LAST Minute Holiday Sales Ideas

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and even Cyber Monday already past, is it too late for to grab holiday sales? No way.

“A recent study shows more than half of consumers expect the best holiday deals between Thanksgiving and Christmas. With the National Retail Federation predicting holiday sales to grow 4.1 percent this year—the most optimistic forecast since the recession—you can still lure last-minute shoppers, right up until Santa loads his sleigh.”

Market “Last Minute” – Create a sense of urgency with your marketing!  People never like to “miss” a deal!  Use phrases such as “last minute,” “while supplies last,” “get it before they are gone.”

Open House – Host an Open House at your home or office to try and sell off any remaining inventory you may have, plus offer great specials exclusive to everyone who attends.

Create gift baskets and go Gardening – Pretty up gift baskets and sets to make them “ready to gift” and go gardening.  Stop by locations you frequent – maybe Starbucks, your local mom and pop store, your partners place of business, and announce you are “helping Santa out a bit” this year with gifts for everyone ready to go!

Offer Purchase with Purchase Incentives – Upselling made easy!  Create Purchase with Purchase Incentives to boost last minute sales.  Order a warmer, receive a free melt.  Order a skin care set receive a free eye cream.  Order a kitchen product receive a free dip mix.  The sky is the limit!

BounceBack Coupons – Offer Bounce Back Coupons for anyone who orders now through Christmas.  Bounce Back Coupons are also a great way to boost your January Sales!

“Clearance Sales” – Before you knock it – you have to know they WORK! Don’t we always shop the “clearance rack” first?

Making a List and Checking It Twice… Now is the time to contact your mailing list… TWICE.  Procrastination runs rampant, and many shoppers admit to having several more gifts to buy before the holidays.  Why not contact them and do the shopping for them right from your catalog?

Offer free shipping. If you do sell online, free shipping is a must, says Mitchell Harper, co-CEO of Bigcommerce. Harper cites data from lab42 that “79 percent of shoppers prefer free shipping to discounts on products.” You can make it contingent on a certain purchase level, such as over $50.

Add Holiday greetings with every order. Including a little greeting card with your shipments helps to build long term repeat customer relationships.  Include an invitation to shop again after the holiday craziness.

Let us not forget…. The Men!  This is the perfect market to tap into this time of year.  Men, in general, hate to shop.  They are GOING to spend money on the women they love, whether it is a wife, girlfriend, mother, sister, aunt, daughter… or all of the above.  Market yourself as his “personal shopper” and he will use you for life! They will also recommend you to their buddies!!

Do gift-wrapping for free – you do not have to be an expert wrapper for this.  The point is to make the gift beautiful and CONVENIENT.

Make it easy – Do everything you can to make your products look like instant, easy gifts. Spell it out for people– tell them exactly which products work for grandma, teacher, etc.

Remember that people are doing marketing for you – Don’t waste this opportunity; be sure that whomever receives your product as a gift knows where their gift came from. Consider including a small card or gift tag which includes your name, phone number, and website address. While this won’t necessarily help you make more holiday sales, it can pay off in the months (even years) following if you’ve gained a new fan. Who knows, maybe they’ll be doing their holiday shopping with you next year?

Tips For A Great Customer eNewsletter

Try Constant Contact FREE for 60 days!Offering a Customer Newsletter (or eNewsletter) is one of the most TIME effective and COST effective things you can do to increase your Party Plan Business in big ways.  Reports show that companies that use eNewsletters have seen an increase in business both in first time sales and even larger increase in returning sales.   eNewsletters can also increase your customer loyalty, referrals, and enhance your reputation as an “expert” in your field.

But how do you know you are writing a great eNewsletter?  Here are some tips for making each eNewsletter that you send an exciting, effective marketing tool.

Carefully plan out your content.

