What Toys Will Be in Your Store Window?

My friend Allison Collins is enjoying her new job at C.B. Fox. 


And how could she not? It’s her job to decide what toys will be in the kids’ department. 

You may not realize what a big deal it is to be the chooser of the toys. But I will say this to put it into perspective. We live in a small town, and often when you go to a birthday party you can tell from the familiar wrapping paper that over half of the gifts are from C.B. Fox. We have to get some new stuff in there otherwise kids will be able to guess what they got!
Plus, if people have been walking past the store window and things haven’t changed in a while, why go in?

The way she went about deciding how to spend the toy budget might help anyone who needs to decide what to put in their business’s window display. 

Gather Information

First she used a household budget template to keep track of what she was spending money on, and categorized the different types of toys. She printed out purchase orders from the past year to get an idea of what people like to buy already. She loves going through sales data and said, “I was giddy when I got to pull these reports.”

Challenge your own assumptions

When she first started, there was a sad display of Nano Blocks. It was like the bottom of the barrel and she assumed that they weren’t very popular. But when she started to look into the reports, she noticed that Nano Blocks actually sold really fast, but she didn’t notice right away because they were categorized under “misc.” 

Someone else didn’t think that the Klutz books were very popular for the same reason… the supply was dwindling. But once they restocked people bought them really quickly. 

“I needed to get over my own biases,” said Allison. “For example, sparkles are hot right now and I am not a sparkle person. And then a mother and a daughter came in and they were disappointed that there weren’t any sparkly handbags in stock. So I was sure to order more of those things.”
Allison also had to admit that she was at first pretty biased against girly little toys like Calico Critters. But those are some of the best selling toys. (My daughters love them). 

With my business, I think I know what people need but I’m probably wrong on several levels. That’s why I’m signed up to give a presentation for 1 Million Cups to ask a group of entrepreneurs for some feedback on what they really need because I don’t want to guess wrong. 

Get to know the suppliers

Some of the decisions that she made came down to the policies of the suppliers. For example, one supplier required her to order the items in bulk and she didn’t have the room.

Look ahead for special events and tie-ins

Every spring there is a kite festival in Los Alamos, and that had her browsing through the kite catalog. 

For any business, it is always a good idea to see what’s coming up on the calendar to see who you can partner up with, what holidays people will be celebrating, and what events you can line up with to bring more excitement to your business. 

Anyway, I certainly enjoyed seeing Allison’s analytical approach to buying toys for the store. 

I’m frequently in the process of evaluating and adjusting what I do for people. But I think that’s because everyone needs something different.
How do you go about deciding what products and services to offer in your business? Leave a comment and let me know. 

 

Getting Paid to Watch Ads

“Why didn’t I think of that?”

 

That’s what was going through my head the first time that I heard about AdWallet, a new company in Albuquerque that lets you get paid to watch ads. 

As marketers, we spend so much time trying to get people’s attention, find the people who actually are interested in the product and get them to actually remember what they heard.  

AdWallet has taken these inconvenient truths and made them part of the process. Rather than obstacles, they are part of the business plan. 

Business owners buy ads with AdWallet, and those ads are shown to the community of AdWallet users who have filled out a questionnaire about their interests and lifestyle. When the users see the ads, they fill out a quiz. When they answer the questions correctly they get paid fifty cents per ad. 
The ad viewers have an incentive to watch the ads and the people buying ads are more likely to reach their real customers. It’s taking off in New Mexico, and they are getting ready to roll it out in other parts of the country too. 

Check it out here
And let me know what you think of it. 

Valerie Martinez, the sales director for AdWallet, says that she has an introductory offer for new advertisers. 

With a committed spend of $3,000 (credits are good for 24 months), the advertiser will get all 3,000 credits to use on AdWallet and AdWallet will produce a commercial on us for the client (Animated or Live Action).

You can reach Valerie at 505-974-1996.  

See how easy it is to raise money on your birthday

I spent last week working with the high school marching band, and it was a fun and fulfilling experience.


The kids were amazing. In a matter of days they memorized a great deal of music, improved their marching and are on a great start for the season. 


