PlumberSurplus.com Ecommerce and Entrepreneurship Blog | About | Contact | PlumberSurplus.com Store

5 Easy Ways to Increase Social Media Presence

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Jessica

During the holidays,  a variety of industries are competing for your customer's dollar. The average Internet user is bombarded with advertisements, from banner ads to YouTube commercials and Facebook ads. Creating content that will help your business stand out is key to capturing their attention and getting them to buy from your business. Using the following social media tips, you can enjoy greater sales and increased visibility for your business. 

1. Create Great Content
There is truly only one way to get the customer's attention. Great content trumps fancy ads, dancing animations or even viral videos. If a customer visits your site and finds old blog postings, poor quality images or expired offers, they will simply leave your site and go elsewhere. There are far too many competitors waiting to grab their attention. Since most customers use the Web to search for information, fill your site with credible and informative content that they can use. 

2. Image is Everything
Internet users have short attention spans. The average user spends less than 30 seconds perusing a website before deciding to read more or surf away. This is where your images come in. Hook them with vibrant photo tutorials, product images or interesting user pictures. Use sites like Pinterest to generate interest in your products and draw new customers to your site. 

3. Say it With Video But Not Just Video
When used well, video can be effective. Use videos to offer tutorials on how to use your product, show actual users or to display commercials for your company. Use video sharing sites like Vine, Vimeo and YouTube to spread your message. Using video will work well if you use it strategically. One of the biggest mistakes that sites make is annoying their readers with video. Nothing is more frustrating to a surfer than searching for a topic, reading the description and finding the content is video only. 

4. Diversify Your Social Media Presence
It is not enough to simply have a Facebook page when it comes to leveraging social media. Use a range of sites like Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr to spread the words about your company. Update all your feeds regularly for the best possible results. 

5. Make Sharing Simple
Add sharing buttons to your site to allow your visitors to share your site with their social media friends. This will bring greater exposure to your company and grow your customer base. 

Many businesses have been able to increase sales this season by creating dynamic content that gets results. Can you think of any other ways to increase your presence on social media networks? 

How to Write an Effective Press Release

Posted on August 30, 2013 by Jessica

Successful media attention doesn't just instantly appear soon after you've written a press release. Follow these four tips on how to write an effective press release and you'll find the media calls start to pile up:

 

  • Keep It Simple
    A lengthy press release will lose the attention of your audience in no time. Keep your press release simple; any press release longer than a page is too long to keep the reader's interest.

  • Have An Angle
    What makes the product or service your touting in your press release special? Have an angle on why your product, service or reason for writing the press release is unique. Standing out will give you an edge on the competition for media attention. Just having a new product may not be enough to get media mentions. Instead, explain what sets the object of your press release apart from similar ideas out there in the marketplace. Make sure this information is in the first couple of paragraphs of your press release.

  • Timeliness
    You should be mindful of current events when sending out your press release. If you're product or service is a natural fit against the backdrop of something going on in the world, journalists will have more of a reason to pick up your press release and give you coverage. But make sure not to overdo it. You don't want to be seen as using a media event to shamelessly promote your product or service. Either leave this out of your press release or wait for the situation to die down.

  • Use Quotes
    Interesting quotes will liven up your press release and will break up the monotony of your copy. Whether the quotes come from a CEO, client or customer, make sure they're lively. Dull quotes do little to make your press release stand out in the crowd.


Abide by these four tips and you'll have yourself an effective press release. Remember, writing a press release is no guarantee that the media will cover you. But the above four rules will give you a greater chance at that interview or write up.  We have recently used the tips above to write a press release for a charity project we are running on PlumberSurplus.com. We'd love to hear about any press releases you write with these tips; let us know in the comments below! 

How to Design a Successful Company Logo

Posted on April 18, 2013 by Jessica

When you are just getting started with your business, there are many things that you need to keep in the air. As you are juggling your start up costs, your new customers and your own product, you also need to start thinking about your company logo. A company logo will represent you to the public at large, so take a moment to figure out what you need to consider.


