Posts made in October, 2013


This post has been brought to you by #ProjectWednesdays! Join us each week as we share our creative endeavors. We hope you’ll share your creative projects with us, too – just post them to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #projectwednesdays.

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I found this turquoise (which is obviously my favorite color) basket thing in the $1 section at Target. In addition to my awesome boom box laptop decal, I had gotten smaller mix tape decals. I put the decals on the baskets and hung them on nails on either side of the corner. They are perfect for the remote and tissue box in our office!

How do you customize your space? Whatcha working on this week?

Turquoise Wall Basket

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Time-Saving Tip: FAQ Pages

Time-Saving Tip: FAQ Pages


Posted By on Oct 28, 2013

 

As a small business owner, you probably wear a lot of hats. Sometimes you’re the CEO, other times you’re the CFO, and still other times you’re the Shipping Department Head or the Quality Control Manager. Some of this just can’t be helped, but if you find yourself spending a lot of time being the Email Response Team Leader (aka, The Only Person Who Answers Customer E-mails), then it might be possible to streamline that process a little bit and free up some valuable time in your work day.

faq

This is where the FAQ Page comes in. FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions (and in fact, if your customers aren’t particularly web-savvy then you might want to spell it out that way rather than using the standard abbreviation), and it’s a page where you put answers to the questions your customers are most likely to ask. That way your customers will spend more time reading your web site to find the information they need and less time e-mailing you with their questions. They get the answers they’re looking for and you get more time to focus on your business: win, meet win.

Just to be clear: the FAQ page isn’t the right solution for every business. It’s not the Magic Cure for lost time, and it’s not guaranteed to help you OR your customers.

Could an FAQ page save you time and help your customers? Answer the following questions to find out:

  1. Do your customers regularly send you e-mails or convos through your web site or shop site to ask you questions about your products or your company?
  2. Do you frequently get asked the SAME question by several different customers?
  3. When your customers ask you questions, do you usually give them all the same basic answers?

If you answered NO for most of these questions, then chances are you don’t need an FAQ page. This is probably because your customers already get the information they need from your web site, or their questions are too specific and individual to be answered by a common response. If you answered YES, then keep reading…

Here are some tips to build an FAQ page that will serve your customers AND save you time, neatly arranged in the format of an FAQ page for your entertainment and education:

How do I find the questions I should include on my FAQ page?
Write down a list of the questions you get asked the most often via e-mail or customer convo. If you don’t KNOW which questions are the most frequent ones, try making a list of every question you receive for a period of one month. At the end of the month, you should see the questions that are asked most frequently. If there are a lot of questions, consider breaking down your FAQ page into categories.

What do I do with the questions once I have them?
Pair up those questions with a response. Keep it short and to the point, but make sure to include enough detail to fully answer the question. If a question has several parts, consider breaking them up in to separate questions instead of making one answer overly wordy.

How should I set up the FAQ page on my site?
When you type out your FAQ page, use bold or color differences between the question and the corresponding answer to make it easy for users to see where one question/answer set ends and another begins. As an example, we used bold pink text for questions and regular black text for answers.

How will my customers find my FAQ page?
Make it as user-friendly as possible. Link to your FAQ page on the main landing page of your site, or use the header or footer navigation if that’s how customers normally move from one page to another on your site. It’s not a bad idea to put the link to your FAQ page in more than one spot, either. After all, the FAQ page won’t do you any good if your customers can’t find it. Don’t have a stand-alone web site? Put your FAQs directly into your Etsy Shop Policy page or set it up as a stand-alone page on your blog.

How do I get my customers to use my FAQ page?
This may to take a little time, if your customers haven’t been accustomed to using an FAQ page for your business in the past. If a customer e-mails you with a question that’s already answered on your site, simply give them a quick response like this: “Thank you so much for your e-mail! If you look at our site’s FAQ page here (link them to it), you’ll find the answer to your question and several others. If your question isn’t fully answered in the FAQs, please feel free to e-mail us again and we’ll fill in all the details you need.” Keep this standardized e-mail in your documents so you can just copy/paste it any time you get an FAQ e-mail question.

What else do I need to do?
At the bottom of your FAQ page it might be a good idea to write something like “If you can’t find the answers you’re looking for here, feel free to contact us at info@mybiz.com.” That way your customers know that you’re still available to assist them if their question is too specific to be an FAQ. And don’t forget – if you use Patterned for your custom orders, put a link to your Patterned information on your FAQ page so your customers will know where to find their custom order updates!

It will take a little time to set up an FAQ page, but in the long run that’s time you’ll save, not having to answer the same e-mail every week.

Have you found success with an FAQ page for your business? Leave us a comment and tell us what works for you and your customers!

photo credit: mazzwyn via photopin cc

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Join us each week with #ThinkCreateReflect as we allow ourselves to think about what we’ve done, create something new, reflect on a topic and dream toward the future.

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With this week’s prompt, let’s see if our current season will inspire you to get your creative juices flowing!

