Archive for May, 2014

Houston East End Chamber of Commerce Breakfasat Exchange

Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Houston, TX USA

An interesting and refreshing “Breakfast Exchange” was held at City Office Supply, in partnership with the Houston East End Chamber of Commerce, on May 22, 2014. The event was advertised by both partners’ social media channels and email blasts to Chamber members and prospective non-member businesses as a free informative networking event. With an emphasis on “locavore” dining, authentic “Tex-Mex” breakfast tacos (from a local taqueria/cafe down the street) were served along with assorted Mexican pastries (from a local panaderia/bakery) and delicious fresh fruit (from a local produce company nearby).

Each guest stood up and gave a 60-second “commercial” about their business, what their relationship or link to the community was and what they hoped to do for the community. Many found they had schools, backgrounds and business relationships in common. And just about everyone liked and was encouraged by the idea of a “Shop Local” campaign and vowed to do more reciprocal business in the future. City Office Supply has long been utilizing marketing ideas and material from American Express’ OPEN “Shop Small” campaign, the American Independent Business Alliance and Independent We Stand’s “Shop Local” campaigns to some success.

Contact information on all attendees was collected and redistributed from the event registration log as promised. And we are happy to announce the incredible turnout of over 60 professionals looking to network and advance business and development in Houston’s East End. When the talking and networking were all said and done, many attendees enjoyed roaming the aisles, examining new and old products alike, and making numerous purchases at City Office Supply, all to the delight of their host! Community businesses supporting one another….It’s a beautiful thing!

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Marketing tips for small businesses

Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

In light of Small Business Week, Alignable Inc. has released their Top Five Marketing Tips for Small Businesses in 2014.

Tip #1:

Connect with others nearby to become stronger. Your best next customer is frequenting another local business nearby, so the best path to that customer is getting to know other local business owners. You derive competitive advantage from local knowledge and power. When you connect and collaborate with others, you unlock access to collective knowledge and get stronger together.

Some conversations that benefit from collective knowledge include: “How did you get your sign approved?” “Do you have any part-time employees looking for more hours over the summer?” “Be on the lookout for this scam, it’s going around town” and “Do you have a great local accountant?”

Tip #2:

Create unique customer experiences to draw the right audience. Local businesses shouldn’t try to compete on price. It just puts them into a death spiral and attracts customers that are unlikely to sustain business. Instead, shift your attention to creating engaging customer experiences that are fun and educational and attract customers that will keep coming back. Also, leverage other local business owners to enhance your events. Get a local music school to showcase its talents by having students play at your event; ask a local accountant to hang out in your bookstore on Friday mornings to answer questions; or hold a wine tasting at the yarn store’s moms night out. You’re not limited to your own creativity when working with others nearby to develop ideas. And by working together, you can also reach more local customers by co-marketing the event.

Tip #3:

Align resources to maximize your impact. Make sure you have a plan to distribute promotions and events through all of your marketing assets. These include your website, email list, Facebook and Twitter followers, and storefront. Each of your assets should include a place where you post events and promotions and use them in a concerted effort to get the word out.

Tip #4:

Plan ahead to get the word out. A little advance planning can greatly improve traffic to your business when running events or promotions. As a general rule, develop a 45-day plan to help get you in the right frame of mind. For example, 45 days in advance, post your event to your website, storefront calendar of events, via your email newsletter and on social media with a “save the date” message. Seven days prior to your event, re-post using a “coming next week” post to social media and to your email list (and ask that they share it with others). One day prior to your event, re-post a “reminder tomorrow” via social media.

Tip #5:

Share to be shared, because it will be paid back. Many business owners struggle with what to post on social media. Sharing what others are doing is a great way to create a more engaging social media experience for followers. When you see another local business doing something that might appeal to your followers, share it. It makes your social media more interesting, turns you into a valued resource for followers and encourages other local businesses to share your activities.

Author of Top Five Marketing Tips for Small Businesses

About the Author

Eric Groves is the CEO and Co-founder of Alignable Inc. He has more than 25 years of experience in business strategy, sales and channel development, market creation, marketing, corporate development, and small business education.

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First impressions in Sales

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

Here are some pointers to help you
make the most of that small window of
In person…
Dress for success. No matter what the
setting, reflect well on your business
by being well groomed and wearing
appropriate business attire.
It’s always better to overdress rather than
underdress. Be proud of your personal
appearance and carry yourself in a way
that shows it.
Make good eye contact and smile.
If you’re sitting and someone approaches
you and introduces him or herself,
automatically stand up. Make sure you
give the person you are meeting the
respect and attention he or she deserves.
There is nothing ruder than glancing
around to see if there is anyone better to
talk to than the person right in front of you.
Smile and be friendly!
Shake hands with a firm grip. It’s
very disheartening when someone has a
terrible handshake. There is a proper way
to shake someone’s hand. Make sure the
“V” between your thumb and forefinger
connects with the other person’s “V.”
Shake the person’s hand firmly two or
three times and then let go. A good rule
of thumb is to match the other person’s
firmness of grip.
Say your name and repeat theirs.
Enunciate your name and repeat his or her
name to help you remember it. You can
also take this a step further and use his or
her name in the first sentence of dialog.
If you happen to forget a name, don’t be
afraid to ask for it again. There is a chance
he or she forgot yours, too.
Follow up properly. After you meet
someone for the first time, be sure
to promptly enter his or her contact
information in your CRM (I hope you are
utilizing one!), along with any details from
your conversation that could be helpful to
you in the future.
In your notes, clearly spell out the mutually
agreed upon “next step.” Additionally,
send a hand written thank you card. When
was the last time you received something
that was hand written? A handwritten
note expressing appreciation for your
prospect’s time could be just the thing
that sets you apart from your competitors.
Over the phone…
You must rely on your tone of
voice, enthusiasm and clear
pronunciation to make a great
first impression. In person, 55% of
communication is body language, 35% is
tone and 10% comes from the words you
say. When body language is not part of
the equation, that 35% jumps to 90%.
Just about the entire first impression
comes from how you say what you’re
saying. Your voice is your appearance,
your eye contact and your handshake all
rolled into one. Talk about a challenge!
Stand up for a few calls, post a mirror
above your desk and consciously smile!
Prospects will always buy YOU first,
before your company, your specific
products or your great pricing.
A professional and courteous approach
to meeting new people can open up new
doors as you build your customer base.
Remember, you can’t erase a bad first
impression. Put these tips into practice
and enhance your ability to make a great
first impression every time!
Marisa Pensa

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