Sunday, November 30, 2008

Holiday Tips, WordPress & Video!

Mark your calendars!
Three great trainings are scheduled for this week - 2 webinars and 1 podcast. All the trainings are FREE but space is limited so register now!

2009: The Year of the Video
Wed Dec 3 (3:00PM EST/ Noon PST)

Internet Video is becoming increasingly more important for online sellers. eBay sellers added video to their listings during the past year and Amazon sellers will be able to use video in 2009.

Meanwhile, YouTube is the #2 search engine on the internet. If you don't have a video on YouTube, your chances of being found through search is increasingly slim. More importantly, after the first of the year, there are going to be changes in the search algorithms on Google that will make video even more critical.

This 'Year of the Video' webinar will be taught by my colleague Cindy Shebley of CloverCity and is sponsored by Janelle Elms' OSI Rock Stars. Join Cindy as she shows you how to get the jump on your competition by using video in your business. To save your spot at this FREE webinar, register now at

Advanced WordPress with Scott Pooler of iBusinessLogic
Thu Dec 4 (11:00am EST/ 8:00am PST)

Scott Pooler, CEO of iBusinessLogic, is our 'Tips From the Top' podcast guest this week.

WordPress is no longer just a blogging tool or platform. With the controls available in the “Manage Pages” feature, a complete, multi-page website, with many levels of site navigation can be easily developed and managed.

Join Scott as he shows us how WordPress, a Content Management Site (CMS), can be used for increased visibility and success in your online business! The podcast starts at 11am EST. Join us by going to our 'Tips From the Top' home page and clicking the 'Join In' button. The chat room will be open so you can ask your questions and participate in the conversation!

Holiday Tips

Thu Dec 4 (5:00pm EST/ 2:00pm PST)

Join Michael Kaiser, Executive Director for the National Cyber Security Alliance, as he shares tips on being safe online this holiday season. This timely webinar is sponsored by Janelle Elms' OSI Rock Stars. To save your spot, register now at

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

The Customer LifeCycle - Are You Maximizing All 5 Stages?

Most of us will acquire new customers this holiday season, making it the perfect time to look at how we're going to retain them in the coming year.

The article below (reprinted with the appropriate credits) gives an excellent roadmap of a customer's journey.

"We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It's our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better."
- Jeff Bezos

The 5 Faces of Your Customer
By Wendy Montes de Oca

One of the most profound business books I ever read was
Permission Marketing by Seth Godin. The ideas in the book were very innovative at the time. The Internet and e-mail marketing were still young, and, like the Wild Wild West, most marketers and business owners were still trying to "wrangle it in" and figure out how to leverage the Web's possibilities... and, more important, turn those possibilities into profits.

In a nutshell, the book explained "how to turn strangers into friends and friends into customers." The principle behind this is to first understand the difference between cold (or interruption) marketing - like those annoying phone calls you always seem to get during dinner asking you to subscribe to the local newspaper... and permission marketing - where the prospect is actually giving you permission to contact them by "opting in" to receive your messages.

To help you get the most out of your Internet marketing, I have expanded on Mr. Godin's "stranger/friend/customer" concept and added two key components: multi-buyer and advocate. And I'll show you how you can leverage each of these segments to help grow your business.

Leveraging Your Customers Throughout Their Life Cycle

You may think that a customer is someone who buys from you - period. But that's a very limited view. From the instant you "meet" your customer... until he's become a VIP buyer who's spent hundreds or thousands of dollars with your company... you should be interacting with him in different ways.

Treating him properly every step of the way will create a true win/win situation. Your customer will continue to enjoy satisfying experiences with your company, and your company will enjoy the positive effect this relationship will have on its bottom line.

Here are the five stages a customer can go through during his life cycle, and how you can make the most of each one...

Stage 1: Stranger

The stranger or "prospect" doesn't know you. Your job is to get her attention. You have only a few seconds to get her to react - whether it's by asking her to click on your ad or open your e-mail message. Which means that your copy for the ad headline or e-mail subject line is critical.

Once you've captured her attention, your #1 goal is to have this stranger "opt in" to receive your messages, giving you a chance to continue to bond with her. This is also the time to start to build trust. Show your creditability. And explain what you can do for her (fill a desire, answer a need).

