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Three Tips to Help When Feeling Overwhelmed at Work

Posted on March 4, 2011 by Suzanne

Feeling overwhelmed is inevitable in today’s workplace. With technology we not only work faster, but are constantly berated with incoming issues. It often seems like it is coming at you too fast or that you will never get your head above water. Just opening your computer in the morning to see your email inbox is sometimes enough to make you disheartened. Take heart, you are not alone; but how do we look past the avalanche of work and accomplish the tasks at hand? These are a few things I think about when I feel like I’m overwhelmed at work.

Don’t Get Stuck on the Big Picture
We all want to help with the main goals the comapny is trying to accomplish, but once you know what the general direction of the company is, use that information to help direct you to the projects that best assist the big picture. It’s easy to dwell on the big picture and forget where you are actually headed, so instead of letting that drive what you do, make that knowledge work for you in order to accomplish your smaller goals. These, in turn, will help drive the overall goals of the company.

Know When to Say “No”
In a technology driven society we all have the ability to multitask in a way our parents never dreamed of; but just because you can juggle ten flaming pins doesn’t mean you should. Know how you work and know where your max is. If you continue to take on responsibility there will inevitably come a time when all your tasks begin to hinder how well you work. In work, quality is always better than quantity, as a sustainable business grows on quality work. Say no to the projects that will push you over your limit and work hard to create the best quality work on the ones you are currently undertaking.

Stuck? Ask for Help
If you do end up with too much on your plate, don’t be afraid to ask for help or delegate a task to someone else. It’s for this reason that it is important to know who you work with and how you can help each other succeed. For me, when I am stuck on a task, I ask for help from someone who may know what I’m doing better than I do. Not only does this help get the task done faster, but I learn how to trouble shoot that problem in the future. We all love being the best at what we do, but there comes a time when a problem can be solved in 5 minutes by asking for help and that 5 minutes can save 45 minutes of frustration trying to think of what to do.

These three tips are what help me the most when I am feeling overwhelemed. How about you, how do you deal with your workload?



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Making Twitter Work for Your Business

Posted on February 23, 2011 by Josh Mc

We have written on the topic of Twitter before, but as one of the most popular social media platforms, I felt a good Twitter for businesses guide was needed. Twitter is one of those sites where you can easily gain a thousand followers and yet see no interaction with any of your tweets and no visitors to your site. This can be quickly disheartening for businesses as they think more followers should equal more visits and integration on Twitter but that is not always the case. In contrast according to the Twitter statistics released last year, Twitter users tweet an average of 55 million tweets a day, meaning your companies tweets can easily get lost in the mix. This post is designed to help you better take advantage of the users you have.

Incentives Work


The below infographic shows the results of a study eMarketers did on “Why we Follow Companies on Twitter.”

Twitter for Business Infographic


Just simply looking at the results should help you to better understand individuals motivations for following your company, as well as spur ideas on how to better interact with them. For large businesses obviously getting updates is a big reason people follow, but for smaller to medium businesses I don’t feel like these are as relevant as tweets pertaining to receiving discounts, getting updates on sales, and samples and coupons. Therefore, if you are a smaller business you should at least consider that the reason someone decided to follow you may have a lot to do with them hoping you will tweet a discount. A discount that they can use to purchase something they want and / or retweet to their followers to provide a benefit to their Twitter stream. If your business is not doing this then you are missing out on potential engagement. 

But is it simply enough to tweet a coupon and watch the sales role in? If it was everyone would be doing it. You first have to engage with the followers to make sure that your tweets are not simply lost in the endless stream.

Giveaways

Giveaways are a direct line to a Twitter users heart. In today's society we all are striving to receive the biggest benefit with the least amount of work, and Twitter has provided this. A simple giveaway of a hot item can garner thousands of tweets, if a tweet is all it takes for an entry. Not only does this provide an instant boast to your Twitter account, but it provides an interaction between the company and the users. This interaction makes the users more interested in what your next tweets will be as there is a possibility there is something in it for them. Setting up a quarterly give away is a great way to gain new followers and retain the ones you have.

Customer Service

Unlike any other service, Twitter gives us the possibility for interaction that is normally outside of your reach. I could tweet President Obama my thoughts on foreign policy right now, there is a 99.9% chance he wont read it, but there is more of a possibility of me getting through to him on Twitter then there is by calling up the White House. This level of interaction is something that is both good and bad for the modern business. Where before the customer had to follow your preferred methods of contact, they can now simply craft a 140 character message and send it to you instantly. While this is scary for many business owners it is an exciting new way to interact with the customer and keep them visiting your site. If you prove to be a good source on Twitter and prove that you respond to your customers in a timely manner you can easily establish engagement and show other potential customers that you care and will answer their questions however you can.

