Get rich in mail order & e-tail! Sell from home, online—part-time or full-time.
Mail order continues to boom! By the end of this year sales for mail-order businesses will exceed more than two trillion dollars. It is a wonderful business to pursue, as it easily adapts to a part-time, full-time or weekends-only schedule. You can sell from home and, thanks to the Internet, you can effortlessly set up shop and sell your goods to a global audience if you like. Go worldwide.
The mail-order business is one of the least expensive types of business individuals can start. In mail order, a person can start small by placing inexpensive ads, and then gradually build the business from the profits. Mail-order entrepreneurs can purchase products wholesale and sell them or create their own product, such as a “How-To”
book on a favorite topic.
Convenience has always been the key to mail-order victory. Shoppers love to make purchases from their armchairs. They save time, money, gas, etc. The Internet has been a tremendous boost to mail-order businesses. Online shopping is a significant reason mail order is growing.
Increasingly, entrepreneurs are using their websites to market and sell their wares to customers around the world. With people’s increased work hours and hectic lifestyles, they have less time to shop in stores, and prefer to order items online and have their purchases shipped to them. For many businesses, mail order has become a profitable new “method” for sales and staying connected with customers.
Online shopping has also become very comfortable. Consumers feel safer shopping online as ordering and paying becomes easier and more secure. They can save time and money by being able to shop anywhere from their laptops or leisurely browse and purchase through mail-order companies’ catalogs and their websites.
Customers can save money by shopping via mail order, too. Though mail-order companies usually charge for shipping, they generally do not have to collect sales tax from customers unless they live in the state where the company’s operations or satellite offices are located. Check with your state department of revenue about your business’s tax obligations.
Today, mail order and online shopping have become synonymous. John Schulte, President of the National Mail Order Association (NMOA) says, “We classify any ‘distant sale’ as being part of mail order; i.e., if it’s promoted and ordered remotely, without being in a ‘brick and mortar’ store, it’s mail order.” Shulte says that mail order includes; catalogs, web sales, info-commercials and television home shopping, direct mail, and direct response advertisements. According to this mail-order maven all of these channels share the same underlying characteristics: An order is placed without touching the product, and it’s delivered to the customer by common carrier. Schulte concludes that other than television or radio, the written word is the salesperson in all these channels; even the television pitch people (demonstrators) are scripted. Customers are entered into a database (mailing list) for future promotional offers.
The National Mail Order Association (NMOA—www.nmoa.org) was founded in 1972 by mail-order expert and advertising man Paul Muchnick in order to help small to midsize businesses and entrepreneurs involved in, or wishing to be involved in mail-order marketing, now commonly referred to as direct marketing.
The mission of the NMOA is to provide education, information, and business connections to entrepreneurs and small businesses around the world for the purposes of making money through the use of direct marketing and mail-order selling tactics.
Everyone that comes to the NMOA has a slightly different situation; their skills, their experience and the resources available to them are different. Some people are looking to start a business and some already have a small business that they are looking to expand. But entrepreneurs and small business owners need to wear many hats; they must constantly build their skills, resources and knowhow—or they need to work/partner with others that can supplement their weaknesses.
Some people may be great marketers, but they have nothing to sell, and others may have something to sell, but they are not good at marketing and sales. So the NMOA tries to do things that bridge these weaknesses.
According to the NMOA: “So, for the sake of brevity, and the fact that some things change in the business world; what we may be doing today to help you, may not be the same as we are doing next month to help you.” The NMOA itemizes a list of their main key points here:
First off, if you are of the “Get Rich Quick” mentality, or believe that there is some easy secret road to making money in your own business, the NMOA is not for you. We will tell you right now there is no such reality as something for nothing.
The NMOA says that if we were to pick one quote that coincides with our philosophy as an organization, it would be the one by Andrew Carnegie: “There is no use whatever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he be willing to climb himself.”
Traditional mail-order tools include:
Catalogs are one of the oldest forms of mail order existing today. Catalogs were the main method people used to purchase household items, clothing and equipment up to the early 20th century. Today catalogs are still used by L.L. Bean, Michigan Bulb Company, J. Crew, and hundreds of other retailers.
Direct Mail Direct mail is the form of mail-order sales that you see arrive as fliers, brochures, postcards or letters offering a product or sample from a person or company. Usually these are used to offer one product and excite customers to order, thereby gaining an address to send a catalog or product list to later.