Each eNewsletter should include these five vital pieces:

  • a welcome note from you
  • a product highlight and/or special with testimonials
  • hostess rewards with a call to action to “book your party now”
  • information on the business opportunity with a call to action to “join my team”
  • and an informational article relating to your industry

The welcome note should be a personal, upbeat note in your own words that thanks your readers for reading the newsletter, tells a bit about something you might be “excited” about, things going on with your business etc.  Make sure it is positive and upbeat – it will most likely be the first thing your customer reads.  Make sure it makes a great first impression.

Always highlight a single product or product bundle with a link to purchase going directly to that product check out page if possible.  Include a picture, description, sale or special if applicable, and a testimonial – even if it is your own!   Include a call to action (“Order Now While Supplies Last”) to create a sense of urgency and inspire your reader to purchase.

Hostess Rewards and Opportunity should be in every single eNewsletter you send out!  You never know who might receive your mailing at “just the right time” for them to book a party or join your team.  Your Hostess Rewards should include the sales or specials for the upcoming month – encouraging bookings early in your month to help “front load” your month to increase your monthly volume.  Also include a call to action with these as well.

A Informational Article turns your eNewsletter into a resource instead of simply a sales page.  By offering “free” information – tips, ideas, strategies, etc – your readers will come to know that your eNewsletters are full of useful information for them – even if they do not intend to purchase at this time.  Instead of simply deleting the eNewsletter, they are more inclined to open it to see what they might learn.  Your readers will be drawn in with the article, and may venture over to reading your sales pieces as well.  Either way you are continuing to show that you are knowledgeable in your field and willing to share what you know.

Try Constant Contact FREE for 60 days!

Build Your eNewsletter List.

Even if you have the best, most well written eNewsletter EVER – if no one is receiving it, your business is not going to benefit at all.   The larger your mailing list, the more beneficial each eNewsletter will be.

At your parties, ask your party goers for their email address to add to your email newsletter list.  If you are using the “Three Ways to Be Involved” introduction at your parties, include the eNewsletter offer when talking about benefits of being a customer or client.

Write a report or eBook to offer for free to everyone who signs up to your eNewsletter.   eNewsletter software such as Constant Contact give you the option of creating an auto responder which can give your brand new readers a free eBook or report when they opt-in to receive your eNewsletter.  The report can be “Top Ten Tips” for your industry, a great “how to” report, etc.  Remember, YOU are an expert – and the training you receive from your company is meant to build your business.  Share what you know!

Invite people to join your eNewsletter via your Social Media outlets, email, voice mail, etc.  With an Opt-In form – which most all eNewsletter software offer you – you can offer the opportunity for people to sign up for your eNewsletter no matter where they live, what time zone they are in, etc.  Your Opt-In form will be there 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  So spread the word about your Newsletter on your Facebook Fan Page, Twitter, account, LinkdIn, in the side bar of your blog, in the signature on your email – everywhere!

Timing Is Everything.

The whole foundation of Party Plan Divas is a Time Management System that I have specifically created for Party Plan Consultants.  If you follow the Diva Success System, you know that I recommend your eNewsletters are sent out on the 20th day of each month.   This may go against other trainings you have seen that suggest sending them out near the beginning of the month, but let me explain why the 20th is an ideal time frame for your eNewsletter.

Sending later in the month creates that sense of urgency with your sales and specials because the “offer” is only good for another 10 or so days.   When you receive a “sale” that is good for an entire month, it is easy for a customer to think “oh, I want that, but it can wait till next payday.”  Chances are you will be long forgotten about by the time that next payday rolls around.

The 20th day of the month also gives you time to get some Hostess Coaching in – even if your Hostess books for the very first day of the next month!  Let’s say you send out your eNewsletter the morning of February 20th, and you receive an email or call of a hostess asking to have a party on March 1st – that gives you a full eight days to get invitations in the mail, get her some catalogs to show for outside orders, etc.  You can still get some of the vital Hostess Coaching steps in even with a party the very first day.

