Events, Awards and Contests Not to Miss

Welcome to our latest curated list of events, contests and awards for small businesses, solo entrepreneurs and growing companies. To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

2014 BIG Innovation Awards2014 BIG Innovation Awards
December 06, 2013, Online

The BIG Innovation Awards recognize organizations and people who bring new ideas to life. Whether that idea is big or small, these ideas change the way we experience the world. We recognize every innovation that our judges deem worthy!
Hashtag: #bigawards


Small Biz Big Things Denver - With Chris BroganSmall Biz Big Things Denver – With Chris Brogan
December 10, 2013, Denver, CO

Denver small business owners get a huge dose of practical marketing insight. Sponsor: Infusionsoft.

Chris Brogan, online marketing celebrity, keynotes, along with Zack Mangum, Ramon Ray and Travis Campbell.

Hashtag: #smallbizbigthings
Discount Code
early25 (25% off – must register by Nov. 30)


Dell World 2013Dell World 2013
December 11, 2013, Austin, TX

Dell World is Dell’s annual tech conference. This year it features a keynote address by Michael Dell, CEO of Dell, and one by Elon Musk, co-founder of PayPal. Entertainment by CAMP FREDDY.

Small Business Trends will be there!

Hashtag: #Dellworld


WordStream’s $25,000 Marketing Makeover
December 15, 2013, Online

Win $25,000 in pay-per-click advertising budget for 2014, plus marketing tools from WordStream and Constant Contact. Grade and get paid today! Hashtag: #25KforPPC


Affiliate Management Days San Francisco 2014Affiliate Management Days San Francisco 2014
March 19, 2014, San Francisco, CA

AM Days is the must attend event for affiliate managers who are responsible for their company’s affiliate marketing strategy, management and operations. Whether you have an existing affiliate program or you are creating a new initiative, AMDays offers you valuable insight into how other online retailers are successfully implementing and managing their affiliate programs. Topics include: Affiliate program set up; Affiliate recruitment techniques; Affiliate marketing fraud; M-commerce; and much more.
Hashtag: #AMDays


ICON14 by InfusionsoftICON14 by Infusionsoft
April 23, 2014, Phoenix, AZ

#ICON14 is the eighth annual conference for small business, hosted by Infusionsoft (previously called Infusioncon). Over 3,000 attendees expected. Confirmed speakers include Seth Godin, JJ Ramberg and Peter Shankman.

Hashtag: #ICON14
Discount Code
smallbiztrends (Get an extra $100 off)


More Events

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This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

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Holiday Postage, Mobile Engagement and WordPress Websites

reading the news

It’s time for  our weekly community news and information roundup with the latest news and articles from sites we follow on the Web. You can help gather news about new websites or online tools or suggest articles you think we should feature here.

Just drop us an email at sbtips@gmail.com or share it at the BizSugar community and we’ll include it if we can.

Holiday Postage a Good Investment (Fletcher Prince)

If you were planning to send your holiday greetings out by email, don’t do it. Marketing consultant Mary Fletcher Jones says your clients would much rather have a traditional card.

Holiday Interaction’s Gone Mobile (iBlogZone)

On the other hand, in some ways interactions between businesses and customers have gone super high tech. See this infographic shared by Francisco Perez about how mobile is changing the engagement between consumers and brands.

Why WordPress is the Right Choice for Websites (Outside Raleigh)

The debate rages on as far as blog platforms go. But Web marketing and SEO expert Eric Erickson now insists WordPress is the best choice, not just for your blog, but for your Website, too.

Employees and Your Brand (Visible Logic Inc)

While you’re busy fiddling with your Web presence and marketing campaign, don’t forget your employees are also building your brand. Here’s a discussion from the BizSugar community with Emily Brackett.

Bringing on a New Team Member (Luxr)

One way to make sure employees are in tune with your business’s brand is to get them acclimated to the company culture from the beginning. Here’s another discussion from the BizSugar community about the major challenges involved.

Why Credibility Matters (Squirrel Business Hub)

Of course, you want to be professional and build respect for your brand with your online presence. But Kylie Harker and Tracey Stoll want you to know there’s an even more compelling and immediate reason to create credibility.

Figure Out Your Cash Flow (Go Forth Institute)

As important as worrying about making sales may be, so is figuring out how to manage the money once it gets into your business. Cash flow is the lifeblood of your company. Here’s how to figure out whether or not you’re managing it well.