Infomercials Infomercials are one of the newer forms of mail-order sales. Once delegated to air time television stations couldn’t sell, they have become more noticeable on weekends and have spawned entire shopping networks such as QVC. Infomercials are usually half-hour programs created to sell a specific item or line of products. These shows have a host or pitchman who talks about the product. Infomercials have been used to sell almost any type of product from knives to cars to real estate. Some infomercials have become so sophisticated they resemble regular programming and have ads from other businesses inserted within them.
Print Publication Print advertising is another form of mail-order sales. These are the ads you see in newspapers and magazines. Newspaper ads were the main route for this form of mail order for generations until magazines took over that role. Today you can look in the classified sections of many magazines, and still some newspapers, to find offers of products or services sent return mail.
Radio When radio first started as a form of mail-order sales, it was used only by a limited number of stations. This is because it was an untested market and the success rate was not known. Today radio stations across the U.S. have some form of mail-order sales advertising throughout the programming. Mail-order ads on radio use the same 30- or 60-second time frame other ads do; these ads are often noticeable by the spokesperson repeating a phone number or address multiple times during the ad.
Today mail order mavens are moving online and developing websites as an adjunct way to market their products and expand their reach to a global audience.
Online mail order is the newest form of mail-order sales. Online mail-order sales became a proven method for both commercial and personal sales through sites such as Amazon and eBay. Online mail order is where you order directly from the website and submit a shipping address; usually payment is supplied via credit card or online payment processor such as Moneybookers or PayPal.
With the rise in Internet usage, fixed and mobile broadband penetration, and innovations in easy online payment systems, online shopping is now a commonly adopted practice by consumers. The Internet has evolved over the years and with it a new breed of online trading has taken shape.
A majority of online users all over the world are estimated to switch over to Internet shopping in the coming years. Online retail categories are grouped into three growth modes; namely, plateau, steep and steady.
The steep group comprising home and personal care segments such as home improvement, grocery and over-the-counter drugs is projected to register robust growth, when compared to the plateau group, which includes PCs, books and software.
The majority of the total online retail sales are expected to come from the steady group. Heavy volume items such as consumer electronics and apparel are grouped under steady group. In the next few years, video commerce integration into online shopping is expected to increase. Use of interactive videos for product promotion, as well as to provide general information would also increase, providing users with an interesting online experience.
Online retail sales continue to grow steadily. Forrester Research put out a new five-year forecast recently predicting that e-commerce sales in the U.S. will keep growing at a 10-percent compound annual growth rate through 2014. It forecasts online retail sales in the U.S. will be nearly $250 billion. It’s a booming biz.
Forrester’s estimates exclude online sales of autos, travel, and prescription drugs.
The Federal Trade Commission states that goods purchased through mail order must be shipped within 30 days or the customer must not be charged.
The NMOA says the FTC’s 30-day rule applies to all remote sellers no matter what system is used to promote and take the orders. Visit www.ftc.gov/bcp/conline/pubs/buspubs/mailorder.shtm, to read “A Business Guide to the Federal Trade Commission’s Mail or Telephone Order Merchandise Rule,” as it pertains to the timely delivery of purchased mail-order items.
Mail-order entrepreneurs are using websites as a real tool to sell their goods. They still place ads, but the ads drive customers to a website for ordering the products.
There are many tools you can use to sell and fulfill online orders. Various U.S. Small Business Development Centers (USBDCs) offer on-site or online e-commerce seminars (Visit www.sba.gov/index.html and search “Local Resources” for local offices). If your mail-order business is a new start-up venture, first establish your business; and then take next the steps for incorporating a commercial website into your business plan.
To economize, you can use free website templates or purchase website creation software. You can visit www.yola.com to learn more about their free website programs. Yes, you can build you own website at yola and they will host it for free. You can convert at any time to upgraded premium services and then they will start charging you a regular hosting fee as do most web hosting companies. It is nice to know, however, that anyone can have a free website.
Just about any web-hosting company can carry an uncomplicated site consisting of a few pages of text and simple graphics for a reasonable monthly fee.
You can use your website to accept online payments. Even if you don’t have a merchant account established with your local bank (that enables you to accept credit cards) you can use online payment companies like PayPal.com or remotely hosted shopping carts that place a “Buy Now” button on your site but take customer orders on their site.
You are on your way to developing your own mail-order empire. As your business grows, you can develop a more extensive e-commerce site with a catalog, shopping cart, and credit card processing capabilities. In accepting credit cards, you may qualify for your own merchant account or pay a shopping cart service for the right to use their merchant accounts. Buyers tend to make more purchases if they can pay with their credit cards.
