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A Frugal Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a great time for family to gather and share love, laughs, and great food. It can also be a time where great amounts of money can be spent if you’re not careful. Lots of people want to get on the road for travel; others may choose the air. Many other people want to host the gatherings and buy tons of food. That may be fine for all of those that actually want to do those things. You may be frugal if you don’t fall into that category. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. It’s still possible to have a frugal Thanksgiving that’s exciting and joyous with a little creativity.

The first line of defense against overspending starts with the travel. You obviously need to check to see if it would be cheaper to fly than it would be to drive. Sometimes you may be pleasantly surprised. You can be certain that tickets will be quite costly on the day before Thanksgiving. You need to consider your vacation time. If you have at least vacation time you can fly in earlier. It would give you more time to spend with the family, and you may even find cheaper tickets.

If you make the choice to drive, on the other hand, you will need to look for different ways to save. Take the time to pack snacks, beverages, and sandwiches during your travel. You could stop several times and you might find yourself paying several dollars for a candy bar, lottery ticket, and a bag of chips just because it’s convenient. The inconvenience of so-called convenience stores can really take a toll on your wallet. Don’t travel without any awareness of what you’re spending. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re spending when you’re on the road, but you can maximize your savings by heading directly to your destination. Resist the urge to take the detours for the sake of shopping. You’re in town to enjoy the company of family and friends. You’re already spending money with a road trip. There’s no need to add an unnecessary items to your travel expenses.

If you’re in the same city as your family members you should consider yourself lucky. You don’t have to worry about traveling, but you may spend just as much time and money if you’re hosting. It’s hard to save if you’re hosting, but it’s still possible. The most important thing involves obtaining a count. This helps you reduce the possibility of buying and preparing more than you actually need.

Once you have determined the number of guests you should take the time to delegate. A good way to save here involves getting family members to bring dishes. Others can bring beverages. This helps you cut down your cost tremendously. Take the load off yourself by making a joint effort with family. This will help you enjoy Thanksgiving without the stress of preparing huge meals and spending large sums of money that you may not necessarily possess.

October 14, 2010   No Comments

How to Advertise without Advertising

Whatever the business, one thing is certain: people are becoming increasingly immune to direct solicitation. Ads are simply tuned out or DVRed away. No news there. Break through the clutter twelve times and a consumer MIGHT register the advertisement — doesn’t mean they will buy; just means they will remember it.

To be successful, businesses must advertise without advertising.

1. Entertainment. Zipit created a new age advertising campaign of legend when they hired Youtube sensation Fred to make short episodes of his online show that showcased the texting tool. (View it here.) Reportedly, they paid him in the mid five digits and enjoyed a 1000% sales increase. Businesses without that kind of money should take more note of the method: Find someone within the company with charisma, buy a $500 HD video camera, and do it guerilla style.

2. Expert Status. An essential component of any online campaign, especially those of small business, is the blogosphere’s perception of that business. The new word of mouth is done on messageboards and in forums. Time and manpower should be focused on finding, joining, and becoming known in these forums, and writing expert level articles on business topics to be published online. Businesses can place links in their signature or in their profile, and if the messages and articles are good, people will click on those links of their own free will, without direct coercion. If a business has time, it should start its own blog.

3. Free Stuff. However unwarranted, people like and expect free stuff. This isn’t necessarily all bad — giving away things showcases a business’ confidence and financial security. The trick is to never give away the same thing that is being sold, and to keep the giveaways relevant. The calendars and pens are overlooked and unappreciated these days. Put the business logo on products that draw the service to top of mind. (If the business sells nails, give away the hammer with the business logo on it.)

Indirect advertising works wonders where direct advertising only annoys. Successful businesses will continue to innovate not only their products and services, but also their advertising. Good luck in your business endeavors!