Choosing Qualities
Your logo is meant to describe you and your company. That means that any adjectives people come up with when they look at your logo are going to be applied to you. That's good if the logo conveys things like speed, originality and new beginnings. It is not good if the logo conveys things like sloppiness and boredom! Before you even put pencil to paper, stop and think about what you want your logo to say to the people around you. 

Choosing Colors
We have very strong connotations with regards to color. For anyone who drives, red means stop and green means go. Red, white and blue have connotations with regards to flags. Think about how the colors that you choose will reflect your company's attitude. For example, if you are a green, environmentally-friendly company, consider using blue or green. If you are want to promote safety and stability, consider an earth-tone. 

Readability
The rule of thumb states that the simpler a design is, the more readable it will be. You want people to recognize your logo at a glance, and generally, the less lines you use, the better. Think about how the logo will look on things of various sizes. Something that looks fine on a T-shirt might not do so well if you shrink it down. 

Lots of Options
When you are creating a logo, it is always in your best interests to make a number of them. Do not work exhaustively on one design. Make at least a dozen or more. This gives you more material to work with, and it allows you to stretch yourself. The logo that works well for you may be one that is a combination of several designs. Be open to new ideas!

Getting Input
Never roll out a logo without testing it on a number of people. Show the people around you your logo and ask them for their impressions. Ask them to be honest, and ask them what their impressions are. If you keep hearing the same things over and over again, it is time to consider what that means. The more people you show, the better.

When you are looking to create a logo for your company, remember that you should give the process due time and thought. A good logo is one that works for you, and you will find that it can enhance your marketing extensively. Have you created a logo for your company? What were any challenges you faced in the process? Tell us in the comments below!

Three Useful Ways to Improve a Team's Workflow

Posted on August 16, 2012 by Josh Mc

Leaders, managers and team members have been an integral part of human society as far back as we can see into history, whether they were building ancient societies or fighting the first known wars. Even in these times that may seem distant to our own, there are principles that determine a team's productivity. Shifting focus to these principles is an easy way to identify the weak points of a typical workflow.

Provide the Right Tools for the Job

Imagine ten workers that have been assigned to clean the tile floor of a huge, 10-story building. Two of these workers have brooms, two have mops and six of them have a toothbrush. Anyone with a discerning eye can understand that having 6 toothbrush-wielding workers is a bad idea, and this concept translates directly to teams responsible for different tasks in virtually every field.

Whether it's a toothbrush, software, a comfortable chair, a truck or countless other tools that can improve an worker's output, providing an employee with the tools necessary for the job is instrumental in them being successful. Managing that workflow with tools such as Trello can also help to see where the employees are at and what snags may be holding up their progress. Even if a tool seems expensive, if you consider the amount of hours it saves an employee in the day, that can in turn be attributed to a different task or job, then the price quickly becomes worth it.

Supplement Communication

Communication is almost always a factor in teamwork. Dissonant attitudes between team members often leads to poor communication and is one of the underlying issues that makes personal disputes in a team such a threat to success. Communication should almost be held sacred, like something that is to never be tainted and only appreciated. Improving communication is similar to sharpening a blade, in that it isn't about turning a piece of metal into a samurai's sword in the blink of an eye, but rather, it is about making small, precise changes that shape the team into a fully functional unit. For example, if one teammate does not understand critical news that affects a project, their ability to rapidly adapt is diminished by their lack of understanding. These situations are easily alleviated with proper communication, and there are thousands of books and documentaries on the subject.

Work with Strengths

Humans have a huge propensity to have both strengths and weaknesses. Things like anxiety, insecurity, awkwardness, laziness and countless other issues can all have a huge impact on a seemingly simple project. This is something that has to be expected, but a good manager will see which people will work best on which projects and assign them accordingly, thus allowing each member to use their strength and weaknesses to achieve a common goal.

