January 2, 2013
Recent studies indicate that consumers are spending longer time on sites that have a mixture of good and bad reviews. In fact, consumers seem to be purchasing more products from retailers with negative reviews than those with only positive reviews. It seems that customers trust retailers that have both kinds of reviews, instead of only positive reviews.
Surprisingly, one of the factors that bad reviews affect is time on site. It appears that bad reviews inspire users who were already inclined to purchase to remain on the site long enough to complete a purchase. According to the collected data, the time spent perusing the site jumps from three minutes to eighteen minutes when negative reviews are present.
Consumers value bad reviews because they trust the honest, unedited opinions of their peers. Social commerce and peer reviews all boil down to trust, as you can see below from the reasons for including negative reviews on your site.
Consumers Appreciate a Balanced View
At least 68% of consumers consider reviews to be trustworthy if both positive and negative comments are displayed. Everyone knows that it isn’t possible for any product or service to be perfect, but consumers do want to know what the negative aspects of a product are prior to making a purchase. For some, the negative side of a product may seem like trivial matter compared to the benefits.
Negative Reviews are Relative
Everyone has an opinion. Certain consumers may view product aspects as negative while other consumers might view the same aspect as positive. Most consumers appear to be able to filter the negativity out of the review and glean the information they need – will the product do what I want it to do?
Ratio is Relevant
The presence of a negative review doesn’t put off customers. It’s the ratio of negative to positive. If a significant portion of the reviews are negative, this may concern consumers. But if there are only a few reviews that are negative, this may actually help.
Consumers Notice the Absence of Negative Reviews
Most shoppers are suspicious of reviews that don’t include complaints. Some consumers may suspect the reviews are censored or fake if there are no bad reviews in the mix. The presence of even a neutral review can validate all of the positives.
Respond to Negative Reviews
Although the jury is still out, preliminary results indicate that properly addressed negative reviews can actually help a business. This seems to run counter to entrepreneurial instinct. Business owners and entrepreneurs never want customers saying bad things about a brand, product, or service. However, every business is destined to receive a bad review at some point in time. It happens.
Instead of removing the negative reviews, respond to them. Ask the consumer (privately) what you can do to make the product or service work for them. Sometimes you may be able to help, sometimes not. But a consumer will be much more likely to use your company for other future products or services if you politely attempt to work through the problem with them. Some reviewers will even go back and place an updated review explaining how helpful you were.
Business owners and entrepreneurs should never fear bad reviews. Bad reviews that are taken in the right context can improve customer satisfaction when the reviews are addressed properly. Additionally, honest reviews assist in building trust between customers and businesses. Bad reviews won’t hurt a business unless there are an overwhelming amount of negative reviews or it appears that a business isn’t addressing them. So don’t squelch negative reviews; instead, allow them and watch your online conversions gain the momentum you’ve been trying to achieve.
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, a company that offers online printing for business cards, retail catalogs, posters, brochures,direct mail postcards, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.
September 12, 2012
Adding images to your blog is a necessity for almost everything but microblogging, which is anything with less than 160 words. Just as with marketing brochures or newsletters, images enhance your blog in many ways – they make it more visually appealing, help connect concepts, and even enhance your search engine optimization. All this added value is worth something.
However, it is important that you stay legal whenever you are using images on your blog because you do not want to deal with the hassle – or expense – of any copyright infringements.
Avoid Copyright Issues
The single-handed best way to avoid any copyright issues with the images you use on your blog is to take the pictures yourself. Not only does taking your own pictures for your blog help you to avoid any hassle, it is also a way for you to connect on a more personal level with the people who read your blog. Of course, this is not always feasible. You may not have access to a high-quality camera or you may simply prefer to use images that are already available on the Internet.
If you do want to use someone else’s images, then you should always obtain permission before using them on your blog. The best way to get permission for the images you want is to go to the image owner and send them an email asking if you may use the image on your blog. If you prefer not to wait for permission, there are other options available.
Using Stock Photos
There are a number of different websites available online that offer stock photos for free or for a small fee. You can subscribe to these different websites that offer stock photos, purchase credits at a discounted rate, and then use those credits to buy different images that will go along with the content on your blog. This is a safe way to use images on your blog without having to worry about violating copyright laws. Just make sure you indicate whether or not your blog is a personal site or used for commercial purposes. A good test for determining this purpose is whether or not you sell something – including advertising – on your blog. If you do, then you’re a commercial site, which is the vast majority of cases.
A few places you can find quality stock images for free include:
- DeviantArt.com – may need permission first
- Behance.net – may need permission first
The best policy for you to adopt with publishing images on your site is: “If in doubt, ask first.” This way, you will save yourself the headache (and budget-ache) of learning the painful and costly way.
