If You’re Selling Online, You’ll Want to Become a Member of the Hot New Startup Pinterest

During the Coronavirus Pandemic Boost Sales with Free Shipping

With its traffic in the U.S. skyrocketing Pinterest, the new online scrapbook site, is now one of the top 10 social networking and forum sites. According to comScore, the website had over 11 million unique visitors in December, 2011. Time magazine included Pinterest in its “50 Best Websites of 2011” column. On Pinterest, users create online scrapbooks consisting of images and videos to share projects and coveted products. The images placed on a user’s page or board, produce an inspiration or collection of ideas. Pinterest is very popular with women, especially those in their twenties and thirties.

This new site is an elegant easy-to-use way to power social shopping. Businesses are using this new social photo website to promote their products and services, build a community, bring web traffic and drive sales. For now membership to the site is available to only by invitation. Businesses can request an invitation at www.Pinterest.com.

Pinterest Traffic is Strong

According to statistics provide by Shareaholic, a social sharing tools firm, Pinterest is driving almost as much referral traffic as Google and Twitter. In fact, Pinterest is driving more referral traffic than YouTube, Google+, or Reddit at this time. It’s one of the most popular social media portals for consumers to visit before they go to a retailer’s website.

Hitwise, a tracking firm, stated Pinterest is one of the Web’s top 10 social networks. People who visited the site in January, 2012 spent close to 100 minutes at the site, compared to 19 minutes on the professional social networking site LinkedIn.

It’s Easy and Fun to Create Boards

At Pinterest, companies have the opportunity to grab a visitor’s attention with images instead of words. The website and apps allow businesses to create image boards showcasing products and/or services. Businesses can upload an image or link to a board, pin links to videos they have at YouTube as well as add images related to the products or services they provide. Many companies are creating unique and interesting photo galleries just for use on Pinterest.

The most important thing on Pinterest is the pin. A pin is simply an image. Once an image is pinned it can be repined by other Pinterest users. Repining is how content spreads virally on this new social platform. Users can even follow other user’s boards and repin, comment or place a “like” on a pin. Companies can add a “Pin It” button to their product pages to lets users know they can pin items they find in their online store onto their own Pinterest board.

Businesses shouldn’t just place images of items they sell; the interaction on this hot new site about sharing the lifestyle associated with the brand. Pinterest wants businesses to engage in their community. Using pins from other sites on your own company’s boards show followers that you are not just using Pinterest to promote your own merchandise and/or service; you are promoting a lifestyle which builds trust and gains more followers.

Companies can also use Pinterest’s price display feature. When a Pinterest user pin an item on a board for their followers to see, the image of that item automatically includes the item’s title and a banner showing the price.

Pinterest is Driving Targeted Traffic That Is Buying Merchandise

Traffic to a company’s website coming form Pinterest has been highly targeted from the onset and is more likely to produce a purchase. Many businesses have found the traffic more targeted than Facebook or Twitter. Typically traffic from a person’s Facebook and Twitter pages consist of people who are interested in that particular person, what she did last night what she had for dinner and whether or not she is in a relationship but traffic from that same person’s Favorite Dress board at Pinterest consists of people who are interested in dresses. For example, a user finds a fabulous dress on a retailer’s board, using the “Pin It” bookmark in her web browser, provided by Pinterest, she pins the dress to her Favorite Dress board. This visual pin also serves as a direct link to the product page where other consumers can purchase the same dress from the originator’s online store.

Google Analytics Tie-in

Google Analytics keeps tracks of all pins on an individual basis. The information lets businesses keep track of popular items being shared by users and conversions which may result from the pin. Business can see every pin which has been pinned from their domain. This information helps a marketing team to identify sales and viewing trends on the most pinned items.

Some Ways You Can Use Pinterest

You may want to consider creating a contest on Pinterest where customers create boards and pin their favorite merchandise from your online store. The additional sales and brand awareness that is generated can easily outweigh the cost of providing a prize to the winner of the contest.

Companies are also using their Facebook pages to advertise their Pinterest boards. You can also encourage your Facebook and Twitter followers to pin your products on their Facebook and Twitter page. Innovative companies are also sending emails inviting people to see what they’re doing at Pinterest or have recently pinned.

Pinterest provides a new way for companies to build a valuable connection between their ecommerce platforms and consumers that are collecting and sharing content.  It’s a great tool for small, medium and large businesses.

A Great Press Release Gains Media Attention and Valuable One Way Inbound Links

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Many companies use a press release to announce their product, website or special offer to the world. An engaging, informative press release has the potential to reach thousands or even millions of people. The challenge is writing a press release in the format of a news article but maintain the basic aspects of a good sales letter. Editors and reporters seek interesting press releases to fill up their publications.

