Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Some More Ways To Promote Your Business And Increase Sales

Following on from our previous blog post on how to promote your business on a very small budget http://jill-morethanmummies.blogspot.com/2011/04/low-cost-ways-to-promote-your-small.html, here are some more suggestions on how to promote your business and also increase your sales.
1. Exchange business cards or flyers with other businesses in your area that complement yours. For example if your business is related to the wedding industry, make contacts with different businesses within that industry. So if you make invitations find a local cake maker or chair cover hire business. Leave them some of your cards and take some of theirs, help each other out in finding new clients.
2. Donate an item you make to a charity or one of your children’s school events. Once again make sure it has a label on or is in a package containing a business card so people know where it originally came from.
You may wonder why I keep going on about business cards and labels with your name and logo on and links to your pages in the previous post. The reason I think these things are so important is because by keep reminding people what your business name or brand is you reinforce it in their memory. Whatever your business is there is bound to be a lot of competition, so your business needs to stand out and be remembered. If reminding people of your name or brand wasn’t important it wouldn’t be on all major shops carrier bags or receipts. It doesn’t have to cost a fortune, if you’ve got a printer you can make your own business cards or compliments slip, or look out for printing companies who are doing special or introductory offers.
The next points relate more to increasing your sales of items you make or things you stock in your shop.
3. Follow the fashions! By this I don’t mean you have to buy Vogue! Stay up to date with which styles and colours are in fashion and make or sell items that complement things people can buy on the high street. This also applies to children’s items, I’m sure there must be surveys on the internet as to which cartoons or toys are the most popular at the moment.
4. Add a reviews section to your website or a review app to your Facebook page. Positive feedback is excellent in encouraging customers to buy your items.
5. Take time and care doing any photographs. The photographs you use to show off your items can encourage or put off potential buyers. Have a look at some of the professional photographer’s websites to see what kind of background colours they use and see if you can get some inspiration. Also have a look at major shops’ websites or catalogues to see how they photograph their items, for example when showing pictures of bracelets do they show examples on their own or are they on someone’s wrist? They’ve probably spent lots of money on research into people’s buying habits, so take note! If you are investing in a website, it may be worth hiring a professional photographer to photograph your products at their best, but this is entirely up to you and your budget.
6. Organise your photos and clearly label your albums, especially on Facebook! Organise your photos in albums and label each one clearly so people can easily find what they are looking for. Remove any photos of items that are no longer available.
7. Include lots of information in the description of your items. For example what it’s made out of or any additional colours you have available. Make sure buyers know the measurements of your items so they are not disappointed. Also be clear about any waiting times on items that are made to order.
8. If you have any matching items suggest them it’s called link selling (if you search for the term it’s nothing to do with website links!). If you show a picture of a necklace and you’re have some matching earrings for sale make sure you mention them. Or if you sell cards let people know that similar designs are available for other occasions.
Once again I hope these help and I will keep adding any new tips. If there's something you think I could help with or write about please email me. My address is under info on the Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/morethanmummies
When we launch our website we are hoping to offer other novel ways to promote your business for free and I hope to give you more details of how you can get involved very soon. Please keep adding your items to our Facebook pages as I love seeing what people make or sell!
Jill. x



Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Low Cost Ways To Promote Your Small Business

