Planning a customer loyalty programme? Try these

Customer loyalty programmes are one of the most innovative ways to show to your customers that you value them. Businesses that have always aimed at keeping their customers coming back for more without actually letting them wait, know what these programmes can bring to them. Customer loyalty programmes play an instrumental role in helping you gather relevant information about the customer demographic. These are the kind of programmes that go on to boosting your marketing efforts by also helping you fetch the best outputs in the long run. Loyalty programmes outperform several other strategies and campaigns but still a lot of businesses seem to overlook its growing importance.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

However, only realising the benefits that these programmes can bring to your business is not enough. Planning them with care and getting them right should be the concerns that follow. We believe that the key to creating a well thought out and successful customer loyalty program is its accessibility and user friendliness.

If you’re planning to start a customer loyalty programme soon, here are the tips that can help you get the most out of it and finally plan it according to your expectations:

# Your first loyalty punch card

The punch card formula is a great way to give it a start. Make sure that you design a card that is specific to your business and aims at offering FREE and attractive gifts after a particular number of purchases being made by the customer. Suggest them to carry the card and let them know the benefits they can gain from the card, well ahead in advance.

# Opt-in programmes

Encourage your customers to avail the benefits of the sign-up in the form of plenty of offers and rewards. Let them share their email addresses with you and you can then add them to your opt-in list. This can be either done online or right at the time of sale. Email sign-up options will ease out the pressure on the application processes and your customers won’t have to download apps every now and then. They won’t be required to share all the personal information, as in most cases, they are denied by the customers.

You can then choose to send them a draft on the attractive and personal offers as well as the regular communications that can only be availed by the loyalty customers. If the recent surveys are to be believed, email campaigns that have mostly been targeting the loyalty members have gradually emerged as an amazing source of revenue. Additionally, these are also easy to track; you can’t deny that you wanted something like this.

# Premium loyalty programme

This is where you can bring the customer relationship management software into use. Track most of the higher value purchases, study them and invite specific customers to join the programme. Find out the customers who have been contributing majorly to boosting up your sales and invite them to join the programme.

# Branded loyalty membership cards

With the help of loyalty card services, you can design branded cards that are specific to your business, activities and brand. They will paint a brighter picture of your image; such services can largely help you in tracking and managing the customer behaviour and lot more. You can track the number of customers that have actually visited your store. The customers that spend a good amount for making a purchase with your store and that too frequently must be noticed.

These loyal members can also be chosen for sending targeted emails; you can also text the campaigns to them. Services that you’re going to add can also include branded gift cards and much more. Think about your brand, its activities and what you would want from your customers in the present scenario and you will see an influx of unique ideas good enough to boost your sales.

# Adding the digital component

All your customers may not be digitally savvy but we still believe that most of them would be and this is what brings the incorporation of digital component into picture. It is important for the businesses to cater to the growing demands of customers addicted to apps which indicate a mobile loyalty trend growing with time. There are plenty of apps that can be tapped into for a fee or for free!

This is getting more important for the businesses that are already involved with the mobile payment platforms. Make sure that you explore all the available options and finally hop onto the services that can also offer a seamless social media integration. Get liked, shared and consider the pace of your progress with the help of online reviews as they also get you a slice of some honest feedback.

# Choice of incentives

The incentives or rewards you have for your customers should be as unique as your business. Make it appealing and moreover – a desirable one. You can go for experiential awards that can serve the purpose of actually ‘rewarding’ your loyal customers. A hair salon can always try and offer interesting monthly workshops to its loyal customers where they can be offered free makeover tips.

These are the kind of experiences that go on to building communities, adding value to the lives of your customers and assisting your business to stand out from the crowd. Don’t forget that these opportunities can be utilised for offering your customers amazing reason/s for coming back.

# Regular communication with customers

If they are your loyal customers – they deserve special treatment. Segment out this section of your customers and don’t forget to communicate with them more often than not. Share the upcoming events with them, let them know about the incentives and lastly – don’t forget their birthdays. Make them feel special at each stage and you can also consider offering them something unique in their birthday months. They deserve a great treatment – after all they are your loyal customers!

