Etail Goes Retail – Amazon’s Opens NYC Bookstore

  • Posted on May 31, 2017
  • by Alan Blume

What’sAmazon Etail Goes Retail up with this, Amazon the king of Etail is opening retail bookstores? This sounds like an April fools story rather than a new strategic initiative. But as it happens, the latter is true as Amazon opened the first of three New York City retail book stores in May.

It was reported that the first Amazon store occupies 4,000 square feet, carries 3,000 book titles, and is located at Columbus Circle. It also carries Amazon tech products like the Echo and Kindle, and faces all books outward for easy viewing of the covers. Signs underneath the books note the Amazon online star rating (only 4 stars and up are selected for the store) and the total number of reviews for each book. Amazon Prime members pay a preferred rate, while non-members pay a higher rate.

To add a further touch of irony to the story, the store is located in a mall that once included a Borders bookstore. Will this be a trend for the giant Etailer, identifying retail opportunities once the retail competition has been decimated by their more efficient Etail model?

Amazon likely envisions a new type of retail opportunity, because the traditional retail book business has hardly been robust. According to The Street, Barnes and Noble continued to see declines in their 2017 comparable store sales, expecting a drop of approximately 7% for the year. Then again, Amazon’s new books store is not the same animal as Barnes and Noble, taking a page from the Apple Store concept with their own Amazonian twist. With malls trying to reinvent themselves, as more and more retailers shut their doors, a national chain of Amazon retail book stores would be a warmly welcomed surprise.

Looking for assistance with your marketing and lead generation – contact the experts at StartUpSelling for a complimentary marketing and lead gen review.

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Your Virtual Success – Selecting Your Target Market

  • Posted on June 9, 2014
  • by Alan Blume

Entrepreneurs, startups and emerging businesses need to define and test their markets. There were multiple criteria recommended in the Business Basics Chapter of Your Virtual Success. Is the recommended criteria written five years ago still valid today?

B2B Web Marketing

B2B Web Marketing

  1. Vetting the value proposition
  2. Is it a want or a true need
  3. Will prospects pay the target selling price
  4. How does it compare to competing products and services
  5. If it’s an innovation, is the market ready to adopt it
  6. Is it affordable for a sufficient number of prospects
  7. Is there current demand for this product or service
  8. How difficult to reach the buyer
  9. How long is the sales cycle
  10. Can you collect up front (deposits)

Little seems to have changed in this list – it is as valid then as it is today. If we were to apply this to an emerging agency, they would need to determine which lines of coverage to offer, the size of the target prospect by revenues or employees, would they need to add experts to their sales efforts (compliance expert for ACA for example), how difficult would it be to reach a given decision maker (risk manager, owner, VP HR, ect.), and the competition in their given target sales area. For more information on Your Virtual Success, or my new book Sell More & Work Less, visit startupselling.com/book.html. For assistance with b2b marketing or insurance web marketing, call (518) 222-6392.

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Posted in: B2B Sales & Marketing, business, Business Book Review, emerging business, Entrepeneurship, Home Office Business, Virtual Business
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Postal Service To Cut Saturday Mail

  • Posted on February 6, 2013
  • by Alan Blume

On September 14, 2009, I wrote a blog entitled Going Postal. The first two sentences seemed an obvious observation at the time, “It seems pretty strange that the U.S. government still delivers mail six days a week. After all, the postal service has been running at a deficit for years, in some cases, multibillion dollar deficits.” Over three years later, I was happy to read the following headline on AP, “Postal Service To Cut Saturday Mail”. We have to start somewhere, and cutting back to 5 day delivery is a good beginning. The wheels of change turn slowly, but at least they are turning. In an age of instant electronic communication, pervasive social media, free international VOIP Skype calls, instant messaging, on demand web meetings and texting, watching a mail truck stop at nearly every house in America six times a week seems rather absurd. So the next question is, how long will it take to cut at least one more day off the USPS house to house mail delivery, and how many billions in losses, and how much wasted fuel will be racked up until that time?