I was recently asked if I had any suggestions of ways that you could promote a small or new business on a next to nothing budget. It really got me thinking! I haven’t got a background in marketing or promotion so, as a psychology graduate, my suggestions are more based on psychological theory.
These are some of the things I suggested:
1. Maybe an obvious one, but make sure everyone you know is aware of what you do and what you offer as a business. It doesn’t need to be the main topic of conversation but just remind people occasionally, tell them what you are working on or show them your latest creation. Your family and friends are your biggest supporters and are likely to recommend you to others. Leave your family and friends a couple of your business cards too.
2. Don’t forget to mention what you do when you’re out and about too and always have some business cards to hand! For example, when chatting to other mums outside the school gates or at baby groups as well as to your hairdresser or beautician. I love having a chat with my hairdresser and she recently recommended something (not hair related) which I then went and bought! You are more likely to buy something or hire someone that is recommended to you.
3. Use your creations! If you make jewellery for example, wear one of your creations when you go out and have a business card ready if anyone asks where you got it from! If you make cards and send them to family and friends, put your business logo on the back, so any admirers can know who made them!
4. Use free tools like social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter or create a blog. Once again tell your friends and family as well as any customers on which sites they can find you.
5. Offer great customer service in the way of good communication. Thank customers for their orders and keep them updated as to when their items will be dispatched. It costs nothing and will encourage recommendations and repeat business. Send a thank you note with the item to give a personal touch.
6. If you make something to sell or post an item from your shop, create a label with your logo or business name on. And/or include a business card or compliments slip. The more your name is seen the more likely it is to be remembered. If you are just starting out spend time thinking about your name and your logo, you want it to be memorable and reflect your business!
7. When you send your customer an email, not only include a link to your website but also a link to your Facebook page. If they are on Facebook, they’ll probably go and have a nosy at your page! (See my earlier blog post http://jill-morethanmummies.blogspot.com/2011/04/im-learning-as-i-go-along.html on how to assign your Facebook page a vanity URL to make it look more professional.)
8. If you make something to sell and usually only sell from your Facebook page, try other avenues once in a while. Put an occasional item on Ebay for example, it may just attract a different audience. If you are already on Ebay make sure there is a link to your website, Facebook, Twitter pages etc. on your ‘about me’ section.
9. Make contact with other businesses in your area. For example if you make jewellery see if there are any independent clothes shops in your area who would like to stock your items or who would be happy to have your business cards on their counter. Small post offices with independent shops attached are also great for selling locally produced items.
10. Another one for Facebook. When looking for potential customers, think outside the box. As well as using pages like ours http://www.facebook.com/morethanmummies  and http://www.facebook.com/YummyMummies.BusinessMums to promote your business think about who else may be interested. For example, if you make something that would appeal to cat lovers, see if there’s a page called ‘I Love Cats’ or if you make cards and Father’s day is approaching see if there’s a page for ‘I Love My Dad’. Obviously your business needs to somehow relate to the audience of the page.
I hope you find these helpful, I will be adding some more very soon.
Jill. x

P.S. You can also now list your business for FREE on www.morethanmummies.com !



My Work/Home Life Balance

The Easter bank holiday weekend has got me thinking about my work/home life balance. The weekend has been great as I’ve had the help of my partner to look after my son, enabling me to catch up on some outstanding, yet rather boring, admin things (mainly a huge pile of filing that has accumulated since the start of the year! L) and work on ideas and content for the website. However, this is an exception as he's usually very busy working!
As much as working for myself, at home, has its benefits, it also has its issues. On the plus side, I feel I do have more control over my daily schedule and therefore get to spend time in the day with my little boy. I tend to work when he’s happily playing on his own, having a nap or has gone to bed, and at the moment the balance is ok. I am failing to mention the housework which has somewhat got pushed to the bottom of the ‘to do’ list! I am working on how I’m going to include it in the big day time juggling act!
It’s very different from a nine to five job and I generally start my working day as soon as I’m up, which is usually anywhere between 6am and 7.30am depending on baby! After giving him his first bottle and breakfast I’ll sit down with a cup of tea and check my emails, have a bit of a catch up and plan my itinerary for the day. I then work intermittently, fitting in with the little one, throughout the day, and then usually have another proper catch up when he’s gone to bed around 8pm. This evening catch up can be anywhere between an hour and five hours! I wouldn’t change it though, I love having the opportunity to spend time with my little one and not miss out on his development.
On the down side, besides the lack of a certain regular income, I find I often get carried away working! My partner also has a busy work schedule and can, on occasion, work well into the night so I do foresee it sometimes being hard to spend time together as a couple. We’re also engaged and progress on the wedding is really slow, well, non-existent! Although when we are ready to sit down and plan it I now know where to find a wonderful range of businesses and ideas!
My father was a business man, an entrepreneur and a workaholic! As a child I don’t remember spending very much time with him and was aware he was always busy! I don’t want this to be the case in my family. Even though I still managed to have a great relationship with my dad as the time we did spend together was always fun, I would have loved to have spent much more time with him. Looking back I really appreciate the opportunities and experiences I had because of him and his career choices, and sincerely hope I can offer the same to my son, but with a lot more time as a family too. After all he is my motivation behind all of this.
Jill. x

