It’s Not Just Business, It’s Personal

Where have all the gestures of gratitude gone? The small things. The personal touches. Random acts of kindness? They say it’s just a sign of the times, but is that really true? We can’t blame everything on technology. Just because we use the internet to communicate, doesn’t mean we aren’t capable of making phone calls or sending snail mail. We choose not to. We’ve stopped making an effort- stopped taking the time. If we want to keep our business relationships personal by offering more than a website can offer, then we need to make them personal. Whether we’re the ones selling or being sold to, it’s NOT just business, it IS personal.

Notes & Messages

It takes little time at all to write (with an actual pen or pencil) a little note and drop it in the mail. Aren’t our best customers and business acquaintances worth 3 minutes and 55 cents? Most of us spend far more time and money than that standing in line for coffee every day. A handwritten note is one of the oldest and most sincere gestures of kindness and it’s such a lost art that people are extra tickled to find an actual note in the mailbox these days. And have we become so busy (or lazy) as a society that we cannot be bothered to spell words? Must we speak in acronyms? If you must text your sincerity, you must also spell it. Would you rather receive a “TY” text message or a very sincere; “Thank you for your business.”?

Whether you’re thanking a customer for their business or thanking a salesperson for going the extra mile, make it personal.

Dates

While some of us have an old school planner and some of us prefer to “sync” our life schedules, most of us keep a calendar. Making a note to remember important client birthdays and anniversaries is just a pencil mark or click away and it means a lot to be remembered on a special day. Birthdays, anniversaries, and grand openings all deserve some attention. Try sending a message the night before so they know you were thinking of them after work hours. “I hope your promotional products make a lasting impression at your Grand Opening tomorrow!”  And don’t fret if you’re a day late, your greeting will stand out from the multiple timely messages your client received.  “I’m so sorry I missed your birthday yesterday! I hope you had a wonderful day!” This sort of message makes you seem human, yet sincere. Definitely not an automated message.

Allow your calendar to be your personal assistant by sending you reminders while you add the personal touch.

Follow-up

Whether it’s a survey or a personal phone call, courtesy goes a long way. It means you care about the service you’re providing beyond the monetary transaction. This is beneficial to both parties. The client feels cared for and the business or salesperson receives valuable feedback and one more opportunity to connect. This is a two-way street. If you loved a product or service, follow up with your salesperson. Let them know that the product they recommended was a huge hit and you look forward to working with them again in the future. If you truly care about your client, ask them if they received their product on time and if they were satisfied with the quality. Even if the product was just mediocre, your service will still get a gold star.

If you think to follow up, then take the time to actually do it. Good customer service never goes out of style.

Connect

Be sure to like and follow both your clients and the companies you do business with. Not only is social media an excellent way to connect, but it’s also a way to keep up to date on promotions and important dates. Although not as personal as a phone call, a social media message is the next best thing. A moment out of your regular day to just check-in or send well-wishes. If you see an event coming up, recommend products. On the flip side, you might see special offers or discount codes that are only available on social media.

Don’t be afraid to use social media as a marketing tool. Just keep your personal life and your professional profile separate.

Gifts

There is no better way to show appreciation than a gift. And there are no better gifts to give clients than promotional items. The tricky part is giving your clients a gift they will use and appreciate while it represents your business. Lucky for you, all you need to focus on is the client because once it has your logo on it, it represents your business! Regardless of your budget, there is a promotional product for you. From the small gesture of a pen to the large gesture of a barbeque grill, all gifts are appreciated. After all, it’s the thought that counts. Right? Just be mindful of your clientele. Just because you like it, doesn’t mean they’ll use it so spend your money wisely. Don’t assume everyone would like a cat magnet just because they frequent your veterinary clinic. It’s very possible that they’re “dog people”.

Keep it less personal to you, and more personal to them. Get your brand on the right product, and your token of appreciation will be appreciated!