Don’t forget to incorporate online auction sites into your marketing mix. Use online auctions sites to test products’ sales potential and to attract customers to your site. You can set up your own “store” at both eBay.com and amazon.com. Visit these sites to learn more.
Check out the trade show circuit, too. Exhibit at industry trade shows and offer free samples to get feedback and gauge interest.
It is imperative that you keep bringing customers to your website. In addition to linking to search engines, market your site by listing your business’s web address on your business cards, promotional literature, and in all your ads. Exchange links with the owners of related businesses’ sites, including your suppliers so your customers can get additional information; or if you are earning commissions or selling your own products with affiliate programs websites.
Websites need not be expensive, but not having one may mean you will miss sales from potential customers who prefer online shopping.
You should also take advantage of social media such as facebook and twitter. Set up a facebook page for your business and promote your products. Tweet everyday on your offerings but also include some general info that your twitter followers will enjoy so you don’t appear to be just a money machine.
You can also incorporate traditional mail-order tools such as direct mail in your marketing program. Direct Mail order, also known as direct marketing, includes postcards, brochures, sales letters, reply cards, and other printed promotional materials that you can deliver through the U.S. Postal Service to obtain a mailed, phoned, faxed, or e-mailed customer response.
According to the Direct Marketing Association (DMA), marketers spent more than $170 billion last year on direct marketing in the United States. This generated about two trillion dollars in sales.
The typical direct mail sales packages contain sales letters, pamphlets or fliers, and reply cards. It takes an average of seven messages to potential customers before they make any purchasing decisions. Using a combination of the following methods and available technology will help bring in more profits.
Keep a mailing list. Direct marketers mail their sales packages to potential customers whose names they have garnered from advertising responses, trade show attendees, referrals, and other sources; or from mailing list companies that sell lists compiled of target customers.
Update your list twice a year and cut down on mailing expenses with test-mailings and follow-ups to ensure your mailings are reaching your designated targets. Simplify operations by presorting your mail, using barcodes, and mastering database management software for mailing lists. If you prefer and can afford it, you can hire mail consolidation companies to presort your mail and send it to bulk mail centers.
Use sales letters. Creating leads by getting customers to respond using reply cards, phone calls, faxes, or e-mails is the purpose of a sales letter. In one page, write an attention-grabber opening that will compel the prospective customer to read the entire letter; and emphasize the pluses of using your products/services. People often read a letter’s postscript (P.S.) first, so include your basic pitch in it. Encourage fast responses with a no-risk offer of free information with a deadline and a “call to action” with a toll-free number, an e-mail address, or a postage-paid reply card. Review the FTC.gov rules regarding the wording “free” in advertisements at www.ftc.gov/bcp/guides/free.htm.
Include a brochure. Write a brochure or have a pro do it for you. Brochures fulfill potential customers’ requests for more information. Write them with compelling headlines that persuade. Your brochures should enhance you and your business’s professionalism and image.
Your choice of envelope is important. Place a teaser headline on the outside of your envelope, or consider using a color. If prospective customers do not open your direct mail envelopes, then all the materials within are useless. Put a question on your envelope to encourage your reader to open and read it. Test unusual sizes, shapes, or colors, but make sure it is tasteful and reflects your business’s image. Follow U.S. postal regulations regarding the placement of art and copy on your envelopes.
By offering a guarantee for your product/services, prospective customers may be more willing to trust you, request more information, or try your business offerings.
FTC rules state that if your customer has to pay for your product, you cannot use the word “free” in your sales pieces. However, if you guarantee a refund, you are permitted to say your offer is “risk free.” Visit www.FTC.gov for rules and guidelines. They will help you.
You must follow-up to clinch the sale. A follow-up letter or communication is the direct piece most likely to bring in sales; so have a system of follow-up responses ready before sending out any direct mail packages. In starting out, use your own basic organizational methods to track responses and follow-ups; but as your mail-order business grows, you can invest in direct mail business management software to streamline your operations.
If you can’t afford to purchase specialized equipment like letter-folding and opening machines, postal meters (some with document inserters), postal scales (some can compare carrier rates), and other equipment to speed your mailings, consider opening an account with a service such as Kinko’s. No matter what system you use, it is important to send follow-up communications to all persons who respond. Thank them for their interest; offer some new information or another offer; repeat the benefits of using your product or services; and stress that you look forward to doing business with them. Follow-ups remind prospective customers who you are and that you are a mail-order professional they can trust.