October 11, 2010   No Comments

Week in Review (October 8)

Advertising Made Easy for Your Wholesale Business – October 4, 2010

http://blog.toptenwholesale.com/advertising-easy-for-wholesale.htm

For those new to the internet wholesale business, three advertising tips are offered to help bring a particular business to the forefront. Be sure to use 21st Century advertising techniques as opposed to a more antiquated technique like cold-calling. Consider using paid search advertising such as banner ads to reach a wider population. Join a trade or industry organization to learn from more experienced business owners and operators as well as to circulate your name and business.

E-retailers Capture More than a Third of All Halloween Consumers – October 5, 2010

http://www.internetretailer.com/2010/10/05/e-retailers-capture-more-third-all-halloween-consumers

Internet Retailer recently conducted a poll and found that 35% of all consumers who purchase Halloween merchandise will do so online, with the average shopper spending between $25 and $100. The largest consumer demographic, at 46%, is 18-34 year olds. Shoppers are attracted to online sellers for convenience, selection, lower prices, and the ability to comparison shop. The largest incentive to purchase from a particular seller is a free shipping offer.

The Secret to Setting Great Prices… and Still Making Money – October 6, 2010

http://blog.toptenwholesale.com/how-to-price-products.htm

Appropriate and competitive pricing is essential to running a profitable business. A variety of pricing options are offered for consideration depending upon the business and its inventory. Cost-based pricing is a simple method for small internet retailers while competition-based pricing may be more effective if time to research is not an issue. Penetration pricing may be an option for some new sellers, and price bundling can be a way to move slow-selling inventory.

EBay Buyer Protection: What It Is And What It Means For Buyers And Sellers – October 7, 2010

http://www.wholesalematch.com/blog/ebay-buyer-protection-what-it-is-and-what-it-means-for-buyers-and-sellers/4287/

Ebay has recently streamlined its buyer protection and customer service process in order to provide greater assurance to both buyers and sellers. If an issue between buyer and seller arises, the first step is to contact the other party and try to keep the issue between the two parties. If a resolution is not achieved in a timely fashion, ebay customer service should be contacted so as to act as a mediator between the two parties. If the issue is not resolved but the item is covered under buyer protection, ebay will refund the full purchase price. Though there are a few exceptions, the buyer protection plan covers all items purchased through an approved online credit card processing company.

Social Media Marketing Tips for your Dropship Business – October 7, 2010

http://blog.dropshipaccess.com/bid/47940/Social-Media-Marketing-Tips-for-your-Dropship-Business

Social media marketing is an efficient and fairly simple way to market a business; however, tips are offered to ensure that it is being used correctly. The seller should have a goal/purpose for using social media marketing, compose informative and engaging posts or tweets, be aware of the target audience, be authentic, and comment on other posts by tactfully offering advice in areas of expertise.

October 8, 2010   No Comments

Homemade Halloween Decorations

While it’s possible to spend an arm and a leg on Halloween decorations to give your home a spooky, scary appearance during the month of October, you can be creative and frugal at the same time by using items that you already have around your house to get your friends and family in the Halloween mood.

The colors that scream “Halloween!” include black, white and orange. Drape black and orange streamers from across interior doorways. Cut out black bats, orange jack o’lanterns and white ghosts out of construction paper and dangle the shapes from the streamers with yarn or thread. For extra fun, print and cut out images of black cats, witches on broomsticks or haunted houses that you find online.

If you have an old quilt or comforter, take out some of the batting and separate it into strands to use as faux spider webs. Hang these in the corners of your home and add cheap plastic spiders or spiders that you have made out of black chenille stems.

Make translucent ghosts to hang on an outdoor tree during dry weather. Blow up one small (2″) balloon for each ghost. Unfold gauze from your first aid kit and drape it loosely over the balloon. Paint with a mixture of white glue and water, and add more gauze if necessary. Allow the glue to dry overnight, then draw on spooky features with a permanent marker. Pop the balloon and remove, and hang from branches with fishing line or clear thread.