About the Author: Michael Evans is a passionate blogger and he occasionally writes for Rope-barriers.com, a leading UK based budget post and rope barriers manufacturer and supplier.

6 Business Documents You Must Have Translated If Doing Business Internationally

International business offers wonderful opportunities for your business to access new markets and grow your profits. It can be the key to your business’ success. But, being able to communicate with your business partners and potential clients is key no matter where they are located. When you are doing business internationally, accurately translating core documents is essential.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

An accurate translation does more than just translate your document word for word. It translates the intent of your document because let’s face it, every country has its own social nuances. Talking about a donkey in one country may get you a chuckle and in another it may get you punched in the face. It is vital you have these six documents correctly translated when you are doing business internationally. Because, no one wants to get punched in the face.

1. Financial Documents

Do you think numbers are the universal language? Hold the calculator. There is a lot more to financial documents than just ones and fives. Financial documents tell the story of your business’ financial record. While they do use balance sheets and expense reports, they also have:

Statements of change that explain why your business’ equity has changed throughout a given period.
Statement of cash flows that outline what your business’ cash flow has been throughout a given period.

Are ones and fives used in these? Yes, but sentences are too. And, once sentences come into play, language nuances control whether or not your audience or international business partners understand you and your business.

2. Instruction Manuals

Nearly every product sold comes with an instruction manual. Why? Because your customers need to know how to use it, down to the very last little gizmo attached. When you are selling products internationally, not all of your customers are going to speak the same language, but they are all going to want the same information in a language they can understand.

3. Marketing Materials

You are in business to sell. If you are doing business internationally, this is no different. While marketing in many countries has seen dramatic changes, consumers’ purchasing behaviors are still affected by marketing. If your potential consumer can’t understand your marketing materials, chances are pretty good they won’t be able to understand your product and will not buy it.

4. Informational Brochures

Informational brochures are significant piece of your advertising success in today’s Social Media driven market. They provide the raw details consumers are now demanding. Whether your brochure is shared online or through hardcopy, it needs to do more than just tell your audience to buy – it needs to educate them. To do so, it needs to speak their language and paint pictures they can understand everything correctly.

5. Contracts

A contract is a legally binding document stating each party’s obligations and the consequences for not meeting those obligations. When you are dealing with someone from another country, even if they speak the same language, their interpretation of the law can differ. Your contracts need to be translated so they make sense culturally. So, make sure that you have business translation done on any contracts that you want to make sense to your customers or business associates who speak another language.

6. Insurance Documents

Insurance protects your business against unfortunate events. If you are doing business internationally, don’t you want to be protected there too? Protecting yourself in one country and not the other is a lot like only buying auto insurance for your head and not the rest of your body.

About the Author: The writer of this article, Nicole, is a freelance writer who has been writing about international business practices for years.

10 Tips For Running A Successful Crowdfunding Campaign

Crowdfunding is a new vehicle for raising money for projects and business ventures. During 2012, $2.7 billion were raised employing the use of crowdfunding. This method of fundraising usually takes place over the Internet. Supporters that believe in projects can now respond to crowdfunding campaigns by donating to entrepreneurs’ and artists’ projects. The most popular crowdfunding sites are IndieGoGo, RocketHub, Kickstarter, GoFundMe, GiveForward, Crowdfunder and Crowdtilt. These sites represent only a small fraction of the crowdfunding sites in operation worldwide. It is estimated that there are currently about 308 active crowdfunding sites.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

As banks have tightened restrictions for small business lending, crowdfunding is growing as a viable option for entrepreneurs. While this method for raising money has proven to provide a pathway to success for many, other entrepreneurs have not been successful utilizing crowdfunding platforms. It is important for participants interested in raising money in this manner to make their offer as appealing as possible. There is a lot of competition for donations.

Below are 10 tips learned along the way by both successful and unsuccessful participants.

1. Commit to the necessary time to prepare the best campaign possible. The more complete and clearly stated the campaign project is, the more likely it is that financial supporters will respond. It is not uncommon for an entrepreneur to spend weeks or even months preparing to launch a campaign.

2. Clearly state your financial goals and why the target amount needed is necessary. It is particularly important that monetary goals be justified for higher amounts. Be sure to give careful thought to the amount of money required so that you can intelligently answer questions that donors might have about how the money will be spent.