Obama Twitter

These are just a few of the tips I use on Twitter to help promote a business. What are some others you have seen?  Make sure to leave them in the comments.

 

How to Implement the Seven Best Improvements in the New Facebook Fan Pages

Posted on February 11, 2011 by Josh Mc

This week Facebook announced their new Facebook fan page layouts. To say this is a improvement is an understatement; the pages have been completely overhauled and have added a lot of functionality that was missing and needed in prior versions. Here are a few of the changes you should look into when upgrading to the new fan page.

New Facebook Fan Page


1.    Make the Change
The first thing you need to do is to head over to your fan page and click the upgrade button on the top of the page. Yes, this is a permanent change, but it will go into effect whether you like it or not in March, so you might as well get the jump on it.


2.    Change Your Email Settings
When I logged in today the email settings were currently set to send all email notifications to the personal email I have set up with my Facebook account. Now this wouldn’t be good as my personal email would be bombared so I had that turned off. For fan pages with a large amount of interaction this can create a lot of emails but if your fan page is relatively new it is great to be able to see when a fan interacts with you. You can make that change by clicking "Edit My Page" in the top right corner then select "Your Settings."


3.    Browse Facebook as the Page

This change was something I am surprised they had not implemented earlier. You can now log in as your fan page and browse Facebook as that fan page. Example: I can log in as OutdoorPros and comment / like as OutdoorPros and not my personal account. This will allow you to comment on other brands fan pages as well as comment on customers pages if they are having problems with your site or an order they placed. The main problem with this is you have to log out of browsing Facebook as the page in order to go back to your personal account. I can already see this causing problem with people forgetting they are logged in to the company’s profile. To log in or out you can see the below box in the top right of your fan page.

Browse Facebook as Fan Page

4.    Define Your Category
Facebook has redefined the way you can categorize your page and has allowed you to make changes to it whenever you need to. This will allow new fans to find your page more easily as they can browse by the type of fan page they are looking for.  They also have a lot more options for how you can categorize your page. Yo
u can make this change by clicking "Edit Page" then "Basic Information."


5.    Set Featured Admins
I can’t see many big businesses using this, but the option is available. You can select admins and highlight them on the fan page. This will show the admins picture and name in the top right and you can click through to their personal Facebook. This can cause many problems though so I see the implementation being low.


6.    Set Featured Likes
If you have partners or companies you work closely with on Facebook you can now like their page as your company and it will be highlighted on your company's Fan Page. This is a really cool new addition and it will help you with gaining more fans by being featured on other people’s pages. The last five pages you "liked" are the ones that are featured on your fan page.


7.    Recent Pictures
Like the profile pages before them, the fan pages now show five random pictures from your company's uploads right next to the main picture. This is a cool addition and if your company does not upload photos to Facebook it is worth finding some good ones to take advantage of this. If you don’t like the photos being shown you can simply click the “x” at the top of the photo and it will replace it with another one.


These are just a few of my tips for working with the new Facebook fan pages. I’m sure that as we spend more time with it there will be a lot more cool changes to implement. All in all I like the progression Facebook is making with these pages. Don't forget you can always be our fan at OutdoorPros.com fan page and PlumberSurplus.com fan page.

What about you, have you taken advantage of this change yet? Do you have any tips to add?

 

Is Organic Google Search Fading Away?

Posted on February 9, 2011 by Zach

Like it or not many retailers are at the mercy of Google and organic search for a significant amount of revenue and traffic. This can be both a good and a bad thing, its free and can represent significant  revenue, but you are also at their mercy and a page drop for a keyword can mean a lot of lost money. There have been many discussions about the changes Google has been making to their search engine results pages recently with Josh even writing about it last year. What interests me is not only how many changes they have made, but what that has done to what is displayed above the fold of those pages. Taking the pages as a whole it may not seem like much has changed, but when you look at the content above the fold I think Google has drastically changed the layout and content displayed. I put together a couple of examples...

A simple search for bathroom faucets has new elements that include: a much more prominent top ad display box with the inclusion of AdWords Ad Extensions such as Ad Site Links, Google instant which will automatically change the results of the page based upon what is being typed, Google Suggest which drops down a box of suggested or alternate search phrases, an altered left hand navigation pane, and a section for related searches which can include other brands, stores or types.

 

Google Results with Adwords


An alternative search for Kohler bathroom faucets shows the actual Kohler website multiple times in the top three organic results as well as having an ad in the top ad unit.
 