Submitting a press release to a wire service helps ensures journalists can find information about your product, services or company. A Middleburg/Ross survey shows 98 percent of journalist go online daily and 73 percent of them look for press releases.

A press release should actually announce news. Editors seek information which benefits their readers, typically about a product or service that solves a business problem saves money or provides a new way of doing something.

Gain Media Attention with a Press Release

To gain media attention, focus on pleasing editors and communications professionals. They read hundreds of press releases; to grab their attention using approaches and angles which make your product or service stand out from the competition. When considering what to publish, editors consider the demands of their audience.  Find out what’s popular in the target publications and find a way to connect your press release to a current hot subject.

Press Releases and Search Engine Optimization

Submitting press releases via a wire service is a great way to enhance a search engine optimization plan. After the press release goes out it’s picked up by publications, news organizations and search engine news services such as Google news, which link back to your website. An array of online news portals may also syndicate the content. Also, some social media websites monitor newswire syndication.

The more legitimate links you have pointing to your website the better the search engine rankings. Search engines respond favorably to one way inbound links from relevant websites. These links help a website move higher in search engine results for specific keywords. Also, include a couple of relevant links in the press release to your website.

A press release shouldn’t praise the company. Don’t use words such as “unique,” “revolutionary” or “best” in the press release. Editors prefer testimonials or quotes from customers instead of praise coming from someone representing the company. Write simply and clearly and don’t include jargon.

A Useful Press Release Concept

One approach is stating a problem and writing about a solution. The problem should be a pressing issue of your target audience. Discuss how the benefits of your product or service deal with the stated problem, but take a business approach, don’t make it look like a sales pitch.

Tips for Writing a Press Release:

  • Editors and reporters get bombarded daily with press releases so it’s best to keep it to one page.
  • Include quality keyword rich content and a couple of links to your website.
  • Use a short title and clearly display your news announcement. The title should entice people to read the press release.
  • Grab the reader’s attention, put the important information in the first paragraph; who, what, why, where, when and how. Impress the editors and readers with the first two lines or else they won’t continue to read it. Subsequent paragraphs expand on the important points with more details and relevant information. Don’t jump from subject to subject, stay focused. If appropriate include an image.
  • Link some information in the press release to something else that’s newsworthy. Communications professionals and publishers seek ways to connect your story to something else that’s popular. They’ll appreciate it.
  • Near the end of the press release, but before the “About the company” paragraph inspire the readers to find out more about your products or services with an interesting statistic, a quote, how your product or service ties into a current trend or provide a thought provoking question.
  • Provide details about the company in the “About the company” paragraph but keep it short and don’t use a lot of praise; it turns off editors and journalists.
  • Base the tone of the article on the audience.
  • Provide contact information at the end of the press release.
  • Make sure all the facts in the press release are correct and make sure the press release has no typos. Proof read it several times and have a few staff members proof read it. Errors can easily harm the reputation of a brand.

Send the press release to editors and writers of relevant newspapers, magazines and trade journals and obviously send it out online. Free newswire services such as pr.com and prleap.com are a possibility, however many companies prefer to pay a newswire service such as prweb.com or prnewswire.com to give the press release its best opportunity to gain attention.

An informative, engaging press release, connected to a popular topic easily grabs attention and enhances your search engine rankings.

Startup Suicide? Don’t Drink the KoolAid

Startup Suicide? Don't Drink the KoolAid
Startup Suicide? Don’t Drink the KoolAid

The business landscape in America has gone from the Age of Manufacturing to the Age of Information. Now we’ve moved into the Age of the Entrepreneur.

Each year, more individuals choose to forgo the secure paycheck but restrictive environment of the corporate world to strike out on their own. The American Dream has existed as long as our country has, but there’s never been a better time to pursue it.

Forbes says that a staggering 500,000+ new companies emerge each month. But you’ve probably also seen the dark underbelly of this shiny surface. According to Bloomburg, eight out of 10 startup businesses fail within the first 18 months. That stark reality can give even the most passionate entrepreneurs cold feet.

However, saying that these businesses “fail” may not be completely accurate. Inc. estimates that 90 percent of those that don’t survive actually commit suicide. The founder or founders get bored, neglects their homework or succumbs to self-doubt. For these and other reasons, their companies simply don’t go the distance.

Have you been nurturing a great idea or product that you’re ready to bring to life? As the saying goes, forewarned is forearmed. Knowing the odds of going under can help prevent you from becoming simply one of those statistics.

Before you drink the startup Kool-Aid, review this checklist for some valuable tips to help you become part of the two percent of success stories.

