clientele), mentioned on your website, and distributed through press releases.

Set up Google alerts so you’ll know when your business is being discussed online. In addition, respond promptly to comments or criticisms on social media. Check your Facebook wall, read tweets that mention you as well as direct mail on Twitter, reach out to Yelpers and Citysearch commentators, and keep your eye on YouTube.

If you’re not happy with a comment, respond to it and see if you can mitigate it. Or, get satisfied clients, customers, colleagues, vendors, and suppliers to post information that supports you.

Want to make people you sell to feel heard? Establish a “moan-phone,” a direct contact line for people to share their concerns or problems with you. If you can’t set up a dedicated line, initiate a specific time for customers to call when they know they can get direct assistance.

You need to be a good communicator to build business. Start with a good story, tell it in an interesting fashion, and keep the focus on What’s In It for the Customer/Client.

Establish one-on-one relationships with a wide range of people–everyone from journalists to bloggers to other influencers; people who are known in the book business as “big mouths.” If you create good relationships with one or two well-known bloggers, you can parlay that to getting attention from others at that level.

Passion pays off in business. When you show customers how important they are to you, you make your store a destination, which generates more traffic and increased sales.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, follow me on Twitter @laureltielis and read Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales..

Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis

Tagged , , , , ,

Email Marketing Increases Store Traffic

Laurel Tielis

Chris Brogan has 208,000 followers on Twitter. Dan Zarrella has 50,000 followers. What’s interesting is that both of these men have recently written that while social media is important, email brings in more business.

So while it’s true that social media is growing, and that businesses need to participate in the online conversation to stay front of mind, no one is sure just how much being on different platforms moves the needle on sales. For example, this article in the Wall Street Journal talks about whether companies are getting their monies worth from advertising on Facebook.

Statistics, though, are clear about the strength of email. It leads the way as a method of conversion–turning contacts into customers. It’s a winner because the people on your mailing list have already shown an interest in your business, by specifically allowing you to contact them.

Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Graduations, and June Weddings

Market analysts are predicting strong sales for the upcoming holiday–Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, graduations, and June weddings. To make sure you get your share of the dollars spent, reach out to your customers and clients through Facebook, Google+, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to find out what they’re hoping to get, and what they’re planning to spend.

That will help you engage with your fans and followers, allow you to ramp up merchandise in areas whose importance you might not have recognized, and serve as the basis of your email campaign.

Use Email to Engage and Convert

Then contact your email list. Let people know what others find hot this year, so they’ll be able to buy while there’s still availability. Provide gift suggestions and let your contacts know about gift cards, layaway (if you’re offering it ), as well as inexpensive fun add-ons.

Send out coupons, info on special offers like BOGOs (buy one get one), or two-for-one opportunities, as well as other promotions that are available in-store or online. Since shoppers generally buy more in-store, offer the option to purchase online and pick up at your store, or create an online contest, where the entry form has to be dropped off at your brick and mortar location.

Let shoppers know if you’re offering free shipping and/or free gift wrapping. Use email to make it clear the last possible day they can make a purchase so their gift arrives on time.

While it’s easy to get carried away with what’s new, it’s a good idea to take advantage of what’s known to work. By activating your email list you’re sure to reach your sales goals and achieve the profits you’ve been working toward. Social media gurus Brogan and Zarrella say so, and they ought to know!

So how important is email to your business? How do you use it to bring in more traffic? Share your thoughts and your tips.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, follow me on Twitter @laureltielis and read Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis

Related articles

Tagged , , , ,
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 38 other followers

%d bloggers like this: