Thursday, June 5, 2014

3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Online Credibility

If you have a small local business, or one that is more global, it is typically a good idea to have a shop online that offers your services and products available for sale.  So many people today actually prefer to shop online, even if they have a local store just down the road.  Wondering how to make sure those who visit your website trust you?  Use these three tactics and watch your prospective customers turn into regular customers.

Demonstrate security
Despite the ever-growing prevalence of shopping on the Internet, there’s still a risk for scams.  It is

important that your online site demonstrates how secure you keep information and how trustworthy you are to entice shoppers to choose your store over online competitors.

To show your customers that your business is one that is trustworthy, you can show the measures you can to protect their personal information.  When you have a secure page, your customers will see a lock icon in the browser.  Customers will also see that your web page URL has a ‘S’ at the end.  There are a number of ways to secure your website.

List all prices clearly
Another step to increase trust among your customers is to clearly share your prices, the costs associated with shipping.  Customers are much more likely to make a purchase if the shipping prices are shared clearly on your website.  Other information that builds credibility includes the details of your shipping and policies related to refunds and exchanges.  People aren’t going to move forward with their purchases if you leave them with too many unknown details about your prices.

Feedback from your customers
Don’t you want to hear what people say about a business and it’s products and services before you make a purchase?  Prospective customers want to hear from people who have had experience with your business.  They want to know what people thought of their products and services, and hear if people were pleased with their purchase.  Share your feedback, reviews and testimonials clearly on your website to allow your current and prospective customers to see and read.  This will encourage purchases from those who stop by to visit your website and help them feel like they can trust you.  While some negative and malicious reviews are better left unshared, a few that may be less than idea are okay to share.  Just make sure you show how you fixed the issues with your customer to ensure their satisfaction.

Businesses of all sizes can benefit from building their credibility and reputation online.  Make sure to always have a website that shows your honesty and willingness to ensure your customers are satisfied.  These three tips are a great check list to use as you make sure your website is one that will make prospective customers trust and believe in your business.

Photo via: 365outsource.com
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Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Businesswomen: Master the Art of Negotiation

Women often debate about the best pieces of career advice women give one another.  Some say books can teach you to be a good leader.  Others argue that the majority of business books are actually written by men, and they simply don’t understand the challenges face in today’s business world.  Here we have compiled the most successful tips that businesswomen often struggle with, focusing on negotiating.  Here are five tips that can help women conquer their nerves, ease their jitters and master the art of negotiation:

Prior to enter any type of negotiation setting, get organized from an informational stance.  Jot down the reasons you’re negotiating for what it is that you want.  Once your rationale is clear, compile research that backs your argument.  For instance, if you’re hoping to hire help, assemble the criteria for bringing on an.  What’s the minimum number of people an assistant typically supports?  Does revenue have a minimum amount of revenue it must clear in order to validate hiring help?  Be prepared to express the ways an assistant would add value to the organization.

Stay steady.
Before your meeting, prepare your facts and your demeanor.  You can’t walk into a negotiation without your ducks in a row.  The result can be a complete nightmare.  Demonstrate your optimism and show that you believe a solution that satisfies all parties is reachable.  Boost your self-confidence by focusing on your strong points and abilities; dwell on your successes to help remind yourself of your value.  Role-play the negotiation prior to the real thing with a person your trust beforehand to help control your emotions.

Inquire strategically.
In a negotiation setting, questions that require open-ended answers are often times incredibly powerful.  Questions of this nature open up the dialogue and also can earn you additional time if you need to compose your thoughts.  Think along the lines of: Can you elaborate on how you came to this solution? What is preventing us from coming to an agreement?

Strategize silently.
Use silence to your advantage.  When people are nervous they tend to ramble.  So don’t talk too much, you just tend to over-promise or under-sell—things you’ll later regret.  Stay quiet and think so you can prepare for your next move.  Silence also makes your counterpart open up and talk.  Silence helps keep you in the more favorable position.

Identify mutual gains.
Seek out a way that both parties benefit.  A win-win is the best way to negotiate; never look at the situation as a win-loss.  There has to be a positive in their somewhere if you look at the situation with an open, optimistic mentality.
The art of negotiating is one that is tricky, but can be conquered with the right mentality.  Take an optimistic approach and the above tips can help you overcome your fears and struggles and end up on top.

What advice do you have for other businesswomen?