A great team is made up of complementary strengths that can work together well. If the sum of a team's strength is great enough to accomplish a task, then there should be no debate or worry of the weaknesses of the individuals of the team. If the strengths of a team are properly organized, weaknesses will never be a concern. The weakness of a team can always be assuaged with better tools, training and communication, but the strengths of a team are its foundation for success.

These are just a couple ideas on how to improve a team's workflow. If you have any additional ideas, make sure to leave them in the comments.

How to Become a Great Affiliate Manager

Posted on August 2, 2012 by Josh Mc

The relationship between a business and its affiliates is often one that is not cultivated as much as it could be in order to benefit both the business and the affiliate. There are numerous things that businesses can do to increase the number of sales that their affiliates bring in. There are also several approaches that affiliate managers can take to prevent things like fraud, and to make sure that they are working with only the highest-performing and most reputable affiliates. Here are a few tips on how you can develop yourself as an affiliate manager as well as create a good rapport with your affiliates.

Provide Strong Incentives

Affiliates only promote products if they feel that they are sufficiently rewarded for promoting the product. For this reason, businesses must make sure they provide attractive rewards to their affiliates. Affiliates have many products that they could be promoting and they will only choose those products that are likely to bring them a strong return, so make sure you are offering a good value to the affiliates so that they will want to work with your site.

Provide Clear Terms

It is crucial that affiliate managers provide a thorough and clear Terms page that includes information on what is not allowed to promote a specific program. Most affiliate managers will not want their programs to be promoted through malware or through spamming techniques, which gives the business a bad reputation. Also, many businesses do not allow affiliates to bid on the businesses name in Google Adwords. Knowing and presenting these terms upfront makes it easier for both parties to be on the same page.

Selectively Approve Affiliates

Managers should make sure that they have a functionality that allows them to approve and ban affiliates. This is crucial when dealing with affiliates that engage in malicious marketing practices and is also important for controlling who is able to become an affiliate in the first place. While managers might feel like they will get more sales if they approve as many affiliates as possible, doing so will increase the risk of some affiliates engaging in the use spammy tactics.

Communicate Frequently

Another problem with having too many affiliates is that it will make it harder to manage each individual account. Providing affiliates with careful management and close contact will help the customer find the right product and will help the affiliate by giving them a communication line to the manager, allowing them to create a better affiliate program.

Focus on High Performing Affiliates

Affiliate managers want to pay close attention to high-performing affiliates to make sure that they do not accidentally delete affiliate links or place the links on less popular areas of their websites. Many high-performing affiliates are so busy that they do not realize that they misplaced an affiliate link. Affiliate managers will also want to contact high performing affiliates when they have a new products or sales so that new products can be quickly tested on the market.

Provide Ongoing Training

Another reason to stay in close contact with affiliates is to provide them with ongoing training on your business and products, which in turn can help them generate more sales. One way to improve performance is to provide as much information as possible on the product being sold through the affiliate program so when the customer does land on their site, the purchase decision is easy.

Prevent Fraud

Affiliate managers can prevent fraud by paying attention to the earnings of affiliates to make sure that they are not earning a disproportionate number of sales. If an affiliate is earning a large number of commissions from websites that they do not have listed in their profiles, it is possible that the affiliate is using some type of system to manipulate affiliate links and convert them into a fraudster’s affiliate link, stealing commissions from legitimate affiliates. This will often cause legitimate affiliates to abandon the program, so making sure you are watching for these types of problems is a good way to maintain the strength of your channel.

These are just a few tips on how to become a great affiliate manager. The most important thing to take out of this is to manage your affiliates the way that you would want to be managed. If you assume they need some of the same things that you do, then you can hopefully cultivate a relationship that is beneficial for both partners.

If you have any additional suggestions, make sure to leave them in the comments.

Five Tips for a Successful Press Release

Posted on July 20, 2012 by Josh Mc

A press release can be one of the best ways to distribute information about an event, issue or product; however, it will only be effective if it is interesting, well written and received by the right people. To ensure a press release covers all these requirements, adhere to the following five tips.