Tools to Manage Your Community (SocialMediaData.com)

As with cash flow and Web presence, you must also manage your community. Adam Post, founder of the Bright Age Digital Creative Agency, shares some tools that may help.

Figure Out Your Portal Problem (Vera Claritas)

You’ve created a solution for a problem your customers don’t even know they have. The challenge is to show them that they have this problem in the first place. Fortunately, there is a simple approach.

Free Trials May Not Be The Answer (M4B Marketing)

Susan Oakes has this great take on marketing as a way to find the right customers. The trick, she says, is choosing the right way to reach them.

Reading Photo via Shutterstock

The post Holiday Postage, Mobile Engagement and WordPress Websites appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Texas A&M and Kevin Sumlin Agree to Six-Year Deal

Texas A&M head football coach Kevin Sumlin. Photo courtesy of Texas A&M.

Kevin Sumlin won’t be coaching the University of Southern California, the University of Florida, Minnesota Vikings or Tampa Bay Buccaneers. In fact, he’ll stay right at home in College Station, Texas with a new deal that keeps him there through 2019.

Texas A&M Athletic Director Eric Hyman announced Saturday the university has agreed in principle with Sumlin on a new six-year contract.

“Coach Sumlin has demonstrated why he is considered among the nation’s elite football coaches. His coaching and recruiting abilities are only secondary to his integrity, class and passion for his student-athletes and this University,” Hyman said. “Texas A&M is making a sincere commitment to Kevin. We are fortunate that he is committed to remain an Aggie for a long time to come, and we are excited about what the future has in store.”

Sumlin has compiled a 19-5 record and last season was named Southern Conference Coach of the Year by the AP and SEC Co-Coach of the Year as voted by a panel of his peers. He was a finalist for National Coach of the Year.

“I am humbled and very appreciative of the commitment that Texas A&M has extended not only to me and my family, but to our football program overall,” said Sumlin. “We have only just begun to lay the foundation for sustained, long-term success here at Texas A&M, and we will work hard every day to make this great institution and the 12th Man proud.”

Many have begun to wonder about the future of Sumlin’s best player, Johnny Manziel. The 2012 Heisman trophy winner is expected to make a decision about whether he will enter the NFL Draft before the Aggies’ bowl game.

As head coach at Houston and Texas A&M, Sumlin has a record of 54-22.

Business Intelligence is the Icing on the Cake for a Local Bakery

butter lane bakery

Most businesses collect information on their customers. But many may be unaware of how valuable that information can be. Using the data effectively can be the key to identifying your best customers and figuring out how to serve them better. It can also be the key to growing your business by increasing sales or cutting unnecessary costs.

Here’s what happened in the case of Butter Lane, a specialty bakery with a focus on cupcakes and locations in the East Village, New York City and Park Slope in Brooklyn.

Co-Owner Pam Nelson says the company has always collected information on its customers and had a fairly large customer database. But that database was used primarily just to send out email blasts in the past. At the time, no practical option existed for separating out Butter Lane’s best customers for special attention or more customized marketing.

Also the company has participated in three Small Business Saturdays so far. But Nelson says the company has so far also had no way of telling how many repeat customers were gained as a result. Thus, there has been no way to determine whether any extra investment associated with participation is getting a good return — until now, that is.

Gain More Insight Into Your Customers

Over the last year, Butter Lane has made a change. The company has been using a business intelligence application from Swipely to gather data on its customers. And they will use this data in a very different way. Swipely integrates with point of sales technology used by established retailers, restaurants, bars, salons and similar businesses.

The company says it tracks credit card numbers to sort out first time from repeat customers. ”And that’s a big deal for us, just in general,” said Nelson in a recent phone interview with Small Business Trends.

The new tracking allows Butter Lane to figure out what special events, offers, or other marketing efforts result in greater earnings and in increased numbers of return customers.

Today, Small Business Saturday, Butter Lane is launching a new loyalty program in an effort to use customer data to gain even more insight and grow its business at the same time. Customers entering either of the bakery’s locations today will be prompted to sign up for the program by text or on an in-store iPad. Butter Lane will then be able to track customers by name every time they make a credit card purchase.

butter lane bakery

Customers will get cash back rewards the more they spend. Nelson says customers may also receive those rewards in the form of free products like cupcakes or other goodies.

So Butter Lane has found an easy way to reward its best customers automatically and perhaps encourage them to keep coming back.

What Customer Data Tells You

But that’s not the only thing Butter Lane can do with the enhanced data the company will be collecting. Matthew Oley, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Swipely, says data collected on customers can be used to learn many things about a business.