Incorporate e-mail into your marketing structure. Businesses that sell their mail-order items successfully online use e-mail to keep in touch with their current customers and to solicit new potential ones. They also use e-mail to send follow-ups with thank you notes, congratulations (birthdays), reminder prompts (renewals), or for customer feedback and more.
Use interesting subject lines to pique customers’ curiosity in regular e-mails that contain company news (not always trying to sell something) or helpful tips, and make it easy for people to sign up or subscribe. Respond immediately to any queries or complaints, or use an auto responder to acknowledge their e-mails when you are away. Consider using automated e-mail management list software to efficiently maintain your business’s e-mails.
No matter what type of product you decide to sell, there are certain steps to follow to make the process easier. Here are 15 steps to consider when launching your mail-order empire:
1. Pick A Product To Sell. Decide which products you want to sell; including novelty items, handcrafted items, or self-help books, some items that traditionally sell well by mail. Select a product that is unique and cannot be purchased at a local store.
2. Find Your Supplier. Search sites for a wholesale supplier for your products. Try to find a wholesaler that will enable you to mark your products up at least 200 percent or 300 percent, as mail-order advertising can be expensive. Contact the National Mail Order Association at nmoa.org for help, if needed.
3. Establish A Phone Number. Get an 800 number or separate phone line for your business. Include this number on all advertising materials.
4. Start Writing. Order samples of the products that you will be selling. Write a brief summary about each product and include the retail price.
5. Create an order form. Create an order form that lists the products and prices as well as blank lines for order quantities. Provide space for the customer to print her name, address and ZIP code. Include your website on the order form. Use a pastel color for your order form.
6. Place ads. Place a small classified ad in regional magazines, newspapers, websites, etc. Don’t forget to place a well-targeted, inexpensive ad on facebook, too. You could pull a good response for your mail-order products. Describe your products briefly, and then invite people to send for free information.
7. Build A Website. Create a website, or find someone in your area experienced in web design. Take pictures of your products and provide the summary and price information to the web designer. Include information about your company on your website, and list your company name, address and phone number. Instruct people to order by mail, or have the web designer set your site up for credit card orders.
8. Fulfill your orders. You don’t have to stock a lot of inventory if your suppliers have the products readily available. Wait for people to respond by mail, phone or through the Internet. Order products from your wholesale supplier as you need them. Type up shipping labels for each customer. Place the product in an envelope or box, then go to the post office and mail it first class or research other options.
9. Create a brochure. Use several of your main products. Include pictures and brief summaries of the products in the brochure. Use color in your brochure to attract attention and enhance its appeal.
10. Update your offerings. Constantly troll the Internet, trade shows, novelty fairs, etc. to find new product offerings for your customers.
11. Keep advertising. Don’t stop your ad campaign. Continue advertising weekly in a few newspapers if you are making a profit. Increase the number of media outlets in which you advertise to expand your business.
12. Keep records. Start a filing system to keep records of the customers that order from you, and what they order. Mail additional offers to them, such as specials every two or three months.
13. Follow-up. Throughout the year come up with fun and clever “excuses” to contact your buyers. It could be their birthday, an anniversary or any holiday. Use these opportunities to sell more products to them.
14. Create a sales letter. Create a sales letter on plain white paper that describes the benefits of your products. Use plenty of hype in your sales letter to entice the customer to order.
15. Send out your info. Mail your sales letter, brochure and order form to people that respond to your classified ad.
Jim Tilberry is President of Tilberry Direct Marketing. You can reach Jim via his website: www.tilberrydirect.com.
He has helped scores of inventors market and sell their products through mail-order tools and techniques. We asked Jim to share some of his strategies with us.
Tilberry’s experience has helped him form rock solid tips on how you can embark on your own mail-order business. Here are just a few of his suggestions:
Giving away the farm. Many catalogs will ask for a multitude of discounts and concessions before they even place one order. You give them a set price for your product. But they insist on a lower price. They expect you to pay freight. They want an “advertising allowance.” They ask for a volume discount, a catalog allowance, and a photography fee. The requests for concessions go on and on. But beware of this game. If a catalog truly likes your product, they will usually pick it up without requiring a ton of concessions.