I wanted to do something nice for them and support them. So I ran a Facebook birthday fundraiser for them. (Here is the fundraiser page. Please donate if you can!)
I want to tell you about this Facebook feature, because it was easier to use than I expected.


You can set up a fundraiser any time. But the birthday fundraisers are more effective because more people look at your profile on your birthday than any other day, and people will donate to your cause to be nice to you. 


You find the feature by going to the Home section on your Facebook account and click on Fundraisers on the left column under Explore.  


My biggest worry was that it wouldn’t work because the Band Boosters aren’t set up to accept online donations. But it doesn’t matter. The company that runs these fundraisers just sends the money to the organization. All I had to do was search for their Facebook page and it was ready to go.


Once your fundraising page is set up, you can invite your friends and share it on your wall, etc. 


One thing that was annoying. And I make this mistake with Facebook all the time. I got a little over ambitious trying to invite my friends. I was using my phone and clickclickclicking until I thought my thumbs would fall off. Then when I was done I got a message that said that I invited too many people and had to start over. So don’t do that!


If you’re in an organization that needs to raise money, I recommend trying this. 

Upcoming free communications workshop for non-profits

The Los Alamos Community

Foundation invited me to give a presentation on Thursday, February 21st form 5-6 pm. 

This free workshop is all about how to create an 8-Step Communication Plan for Non-Profits. 

It will be held in the lecture hall (room 230) at the UNM-LA. Refreshments will be served. 

Click here to read the article in the Los Alamos Daily Post. 

Creating an 8-Step Communication Plan for nonprofits

On Thursday, February 21st, I will be giving a free workshop on how to create an 8-Step Communication Plan for Non-Profits. 

The free workshop is sponsored by the Los Alamos Community Foundation and will be held in the lecture hall (room 230) at the UNM-LA. Refreshments will be served. 

Click here for more information and to register for a similar event.

Setting the record straight

What do you do when someone publicly says something bad or wrong about your business?


A lot of people might get upset or mad. 


But Dr. Cliff Han (who is the inventor of AllerPops and one of my clients) didn’t get too worried when a doctor made what could have been a damaging claim about his product on the news. 


Instead, he viewed the incident as an opportunity to tell the story about his business again.


Here’s what happened. On November 15th, his company was featured on KOAT Action 7 News. (“Los Alamos Scientist Creates Lollipop For Allergy Relief.”) The news reporter did an outstanding job of explaining what the product is and what it does. But towards the end of the segment they interviewed a doctor who made a connection between the product and heart disease!


You see, AllerPops are prebiotic lollipops that restore healthy bacteria to your mouth. When people brush their tongue a lot, they kill off those beneficial bacteria that work to keep allergy symptoms at bay. The doctor said that poor oral hygiene can lead to heart disease… which made Dr. Han say, “Wait a minute, that’s not right.”


People who don’t take care of their teeth and never floss are at a higher risk for heart disease. But tongue brushing has nothing to do with it, and when you kill off all the bacteria on the tongue you leave a clean slate for more bad bacteria to grow.


Together we wrote a letter to the editor that clarified the issue, and gave him another chance to talk about his product. 

If you need help telling the ongoing story of your business, let’s talk. Sign up for a 30 minute meeting here

Start here!

My son just had a birthday. He’s been talking about playing D&D with his friends, and wants to be the dungeon master. 


I’ve played my fair share of D&D, but I was never a dungeon master so I wouldn’t be the best person to explain to my 11 year old how best to kill off all of his friends with a well-placed lightning bolt.


So when I saw the D&D Starter Set at Target, it was a done deal. The tagline on the front of the book said, “The best way to get started playing the world’s best roleplaying game.”


Here. Take my money.


The biggest reason that the D&D Starter Set got included in the birthday loot pile is that I was happy to have clear instructions. It was like they had a big red arrow that said “start here.”


I’ve noticed that the most effective websites have their own version of a “start here” red arrow. Rather than let customers get lost in everything you have to offer, you draw visitors’ attention to the best place to start.