Likewise with the Business Opportunity information, most every Party Plan Company has a blueprint for getting started on the right track in the first month of her career.  With that in mind, you have the 8-11 days from the time the eNewsletter is mailed out until the first day of the following month to meet with her, tell her more about the opportunity, etc – even to schedule a KickOff Party if you choose to get her started at the beginning of the month and help her have a fantastic “first month in the business.”

With eNewsletter software you can also track your statistics to see who opened your eNewsletter, what they clicked on, and whether or not they shared or forwarded the email.  You can easily track what works – and what doesn’t!

 Be Consistent

With anything else in your business, consistency is key.   This is why I recommend The Diva Success System – it helps you to stay on track and solidify a system so that you can maintain consistency on every aspect of your Party Plan business.  Your eNewsletter readers will come to know and expect an email from you each month, and will look forward to readingTry Constant Contact FREE for 60 days! what you have in store for them every single month.  Sporadic, thrown together emails are obvious and annoying, and show disorganization within your business.  Create the habit, get in the routine, and give your eNewsletter the same priority as every other part of your business.

An email Newsletter is a phenomenal way to increase your business quickly, economically, and effectively right from your home.  You can work on your eNewsletter with your children at home, with or without a car in the driveway, or even in the middle of the night when you finally get some time to concentrate. You do not have to pick up the 600 pound phone, or worry about what you are going to “say” to someone.

Whatever your situation, you can begin right now to increase your business using an eNewsletter.

 

8 Questions To Ask Before Choosing A Home Party Plan Business

With the economy in the state that it is in, and dozens of Newspapers and TV Shows recommending the Direct Sales Party Plan Industry, people are coming by the thousands to find which Home Based Party Plan Business is right for them.  But how do you know which one to choose?  How do you know which one will be a good fit for you?

Thankfully there are literally hundreds of choices of Party Plan Companies all offering exceptional products and generous compensation plans.   In fact I would even go as far as to say you can guarantee success in ANY of the Party Plan Companies available – IF it is the right “fit” for you and you commit yourself to working the business.  So how do you know which one is the right fit?  Ask yourself these questions:

1. WHAT are you passionate about?

We all have a passion for something.  What kinds of things can you get really excited about?  Were you the girl helping everyone put makeup on for Prom?  Or do you enjoy cooking home made meals for your family?  Maybe you enjoy preserving people’s memories in pictures or decorating a home.  Or maybe you are the “Bling Queen” and love to help women feel fantastic adding just a bit of sparkle.

The truth is there are going to be down days in this business, and it will be your passion that gets you through them.   Ask yourself honestly what kind of product you can be so passionate about that you keep on keeping on, even when people are telling you no.

2.  WHAT are you strengths? 

If you were applying for a job position, what would the strengths be that you are bringing to the table?  Are you organized? A good communicator?  Do you like talking to groups of people or one on one?  Can you talk about delicate subjects and clearly communicate your recommendations?  Are you a good problem solver and interested in helping others?

3. HOW will you work?

Another great opportunity that the Party Plan Industry has to offer is freedom to work your business in different avenues.  Do you want to throw fun parties for groups of women?  Or sit one on one for consultations?  Do you want to work mostly online, or hand catalogs and brochures out around town?  Can you travel?  How many hours can you really commit to building your business?

4. WHAT does it cost to be in business?

Many times the only price that is ever advertised as a “getting started” cost is your initial Consultant Kit.  However, once you have signed the dotted line, you are then made aware of all of the other fees: credit card processing, monthly minimums,catalog prices,  order processing fees, party fees, Hostess Rewards, renewal fees…. Get the facts up front and do not be surprised later.

5. HOW often are new catalogs/product lines released?

Companies continuously add and remove products from their product line, but knowing how often you will be changing your demonstration or adding to your kit is important.   “New products” is a great reason to keep in touch with your customers, but changing your demo every month may also pose a problem.  Ask other Consultants how their “cycles” tend to run, and how their Corporate Offices handle the release of new products.

