Category Archives: small business

Gary Vaynerchuk Talks Social Media–Listen Up

Laurel Tielis

Gary Vaynerchuk’s in 1,424,988 Google+ circles, and has 935,967 followers on Twitter. Bring up his Facebook page, and there are 85,935 likes on it. Clearly, the man knows about social media.

And he doesn’t just know about it, he confesses to loving it. His reason? “It sells stuff.” If you’re selling “stuff,” whether products or services, learning how to use it effectively, will make you an enthusiast as well.

During a webinar hosted by Marketing Cloud, Vaynerchuk explained the social media equivalent story of bacon and eggs for breakfast.  You know the one; the hen is involved, but the pig is committed.

Smart business people need to fully commit to social media to maximize its benefits, he says. By mapping a potential client or customer on a number of social sites–think LinkedIn plus Twitter plus Facebook (as well as any other sites you can manage)–you’ll get a complete picture of how your prospect sees the world.

For example, you learn about someone’s social side by becoming a friend or fan on Facebook, discover their business side by connecting on LinkedIn, and find out what they’re tossing off by following them on Twitter. Then, you can respond to what excites and interests them, so that they see how they’ll benefit by working with you.

Let’s say someone you’re interested in working with shares a tweet about Britney Spears. Vaynerchuk says, “Say ‘I love Britney Spears, too.’ Personal information connects you.”

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/83/Gary_Vaynerchuk_by_Erik_Kastner.jpg

Gary Vaynerchuk photo by Erik Kastner

Social Media Combines Content and Context

See social in terms of content marketing and context marketing. Content marketing offers information through a video, an infographic, or a blog post like this. It’s more like publicity or advertising where a company pushes out information. Context marketing is community management. Here’s where you engage with customers and clients.

Interacting on social sites offers us context, Vaynerchuk says. “The more we know about others, the more global ammunition we have,” he says. We want to understand who they are, he says, and then we want to use a combination of email or social media to make them a client.

Five Social Media Must-Knows

1. What if you’re short of time?

“If you don’t have time, the answer is you stop doing the dumb ‘stuff.’” Just like the Navy carves out a budget for the Navy SEALs, Vaynerchuk says you have to allocate the time for social media–it’s that important.

2. You tried it and it was a non-starter

Everything has failed, he points out, not just social media; TV commercials were a bust when they were first tested.

3. It takes too long to take off

Social media  is not good at doing short term, he says. Play long term, because owning a relationship takes time. It rarely converts on on a KPI (key performance indicator), but he says, it converts more quickly when you take care of others.

4. It’s too noisy?

Vaynerchuk says, “What breaks through when everyone is talking? The listeners.” Be a good listener, and a responder, rather than strutting your stuff.

5. Being human matters

Automate zero in social media, he says, because if you treat it as just a push platform, it doesn’t work. You need to buy equity in people by caring about them first, then when you go for the ask, it’s easier.

Vaynerchuk put it in business terms, but his advice essentially breaks down to what your mother told you. Social media works when you take an interest in others, share what you have, behave nicely, and give everyone a turn.

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

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Women Tech Titans Talk Business–From Bossy to Babies

Laurel Tielis

Thanks to StumbleUpon, ScoutMob, and Girls in Tech, the overflow crowd at San Francisco’s 111 Minna got to hear women tech titans talk about how to behave in business to have, if not all, a great deal.

The panel, made up of Jesse Draper, CEO/Producer/Host of The Valley Girl Show, Julia Hartz, Co-Founder and President of Eventbrite, Leila Janah, Founder and CEO of Samasource, Rashmi Sinha, CEO of SlideShare, and Johanna Wright, Director of Product Management, Web Search, at Google, was moderated by Liz Gannes, Senior Editor at AllThingsDigital.

With a tip of the hat to Tina Fey, the title of the evening’s event was Can I Succeed in Tech Without Being a “Bossypants,” and the answer was it’s quite alright to be one.

Leila Janah finds it works not to think in terms of being bossy, but rather to remove herself from the picture, and ask, Is my behavior making things better?

Rashmi Sinha put it this way: “I don’t care if I’m perceived as bossy or not. It’s not relevant; you need to do the things you need to do.” Sinha advised, “Think strong, rather than bossy, because communications are better when you’re clear and direct.” She confided that “the world changed for me at that point.”

As for why men do better in business than do women, Johanna Wright said the book Women Don’t Ask laid out the need for women to speak up, and was helpful in her career path.