Stage 2: Friend

The friend has demonstrated an interest in your initial promotion and has opted in to receive more information from you. This gives you an outstanding opportunity to introduce him to your philosophy, your company, and your mission, and to re-enforce how you can help him.

During this stage, it's best to send a series of introduction e-mails (anywhere from 5 to 7) and withhold your new friends from your general mailing list. You don't want them (the newest names on your list) to start receiving promotional messages BEFORE they receive some of your editorial messages.

We send six introductory e-mails to new Early to Rise subscribers. Each e-mail is a special issue of ETR that's composed of articles that present our core philosophies. This gives our new subscribers a chance to "warm up" to our expert contributors, the format of our newsletter, and the topics we typically address. Only after they are warmed up do we start sending them ETR as usual - including our promotional e-mails.

Stage 3: Customer/Client

The customer (or client) is someone who has bought into your philosophy and purchased a product (or service) from you.

Many companies make the mistake of ending the customer relationship at this point. But after reading this article, you'll know better... you'll know that getting the customer is only the beginning. Keeping him is another story.

You don't want to put all your eggs into one acquisition basket while having few or no retention efforts. Good retention strategies entail ongoing communication (both promotional and editorial), outstanding customer service, quality products, and fulfilling your promises. Of course there will always be things outside of your control (like losing customers to market conditions). But the idea is to be proactive and not reactive. Keep the "80/20 rule" in mind - which states that 80 percent of your sales come from 20 percent of your customers.

Stage 4: Multi-Buyer

The multi-buyer is a customer who is tied into your brand and demonstrates product loyalty with your company.

Multi-buyers have purchased several products from you, and are not afraid to spend money. These folks are your best list to roll out new products to or test higher price points. If you are thinking about creating a "VIP" or "Lifetime" product, you're going to want to advertise to this list. Multi-buyers will have a high lifetime value (LTV) for you, and will likely purchase cross-channel. In other words, they will buy from you no matter how you contact them - whether via banner ads, e-mail marketing, direct mail, or telemarketing.

Stage 5: Advocate

This segment of your customer database is your holy grail. Your list of advocates is made up of the most satisfied and loyal of your customers - and contains your best "unpaid" employees.

Advocates will do your advertising for you by telling friends, family, colleagues, and acquaintances about your products and services. And in today's Net-based environment, advocates are a major force in getting your name in the blogsphere and social communities... and spreading your marketing message virally.

So how do you create advocates? Well, advocates are not created, they're cultivated over time. The advocate must, of course, believe in your products and services. But for this special group, the customer experience goes deeper... to an emotional level. The advocate feels personally touched by your service, product, or guru. Because of you, her life is changed - and she's busting at the seams to help others as she has been helped.

Your advocates are people you want testimonials from. People you can invite to be in BETA test or focus groups. And people to get feedback from to help develop future products. Even better, this group can help you make more money in the future.

At ETR, some of our best JV (joint venture) partnerships have been with our advocates - people who understand our core values, respect our business, and have a company or product that's synergistic to our own.

You want to treat these folks like the VIPs they are and invite them to special events or let them be the first to receive discounted offers. You may even consider creating affiliate marketing or referral programs to "formalize" this group's verbal recommendations.

Always keep in mind that the effort does not stop at the sale. Since it costs more to obtain new leads than to retain existing customers - now, more than ever - you have to know how to optimize the five stages of the customer life cycle.

[Ed. Note: Treating your customers right - no matter where they are in their life cycle - will ensure that your business prospers.

This article appears courtesy of Early To Rise, an e-zine dedicated to making money, improving your health and quality of life. For a complimentary subscription, visit

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Anniversary to 'Tips From the Top!'

The Savvy Seller 'Tips From the Top' podcast series recently celebrated its 6-month Anniversary!

During the past 6 months, we've interviewed over 30 experts from the eCommerce world who shared valuable tips & information on the tools & techniques that led to their success. We've also offered several very popular mini-training series including 'How to Blog with WordPress' and 'Branding & Marketing for Your Online Business.'

Many thanks to those of you who participated as speakers or supported it by listening live or downloading the podcasts!

'Tips From the Top' has received wonderful feedback & many positive comments. Our enthusiastic listeners have made the chat room a great place to network during the recording and the download numbers are ever-increasing!

