Monday, July 1, 2013

How to Manage Your Facebook Business Page

Managing my Wendy the Candle Lady Facebook Business Page is one part of the customer service and marketing plan for my business. Other parts include my telemarketing division (me), my hostess pack distribution centre (me), my event management division (me), my website (designed and hosted by Partylite), my monthly web email marketing group (designed and sent by Partylite), my products (designed, sourced, priced, shipped, and guaranteed by PartyLite) and my literature (designed and printed by PartyLite).

In other words, my social media activity is only a small part of my plan.

Many companies get social media wrong. What would you add to this list of hints and tips about how to manage your Facebook Business Page?
  1. Update it regularly - at least once a week, preferably daily
  2. Share hints and tips, specials, personal use stories, and client testimonials/pictures evenly.
  3. Create interaction with your clients by asking questions.
  4. Always respond to comments.
  5. Delete spam and negative content. (Unless you can resolve a constructive negative content issue; it may demonstrate that you give great customer service.)
  6. Link to appropriate articles, pictures, and information.
  7. Invite people on your personal website to like your page.
  8. Put a link to your page at the bottom of your emails.
  9. Send the link to your new clients and encourage them to join in the fun.
  10. Read what other businesses you like post and learn from them. They will give you good ideas of what to do and what not to do.
  11. Turn off Facebook for 23.5 hours a day. You don't need to be available all the time for your page to be effective.
What's missing from these hints and tips?

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ten Tips for a Successful Party Planning Business

Wow - I wrote this a few years ago and just found it on my hard drive. Thought I'd share:

Ten Tips for a Successful Party Planning Business

1.    Motivate yourself to succeed. Know what you will be spending the money on. Don’t just make extra money. Make extra money so that you can afford to do something. Examples: pay for your car, reduce your mortgage by $x per year, go on a family holiday to x, buy a new refrigerator, buy your family an in-ground pool, pay for school fees, supply your family’s clothes budget, spoil yourself with monthly luxuries like manicures, pedicures, maids, massages, and/or gardeners.

2.    Pick a company and a product you believe in. Use the products yourself. Don’t reinvent collateral, brochures, or programs – use what your company provides – spend your precious time talking to clients, not developing marketing tools.

3.    Network. Tell everyone you know what you do. Ask what they do. Help each other with business advice and referrals.

4.    Control your diary and always have it with you. Schedule everything – other jobs and appointments, personal time, family time, holidays, training time. Decide how much time you will put into your party plan business each week, commit to doing that, and schedule the time. Activities include: conducting parties, calling clients, submitting orders, calling clients, writing and sending notes and reminders, calling clients. Minimise time spent organizing files, updating online social networks, and writing to do lists.

5.    Duplicate yourself. Always promote the business opportunity to others. It’s a simple formula: more people sell more products and therefore you make more money. Businesses that use Party Plan to sell products do not have recruiting expenses. Instead, they pay bonuses to the Party Planners who recruit productive Party Planners. In a legitimate party plan business, you won’t be rewarded for recruiting people, you will only be rewarded when they sell products.

6.    Provide great customer service. Finalise orders at the party – most importantly - including all payments and the host order. Process parties within 24 hours of finalising orders. Call your clients to ensure they received their items and are satisfied. Fix problems right away. Provide advice. Ask for referrals. Offer promotions.

7.    Send handwritten thank you notes and reminder cards liberally. The art of writing words with a pen and paper is amazingly simple, low-tech and effective. Buy some stamps, buy some nice paper or postcards, and write. People respond to real mail when it is written by a human. They throw away printed mail as “junk” and they rarely open email. You will stand out from the crowd.

8.    Host monthly home parties. There is no better way to grow your business than to always have something to invite new contacts to. Schedule your home parties and promote them all month long. Introduce new clients to your services without pressure.

9.    Run it like a business. Set financial targets. Develop strategies to achieve those targets. Keep track of your income. Deposit payments made to you in cash or cheques. Keep track of your expenses. Make sure you are making a profit and an acceptable hourly wage after expenses. Set aside money for taxes (successful people pay taxes).  Use an accountant.

10. Lead by example. Whether you are a new Party Planner or have an established Party Planning business, you choose what you do every day. So choose to follow these tips and make them a part of your business every day.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Change Your Perspective on Networking

How do I network? Will it pay off to network? I don't like to network. Networking is awkward. Networking is a waste of time. I'm too shy to network. I'm too busy to network.

Now... Replace the verb network with the phrase making friends.

How do I make new friends? Will it pay off to make new friends? I don't like to make new friends. Making new friends is awkward. Making new friends is a waste of time. I'm too shy to make new friends. I'm too busy to make new friends.

Hmmmm....  Is it really that similar? Making friends is personal. Networking is business. Right? Wrong. Developing personal relationships with new people and deepening those relationships over time creates friends.

Let's start with a really simple practice activity.

Before your next unit meeting, call another consultant in your unit and organise a time to meet for a coffee. (If you don't have a contact number, ask your unit leader.) Ask each other the following questions:

1. Where were you born? Where have you lived?
2. Where was your last holiday?
3. What do you like to eat when you eat out? Where?
4. What PartyLite products do you have on display at your house?
5. What are your favourite fragrances?
6. Do you need any help working on your PartyLite business?
7. Could we set up a catch up call or coffee every now and then to keep each other accountable? (Set up the next one.)

Getting to know someone better is a fundamental part of making friends (and networking). So go and try this out. Then tell your unit about it at your next unit meeting.

Stay tuned for more tips on making friends. :)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Use Retiring Products to Build Your Business

Twice a year, PartyLite refreshes our catalogue with new and exciting products. Catalogue launches are exciting and great opportunities to touch base with all of your clients.