1. Use the Correct Format

A press release needs to be easily readable and engaging; format can help with this tremendously. The press release should begin with a short title in bold letters that immediately catches the attention of the reader. This should be followed by contact information including address, phone number, contact name, telephone number and email. Before the main body, the press release needs a headline of around six or seven words to briefly detail the content. The entire press release should span no more than one page.

2. Demonstrate Why the Press Release is Newsworthy

The body of a press release should briefly answer the questions of what happened or will happen, who will be involved or was involved, when and where it took place or will take place, and why this is significant. The introduction should begin with the key information and follow with additional details. Everything should be written in third person, be free from opinion, and should include for a quote from a credible source.

3. Engage the Reader

A press release is useless if it does not grab the reader's attention. This can be achieved by ensuring there is an element of human interest in the press release. An easy to read and clear writing style is essential, and the addition of a photograph of the person quoted is highly desirable.

4. Distribution of the Press Release


If the press release does not reach the right people, the whole purpose is defeated. The press release needs to reach its audience through radio, television, newspapers or Internet. The key is to decide what reporters would be the most likely to use the information and if this would enable the information to be reached by the target audience. It is also useful to know the copy deadlines of the sources and what is there preferred method of delivery i.e. physical mail or email.

5. Timing of the Release

The time of release plays an essential role in the effectiveness of a press release. For this reason, it is important to know when the cutoff period is for the different forms of media. For example, while television cutoff time tends to be two hours prior to newscasts, a weekly newspaper may have a cutoff time two days before printing.

These are just a couple tips for writing a good press release. By far the most important thing is to make it interesting. They say you only have a couple seconds of the persons attention before they move on, so make sure your release its interesting right from the start. If you have any other tips for a good press release, make sure to leave them in the comments.

Preparing for a Holiday as an eCommerce Business

Posted on June 29, 2012 by Josh Mc

When you are running an ecommerce business, you are accustomed to the ups and downs that occur during different times of the year. Sometimes you have a lot of business and sometimes it slows to a trickle. When a holiday rolls around, for most companies, you’ll find that there is always a drop in business. This is something that even big businesses worry about, so what should your eCommerce business do to survive? The truth of the matter is that a holiday lull can be very profitable for you if you know how to work with it.

Be Aware of the Holiday
The last thing that you should be is surprised by a holiday. A month or even two months before the given holiday, start making sure that you can get all of your bills paid. If necessary, have a few sales or push out a new promotion. If you keep a careful eye out, you can see plenty of other businesses doing the same thing. They are trying to shore up their businesses for the lull ahead.

Do a Holiday Special
There are definitely people who are willing to purchase on the holidays if you make it worth their while. One way to drum up interest for your business during the slow holiday times is to do something exciting on the holiday itself. You might choose to offer a sneak peek at a new product that will be rolled out later that year, or you might choose to hold a 24 hour fire sale during the lowest point of the holiday season. This is a great way to clear out old stock, and the holiday gives you an excuse to do so.

Holiday Countdown
Plenty of eCommerce businesses realize that they can keep their customers through the holiday lull if they keep giving them something to come back for. A countdown allows you to do something special every day leading up to the holiday. Every day can be a sale or a discount on a specific item, or you may offer other types of promotions in the week leading up to the big day. Of course save the biggest sale for the day of the holiday itself so that your customers have a reason to come back.

Run a Holiday Contest
Why not give your customers something to do while the holiday is going on? While some are going to be traveling or busy, there will also be plenty who simply don’t know what to do with themselves. Hold a contest on your site or on a social network and make sure that you give out one big prize or at least plenty of small prizes. You can ask them to like a post to be entered into a drawing or you can ask them to draw a picture for a prize or even go on an online scavenger hunt. Whatever your business and imagination can think of will work, it is just all about keeping people engaged during the holiday season.

These are just a couple of the tips you can use to make sure each new holiday does not hit your business hard. While your numbers will still probably take a dip, remember that it is natural and that there are methods that you can use to prevent something disastrous if you only do some planning.

