End-to-end launch planning is the last challenge to get your product into mass retailers

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This is the last article of the series of Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel.  I would like to discuss the last and biggest challenge of getting your product into the mass retail channel – the launch coordination..... 

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Product Packaging Tips for Success in the Mass Retailer Channel

imageImagine this. A mass retailer had decided to stock your product! The product launch date became the best day of your life. But after the euphoria of only a few short-lived months, the retailer decided to de-list your product. You are left with inventory and debt, making it the worst day of your life.

There are so many ways to screw up your launch. Product packaging is one of the most important factors for a successful launch. Ugly looking or confusing packaging generally doesn’t sell. If users don’t like it, retailers won’t like it.

In this 5th article from my series of Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel, I would like to discuss product packaging that can make your launch in the mass retailer channel successful. 

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Stop Spam by Routing Your Email Through an Anonymous Gmail Filter

imageThe anti-spam fortress for my small business consists of several defense mechanisms, of which routing all my email through an “anonymous” Gmail account is my knight in shining armor.

The general strategy here is not to use Gmail as your main business email account, but rather as an effective spam filter for your regular business email address.

The tactic involves routing all you email through Gmail prior to receiving the email in your primary email address and client, such as MS Outlook, Thunderbird, etc.

This is the first article in my series Five Tips on How to Stop Spam Effectively

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Five Tips on How to Stop Spam Effectively

imageAbout a year ago, my small business was getting about 100 to 150 spam messages in each of our email accounts every day. These days, we’re getting about 1 to 2 spam messages on a bad day. Most days, it’s none at all.

I won’t go into how spam slows down your email server, kills your productivity, or is plain old offensive. We’ve all become too familiar with seeing flashes of “LegalRX Free Meds” and “ViA*gRa”, “Cheap Rolex and Cartier”, and the ilk!

Instead, I would like share with you some tricks I used to stop spam almost completely from reaching my business. 

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How to Approach the Mass Retailer Buyer—Be Ready and Quick

imageThere’s seldom a second chance. You should not approach your mass retailer buyer if you are not ready to do business.

Entrepreneurs often excitingly send proposals to their key buyers only to never hear back from them. When they then try to catch their buyers on phone, they can’t reach them. Such entrepreneurs often feel left in the dark with uneasy disappointment. What did they do wrong? What’s the better way to win over the buyers?

In this fourth article from my series of Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel, I would like to introduce the mass retailer buyer, and how to approach them. 

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Automate Repetitive Keystrokes with Macros to Save Time

imageIf you find yourself writing repetitive phrases in emails or blog comments, and want to save lots of time, you may be interested in trying out Texter by Adam Pash, an editor at Lifehacker.com.

Texter is substitution application based on the popular AutoHotKey macros module, and will save you countless keystrokes by replacing abbreviations with commonly used phrases you define. As real bonus, Texter is free and can be installed with just a quick visit to Lifehacker.com, a blog well worth visiting in and of itself for its time-saving tips.

I respond to tons of technical inquiries for my two small businesses each week. Since starting Texter, I think I’ve already cut my email time in half!

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How to Choose a Name for Your Small Business

imageThe first task we tend to do when creating a new startup idea is to decide upon its company name.  With a name, you feel the business is real and that you can finally start talking about it.

Choosing the right name can help potential customers find you, identify with you, and thus buy from you.

On the flip side of the coin, starting with the wrong name can cost you in the long term. Choosing the wrong name can mean the loss of previously attained page rank status on search engines, confusion among yours suppliers, and ultimately the loss of customers.

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Use a Mailbox Service to Free Your Business for Growth

imageWhat do UPS Stores, Mail Boxes Etc., and other mailbox services have in common? They can be an invaluable backend partner for your small or home business, especially during crunch time.

A couple years ago, I decided to set up a mailbox at a UPS Store for my business. Today, I still think it was one of the best cheap investments I’ve ever made, and I constantly wonder how I could have gone without it earlier. 

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Create Momentum Before Knocking on the Retailer’s Door

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Even if you have a great product, already understand the customer (the retailer), and know your product meets the key performance indicators of the retailer, you are still not yet ready to knock on the customer’s door.