For example, a lot of clothing sites have quizzes that let people figure out their bra size or their preferred clothing style. From there, they collect an email address and send the results…. and the real selling begins in your inbox.


Some people might object to moving the sale away from Facebook or away from the website and into a series of emails… but it’s the only way. 


Most people respond to your online ad during moments when they are reading something else and distracted. They might look at what you have, feel interested, but still not pull out the credit card to buy. 


If you don’t currently have a way to bring website visitors into your email list, I can help by creating a lead magnet and a series of autoresponder emails. 


To discuss the details of this offer, sign up for a 30 minute meeting here

What to do when something’s not working…

The other day I was at a Networking group when I noticed that something wasn’t working on my website.
It was the lead magnet, the little book on the side that people can download and when they do they join my newsletter (yes, this one). 


It’s pretty important. So important that I don’t even want to send people to my website if it’s not there.
Because if it’s not there they will visit my site if they don’t start working with me right away, I won’t be able to follow up. (I fixed it right away when I got home… I just had to make a payment to LeadPages.)


I’m willing to bet there are people who visit your website who aren’t ready to make a decision right off the bat. 

Do you have a lead magnet of some kind? (Sometimes it’s called a bait piece.) 
It’s a piece of content that gets people interested in what you do, but doesn’t give away the store, and people who want that information are very likely to also want your products or services. 

I have two samples of lead magnets that I’ve made for clients here.   If you need a lead magnet, send me a note at email@mandymarksteiner.com.

My fabulous younger self

Meanwhile, on Facebook:

Everyone’s posting their first profile picture next to their most recent. Here’s my first profile picture, taken while I was sliding down a gorge in upstate New York with my dog, Snickers.

Back then I was living in Manhattan, on the Columbia University campus because my husband was getting his Ph.D. in plasma physics at the time. I was working at a few different jobs: as a freelance proofreader at banks, law firms and publishing houses; as an intern at a literary agency; and occasionally as a floating receptionist at Ogilvy and Mather.

Back then my big goal was to be a writer (still is!) and I took classes at the Gotham Writer’s workshop and even after the novel writing class was over I kept getting together with my classmates to share our writing, and I led writing groups and tutored kids at the church we attended (the Church of the Ascension).

Back then, I was starting to learn about copywriting and taking classes through the American Writers and Artists, but didn’t officially open my business until I moved to New Mexico in 2008.

(What ever happened to that red swimsuit???)

It’s fun to look back and see how much has changed, and how many things are the same. 

Where were YOU twelve years ago?

Send me a note at email@mandymarksteiner.com or tell me in the comments section.

Why it’s OK to repeat yourself

People are forgetful. 

And when I say “people” I’m mainly talking about myself and my children… you might know some people like that too.

This morning I was getting them ready for school. I had the lunches lined up on the table and was making a big pile of snow clothes while the middle one was reminding me of all the things that I needed to buy in the next week while I was saying, “Uh huh, uh huh.”

Finally we all piled into the car and made our way to the elementary school. My son asked, “Do we have lunches?”

“I don’t know,” I replied. “Do you?”

“Nope.”

At that point they had the choice between getting to school on time or going back for the lunches. They wanted to be on time, so I let them out and grumbled to myself on the way back about how we all need to get better at mornings. 

I would love it if my kids magically started taking care of all of their school things on their own, but I realize that it’s my job to train them… and I’m the forgetful one!

I got the lunches, dropped off the youngest at preschool (and almost took her coat with me and had to go back and return it) and finally brought the lunches to the elementary school. 

Not the best start to the day, but sometimes people get overwhelmed and forgetful. Happens to the finest of us. 

Including your customers.

Just because you told them about your event or your sale doesn’t mean they will remember or respond. 

It’s OK to repeat the same message in a few different ways in order to get people to notice. 

Especially if the message is important. 

When my clients are trying to get a specific response from their leads (like getting the leads to call them), a series of five to ten emails usually does the trick. 

If you would like to set up an appointment to have me write an email series for you, send me a note at email@mandymarksteiner.com.