If you want to keep a business relationship personal, you need to make it personal in a way that the internet can’t compete with. So it might be just business, but it’s still personal to someone.

How to Make the Most of the Business Roller Coaster

Business is a roller coaster.  It will be up and down with twists and turns all along the way. But it’s your choice to close your eyes and scream or jump in the front seat and enjoy the ride. The ticket’s been punched, you’ve waited in line, now it’s time to make the most of the business roller coaster!

Climb & Ascend

Just as the roller coaster needs to climb that first hill to convert potential energy into kinetic energy, we need to ascend our way to the top of our business. No business was ever created by snapping one’s fingers. Every business started with an idea or concept that escalated into something bigger. We need the steady scaling of determination in order to appreciate the view from the top. The reward will be so much sweeter if you actually earned it.

The climb is where we’re building our strategies, ordering products, making business plans, hiring employees, and anticipating it all coming together.

Highs

The high points of business are fun while they last but it’s up to us to conserve some of that exuberance for the next hill. It’s easy to get consumed with the high points, which is oftentimes what leads to the low points. When business is booming,  we tend to be less vigilant and stop marketing as much, minimize our research efforts, and assume that customers don’t need to hear from us as often. But this is actually the time that we need to assess what got us to this high point so we can stay there.

The high is when we reflect on what got us to the top. Time for some analytics and assessments. What’s been working and why?

Twists and Turns

Just as roller coasters wouldn’t be thrilling without twists, a business wouldn’t continue to thrive without turns. Nothing ever stays the same. Ever. The world is full of overachievers and developers who are constantly forcing us to take those turns.  It’s time to be susceptible to the changes that lie ahead because they’re coming whether we like it or not.  Remember that day you realized that your phone replaced your laptop, which replaced your desktop, which replaced your filing cabinet?

Twists and turns are when we offer some new products or services and switch up our marketing strategies. We must stay relevant to be successful. Ride the trendy train.

Stagnant

There will always be stagnant times in your business; where it’s not growing, but it’s not declining either.  Have you ever been on a roller coaster that has so many twists and turns that you can’t tell when you’re upside down or right-side up anymore? Eventually, you can’t even feel the anticipation of the next hill. We need that horizontal stretch to catch our breath.

The stagnant section is where we catch up on all the small things. Update your contact list, mail the invoices, stock up on supplies, and take a nap, but just a short one!

Downs and Lows

Nothing teaches us more than the low points. When we feel our business slowing down or reaching an all-time low, we know it’s time to grow. The ride down can be fast and scary. It sometimes feels like we might just crash, but we don’t. Eventually, we level off and hang out at the bottom for a while, or immediately start to ascend. You can choose to close your eyes and scream; throw your hands in the air and let whatever happens, happen; or jump in the front seat of that train and be the first to head back up!

Being all the way down teaches us to do better. Perhaps we let our guard down. Maybe we weren’t trendy enough. This is where we learn. This is where we grow. There’s nowhere to go but up!

Whether you choose to board the slightly bumpy or the fully twisted and upside down business roller coaster, you can’t get off in the middle. You must stay seated (and level-headed) for the entire ride.

5 Reasons to Sell to Small Businesses

1-Easy to build trust.

It’s easy to build trust with small business owners because most of the owners are present in the day-to-day activity that surrounds their business. In fact, there isn’t much that takes place in a small business that the shop owner doesn’t have a hand in. So once they establish a trusting relationship with someone else who is an asset to the well-being of the business, they tend to keep that person in their close circle.

Try building a friendly relationship with the store owners in your home town. Make an effort to know their customers so they trust you to help make their businesses grow.

2-No hoops to jump through.

Because you are most likely working directly with the owner, there won’t be any hoops to jump through to find someone authorized to make a decision. Small business owners tend to keep decisions to a yes or a no. There won’t be any phone transfers, upper-management, or lag time to deal with.

Once you have developed a trusting relationship with a small business owner, they’ll feel comfortable to entertain your promotional product ideas and the buck stops there. They either like it or they don’t!