For example, by collecting data on your customers through loyalty programs, you can discover what products or services they prefer and which customers tend to spend above a certain threshold. You can use this information to segment your customer list and target specific customers with offers most suitable to them.

By importing outside data you can determine whether other factors like weather conditions or even social media campaigns or mentions have an impact on your business. You can even use that social media data to track your average Yelp score or keep up with the latest social media mentions about your company.

It’s also possible to import social media data for some of your major competitors to compare with your own. Track the amount of business during a slow time of day to figure out whether it makes sense to stay open that extra hour. Or experiment to see whether expanding your hours boosts revenue or number of return customers — or both.

Bottom line: The more you know about your customers the better. So figure out how to collect and utilize that data in the way most effective for you.

Images: Butter Lane Bakery

The post Business Intelligence is the Icing on the Cake for a Local Bakery appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Gearing Up for Future Financial Success





The-future-of-finance

In a time where more than half of the nation’s young adults are struggling to find full-time jobs after graduating college, taking the proper steps to ensure a financially stable future has never been more important — or more challenging. We have survived the Great Recession, the housing market crash and the troubles of Wall Street, but what does this mean for our future?

New research from Fidelity Investments suggests that the ’08 crisis has scared our generation into saving more for our future, stating that 64 percent of millennials now save more systematically than they did pre-crisis.

Here are a few ways some millennials are starting to gear up for future financial success despite the financial meltdown we grew up in:

Contributing to a Retirement Plan

Even if retirement is 30 or 40 years away, you should start saving for your future now. Retirement investment vehicles such as 401(k)s, IRAs and annuities all provide benefits that most young entrepreneurs miss out on.

Annuities are financial products that are typically used as a source of steady income during retirement. In return for a lump-sum investment or smaller payments over time, the insurance company will repay you in regular disbursements, beginning on a set date down the road.

If a major life happens before you retire, such as you want to purchase a new home, it is possible to sell annuity payments to gain a larger lump sum immediately, but fees will apply.

Contributing to an annuity or other investment vehicle now will help to provide for a more comfortable retirement.

Making a Budget and Sticking to It

Sticking to budget is one of the best ways to stay financially stable now and in the future. You need to keep track of your income and all of your expenses to accurately project savings for the future.

At the beginning of each month, subtract recurring expenses from your monthly income that remain the same from month to month and then subtract other bills from your overall budget amount. What is left is your projected monthly allowance for all other expenses that will not leave you in debt if unpaid.

From here, you need to calculate every expense into your budget and when you hit $0, no more spending.

There are a number of ways to keep on track with your budgeting. You can use Excel or a calculator or you can join the 21st century and use your handy dandy smartphone. Yes, there’s an app for that.

In fact, there is a plethora of apps tailored to your budgeting needs and preferences, including:

  • Easy Envelope Budget Aid (EEBA). A free, virtual version of the older envelope budgeting system, which allows you to manually input your earnings and expenses and create one budget for the month, or multiple envelopes for different categories.
  • Mint. An app created by mint.com that connects to your bank account and automatically tracks your bank account for you.

Setting up a budget may seem like a simple practice, but it won’t only help you stay on track now; it will help build vital personal finance skills needed for a successful future.

Knowing Which Debt to Pay Off First

If you find yourself in debt, there is a way out, but when deciding which debt to pay off first, it is important to know which will affect your credit score the most. Generally, revolving debt, such as credit card debt, has a bigger impact on your credit score than installment debt, such as student loans.

Keeping your credit score in check will allow you to make future purchases such as a car or a new home and is important in securing your future.

Although you should try to make minimum payments on your student loans on time, taking care of credit card debt, which typically has a higher interest rate, first can be better long term.

Millennials have grown up in a struggling economy, but that doesn’t mean our future has to be a struggle, too. If you stay on budget, invest what you can for retirement and keep your credit score in mind when paying off debt, you are setting yourself up for a successful future.

Kaitlyn Fusco is a content writer for Debt.org. She combines her interests in writing and overcoming debt to inform the public about issues related to credit, debt, annuities and personal finance.

Image Credit: www.jbs.cam.ac.uk 





The post Gearing Up for Future Financial Success appeared first on Under30CEO.

Smooth Failing: Being Inspired by Others’ Spectacular Failures

Smooth Failing - entrepreneur failures book“Highly successful people make mistakes all the time.  Some failures are big, some even bigger, but none need result in the end of your dreams to succeed.”