Being stung by mistakes. Review a catalog’s rules and shipping requirements closely. Mislabeling your master cartons, shipping late, or failure to follow any of their vendor requirements could cost you. Penalties are typically enforced through deductions off invoices. A few deductions here, a few there, and you can kiss your profit goodbye.
Falling behind with orders. The only thing worse than having a product no one wants to buy, is having one that so many people want you can’t keep up with the deluge of orders. If you’ve never had insomnia, this scenario is guaranteed to cause it. When thinking about your production needs, think as optimistically as possible. Make sure you’re capable of handling
production if the catalogs are successful with your item. And always have backup suppliers lined up—just in case.
Products that boomerang. Returns from catalogs are an inevitable part of the equation when figuring out your profit. If you have a good, well-built product that delivers on its promises, you have little to worry about. However, high returns are often the first warning sign that there are problems with your product. It breaks easily when shipped, customers think it’s overpriced, or assembly instructions are confusing. Any number of issues can be red-flagged by high returns.
Doing business with deadbeats. Let’s face it, the main reason you do business with a catalog is so they will pay you for your product. How frustrating it is then when they don’t live up to their end of the deal. And it happens. Like all businesses that are strapped for cash, when a catalog is experiencing lean times, they will delay payment to their vendors. So keep a close eye on when an invoice is due, and don’t let them slide too far past. Any invoice more than a month past due could indicate trouble. Your best recourse is to hold up shipments to that catalog until you get paid. You can even ask for payment up front on new orders.
Placing your eggs in one basket. Many catalogs ask for an “exclusive.” This agreement guarantees that the catalog will be the only one carrying your product for the length of the exclusive. Generally this is not a good deal for your company. Naturally an exclusive with one company locks you out of the rest of the market. If you do grant an exclusive, keep it as short as possible. Six months is plenty of time for an exclusive.
If you’ve been thinking of adding a mail-order catalog to your current marketing mix, Tilberry suggests the following reasons on how mail order catalogs can give your business a big lift.
Sell to a large market. U.S. catalog sales are now over $100 billion a year. Approximately two-thirds of all consumers have bought something through mail order in the last 12 months. With the right product a company can go from zero to several million in sales—just through catalogs.
Compete more easily. Catalogs offer a level playing field for the big corporation and the smallest start-up. With few exceptions, products are judged and sell on their merits, not on the reputation of the manufacturer.
All you need is one. Unlike store distribution, manufacturers don’t need a “line” of products. Catalogs evaluate one product at a time. So the one-product company is not at a disadvantage as they are when trying to get shelf space in a large store chain.
Save on packaging. Unlike point-of-purchase sales where the package helps sell the product on the store shelf, the package has no bearing on the sales of an item in a catalog. So you don’t need an expensive 4-color box. In fact, the simpler the packaging the better. A plastic bag is often sufficient.
Keep your risk low. A few catalogs now require a nominal “advertising allowance” to sell your product. However, many catalogs still charge nothing to advertise your product.
Get national exposure. Catalogs offer start-ups and small companies exposure to millions of potential customers. When your product appears in a recognized catalog, your product and your company enjoy instant credibility.
Test the market. Catalogs provide an ideal opportunity to find out how well your product sells. In addition, when you place your product in specific niche catalogs, you can test different segments of the marketplace. Naturally, success in catalogs can lead to success in other marketing avenues.
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: The Five Capital Needs Of Your Startup
As you try to decide how much capital you will need to start your business, it is helpful to know what all of your costs will be. Regardless of the kind of capital you have to work with, permanent or borrowed or a combination of the two, there are distinct categories of capital that every business requires.
The first is start-up funds, which include money for furniture, fixtures and machinery. Next, you will want to consider overhead, which includes the cost of rent, utilities, cost of credit, delivery costs and fixed salaries.
Other equally important capital needs include inventory or parts; working capital, which is the money you will need to conduct business, such as petty cash, postage and cash-on-delivery payments; and personal living expenses.
There are many sources of capital for new and growing businesses. Before you begin your search for capital, you will need to know how much money your business will require. To get an accurate answer you should consider not only the costs of starting, but also the costs of staying in business. Many businesses take a year or two to get up and running. This means you will need enough funds to cover the cost of materials, salaries, rent, supplies and other items until sales can meet these costs. It’s common for many new business owners to furnish a substantial amount — from 25 to 50 percent — from their own resources. Before coming up with a figure, you should consider many things, including your living expenses; your net worth; how much permanent capital you can furnish and how much you will need to borrow; your first-year expenses; your estimated break-even point; and contingency plans if you need additional funds. Remember to be honest. The more candid you can be, the better your chances for success.
HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE
Fred Broitman a well known mail order authority and principal at SUNMAN DIRECT, Chicago’s largest independently owned Direct Response Advertising Agency has completely revised and up-dated his book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE. This comprehensive manual to help you start, run and manage your own mail order business includes all new sections on how to supercharge your mail order business using the internet.
Topics include everything from how to find a great product to sell and how to create winning ads, to establishing your online presence and maximizing search engine optimization that will drive customers to your website. It is available through mail order and at select conventions. This book sells everywhere for $39.95 but the first 100 orders received from readers of this magazine can save $10 and buy it for only $29.95 plus $3.50 for first class postage and handling. Send a check or money order in the amount of $33.45 to:
SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Ave. Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: CASE STUDY: Anatomy of a website
Like most entrepreneurs, APG Interior Remodeling Specialists owner, Tony Guerriero, has a passion for his business and always rises to a challenge. He took on the test to design a dynamic, professional-looking website with no prior website design experience. 1&1‘s MyWebsite helped him do so.
“Creating a website for my business has been a personally rewarding experience. The 1&1 MyWebsite is simple and powerful and was easy to grasp. I have been extremely satisfied with the product and 1&1 Internet as a Web host for my interior remodeling business.”
Technically inexperienced, Guerriero was convinced that the MyWebsite product was the right choice for his interior remodeling business after viewing the customer examples and design templates.
“It was extremely easy to set up MyWebsite. Everything flows through an “add new element” drop-down menu, in plain English. All of the essential Web design elements are there: text, images, image with text, headings, photo gallery, and more. Want to add text? Select “add new element – text” then begin typing. It’s that easy.
Guerriero’s business was facing the problem of lacking ability to showcase their work. 1&1 provided a solution with the photo gallery feature allowing for the display of a large quantity of photos in a simple, organized manner.
“Prior to our website launch, our remodeling business lacked an affordable vehicle to showcase over 100 proprietary photos of our work, to prospective customers. Printed brochures were not only too expensive for our small business; they lacked the flexibility of adding new project photos without a major reprint.
“Creating and launching a website was the perfect solution to our problem. We designed our website with dedicated pages by remodeling category (bathrooms, basements, kitchens, etc.), uploaded our project photos, and added descriptions for each image. As new projects are completed, we upload the photos immediately.”
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: 1&1 Adds Web Apps to 1&1 MyWebsite
1&1 Internet, Inc., www.1and1.com, a global leader among Web hosting providers, has launched a free suite of drag-and-drop style Web applications available for use within its MyWebsite package. Up to 100 applications have been included, many offering useful sector-specific functionality across areas including ecommerce, communication, social media, and daily management tasks. The development means that customers signing up for select 1&1 MyWebsite packages can enjoy more impact on the Web and satisfy the most demanding website visitors.
1&1 now provides new customers with a MyWebsite Plus or Premium package a solution for integrating popular and effective business Web Apps into their online presence seamlessly. For example, within a few clicks, a restaurant can now integrate a table booking application for its customers to use. The Web Apps are integrated within a MyWebsite, and remove the need for website visitors to be diverted away to external URLs. The applications mean that more business processes can be driven by a small business website.
By integrating Web application ecommerce functionality from respected brands such as Amazon, PayPal Buy, Ecwid and eBay, a website can offer convenient and credible online retailing. The Web Apps are deployed effortlessly, by simply dragging and dropping the desired element anywhere on a website. Customer communication is also a vital process for every small business today. 1&1 MyWebsite now offers a range of applications such as Skype and Calendar Wiz providing new, modern ways to interact with customers. Furthermore, Web Apps such as Google+1, LinkedIn and Pinterest allow SMBs to make their professional websites more social media friendly. Online business management can be enhanced with apps including Slideshare, Website Translator and Statistics Summary.
Importantly, 1&1 has worked hard to ensure that the most popular and trusted apps are on offer in each country of operation. Localized apps are on offer for both vertical business needs as well as general business management. For example, US restaurant customers are offered Open Table and Yelp Reviews Web Apps, while real estate agents can add Trulia Properties and Zillow configurations. A detailed explanation for every application option provides a helpful guide for users to select the most valuable choices for an individual business.