As it gets close to Halloween, your local fabric shop may put the Halloween-themed fabric on sale. If yours does, pick up a couple of yards of a cotton blend. Hand- or machine-stitch a hem on each side and use as a tablecloth on the days leading up to Halloween. Once the holiday has passed, put the tablecloth away and remember to bring it out next year. You will have a Halloween tablecloth that you can use year after year for roughly the same price that you would have spent on a cheap vinyl one that you would likely throw away.

Decorate your table with glass jars filled with plastic bugs, spiders made from chenille stems or gummy worms. Place black, orange or white candles on the table. Another option is to carve jack o’lanterns and use these to decorate your dining table for a few days. You will need to place them outside after a couple of days have passed in order to keep them fresh for Halloween.

October 7, 2010   No Comments

Small Business in the Fall

If you own a small business, then you need to do everything possible to get noticed. After all, businesses are opening up left and right. To be noticed, it is important to really get your name out there. This means running promotions that lure people into your organization and taking the time to make and maintain a budget. The following are some tips for how to promote and market your business so that its profile increases.

First off, get in the mood for fall and really tailor your promotions to suit the season. For example, invite people into your business by offering them pumpkin-spice lattes or warm apple cider. The details really matter when it comes time to lure potential clients or customers into your store. Half the battle is just getting people to make the time to see what you have to offer. This means that you should decorate your store so that it has Halloween-inspired items around it or so that you play with the fall foliage theme. Such details will make your store or business stand out and will really make people feel at home when they walk in.

Additionally, be sure to customize your fliers and coupons so that people remember them. For example, you could put black cat clip art on the corners of coupons, or you could include a nice seasonal greeting on the tops of fliers. People like to think that such promotional materials were made with them in mind. The smallest of gestures can really have some great results.

Lastly, make sure that your business has some sort of online presence. You want to make sure that your website is easy to read, informative, and has incentives like coupon codes or promotion information. Personalize the website by changing it slightly to reference the changing seasons, too. This could be something small like placing a small pumpkin in the corner of each webpage, or it could mean including a special message at checkout or on the website’s homepage.

The details matter when it comes to your small business. Be smart about the promotions, decorations, and website design so that you personalize your business and make it stand out amongst the competition. It is important to consider the details so that people notice you. Make the most of the seasons and really consider them when shaping your promotional materials. Every decision counts when it comes to building your business!

October 4, 2010   No Comments

Wholesale Week in Review – (October 1)

Simple Ways to Get a Five-Star DSR Rating for Your EBay Business – September 27, 2010

http://www.wholesalematch.com/blog/simple-ways-to-get-a-five-star-dsr-rating-for-your-ebay-business/4249/

Achieving a five-star descriptive seller rating should be a priority to any ebay business owner. Ratings are awarded in four categories: items as described, communication, ship time, and shipping and handling. Three suggestions on how to achieve five-star ratings and the incentive discount on Final Value Fees that can accompany them are to communicate with buyers, avoid trying to make money on shipping, and thank customers for their business.

Helpful E-Commerce Tips – Selling Tips Online – September 27, 2010

http://blog.toptenwholesale.com/e-commerce-tips.htm

The goal of any online business should be to create a positive shopping experience for the buyer. Tips for selling online products include providing enticing images of new and featured products, avoiding unnecessary animation that slows down the site, utilizing a strong search engine, offering multiple payment options, and keeping clicks to a minimum so that customers do not have to browse through more than four pages in order to find or buy an item.

Twitter Social Networking Success Stories For Small Business – September 29, 2010

http://www.wholesalematch.com/blog/twitter-social-networking-success-stories-for-small-business/4262/

Twitter, also thought of as “digital-word-of-mouth,” can be a simple, inexpensive and effective method of enticing and communicating with potential buyers. To begin, one only needs to set up a free Twitter account and have friends become a part of his following. A business owner that can build a Twitter following can create a poll to better understand customers or advertise a special promotion in seconds. And as positive relationships are formed with current customers, a larger following and greater success is sure to follow.

