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Ever wonder what sets big businesses apart from small businesses? Of course they have the resources, and with it they can get the best talents and top-of-the-line technology to outsell othe retailers and develop features that can only turn a small business green with envy.Take a look for example at online businesses. Beyond their sleek and professional design, leading online retailers use a number of features and functionalities that sets them apart. Some of these features are something small businesses can adopt, while others are certainly beyond the reach of small online retailers:360-degree
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viewAdvanced searchAffiliate programAuctionBlogsCatalog quick orderColor swatchingCoupons/rebatesCustomer reviewsDaily/seasonal specialsDynamic imagingEmail a friendEnlarged product viewFrequent buyer programFrequently asked questionsGadgetsGuided navigationInteractive catalogInteractive kiosksKeyword searchMappingMobile commerceMouseoverOnline circularOnline gift certificatesOutlet centerPre-ordersProduct comparisonsProduct customizationsProduct ratingsProduct recommendationsProduct wikisRegistrySite personalizationSocial networkingStore locatorSyndicated contentTop sellersVideocastsWhat's newWidgets Wish ListsZoom

What type of offers from marketers do you respond to?For me, I love free bags from fashion magazines subscriptions, and free cosmetics from beauty brands. I also love free shipping and discount coupons I get from retailers. I also love the rewards program of retailers as well as all the discounts I can get. Basically, I love anything that can save me money.As a marketer, there are a wide number of offers that you can offer your customers to increase response, average amount per sale, and increase transactions. Whether free stuff, rebates, free shipping or guarantees, here are some of these tim
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e tested marketing offers:Freebies or bonus products = buy the product and get other products for free; such as ebook sellers offering 10 bonuses in addition to the ebookFree gift card = typically subject to purchase of x amount of items. Example is Free trial = allowing the consumer to test, try and use the product for free. Cosmetic companies do this by giving away smaller (trial) sizes of their productsFree subscriptionFree downloads = software companies allow users to download and use the software for x number of times/days before the trial period expires and a paid version must be purchasedComplementary in-home consultation = offered by service businesses wherein the business will offer the first visit/consultation for free.Free cost estimates = normally given by service companies such as contractors, they will come to the customer for free, assess the site and the work needed to be done, and give the customer a free quotation or estimateFree gift with purchaseFree needs survey Free disposal - for products being replaced such as appliancesFree/Instant rebatesNo payments/no interest for x number of months = for businesses that provide financing optionsChoice of Free giftStepped Free giftsSamplesFree shipping = offered by online or catalog/mail order companies whereby shipping is offered to the customer for freeFree shipping after $X amount of purchase = free shipping only after the desired minimum order amount is reachesd ($25 free super shipping of Amazon, or's free shipping for orders $100 for Gap cardmembers)Gift shipment optionsRush shipping serviceUpgrade shippingDiscounts for Bundled purchase = practiced by, this retailer ofers a small discount for purchasing the recommended item instead of simply the original item the customer wantsFree keeper giftSweepstakes and contestsMoney-back guarantee = to show the marketer's confidence that the customer will love their products, this is a simple guaratee wherein a refund will be made if the customer is not satisfied with a product or service.Long term guaranteeDouble your money back guaranteeRelationship discount = discounts given to existing customers in order to entice them to order againPrice matchingNegative option = favored by mail order book clubs, this is the practice in which goods or services are provided automatically, and the customer has the option of paying for the item or service or decline it before billingPositive OptionReservation optionQuantity discount = price reduction given to large purchases Limited time offers = designed to create urgency to the consumers to buy, marketers offer special discounts or freebies thrown in but only for a small window of opportunityRefer-a-member or member-get-memberPrice increase announcementPrice matchingIntroductory PriceLast chanceEarly bird discountTrade in offerEnrollment PeriodPrepublication OfferCharter membershipPayment with orderBill me laterInstallmentsLay away planCumulative IncentivesDeluxe versionShop till ForbidAnnual Membership FeeLifetime Membership FeeLoad upsYes/NoYes/MaybeDollars OffLimited EditionBounce backLoyalty offers: lower prices for repeat or multiple purchase/visits/usage of serviceThemed promotions such as special hotel packages inclusive of golf or free sports gear package for sport court installation

If you are trying to raise cash for your existing business, one way is through factoring or accounts receivable financing. With factoring, a business can receive immediate cash for its accounts receivable. This option works best if you cannot get secured commercial debt or if you are not willing to give up shares of your company.If this is a financing option you'd like to consider for your business, read the article "Basics of Factoring: What Every Business Owner Needs to Know About Factoring." The article discusses when a business is right for factoring, how factoring works, pros and cons of
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this financing strategy, and how factoring compares to other financing options.

