Ask Entrepreneur - Marketing

Should a gift basket service use the print or online version of the Yellow Pages?

I was about to sign a 12-month contract for an online Yellow Pages listing when I read that the print version is far better than the online version for a service like mine. Which should I choose?

How can I find an importer and distributor for products produced overseas to sell in the USA?

These skin-care products have been successfully manufactured and sold in Germany for more than 50 years. I want to sell them through a distributor with accounts such as CVS, Walgreens, etc. Or is it better to just have a drop/ship warehouse and advertise online and directly to retail? Do products have to be shipped free of charge to get a distributor interested?

How do I market my company's philanthropic associations?

I sell compression bras with slim pouches that adhere for hot and cold relief. Ten percent of each purchase goes to breast cancer research, and I wonder how I could use my philanthropic associations to get more exposure.

How much of our personal experience should be shared with the customer?

My husband and I have triplets and have started a business of handcrafted rocking horses built for twins, triplets and other multiple combinations. We are seeking advice on how much of our own personal story we should share on our website in order to really connect with our target market--or our community as we like to think of it.

What is the average contact to sales success ratio in direct brochure mailings?

We're a new startup corporation and are wondering what the most cost-effective method is to market our new products. It seems that our trade magazine marketing did very little, but our website and brochure mailings did very well. What is the best route to market a new commercial product to the delivery industry?

How do I keep in contact with customers without being annoying?

I've got a commercial photography business and I'm not sure how to keep in touch with them without constantly asking if they have anything new to be photographed. You can only ask that so many times a year. Is there a way to stay in touch without bugging them?

Is there ever a reason to turn down business?

We rent vacation cabins but also have a few tent and trailer sites for rent on the property. Recently some of our customers who normally rent a cabin have switched to a trailer site, which is significantly cheaper. We're thinking of getting rid of the tent and trailer sites as we feel they cheapen the place but are not sure if this is a wise business choice because there's no guarantee that these customers would go back to renting a cabin.

Do women ever utilize golf as part of business?

Men have long used golf as a part of doing business, but how are women taking advantage of this great way to obtain business?

Will requiring online customers to register their email address turn away business?

I have an online restaurant menu for both pickup and delivery. I am wondering if most people are adverse to registering an online account before they can purchase. For customers that place an order for pickup at the restaurant, I need a name, email and phone number. For delivery, I need the same but the delivery address anyways.

How do I offer financing to my customers?

I want to offer financing to my customers but I do not know what documents and processes I should have set up before I do so.

How effective of a marketing strategy is it to recruit guinea pig companies to try out my service?

I have a solid idea for a company that is in its very beginning stages. However, the startup cost is very expensive and to avoid unwanted debt, I will need to recruit a few guinea pig companies to host my service for employees so I can see if this will even work out. But obviously I will need some inventory in order to get started. As much as I believe in what I am marketing, I strongly dislike cold calling and/or being a walk-in. Is this the best method of marketing (besides advertising, which is not an option at the moment).

How do you court celebrities with your product?

Everyone knows that getting a celebrity to wear your clothing line will send sales through the roof. What are some proven methods of securing their time to make a presentation? If there are no proven methods, what ideas do you suggest?

I would like to start my own fashion line in the hip hop industry producing the next big idea in hip hop fashion. I would like to target the 18-26 age group.

How can I use social networking sites to boost my sales?

I've recently started a t-shirt company and I'm looking for ways to boost sales and to get more exposure online and offline on a limited budget. I currently have a few social networking profiles and an active e-commerce website. The t-shirts are being marketed to 15-35 year-old male customers. Eventually I'd like to have a brick and mortar store for my business.

How do I develop contacts with national media outlets?

I have been a PR coordinator focusing on local media outreach for about a year now. I was recently promoted to PR director and re-located to Los Angeles for the national division of our company. Though I am very excited about the new challenge and have great communication skills, I am already experiencing some difficulty in getting some of the larger and more reputable publications to respond to me. What is the best way to build national media relationships when you have not met with the reporter or outlet face-to-face? How did the greats of the PR industry initially establish their contacts? Should I make general introductions before I pitch different story angles and people, or should I jump in feet first? I feel I have a good understanding of what is media-worthy and what is not, but what am I missing? Your help is greatly appreciated. Thank you!

What would it take to start a modest vertical ad network?

I am a software engineer who works for an internet software company. With an entrepreneurial spirit, I am looking to start a small business in the vertical ad network game. In my years of developing web applications for other people's sites and businesses, I have noticed that the small publisher, or website owner, has a tough time monetizing their site easily and the small or even large advertiser has a tough time reaching all the small demographically charged sites around the internet. Can a vertical ad network be a small one man shop? If so, where is the best place to start and what are the pitfalls?


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