Julia Hartz agreed, “I felt like I was taking my clothes off and doing something crazy by just speaking out. And I just kind of broke the field by going for it.” While she found it scary, she also found it liberating. “It made all the difference.”

Jessie Draper said, “You need to be pushy to get things done,” and shared that her life changed, and she got her show, when she decided not to wait on others but to do it herself.

Of course. Marissa Meyer’s move to Yahoo and her pregnancy came up for discussion. The women agreed that having children and running a company requires a lot of help, but, they felt it was worth doing, and that it can be done well.

Johanna’s comments on combining parenting and business showed how it can play out in the real world. “Sometimes my kids call me Maria; she’s my nanny. That’s alright. Sometimes they call my husband Maria. And they really love her.”

The secret seems to be to see yourself as assertive rather than abrasive, and then just get on with business.

How about you? Do you do it all? If so, how do you do it. And how do you make yourself heard in the work world?

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

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Email vs. Social Media for Small Business

Laurel Tielis

Remember when, if you wanted to interact with consumers, you ran an ad, hired a publicist, or went to the post office to send direct mail.

Today, most small businesses turn to social media or to email to engage with their customer base. Which is more effective, though? What’s the easiest and best way to get your message out?

Most marketers suggest using them in tandem to get more customers in your store or more clients for your business. But that’s double the work for small business owners who already have more than enough to do.

An article in the New York Times showed how one savvy businessman wrote emails which sent his customers to social media sites to review his service. Essentially, he does half of the work, and reaps all of the benefit.

Matt McCormick, owner of JCD Repair, a repair shop for electronic goods, sends an email out two weeks after he’s serviced a client’s goods. It asks if they’re happy with the work, reminds them that there’s a 90 day warranty, and includes a link, asking for a review on Yelp, Facebook, or Google Plus Local.

The email ups customer engagement and retention (because less than happy customers can tell him about their concerns so that problems can be resolved), and pays off in a large percentage of good publicity for the business.

But wait a minute. Does he get any bad reviews? McCormick says he does, but he believes those reviews increase the overall credibility of all reviews. He says they also point him In the right direction going forward.

So there you have it–an easy, efficient, and effective way to combine email and social media to bring in more 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

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How Retailers Can Increase Sales — Truly

Laurel Tielis

Looking good! I like that dress. Have you lost weight? It’s a slippery slope between little white lies like these, and great big whoppers, according to Dan Ariely, professor of psychology and behavioral economics at Duke University, and author of The Honest Truth About Dishonesty: How We Lie to Everyone–Especially Ourselves.

Ariely say, the more you lie, the more comfortable you get at it; the more comfortable you get, the more you lie. And so it goes.

Addressing an 8 a.m. TEDx breakfast meeting in San Francisco, he asked attendees how many had lied that day, and about one third of the people in the room raised a hand. “It’s a little early,” he quipped, making his point that most people lie as a matter of course.

Lying as a Business Tactic

So why should I write about lying in a blog dealing with retail? Why should you care? Because lying affects your business, especially its bottom line. The sad truth is, it’s not just the major players–the GlaxoSmithKlines or the Bernie Madoffs–it’s the mom ‘n’ pop shops as well, that regard lying as part of doing business, or even as the nature of business.

The funny thing is, most people see themselves as moral. But as a client or customer, if they feel they’ve been mistreated–by being sold inferior goods, or being served by someone who could not care less about taking care of them, or by being promised something they didn’t get, like a return phone call–they resent the business and want to get back at it.

Even worse, they begin to treat others in kind. They feel stupid if they’re ethical. And so they’re not. Entire professions, like law, medicine, and journalism, get bad reputations. Dewey Cheatem and Howe? You bet!

Photo Credit: LIES by Leo Reynolds

In retail, customers often behave badly as a way of leveling the playing field. If the waiter took too much time to get to their table, it’s unlikely the unhappy customer will mention that the check total is incorrect–in their favor. When a surly clerk overcharges on one item, the shopper will point it out, ignoring the fact that something else wasn’t rung up.

Think about it. If you as a business owner have made promises you haven’t kept, why should the people who buy your products or services behave with honor? So it’s incumbent on you to behave well. Making promises, and not fulfilling them, disappoints current customers and turns them into former customers.

On the other hand, if you run a business that can be counted on to consistently treat consumers with care and kindness, you’re sure to gain customers from all of the companies where they’ve been mistreated. And Ariely can get you started on running that kind on business. He says it requires moving away from rationalizations, such as ‘everybody does it,” to confessing past transgressions and asking for forgiveness. It’s effective in terms of religion, he notes, as well as work.

