How to Get Customers to Buy Add-Ons

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By Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience. Dan blogs via Contently.com.

The current economy isn’t exactly a friendly one for most small business owners. Too many consumers are worried about losing their jobs. Others fret about the value of their homes continuing to fall. Still others haven’t received even cost-of-living boosts to their salaries in three years or more.

It all adds up to customers who are more cautious than ever when it comes to spending on retail goods. This means that businesses need to use every tool possible to convince these buyers to part with their dollars.

One way to do this? Discover the selling science behind add-ons.

You know what an add-on is. It’s that extra purchase — or two or three or more — that consumers make when they’re buying a specific product. For instance, a consumer stops into the local hardware store to buy a seeder. While there, he notices a fresh package of grass seed and another of fertilizer sitting near the seeders. Not only does this customer purchase a seeder, he also buys the fertilizer and seed. These add-on purchases can add up during a week, month or year.


Nabbing the Real Money

Retail blogger Rick Segal says that add-ons are where the real money comes from for small business owners. That’s because stores don’t make as much of a profit on the first item that customers buy. Overhead, advertising and employee salaries suck up the profits.

But the add-ons? They provide that extra bit of income that makes the difference between a thriving small business and one that’s struggling to keep its doors open.

Segal breaks add-ons into two categories, extras and accessories. Accessories are fairly obvious: You’re selling a customer a bottle of perfume. You might ask this customer if she’d like some body lotion to go with it. Or you’re selling your customer homemade pasta noodles. Why not ask this customer if she’d like some homemade sauce to go with it?

Want Fries with That?

The key to convincing customers to make these second purchases is simple: suggest them.  Merely grouping like products together is a good start, but to really get the add-ons adding up, you and your sales staffers have to speak up.

You can also promote add-on purchases by running special sales during the year.

For instance, you can advertise that batteries are 20% off when customers purchase a new digital camera. This encourages shoppers to pick up a package of batteries, even if they didn’t plan on doing so.

Extra items are a bit more challenging. These are items similar to what the customer has already purchased, but different.

Footwear is a good example. Your customer may be purchasing a pair of work boots. Your sales associates should then ask if this customer is interested in a pair of slippers that are on sale or a pair of running shoes that are currently being discounted.

The Efficient Way to Build Business

There’s a real positive that comes with training yourself and your staff to sell more add-on products: It’s a cheap way to build your business.

According to Entrepreneur, there are three ways to build a small business: You can attract new customers. You can work to make customers buy your products or services more frequently, or you can increase the size of your customer transactions.

It’s important to focus on adding new customers. Businesses that don’t do this will surely fail. But it’s equally important, and far more cost-effective, to focus, too, on convincing your customers to increase the size of their purchases and to purchase more often. Add-ons can help you accomplish these tasks.

After all, when a customer buys a pair of dress socks with that new suit he just purchased, you’ve increased the size of his transaction. When a customer remembers that you sell the perfect film for the camera she just bought from you, it’s likely she’ll come back to you when she runs out of film. You’ve just used the power of add-ons, then, to increase the frequency of this customer’s purchases.

How to Generate Business on Small Business Saturday

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By Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience.

For the second year, Small Business Saturday will take place the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. The Nov. 26 event, the day after the much-publicized “Black Friday,” is designed to showcase how important small businesses are to the national economy, and encourages shoppers to “Shop Small.”

But just the fact that there is a Small Business Saturday isn’t enough to bring customers to your small business. To do that, you’ll have to promote your shop and the event.

Fortunately, there are plenty of ways to do this.

The Small Business Saturday website offers plenty of promotional tools for business owners. American Express, which is covering much of the costs of Small Business Saturday, is offering business owners $100 worth of free Facebook ads.

Target Local with Facebook

You can see a template of the ads here. According to Facebook, these ads will be geographically targeted to customers in your area.

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas to promote your business on Small Business Saturday, Facebook is also offering you its Share an Offer feature. Sales and special offers are an effective way to get customers to your business on Small Business Saturday. The Share an Offer feature on Facebook gives you an idea of what other entrepreneurs are offering.

For instance, a quick glance at the Share an Offer page turns up a sign company offering customers a year’s worth of free signs for participating in an online contest, a custom framing company offering a 25% discount on Small Business Saturday and a clothing store offering a 10% discount and free shipping on merchandise through the end of the year for customers who “like” their Facebook page.

