15 business strategies you can learn from your neighborhood shopkeeper

Have you ever taken your neighborhood shopkeeper as a serious business strategist?

Most probably not!

Well, most of you may be well-acquainted with some of your friendly neighborhood shopkeepers who have been there, most times, from the times when you were in the kindergarten. And they have been there all the time you rushed there for some of your daily needs, be it some stationery like some cheap pens, or others like eggs or bread.

They may have in their shops most of the things that you need on a daily basis. You can buy from them in the least quantities, or in bulk sometimes. Though most of you might not have spared a minute to think about their utility, or business strategy, sometimes you wonder that this guy had started in a very small scale, requiring replenishing his stock on a daily basis. And he had very limited range of things to offer for sale a few years back. And now it seems he has grown big enough to store most things any household may want to shop for, and he has very good sales too.

And probably, over the years, he has amassed a good amount of money, as you can make out from the way his shop looks now, compared to what it was when you started going there for the first time. And look at the car that he drives around, one of the costliest and trendiest in the neighborhood.

All these tell you that his business has grown by leaps and bounds.

And you look at your monthly paycheck, if you are the kind of person who is bound to the office-hour routine. It is hardly enough to pay the bills.

Or, if you are an online marketer who could not make it big, you confess that it would have been better to own a shop like this, instead of wasting time learning from various so-called professional marketers ‘the tricks of making big money online’ or ‘selling it big’ to laugh all your way to the bank just after finishing the marketing online course that you singed up recently.

Nice thoughts. But what pays well to make your own business, online or offline, is to analyze how this neighborhood shopkeeper made it big in a very limited sphere of his business.

The simplest marketing strategies and business success secrets that you can learn from your neighborhood shopkeeper are as follows:

  1. He carefully notes down what the customer wants but he could not supply, and makes sure that never a customer goes back because he does not have the stocks.
  2. His prices are lower than the shops at trendy upscale markets because he does not have to pay high rents, pay hefty paychecks to marketing staff, and similar expenses, as mostly the work is done by himself or assisted by his family.
  3. As he carefully follows what sells the most, he does not overstock his inventories, and reduces the unproductive investments on slow moving inventories.
  4. He does not pay for advertisements and other marketing expenses and the savings on such expenses are either passed on to his customers as gifts, discounts, reduced prices, etc. This in turn increases his sales and profits.
  5. His satisfied customers do all the advertising for him by word-of-mouth advertising. Though he never learned any marketing tricks, experience has taught him that a satisfied customer sends to him more new customers, and unsatisfied customers turn away hundreds of other customers.
  6. He welcomes his customers with a smile on his face, and promises to supply what the customer wants next time, if he goes out of stock, or does not stock what the customer wants. That is the essence of good customer care that brings in more sales, and thereby big profits.
  7. He targets repeat sales, and never aims at one-time sales at killer prices that can kill his business itself.
  8. He listens to customer complaints patiently, apologizes for the customers’ inconvenience, and promptly offers a refund, or replacement.
  9. He stops selling products that have brought in repeated complaints on account of quality, or any other aspect, and he finds better products as replacements.
  10. His shop will be open all the time the customers are expected to come, or the fixed timings he has announced as his business hours. If he cannot be personally present, he makes sure that an equally responsible person takes care of his shop.
  11. He does not give false promises, misrepresent the facts about the quality, quantity and other aspects of the items that he sells.
  12. He carefully watches the new trends in his customers’ choices and looks for such products of high quality that he can sell at affordable prices. This makes the customers stay with him as they always get things of the latest trends, technology, fashion, etc. (Customer loyalty!)
  13. If there is any decline in his sales, he analyses the reason by himself, and ask the customers what their choices are and what they would like to have from his shop (customer surveys). Based on such facts, he makes changes in his inventories and business strategies (self-taught).
  14. Knowingly or unknowingly he builds his own brand, like ‘Smith’s Groceries’, or similar names (brand building).
  15. By practice, and learning over the years, he learns good accounting practices and keeps a healthy balance of his figures (like purchases, sales, profits, etc.)

Well, these are randomly noted aspects of a neighborhood business from my own perspective. I think these very aspects are relevant in online businesses too, if applied with slight modification wherever required. Look for more points from your own perspective. All these business and marketing strategies can be useful not only for neighborhood shops, but also for small businesses (online or otherwise), home-based businesses, and online businesses.

Making Money Selling Other People’s Products

A lot of people are now getting into online businesses and online marketing either to supplement their “real world” income or for it to become their primary source of income. Why? Because online marketing just provides them a lot of benefits!

First, you can reach just about anybody in the world who has Internet access if you market your products online. That means a wider market for you, which can translate to larger profits. Second, setting up an online business requires only a fraction of the cost required to set up an actual business establishment, which means a lot of savings for the business owner.

Another aspect that has attracted a lot of people towards online marketing is the fact that one doesn’t have to have his own products to get started. In online marketing, one can start making a lot of money just by selling, or even by just trying to sell, other people’s products. And getting started with this kind of marketing strategy is actually quite easy. All that one needs to do is to set up an agreement with an online retailer or merchant, and after everything is settled, one can immediately start making money by selling the merchant’s or the retailer’s products.

Incidentally, the most popular and the fastest growing method of selling other people’s products online is affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing, in its simplest definition, is a relationship between an online merchant or retailer, who has products to sell, and his affiliates, who are willing to promote the merchant’s product on their website.

In a typical affiliate marketing set up, the merchant provides his affiliates with banners and text ads that links to his site. The affiliates will then get these ads posted on their website and they get paid whenever traffic or sales is directed to the merchant’s website. Affiliates are often paid on commission basis, although other online merchants would opt to pay a fixed fee for the affiliate’s compensation.