Home Dropship Business Start-Up Mistakes You Don’t Want to Make – September 29, 2010

http://blog.dropshipaccess.com/bid/47272/Home-Dropship-Business-Start-Up-Mistakes-You-Don-t-Want-to-Make

Though a dropship business can be started rather quickly and inexpensively, there are three common mistakes that new buisness owners are prone to make. To save time and money when starting a dropship business, be sure to have a thorough plan in regards to the website, products, and advertising; mark up items from the wholesale cost in order to make a worthwhile profit and not just a lot of sales; and, only do what is necessary to start the business so as to avoid excess stress by trying to accomlish too much as a new business owner.

Why You Should Use Email Marketing for Your Dropship Business – September 30, 2010

http://blog.dropshipaccess.com/bid/47374/Why-You-Should-Use-Email-Marketing-for-Your-Dropship-Business

Statistics show that email marketing yields the largest return on a seller’s investment. To start an email marketing strategy for a dropship business, the seller should first provide a subscription form on the website as well as an incentive for a buyer to subscribe. Once a satisfactory subscription list has been compiled, the seller can begin to send out newsletters and promotional emails to bring buyers back to the site. It is highly recommended to send out promotions around holidays, not forgetting the more minor holidays as they too can be money-making opportunities.

October 1, 2010   No Comments

Grocery Saving Tips

The monthly grocery bill is usually more of an emotional barometer than a reflection of wise planning. If you are hurried and stressed, the monthly bank statement will probably be littered with numerous, small trips to the corner grocery store.

Shoppers who are chronically short on time are shocked to see that the dozen or so hasty trips to the grocery store rack up receipts that are hundreds more than expected. Another breed of disorganized shopper finds that instead of devoting enough resources to groceries, money disappears elsewhere, leaving the family to eat peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and upteen spaghetti dinners. Whether you are trying to reclaim your grocery budget or tame it, the following strategies will put you back in control of your grocery dollars.

  • Set a realistic goal. The first step to staying in budget is setting one in the first place. Determine a reasonable amount of money to spend and stick to it.
  • Plan a menu with the full understanding that you – and not a personal chef who is blessedly free of kid-chauffeuring responsibilities – will be doing the cooking. In other words, create a menu that fits your life, as well as your enthusiasm for cooking.
  • But, learn how to cook anyway. Not only is processed food more expensive, it’s loaded with sodium and plenty of other unpronounceable ingredients you don’t want to feed your family. There are plenty of simple recipes that taste great.
  • Make a list of these meals and have the ingredients on hand.
  • Stop throwing away leftovers. Most leftovers can be frozen or reinvented in another recipe. An alternative is to reduce the amount you cook in the first place.
  • Use fresh ingredients first. Vegetables are especially versatile, and just because the recipe calls for frozen corn, doesn’t mean you can’t find a way to work in the celery in the fridge instead. Get creative. Instead of milk in the macaroni and cheese, use the last spoonful of sour cream.
  • Identify the items you can’t go without yet seem to always run out of. Determine how much of these items you need for one week. Then, determine the place that sells these for the best price. If the place across town sells milk 40 cents cheaper than the corner store, buy enough gallons and freeze the extras (remember to pour a small amount from each gallon before freezing.)
  • Plan enough time for grocery shopping each week. You may have to go on a different day each week, but set aside a couple of hours so that you can shop without feeling rushed.

September 30, 2010   No Comments

8 Halloween Props to Throw the Spookiest Monster Mash

1. Vampire Teeth
Adults and kids alike will get a kick out of walking around with these scary teeth giving you their best rendition of the phrase “I want to suck your blood” (said in a Transylvania accent of course). You can’t go wrong with this classic!

2. Human Skull
What Halloween party would be complete without a couple human skulls laying around? Besides, how else are you going to show your party guests that your house is a dangerous and scary place without this convincing prop?