Google Results One Brand

 


A search for shower doors shows more prominent local listings with a map on the right and extended listing of local results further down the page.


Google Results Local

 

What I find interesting, is that over time Google has added more and more elements to their results, given ads a more prominent focus and placement, and in many cases simply over complicated search. Didn’t they used to be known for a simple set of relevant results? Don’t get me wrong, I am a Google fan boy but when looking at the content above the fold on their results pages, I start to get overwhelmed by the number of elements and the amount of ads.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

 


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Is Google Showing Signs of Fear?

Posted on February 3, 2011 by Josh Mc

If you haven’t been following the Google and Bing clashes of the last week you are definitely missing out, they have been very interesting from both sides of the debate. To summarize, Google has accused Bing of copying their results and have showed many convincing tests that lead to the possibility that this may be true. For the full story read Danny Sullivan’s great recap here or you can read what Google said on their blog here.


Now while all of the evidence is pretty convincing that Bing is using Google searches to influence its own rankings I want to bring up the point of “does this even matter?” In a search game where Google is still over 70% in charge in most polls, how much of a threat does Bing using their results on extremely low volume keywords really even pose. Google will keep doing what it is doing and Bing will keep trying to catch up, but don’t they always say “imitation is the best form of flattery.”


To dive even deeper into this, imitation is widely rampant on the web with every content creator or ecommerce provider being able to name 10 websites that were created when their niche started to prove successful and copy and respin everything that they publish. Why should this be different for Google. Why should they be free of competitors using their “ranking tactics” to create a better experience for their users. Take Groupon for example, you can’t hardly open your web browser without being marketed by another daily deal company trying to get a part of the market and copying what has been proven to work by others.


Google itself claims to be against these types of clone site but they find ways to rank them over and over in their search engine, but Google’s quarrel with Bing has shown that Google doesn’t enjoy it when the shoe is on the other foot. What I am trying to get at is that if this had happened when Bing had only 5% of the market share we wouldn’t have heard a peep from Google. I’m sure there are a thousand sites using their rankings right now with no market share. But the fact that Google has employees preforming detailed tests and then goes on their record calling out Bing in their blog and twitter feeds goes to show that Google may actually be starting to fear the rise of Bing.


All of this is interesting to watch play out, and I cant wait to see how the market shares fair in the upcoming year. One thing is for sure, Google is worried about Bing, enough to publically go on the record denouncing them.

What do you guys think? Do you agree or disagree? Let me know in the comments.

 

Best Practices for Ecommerce Upselling

Posted on January 27, 2011 by Joelle

To follow up on my last blog, upselling techniques for ecommerce, I have created this blog to include best practices for upselling. Upselling should be as natural a thought as helping a customer, giving ground to what is often defined but not trained or implemented.

I have included some best practices on how to train your customer service representatives and upgrade your website to incorporate essential upselling tactics.

Practice - Consider sharing what your company does with a friend, and you will find a more natural rhythm for sharing benefits. Listen to the responses that your friend has, concerns, body language etc. Body language is a great indicator to determine if you have pushed the sale to much or not. Asking them what they do or do not like about websites can also give you insight on how to improve your upselling tactics on your own site. Then lastly, assess and make improvements where they need to be made. The best way to learn to sell better is to dialog, listen and act.

Assess the Customer
- No one wants to be pushed into buying something they do not want, but everyone loves finding a sales representative that will help them find exactly what they need! Assessing a customer’s needs and potential wants is a large part of selling well. Always keep in mind that you want your customer to walk away with the best possible product, to fit as many needs as you can fill, and with the best experience you can give. Some customers will flat out tell you what they want; others you will have observe and conclude what they may want.

Pocket Upselling - This is reserve knowledge your sales associates have about the products and promotions you offer that will aid you in pulling out the best upsell option for the customer’s needs. This is not a canned response, but a unique offer based on the products or services the customer has already committed to purchasing. For E-tailers this is often utilized as “you might also like” and “other customer’s purchased” using algorithms to determine the unique product that a potential customer might be interested in. This is also why it is important for your marketing and customer service team to interact, as the deals the marketing team is pushing can be relayed to the customer service team.

Connect the Advantage - Offering “do you want fries with that” will not aid in an online upsell. Internet retailers have to communicate value and advantage. Briefly communicating the benefits to the customer through a question and partial answer are the best way to upsell. “Would you like to hear about the X product that matches your Y product? You can add this to your order for only Z more dollars.” This provides just enough information to the customer to know that there is an offer behind the question, and they may find value in it.