  • Do what you love. If you put money ahead of personal satisfaction, sooner or later it’s going to show through as a lack of sincerity. You’re going to put in an incredible amount of time and effort. Why would you want to do that for something you’re not really invested in? For example, a tech startup may sound exciting and lucrative, but if computers bore you to tears, you’ll be doomed.
  • Have a business plan. Yes, you’ve heard the stories of the hotshots like Mark Zuckerberg and Steve Jobs who just jumped right in and made it up as they went along. That’s still the exception, not the rule. You don’t need a comprehensive document that crosses every “t” and dots every “i”. What you do need is a financial blueprint that outlines factors including estimated costs, revenue projections and a break-even point.
  • Know what sets your product or service apart from others. Have you ever watched Shark Tank, the TV show where budding entrepreneurs make their pitch to potential investors? One of the first questions that always comes up is, “What’s different about your company?” The number of businesses entering the marketplace means that competition is tougher than ever. You have to know exactly what need, want or problem your product or service will solve for a customer.
  • Be flexible. Conditions in today’s business world change almost daily. Don’t be so in love with your own vision that you can’t adapt in order to satisfy your customer base or take advantage of a new opportunity.
  • Underpromise and overdeliver. New business owners often get this backwards. They’re so anxious to get those first customers that they promise the moon and get in over their head. If you make modest but solid promises and extend yourself to go the extra mile, you’ll look like a hero.
  • No man (or woman) is an island. Whether due to lack of funds or excess ego, many entrepreneurs try to do everything themselves. No matter how intelligent and capable you are, you’re going to have areas of weakness. Don’t be so proud that you won’t get help where and when it’s needed. You might satisfy your self-esteem, but your startup will pay the price.
  • Don’t be paralyzed by mistakes. Everyone makes them. You will too. What’s important is that you learn from them, readjust your course and keep going. Too many people end up throwing in the towel. Strive for perfection, but don’t give up when you hit those speed bumps.

You can join the ranks of entrepreneurs who make it past that 18-month deadline to build a successful company. Balance your enthusiasm and passion with a clear-eyed sense of reality and you’ll join that two percent.

Top Ten Tips for Business Start-Ups

Top Ten Tips for Business Start-Ups
Top Ten Tips for Business Start-Ups

The days of retiring from a company after 40 years with a pension and a gold watch are dead and buried. Today’s worker will likely spend his career with several different companies in pursuit of upward mobility. More significant, though, is the number of people who choose to strike out on their own.

Entrepreneurship in this country has never been stronger. More than 11.5 million Americans are currently working for themselves with more than 500,000 companies being launched each month. While this independence has long been considered a major component of the American dream, it’s possible that the economic uncertainty of the last few years has resulted in more people choosing their own employment, either out of choice or necessity.

Are you one of these adventurous spirits who has taken the plunge? Perhaps you’re in the process of weighing your options or looking to move to the next level. Whether you venture into manufacturing, technology or service, there are basic elements that all businesses have in common. Running a start-up is difficult enough, so manage some of the stress by learning from those who have traveled this road before you.

Here are 10 commandments, if you will, for business start-ups. Take these tips and apply them to your situation and blaze your own trail.

1. Do what you love. There’s a good reason this simple but powerful concept is first on the list. If your business isn’t personally meaningful to you, your focus will wane no matter how lucrative it might be. We’ve all heard the stories of people giving up six-figure incomes to teach or do volunteer work. Be sure you’re sacrificing your time and energy for something you enjoy.

2. Cultivate a network of other entrepreneurs. Water seeks its own level. If you associate with people who are skeptical and negative, eventually you will be too. There are numerous professional organizations you can join, both industry-specific and general. You’ll find that veteran business owners are supportive of newcomers and generous with their wisdom.

3. Allow your employees to let their lights shine. Everyone has their own strengths and weaknesses. Encourage your employees to contribute based on their unique talents rather than forcing them into a slot. For instance, successful salespeople are often put into management where they end up languishing. Not every skill set translates to every position. People will be happier and more productive when they enjoy what they’re doing.

4. Be honest about your weaknesses. A successful businessperson will freely admit he doesn’t have all the answers. What sets him above the unsuccessful ones is the savvy to hire people who fill in the blanks. You won’t get anywhere by bringing in clones of yourself. Put your ego aside and focus on what’s best for your business.

5. Get everything in writing. While this is vitally important for the legal nuts-and-bolts of your company’s structure, it should apply to everything from employment agreements to meeting notes. You don’t want the operation of your start-up to rise or fall on one person’s faulty memory, especially your own.

6. Take on a partner only when it’s absolutely necessary. In the first blush of excitement during a start-up, it may seem like a great idea to bring in your friends and family. But when the cold light of reality sets in, you’ll realize how counterproductive this is. You’re running a business, not a social club. Leave emotions out of decision-making.