So writes Barbara Weltman in her latest book, “Smooth Failing: Top industry leaders share their secrets for turning Pain into Profit.”   Weltman – an attorney, tax expert, small business expert and author — is well-known as the author of the J.K. Lasser’s Small Business Taxes books and guides.  She’s also the author of several “how to” books on small business topics, including The Idiot’s Guide to Starting a Home Based Business.

Smooth Failing is a departure from that type of book.  Weltman (@BarbaraWeltman on Twitter) tackles a subject that most of us who are entrepreneurs have lived through:  failure and how to get past it.

Smooth Failing is a book of  case studies and lessons.  It covers the failures of successful entrepreneurs – and some of the failures are so over the top that they could have been ripped right from the pages of a thriller novel.   Yet they are real.

Money laundering. Lies and cover ups. Cyber blackmail.  Software logic bombs that surreptitiously delete software code. A stock market crash. A business partner with inoperable cancer.

This book has it all!

Entrepreneurs Candidly Share Failures

In interviews with 10 successful business owners and entrepreneurs, Weltman manages to wheedle out stunning admissions of failure, such as as lying to a client. Yes, that’s one of the stories.  It comes from New York Times contributor Gene Marks who told the story of how he lied to cover up some shoddy performance of his company’s proprietary software.  He regretted lying and eventually the software became obsolete.  That happened years ago.  The lying made him physically sick, and he learned an important lesson that changed the way he did business.

And then there’s the story of the FBI showing up at one entrepreneur’s doorstep.  John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing was stunned.  One of his then-clients was accused of money laundering.  Jantsch, of course, never had a clue about what his client was doing.  However, he had to spend time preparing for and testifying in front a grand jury that ended up indicting the client. Jantsch himself was promptly cleared.  But that experience helped propel him to radically change his business focus.

Or what about the entrepreneur who, desperate to get his new business off the ground, offered a sales rep the ability to earn 50% equity in the company in exchange for meeting certain sales targets.  The sales rep was hell bent on meeting those targets — so much so that he nearly drove the business into the ground.  That’s the story told by Tim Berry, founder of Palo Alto Software.

And imagine being Peter Justen, formerly the CEO of MyBizHomepage, and now the CEO of business dashboard product Five Plus.  When he learned his Chief Technology Officer was planning to start a competing business,  Justen terminated him.  However, his former employee had planted “logic bombs” in the company’s software product.  Logic bombs are pieces of code that launch on certain activities, and delete code or data, or make it unusable. In short, the former executive — someone Justen had thought was a friend — sabotaged the product.  Justen literally had to start over, and build a new product from scratch.  But that was only the beginning.  The former executive launched a defamation attack against Justen and his family, hacked into their email and social accounts, and attempted to blackmail Justen.  It turns out that the executive lived off the grid and managed to hide his tracks in order not to be found by authorities.  Phew!

After stories like those, my own story — which is also included in the book — sounds positively boring.  My story is about having too many irons in the fire. I drifted along and lost focus on my goals.  Once I got my goal mojo back, and brought in some help, the business leapt forward.  In my case the CTO was the hero, not the villain. Yeah, I know … not nearly as exciting as grand juries and logic bombs.

What I liked best about this book is the way Weltman manages to distill each case study down into a few lessons.  That is harder than it sounds, and I’ll tell you why.  I can remember back almost a year ago when the author contacted me. We arranged a lengthy phone interview about my experiences.  In the book everything is laid out cogently.  The lessons are succinctly summarized.

You might get the impression that I was super articulate that day, and delivered everything on a silver platter to Barbara Weltman.  Nope.  I rambled.  I just started talking without necessarily identifying my own lessons or even what I was going to talk about.  The story took shape and the lessons emerged only after probing questions from the author.  That’s what a skillful interviewer can do.

Innovative Publishing Approach

The book is published by Indigo River Publishing. On its website it describes itself as a “modern and progressive publishing house and we believe in a more dynamic and entrepreneurial approach to the building and marketing of our books.”

The book is published in two editions.  One is a standarded edition containing only the 10 lessons currently in there now.

But here’s the innovative part:  the other editions is called a “Living Edition.”  This means that additional case studies and lessons will be added.  And entrepreneurs can request to be considered to be included in the book.  Those why buy the Living Edition (which is electronic) will have access to the additional entrepreneurs added later.

Why Get This Book

(1) The stories are enthralling and not just about business, but about life and human nature.