3. Use provocative videos and photos to sell the project. Videos have proven to be a compelling force for keeping the attention of viewers. With this fact in mind, a poorly produced video could backfire and make a negative impression. If you decide to produce a video, be sure you can make a quality product that looks professional. Being able to keep a person’s attention for two to four minutes is not as easy as it sounds. If you do not have the resources or talent to create a first-rate video, then be sure to place photos in the campaign information for full impact.

4. Test your campaign out on trusted friends and family members to get feedback before taking the campaign public. Use feedback to improve the campaign.

5. Keep your backers “in the know” by sending them updates about your progress on the campaign.

6. Get publicity for the campaign. Advertising or writing an article for a related blog is one good idea for getting some attention. Using social media is another way to create some buzz and get interested donors to check out your offering.

7. Give donors a valuable and memorable keepsake in thanks for donating.

8. Spend money on marketing. Buying an email list or hiring a PR expert can make all the difference in a campaign’s success. Donors must be aware of your campaign before they can give.

9. Get a budget together for starting and marketing the campaign to increase your odds for success.

10. Send out press releases.

About the Author: Adam Smith is currently blogging for Startup Valley. He loves to blog about different crowdfunding platforms and how to create an effective crowdfunding campaign.

The Most Popular Kinds Of Customer Reward Schemes And How They Can Benefit You

Customers of all kinds of businesses are now being treated to reward schemes that offer all kinds of free stuff and money off. Loyalty schemes have been around in one form or another for as long as modern marketing has existed, however with internet technology and advances in the way data can be collated and used, these days they are more innovative and rewarding than ever before.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Here are some of the most common types of loyalty scheme, and how you can take advantage of them to save money and get some fantastic treats!

Punch Cards

One of the most common loyalty schemes around, along with one of the oldest, are those punch cards you see in coffee shops, restaurants, sandwich shops and so on. The basic idea is that you take a card and the cashier stamps it every time you buy something. Once the card is full, you get something for free, such as a coffee or sandwich.

These reward systems may not save you a fortune, but if you buy a coffee every day, you could be getting a free one every week or two by going to the same coffee shop and remembering to give them your card. These schemes usually have no registration (though you may need to give basic information like your name and email address on the back of the card when you hand it in to get your free gift), and they essentially reward you for buying something you’d be buying anyway – the scheme simply encourages you to keep getting it from the same place.

Store Reward Cards

Supermarkets large and small along with many department stores and other popular chains offer their own reward schemes, where you accumulate points as you shop which get you specific benefits. This could be credit to spend in the same store, or preferential prices on specific items. Some supermarkets, for example, have points systems that allow you to save money on gas at the pump.

These are usually fast to register for, and once you have your reward card you may not only be saving points, but also paying less for products. Some chains like Kroger offer lower prices for almost everything in store to their loyalty card holders!

Air Mile Schemes

Credit card air mile schemes have been around for a long time now, and have changed very little in format, with only the range of available incentive travel gifts becoming greater as these schemes have evolved. Some credit cards, for example those branded with popular airlines, offer flexible points (known as ‘miles’ in most cases), which are worth different amounts depending on how in demand the thing you try and redeem them for is. This means if you want to use them for a flight outside of the busiest times of the year, you get extremely good value.

Other brands, for example Capital One, offer special fixed value points that are worth the same amount no matter when you want to use them. These offer far better value when you want to travel at peak times, like holidays, or on very popular routes.

About the Author:Today’s guest author, David Waters, heads the sales department of a prominent bank based in Georgia, US. He enjoys cooking and calling friends over for dinner and socializing in his spare time.

Protecting Your Business: Important Considerations For Purchasing Liability Insurance

If you own a business, the costs of a lawsuit could cost you everything; in an effort to cut operating costs, many may fail to go without liability insurance, figuring their chances of being sued are low. But, in a world where frivolous claims and sue-happy people are rampant, it would be foolish to think you do not need that protection just in case. Here are some important considerations for purchasing this all-important protection for your business.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Look into Trade Association Memberships

In many instances, you can purchase products and services at a discounted rate through membership in some sort of organization. When it comes to liability insurance, belonging to a trade association relevant to your business may help you get better rates; this type of membership may also other benefits to your business so it is something worth considering regardless.

