Category Archives: Webinar

8 Holiday Retail Business Tips from the Women’s Business Development Center

With holidays just around the corner, small business owners are prepping their businesses for what is hoped to be a prosperous season.  The Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) has no shortage of retail clients and to help them, and you, we’ve put together a list of 8 tips to heat up cool weather sales!

1. Email marketing – if you don’t do it already, start now!  Great template based tools like Mailchimp and Constant Contact are available at little to no cost.  Emailing is still the number one way to reach your clients online and create loyalty with your customers.  Have a plan for the holidays, schedule emails right up until Christmas, and even after that for any sales you might have!

2. Stay active – in the community that is.  Small Business Saturday is a nationwide event showcasing small business owners on November 24th.  It’s the Saturday between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, so be sure to encourage customers to save their spending for shopping local on Saturday. Make sure you’re active and take advantage of all the free business marketing tools you can find here.

3. Deck the halls- or at least the showroom.  Make sure your shop has a seasonal feel as it tends to make consumers more in the spirit of giving (read spending).  Think twinkle lights and cheerful music!

4. Prepare the troops – refresh your employees on procedures.  Giving your staff a run through of policies and procedures prior to the holiday rush is a good idea so they can handle any situation that comes their way.  Things to think about:

– discounts being offered

– how to deal with theft

– what to do with returns

– gift card sales

These are just a few of the basics that are often forgotten during the rest of the year.  A well informed staff makes a successful season and happy customers!

5. Party – reasonably and retail-ly.  If you haven’t already, hold a holiday open house.  Get neighboring businesses to participate through giveaways or staying open late with you; it’s a win-win for all. Make it special and offer exclusive deals.  If you’ve already had your open house, make sure your employees feel special by way of a holiday party just for them.

6. Give back. Rally the team and volunteer at one of the local shelters, food drives or other organizations that need assistance during the winter months.  Not only are you making a difference, you’re also showing the community that you are a socially responsible business.

7. Keep it social. As a B2C (business to consumer) business, you should already have a business Facebook page up and running.  If you don’t, here’s a free webinar recording from the WBDC on how to do right.  If you are active, don’t forget to post pictures of new merchandise, have a social media exclusive sale and engage your clients as much as possible!  And be sure to double check your reviews on sites like Yelp.com – nothing like a poor review to turn away potential customers.

8. Don’t forget about the men!  Although women are the purchasing decision makers for most households in the United States, don’t forget about their counterparts: husbands, boyfriends and sons.  Get your message out that you can help them find that perfect gift and offer a worry free shopping experience! This is particularly successful when you have a high number of return clients.  Nothing is better than unwrapping the perfect gift and not finding a gift card.

Try at least one or two of these ideas if you’re not already. Did we leave anything out? What do you do to make your business most successful during the holidays?

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Filed under Business, Entrepreneur, Marketing, Retail, Small Business Saturday, Special Events, Uncategorized, WBDC, Webinar, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Building a Better Business with Mentoring

The WBDC has been counseling, educating and assisting potential business owners and established business owners since 1986. Now we are expanding our services to include a mentoring program.  “Women helping women” is a common theme here at the WBDC.  Not only is “Women” part of our name (Women’s Business Development Center), but our staff is 96% female.

Let’s take a look at some facts about women entrepreneurs:

  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor and Statistics, “male entrepreneurs in the United States outnumber their female counterparts 3.5 to 1.”
  • 2010 Global Entrepreneurship Monitor Study that showed that “less than half the women surveyed (47.7%) believe they are capable of starting and running a business (compared to 62.1% of men.)”

These statistics are the reason women’s business centers continue to be relevant and necessary, and why the WBDC is launching a business mentoring service.  If we can close that gap by even a tenth of a percent by directing potential entrepreneurs/start-ups, and even established business owners, towards competent, qualified mentors, then we have successfully brought businesses into fruition and spurred economic development.

Need more reasons to get involved in a business mentoring relationship?

From a recent Forbes article:

Here are some of the key reasons to become a mentor, from the viewpoints of several different female mentors:

  • Better understand the business: “My mentee helped me see issues in the company that I didn’t know existed.”
  • Better understand how people perceive you: “I was able to see the perception others held of me, through the eyes of my mentee.”
  • Create a larger network: “By helping others I’ve also created a network of allies I can rely upon when I need help.”
  • Help solve issues: “I’ve been able to step out of my own shoes and help my mentees see things from other perspectives. This, in turn, has helped me in resolving issues within my own department.”
  • Personal satisfaction: “I have been able to watch and actively help younger women succeed in our industry – and it’s such a wonderful feeling to help another person succeed!”

Learn more at the WBDC’s mentee and mentor webinars on September 7th and September 11th, respectively.

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Filed under Business, Business Mentoring, Business Start-up, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Small Business, Uncategorized, WBDC, WBDC News, Webinar, Women Business Owner, Women in Business

Three Essentials to Effective Webinars

After experiencing webinars first hand as a guest, and in preparation for the WBDC’s webinar series launch coming in January, I have compiled a brief list of the “Three Essentials to Effective Webinars” that any organization or business should keep in mind when planning:

  1. Know your audience:  Whether you’re preparing an entire webinar series or just getting your toes wet with a single session, you should research where the market is lacking and combine that with your expertise.  There are clearly fields of knowledge that are saturated with information, like “home based businesses” so even if that is your expertise perhaps trying to tie it in with a specific industry or field.  For instance, “Social Media Marketing for Home-Based Businesses.”  Collaborate with someone familiar with social media strategies and work together to create a great webinar.
  2. Quality above all else:  This means quality audio equipment, quality graphics and quality takeaways.  I recently sat in on a webinar about social media and was blown away by the poor sound quality.  It completely distracted from the subject being discussed.  On top of bad sound quality, the slides were moving at a different pace to the speaker’s discussion, making it difficult to follow and challenging to take notes.  Quality does not mean spending a lot of money on audio equipment or video software, but simply taking the time to test out what you have and adjust accordingly.  Quality takeaways are what you give your attendees.  Do they walk away feeling like they learned something or that they just wasted an hour of their day hearing something they already knew?  Be sure to describe your webinar accurately so people don’t join under false pretences, which can make for unhappy feedback.
  3. Engagement: The main perk of doing webinars vs, “how-to” videos is the two-way communication.  The instant engagement adds a level of enrichment that videos lack.  Make your webinar full of information and be prepared to answer questions and receive different opinions on the subject.  Just because you are an expert doesn’t mean you know everything!  Engagement should go beyond the one hour webinar: create a call to action for attendees.  Maybe you want them to leave questions on your blog, direct them to do so in a way that isn’t pushy and blatantly saying you want more traffic to your blog. Perhaps write a supplemental blog post that publishes immediately following the webinar with a question sheet for attendees.  People enjoy giving their opinion, especially online!

Keep these three tips in mind when you go to create your webinars and let us know how it goes!  Sit in on one of our webinars starting in January, if you’re looking to learn more about starting and growing your business.   We encourage your feedback!  And if you have any more tips, put them below!

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Filed under Business, Business Start-up, Entrepreneur, Established Business, Marketing, Small Business, Technology, Uncategorized, WBDC, Webinar