 

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For almost a decade, I’ve enjoyed the flexibility and increased productivity of a work from home office environment, conducting all of my business virtually and efficiently. In fact, my entire team is virtually based across the US. So it came as no surprise that a recent study concurred with this sentiment, as many people now consider themselves to be more productive when working away from their traditional offices.  In a recent Puget Sound Business Journal article, Todd Bishop discussed the Microsoft Telework study, “Sixty percent of respondents to the Microsoft Telework survey – conducted among 3,600 employees in 36 cities nationwide – say they are actually more productive and efficient when working remotely,” Microsoft says today said in a summary of the findings. “With less time spent commuting and fewer cubicle ‘drive bys’ causing distractions, respondents say, more time can be spent on the task in front of them.”

Boston, Raleigh-Durham, N.C., and Atlanta were listed as top telecommuting cities, while Seattle didn’t even make the Top 10 list. This was a tad ironic, as Microsoft is pushing their virtual tools including many of their cloud based solutions. Notable was Microsoft’s recent acquisition of Yammer, a collaboration solution that would play well in the virtual business market. Microsoft said that only 41 percent of the companies responding  had established policies for remote working, offering a large and untapped user base for virtual tools.

While millions commute in a stressful and limited productivity environment, virtual workers begin their day with minimal effort and in many cases at their preferred and optimum starting time. This should mean less gas, less pollution, lower costs, less stress and improved productivity. For those companies and jobs which can accommodate a virtual “telework” program, sooner is better, especially with all the new cloud computing tools available today.

For more information on virtual business visit Sell More & Work Less or Your Virtual Success. For B2B Marketing visit StartMarketingTech, and for law firm web marketing visit JurisMarketing.com.

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Posted in: B2B Sales & Marketing, emerging business, Home Office Business, Law Firm Marketing, Virtual Business
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Sell More & Work Less Excerpt – Jumpstarting Your Pipeline

  • Posted on March 30, 2012
  • by Alan Blume

Description: C:UsersAlanDesktopSell More & Work Lessimage icon 3 Globe.jpgReal-World Scenario (Excerpt from Sell More & Work Less)

About ten years ago, I helped a company develop their virtual sales and marketing strategy. Its solution, let’s describe it as a client behavioral research solution, was new to the market and required an evangelical sale. The businesses targeted for this new solution had to be convinced to take a leap of faith and try a new method to analyze their customer behavior. In addition, this method was a completely Web-based, SaaS solution. Evangelical sales are common with technology companies seeking to sell a breakthrough product (e.g., eMarketing solutions, MP3 downloads, cloud computing, electronic reading devices, and even DVRs). The first step in the process was to identify the target market and build a suspect list, just as I mentioned above. The CEO had an insurance background and landed a few insurance company clients. We decided this would be the first niche market to target. How did we build a comprehensive virtual suspect list? We utilized several top 100 industry lists and imported them into a simple Microsoft database. We searched for on-line insurance company listings and added them to our virtual suspect list. Then, we called every one of these insurance organizations (there were about 300 initially targeted). These targeted cold calls resulted in up-to-date contact information, key executives, titles, direct phone numbers, and emails. These were often gathered by offering the suspects an opportunity to attend an informational Web seminar. Within a few short months, the database was quite comprehensive, and the suspect list began to yield a compelling prospect list. Utilizing my Prospect Scorecard system and qualifying acronym, we were able to identify possible buyers, convince these buyers to review the solution in a Web seminar or one-to-one web meeting, and then move them to the qualification phase. Out of the 300 initial suspects targeted, we were able to convince over 150 to review the solution in our first year of sales efforts, and about 20 percent of them purchased within that same year. An impressive result for a self-funded, emerging operation selling 99 percent virtually, without travel or face-to-face meetings and the costs and inefficiencies associated with that model. Today, many years after we helped this client create a target suspect list, they continue to dominate their niche.  

