5 Tips for Small Business Saturday

November 26th, 2019 Comments off

Everyone knows that the frenetic Christmas shopping season officially kicks off on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. Following shortly after Black Friday is Cyber Monday, a retail holiday started in 2005 as retailers sought to capitalize on the growing trend of online shopping. Sandwiched between those two retail extravaganzas, on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving is another shopping holiday known as Small Business Saturday.

What makes Small Business Saturday different from its well-known counterparts? While Black Friday and Cyber Monday attract people to national and big-box retailers as well as online shopping, Small Business Saturday encourages holiday shoppers to patronize brick-and-mortar businesses that are small and local.

What can small businesses do to take advantage of this special day that comes at the very start of the busiest shopping season of the year? Read these 5 helpful tips and find out.

Tip #1 – Introduce Customers to the Business

It’s easy for a small business to get lost in the massive world of retail. What can a small business do to rise above the fray and get noticed? Because fewer hands are involved in shipping packages to customers, each shipment can be personalized in some way. A business card that features the business’s physical address, website, and social media accounts can go a long way. A thank you note can be included in the package—bonus points if it’s handwritten and personalized with the customer’s name. Additionally, a social media page that includes photos of the business, owners, and employees will let customers know who the friendly faces are behind the package they received in the mail.

Tip #2 – Spread the Word Throughout the Community

While online promotion can be very effective, a small business can make its presence known offline as well. One of the main reasons people shop at small businesses is to support local businesses and put money back into the community. By engaging your local community, you can effectively boost your holiday sales—especially on Small Business Saturday. The local Chamber of Commerce, local organizations, and locally published newspapers and circulars can be used to get the word out.

Tip #3 – Maintain a Presence on Social Media

Any and every social media account can be used to promote Small Business Saturday. Remember, hashtags can be a business’s best friend; sales and deals can be promoted using #SmallBusinessSaturday, #SmallShop, #SmallBizSat, and others. The voice on a social media account should match the store’s branding and products. For example, a small business that sells toys and games would present itself a bit differently than one that sells haute couture clothing and accessories.

Tip #4 – Promote Products That Make Great Gifts

After all, the holiday season is all about gift-giving, so businesses should place emphasis on items that would make good gifts. Just like any other seasonal sale, product selection and merchandising are key. Grouping products by intended recipient is a great way to showcase your offerings. Categories like “gifts for mom” or “gifts for grandpa” are always popular.

Tip #5 – Don’t Forget About Loyal Customers

Any business is happy to get a new customer, but Small Business Saturday is also about engaging existing customers. The day can be advertised several weeks ahead of time by posting signs in windows and putting flyers in customers’ bags when they pay at the register to remind them about it. If the business maintains a customer email list, a brief but friendly email can encourage them to stop in and check out the deals on Small Business Saturday.

By following these tips, small businesses can start off the busy holiday shopping season on the right foot!

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Finding Profits At Estate Sales Part III: The Office

November 8th, 2019 Comments off

Parts one and two of this multi-part series focused on the kitchen and garage.  Next stop?  The office!  You can pretend you’re a pirate looking for buried treasure as you enter the office of almost any estate sale.

Chairs

The first item you should look for is chairs.  Chairs made by companies like Herman Miller and Stressless are incredibly popular.  Herman Miller makes highly adjustable office chairs that are pricey when purchased new.  Stressless makes recliners that sell for thousands at retail.  (Look for the Stressless logo on the round adjuster knob.)  You can purchase these comfort chairs for $50-$100 at estate sales and sell them for $500-$600 online. 

Note: Since chairs are large and heavy, list them as local pickup only.  People who are interested in these brands will often drive long distances to pick them up.   

Pens

Next, be on the lookout for expensive ballpoint and fountain pens.  Brands such as Cross, Parker, and Montblanc are always in demand.

Vintage Stereo Equipment

Many Americans love listening to music as they work.  Vintage stereo equipment is a common sight in the office area of the typical estate sale.  Recently, a friend purchased a Sansui 9090DB AM/FM receiver for $30.  Since it was valuable, he had it refurbished at the local stereo shop.  He sold it for $950 to a dealer who drove 400 miles to pick it up!  (Ironically, the dealer didn’t care if it was refurbished because he has his employees inspect and improve the items he finds before selling them to his customers in Asia.)