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Happy Easter!


I’m enjoying having a bit more time over Easter and I’ve been experimenting with one of my little paintings in Paint.net. It’s my first attempt colouring in a picture in a computer program and I wanted to share it.

‘More Than A Mummy!’ Obviously not an exhaustive list of everything we do!
Happy Easter, I hope everyone has a wonderful bank holiday weekend and gets a little time to relax and enjoy the sunshine!
Jill. x

Saturday, 23 April 2011

A Little Bit Of Money Saving!

It’s Easter bank holiday weekend and we’re trying to get our house looking nice for the summer. After moving in nearly two years ago we have finally (well, nearly!) done all the decorating! So, we’ve now got a few things to buy to finish it all off and I've been on the internet this afternoon searching for a big rug for the dining room! I’ve started to do a lot of my shopping online, everything from presents to the weekly supermarket shop, even if I see something in a shop I’ll often wait until I get home and purchase it online.
One of the reasons I do this is to do price comparisons, but another reason I do it is so I can get ‘cash back’. There are internet sites that will pay ‘cash back’ into your bank account if you go through their site to make a purchase. The one I use is Quidco.com, but there are others too. As well as ‘cash back’ these sites also give you special offers or voucher codes which can end up saving you even more money.
I don’t really know about the competitors, but Quidco offer cash back from all types of retailers from Debenhams, John Lewis, Next, and M&S (just to name a few!) to the big supermarkets ASDA, Tesco and Sainsbury’s, to insurance providers and gas and electricity providers. It’s worth going to their site to have a look at all the different shops and the discounts they offer! (I once got £60 back for my car insurance!)
To use a site like this and get cash back, you first need to sign up with them. When you want to buy something from one of the retailers, you login to the site (Quidco for example) search for the retailer (e.g. Debenhams) look through the offers to get any voucher codes that apply and then click ‘get cashback’. It would then take you to Debenhams website for you to make your purchase.
Once you’ve made your purchase you’ll get an email (could be 24hrs later) saying that your purchase has been tracked and what cash back you are due back. Retailers vary on how long the cash back takes to be paid. Sometimes you can wait up to three months, but it’s still worth doing. The site also gives details on how quickly each retailer takes to track, confirm and then pay your cash back. Any cash back is paid into your bank account. You pay them a £5 a year admin fee (unless the amount has changed) which is taken out of your first cash back payment.
I’ve been using Quidco for a couple of years and it has certainly saved me money especially on big purchases like appliances or car insurance! A couple of things to bear in mind; read all the instructions, a couple of times my purchase hasn’t been tracked and this could have been due to a couple of reasons. I think you can only have that one browser open and you can’t have things stored, i.e. items waiting to be bought on the retailer’s site. It has to be a brand new transaction (I hope that makes sense).
How can I explain this better? Hmmm, ok, if for example you’re on Debenhams’ website and have put a few items in your basket and then you remember that you can use Quidco and get some cash back. You might leave Debenhams’ site to return via Quidco to qualify for the cash back. By leaving Debenhams the items you put in your basket may have be saved as cookies on your computer. And when you return the items could still be there, so it may not qualify as a brand new transaction. I’m sure it’s explained much better on Quidco’s website!
What I tend to do before using Quidco is clear my browsing history to delete anything that maybe saved. To do this click on ‘safety’ on your internet toolbar and then ‘delete browsing history’, Note: this will delete any passwords you have saved so for anything you automatically sign in to (eg. Facebook, maybe) you will have to sign in again.
I hope this helps, I'd certainly recommend going to have a nosy! I only thought about it as I’ve bought a new filing cabinet and some printer cartridges, used Euroffice via Quidco, and I have just had an email saying I’ll be getting £16 cash back! Might not be a fortune but every little helps!
As an aside, for anyone with a larger business, it may be worth looking at sites like these to register your own business. I have no idea how it works from the retailers point of view, but there’s no doubt these types of sites will become more popular.