Look for a Broker that Specializes in Your Industry

Different industries have different needs when it comes to insurance and other types of products; they each also face unique challenges and have unique concerns. When shopping for liability insurance for your business, you should look for a broker that specializes in your industry. His knowledge of your type of of business and the risks it faces will help guide you in putting together the best policy to meet your needs at the best prices.

Examine Industry Settlements

When deciding on the proper amount of coverage, it is important to have an idea of what type of money you may be looking at should you get sued. Take a look at recent legal actions and settlements against businesses similar to yours. This will help you get an accurate estimate of how much money you would need to fully protect yourself.

Consider a Combination Policy

Liability insurance is not the only type of coverage a business should have. Maintaining separate policies will often result in paying more in premiums than you need to. But, when going this route, it is important to have a full understanding of what is included and what is not. These policies do not typically include all types of business insurance you are interested in purchasing. Examples of what is typically included besides general liability are property, business interruption and business vehicles.

Errors and omissions insurance, also called professional liability insurance, needs to be purchased separately. While general liability insurance is designed to cover things such as injury or property damage, this type of coverage is designed to protect against claims of professional negligence in which a customer believes your services caused them a financial loss.

Check Coverage Periodically

Your liability insurance is not just set it and forget it; as your business grows, it is important to carefully review your policy each year to see if any changes need to be made. After working so hard to build your business, you would not want to risk it because you failed to upgrade your coverage. If you feel you may need to make changes, contact your broker who can offer you sound advice.

About the Author: Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who blogs about a variety of business topics; if you are in need of liability or other types of commercial insurance in Canada, she recommends you visit Kanetix.ca.

Brand Strategy: What It Is and Why Your Business Can’t Afford to Go Without One

Simply defined, brand strategy entails everything that goes into communicating and delivering your brand and your company’s message. Two things go into strong branding: consistency and strategy. Think about Sprite versus lemon-lime soda. Because people are exposed more to the brand, Sprite, they find it intrinsically more valuable. Other ways to build value into your brand is by associating some emotion or persons with the brand. For example, makeup ads regularly use actresses to advertise their products. So how do you develop a brand strategy? Where do you even start?

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License: Creative Commons image source

Answer Some Basic Questions

Before you start figuring out how to represent your brand or how to market your brand, you have to determine what your company stands for. How do the services and features of your products appeal to or benefit your prospective clients? You need to determine how you are unique from your competitors, because that will be an important consideration in how you sell yourself. What do customers already think of your business? How does what customers believe relate to what you want them to think of your business? For example, consider the car manufacturer, KIA. At first, customers saw KIA as nothing more than an economy car. KIA responded to customer belief by launching an ad campaign that featured KIA as a car associated with a luxury lifestyle. They addressed a customer belief by shifting their ad themes.

Fabricate the Definition

Once you’ve defined your brand, your job is to put it into material form. You need a good logo and good key words that you can use as catchphrases you want associated with your brand. Even on your blog, make sure that your brand is coming through. Forbes.com uses Warby Parker’s blog tagline as an example: “Musings, inspirations, and fun stuff from your friends at Warby Parker.” The tagline shows their fun and creative spirit, which is part of their brand.

Once you have your brand keywords, teach them to your employees. Make sure they are constantly using those words in order to create a cohesive vision of what your company is. Integrate your brand into everything that your business does. Include it on what employees wear; include it on e-mails; include it on all literature created for the business. In short, make sure that your logo gets out there. A logo needs to be recognizable.

Next time you think that branding doesn’t matter if you have a good product, check out the difference between Coca-Cola’s product sales and the generic brand sitting next to it in the grocery store. It’s not enough to offer a good product or service anymore. Clients are drawn to brands they understand, relate to, and desire. Determine your mission statement and turn that into a provocative logo and appealing catchphrase. And that’s not enough. Make sure that you incorporate your brand into every single aspect of your business.


About the Author: Susan Braud writes for several online colleges that offer MBA’s. Check out Best Online MBA.net and mba rankings.net for more information.