7. Don’t neglect your health. Yes, there’s no getting around the fact that there are going to be plenty of long hours and fast-food involved, especially in the beginning. But you won’t do yourself any favors by getting so run-down that you can’t function. If you can’t get to a gym, you can certainly squeeze in a 15 to 20 minute walk. Keep a mini-fridge on hand to stock with fruits, veggies and other healthy foods. Limit the coffee and drink water instead.

8. Follow a schedule. While freedom is part of the appeal of running your own business, that doesn’t mean you can abandon professional habits. Set regular working hours and plan an agenda for each day.

9. Know where your money is going. It’s fine to hire an expert to handle the finances, but that doesn’t mean you wash your hands of that aspect. Losing track of your funds is a sure route to losing control of your business.

10. Keep your moral compass pointed in the right direction. Stories of people who have sacrificed their souls in pursuit of cash are the stuff of legends, or at least big-budget movies. If you cut corners and compromise your morals, you’ll never truly enjoy your success. Make sure you’re able to sleep soundly when your head hits the pillow.

When your business stocking and shipping needs move to needing more than your basement it’s time to think about hiring a fulfillment service. Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics is here to help you make the transition to the next level. We invite you to visit our website to find out more about how we can help your business grow.

Top Ten Questions a Startup Should Ask an Accountant

Top Ten Questions a Startup Should Ask an Accountant
Top Ten Questions a Startup Should Ask an Accountant

When you’re starting up a new company, the temptation is to wear all the hats. After all, it’s your baby and no one understands it like you do. Of course, there’s also the matter of that pesky budget. It stretches a lot further when you’re employing a staff of one.

Of course, the reality is that you can’t do everything yourself. And speaking of budgets, the one area where you truly need some help is your finances. It would be so much simpler if business accounting was just a matter of addition and subtraction. But it’s a complex minefield that takes experience to navigate.

It’s too important of a position to leave to chance. In other words, don’t Google “accountant” and select the first one that pops up. Shop around for a financial expert just like you would for inventory, supplies and equipment. He’ll be working for you, so he should meet the qualifications that you’re looking for.

You don’t have to meet with a prospective accountant in person, but don’t rely on email. If you can’t meet, use Skype or the telephone. Hearing an actual voice helps you get a better sense of a person. Is he confident and well-spoken? Does he hem and haw while searching for answers? This could be the first step in an ongoing relationship, so start it on the right foot.

Be sure you do your homework before your meeting. Here is a checklist of questions that will provide much of the information you’ll need to make an assessment.

  • How long have you been in business? A fledgling firm may not yet be experienced enough to handle your concerns. On the other hand, an accountant who’s been in business for many years may be on the verge of retirement. Find out what the plans of succession are so you’re not left hanging.
  • Will I be assigned to one person? Some accounting firms operate on a call center basis, with associates taking calls on a rotating basis. If your account is specifically assigned to an accountant, the two of you will be able to develop a relationship and he’ll get to know your particular business much better.
  • What services do you offer? There are several subcategories under the heading of finance. Are you looking for tax preparation help? Do you want someone to handle budgeting and cash flow management or strategic planning?
  • How often will we be in contact, and by what means? You want to be on the same page with this issue. If you want to be able to consult on a weekly basis, you don’t want to find out afterwards that he’s available only once a month. Just as with your initial meeting, you should also be able to have personal contact, at least for the major meetings.
  • Are you available year-round? Some accounting firms are open only during tax season when demand for their services is at its peak. However, as a new business you’ll need advice during the rest of the year as well.
  • What types of businesses do you work with? Restaurants have a different financial agenda than contractors, who in turn are different from graphic artists. It helps to find an accountant who’s familiar with the type of business you’ll be operating.
  • How do you bill for your services, and what’s included in your fee? Some accountants bill by the hour while others charge a flat rate. You might want to consider the former if you’ll be handling most of your finances in-house and consulting only on major issues. Find out exactly what’s covered in the rates so you don’t end up getting nickel-and-dimed on services that turn out to be an extra charge.
  • Do you follow a conservative or aggressive approach? Nearly all financial matters come with risk, and business finances are no exception. For example, some accountants will beat the bushes to write off every possible penny. Others are reluctant to put a client in a position of possibly being red-flagged for an audit. Determine where you fall on this continuum so you find an accountant whose views are compatible with yours.
  • How will I be informed of relevant changes in my industry? A good accountant should keep you abreast of current news and events pertinent to your business, particularly changes in tax regulations.
  • What type of accounting software do you use? If it’s not the same as yours, ask how information and data will be exchanged.

This list can be supplemented or modified based on the needs of your specific business. Overall, it gives you a solid platform to find an accountant who will work as hard for your company as you do.

At Medallion Fulfillment and Logistics we make it easy for startups and new businesses to grow with thoughtful services and flexible order fulfillment options. Call us today to get a free price quote so you can focus on growing your business and leave the shipping to us.