Now it’s your turn, how do you keep customers happy and coming back during the holidays? Let us know in the comments.

How Google Shopping Will Shape Internet Retailer Strategies

Posted on June 21, 2012 by Josh Mc

Recently, search engine giant Google made headlines with their decision to switch their Google product search to an all-inclusive paid service that will be known as Google Shopping. Given how deeply Google impacts every market they touch, this change to a paid service is sure to have a drastic impact on the internet economy as a whole.

The change itself will take what has been a free service for almost a decade and make it into a pay to play product, thus limiting the amount of people that can take part and use the service to only those that can afford it. Google says this change will be rolling out over the next couple of months.

Under the new model, users will be able to submit the traditional feed and pay Google a percentage of the sale that results from the click. Not the same as the pay per click model where you pay regardless of whether you make a sale, but it does cost money from every sale that Google Shopping sends.

The change is poised to make a huge difference as ecommerce companies could have been making 100 to 100,000 dollars a month on this product without paying Google anything. Now they will be paying a percentage on every piece that is sold through the service. The change figures to be good news for the larger companies though, who are often already seeing higher conversions from their Google Product Ads, the service they are combining into Google Shopping, and can easily transfer over the increased budget as they should have less competition.

While in the long term companies will be paying a lot for the service, it does have a potential benefit for small companies in the short term. With all the changes and companies moving in and out of the system there is a chance that the competition will be a lot lower in the onset of this launch, thus allowing your company to have a better chance of converting the customer. Smaller companies that are just starting out and have no organic rankings, can still take advantage of Google shopping to gain exposure by concentrating efforts on the categories in which they feel they are strongest; however, they will no longer be able to get free traffic from Google for this, so they will need to really think about what products they decide to list.

The new format for Google Shopping is designed to provide another way for retailers to strategize and increase sales and internet presence within Google itself. While the pay model appears to benefit only the largest companies at first glance, smaller retailers will still be able to receive ample placement on the site with a little research and planning.  It is easy to see the revenue benefit for Google in this but a lot harder to see how it really benefits the user. This is an important story to follow as Google has always been against this type of paid inclusion that they are now embracing, so it will be really interesting to see what happens as a result of this change.

What are your thoughts on this significant change?

Yahoo Axis: A New Way To Search

Posted on May 24, 2012 by Josh Mc

When I got into the office this morning I saw lots of mentions all over the web of this new release from Yahoo called Yahoo Axis. I went and checked it out and it really has a lot of cool new features. What Yahoo Axis is essentially is a search engine that I feel puts the focus on the design aspects of sites around the web. It is in the same vein as the instant previews that Google does, but it bases the search completely on those previews. If you want to use Yahoo Axis on your computer it can be installed as an add on to many of the popular browsers. What is does is essentially live in the bottom of your screen and open whenever you need it. 

A search on Yahoo Axis quickly brings up the sites that would be returned in a normal search, only it loads them as thumbnails and allows you to select simply based on the way that they look. This is a really cool feature that puts a ton of emphasis on the way site design is constructed to bring in visitors. Another interesting thing was that when you are on a result page you can hover over the right or the left of your screen and easily click to the next result (completely different website) without having to reload the search and select again. I thought this was a really cool idea as it will be a time saver when doing research. Yahoo Axis also syncs with your iPhone and iPad for seamless browsing between the devices.

You can check out Yahoo Axis for yourself here. Make sure to let us know in the comments whether you think this is the future of search or just another passing phase.

Ecommerce & The Social Login (Infographic)

Posted on April 16, 2012 by Josh Mc

I enjoyed this infographic as it presents some great information on the affect of companies using social logins on their eCommerce sites. One of the most interesting facts is that it states that 68% of consumers go to social networking sites to read product reviews, so connecting with customers on those sites is becoming increasingly important. Check it out below.

How Do Social Login & Sharing Affect Ecommerce?

You can get this Social Logins Infographic yourself from Monetate Marketing Infographics