Marketing Tip – Small Business Owners Need a System to Keep in Touch With Contacts and Build Sales

Many small business owners know keeping in touch with their contacts is an important part of their marketing plan. However, all too often, keeping in touch is a sporadic effort. Sending birthday cards or an e-mail newsletter is something that can be done “later.” The problem is “later” never comes. 

Small business owners need to build a marketing calendar that includes when and how each person (or group of people) is going to be contacted.  The best way small business owners can keep on top of their contact efforts is to have some type of system in place.  The system should be as easy and as automatic as possible.
  
There are many software tools you can use to organize your contacts.  Microsoft Outlook and Excel are great programs.  With either of these, you can merge with Microsoft Word to create phone lists, mailing labels and personalized letters. More sophisticated contact management programs you can purchase include ACT! and Goldmine.  
 
Marketing Tools for Keeping in Touch
 
There are a variety of different marketing tools small business owners can use to keep in touch. Here are just a few ideas.
 
E-mail newsletters are a great way to communicate with a large group of people. There are a number of great on-line resources available for e-mail newsletter creation and management. Use e-mail newsletters to provide product information, announce sales, and promote special events. 
 
Real greeting cards (the kind that come in an envelope with a stamp) are great marketing tools to use at Christmas, birthdays and other times of the year.  In fact, the best time a small business owner can send a greeting card is when there is no real reason to send a card! A card sent in August will be remembered much more than one sent in December.

Savvy business owners know that phone calls, personal visits and lunches are always appreciated. The key there is to remember the marketing message when scheduling those calls or visits. Yes, having coffee with a long-term client is great. But be sure to let the client know that you have a great new product that can dramatically help him or her. Too often business owners get wrapped up in the social aspect of personal visits and forget to ask for more business!

The most important part of any system is using it regularly.  If you are very busy, or have a hard time working with schedules, you are better off delegating or outsourcing.  If you have an assistant, that person can print letters, write e-mails, even sign Christmas cards for you.  That leaves you free to work on other areas of your business.

If you don’t have any help in your office, outsourcing is the answer. There are a number of local and on-line services that help business owners with their marketing. Or, try using a virtual assistant.  The marketing money you spend to outsource these routine tasks will be repaid many time over with the new business you get.

Remember — the key to a successful system is to have it automated as much as possible. The less work you have to do, the more likely it is to be done on time, and the more likely you are to get referrals!

Credit Card Services for Business Merchants

If you own a business, whether large or small, you know the necessity of credit card processing for a successful sale. For products and services sold online, by mail or phone, or in person at a retail location, you need the most up to date credit card merchant services available. Internet savvy customers and people in this fast paced modern world do not like to be kept waiting. They also expect a flexible spending option like credit cards to be available anywhere they shop.

Most businesses with an online presence, or a website, require a way to gain online credit card approval. With this function, you can sell goods and services from your website. The credit card processing allows you to accept any charge payment from customers with online credit card approval. Some people are intimidated by this process, but with the simple online merchant services available on the internet, the success of your credit card business can be simple and hassle free.

Where to find credit card merchant services

When looking for someone to assist you in setting up credit card processing, start online by entering a search term that relates to your business needs. For instance, if you are a small business owner, you might enter something like credit card processing. But if you have an online presence for your business in the form of a website, you would need to search for online credit card approval. For all your credit card needs, search for credit card merchant services, and you will get an extensive list of resources.

Which service is right for you

After you have some search results, visit several different sites, even if they seem to offer the same services. You need to compare the options, prices, and customer services offered. One of the most important things to look for right away is how much you have to pay on a monthly basis to keep your credit card processing up and running. Most sites will represent their fees as fairly straight forward, but several companies charge hidden fees that can inflate your bill and put a kink in your operation. Keep an eye out for notices about late fees, a quota of credit card processing per month, and other limitations that could conflict with your needs. Also note what the company will charge you if you violate the terms of service. Remember that business can sometimes be unpredictable. If you get in a bad spot financially, you do not want your credit card merchant services to drag you down even further with high penalties or cancellation of service if you fail to meet a quota.

Also look for the extras that each service offers. For example, if you are processing credit cards on your website, you will need a built in way to accept card payments. This usually takes the form of a shopping cart that is written into your html code. The ideal merchant service will give you step by step instructions on how to set up your online shopping cart.

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Top 10 Benefits of Using Business Solution Software

There are many reasons for a company to outsource their business solutions software, to improve efficiency, streamline processes and to help improve operations within the scope of the business. Here are some of the top 10 benefits of implementing an innovative solution such as Microsoft Dynamics CRM.

1) Turns Microsoft Office Outlook into the ONE place where you can manage both customer data and communications. Microsoft Dynamics CRM extends the reach of Microsoft Outlook by turning it into a tool to manage customer information.

2) Microsoft Dynamics CRM extends the reach of Microsoft Outlook by turning it into a tool to manage customer information. Microsoft Dynamics CRM features an always-on connection to Excel that enables you to quickly turn customer information into dynamic snapshots or PivotChart dynamic views. These views can help you understand in seconds how a sales increase or company expansion can benefit the business.

3) Improves operational efficiency through the standardization and streamlining of processes. Business solutions software can relieve your staff of mundane but vital work. It can automate time-consuming repetitive tasks, warn staff of open customer issues, and automatically send important e-mail messages to customers and partners. So customer requests and orders don’t fall through the cracks.

4) Works the way your business works with point-and-click system customization.
Business solutions can be tailored to work the way your business already works. Microsoft Dynamics CRM forms, relationship links, and customer views can be designed and modified without complicated programming.

5) Gives the right information to the right people. Certain employees need certain information. System administrators will have the tools to make sure the right information is delivered to the right people- whether they are using Outlook or the Web.

6) Targets your marketing campaigns so you’re always in touch with the right customers.

7) Simplifies service scheduling to keep customers satisfied. One of the most challenging aspects of delivering great customer service is ensuring you never let customers down by missing a service call or appointment. Dispatchers can quickly and easily match the right service personnel to a particular customer or type of service call.

8) Integrates with your existing systems to help break down information silos.

9) Enhances offline communications so everyone can be productive regardless of location. It is designed so your staff can be productive both in the office and on the road-even if they aren’t connected to a network. Information can be filtered so that people receive only the information they need such as meeting updates and sales figures.

10) Builds on the power of SQL Server Reporting Services to create insightful business reports.

These are just a handful of the many benefits that implementing a software solution can provide to a company regardless of the size and the scope of the business. There are many different types of applications that can be integrated into current businesses, whether it is a CRM model, retail management system, non profit solution or one of several Microsoft Dynamics solutions.

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