But you must know that the two months before a catalogue launch are just as important. Marketed correctly, a retiring product list can be a real boost to your business.

The list of products being retired is a gold mine. Here's how I take advantage of it.

My Kit

My kit for June and July will be almost exclusively retiring products. This creates a sense of urgency for my clients and they will buy products now that they won't be able to get in August. ("Will they go on sale?" is often asked by my clients. The answer is, "Usually, no.")

HOT TIP: The Aurora Hurricane with a Glolite jar inside is simply so beautiful that I sell at least one at every party.

At the Party

Other than point out the retiring items in my kit, I actually don't worry too much about retiring products. I instruct my guests to make a list of everything they like on their wish list whether or not they plan on buying it. Then when they come up to me to place their order, I review their wish list and let them know if any of the items they like will be retiring. This gives them an opportunity to decide if they want it now.

HOT TIP: "Just so you know, the Songbird Tealight Holder will not be available after July. If you don't get it today, just be aware that you have until the end of next month...."

Customer Service Emails

My client list on the CBC is very big (I've been selling for 8 years now, so I have a lot of clients). However, I do have VIP clients. These people will get a personal email from me with a Retiring Accessories attachment. As PartyLite fans, I know they will appreciate receiving and read this email.

HOT TIP: Don't email them all at once. Email 5 at a time, then call them. Then email 5 more.

Customer Service Calls

The fragrances being retired will be inspiration for me to contact some clients. For example, it looks like the Scent 4Me (USB) and Scent 4U (Car) diffusers are being retired completely. Refills will be available for the Scent 4U, but the holders look like they're going away completely.

So what does this mean?

I LOVE both products and use them everyday. Don't you think I'd want refills for my S4Me before they are retired and gone forever? Of course I would. And people who use the S4U in their cars might want to buy another one for themselves, get refills, or have friends who want one, too. They're honestly the best smelling longest lasting car fragrances I've ever encountered, so why not offer?

That was only one example. I can look up a different retiring product every day. A different retiring fragrance every day and make a list of calls to make.

HOT TIP: French Vanilla, Honeydew, Sea Salt and Driftwood and Black Raspberry have been popular fragrances for a long time. As for Geranium Citronella in the layered 3-wick... they should have one to refill when the one they have is done. :)

Assume Price Changes

Every good business will take advantage of a new catalogue to change prices to stay competitive and profitable. PartyLite is no different. There may be price rises in August. Be ready for them and encourage your guests to get in with the current pricing. June and July are the last months to get products at these prices.

If You're New to PartyLite

You might be new and not have existing clients to call. THAT'S EXCELLENT. You don't need to share much about the products that are going away, because your clients have never seen them before. If they haven't seen it, it's new to them, so be excited about your catalogue and let them know about the retiring products at the party. No need to bring it up before.

HOT TIP: Use the current catalogue to really engage people to book and hold a party in June or July so that they can see this catalogue ("the best one you've ever seen").

I hope that helps. I love this time of year. Customer Service calls have incredible purpose and are easy to make. Go for no and make that call! WLC

Monday, May 13, 2013

What I Learned From Letting My Friend Down

It's taken me a few weeks to get the courage up to write about this. But I've been talking about it in training and I've learned HEAPS since it happened.

On Sunday, 28 April, I receive a text inviting me to a home party that Wednesday for a new fashion company I've not heard of. The invite was cheeky and fun and from someone I really enjoy spending time with. I immediately checked my calendar, saw that I was free, and RSVPed back in a text. "Count me in!"

On Tuesday, 30 April, I receive a call asking me if I can substitute at a networking event in the city on Wednesday morning. I checked my calendar, saw that I was free and proceeded to get up at sparrow's the next morning to head into the city and meet some new people.

I suppose you know what I did wrong... I didn't go to the party that night.

In fact, I forgot about it completely. I got a text at about 6:00 from the host reminding me of her address, but I didn't see it at 6:00 - I saw it at 7:00... By then I'd started dinner and was coveting my bed. I was tired and I was feeling incredibly guilty.

How often does this happen?

In my eight years of experience as a candle lady, it happens ALL THE TIME.

Hosts invite people quickly and in group messages. Guests say yes, but don't make a note of the event. Hosts feel like they're being pushy if they send reminders, so they don't. Guests get called by the host after the party was supposed to start and say that they completely forgot. "That's okay... maybe next time," the host says, trying to hide her disappointment....

As a consultant, it's my JOB to help the host organise the party to make it a success. My experience has led me to the following recommendations.

Keys to a Successful Party
  1. Make a (written) list of who you want to invite
  2. Create a Facebook Event and invite those specific people (including your consultant)
  3. Send a non-facebook personal invitation to each person (in order of preference: in person and/or by post and/or by email and/or by text)
  4. Track everyone's responses and follow-up:
    • YES/MAYBE with an email confirmation
    • NO with an invitation to order anyway
    • NO ANSWER with a personal phone call encouraging them
  5. Send reminder texts to all invitees THE DAY BEFORE the party
For the record, I'm not blaming my host for me not showing up. That was all me. I didn't put the item into my calendar when she texted. I should have. My bad.

I do think it speaks to our busy lives. I don't know why I didn't add the event to my calendar. Did the phone ring again immediately following the text? Did I have someone at the house? Was I immersed in writing a blog? I don't remember....

Following up, making it personal, and sending reminders isn't being pushy, it's being smart.

Every guest at a party is a potential sale, referral, booking, and maybe even a future consultant. A successful party is the best testimonial you can ask for from a host. Help her succeed by helping her invite people with enthusiasm.

And keep your calendar up to date.... Lesson learned.

Do you have a story to share? What have you learned from your mistakes?