Demonstrate Usage - For internet retailers this is a more difficult experience to replicate, but can be done. By demonstrating and giving the customer an experience with the product will increase the value of a product in the mind of the purchaser. This can be accomplished through informative videos and experiential software development. The more product information you have available to the customer will increase certainty, which is the result of usage tactics.

Are You Bundled? -
Grouping related products or services together for a lesser price than they are individually, creates a bundle. This also creates urgency, because the purchaser knows if they decided to want the associated items later they will pay more than they would at that moment. You can program this function into your website by having products that are related be bundled together for a discounted price.

Know the Difference – Your calculator needs to become your best friend. Quickly calculating the difference for an upsell and the cost associated will communicate the cost-advantage to the customer. The customer needs to quickly know what they will get, and what it will cost. They need to know what the difference is in order to measure if it has value for them. Communicating a dollar amount gives tangible worth to a trade-off. For example: “you save $5 on items X,Y & Z when you purchase them as a package”  or “for only $6 more you can add this X item that is required for installation.” 

“Is This All I Need?”- An experienced upselling sales person will never hear this phrase; they will have already offered any significant needed or complementary product to the customer and the customer will know what they are getting. If you know that a particular product is hard to match or find later, offer any complementary products like this: “I personally know that this product X is unique and difficult to match, would you like to hear about product Y, which would be an excellent accompaniment to your current choice?” This affirms the current choice the customer has already made but also gives them insight to a potential but easily avoided road block in future purchasing decisions. You may also try, “ We have excellent product X’s which will be very useful in maintaining the longevity of your product Y, these start at X dollars.” You informed them of a potential need they may have and that you have a solution to offer if they are interested.

Do NOT Badger -
Upselling is something that must be done naturally, softly, and tactfully. If a customer is giving signs that they already know what they want, and are not interested in anything else, follow their lead but follow up with an offer for future assistance. Consider planning to use one of these upselling techniques into your next website redesign, or sales call to grow sales and customer loyalty.

These are some of the tips I use when upselling, have you found any other tips that work well? Leave them in the comments!

 

Living Social and How to Sell 1.3 Million Deals In One Day

Posted on January 20, 2011 by Josh Mc

Living Social, a daily deal site, has been living under the shadow of Groupon pretty much since its inception. But within a 24 hour period that all has changed. Living Social, who recently got 175 million dollars in investments from Amazon, put itself on the map yesterday with a deal that was tweeted 7300 times and Facebook shared 45,374 time. No to mention, newspapers from the Washington Post to the Los Angeles Times all ran stories on it. The deal specifically was an $20 Amazon giftcard for only $10 and the final sales for the 24 hours this deal was live puts them at around 1.3 million sales. Multiply that by 10 and you have about $13 million in sales from this one deal alone yesterday.

Living Social Amazon Deal


What was even more brilliant about this deal, and what lead to all of the social media sharing, was the fact that if you got 3 people to buy the deal then you got it for free.  I cant even count how many times I saw a friends post or tweet about this deal and naturally I was right their tweeting my referral link as well. All of this helped to push the massive sale day, even though only one purchase was allowed per person.


Regardless of where Living Social goes from here, one thing is for sure, the daily deal model has reached the national audience. If they weren’t aware of it before, they should be now. With start ups such as Dealo and Yipit adding to the formula, this war is sure to continue heating up over the next couple of months.


What do you think; did Amazon hurt its credibility with this deal? Did Living Social make enough to make this deal worth while? Let us know in the comments

 

Upselling Techniques for Ecommerce Part 1

Posted on January 13, 2011 by Joelle

We all have heard the phrase “would you like fries with that?” which in its most basic form is upselling. For internet retailers upselling must be approached tactfully and create an E-experience that provides avenues as well as encouragement to add value to a final purchase through incentives, bundles, add-ons, or complementary items. The online retailer must not be quick to copy and paste the “would you like fries with that” upselling technique as it is often not effective in e-commerce, even turning your customer away from your entire domain by creating uncertainty. E-commerce upselling requires more planning, more programing, and more stylistic and unique soft selling.

A sample from the top ten internet retailers support this theory:

  • Amazon offers a soft sell incentive through Amazon Prime.
  • Apple offers over 26 possible add-on’s before checkout.
  • Staples offers easy reordering options that encourage customer loyalty.
  • Walmart offers a range of complementary items in more than 4 places before checkout.