For more information on web marketing go to StartMarketingTech, StartUpSelling or JurisMarketing.

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Cloud Computing Up and Big Box Stores Down

  • Posted on March 29, 2012
  • by Alan Blume
eTail vs Retail

eTail vs Retail

Two interesting, albeit expected news reports came across my browser today. The first was about Cloud Computing, with a recent Microsoft study showing a significant increased in paid cloud computing services expected for small and midsize businesses over the next five years. As reported on PR NewsWire, “The research conducted by Edge Strategies includes survey responses from IT decision-makers or influencers at more than 3,000 SMBs in 13 countries.” We’re talking about doubling and tripling of paid cloud services here, an obvious trend even for those who are still unsure about the cloud.

In a somewhat related matter Best Buy announced it will close 50 big-box stores and cut 400 jobs in corporate and support areas. Best Buy will continue to roll out smaller, Best Buy Mobile stores. Best Buy big box stores have been hit hard by the likes of Amazon, with shoppers researching products in their stores, then buying elsewhere based on price and availability. I blogged about this on June 9, 2010 (BestBuy vs Amazon) when I tried to buy an new stereo receiver but was unable to purchase a model with the features needed at Best Buy, ultimately buying it from Amazon.

The casualty list of retailers is getting longer with the likes of Circuity City, Computer City, Linens ‘n Things’ and Borders, and recent challenges for department stores including Sears (A Company Problem or Industry Issue). Best Buy is working hard to reinvent themselves, something that malls and shopping centers may need to work on simultaneously with growing eTail trends and continued challenges for many retailers. No wonder there are so many shoe and sneaker retailers in the malls these days – one size does not fit all in that business. We’ll have to see if Amazon and other eTailers can fill those shoes when it comes to online sales.

For more information on web marketing go to StartMarketingTech, StartUpSelling or JurisMarketing.

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Expert panel will review the Four Step Marketing Plan and discuss the critical elements required for a successful strategy in 2012. Case studies of several organizations leveraging this integrated approach will be analyzed. The Four Step Marketing Plan helps organization gain access to in-profile prospects and provide sales team with qualified opportunities. Topics include:

  • Building your prospect database and email list
  • Reaching your target market through email marketing
  • Leveraging warm calls for quality appointments
  • Expanding reach through Social Media Marketing

Title:      Filling the Sales Funnel with the Four Step Marketing Plan

Date:     Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Time:     1:00 PM – 1:30 PM EST

https://www1.gotomeeting.com/register/616170737

After registering you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the Webinar.

For more information, please visit: www.startmarketingtech.com

For our new book, please visit: Sell More & Work Less

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Updated Top 20 Website Tips For an Effective Website

  • Posted on January 13, 2012
  • by Alan Blume

Insurance Agency Marketing Whiteboard VideoHere is an updated Top 20 Website Tips to ensure your website is effective and up to date:

The Top 10 website elements that your organization should review when designing your website:

  1. Header, logo and value proposition
  2. Navigation (keep it simple)
  3. Page title, meta description, keywords (on page SEO)
  4. Unique design, color and theme & content balance
  5. Graphics, video, blog
  6. Download speed
  7. Quality inbound links, no-follow outbound links
  8. Call to Action!
  9. Analytics
  10. Conversion rate

The Top 10 Watch Out tips include:

  1. Beware of templates that make your site look the same as other sites
  2. Out of date content
  3. Out of date images and photographs
  4. Comingling of Personal Lines and Commercial Lines
  5. Vague or non-existent Call To Actions on each page
  6. Too many Calls To Action on a given web page
  7. Browser incompatibility
  8. Large graphics or Flash video with limited content
  9. Broken links
  10. Using design elements and features that make your site look the same as other sites

Once the Top 20 is fully reviewed, take the time to review your analytics, be it free Google analytics or a fee for service solution. What is your bounce rate? What are your top ten blogs? Are there certain traffic spikes attributable to web marketing initiative such as eMarketing and webinars? Learn the nuances of your site, monitor, measure and leverage your website as one of the truly important tools in your marketing efforts.