6. HOW will you get paid?

To someone new to the Party Plan Industry, a Compensation Plan can be pretty overwhelming.  Sadly many companies in an attempt to “stand out” are making their Compensation Plans harder and harder to understand.  When you have narrowed down the product line you want to carry from Question #1, and you have narrowed down the companies from #2 and #3, talk to Consultants from your remaining options and ask them specifically HOW they get paid.  Do they earn commission – money paid out collectively based on sales of a certain time period, or do you get a buying discount – where you purchase products at one price, and sell for a higher price.  Also, when you are paid on your team bonuses, are you paid in cash or in product?

7. WHAT kind of support does the company offer? 

When trying to choose between Party Plan Companies, looking for the “oldest” company is not always best.  Instead look for what kind of support and tools are offered to the Consultants.  Are you allowed to sell online with your own replicating website or shopping cart?   Does the company offer business tools such as catalogs, order forms, and product brochures at a reasonable price? Are there training opportunities available – either in person or virtually?  Companies who are staying with the times and not “hand cuffing” their consultants to the “old business ways” are striving in today’s market.

8. IF you change your mind, what is the buy-back policy?

Every company offers a buy-back policy should you change your mind about joining their company.   (If they do not, or there are a hundred hoops to jump through, this is a huge red flag!)  Get clear on what the buy back policy is with the hopes of course that you will never have to use it.  :)

Choosing the RIGHT Party Plan Company for you is a HUGE part of your success with this industry.  When I began, some 13 years ago,  I began with a great company… but it was not the right fit for me.  I knew I was on the right road… I just wasnt in the right car!   Once I found the right company for me, I used what I learned from my first company to skyrocket me to the top.

Whether you are brand new to the industry looking for a new Party Plan Company to join, or feeling like the company you are with just might not be the right fit for you, get the answers to these eight questions and choose the company that is perfect for YOU.

 

“What We’ve Got Here Is A Failure To Communicate.”

Last night Mike and I dined at a local restaurant and listened in as a customer was trying to give his order to the waiter… who was just NOT understanding what he was trying to say.  Both the customer and the waiter got frustrated, and sadly when the order came out – and was wrong – instead of sending it back, we over heard the customer say “No, it is fine, we just will not come back.”

Communication is such a critical part in Leadership, that it can truly be a defining factor on whether a company succeeds or fails.  Misunderstandings, Assumptions, and simply LACK of Communication are all detrimental to even the best of businesses.  In fact, I think it may be THE #1 thing that could make a difference of whether a company succeeds or fails.

In the last few months I have seen many Party Plan Consultants walk away from their businesses stating reasons like “I never knew what was going on,”  “I felt all alone,”  “I never heard from anyone,” “I was only talked to when I was producing big numbers,”  “I only felt important when I had big sales.”  In the case of the restaurant, it is a customer who was unhappy and will probably not only not visit the establishment again, but share with his friends the poor experience that he had.  In Leadership, you simply can not afford to have this barrier.

So how do you overcome this?  How do you communicate effectively to ensure the success of your business?

Do it well.

One misconception about effective communication is that there needs to be a lot of “fluff” and “pizazz.”   With all of the junk and distractions we are presented with each day, effective communication now is more about getting the point across in a clear, concise manner as quickly and effectively as possible.   Do not try to jazz up your communications with a bunch of fancy words or phrases in an attempt to sound more professional.  Research shows that the best communication is at about a 4th grade reading level, there fore everyone understands it.  Get to the point so everyone can get on with their day.

Do it often.

In my opinion you can not OVER communicate something important to your team.  In fact I think a lot of times it is not even WHAT you are communicating as much as it is showing that you ARE communicating and keeping people “in the loop.”  People want to feel informed, they want to feel included -  the sense of unknowing leads to fear, upset, and eventually giving up.  By “touching base” often, even with small updates, you are showing that their time matters, and that you care about them enough to want to keep them informed.