3. Safety Strobe Clips
Clip these blinking lights on your kids to keep them safe while out trick or treating, or for a use targeted to adults, clip them on the guest who has had a little too much to drink so others can steer clear of the “deep” conversations!

4. Spider Webbing
There is no better way to make your less-than-scary landscaping resemble an old, decrepit haunted house than with a few well-placed cobwebs.

5. Halloween-Themed Cups
Novelty glasses with popular Halloween characters are the perfect way to get into the Halloween spirit. They also serve as party favors for your guests to take home!

6. Spooky Haunted House Caution Tape
Edge your lawn with this and tell your guests to look for the haunted house tape when trying to find their way at night. It also acts as an excellent deterrent for wondering zombies.

7. Halloween Mobile
Attach this overhead to add an extra hint of spooky to any room or use it as a “trick” over your “treats” making your guests dodge the bats to get a snack.

8. Halloween Leis
Quickly get your guests into the party spirit by giving them a lei at the door. Use them as a voting tool for the end of the night. Tell your guests to give their lei to the person with the best costume, whoever has the most leis at the end of the night wins!

September 29, 2010   No Comments

Share the Scare Contest – Win Money, Do Almost Nothing

You like winning stuff? You want to win $100 and not really have to do any work? Well, good thing you’re here. DollarDays is now running a Share the Scare contest. We’re giving away a $100 gift certificate that can be used toward the purchase of a halloween costume.

You have until October 12 to enter, so you better head on over to the contest page and figure out what you need to do to become eligible for this scary offering. Halloween is fast approaching, and you don’t want to end up costumeless.

September 29, 2010   No Comments

Creating an Online Presence for Your Small Business

In these times of constantly upgrading technology, it is not uncommon for the average shopper to check out a business online before actually visiting. An online presence, or website, is imperative in building your small business, regardless if it is local, national, or even international. The internet is your key to introducing your business to the community.

Initially, there are plenty of options for websites. There are certain free website hosts online that give you a free web presence, as long as you don’t mind having ads on your site. The other option, and one that is most utilized, is that of hiring a professional website designer or design company to build your site. This gives you the ultimate freedom for your site design, as well as professional experience to back it up.

Starting out you have to have a good idea of your target audience. For example, a toy retailer would be oriented towards children and parents. A business dealing with the stock market, on the other hand, would be oriented more towards the white collar crowd. With a good feel for your customers, you will have a good ideal of the style of website you want. You can have a clean simple site, a flashy cutting edge site, a professional looking site, or anything else you would like. The imagination of your web designer and yourself is your only limitation.

One important factor to remember is that you don’t want to overwhelm those looking at your website. If, for example, you own a store, you won’t want to have every single product listed on the website at the front page. This is simply too much to take in. It is a proven fact that teaser pages do better. A teaser page is a webpage that tells a few of the more high profile items or services you provide. If you can appeal to the potential customers’ sense of curiosity, you will likely end up with a new customer.

There are certain pages that you will want on your website. Never settle for a single “landing” page. Regardless of the size of your business, one single page website will make you seem small. Of course, you will have your front page where you will identify your business and build the customers curiosity. Next, you will want a contact page with your actual address, phone number, email, and any other pertinent contact information, as well as your business hours. Next, have a page with actual photographs (professional) of your business, inside and out, and your employees happily doing their jobs. This will give your business a nice comfortable atmosphere to the customer.

These are your main pages, but the list of optional pages is limitless. You can have a history page, a coupon page where customers can print out coupons, a calendar of events if your store holds certain community events, an about us page describing the inner workings of the business, and the list goes on and on.
Once you have your website set up and going, it is important that you spread the word about it. Be sure and put your web address on business cards, newsletters, and advertisements. Make sure your employees spread the word about your new site also.

Websites are a proven success for any business. If properly created and managed, in many cases, websites have brought in more customers and sales than actual storefronts. Consider the concept of a door. Before someone walks into a building, they have to go through the door. A website is a metaphorical door for your customers to get to your business.

September 27, 2010   No Comments