So next time you think about writing off dinner with mom, because after all, she did ask “How’s business?” think again. It’s not about paying a little more or a little less on your taxes, it’s about ensuring that you’re doing the right things, at all times. Maintain your ethical standards and you truly will increase your 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

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How Smart Retailers are Attracting More Customers

Laurel Tielis

It’s no secret that retail has moved from seller-centric to buyer-centric. Merchants, both large and small, now realize that they must make changes to accommodate their customers, whether in-store or online. So they’re changing the way they do business, to be in touch and in sync.

Updated technology is one of the ways they’re reaching out to bring in shoppers. Another is increasing perks, and extending offerings. One of my favorite techniques, is the move to “entertailing,” or providing more entertainment at retail establishments

In the technology department, mass market to upscale stores, including Macy’s Sears, and Nordstrom, are offering customers free wireless. They’re doing this to make their establishments more buyer-friendly, but they’re also doing it to counteract shoppers using their stores as showrooms. By offering in-store specials on shoppers’ mobiles, they’re ensuring that people who are in their stores buy then and there. Rather than fight it, how are you taking advantage of customers’ use of their mobiles, to build your business?

To save some “green” as well as show shoppers how green they are, stores are providing digital receipts in lieu of paper. Savvy businesses of all sizes are also substituting iPads for the cash wrap, to make purchases easier for customers and staff. Have you instituted these, or similar, changes?

To build loyalty, stores are using tiered memberships to increase rewards for their most committed customers. Think of how Starbucks reels in coffee buyers–use their card five times and get free refills. Use it 30 times and get a personalized gold membership card. Gap, Best Buy, and Express all do it as well, and you can too in your business.

PetSmart has moved beyond selling products for pets, to being a resource for owners to board pets. Its PetsHotels are showing its customers some love, by welcoming pets as overnight “guests”, as well as offering doggie daycare, in some stores. Likewise, Dollar Tree, a dollar store with more than 4,300 outlets in the U.S. and Canada, has opened a pharmacy in its West Park, FL location. Both of these retailers are extending their services to make life easier for their customers. What are you doing to increase convenience for your current customers and to attract new ones?

On the entertainment front, The Body Shop has updated its 2,600 outlets with a new concept called Pulse. The stores have been redone to make it more comfortable for customers to kick back and stay awhile. (And as every retailer knows, the secret sauce to sales is the length of time a customer stays in the store.)

The idea is to open the conversation with its customers, but in a way, it’s a throwback to how Anita Roddick founded the company. She created a deep connection with customers by bringing together like-minded people; the difference today is the chain is bringing in all kinds of customers to open all kinds of conversations. How are you making shoppers more comfortable to increase customer engagement in your business?

Whether you use technology, or the human touch, if you want to bring more customers to your business, you have to show them how much you value them. You do that by making life easier or more pleasurable for them. Your reward is that your work life becomes easier and more pleasurable as well, not to mention, more successful!

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 my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2012 Laurel Tielis

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Don’t Shop, Shwop!

Laurel Tielis

How did Marks & Spencer, Britain’s largest retail chain, know I’ve got a cluttered closet? I guess I must be just one of many whose purchases exceed the space in their homes.

My solution has been to get rid of something, whether it’s a sweater, a pair of shoes, or even a belt, donating it to a charity, every time I buy something new. Marks & Spencer has now named, and claimed, this kind of behavior.

They’re calling it shwopping and they’ve set up shwop drops next to the cash wrap in all of their 342 stores.

The donated items, which could have been bought anywhere, will go to the international human rights association, Oxfam, to be resold, reused, or recycled. Nothing will be wasted–they’re even asking for used bras, for which there is a need in Africa.

Sadly, the department store chain hasn’t asked me to spearhead the program. Instead, Joanna Lumley, best known for channeling Ivana Trump in her role as Patsy on the television show Absolutely Fabulous, is the spokesperson.

Of course, clearing out closets is not the main concern for creating the fashion initiative. There’s the landfill problem.They’re full!

The company estimates it sells 350 million clothing items a year and that’s a lot of landfill. If customers go shwopping instead of shopping, they’ll reduce it significantly.

Isn’t it nice to know that by simply adding a letter, and emptying a closet, consumers can help the economy and the environment. If you’re a retailer, why not promote the initiative in your store?

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

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