Follow this link to check it out for yourself: Quidco
Jill. x

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Internet Things I Should Have Known But Didn’t!

These are probably things you already know, but just in case you don’t here are a few things that I have recently found out or been told which may be of use. I feel like they are things I really should have known but didn’t! Sometimes I seem to learn more complicated things before the basics!
New tabs on your browser: If you want to open a link without having to open a new window hover your mouse over the link and when it looks like a little hand, use your right mouse button and it should bring up a list of options, including opening the link in a new window or a new tab. I often find tabs easier to navigate than lots of different windows and sometimes have one window with lots of tabs open.
Finding something on a website page: When you are looking for something in particular on a page and you don’t want to read the whole article to look for it you can search for key words. To do this hold down 'Ctrl' and press the ‘F’ key, you should then see a box in the top left hand corner that says find, you then just type in the key words you are looking for and it should direct you to them and highlight them. There is a next and previous option to keep searching or go back. This also works in other programs like Microsoft Word.
Zip files for emails: If you want to email someone a folder containing a few documents or photos it is sometimes easier to use a zip file. It reduces the file size making it quicker to attach to your email and quicker for the recipient to download it. To do this right mouse click on your documents folder, choose ‘send to’ and then ‘compressed (zipped) folder’. It then makes a copy of your original file in a compressed format, so you’ll have two your original and the compressed one. Then just attach your zip file to your email. 
I’m sure there are lots more to come across and if there are any you think would be useful please leave a comment. I think I’m part of the generation that have been using computers and the internet since we were in our teens and but no one actually taught us how to use them! I’m young enough, at 29, for people to expect me to know all these basics yet when I was at school it was not then a part of the standard education. So that’s why I feel like I’m still finding lots out and I’m on a really steep learning curve! I don’t have the time or inclination to read a big book, so tend to find things out as I need them with the help of my partner, an IT consultant, or (if I’m too embarrassed to ask him when it’s something really simple!) Google!
Jill. x

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

I’m Learning As I Go Along!

Even though I’ve been using the internet for ages and have had a personal Facebook page for about four years, all this is other stuff is very new to me - the Facebook business page, Twitter and blogging etc. So in case anyone else, like me, is still getting to grips with it all, I’ll keep adding things that I have found helpful. I’m not very technical so please correct me if I’m totally off the mark!
Facebook – Vanity URL
When you have at least 25 likers on your Facebook page you can assign a Vanity URL to your page, which means you can give it an address without the long list of numbers after your name. Ours is now http://www.facebook.com/morethanmummies but before I changed it, it would have been something similar with a load of numbers following it.
As far as I’m aware, assigning your page its own Vanity URL is beneficial as it not only makes your link easier to remember but it also looks a lot neater and more professional when you use it as a link or include it on a business card or in your emails. I’m not sure how you find it when you’re on Facebook; the only way I’ve got to it is with this link: http://facebook.com/username
After following the link (and signing in if you need to) you then get to choose to which of your pages you’d like to assign a Vanity URL, you then type in what you’d like your URL to be and see if it’s available. They are unique so an identical name to your page may not be available if someone else has already used it. Please be aware, once you’ve chosen your URL name you cannot change it! So make sure you’re happy with it and check for any spelling mistakes (I nearly got mine wrong!). Once you’ve completed it you should have a much neater Facebook page address! I do hope that helps.
On a slightly different note, as I recently found out, you can’t change the title of your Facebook page once you have more than 100 likers. That’s why we now have two pages, Yummy Mummies - Business Mums and the new More Than Mummies. We will keep using them both, so feel free to post on either! Or both!
Jill. x