We have tested several widgets at to make it easy for users to share our content, and tap Web 2.0 sites to increase our traffic. And the tool we love the most -- and using more extensively is AddThis is a simple widget that you put into your site or blog, and visitors can bookmark, share or email your content. If you're looking at a way to get your content into MySpace, Digg, Stumbleupon and other Web 2.0 sites, AddThis is a tool that can help youWhat we liked about AddThis is its ease of use. Setting an account is very easy, and grabbing the wid
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get is a breeze. You don't have to be a techie to actually understand how it works, and grab the code to be put to your site.The reports are also done almost in real time, and you can find out the URL of your content that has been shared by a user, and what service did the user shared it to.But of course, it's not without its kinks:You can't know and track the URLs that have been emailed by users. You also won't know the email addresses of the sender and the recipient that some email share-to-a-friend scripts can show you.There's tendency to show false positives, and therefore inflated reports (just hope that it's not 100% inflated reports). A user can click on share to Stumbleupon, but for some reason, the user failed to login to his Stumbleupon account thereby failing to share the content in Stumbleupon. But AddThis will already read the fact that the buttom was clickd on as a success and report that the URL was shared in StumbleuponSharing blog posts can be a bit screwy. Sometimes the URL will not be reported in your account and instead will show this data:post.title/. This is also the URL automatically posted into the user form, so unless the user removed this message and replaced it with the actual URL then it becomes a worthless shareBut even with the above kinks, AddThis is a great tool for sharing your site and helping it go viral

The book selling business is a very competitive business. The intense competition from online giant plus the big bookstore chains such as Barnes and Noble and Borders has put huge pressures on profit margin and made it difficult for independent booksellers to thrive.But if you have been dreaming of starting a bookstore, I suggest you start by getting a copy of the book FabJob Guide to Become a Bookstore Owner and other books on the topic. These books are comprehensive and will guide you to some critical decision making needed when starting a bookstoreThen make sure you attend the Bo
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ok Expo America, which will be held in LA this year on May 29 - June 1 -- this is the PERFECT place to meet publishers big and small, and start setting up accounts with these publishing houses. I've attended several of these in recent years, and it is one big event where both big publishers to independent publishers gather. It is a must-attend for every bookseller.Also be sure to check out the resources provided by the following organizations: American Booksellers Association Industry Study Group's Bookwire (for book industry statistics and news) One important aspect of starting a bookstore is developing relationships with book wholesalers and distributors. Determine the major and minor book suppliers that you want to purchase from. Then inquire how you can become a customer, and if you need to go through a credit approval process. They will give you their catalogs from which you can order your inventory. The largest book wholesalers are Ingram Book Group and Baker & Taylor, but if you want to specialize in children's books, contact the Children's Book Council .

I've had for quite some time a copy of the book "God is a Salesman: Learn from the Master" by Mark Stevens, but I never had the interest to read it. Maybe it's my strict Catholic upbringing that I don't want God to be portrayed as a salesman, or maybe it's because of the cheesy intro "Through the deep thought, spirituality, and philosophy that form the basic tenets of my life." Okaaay!But after the initial trepidation, I found that it is actually a useful book. Cheesy, but nonetheless, insightful and useful. You just have to make sure that you don't consider religious significance and focus on
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the business implications. This is, afterall, not a book trying to prove the existence of God.As the author writes:According to the book, here are some of the things we can learn from God:God treats us all as family: "We must view selling as a way of building and maintaining faith in one another .... When practiced by The Master's standards, sales is the connection that fuses an enterprise to people, helps to shape the company's offerings to meet customers' evolving needs, and nurtures its growth over time."God shares His vision: "God never sells a product or a service. God holds out an ideal, a standard to achieve, and most important, something to achieve. Great salespeople learn from this and emulate it." God makes guarantees: "When you sell something to someone, you can be unequivocal about what that product or service will deliver. And this has exceptional power."It seems hard to think that we can be anywhere like God even in selling. But the tips the author gives are sound and practical. There's actually no new selling tips that other books on sales haven't mentioned before, except, for associating the sales tips to God.

One of the interesting data in the Research's report "State of Online Retailing 2007" is the most cost effective online marketing method.Per the study, the amount of dollars online spent by an online retailer to get an order based on various methods are as follows:Email (to customer list) = $6.53Affiliate program = $17.47Paid search = $26.75Banner ads = $71.89Yet the average retailer (I surmise, average LARGE retailer) only spends about 10% of their marketing budgets or $311,196 on email, compared to $1.8 million spending on banners. Check your own marketing effectiveness, a
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nd how much you spend to get one order from that marketing method -- and allocate more resources on the most cost effective method for you

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