August 3, 2012
Small businesses are very difficult to maintain, and persistence is required. In fact, persistence may be the primary trait needed for success. No business launch goes smoothly. There are always snags and obstacles along the way – whether that is in hiring, learning new skills, or struggling through a period of growth.
But a few key obstacles stand out as the primary culprits of failure for small business owners. If entrepreneurs can be persistent in learning, trying, failing, and repeat – they’ll find they eventually overcome, move forward, and can look back at a path littered with beaten obstacles.
Nobody knows this better than small business owner Suzanne Ford, owner of Windows, Walls, ‘N Floors in Southern California. She has been operating her business for almost 16 years. She primarily sells floor coverings and blinds, and she has won multiple sales awards doing so. Ford has earned her success by overcoming multiple obstacles to obtain it.
Obstacle #1: Marketing
With so many options available to consumers, developing name recognition as a small business is a challenge, to say the least. Ford is constantly improving the quality of her marketing mantra. More recently, she developed a Suzanne Possible character to put on her business cards, website, and advertisements around town.
Yet perhaps the best marketing tool available to small businesses is word of mouth. Because Ford works hard to provide quality customer service to every person who visits her store, she often gets referrals and returning customers. “I may not be the cheapest, but people understand that they will get the best job,” Ford says.
Marketing your services starts with a solid customer support approach. What most small businesses forget is that your brand slowly builds name recognition. So protect your image, always work hard for your customers, and keep a steady flow of marketing going. It eventually pays off.
Obstacle #2: Multiple Responsibilities
In large businesses, there are more people to answer the phone, make phone calls, handle customer complaints, place orders, track orders, check inventory, manage records, make payments, and attend to customers who visit the store. Ford employs one bookkeeper, one office manager, and sometimes one office assistant. This means that many of the responsibilities fall squarely on her shoulders. This reality is therefore a daily challenge, and Ford works six and often seven days a week to overcome it.
What most entreprenuers have found is that the responsibilities ebb and flow. You’ll hire staff to handle one set of tasks just to have to take on some new ones of your own to support the new growth. Accepting the fact that you will always wear multiple hats is an important part of staying motivated so you can stick with the program for the long-term.
Obstacle #3: Gender Prejudice
While large corporations simply work to sell their brand, small business owners instead have to sell themselves as reliable resources. Ford works hard to be a competent business owner—and she is—but some people are prejudiced against her gender.
When she goes to events hosted by her various suppliers, other business leaders—primarily male—tend to talk to her husband instead of to her, even after they discover that she is the actual owner. This reality was the very first obstacle that Ford mentioned in her interview.
Unfortunately, there is not really much that she can do about it, other than to keep running her business in a competent fashion and not grow discouraged by what other people say. Sometimes this can even work in your favor as you allow others in your company to share the burden of leadership.
Gender prejudice can also work for you. Often men are much more likely to close a sale when a woman is talking with them than with another male. This varies wildly based upon the amount of the item to be sold and other factors, but don’t always assume gender prejudice has to hurt you. Stick with your plan and adapt as needed based upon the reaction from your customers.
Obstacle #4: Customers
To a large business, one unhappy customer is not a big deal. But to a small business, every customer counts. Ford goes above and beyond to satisfy the demands of every customer, looking after every countertop, every square of carpet, every tile, and every blind. She can’t keep everyone happy, but she does what she can on her end to make sure that things happen on time, from placing the bid to installing the order.
Sometimes, though, there is nothing more she can do. When this happens, move on as graciously as possible. You’re simplying going to eventually have a customer who isn’t happy. Don’t get discouraged, but do take the time to try to understand what happened and how you can prevent a problem in the future.
Obstacle #5: Suppliers
A small business does not necessarily get priority when it comes to suppliers. Ford once placed an order for an $11,000 carpet job. The carpet was backordered, so Ford called the company regularly to make sure it was going through production. Her supplier assured her that the carpet would be delivered on time, but when the delivery date came around, the carpet was still in production.
Ford then had to call the customer and inform them that their carpet would not be installed on time—a small business nightmare. Surprisingly, the customer was very gracious. “Because we were open and up front with this person,” Ford says, “she was so understanding.”
Working through supplier issues is a challenge and can become a very frustrating task for small businesses who are dependent upon suppliers for equipment, supplies, and service. When a project falls apart, be open and honest with your customers.
Problems crop up. Issues will occur that are beyond your control or capabilities to handle on your own. The key to long-term survival is persistence—the ability to keep going no matter what happens. You may have to adapt and change your plan, but the point is that you get up, step up, and move forward.
