Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Before you start Twittering - 4 articles you should read

You've probably heard all about @DellOutlet making $2M in sales by peddling their liquidation inventory online, or Ashton Kutcher blowing CNN out of the water by hitting the 1M follower mark before them.

Are you contemplating going the Twitter route for your business? Then before you do so, I recommend you read these articles.

  1. 10 Twitter Best Practices for Your Brand (Mashable)- A must read if you are just getting started with Twitter. It helps you understand how to strategise using Twitter. Should you go the Corporate Twitter route, or the personable route. Read the article for some great insights.
  2. Twitter Marketing Success (ClickZ) - Read some success stories of company's leveraging the power of Twitter.
  3. How to Use Twitter for Customer Service (Mashable) - Twitter is the open playing field for customers broadcasting their undying love, deep frustrations or even hate of your product or company. Learn how you can address these with Twitter and how to turn a complaint into a success story.
  4. Twitter - Do's and Don'ts of Twitter (Ezine Articles) - Twitter etiquette is important. Unfortunately, the rules are not written when you log into your account, so please familiarise yourself with these simple pointers.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Free and low costs business tools for new start ups, entrepreneurs and consultants

I attended today the Montreal Tech Entrepreneur Breakfast Meetup at Boccacinos. It was absolutely packed full of talented and eager entrepreneurs of all ages from the tech industry. Some toying with the idea of quitting the 9 to 5 and making it on their own, and others, seasoned consultants.

We had a great conversation going on low cost and no cost resources available online for entrepreneurs looking to save. Inspired by this conversation, I took it upon myself to list some of the well known and lesser known freebies out there.

  • Free business cards - offers 250 free business cards when you pay for shipping and handling.

  • Free faxing - the first month is free and then subscriptions start as low as $10 per month. Who needs to buy a fax machine, pay for a dedicated line and waste paper with a service like this?

  • Free email marketing - offers a 30 day free trial and then also has subscriptions that start $10 per month. What a great way to stay in touch with your customers and grow your contact lists.

  • Free virtual receptionist - has a 30 day free trial and then plans starting at $10 per month. It is a virtual receptionist service that relays your call to whatever number you want. On the go, have your calls routed to your cell phone. If you are home, have the number routed there. You can even control the hours at which you accept calls and have calls after hours go straight to voice mail. Did I mention voice mail is delivered to your email? No more voice mail nightmares!

  • Free office software - Google Docs does everything the costly Microsoft Office does - but free of charge, always! Spreadsheets, word processing and slide presentations are a breeze with no resource heavy software to install. Just work out of your browser.

  • Free scheduling manager - Google Calendar is a brilliant tool out there - again free - that you can use to sync up your business schedule, personal life, project maps and so on with the same ease you know with the Microsoft Outlook suite. As an added bonus, it can sync up with your mobile device without needing any special costly licenses.
Drop me a line if you know of other great FREE or low cost services out there that help make you look like a big company on a shoe string budget.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Is your thank you gift appropriate to the value of your sale?

Yesterday was a fairly stressful day for my beau and myself. My significant other was getting lasik laser eye surgery at Michel Pop's clinic. A 15 minute procedure which consists of slicing your cornea, lifting the flap of cornea, zapping molecules in the lens, replacing the flap and hoping it heals, although it never does heal completely. The price tag for this potentially permanent solution to take away glasses and contact lenses: $3,500.

You are probably wondering what a thank you gift has to do this laser eye surgery? Everything.

When we arrived at the clinic and checked in for the procedure, we were given two Ferrerro Rocher chocolates, one each. They weren't in a bowl by the receptionist desk, but handed to us, each one, as if to say: this is precious, we're grateful for your business! And that was the end of the pampering for us. It left me perplex and wondering, is this an appropriate gift to give?

Absolutely not. It somehow lessened the experience. We were flanked in a waiting room, without entertainment or refreshments and made to wait 2 hours before even being sent to the operating room for the procedure. It quickly became uncomfortable, and unbearable.

Beauty salons have long understood that a little bit of attention goes a long way in making your experience pleasurable, even memorable. Whenever I get a hair cut, I'm offered a glass of wine, or a cappuccino. The pricetag of the haircut? $40.

So before you give a gift to your customer and feel good, ask yourself, is this gift an appropriate reflection of your business?