Branding – Burning Your Company In The Minds Of Your Customers

So much about branding seems logical and sensible that it’s difficult to imagine a time when the concept wasn’t so obvious. With the advent of marketing science, and its expansion into advertising, packaging, and corporate identity, we are all now far more conscious of image and impression when it comes to products on our supermarket shelves and high street stores. But as a small business owner, or as a sole trader or someone about to start up a small business, how do issues of branding affect you?

Is this something you need to consider or is it just for the “big guys” Most people understand that if you are going to have a business, or if you are going to trade at any level, the base minimum you need in relation to image is a logo and some business stationery unfortunately, for many, this is as far as they go and complications evolve over time through having a business which is not represented in clear terms by the information it distributes about itself. Branding isn’t just about logos and stationery, its about the letters and emails you write and the adverts you commission, its about the way you interact with your customers and workforce. Its about showing people who you are and what you do as much as it is about telling them.

If you ever get into a discussion with a brand manager or brand marketer you will soon hear them use the word “personality”. It is a core concept in brand marketing and provides a useful device for understanding brands and how they gain a foothold in the public imagination. Especially in the consumer, retail and service industries, every high profile company will have a “brand image”.

This is more than just its logo or corporate stationery, this is a considered core strategy for dealing with everything from their internal office affairs to the public relations and products. And its based upon the concept of “personality”.

Simply put, the idea is similar to one that actors and fiction writers would be familiar with: You have a character name, and you describe his or her values, characteristics, qualities, philosophy, interests, politics everything, in fact. You create a complete character profile of this fictional entity so that when you write about him or her in your story, you know him as if he were a real person.

This is often referred to as the character’s “back-story”. Because of this work you know how your character will act in a particular circumstance and what he will say and do. In fact, when two such “characters” meet in your work of fiction, they almost write the dialogue between them.

Because of the research, fictional characters become quite lifelike, and the best made characters enter the consciousness of the readership so deeply that they cry when something bad happens, to them, and they talk about them among their friends as if they were real people.

So, let’s get back to the issue of branding. A brand begins like a fictional character’s back-story. A brand begins as that list of qualities which the company or product stands for. This list of core qualities or characteristics is often referred to as the DNA of the brand since it acts like an implicit blueprint or genetic profile and determines the unique characteristics of the explicit brand.

The bigger the company or product, and the wider its range of products or services, then the more detail has to go into this “branding exercise”. Once those core attributes are established, and that DNA has been identified, then the entire workings of the company or service will be fine tuned to reflect those core qualities and attributes.

The more these qualities and attributes become associated, in the minds of the consumer or service user, the more the company is said to be “branded”. It is an exercise of association, not unlike that of Pavlov’s dog. Pavlov was a Russian psychologist famous for observing that if he rang a bell each time he fed his dog, it would begin to salivate on hearing the bell even if food wasn’t forthcoming.

In a world where advertising is everywhere, branding is a way of positioning your company or product in the minds of your customers, and potential customers. Having a strong brand means you don’t have to fight for people’s attention on every billboard and television advertisement because your audience is pre-informed: they carry an awareness of your company and it’s values in their memories and you just have to reinforce that perception each time.

This is a far more intimate relationship than mere advertising since it has to be built over time but once established, it is a connection that perpetuates. Whatever your business or whatever the size of your business, considering your brand and how that is perceived by your customers is an essential ingredient of building your business and credibility.

20 Tips To Market And Brand Your Struggling Business

Whether you’re starting a new company, managing a nonprofit or looking for ways to refresh your image, there are lots
of ways to use marketing and branding techniques to improve and update your business. To make sure that you make the
most of the resources around you, consider these tips.

1. Define Your Brand.
You only get one chance to make a good first impression.Clearly state who you are,what you do, why someone should buy from you and why you’re different.

2. Develop a Brand Positioning Statement (in two sentences or less).
Create a statement that succinctly describes your products and services as they relate to your clients’ needs. Refresh
your positioning statement as needed.

3. Create a Plan.
Think through the details for getting your products, services and business in front of the right people. Write it down. Refine it over time. This is called a plan.

4. Get Feedback from Customers and Prospects.
How do you fi nd out why your business isn’t where you want it to be? Get out and talk to customers. Talk to prospects. Find out what they need and how you can fill their needs.

5. Reinforce Your Message.
It takes at least three impressions for someone to remember your products and services. Get the word out about what you do over and over again using a variety of media types.