Tara Hornor has a degree in English and has found her niche writing about marketing, advertising, branding, web and graphic design, and desktop publishing. She writes for PrintPlace.com, an online printing company that offers brochure services, business cards, flyers for marketing, posters, postcards, booklets, and more printed marketing media. In addition to her writing career, Tara also enjoys spending time with her husband and two children. Connect with @TaraHornor on Twitter.
July 31, 2012
By Manoush Zomorodi (for @StartupPrincess)
Author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online
Every interview is an exercise in psychology, with YOU playing the therapist. Here are techniques to get the best responses when you need someone to spill their guts . . . or just explain something, on camera and in full sentences, whether it’s for a corporate video, your website, or YouTube.
THE BASIC OUTLINE OF A GOOD INTERVIEW
- Warm them up with easy and broad questions. For example, “Tell me what you are working on?” or “What was your last project?”
- Make them describe the situation. Ask for specifics: “Give me an example of what it’s like to bake bread (or whatever)?” or “How common is whole grain baking?”
- Dare them to take a stand on the subject. If they say, “There just isn’t enough whole grain baking in the US!” Follow up with a why question: “What makes you say there isn’t enough whole grain baking?” Open-ended questions always elicit more than a yes or no answer.
- Save the tough questions for the end. For example, if you are producing an internal video, ask: “What would you say to employees would are concerned about layoffs?” or finish with broad questions that move the conversation forward like, “What’s the most challenging part of your job right now?” or “Where do you hope to see this situation a year from now?”
- Wrap up by re-asking your big question, when the interviewee is on a roll: “Just to sum up, why is this issue so important right now?”
The key to any great interview is research. Don’t walk into an interview to get facts that you can get online.Your interviewee will take you more seriously if you come across as educated and prepared. If you aren’t, you could end up like Kathie Lee Gifford when she asked Martin Short how his wife is doing (she’s dead).
Here are some basic rules for looking FAB on screen, whether it’s MSNBC, a Skype chat, or a company YouTube video:
- Avoid excess froufrou like scarves, ruffles, and overly exuberant necklaces (simple thin or thick chains work best) . . . and please remember to cut the tag off, unlike my friend seen above.
- A deep V-neck or scoop-neck blouse looks good on everyone. Most people (despite Michelle Obama’s example) should wear sleeves. Too much skin can make you look fleshy or scrawny.
- Choose rich, sophisticated colors like royal purple, emerald green, or deep berry. Even ivory can work. Katie Couric wore a bright white jacket for her first CBS Evening News broadcast. I would have gone for a softer white.
- If you want to be taken seriously, wear a jacket. Sadly, this is just the way it goes. But if you can show a bit more personality, try a blouse or sweater. Structured dresses (rather than slinky polyester, which reveals every bump) also look professional and cover flaws.
- Always wear earrings but skip the long dangly ones unless you are in a creative industry. A little glint of silver or gold brightens up every face.
- If you are going to be doing a lot of on-camera stuff, think about cultivating YOUR look. A uniform style not only makes things easier for you on a daily basis but also brands you. Bobbi Brown usually wears a black blazer and hoop earrings with little charms on them. Vera Wang always has her perfect curtain of smooth black hair. A signature look makes you instantly recognizable.
The Bottom Line: When in doubt, play it safe (just with your clothes, not your life!). You can wear the simplest outfit and still look chic.
Manoush Zomorodi is the author of Camera Ready: How to Present Your Best Self and Ideas On Air or Online. Her on-camera expertise comes from years of producing and reporting for BBC News, Reuters Television, and other media outlets. She moderates conferences on digital technology and hosts live video events, in addition to doing media coaching.
July 30, 2012
Desiree Scales – Fairy Godmother/Online Marketing Expert – Desiree Scales from Bella Web Design from Atlanta, GA
Desiree Scales brings over 15 years of expertise in online marketing to customer projects at her award-winning company, Bella Web Design, Inc.With a background as a web designer for a major U.S. corporation, Delta Air Lines, Desiree delivers sound advice and outstanding solutions for her business customers. Her expertise and experience has evolved into a passion to educate people about online marketing and technologies that foster success. She has been a featured speaker at companies, conferences and seminars speaking on topics about web design, social media, online marketing and protecting teens on the Internet. Desiree also hosts The Bella Buzz, a weekly podcast dedicated to online marketing topics, tools and tips for business owners. Her podcast is popular among business owners around the world. Her company garnered a prestigious Webby Award Honor in 2011. Desiree has provided consulting for many companies including Microsoft, Delta Air Lines, Northside Radiology, Brand Mortgage and Marriott among others.
