TIPS FOR ENTREPRENEURS: Easy, low-cost ways to improve your business

Get mentioned, somewhere. Third-party credibility is the most important thing you can do for your product or service.

Dollar bills 370 (photo credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters)
Dollar bills 370
(photo credit: Steve Marcus / Reuters)
I’ve mentioned some of these before in different columns, so consider this like a caffeine jolt – a load of them at one time, in one place, for your implementation pleasure:
• The change you give. Don’t give crisp bills as change if you want your customer to spend more. According to a recently released study in the Journal of Consumer Research, when bills are even slightly well-worn, people are more likely to spend them than when they are mint crisp. (Bonus tip: if you give a $10 bill that is crisp and a $20 bill that is older, the buyer will spend the $20 easier than the $10!) • Extend your guarantee. Buyers will worry that a 14-day guarantee will expire and will therefore rush to give it back; make the guarantee longer, and your customer will have more time to enjoy the purchase and thus be more likely to keep it.
• Get mentioned, somewhere. Third-party credibility is the most important thing you can do for your product or service.
The third-party validation means that customers don’t have to take your word for why the product is a buy – they can trust the third party.
• Accept Visa and MasterCard. Even better, American Express, too. Show your customers that you have passed muster by the big boys and that if those folks can trust you, they can, too. This also gives customers the ability to buy from you without having to feel they need to trust you to do so. Let trust of others do it for you.
• Testimonials and power seals. For example, testimonials and “We Ship FedEx” notifications. SSL seals for your website, too. Help the client feel there is no room for indecision, because they are making the right choice.
• Pretend you are a child. When trying to childproof a home, experts instruct us to crawl around on all fours, at the child’s level, to see what can be dangerous and sticking out.
So to in business; think about things from your customers’ level. What have you been doing that makes life painful for them? There’s a certain parking lot in Jerusalem that one needs to put his credit card in twice to get in and out. And it doesn’t work very well, causing backups and traffic jams. (The “no backing up” teeth certainly don’t help things either.) And the 70-year-old attendant is not exactly the right person to fix technical issues. I guarantee a busier lot if they would streamline that process. But who is supposed to do the strategic thinking to make that happen? • Thank them for their business. And mean it. “We appreciate your patronage” goes a long way in making customers come back. And yes, it’s proven in studies.
• Change something. The size, the sale, the price, the ad border, the ad size, image in the ad, your logo color. Static is not good for a business in an age of busy, and you become invisible after a while. Keep yourself in the forefront of awareness and attention by freshening up every now and then. Ad fatigue is well known by direct marketers and on stuffy Madison Avenue, as well; if those two groups can agree on this, then there is certainly no room for you to doubt it.
• Network. Meet new people. Invest in them. Be genuinely helpful. I scored a lengthy Wall Street Journal interview from a meeting with an employee at the Journal with whom I had coffee (well, technically I had hot chocolate). When you meet and make friends – and don’t think about profit but rather new vistas and horizons – it pays off. Which leads me to: • Don’t make the mistake of quitting when you are so close to success! I’ve seen many people throw in the towel just before the finish line. You have to give yourself the time to let success happen from all your efforts and hard work. Easier to say then to do, especially when cash is tight, but well worth the results.
And one more bonus tip: Feeling down? Trying to make business but having a hard time going to meetings because you know the bills are piling up and income is down? Borrow $1,000 and keep it in your pocket. You will have a certain dance in your step that will be infectious, keeping you positive and helping you feel good about yourself. This helps others see you as someone who isn’t desperate to close the deal, making them more likely to want to do so! Issamar Ginzberg is a business adviser, marketer, professional speaker and rabbi who has been published in more than 50 business publications.