                                                        
For those skeptical or unwilling to practice upselling, the greatest opposition I have come to find is that they fear pushing customers into buying something they do not want. I must clearly state that this is not effective upselling. Effective upselling is quite the opposite, it is capturing value from something the customer does want, but simply needed to be reminded of. An example of this would be when I went to the car wash last week. I have always selected the basic wash and interior clean, but this time I upgraded! The salesman informed me that the difference between the basic and the deluxe (which was one level up) was that it included exterior wax, more detailed interior cleaning, and tire conditioner for about $2 more. He had no way of knowing that I actually would be driving some friends to an event and the extra care was valuable to me, and I was stuck in my routine and did not think to ask for additional treatment. The salesman did not push me into anything I did not want, he offered me an upgrade, and if valued I could accept.

Upselling is one of the best uses of a sales person’s time, it takes seconds to a couple of minutes and historically adds a significant margin increase. You can simply calculate the seconds in dollars that it costs a customer service representative to offer an upsell and discuss benefits, to the dollars it adds to each order that grew in value. This transforms a customer service representative from an order processor to an active sales person. Making upselling a natural part of the conversation will show that your company wants to fill all the needs of the customer and that you have the resources to do so. See my next blog for best practices for upselling!

 

Employee Happiness: A Productivity Booster

Posted on January 11, 2011 by Ellen

According to Jonathan Strickland of Howstuffworks.com, “Offering on-site benefits, have the added bonus of keeping the employee workforce in the office more often.  Give employees enough reasons to stick around and you’ll likely see productivity go up.  Why head home when everything you need is at work?”

Have you ever had a job that made you miserable, where just getting out of bed seemed like such a hassle?  If so, do you remember how the lack of enthusiasm for your job made your loose your jobs ‘focus factor’?  Many studies have shown the advantages of a happy work environment.  Some of these advantages include increased productivity, quality of work, lower absenteeism, stress and burnout, higher sales and customer satisfaction, among many others. 


Melissa Dahl of MSNBC, reporting on a study done by Harvard University, writes: “New research shows that happiness isn’t just an individual phenomenon; we can catch happiness from friends and family members like an emotional virus. When just one person in a group becomes happy, researchers were able to measure a three-degree spread of that person’s cheer.  On average, every happy person in your social network increases your own chance of cheer by 9 percent — and the effects of catching someone else’s happiness lasts up to one year.”


So then, if happiness is a key contributor to employee productivity, what have we done as a company to boost our employees?  The answer we developed was Free Food Friday.  It may not be free food everyday like a mammoth company such as Google, but it’s still valuable.  Lunch is provided every non-payday week along with some ‘getting to know you and getting to know the company’ conversation.  Having all the employees in one place every other week for some fellowship has proven to create happiness and grow friendships.  In addition great management has also been a key contributor to our office happiness.  Each manager is given the unique opportunity to create a cohesive and happy environment for their staff.  Some bring coffee or snacks on occasion, give encouragement when needed, and laughter and music request days to lighten the mood.  It’s the small boosters that keep employees happy on a day-to-day basis.


This is what we do, what has your company done to create employee happiness?

 

Three Tips for Paid Marketers in 2011

Posted on January 4, 2011 by Chad

There are plenty of Top Ten Lists out there in the blogging world, so I wanted add to it; though I am going to take a different approach and only give you three!  These three general ideas should help anyone working in the online marketing world, especially paid marketing, to have a successful 2011. 

  1. Educate Yourself – This is common, but we need to be reminded every now and then to keep up with the technology out there.  There are always new ideas, keywords, and shopping engines popping up, and if you get behind, then you will be hard pressed to keep up.   The old networks are changing; Google is crazier than ever with its many new changes to its interface and Yahoo and Bing have joined forces.  Stay on top of it. Figure out the ways you can use these changes to optimize performance.  Prioritize what is working and move on from what is not.      
  2. Don't Assume – A good amount of advertisers and online users automatically assume that if something is being written all over the blogosphere than everyone is doing it.  This is absolutely not true!  Just remember, you need to make sure something has a real chance of adding value to your customers before implementing it. Try a quick test before any crazy implementation. Don’t get stuck wasting your time trying to make something work for you simply because you think it is working for everyone else.
  3. Stay on Top of Your Representatives – You can read all the literature you want.  You can test multiple variations of single product. You can even follow every successful blogger on Twitter hoping they drop a nugget of information. But let’s face it, no one can know everything there is to know about online marketing.  We all can use help with our accounts.  If the representatives you are dealing with right now are not helping your account grow, it’s time to find the representative that can.   Sometimes we are just too nice, the reps convince us that they are doing all they can…not true.  When a relationship is not beneficial, then it may be time to move on.  Request a new rep, and try to find someone that understand that both sides of the relationship need to grow, not just theirs.


There it is, my top three things that I will be working on and applying to my job at the start of 2011. What about you? Are there any things you will be working on to become a better marketer in 2011?