YouTube Video

American Express and Google are teaming up to offer small business
owners a free online video tool that will let you create YouTube videos
telling the stories of your companies. The best news is that you don’t
have to be a skilled filmmaker to take advantage of this offer.

The My Business Story
tool includes a step-by-step guide, sample video templates,
royalty-free music, script outlines and examples of successful business
videos.

These ideas are just the beginning of the ways in which you can promote your business for Small Business Saturday.

Banner Ads

Credit company Experian offers its own suggestions. The company recommends that you add a banner to your website promoting the date of Small Business Saturday. The company also suggests that you add a landing page to your website on which you can feature your special offer for the event.

Online coupons, too, are a big draw for consumers. Shoppers who download coupons from your website are far more likely to visit your shop to use them than are those who passively receive coupons from a mailer.

Small Business Saturday offers the owners of small businesses a prime opportunity to promote their business ventures. Now you have no excuse not to promote your small business and reap some of the success of this November 26 shopping event.


Five Must Have Chrome Extensions for Small Businesses

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By Robert Hadley

Robert Hadley is a business reporter. Robert blogs via Contently.com.


In today’s app-centric world, it’s not enough for your browser to simply serve as an on-ramp to the Internet.

And why should it? Just as it’s good practice to ask your vendors to help you use their products and services to make your business more efficient, it’s also a good idea to demand more functionality from your browser.

Fortunately, Google Chrome is up to the challenge, offering an army of apps and extensions that can make the day-to-day operations of your retail business more efficient. 

I’ve listed five must-have apps for the small business retailer below.

1. Terapeak Sales Reports for PayPal

If you have an online storefront that processes transactions using PayPal, this app is a must. It’s free and can generate a number of helpful reports, including sales and product trends, fee history, profitability comparisons, and track and filter eBay or Etsy data.

It also lets you graph the success of marketing campaigns from within the app, rather than having to import to a spreadsheet. This free app received a four-star rating (out of five) on Chrome’s app store based on the ratings of nearly 350 users.

2. Wave Accounting 

Promising to let users “send invoices and track expenses like a pro,” Wave Accounting’s free app lets you manage your bank and credit card accounts by enabling automatic downloads of transaction data.

The app allows multiple users, such as an owner, accountant and bookkeeper simultaneous access to data, and facilitates tracking for multiple businesses and personal accounts. Based on user ratings, this app received 4.5/5.0 stars.

3. Web-based Time Clock

Most companies that employ hourly workers should have some form of online timesheet that lets them maintain payroll records.

Web-based Time Clock from Punchedin.com offers the flexibility of tracking employees’ time in an environment that is both secure and accessible.

Being cloud-based, the payroll records are stored online, and workers can log in from any PC with this app installed in the Chrome browser.

Base pricing is $129 per month, and there is a surcharge based on how many employees you have. For 50 or more employees, the surcharge is $0.40; for zero to nine workers, it’s $0.65, with tiers in between.

4. Barcode Generator

There’s no better way to track inventory and sales than barcodes, and even though their newer siblings, QR codes, are all the rage right now, conventional barcodes are still useful if you have the equipment to scan them.

This app makes it easy to generate one barcode at a time, or run a sequence of codes with beginning and ending values you specify.

Not only can you create barcodes in different formats, such as Code 128, Code 39 and others. You can also create QR codes with this program.

5. Google Calendar

We all need a calendar, right? Google’s web-based calendar lets employees log in and see upcoming sales, holidays, training events, etc.

Click the Agenda tab and you’re instantly viewing a list of major holidays — convenient for planning upcoming sales and promotional tie-ins.

The app isn’t really standalone (you have to be logged in to your Google account to use the full feature set), but it works seamlessly and lets members of your group share information.

These five Chrome apps offer a handy toolset to speed up some of the common tasks retailers need done — right from within your browser.

This suite of software is sure to automate payroll, accounts receivable and time management tasks, freeing you for the more important tasks at hand.


Facebook ads tutorial

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By Dan Rafter

Dan Rafter is a freelance writer and editor with 15 years of journalism experience. Dan blogs via Contently.com.

You believe in the power of social media. And you know that by using Facebook you can boost the number of clients for your independent beauty salon, convince more people to sign up for your lawn service and encourage more customers to stop in your bakery to buy your famous chocolate-chip cookies. One way to do all of this is to experiment with Facebook Ads.