“Research shows that consumer expectations for the websites they use are continuing to increase”, said Oliver Mauss, CEO of 1&1 Internet. “It is no longer a case of maintaining an online business card, but rather providing a complete, sector-relevant resource to interact and fulfill many more customer needs as conveniently as possible. Web Apps are a great means for a business to address more of its processes online”.
Available from $9.99/month, 1&1 MyWebsite offers industry-specific templates for over 200 business types and is ideal for small companies with either an outdated website or no website at all. With individual text, picture and design modules, any level of computer user can create a professional looking website in only a few minutes – without risk, as 1&1 offers a 30-day risk free trial. All 1&1 MyWebsite packages include one domain, 200 email addresses and unlimited Web space and data traffic.
Mauss added, “Every business website must earn its keep. By learning which Web applications resonate with their target audience, a small business can use the Internet as effectively and responsively as much larger corporations”.
1&1 Internet Inc. is a subsidiary of United Internet, a profitable public company with a market cap of $3 billion. 1&1 was founded in 1988 and hosts more than 11 million domain names, while more than 70,000 servers run in the company’s five state-of-the-art, green data centers. 1&1’s global community is approximately 11 million customer contracts strong. The company’s U.S. headquarters
is located in Chesterbrook, Pa. For more information, visit www.1and1.com or success.1and1.com or contact the company at 1-877-GO-1AND1, on Facebook, or Twitter @1and1.
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: AMERICAN DREAM ENTERPRISE: BuildASign.com
BuildASign.com is a leading online custom printing provider that enables customers to design, proof, and buy business consumer signage, and home decor products.
Dan Graham launched BuildASign.com—a custom printing provider based in Austin, TX—in 2005, and has since grown the business to 230 employees and $30 million in revenue. The company was started with no outside investment and remains totally bootstrapped. Dan frequently shares whybootstrapping can be good for business and how it’s helped us operate as a lean, fast-moving (and profitable) company in the midst of rapid growth. An entrepreneur himself, Dan remains committed to fostering that entrepreneurial spirit, and keeps the company innovative through our “intrapreneurship” model, bringing in outside entrepreneurs to run individual P&Ls and marketing strategies across our varying brands.
“Our proprietary web-based technology lets customers place their online orders quickly and easily, while an innovative in-house production system ensures that each high-quality piece prints and ships with industry-leading speed,” says BuildASign.com. For more information, please visit www.buildasign.com.
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: DIGITAL DOCUMENTATION SERVICE CHARGES A BUCK A PLANFrom the smallest boutique architectural firm to the largest plumbing contractor, real estate and construction-related businesses of all sizes and types need multiple copies of plans and documents along the way and they need it fast.
But today’s tough competition and bare-bones budgets mean businesses want a source for electronic copies that’s fast, economical and worry-free.
Two years ago, Brian Burke recognized the need and launched Buckaplan.com (www.buckaplan.com), a digital documentation service that was a natural extension of his reprographic business based in Waterbury, Connecticut. He charges clients just $1 for each electronic file they order (plus delivery). The idea caught on and he now has customers across the country.
Burke says, “We’re filling a need for construction managers, contractors, sub-contractors, architects, engineers and just about anyone in real estate. Our clients are under tremendous pressure to meet their deadlines and budgets.”
One customer is Eric Army, an architect and principal at studioMEJA (www.studiomeja.com) in Edgewood, Rhode Island.
Army says, “Brian’s service is pretty simple — you upload, he prints, he delivers. The most notable thing is that it’s reliable and I’ve never had a problem.”
Army says, “Our boutique architecture firm specializes in reviving urban spaces and helping mission-oriented organizations, as well as improving historic streetscapes. As a small, specialized operation, I need to automate as many procedures as possible so I can focus on design. I know I’ll get my plans from Brian extremely fast (usually next day) and at a great price, and without any more hassle than uploading a file.”
Another long-time client is Amanda Magazzu, Office Manager for S & L Plumbing and Heating Corp. in Brewster, NY, (www.slplumbingheating.com).She says, “They print plans for projects that we bid, or copies of plans for projects that we already have. Our need isn’t about quantity, but rather it’s about turnaround time and multiple orders on a continuing basis as needed.”
Magazzu notes, “Buckaplan is half the price of local printing companies. And even if orders are placed as late as 5:00 p.m., they arrive the next day. We can submit three different orders at the same time and receive all document files the next day with no confusion. We have never had an issue with Buckaplan. Brian is helpful and professional and the service is easy, punctual, and affordable. We would definitely recommend them to anyone.”