July 10, 2012
Written by Fairy Godmother, Mandy Allfrey
As a kid, I can think of numerous occasions where my mom was reaching into that dreaded kitchen drawer to grab one of the long skinny handled wooden spoons. I knew that something I said or did had just stirred her emotions to the point that I was gonna get a little time-out therapy. That look in her eye told my 3 brothers and myself – someone was in for it.
That 99 cent 3-pack of wooden spoons was a staple in our home growing up. Not only did it make some mouth-watering killer brownies, it was a tool that get our emotions sizzling. If I knew I had done something my mom was not proud of, the odds of a wooden spoon incident was highly in my favor. A wooden spoon smack across the behind meant I had crossed the line perhaps more times than a sweet little girl should in one day. That itty-bitty spoon sure knew had to get my blood boiling. The anxiety, fear, nerves and relief (when it was over) helped me learn the difference between right and wrong, build my character and understand the power of emotions.
You see, not only were my emotions wrapped up in a wooden spoon, my mom’s emotions had to be filled with anger, pain, sadness and love. Did she really want to take that spoon and give me a little smack? She was not trying to hurt me…only teaching me a lesson. And, I had stirred something emotionally inside of her to cause a wooden spoon tyrant.
You see, emotions are a powerful thing. They make us do things we may not want to do, need or desire. Sometimes they make us react instead of act. And the fact is, emotions are the reason people buy or do things.
In your business, social media is like the wooden spoon mixing the brownies. Sometimes it can pack a punch…in my world give a little smack… and sometimes it just blends it all together.
The ultimate goal of your social media is to stir the emotions of your buyer. First, you need to know the target audience each post is for. Second, you need to understand what they are thinking, feeling and doing. You need to know what their hot button is. What “their” needs really are. Put yourself aside, your emotions aside, and give your audience exactly what they are looking for.
There is no sales pitch, no better than, and especially no pie in the sky. Your goal…give them an emotional experience. I am not saying a smack across the behind is the answer. The answer lies in what your audience needs, and how your product can give that to them. It is not selling yourself or your business.
Don’t just dip their finger in your brownie batter…. give them a taste of the entire experience. You are a solution provider wrapped up in a single emotion. Don’t cloud your message. Too much salt can ruin a brownie. Give them the emotional experience they are looking for.
Social Media Expert – Mandy Allfrey of The Buzz from Asheville, NC
Mandy is a digital marketing professional, speaker, and blogger, having over 12 years of marketing experience in multiple industries. The founder and CEO of Social Media Architecture Company, The Buzz, of Salt Lake City, UT. Clients located across the United States, Canada, & the Caribbean. Mandy engages with corporations, clients, and groups teaching the value of social media and best structuring the best strategies for your business. She is also the founder of Cafe Grace, a positive, uplifting environment on Facebook (www.facebook.com/cafegrace) that makes a positive impact and creates influence in the lives of others.
May 9, 2012
UPDATE: Congratulations to Jen Richardson, winner of the free ticket to the MomBiz Retreat! and since it was such a tough decision and I ended up picking a winner at random, Shelagh and Lara are willing to give all the registrants discounts to the event! Check your inbox for details. And to all you busy entrepreneurs, take time for some self-care this month. Your body and your business deserve it!Who says you can’t mix business with pleasure? At the Mom Biz Retreat, you get to do both — over a weekend you get to make your business successful AND enjoy some well-deserved “me time.”
By the end of the weekend, you will:
- work on your business in a supportive and nurturing environment,
- receive individualized coaching and training to help grow your monthly income,
- be pampered with delicious food, wine and spa treatments,
- thrive in the company of amazing women who understand and live in a similar world,
- walk away with tools, strategies, goals and a plan after just one weekend!
The weekend is hosted by Lara Galloway (@Mombizcoach, www.mombizcoach.com) and Shelagh Cummins (@biztrainher, www.biztrainher.com). Lara (MA, mother of two) is a certified life and business coach; speaks at conferences, retreats and private groups; hosts a weekly radio show; and is regularly featured in the national and international media. Shelagh (MEd, mother of three) is the founder ofpracticalmum.com and biztrainher.com; a business trainer, speaker and a content strategy queen. You’d be hard-pressed trying to find 2 more competent women to learn from.The Start Up Princess is thrilled to announce we are giving away oneAll-Access Pass to the MomBizRetreat Denver; June 7-10, 2012. This ticket gives you access to all sessions, parties and festivities. Come and join Shelagh and Lara for a weekend you will never forget.How to win? Easy!Leave a comment telling why you need the MomBizRetreat. What do you need from the MomBizRetreat to help launch you to the next level in your business? That’s it.Giveaway open from May 8- 14th. Winner will be randomly picked and notified via email. Travel and accomodation is covered by the winner of the ticket.