3-If they’re happy, they will tell someone.

If small business owners are happy with their products and service, they WILL tell someone. And if someone should ask where they got something, they WILL tell someone. Where big brand companies stick to commercials and print ads, small businesses do most of their marketing through word of mouth and social media these days. Selling trendy promotional products to one store might result in supplying an entire Main Street with promotional products.

It’s not uncommon for entire communities to rally all of their small businesses together for Shop Small Saturdays and Sip and Strolls so go ahead and encourage your customers to share your contact info for city-wide events.

4-Be along for the ride.

Don’t you want to be along for the ride when that small store becomes one of many? Every large company and corporation started as a small business! They might be ordering minimum quantities right now but that just means there’s nowhere to go but up! And if your marketing tools (promo products) have been helping their business grow from the beginning, they’ll continue to need you and your products as they grow.

If your customers are growing, you’re growing!

5-They’re small but mighty.

Small businesses might be small when they stand alone, but they’re certainly mighty when they stand together. For every US corporation, there are 1162 small businesses! Towns all across America are looking to revamp their downtowns with quaint boutiques, restaurants, and stores. While all of the department stores have made the move online, the Ma & Pa shops are keeping their doors open and their shelves full of trendy, earth-friendly, and reclaimed items.

Small businesses are as trendy as the products inside them and they provide vital revenue for our home towns. Let’s make sure we support them by shopping small and offering marketing solutions (promotional products) that fit their budgets.

5 Ways to Improve Your Marketing

No matter what industry you’re in, it’s likely that the successful marketing strategies you used just a few years ago aren’t generating the results you want in today’s ever-changing business setting.

Here are five ways you can ensure that your marketing efforts keep you moving in the right direction.

1. Know your niche.
Begin by understanding your business niche. What do you do best? Who needs what you do? Who uses your products/services?  How do you best reach these prospects? The more you understand about your business and who you are specifically marketing to, the easier it will be to reach those individuals. The same can be said for knowing who is not your ideal audience.  For obvious reasons, this will save you time, money and energy in your marketing efforts.

2. Market to customer needs.
Always assume your prospects will buy only what they need. How can you convince them of that need? Emphasize the features of your product or service that reduce costs and solve problems for the customer. Sometimes you can reposition or reformat your messaging to better suit the customer’s needs. Just because your product or service is the same, doesn’t mean your messages have to be. Be creative!

3. Understand what works for you.
We often fall into the rut of thinking that we already know what the customer wants or thinks. Many marketers make decisions based on their gut instincts, but with the wealth of data available to them, this doesn’t need to be the case. Ask, survey and request feedback from your customers.

4. Create a great customer experience.
Today’s most successful marketers create remarkable experiences for customers. There are numerous points of interaction between a customer and brand that should be taken into consideration. These interactions are growing richer and richer and marketing is often responsible for creating and managing these experiences. Strive to successfully deliver positive experiences and these in turn will have a positive impact on your business. For example, one of the highest forms of praise is a positive online review of your product or service. Satisfied customers are also more likely to refer you to friends and family when they’re happy with their buying experience.

5. Never stop learning and trying new things.
Does anyone even remember how we marketed before the Internet? As technology and access to information change, companies must be nimbler than ever when it comes to marketing trends and technology. Savvy marketers are actively blogging and tweeting the latest data and information, using online platforms like LinkedIn to boost their recognition, and analyzing customer data using CRM software. Your marketing strategy should not be limited to one tactic or approach. Consider incorporating social media, content marketing, customer data, mobile marketing and event marketing with promotional products into your mix. Stay up on the latest trends by reading blogs and white papers and attending educational webinars.

The Vernon Company is recognized as one of the largest and most successful promotional product firms in North America. Founded in 1902 by F.L. Vernon, we serve more than 40,000 customers from our Newton, Iowa corporate headquarters.

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