Paperweights

In addition, keep your eyes peeled for signed paperweights.  It is not uncommon to find high-end paperweights in the office area of an estate sale.  Orient and Flume, for example, is a Northern California company that makes pieces that are highly collectible.

Office Supplies

The office is also a great place to stock up on supplies!  Running a business can get expensive, and estate sales are fantastic places to purchase paper, envelopes, labels, and tape for almost nothing.

Stamps

Finally, be on the lookout for stamp collections.  A few years ago, we bought a box full of random stamps for $5.  The stamps weren’t collectibles, but they were worth about $250 at the post office.  We didn’t have to buy stamps for a long time!

So the next time you’re out and about looking for buried treasure at an estate sale, check out the office, mate!  You won’t regret it! 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Big Ways to Improve Your Google Shopping Campaigns

September 26th, 2019 Comments off

Have you ever noticed those little picture ads near the top of a Google search page? Those are Google Shopping ads. They’re unique in what they can do – and great for increasing online sales. So, let’s run down a few ways to make the absolute most of a Google Shopping campaign.

Optimizing Your Google Shopping Data Feed

To begin your Google Shopping campaign, you’ll need to upload a data feed in CSV or XML format. Your data feed document should have all the info that appears on your ads: Price, Taxes, Title, Description, Product URL and Image URL. Depending on what kind of product you have, there may be optional fields you can add. For example, you can add color and size for apparel items.

Which additional details need to be added? Make sure your feed is optimized with all the relevant details. Imagine if someone asked if you wanted to buy a “Sweater”? The first thing you’d ask is… what kind? Then if you liked the description of the sweater, you’d want to know if they have it in your size.

The important thing to remember here is that unless the product info is part of your data feed, it won’t make it to your ad. Give your prospects everything they need to buy.

The Right Titles and Descriptions for Your Shopping Ads

Now, let’s look at a few ways to juice up your ad. Make sure to include relevant keywords in the title and description, which will help your product get matched to a query. It’s not enough to just list the model number, which will only attract people looking for that exact model. You’ll be losing out on a lot of potential customers.

Let’s play a little good product title/bad product title to get it right:

  • Bad product title – “Black Shoes”
  • Good product title – “Black High Heel Pumps – Size 8 – Women’s Shoes”

See how much more targeted the second option is? A good title has specific keywords like “high heels” and “pumps” to perfectly match anyone looking for a pair of shoes like that.

Next, be sure your description also has keywords, plus the selling points that would make someone want to buy. The description is where you can put your best selling points. Think of it this way… the title is the “what,” and the description is the “why.” Once someone clicks through, give them your best sales pitch to convince them to buy.

Successful Bidding Strategies for Google Shopping Ads

Google Shopping works the same way as an auction. When a user types in a search like “floral throw pillows,” Google checks all of the prices bidders (retailers) are willing to pay. The highest bidders will win the opportunity to be shown to the consumer looking for “floral throw pillows.” That’s how the system works, now we’re going to give you some tips to make the system work for you.

Don’t Set the Same Bid Across Your Campaign

One of the biggest mistakes is to blanket the same bid across an entire campaign. Determine the bid by looking at the value and profit margin of each product.

Start with Best-Sellers

You’ll have enough variables to deal with when beginning a Google Shopping campaign. Start with your best products, where you have a strong competitive advantage. Some products with low profit margins may never make sense to include in your feed.

Use Custom Labels to Create Bid Groups

Custom labels can be applied to your data feed to create price groupings. Try putting higher converting products together, and giving them all higher bids. Put lower bids on the group of products that don’t convert as well.

Optimizing your campaign is a continual process, but following these tips will give you a big head start.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

Using Two-Step Verification to Keep Your eBay Account Secure

June 28th, 2019 Comments off

A few months ago, I woke up to thousands of dollars of eBay sales.  I couldn’t believe how many iPhones I’d sold!  Unfortunately, I don’t sell iPhones.  Last weekend, the same thing happened to one of my former eBay students.  When she logged onto the site, she noticed that someone had used her account to list five PlayStation gaming consoles and a number of Samsung Galaxy Notes.  She changed her password over and over again, but that wasn’t enough to stop the attack.  Panic time!