So to celebrate, we invite you to enjoy some 'virtual' anniversary cake!

Please join us in December when we'll be talking with Cliff Aliperti of 'Things and Other Stuff' (Dec 9, noon EST) and offering a training on Advanced WordPress with Scott Pooler of iBusinessLogic (Dec 4, 11:00am EST). Coming in January are more guest interviews as well as a mini-training series on 'How To Squidoo.'

If there's someone you'd like to have us interview or a training topic you'd like us to address, please take our survey and let us know: Click Here to take survey

If you're new to the series, the podcasts are FREE & you can find the archived sessions on our Podcast Home Page or you can subscribe to the series on iTunes or other feeds.

The podcasts are recorded on the TalkShoe platform. When you click on our Home Page you can sign up for a FREE TalkShoe account if you'd like to have a user name (otherwise you'll be known as 'guest').

After you Sign In, we welcome you to Follow the Series or click on the green box to hear the most recent podcast recording.

You can live stream or download the previous podcasts.

Even further down, you can leave us a comment .... and we would LOVE to hear what you have to say!!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Holiday Note to eBay Buyers

Dear eBay Buyer,

Let me begin by thanking you for making your holiday purchases on eBay. Hopefully all were from ME!

No doubt the site looks different since your last visit, hence the purpose of this note.

While the changes on the site were meant to 'delight' you (the buyer), most of them did not come with a 'user manual' so we appreciate your persistence and, in fact, We (the sellers) are 'delighted' you found our items.

One change on the site has to do with the 'F-word' - FEEDBACK. (and yes, many sellers regard Feedback as the 'F-word').

This note will serve as your 'Buyer's Guide To eBay Feedback.' It involves a short lesson that will re-define a few words in your vocabulary and correct some previously held math concepts - so please bear with us and read carefully.

For your buying confidence & security, eBay Feedback allows you to see how your seller has performed during past transactions. This feedback was left by buyers who previously purchased an item from the seller. You will see general feedback (positive, negative or neutral) and comments.

You, too, will have the opportunity to rate your seller. Read on!

You will also see a box with yellow stars just to the right of the seller's Positive, Negative or Neutral rating. While you can 'mouse over' the stars for information, you'll find everything you need to know right here.

The stars refer to DSR's or Detailed Seller Ratings. These are additional ways in which the buyer can evaluate a seller. DSR's rate:

  • How accurately the seller described the item
  • How well the seller communicated
  • How quickly the seller shipped the item
  • How reasonable the shipping & handling fees were.

Now that you've purchased an item from me (and once again I thank you profusely), you can rate our transaction.


Remember how the DSR's are on a 5 star scale?

I'll bet you think 5 stars = excellent; 4 stars = very good, 3 stars = good; 2 stars = poor & 3 stars = fail. Right?

Wrong!! Here's where the vocabulary lesson comes in.

5 Stars = very (very accurate, very satisfied, very quickly, very reasonable)
4 Stars - accurate, satisfied, quickly, reasonable

While I won't bore you with details, suffice it to say eBay uses the DSR scores to advantage (or disadvantage) sellers in various ways.

Now here's the math lesson:

If a seller's DSR scores are below 4.3, they FAIL. Fail to get any advantages.

Bet you thought a '3' or below would be a failing grade! NOT! In the world of eBay, anything less than a 4.3 in DSR's is failing.

With this vocabulary & 'new' math lesson now completed, I once again want to thank you for purchasing from ME and taking the time to read this note.

Without getting on my virtual knees and begging, I encourage you to rate our transaction with 5 STARS. Any less and you may not find us here again. Enough said.

Your eBay Seller

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Winter Shipping Tip

Through Twitter I've had the pleasure to come in contact with tjwindart - both Mr & Mrs!

I learned that 'Mr' tjwindart (or @Trent_T as he's known on Twitter) has alot of experience on the road.

That's why I paid particular attention to an eBay Guide that I believe was written by 'Mrs' tjwindart. It's called 'Extra Care in Shipping During the Winter Months.'

Since winter is fast approaching I thought I'd share the info with you. Here is the Guide.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Do You Really Know What Your Buyers Think?

Most online sellers know that 'exceeding expectations' leads to happy buyers & happy buyers become repeat customers.