Starting to make money online with affiliate marketing is relatively quick and easy. All that one has to do is to sign up as an affiliate for an online company that offers affiliate programs. An alternative method, and usually an easier one, is to sign up as a member of an affiliate network—a network that hosts a variety of affiliate programs for different online merchants or retailers. Signing up is usually free, although other companies and networks may require you to pay a particular fee. Such fees, however, are made as payment for additional services that the company may render, like providing you with tools and assistance to jumpstart your online business.

When you sign up with an affiliate marketing program, you are usually required to fill out a form containing information about yourself. Some affiliate programs may also require you to present the URL of your website and describe its contents. This will allow the retailers to verify that you actually have a website with contents that are relevant to their products. Some affiliate programs, however, won’t require you to have a website. After filling out the form and all, you are then allowed to choose the affiliate programs you want to promote.

After signing up with an affiliate program and being an actual affiliate, you are now ready to start making a lot of money by selling other people’s product online. How do you make money? There are actually a number of ways for you to earn money as an affiliate, and most of these ways depends on the type of affiliate marketing program you’ve gotten into.

Many affiliate marketing programs compensate their affiliates in either of three ways: pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-sale (PPS), or pay-per-lead (PPL). In pay-per-click affiliate marketing, the affiliate is paid whenever he directs traffic to the merchant’s site. PPS and PPL affiliate marketing programs work rather differently. In PPS, the affiliate only gets paid when his referral converts into an actual sale. In typical PPS affiliate programs, the affiliate would usually get 15% to 20% commission for each conversion. PPL affiliate programs work the same way, although affiliates are paid a fixed fee whenever his referral converts into a lead for the company.

Some affiliate marketing programs are two-tier programs, wherein the affiliate is also allowed to recommend other affiliates to the merchant. In such affiliate programs, the affiliate would not only be paid for the traffic or sales that he would direct to the merchant’s site but also for the traffic or sales directed by the affiliates who signed up with the program through his recommendation.

Yet another way of earning more profits with affiliate marketing is through residual affiliate programs. Residual affiliate programs are affiliate programs where the affiliate gets paid a number of times for as long as the merchant keeps the customer the affiliate has referred to his site. One form of residual program gets the affiliate paid a commission every time the referred customer purchases something on the merchant’s site. Another form of residual affiliate program gets the affiliate paid a percentage every month for as long as the company keeps the referred customer.

With a lot of options available and a lot of ways to earn money, affiliate marketing is undoubtedly the most popular and the easiest way to make money by selling other people’s products online. As to how much money one can get from affiliate marketing actually depends on the affiliate. A dedicated and hardworking affiliate would certainly get more from the program compared to those affiliates who would simply sign up and forget about the program later.

How To Get Your Subscribers Begging For More

Just as an experiment, a friend of mine subscribes to ten different opt-in e-mail marketing lists to see which ones are effective. Many websites and online businesses have resorted to sending promotional materials to people who have subscribed to them in an effort to boost their sales or traffic. Opt-in email marketing sends newsletters, catalogs updates and many more promotional materials to website visitors who have agreed to be updated whether monthly, weekly or semiannually.

Through e-mail, an internet user that is on the list will receive their updates through email. If a promotional material piques their interest they will go to the site to learn more or to purchase outright. For the website operators or owners, this is a chance to remind their list of their existence and parlor their wares. With the numerous sites in the internet that offers the same products or services in one way or the other, the competition can get pretty tight and it is easy to be forgotten.

Back to my experimenting friend, he tried to find out which opt-in marketing strategies grabbed a person into begging for more. Some would send in very simple fashion, some would very outlandish while there are some that would just lie in between. The differences could easily be noticed and some have gotten the idea of an effective opt-in marketing strategy. He dubbed them effective because he felt like he just couldn’t wait to go their site and learn more, the more persuasive ones even got him halfway to reaching for his wallet and to his credit card before he realized this was only for an experiment.

Many companies and site present their promotional materials in a wide variety of concepts. Each has their own distinctive style and designs, but more than the outline and the presentation, the content and the articles are what keeps the attention of your potential customer locked on to your opt-in marketing medium. Creativity is the key here.

From talking to many satisfied opt-in list subscribers and forums, I have learned of what is essential in opt-in marketing and what makes the subscribers begging for more instead of lining up to unsubscribe.

Keep your promotional materials light, creative and original. Many people are stressed out as it is. Getting a stuffy business proposal rather than a light hearted e-mail may just agitate them more. A warm friendly smile or banter is always more welcome than a serious business meeting or proposal. While you do want your customers to take you and your products and services seriously, you also want to show them that you know how to have fun.

Splash some color in your emails as well as provide some photos and articles that can be related to you but show good news or good light hearted images as well. Provide a newsletter or promotional materials that will keep them in a light mood. Make your materials eye catching and grabbing that they wont be able to take their eyes of them. Pique their interests.

Have good content and article, even if it means investing in an experienced and professional copy writer to write them for you. An effective copy writer should be able to build trust between you and your customers. They should be able to establish your credibility in what they write. It must be informative but not too stuffy. Let go of the professional jargons and “talk” to your recipients.

A good article and content should be able to outline the benefits of your product and services and why they need what you are offering. But do not look to be overeager and too persuasive. It should be able to entertain as well as lead them to buying from you.

Your promotional materials should be clear. Don’t leave people guessing. You should lead them to you and not vice versa. Explain to them what they need to do in a manner that won’t be confusing. Try to anticipate also what your target client needs. Do your research and information gathering, many sites will be able to help you with that.

Provide clear and crisp images of what you are offering. If the people know what you have for them, they are more likely to beg for more. For example, if you are selling a car, provide them photos but only enough to encourage them to go to your site for more.