 

The problem?  Our eBay accounts were hacked!  In both cases, eBay was alerted immediately, and customer service reps took care of the problem quickly.  Rumor has it that hackers prefer preying on seasoned eBay sellers who have accounts in good standing.  My former student has been buying on eBay for years and is now a successful seller.  And it was pretty obvious why I’d been hacked. I have a feedback score of almost 20,000, I’ve been on eBay since 2005, and I’d recently changed my password to one I’d used for years on numerous other accounts.  But that password change gave hackers the change to move in.  Bad move, Miriam.

 

Blocking hackers from your eBay account – installing two-step verification

Needless to say, I changed my eBay password again and followed the advice of a friend who supports his entire family selling estate sale items on eBay.  My friend cannot afford to have anything happen to his account, so his eBay account is set up for two-step verification.

What is two-step verification?
Basically, in order to log onto eBay, a person has to go through a two-step process.  The first step is inputting your eBay password.    Then, eBay will send you  a security code via text which must be entered as well.  If any of the two steps is not inputted correctly, the person will be blocked from logging in to eBay.

I set up two-step verification on both my eBay and PayPal accounts, and I haven’t had a problem since.

 

How to set up two-step verification in eBay

  1. Click on the “My eBay” link in the upper right-hand corner of the home page
  2. Go to the “Account” tab
  3. Click on the “Personal Information” or “Business Information” link on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Scroll down until you see the “Security Information” section
  5. Under this heading you will see “Two-Step Verification”
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Follow eBay’s instructions on screen to complete the process.

 

How to set up two-step verification on PayPal
If you’d like to set up this feature on PayPal and you have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. In the upper right-hand corner of the summary page, click on “Profile”
  3. Choose “Profile and Settings”
  4. On the left-hand side of the page, click on “My Settings”
  5. Then scroll down and find the “Security Key” section
  6. Click on the link to the right of this section
  7. Click on “Register a New Mobile Device Number”
  8. Follow PayPal’s instructions on screen to confirm the process.

 

If you do not have a business account, follow these steps:

  1. Log into your account
  2. Click on the gear icon in the upper right-hand corner of the summary page
  3. Click the “Security” tab on the left-hand side of the page
  4. Go to the “Security Key” section
  5. Click on the link to the right of this section and follow PayPal’s instructions on screen

 

Setting up two-step verification may take a few minutes, but it’s well worth the security it provides.  This extra level of protection will give you peace of mind and will save you time in the future.

 

About the Author

Miriam Otto is an eBay blogger and credentialed teacher with 13 years’ experience selling on the site.  She was a frequent guest on eBay Radio and has participated in eBay seller panels and projects.  Her blog, The eBay Life, is an all-in-one resource for eBay sellers.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

New Year, New You: Creating the Ideal About Us Page

December 27th, 2018 Comments off

When it comes to your online e-commerce business presence, creating your “About Us” page requires careful consideration and attention to detail. When customers visit your website they often want to learn more about your company such as who is behind it, how long has the company been in business, and what is the company’s mission statement. The following will help guide you to the creation of an optimum “About Us” page using this handy checklist.

Use a Modern and Fun Tone

The ‘About Us’ page doesn’t have to be dull and straight to the point. Get creative and have fun with this page by using a modern and fun tone that is inviting to your visitors. One example could be with the use of a conversational tone that makes the customer feel invited and valued. Be upbeat and enthusiastic in your writing and this will come across as a company that is both modern and fun!

Showcase Your Company Interest and Culture

Giving your readers specific detailed information about who you are, where your company got its start, and the essence behind you and your products/services helps customers better understand where your passion lies and why they should be giving their business to you. Does your company give a proceed of sales to charity? Be sure to include this because customers enjoy shopping for a good cause!

Give Attention to Perception

In continuing with the idea of giving your customers an inside look at who you are and what your company’s mission is, don’t forget to give attention to customer perception. You want to be sure that your tone and message doesn’t come off as vain. While showcasing all your company’s achievements seems relevant on this page, consider how to feature them without giving the impression that you are bragging in any way. Instead, the perception you want to give to your customers should be one that is friendly, caring, and attentive to their needs. One way this could be done effectively is by adding a few of your customer’s personal reviews of your products so that customers can see for themselves why they should shop with you.

Categories: Small Business Marketing Tags:

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