Did you know there's a wonderful opportunity to 'exceed expectations' & promote branding that many sellers overlook? It's in the packaging!

Don't underestimate how a bit of thought & some inexpensive techniques can improve the buyer's experience. eBay sellers who are concerned about shipping DSR's may want to consider this as they look to maintain or raise their scores.

Earlier this week in our 'Tips From the Top' podcast, JoAnn Hines - the Packaging Diva - stated that "a buyer's perception of a transaction is out of the seller's control," but if the packaging is memorable and easy-to-use it can play a significant role in increasing customer satisfaction.

For example, if your package is hard to open and the buyer becomes frustrated or angry, those negative feelings transfer over into what the buyer feels about YOU. Their perception of the transaction will be negative and may be reflected in their rating!

Here are a few of JoAnn's tips:

  • put a label outside the package with a cheery message (i.e. 'open quickly for a great surprise inside!')

  • use colored bubble wrap that matches your brand
  • when including an extra, say that it's 'our gift to you' since people are looking for value

Many online sellers already include an extra 'goody' in their packages. Earlier this week I read an interesting blog post by LULUNASTAMPS about 'Snowman Soup'. As she suggested, 'Snowman Soup' would make an excellent & memorable 'gift with purchase' this holiday season.

Curious about the 'goodies' that sellers put in their packages, I posed the question on Twitter and received numerous responses. Among them were replies from @myauctionsource, @rainmanesq, @ebayandbeyond, @OldWorldLimited, @TekGems, and @redINKdiary!

Some 'extras' relate to the product that was sold while others promote the seller's brand. Some 'goodies' serve to move out slow-moving product & others were purchased specifically as 'thank-you' gifts.

Here are a few ideas from those who responded:

  • a pack of gum included with sports card orders to evoke nostalgia

  • a magnet with the seller's website logo on it

  • iPod cases labelled with 'Compliments of ...."

  • a novelty item or pin

  • a small jar of cream

  • a piece of costume jewelry

  • a hand-written thank you note

  • stickers included with scrapbook orders

  • candy canes included with holiday orders

  • ballpoint pens with business logo & web url

  • a frisbee with business logo

  • bookmark with business logo

  • dog biscuits

  • postcard with website info

If you include something special or unusual in YOUR packages, please let us know about it!

All the best -
The Savvy Seller

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Who Do You Want to Be? And What Does That Have To Do With A Package?

As an online seller you've put alot of thought into developing your brand ... at least I hope you have!

In our recent 'Branding & Marketing' podcast training series, we heard Debbie Levitt (CEO of As Was) explain that branding should invoke an emotional reaction to your product or service.

In addition, your brand should

  • deliver your message clearly
  • confirm your credibility
  • motivate your buyers and
  • create customer loyalty.
Does YOUR brand do all that?

And there's more ....
Your product packaging is part of your brand! Did you know that you can tailor your packaging to give the right message to your target audience?

To show you how to achieve this, we're delighted to have JoAnn Hines, the Packaging Diva, as our 'Tips From the Top' podcast guest on Thu Nov 20 at noon EST (9:00AM Pacific).

JoAnn has more than 30 years of expertise in the packaging industry. She has been interviewed on TV and radio, traveled to China as a packaging summit guide, worked with the Small Business Administration (SBA), and spoken at the White House (twice). Her advice and articles appear in virtually every packaging industry publication, numerous business and international publications and on many website portals. She is the founder of Women in Packaging, Packaging Horizons Magazine, Packaging Career Hotline, Packaging Coach, Packaging Diva and Packaging University.

Join me, The Savvy Seller, as I talk to The Packaging Diva on Thu Nov 20th at noon EST! Click here to listen to the podcast live and please join us in the chat room as well!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Branding & Marketing Training - Part 2

Be sure to join us this Tues, Nov 18 at noon EST (9am Pacific) for Part II of our 'Branding and Marketing' mini-training with Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was.

To listen live, go to The Savvy Seller's 'Tips From the Top' podcast series and click on the large purple 'Join In' button. The chat room will be open and you're welcome to join us there and ask Debbie your questions during the call.

We recorded Part I so if you missed it you can click here to download it or listen from your computer.

Debbie has recently launched a new site called RocketPlace Community which includes events, education and advice for eBay sellers at all levels. I think I can persuade her to tell us more about this exciting new venture during our call!