In this third article from the series Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel, I will reveal five tasks you need to do to create a momentum before approaching the buyer of the mass retailer with your product.... 

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Know Your Key Performance Indicators to Get into Mass Retailers

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Mass retailers will not take in a new product with an unknown brand name, especially from small business owners, unless your product is truly hot. Even if you think it’s hot, you still need to do your homework to prove your product is hot. But what defines hot?

In this second article from my series of Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel, I talk about how mass retailers define what’s hot and what’s not using key performance indicators (KPIs), and why you need to know your product’s KPIs.

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What’s the Life Expectancy of Your Service Provider?

imageWhether or not your small business uses Vonage, dim news of the troubled internet phone company is a wake up call for all of us to reexamine the stability of all our service providers, especially those based on the ever-changing internet.

In case you haven’t heard, Vonage is sinking fast, after losing its second patent infringement lawsuit in a single year. If you’re a Vonage customer, it may be time to jump ship because your business phone number may not float for long.

If you’re not a Vonage customer, it still doesn’t mean your off the hook just yet.

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Know the Mass Retail Channel

imageThe first tip from my series of Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel is that you know your potential customer, meaning the mass retailer in this case. Jumping to this step assumes, of course, you already know the ins and out of your own product and end-consumer.

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Six Tips for Getting Your Product into the Mass Retail Channel

imageWhenever I watch The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC, I can’t help but notice that virtually all entrepreneurs whom Donny Deutsch interviews end up talking about how they struggled but ultimately managed to get their new product into the mass retail channel.

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Does A Small Business Really Need a Blog?

imageBlogging can be a wonderful marketing tool if you’re trying to build your personal brand as a lawyer, consultant, or other independent service provider. However, for promoting services and products as a business concern, I think using a blog is not only insufficient but also inefficient. Wouldn’t you agree?

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20 Minutes to Lower Shipping Rates from UPS, FedEx, and DHL

imageWhether your home or small business uses UPS, FedEx, or DHL, you can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars each year by simply picking up the phone to renegotiate your shipping rates.

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The Big Customer Nightmare for Your Small Business

imageA Fortune 500 multinational corporation just signed on to buy 100,000 widgets from your small business. Shall we toast to champagne? Hold on to that cork, my dear friend! Actually, this may become your nightmare of all nightmares if you’re not careful.

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Is your Marketing Message on Target?

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Believe it or not, I love watching television commercials. I’m serious. Television commercials are not only fascinating, but entertaining as well. For the business owner, it’s also free education.

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How to Import Without Worrying About U.S. Customs

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The U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an agency of the Department of Homeland Security, establishes the main requirements for businesses and individuals to import goods into the US. As scary as this sounds, realize that the actual process you need to follow is quite simple.

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Importing Can Be a Cakewalk

imageAre you a business owner who shudders at the thought of importing goods from abroad? The toughest part of importing lies in finding a reliable overseas supplier. However, after that, the shipping logistics, customs clearance, and duty payment, is actually a piece of cake. 

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Why My Small Business Uses Quickbooks

imageFew software packages offer the ideal balance between 100% full customizable functionality and cost, at least for those on a shoestring budget. However, three come close: Quickbooks Pro (or Premium or Enterprise editions) by Intuit, Peachtree Complete Accounting by Sage Software, and Microsoft Office Accounting Professional. Of these three, my software of choice is Quickbooks Pro.

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Comparing UPS, FedEx, DHL, and USPS

image If you’re starting a business that sells a physical product, chances are you’ll need to decide if you will ship via UPS, Fedex, DHL, or your local postal service such the United States Postal Service (USPS). Should you offer all four major services on your website and then let the customer decide? Or should just pick the service with the lowest rate? Actually, the answer is not that simple. 

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Choosing a corporate structure

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There are a number of different structures to choose in incorporating your start-up, e.g. sole proprietorship, LLC, C-Corp.  You can find good books to learn their tax implications.  But not many books discuss them from business perspectives. There are a few business characteristics that should drive your decision on the incorporation, 1) possibility of product and service liability, 2) relationship with your team, 3) need for upfront capital and time, and 4) aspiration for a corporate merger or IPO.  What structure works best?

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