Disabled Access Considerations When Moving Your Business To The High Street

These days, thanks to modern technology, many businesses start their lives online. It is a good way of keeping costs down while the business becomes established. As it grows over time the natural move is to have permanent headquarters or a retail outlet that is physical rather than digital.

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License: Creative Commons image source

As online entrepreneurs know one area that is now under UK law is ensuring the website is disabled access friendly. If the site isn’t accessible your business could face legal action and be sued for discrimination. As you move into permanent premises you must also carry over the accessibility and this is an area you can work on right from the moment you get handed the keys.

A Large Task But It Doesn’t Have to be Daunting

Now you may feel a little out of your depth when it comes to improving the accessibility of your new premises. However, just because the task may seem huge it doesn’t mean that you can afford to ignore it or push it to the back of your to do list. By failing to conduct suitable changes to make the property more accessible you leave yourself open to being sued by employees or customers that feel you are discriminating against them.

There is help available out there so don’t go thinking that you need to read the Equality Act inside and out. The experts will be able to give you the information you need based upon your business, the size and location of your premises and be able to use your budget as a guideline to work out what is affordable. If it is impossible to make dramatic changes all at once the expert may be able to help you by establishing what needs to be worked on as a priority, how you can save money, where to source affordable goods, equipment and labour and what could wait a bit longer.

Doing Renovations Before You Move In?

When you undertake any renovations you must consider the disability access. This is why working with an access consultant right from the get go will benefit you greatly. You can hire them for very little money and their services can help you in many different areas. Make sure that you hire a consultant who is more than happy to discuss any necessary work with your architects and designers. This saves time and money by reducing the need to redo work later for additional costs.

You may have to request planning permission and this can be a long and drawn out process. After months of waiting many applicants have their plans turned down, another frustration. Access consultants are able to help you through the planning permission process. Showing that some parts of the design are required to provide a much better service for the community, by allowing improved access, can help to push through successful planning applications. So when you come to looking for a professional expert to help you, ask them whether they would be happy to help you in this area should it be necessary in the future.

Thinking of the Needs of Everyone

As a modern online business you made sure that your website was user friendly. Now as you have grown and decided to open a physical business you must carry those work ethics and legal responsibilities over to your new premises. Use the consultants to conduct an audit and they will be able to help you spot urgent and required improvements that will allow everyone to make use of your services successfully.  By doing so you ensure that your doors are open to everyone and you can become a strong player in your community and your industry by refusing to discriminate.

About the Author: Aki Hashimoto is a business consultant and mentor. She has found that using access audits is the simplest way to overcome the legal documentation and start making steps to create improved disability access. 

Old Tricks And Traditional Skills Still Vital To 21st Businesses

You would think, with this being the bright shiny and thoroughly wired 21st Century that the more traditional skills associated with the secretarial world would be thoroughly redundant. However, despite the fact that our lives are dominated by computers, tablets, Smartphone’s and a whole range of peripherals and apps that can be added to them, some traditional skills remain in high demand.  From copy typing to audio typing and transcription services, traditional skills still remain in high demand. The latter, in particular, remains a crucial part of content creation for many industries, from humble minute taking to full scale TV transcriptions. Transcription services today are also an important feature for conference organisers and transcription offers a number of significant advantages.

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

The Bigger Picture

Recording and filming any event was, in the past, a difficult task which required a significant number of professionals and an equally large (and cumbersome) amount of equipment. Today any event, from a pop concert to conference can be (and is) recorded on a phone and the film is often uploaded to the web in seconds. However convenient this may seem it does not replace the need for accurate and professional filming or transcription. In large conference centres where a number of speakers may be talking at one time, or where question and answer sessions are part of the presentation, both professional filming and transcription still have significant advantages.  Unlike audio or video files, fully transcribed events offer users a fast look up for significant points and sections. With transcriptions now available digitally, the simple use of the find function can take you straight to the point in a way that no amount of film footage can.

Old Skills and New Methods Combined

Post event publications of transcribed documents have a number of advantages. In terms of web publication, transcription offers a handy SEO tool. The broader the scope of your written content, the more opportunities for lead generation via search engines; again in a way which means that video content alone will not be as beneficial.  Also the more traditional print press, while happy to receive audio or visual material, will often rely on transcribed versions of a presentation or conference to make their own jobs easier and making things easy for journalists means they’ll be able to find time to fit your piece in.