Do it together.

Collaboration is the new business model in 2011.   People not only want to be in the know, they also want to be seen and heard with their opinions.   Tools such as YahooGroups, Google+ Circles, Facebook Groups, etc allow for you to not only get your message sent, but also for everyone in the “group” to be able to discuss and weigh in as well.   It gives your team a feeling of belonging, and that their feelings truly matter.

Do it now.

My pastor said this week “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago… the second best time is right now.”   Whether you are a brand new Leader, or whether you have been leading a team for years, the best time to begin great communication is right now.  Stop what you are doing right now, and send an email out to your team.  Or create a Facebook Group and then announce it to your team.  Let them know that you care, that you are there to help them, and that you will be working to keep them as informed as possible to help them succeed in their business – no matter how high or low their sales are this week.   Send a note to them that effectively communicates that you will be communicating more effectively :)

Keeping your team connected and informed is one of the first steps to building a remarkable team.  It is one of the easiest, and most effective things you can do to ensure the success of your business.

A Gift Card, Raw Fish, And A Great Lesson

Every Thursday night is “Date Night” for Mike and I.  It is a night to relax, no cooking, no cleaning, just spending time together.   We use our iPhones to select random restaurants, and spend just a few hours “unplugged” from work.  I had been presented with a Gift Card  few weeks ago at a Speaking Engagement, so we chose to go there for dinner to unwind.

I chose a seafood dish and Mike chose a “mixed grill.”  When our plates arrived I cut into mine… and my fish was raw.  Not “undercooked” – RAW.  I motioned to the waitress and showed her just how raw my fish was.  She was very apologetic (and a little grossed out) and said she would get me a new one “right away.”  Well, cooking fish is no “quick” task, so Mike was completely finished with his meal by the time I received my new one.  (I insisted he go ahead and eat – no sense in letting his get cold while mine cooked.) 

While we waited the Manager came by, overly apologetic and offering us everything under the sun – from cocktails to salad bars to appetizers.  The waitress also stopped by a few times to check on us, and see if there was anything she could do for us while we waited.

Once my meal was ready both the Manager and Waitress served me, and asked for me to cut into it to make sure it was satisfactory before they walked away.  Of course it was perfect – honestly, probably the best that meal has ever tasted – and I thanked them as they continued to apologize and let us know that they would be comping the meal off the ticket.   Since Mike had already finished and now had to wait on me to eat, they brought him a dessert to enjoy as well. Until the moment we left they took care of us, apologizing almost to the point of annoying  ;)  They had removed my meal, salad and dessert off of the bill, leaving only Mike’s meal to be paid.

The amount they removed from our check was over $25… which is the exact amount I left for the TIP.  Those two ladies went over and above to take care of me, after a very simple mistake – WHICH neither of them had any part in making.  My reward was a tip greater even than the final bill that was owed.

How do you handle mistakes when they happen in your business?

Do you “avoid the phone” and let upset callers go to voicemail?  Do you respond via email, so you can avoid the conflict?  Do you blame others – corporate, shipping, manufacturers?

Or do you go over and above to right the situation, even if it means you *may* lose out in the end?

One of my best Consultants of all time came to me first as an unhappy customer.  She had ordered from another Consultant in my town who would not answer her calls, would not return emails, blocked her from MySpace – you name it, the Consultant was avoiding the conflict.  I worked with the Customer, worked with my Corporate Office, paid out of my own pocket to right the wrong, and told her I would “take care of her any time she ever needed anything.”  Within 6 months she was a Leader on my team making me ten times more money than what I had paid out to right the other Consultant’s mistake.   I am also happy to say she is still one of my very best friends.

An upset customer is a remarkable opportunity for you to show your fantastic Customer Service skills.  By “making it right” and doing what is right by the customer – EVEN if you have to spend some money in order to do so – can come back to reward you ten fold.   Tonight I was reminded of just how true this really is.