(2) You may know one or more of the entrepreneurs profiled.  Many of them are active online and in social media.  I don’t know about you, but often it’s hard for me to relate to the one-in-a-billion success of someone like Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook.  I find little that is relevant to apply to my own business, because the scale is so different.  But I can relate to the experiences of a John Jantsch of Duct Tape Marketing or a Norm Brodsky.

(3) It is useful. The lessons are encapsulated at the end of each chapter.

(4) But the best reason to read Smooth Failing, in my opinion, is that ultimately the book is  positive and uplifting about not giving up. You must adapt and reboot your business.  When you are feeling like nothing is going right — and you will feel that way at some point in your entrepreneurial journey — it may be the motivational shot in the arm you need.

The post Smooth Failing: Being Inspired by Others’ Spectacular Failures appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Week In Review: Small Business Saturday, Twitter Experiments and More

reading business news

It’s time again for our week in review. Here are the top stories important to your small business this week from the Small Business Trends editorial team.

Holidays

Small suppliers benefit from turkey shortage. Butterball, one of the nation’s largest producers, was short of big fresh birds this year. Not to worry though. Small farmers came to the rescue…and are smiling ear to ear.

Parking free in 42 communities on Small Business Saturday. Free parking is intended to further encourage customers to shop at local small businesses. Check out the post for a full list of participating communities.

Social Media

Twitter experimented briefly with new messaging program. For about a month, Twitter gave users the option of letting followers direct message them — even if they aren’t following them back. It doesn’t seem the feature has made the cut.

LinkedIn rolls out Showcase Pages. It could be helpful if you happen to have a few niche products and services and need to target slightly different audiences with each. Here’s a basic overview.

Business Basics

Square eliminates flat rates. It’s a big blow to small businesses who use the pocket-sized credit card reader to avoid fees on a major credit card merchant account. The flat fee has been a major incentive for many small businesses to try the service.

Italy’s oldest family business seeks foreign customers. For centuries, the Pontifical Marinelli Foundry has served mainly one large local client, the Vatican. But tough economic times have forced this local bell maker to look at increasing exports.

Tech

Acer introduces two ultrabooks. These devices are new to the U.S. market and are aimed directly at business users. They have plenty of featured but don’t expect a bargain price.

Policy

Raising the minimum wage. The Affordable Care Act raised many concerns — now seemingly confirmed — in the small business community. But another policy on the horizon may be easily as dangerous. And that danger may not be only to the businesses themselves. Scott Shane has more.

Another Obamacare Website delay. Yes, there’s another delay related to the Obamacare website. And this one affects small business with 50 employees or less. Small Business Trends CEO Anita Campbell has more.

Reading Photo via Shutterstock

The post Week In Review: Small Business Saturday, Twitter Experiments and More appeared first on Small Business Trends.

Acer Introduces Two Ultrabooks Aimed At Business Users

Acer TravelMate X313

Acer has introduced two ultrabooks for the first time in the U.S. market aimed specifically for business users on the go. But, don’t expect to get either of these devices at a bargain price.

First, the Acer TravelMate P645 features:

  • A 14-inch display with HD resolution.
  • A lightweight thin design just 3.31 pounds and .81 inches thick.
  • Longer battery life for up to 8 hours of enhanced productivity.
  • Enhanced capabilities that let you review documents, compare spreadsheets and create multimedia with greater responsiveness and speed.
  • Premium security features including Acer Recovery Management and ProShield Manager which let you protect your data.

In a prepared announcement on the device’s release in the North American market, Michael O’Beirne, senior director of commercial product marketing at Acer America explained:

“Business never ends for our customers, many of whom have global teams that run 24×7, so they need a notebook PC that will keep them at their most effective whether in the office or on the road.”

A second device, the Acer TravelMate X313 (pictured above), can function either as an ultrabook or tablet, the company says. Here is a brief overview from Notebook Italia:

This machine is designed to be even more lightweight and mobile, says Acer. The device’s specs say it is 1.74 pounds and .39 inches thick.

Other features include:

  • Cradle expansion enabling it to function as a desktop PC.
  • An 11.6-inch display with touchscreen capability allowing it to function in tablet mode.
  • A 6-hour battery life allowing it to be used by members of a mobile workforce.
  • Versions of Acer’s Recovery Management and ProShield manager for data security, like on the TravelMate P645.

A recent company announcement on this device says the company expects it to be used for Web browsing, checking email, scheduling appointments and more, all in a commercial business setting.