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Posted in: B2B Sales & Marketing, business, emerging business, Insurance Agency Marketing, Insurance Agency Web Marketing, Insurance Agency Websites
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Microsoft Is Up In The Cloud With Office 365

  • Posted on June 30, 2011
  • by Alan Blume
Microsoft Moves to The Cloud

Microsoft Moves to The Cloud

Microsoft has further embraced the cloud and will offer it’s hugely popular Microsoft Office solution as a cloud based application. This is a major admission by Microsoft, showing an understanding that it needs to address Google Apps which has a small but growing marketing share. Considering the billions of dollars in sales of MS Office, Microsoft is hoping that their cloud based Office 365 won’t cannibalize desktop Office sales, which seems like a reasonable guess, at least in the short term. The pricing currently listed on Microsoft’s website is $6 per month with a guarantee of 99.9% up time.

With progressively more work taking place in the cloud, this is a bet that Microsoft needs to make. Other than Office, everything this blogger, writer and businessman uses is in the cloud, certainly not anomalous to many people and businesses today. The market seemed to respond favorably to this announcement with strong gain for the week, the largest Microsoft has seen in some time. Only time will tell if this is a bet Microsoft will win. So much time has elapsed with cloud computing developments that Microsoft’s progress reminds me of a Joni Mitchell song:

From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all

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Beware Of Tubely Emails – Viral Marketing At Its Worst

  • Posted on March 31, 2011
  • by Alan Blume
Tubely Spam Invite

Tubely Spam Invite

There are many great companies and attributes when it comes to social media, email marketing and social networking. Then there are companies like Tubely. Beware of emails from friends, colleagues and relatives if you see an email asking to “Accept” an invitation to join their network. Make sure the email is from a reputable network (like Facebook or LinkedIn for example).  Yesterday my wife received an email from her sister. She thought it was an invitation to access some online photos her sister was posting. So she clicked the green accept button to view them. After all, the email did come from her sister who is active on Facebook and other online social media networks. Moments later, she realized she was duped, taken in by an email which had not been sent by her sister at all, her sisters address book had been “Tubely hijacked”.

Google’s search engine results offer a long list of complaints and accusations about Tubely, on page one the 5th through 10th results are all negative, accusing Tubely of spamming, scamming, stealing and hijacking. My wife agrees and spent a couple of hours responding to her friends and colleagues who received an unsolicited Tubely invitation from her.  I think many would agree that Tubely is in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act. The first three rules of the CAN-SPAM Act: 1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. 2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. 3. Identify the message as an ad. In this bloggers opinion, Tubley is repeatedly violating the CAN-SPAM Act.

Of course this is merely a legal issue. There are boatloads of ethical and professional issues too. When a company hijacks an entire address book and sends out unsolicited emails, we must be dealing with the low end of the gene pool, or perhaps in this case, the low end of the gene tube. I went to the Tubely website but the Contact Us link does not work (what a surprise). There is no phone number to call (another shocker). But after a few minutes, I was able to find a company name. Astute Software, 502, Sampada, Bangur Nagar, Goregaon (West), Mumbai – 400 090,  Maharashtra, India and an email: business@tubely.com.

On the Tubely privacy policy tab, visitors are instructed to contact Astute Software at the address noted above. If they listed a phone number or email address, I would have contacted them.  What is the relationship between Astute Software in India and Tubely? “Astute Software (India) specializes in offshore Development of digital solutions and software applications.” After a little research, it appears that Astute Software is the publisher of Tubely, as they advertise “Tubely free video sharing 1.0 download by Astute Software” on several sites.  Perhaps some free marketing advice may help Tubely and others like them. A new tag line might help: Tubely Both Viral And Vile. It is both descriptive and alliterative.

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