You might notice when you log onto your Facebook page or visit someone else’s that there are small ads running alongside the messages or newsfeeds. These are what Facebook Ads look like. If you own a small business, you can use Facebook Ads to create ads for your own venture that run on the Facebook pages of your friends, family members, customers and, most importantly, potential future customers. You want people to come to you and purchase your services or products because they’ve clicked on your ad.

Here’s how it works: First, log onto the home page of Facebook Ads. Here you’ll find a pretty comprehensive look at how this marketing tool works.

The key, as Facebook explains, is to first determine your advertising goals. Do you want to promote a particular event, such as a half-price sale at your independent clothing boutique? Or do you want to advertise the arrival of a new brand of pants at the same boutique? Maybe you simply want to direct people to your website. 

Once you know what you want your ads to do, it’s time to aim for the right audience. Facebook allows you to target potential customers by age, gender, location, language, birthday. and likes and interests. For instance, if you run a small camping goods store, you can tell Facebook to send your ads to residents of the United States who are 20 to 60 years old and who have listed “camping” and “hiking” among their likes. The more specific you can be, the better your ads will perform.

The next step is to design an ad. Facebook recommends that you keep your ads simple and straightforward, and that you provide people with clear instructions about what to do once they see your ad. For instance, if you want potential customers to order ebooks from your marketing company, your ad should say something like “Click here to see a full list of our ebooks.” When customers click, they should be taken immediately to your inventory of electronic books.

Next comes the most challenging part: paying for your ads. You can elect to pay for your ads on a cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impression (CPM) basis. With CPC, you’ll pay a fee each time someone clicks on your ad. With cost per impression, you’ll pay a fee every time 1,000 people view your ad.

How much you pay depends on what you bid. For instance, you might tell Facebook that you’re willing to pay $1.50 every time someone clicks on your ad or $2 every time one of your ads nabs 1,000 views. Be careful when bidding, though. The minimum bid Facebook allows on a CPC basis is .01 cents a click. The minimum for CPM is 0.02 cents for every 1,000 views. But if you bid too low, most pages won’t display your ad. Your goal is to bid high enough — but not too high — to make sure that your ads will show up on as many pages as possible.

You’ll also set a daily budget for your Facebook ads. If your budget is $150, your ads will stop appearing once you receive enough clicks or impressions to hit that number.


Facebook Ads is an effective tool for spreading the word about your business. Best of all, it’s simple to set up. So start exploring. The sooner you get your ad going, the sooner you’ll see results.

On the Right Path: Path App Review

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As a small business owner, you’re always looking for new ways to connect with your customers via social networking. There’s now yet another possible avenue thanks to Path, the social journal for smartphones created by former Facebook employee Dave Morin.  This site’s app for both iPhone and Android has a small town feel with an emphasis on the quality of your network rather than the quantity. 

Each Path page is formatted like a timeline, allowing you to post comments, pictures and locations as they happen. The application also offers an Automatic feature, which updates your location as you move from place to place. 

Calling Path a social journal is no mistake. Not only are you capped at 150 friends, but it lacks the stark, business-like layout of both Facebook and Google+. The Path layout feels more personal thanks to a cover photo of your choosing which displays at the top of your page, as well as a smaller profile picture that appears in a bubble shape each time you post on your timeline. The lack of friend lists, social circles and networks gives your Path page the vibe of a personal blog, rather than a social networking site. 

Posting on Path is easy. Simply click on the plus symbol at the bottom left corner of your page to post music, photos, comments and your location. All of the above can also be posted on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare via Path. Going to sleep? Click the moon icon to show your friends you’re offline for the evening without logging out. 

While you can comment on friend’s posts and pictures just like on other social networking sites, Path also offers a variety of comment icons like a heart or a surprised face. This detail is great because it’s much more personal than the “Like” option on Facebook. Although for some, the cute quotient may be too high. 

This all makes Path a great choice for solo entrepreneurs without a store, looking to keep a small client base updated on new products, retail locations and special deals. However, when it comes to small or medium-sized businesses, it’s not the best way to get the word out. The site is fairly new, with only about 1 million users, and the friend cap keeps your audience small. 

Instead, small businesses may want to consider using Path as a way to keep employees in the loop. The timeline layout as well as the site’s online journal quality is a great way to keep staff in touch with each other and updated on daily happenings, new stock, policy changes and meetings, without all of the extra distractions that sites like Facebook and Google+ provide. 



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