Photo Source: forbes.com
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Monday, June 2, 2014

4 Ways to Improve Your Website This Week

Business owners are notoriously busy.  You need to run your business, manage your Web presence, serve your customers, pay invoices and keep up with social media efforts.  Oh, and it’s nice to have a little bit of a personal life, too.  With your plate so full of tasks, wouldn’t it be great to get one thing under control? Here are five things you can do so your website is in great shape next week:

Improve your About Page.
Most small business owners wind up ignoring the about page on their website.  If one was created, that seems like a small feat.  Besides, no one really looks at the page anyway, right?  Wrong. 

One of the worst things a business owner can do is ignore the About page.  Customers frequent this page to learn about the business, build a relationship, understand what your business is all about, and decide if your company is worth doing business with.  Use your About Page to share your story, credentials, pictures, your values and other humanizing information.  Don’t view your page as a laborious task, think of it as a place to formally introduce yourself to your audience.

Show off your social media skills.
Put your social media profiles on a pedestal!  Use your website to highlight your social skills.  Are you on Facebook?  Twitter?  Awesome.  Include icons on your home page and other prominent pages of your website (think your About page or Contact Us page) so your visitors will follow you on these social networks.  Cross-linking increases the strength of your profiles and gives customers an additional place to engage with you. 

Update your blog.
Photo via djdesignerlab.com
It isn’t really that hard to bring some life back to your website.  Use some of your time this week to make some changes to your blog.  Write a post that directs your audience to look at the pages within your website that you’ve revamped.  Answer some questions about consumer issues and give your take on where the industry is going.  Talk to your audience again.  Updating your blog gives your audience something to read and engage with, while also boosting your rank on the search engines.

Focus on Navigation.
One of the most overlooked parts of your website is navigation.  It’s essential to creating a website that encourages a successful business.  Your website should be user-friendly, simple to navigate and intuitive.  Focus on what your customers need to know so they can find their way to your products quickly.  Don’t try to get over-clever when you name tabs on your site.  Think simple and do some keyword research to ensure the phrases you’re using in your site navigation are still relevant.

Your website is a crucial component to a successful business.  A few small changes can lead to a big boost in customer satisfaction, leading to happier, loyal customers that come back to your for business time and again.

Photo Source: djdesignerlab.com

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Honest Feedback: Why You Need It and Ways to Get It

In the world, everything revolves around communication.  In order to run a business that grows and thrives, communication and feedback are essential.  Oftentimes, small business owners may think they know what the customers’ want, but might later find out they were wrong.  This is where honest feedback comes into play.  Here are some reasons why you need it and some easy ways to get the feedback that will help your business reach a whole new level.

“It’s expensive and time consuming.”
Many small business owners have uttered these three words time and again.  While it may sound harsh, if you aren’t able to afford to seek feedback some level then you really can’t afford to run a business.  Feedback really isn’t that expensive, a small cost in relation to your gains.  As far as time goes-- make getting feedback a top priority like marketing your business or updating your database.
Photo via fensa.org.uk

Feedback costs both time and effort.  It takes energy to find out what people think of your products and services.  On the back end, it can cost if the feedback is negative and painful. The truth hurts sometimes. 

But the effort is well worth the information you learn.  Selling people what you know they want is more profitable than guessing what you think they want and being offended and confused when they don’t buy.  Customer feedback is your opportunity to listen to what your audience has to say and do something about it.  Point blank, feedback saves you unnecessary actions, wasted money and time.  Find out what people want and you can quit producing and selling what you think people want and stop marketing in avenues that don’t benefit you.  Use feedback so you can deliver what people want, consistently.

Feedback is your friend, but sometimes she’s hurtful.  Have you ever asked someone’s opinion to find out you hated his or her answer?  I have.  How did you respond? 

The truth hurts sometimes, but you need to hear it.  It needs to be an ongoing part of your company if you hope to grow with your customers and stay in business.

Here are ways to get feedback your business needs:
  • Social media is a great way to get feedback.  Listen in on conversations about your business in order to find out what people really think.
  • Utilize effective questionnaires to receive anonymous responses.  Remember not to lock in on one or two negative responses when you have a plethora of positive ones.  Instead, identify trends among the questionnaires.
  • For more in-depth interaction, use interviews.  Feedback is another side of a conversation that can hold incomparable value.  In order to converse with your customers, there must be an exchange, someone giving a message and someone receive it. 

Feedback is something every business needs.  It isn’t always pretty, but it does help you improve your business and it’s products and services.  Use the ways suggested to help get feedback and improve what your business has to offer.

Why do you think feedback is crucial?  How do you get your customers to give honest and open feedback about your business?

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