Burke says that if Buckaplan receive electronic files by 4:00 p.m., the client will have those plans in the next day’s UPS delivery anywhere in the U.S. Clients can send updated plans, bulletins or revisions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Burke says, “We can produce standard Architectural and Engineering size high quality documents working from industry standard .tif, .pdf and .dwf files. Using the same high-end equipment and processes we use in the reprographics business, we have the tools and experience to provide 100% satisfaction. It’s just $1 per plan or drawing plus next-day ground delivery rates. There are no hidden charges, no sign-on fees, no monthly charges, no file-processing fees. We also aim for no surprises,” Burke smiles.
For more info. visit: www.buckaplan.com.
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: Fish Consulting Expands with Two New Franchise Brands
Fish Consulting, LLC, a full-service national communications firm specializing in franchise marketing and public relations, recently announced the addition of two new clients, Dogtopia and Pinot’s Palette.
Fish Consulting will provide strategic franchisee recruitment marketing support including national media relations, creative development and consulting services to Dogtopia, a provider of quality dog daycare dedicated to the wellness of its customers’ canines, and Pinot’s Palette, a franchised entertainment art studio that invites customers to bring their friends and enjoy cocktails to have fun applying their artistic talent onto canvas.
“We’re excited to add these growing brands to our list of franchise partners and look forward to helping both companies expand their franchises and meet their business goals,” said Lorne Fisher, CEO and managing partner of Fish Consulting. “For the past eight years, our team’s commitment to high-quality service and results has allowed us to continue to maintain and further expand our roster of franchise clients.”
Dogtopia, a unique dog daycare franchise, first opened in 2002 and now has 24 franchises and three company-owned locations in operation across the U.S., with two more in development for a total of 29 to open by year-end. Their annual systemwide sales figures were $13.1M in 2011 and they are on track for $14M this year.
Pinot’s Palette, a franchise concept with more than 20 open and developing locations, is the fastest growing “paint and sip” entertainment art studio where groups of friends or colleagues can gather for any occasion, including date night, girls’ night and corporate events. Clients sip cocktails and wine while creating their own art.
Their corporate locations – in the Galleria and Montrose areas – saw about $594,000 and $358,000 in revenue, respectively, in 2011.
Fish is proud to leverage its experience in franchising to serve some of the industry’s leading concepts, including Massage Envy, Dunkin’ Donuts, Baskin-Robbins, McAlister’s Deli, Jiffy Lube, Togo’s and CiCi’s Pizza. The agency’s support for franchise clients ranges from brand building, franchisee recruitment and internal communications to crisis communications, cause marketing and local/national media relations. Fish is based in Hollywood, Fla., with operations in Atlanta, Washington, D.C. and New York. For more information, call 954-893-9150 or visit www.fish-consulting.com.
SBOMAG ROUNDUP: ENTREPRENEUR ASKS HIMSELF: Good Time For Small Biz?
Paul Saunders’ story is one of ambition and confidence. It is a quintessential American narrative. After having built a solid résumé boasting accomplishments at the United States Naval Academy, seven years of active duty service in the U.S. Marine Corps, and four years climbing the corporate ladder, Saunders says he “is taking a risk and potentially throwing it all away for a dream: to become the next Cornelius Vanderbilt.”
Saunders says he is “giving up everything” to pursue an e-commerce business he started in his garage two years ago while working fifty hours a week as a senior level manager for a Fortune 1000 company in Evansville, Indiana. In his spare time—mostly nights and weekends—Saunders founded ExceptionalSheets.com, an importer and online seller of luxury Egyptian cotton bed and bath linens. In its first full year, sales exceeded $200,000, prompting Saunders to recently say farewell to the security offered by his six-figure salary and devote his full-time efforts to the budding e-commerce business.
According to Saunders, “It is a risk, and time will tell whether this entrepreneurial move is brave or foolhardy, especially considering I am a husband and a father to twin girls and a baby boy.”.
Will his decision lead him to fortune and success, or will it lead to bankruptcy and demise? He might find his decision to be bold and brazen, but he is confident it will be rewarding.
A proven and decorated military and civilian leader, Saunders also hopes to motivate others and support philanthropic endeavors through business success. If he’s done his homework, executed due diligence research on his part, he can move forward with confidence that his small business dream will be realized.
ExceptionalSheets.com is an American-owned company and headquartered in Evansville, Indiana. A burgeoning business, ExceptionalSheets.com has become one of the Internet’s most trusted and successful specialty linen providers.