Handling power surges, keeping online language positive, making the most of the Oscars, and the best way to organize (it's weekly).

Mars, Venus, Maps

Creating a map for your store, or even a flier or directory? Keep in mind that men tend to remember numbers, and women are better at recalling colors. It’s why mall directories assign each store a numeric address and color.

Surge Protection

When it comes to business threats, power surges probably aren’t near the top of your list. But they happen much more frequently than commonly thought and the damage can be extensive, with disruption to business and repair bills running to tens of thousands of dollars for damaged equipment. Cathy Calhoun, owner of Calhoun Jewelers in Royersford, PA, said she was still struggling to get or business back in order more than a month after a power surge struck her store. The answer is simple and inexpensive — surge protection devices, or SPDs, says Jewelers Mutual, which has handled an increasing number of claims in the past few years. Get yourself one.

TIPS TECHNOLOGY

Keep It Positive!

Keep website language simple, friendly, and positive. So say participants at the last Shop.org summit in Las Vegas. “Orders received by 2 p.m. will be shipped out today!” is much better than “Orders received after 2 p.m. will not be shipped until the next business day.” “Buy,” instead of “Submit” for orders. “Join Now” or “Sign Up,” again rather than “Submit” to register for an e-mail bulletin.

Beat the Clock

Never on time? The Alltop Procrastinator’s Clock can help. (Get it at componentx.com/Alltock/). This application displays a clock in your menu bar that’s up to 15 minutes fast — but you never know for sure. It doesn’t change the system clock; it just fakes you out.

Aim Small

Instead of dreaming of The Next Big Thing, focus on introducing change in small, short bursts. Look for improvements to current products and services and use little experiments to test ideas, says Rosabeth Moss Kanter, the author of Find the 15-Minute Competitive Advantage.

TIPS SALESFLOOR

Oscar Action!

Oscar strategy: As soon as the awards end, hit your favorite fashion websites to find out who wore what. In your showcases, place a photo or two of your favorite stars wearing a piece from a designer you carry. Mention your discoveries in an e-mail bulletin to your most fashion-conscious customers.

Bead Demo


Darlene Felton, owner of Felton Jewelers in Warrenton, VA, had a great idea for a bead event in early December, bringing in bead artist Christie Michalos-Kaniewski to get shoppers excited about the store’s Italian glass bead jewelry. Sadly, heavy snowstorms killed attendance. We can only urge Darlene to keep up the good ideas.

Model Customers

Thinking of an event for young consumers? Take a tip from fashion retailer Topshop, whose New York store has a studio where a photographer snaps its young customers in their new clothes and allows them to post the pictures to their Facebook pages.

TIPS General

Think by the Week

Most planning tools — daily planners, calendars and to-do lists — help you be more efficient. But you’re only prioritizing your crises each day. Effective Habits author Stephen Covey’s cure-all: a weekly worksheet. Organize your life on a weekly basis; this allows you to schedule time for your priorities and the actions that prevent crises.

Friend Factor

Another sign of where social marketing is going: Online retailer JamesAllen.com has introduced a feature on its website that allows customers to ask friends via Facebook for their opinions on a diamond they are considering.

Bring Your Numbers Man

If you’re seeking a new bank loan, pay your accountant to help prepare the application or even accompany you to the bank. It saves the banker a lot of work and will ensure you get a loan with the right maturity. Most small businesspeople tend to be hopeless optimists when it comes to revenue projections.

This story is from the March 2010 edition of INSTORE

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