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Our Upcoming Website – More Than Mummies

Due to the success of our Facebook page, Yummy Mummies – Business Mums, and as a way to help promote our mums I’ve decided to create a website, http://www.morethanmummies.com/. That will hopefully be up and running inn June. I still can’t give too much away, but I hope it will be somewhere where you can show off and promote what you do, whether it be a business or a hobby. I also hope it will also be somewhere informative and a little entertaining too, and where you can join in and contribute to. All will soon be revealed!
You may be wondering why the name is different to our Facebook page? Well although I love the ‘Yummy Mummies’ theme, after a bit of google-ing I came across a charity with a similar name and out of respect for them I decided not to use it. After much thought and deliberation I settled on ‘More Than Mummies’. It’s so hard choosing a name! I thought this would still be quite fun and in keeping with the image I’d like to portray, however I must confess I was concerned about the Egyptian connotation! Even now when I click on the link to our future website, I smile at all the advertisements for Nile cruises! Better get a temporary page up quick!
Now the name’s sorted the next task is the logo. I’m using the same image from the Yummy Mummies page as a temporary one, but it’s only one I did myself really quickly so a new more professional one is definitely needed!

 The website and logo design is in the hands of a friend of mine and I’m really looking forward to seeing what we come up with.
Jill. x

Hello And Welcome To My Blog!

Before I introduce myself I must tell you that this is my first attempt at blogging and I’m actually a little nervous about what to write! I’ve designed this page too so I apologise if it’s a little basic, I’m learning as I go along. Don’t worry, I’m not designing the website myself, I’ve enlisted some expert help! Anyway, here goes, a little bit of info on me. My name is Jill and I live in Salford, England with my hubby to-be and our six month old son.
I was a mature student in the third year of a Psychology degree when I found out I was pregnant, and although I managed to graduate, I had no job to go back to, and if I’d been able to even find a new job in this economic climate, I was worried it wouldn’t pay enough to cover the costs of sending my little one to nursery. So I thought I’d have a go at turning my hobby of drawing and painting into a way of making some extra money whilst still being able to stay at home and look after my son. I just wanted something that I could do and still have control over my schedule and not miss out on him growing up. I’m sure most mums with a business or who make things to sell will sympathise with me on this one.
I was trying, with some success, to sell some of my little paintings on Ebay, however there’s only so much drawing and painting you can do with a little on asleep on your knee! So I decided to create the Facebook page Yummy Mummies – Business Mums as a way to bring together likeminded mums who wanted to network and promote the things they make, sell or do. I know there are already business mums/work from home mums groups but I wanted somewhere a little more fun! Hence the “Yummy Mummies”!
When I started it in mid March 2011 I thought that if I was lucky I may get 200 mums joining our little Facebook community by the end of the year, but to my surprise we had 300 ‘likers’ in the first week. It wasn’t just the amount of mums joining our page that made me want to take it a step further and create a website but also the things they made or sold really impressed me. Especially when you bear in mind that they are looking after children and most likely running a house too!
I’ve always loved things that are unique, bespoke and not common. Especially when they are things that people have put thought and effort into making. I love it when people ask me where I’ve got something from because they haven’t seen anything like it in the shops! I hope the website will be able to draw attention to these wonderful items as well as being somewhere where you will have an opportunity to promote what you do. Whether it be your skills or businesses or even your hobbies or good causes.
Our website (I call it ‘our’ as I don’t see it just as mine) is still in the planning stages and I hope to tell you more about it very soon.
Jill. x