 

Using any medium you like (how about magazine clippings or digital photos, crayons or chalk?), make a collage that represents Autumn. How can you use something from that collage to inspire you in your business and stay current with the season?

photo credit: MSVG via photopin cc
When you have your collage, take a photo of it and show it off! Take a moment to Think, Create and Reflect on this week’s post and then leave a comment here with a link to your response, or share it via Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag  #ThinkCreateReflect.  We’d love to hear from you!

 

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This post has been brought to you by #ProjectWednesdays! Join us each week as we share our creative endeavors. We hope you’ll share your creative projects with us, too – just post them to Twitter or Instagram with the hashtag #projectwednesdays.

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When a tech woman I follow on twitter launched her project called RailsThemes (similar to WordPress themes for developers) by offering her twitter followers a coloring book, I got excited! Two things immediately came to mind:

A) This is awesome marketing!
B) Who doesn’t love a coloring book?

Of course, I ordered one and when it came in the mail, it was the funniest, nerdiest coloring book – complete with word jumbles and crosswords. I recently found one of the copies and sat down to color them in again. Here is my coloring an image of an running (active) record.

When was the last time you sat down and colored? Have you ever tried fun, creative marketing like this? Whatcha working on this week?

Activerecord coloring book

photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc

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survive the holidays small biz tips

It seems like every year, the stores start stocking their Christmas items earlier and earlier, don’t they? There are barely any spots for the pumpkins and ghosts because they’re being crowded out by snowmen and evergreens already. If you’re a small business owner, this should be your warning sign: the holiday shopping season is already upon us! Are you ready?

In case this idea incites a small panic attack for you, never fear. We’ve put together some great survival tips for the holiday season, for business owners of every shape and size. So grab yourself a gingerbread latte and get to work!

Tips for Small Business Holiday Survival:

1. Spruce things up and invite your guests over for a treat.
Whether you run an online business or you work out of a brick-and-mortar location, it’s time to decorate for the holidays! For an in-person business, dust off your shelves and get ready to deck the halls: even just a few holiday touches can add a dash of personality to your shop or office space. Put out a plate of holiday cookies for your customers to enjoy while they browse, or brew up a batch of spiced cider to keep their hands warm on a chilly shopping trip. This will make your customers feel like they’re visiting a friend rather than shopping with an impersonal stranger.
If your business is online, you can still take advantage of this tip! Give your logo a holiday once-over; use a program like PicMonkey to add an overlay of snowflakes or Santa hats to your logo image and upload it to your web site. Give the site a holiday-themed background color or simply put a holiday greeting in your usual message to your customers. Maybe you can’t brew cider for your customers, but you can send them holiday cards if you’re very ambitious, or include a mini card or thank-you gift of candy or another treat with every purchase within a certain time frame. This little incentive can be enough to make your customers buy now instead of waiting, which will help to boost your revenue going into the heart of the new year sales slump.

2. Mark your calendar!
From the customer’s perspective, holiday shopping can be overwhelming. Advertisers from businesses large and small inundate customers with marketing messages from October through the New Year. Unless your product is 100% unique, chances are someone else makes a similar product, and they’re marketing that product to your customers. Help your customers avoid analysis paralysis and make the decision to shop with YOU. To do this, set an important date or a range of dates for a special sale or offer. Big-box businesses take advantage of Black Friday, but the Saturday after that is Small Business Saturday, which is your day. If you’ve got an online shop, you can even extend your offer to include the following Monday (known as Cyber Monday). You don’t need to break the bank for this – offer your customers a special discount code that is slightly higher than your usual sale, give them a free gift with purchase or the chance to preview a new product first in January if they make a purchase in December. Don’t get left behind in the holiday shopping hustle and bustle; give your customers an appointment to shop with you.

3. Use social media to your advantage.
The holiday season isn’t necessarily the best time to learn social media from the ground up, but if you’ve already been using a particular form of social media for your business with some success, keep at it during the holidays. Use this time to take photos of the special products you’re creating for the season, and post them to sites like Instagram, Twitter or Facebook. Share your favorite family holiday recipe, and tell a favorite holiday story. If you’re a local business, promote any local events in your area, whether you’ll be attending them or not: this will make you into a one-stop information shop for your customers who are looking for local holiday fun. If you run an online-only biz, give your customer a heads-up about national happenings, including the holiday specials they might enjoy on TV or any new holiday music albums you’ve found and enjoyed. Keep in regular contact with your customers this season, but don’t make every post into a promotion or you’ll sound too much like a walking advertisement. Give your social media a personal touch during this season of light and joy.

Need more advice? Check out these articles on holiday survival in the small business world:

Social Solutions Collective – Fall Marketing Strategy: Small Business Tips for the Holidays

Small Business Administration – Five Holiday Marketing Tips

INC.com – How Can You Boost Local Sales this Season?

Handmadeology – 7 Easy Tips to Have a Fun and Profitable Holiday Event

photo credit: Justin in SD via photopin cc

photo credit: PhotoAtelier via photopin cc

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