Unlike, other low cost consumer devices which might also work for business applications, Acer is clearly targeting these two devices for business use.

But since both start at a premium $949, they won’t likely appeal to all small business users.

Image: Acer

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Are NMSDC and Supplier Diversity at a Crossroads?

nmsdcAs you have read in my recent articles (links are at the end of this post) on current NMSDC (National Minority Supplier Development Council) affairs, the organization is going through some radical changes, even rough times. If you decide to read this piece as well, I urge you to read it in its entirety, as there are many nuances to this.

To recap – the “new” NMSDC leadership (since the summer of 2010, led by President Joset Wright) has apparently decided to consolidate and centralize the power of the organization, reduce the number of regional councils, pour their diverse supplier database into a national registry, and quite likely (although not written in stone yet) also roll up all the regional councils into a single entity nationwide. These changes will create a leaner NMSDC – with reduced administrative overhead – but my question is how well does this support their supplier diversity mission?

My sources suggest that there now is a rift between the old guard and the new team, with different opinions on how to take the organization forward. Specifically, not all among the “old” leadership are on board with the changes.

Read more at SpendMatters

How Well Do You Know Your Online Shoppers?

know online shoppers

If you ask eCommerce merchants how much they know about their customers, how well they know online shoppers, you may get a general reply. Many may only be able to describe their customers based on demographics of gender, age and level of income.

So do they really understand why, when, where and how their customers make their purchases?

The buying process is getting more complicated. People have hundreds of online places to purchase products that meet their needs. They may shop online, from home, from the grocery store or their Android phones, iPhone or Smartphones.

So how can a consumer be best understood?

Besides knowing their demographics, you can also benefit from other personal data such as:

  • Interests/hobbies
  • Daily activities
  • Political affiliation

All of this information can be inferred through personal interaction. Acquiring this data is harder to achieve but there are databases that will allow you to target individuals based on the above mentioned criteria. These details aid in promoting the products that interest them easily.

What Do Customers Need to Know?

It is important that your customer know the ins and outs of a product:

  • What do the products look like?
  • How do they function?
  • What sizes and colors are available?
  • How much does it cost?
  • Does it carry a discount?
  • Is there a warranty?
  • What is the procedure to purchase the product?

Online shoppers are gradually demanding more from retailers. They want more information at the start of the online experience, more options during checkout and delivery and more channels for interrelating with their favorite retailers. Free shipping, social and mobile access and simple return processes are evaluated among the most imperative needs for today’s online shoppers.

Customers look into different sources such as blogs, articles and websites to check for product details. So make sure that you understand how to answer these questions in an effective manner to meet your customer’s queries.

Use the three C’s:

  • Choice
  • Channels
  • Convenience

Retailers can actually win shoppers over by providing a positive and consistent Omni channel experience. From social media platforms to mobile apps , today’s consumer expect and value services that work together across the whole shopping continuum from pre-purchase to post-purchase.

How Do Customers Learn About Products?

Today, product research is done in living rooms, offices, hospitals, coffee shops – anywhere and everywhere. Most importantly, products are compared among different websites and product reviews from other consumers.

Retailers need to understand the customer’s research strategies. Multiple factors can influence their research process:

  • Research can be conducted by looking at the product’s picture or reading the description.
  • Checking other brands and alternative products.
  • An event can trigger interest in the product.
  • Product reviews given by others.
  • Discounts and sales.
  • Instinctive buying.

Remember, the most crucial psychology behind their product research is that customers often make a purchase decision only after evaluating the products’ real value. They narrow their selection and then shop for price.

Where Do Customers Inquire About Products?

It has been found that approximately 86% of consumers go online to research products. However, the majority of consumers are becoming increasingly sophisticated at multi-channel shopping. Therefore, retailers need to better align their business operating models with consumer expectations and sophistication.

Globally, research shows that 20% make their purchase direct online, 3% make their purchases via social networks and the remaining balance from other sources such as television shopping networks, mobile, Web , laptop, smartphones, Xboxes and physical stores. They also read trade publications, Facebook posts, check comparison shopping engines and their network of friends on Twitter.

Is it possible for every eCommerce merchant to be in all of these places? In many cases, it may not be practical. So the best thing to do is to identify where your customers are going to seek information while they move through their purchasing cycle. And then ensure that you are seen and present in those places and that your messages and content are mobile-friendly.

Shopping Photo via Shutterstock

The post How Well Do You Know Your Online Shoppers? appeared first on Small Business Trends.