Applied Technology

Although transcription is an old skill, long pre-dating the internet, the technological revolution has made the process of finding reliable transcription services easier and more affordable. Most transcription services operate online and transcribers themselves can be located just about anywhere in the world. This has driven down the costs of professional transcription and can open up opportunities for these services. This means any content you need to promote in overseas markets can be quickly made available in a variety of formats or languages. The process is speeded up to almost light speed thanks to modern technology. This gives modern businesses a greater and faster reach than in the past, making it possible for firms of any size to go global.

New Opportunities

While transcription services offer advantages to a range of industries they offer specific advantages to conference organisers in any field. Post conference transcripts can be marketed alongside podcasts as part of a full package for both attendees needing to refer back to the conference and as a valuable product in their own right to sell to a wider market. Working with a professional and established provider makes sense in this context and planning ahead will also make the process run more smoothly. Contacting a transcription service provider well in advance and involving them in the planning of the event will help you both to create a package that suits your needs which will result in a quick and efficient turnaround on the end product. Despite the massive advances in technology and the opportunities that it has opened up for business it seems that some of the oldest tricks are still the best.

About the Author: Pipa Rose is a freelance writer who has a keen interest in business. While technology has made business presentations and conferences far easier and more accessible for many, she believes that many traditional skills such as transcription services still play a crucial role.

5 Great Ways To Skive Off Work Without Getting In Trouble

It’s hard getting up every day and driving into the office. You have to wait in traffic and it’s stressful. You then have to sit at the same desk doing the same thing over and over again. I bet you look at the clock on a constant basis because you want to go home, but it doesn’t make the time pass any quicker. It will actually slow it down and your day will feel like it’s going on forever, but you can’t help yourself. When will the day ever end?

License: Creative Commons image source
License: Creative Commons image source

Maybe you don’t need to look at the clock every 5 minutes. You’re in work until it’s time to go home whether you like it or not. I would tell you to start enjoying your work more, but it might not be possible. If all else fails you should learn to skive because it will give you a little break every once in a while. You need to be sneaky about it to avoid getting in trouble, so we’re going to look at a few ways to do it so your boss will never know.

Put a photo on top of your computer

If you have a photo inside a glass frame on the top of your computer you will be able to see if someone is coming. You can play on the Internet and if anyone walks behind you it will take a few seconds to switch back over to your work. Just make sure your employer doesn’t have any employee monitoring software installed on the computer because they will know exactly what you’re doing. Remember that work still needs to be done, so don’t get carried away.

Finish your work quicker

You might only have a certain amount of jobs to get done in a day. If you finished them quicker you would have the rest of the day to chill out. It’s obviously nice to help your workmates who are a little slower than you, but if they never offer to help you it’s possible you might not want to help them. You don’t necessarily have to sit doing nothing until the end of the day. You could look over your work to make sure it’s perfect, but at least you won’t need to start a new task from scratch.

Carry something about with you

Some of your friends might work in different departments and you won’t be able to email them if there is monitoring software installed on your computer, but you can go and speak to them. Just walk about with paper in your hand and you will look like you’re doing something important. You obviously won’t be able to spend ages away from your desk, but you will get a nice 5 minute break on occasion.

A fake emergency

Later on in the afternoon you might have had enough. You can’t take the stress anymore and you need to get out of there, but how can you do it without raising any suspicions? Text one of your friends and ask them to call your work phone. Pretend they have given you some bad news and it will give you a good excuse as to why you need to leave early. Your child might have been involved in an imaginary fight at school and you need to go pick them up.

Sit back and relax

Whenever you are in a meeting it’s a great time to sit back and relax. This only applies if you’re not the one doing all the speaking. You can just listen to what people are saying, but don’t get too involved in the discussion. Don’t ask any questions at the end and it means the whole meeting will have passed without you doing anything. If someone asks you a question you can just give them a quick reply and they will hopefully move on.

About the Author: James Kirby is an employee of WellResearchedReviews.com and he is a blogging enthusiast. He likes to write on a wide range of topics that interest him, be it lifestyle, technology or his personal experiences.