Debbie recently recorded a very timely and helpful video about eBay Holiday 2008 Strategies and some of the eBay changes coming in 2009. It's on her new site but you can catch a peek at the video here:

'How To Blog with WordPress' UPDATE

Many thanks to Dany Byrne of Ghostleg Media for an extremely informative and very popular 3-part training on How to Blog with WordPress.

You can continue Dany's WordPress training with a webinar this coming Tuesday, Nov 18 at 3pm EST (noon Pacific) hosted by Janelle Elms of OSI Rock Stars.

Dany and Janelle will be taking us on a special, backstage sneak peek at WordPress 2.7’s new Dashboard and Plugin features. Dany has installed a beta copy of WordPress 2.7 on her web site just for this webinar. This is an amazing opportunity to get a look at all the new goodies - and I'm sure you're going to be delighted with what you see!

To join this free OSI Rock Stars webinar, sign up here.

In her 3 'How To Blog with WordPress' podcasts Dany covered a great amount of information including:

5 Questions to Answer Before You Begin Blogging
Which Wordpress is right for you?
Themes, Plug-Ins & SEO
The Art of Blog Writing
Profitable Blogging
How to make your blog your own
What to look for in a theme
Template do’s and dont’s
How to optimize your blog for the best search engine rankings
Plug-ins and customizations
Blog subscribers and RSS feeds
... And quite a bit more

If you missed the live trainings, you can download them from The Savvy Seller's 'Tips From the Top' podcast series.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Training Updates - Blogging With WordPress & Branding and Marketing

Yesterday's podcast training on 'Marketing and Branding Your Business' was packed with great information from our guest, As Was CEO Debbie Levitt. Part 2 of this training is next Tuesday, Nov 11 at noon. If you missed the podcast, you can listen to the recorded version or download it from Here.

Tomorrow is Part 2 of our 'Blogging with WordPress' training with Dany Byrne of Ghostleg Media .

This week we'll cover:
* how to make your blog your own
* what to look for in a theme
* template do's and dont's
* how to optimize your blog for the best search engine rankings
* plug-ins and customizations
* blog subscribers and RSS feeds

Last week Dany offered a generous 'Special Discount' only to those who listened in 'live.' She has another 'Special Discount' offer up her sleeve for those who listen 'live' to tomorrow's training. Mark your calendars so you don't miss out!

Part 2 of 'How To Blog with WordPress' is tomorrow, Thursday Nov 6 at 2:00PM EST. You can listen live by clicking here.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Branding & Marketing Tips with Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was

Our 'Tips From the Top' podcast series is offering a free, 2-part training on 'Branding and Marketing' with guest expert Debbie Levitt, CEO of As Was.

As Was is a full-service consulting firm specializing in eBay and online sales, business creation and operations management, marketing and custom website development. The company has a long track record of proven success with its many clients.

As Was President Debbie Levitt is a recognized expert on eBay, online and offline marketing, online selling, virtual companies, website trends and usability, domain names and associated legal issues. She has been interviewed by The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Business Startups Magazine and Entrepreneur Magazine's "Making Money on eBay" live internet radio show.

Please mark your calendars and join The Savvy Seller and As Was CEO Debbie Levitt for this free, 'Branding & Marketing' training series. Part 1 is Tuesday Nov 4 at noon EST & Part 2 is Tuesday Nov 11 (noon EST). Each podcast will last approximately 20-30 minutes. Join Debbie and learn valuable, practical tips and techniques for using branding to better position and promote your business.

You can listen to the trainings 'LIVE' by clicking HERE at noon EST on Nov 4 and Nov 11. The Podcast Chat Room will be open and your questions are welcome. If you have any questions for Debbie, please join us live or dm your questions to me on Twitter (twitter ID = thesavvyseller) before the shows!

To be sure that you don't miss a single word, sign up with Talkshoe (it's free) and 'Follow' our 'Tips From the Top' podcast series.

Saturday, November 1, 2008 & - What's the Difference?

Are you confused about the difference between and

If you're thinking about writing a blog, it's important to know what the differences are and how to decide which one to use.

Blog and WordPress guru, Dany Byrne of Ghostleg Media has written an informative eBook that will help you make the right choice.

It's free to download, just click HERE!
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