If you have an unhappy customer – make it right.  Call and ask her HOW you can make it right.  Be apologetic – even if the mistake was not your own – and be willing to do what is needed to make your CUSTOMER happy.  Show her that you have the integrity and the commitment to your business to run it ethically and professionally.  It WILL come back in your favor.

Mobile Office – Party Plan Tools

Hi! Thanks for stopping by the 30 Days of Faves Blog Party hosted here at The Party Plan Coach! Each day Divas from around the World will be highlighting their favorite products from their Home Party Plan line. I will be highlighting my favorite business tips, tools, and inspiration for you to help build your Home Party Plan business. Be sure to check back every day in June to see what’s new!

If there was one business tool that I would say I absolutely “can not do business without” (My Diva Success System Planner not included) it would be my Mobile Office.  I do not go ANYWHERE without my Mobile Office!   It is either in my office or in my car, and I even take it in to all of my parties! If you need to get organized – and fast – set up a Mobile Office!  You will wonder how you ever did business without it!

Keeping a Mobile Office is critical to the success and organization of your Party Plan Business. In this Office you will keep everything you need to book parties, make contacts, recruit, etc. Do not over think this – you want this to be easy, organized, and portable. If you fill it too full, you will never carry it around. Your Mobile Office can be carried in a portable file box that can be purchased from any office supply store. Many have a place for pens and accessories right in the top! That is very convenient so you are never searching for a pen.

You will need the following:

  • File Box
  • Hanging File Folders
  • 1/3 Cut File Folders
  • Pens, Highlighters, Markers
  • Hostess Packets (see Hostess Coaching Section)
  • Recruit Packets
  • Tear Tab Flyers
  • Business Cards
  • Catalogs
  • Order Form
  • Calculator
  • Samples, Gardening Materials

Make sure that everything in your Mobile Office has your name on it – you never know when you will quickly need to grab a catalog to give to a waitress or someone in a parking lot who sees your car signs. Having it readily available, with your information, and in good shape (no tattered edges or creases) is another way to make a great first impression.
Remember, marketing opportunities present themselves when you least expect it. When you are organized and prepared, you will not panic when the opportunity arises. Be sure to keep your Mobile Office stocked and ready at all times!

QR Codes for Party Plan Success

Hi! Thanks for stopping by the 30 Days of Faves Blog Party hosted here at The Party Plan Coach! Each day Divas from around the World will be highlighting their favorite products from their Home Party Plan line. I will be highlighting my favorite business tips, tools, and inspiration for you to help build your Home Party Plan business. Be sure to check back every day in June to see what’s new!

More and more I have been seeing these little images pop up, on websites, blogs, and business cards.  Even last night while I was at BestBuy picking out a new refrigerator, I noticed each appliance now sports one of these little guys.  So what are they?

QR Codes were originally created for tracking parts in automobile manufacturing, but they have caught on quickly and are now being used for everything from marketing, information sharing, and customer care.   Simply put, you can scan a QR Code with your Smartphone or other device, and you will be directed to whatever site that QR code is linked to.

On my iPhone I use QRReader, available free from the App Store.  QRDroid gets great reviews from the Android market, and QRCode Scanner Pro for Blackberry users.  Once you download the app, simply launch the application, scan the bar code, and you will be quickly routed to the website linked to that code. Check out a few of ours:

You can create your own QR Code at qrcode.kaywa.com and get started using your Codes right away!

QR Code ideas:

Create a QR Code for your Facebook Fan Page and put on your business cards to get more Fans!

Create a “hidden” Blog Post specifically for your “VIP” Customers with special deals or a special discount code and create a QR code directly to that post.  Then share that QR code in your Constant Contact email, via text message, etc.

Create a QR Code for your Opportunity Page on your website, and use on VistaPrint Recruiting Cards.

What else can you think of?