6. Deliver Benefits Which Customers Really Desire and Value.
How does a customer know whether or not your offering can fix a problem that they don’t even know they have? Describe benefits: how your product or service uniquely satisfies a need, fills a void, provides a solution or identifies a problem.

7. If It’s Broken, Fix It.
Find ways to constantly improve your business. If something isn’t working, be prepared to change it.

8. Identify What Your Brand Means to Customers.
Loyal customers are your greatest asset. Find out just how loyal your customers are by asking them to tell you exactly what makes your offerings valuable to them.

9. Audit and Track Your Success.
Use the services of a colleague or a research firm to perform quarterly or semiannual audits to see how satisfied your clients are or are not. Take action on the information that you get from these audits.

10. Match Your Pricing to the Value That Your Clients Get from Your Offerings.
Test different price points for your products and services. Research the price points and pricing models from competitors in your field. Value is in the eye of the beholder.

11. Organize Your Products and Services in a Logical Way.
Consider your offerings as a system of products and services that work together. Be sure that they are clearly named, priced and marketed so that clients can make an informed and clear buying decision among, and between, your offerings.

12. Spend as Much Time as You Can Getting to Know Your Customers.
Write down a detailed description of your ideal client. Once you’ve found them, take the time to understand their needs, issues and buying patterns.

13. Include Your Product and Company Name on Everything.
Reinforce your image and brand by putting it on everything from email signatures to note cards, websites, direct
mail pieces, marketing materials and voicemail messages.

14. Tell a Story About Your Product or Service.
Everyone loves a good story. Write an account of a how a client found you, a problem that you solved for them, or the successes that they’ve experienced with your products or services.

15. Tell Your Clients’ Stories Using Their Words.
Testimonials and reference letters are effective ways for your clients to sing your praises. Develop a collection of �client stories� that you can access at a moment’s notice.

16. Push for Quality.
Strive to delight your clients by exceeding their expectations and meeting your promise for results.

17. Speak to Your Clients in a Language They Can Understand.
The style, tone and content of all communications to your clients should be easy for them to understand. Avoid acronyms and technical terms unless widely understood by your audience.

18. Get Out to the Marketplace � No Matter What.
Whether or not your business takes you beyond hyperspace, get out and talk to other business owners. Get involved in industry associations. Attend conferences and other educational events.

19. Establish Solid Business Processes.
Document and update the basic series of actions that describe how you run your business. Include steps for taking orders, answering customer inquiries, postsales interactions with customers and other aspects of operating your business.

20. Stay Relevant.
Business people often �reinvent� themselves. Keep up to date on issues and developments in your industry that may affect how (and what and for how much) you sell your products and services. Be on the lookout for opportunities to meet client needs in a new and different way.

5 Key (and A Few Bonus) Ways To Find Your Company’s “unfair Advantage” Through Re-branding

When you began your business, you probably were “on to something” that you felt nobody had addressed. Maybe your business was similar to someone else’s in product or service, but you had that “unfair advantage” of a new, unique, “something” that set you apart. You even came up with what I call a “Branding Statement” that defined how you wanted your customers to view your product or service.

Write your Branding Statement here: ___________________________________________________________________________________________________

But then, as so often does with new things, the newness wore off, and now you are dangerously close to slipping into that “rut of sameness” and losing the very edge that made you so popular before.

Don’t throw in the towel. You may just need a little “Re-Branding” to re-establish your “unfair advantage”.

Our company, ActionCOACH grew out of a need to fill a void. Our “branding statement” is “The World’s Number One Business Coaching Firm.” But our challenge was in defining for our consumer what a “business” coach was. Back then, business coaching was a new concept, so educating customers to a new concept was a top priority.

Part of our branding process was paralleling the concept of business coaching to something familiar to consumers. They all understood that athletic teams and athletes themselves benefit from having a coach. They also understood that an athletic coach’s key responsibility was to prepare his or her team or athlete for peak performance. To accomplish this, the coach must be able to have a clear understanding of discipline, administration, sports medicine, psychology, and prepare athletes for the feats before them.

Brad Sugars, Founder of ActionCOACH recognized that in addition to the skill sets necessary to train athletes (Goal Setting, Communication, Stress and Risk Management, to name a few) business professionals could be trained to “coach” business owners in 5 key areas that would give them the “unfair advantage” over their competitors, including:

• Mastery
• Niche
• Leverage
• Team
• Synergy

The results have been life-altering for thousands of business owners worldwide.

Still, whether one is an athletic team or a business, a key factor in establishing one’s “unfair advantage” is branding. A sports team that repeatedly does not perform well doesn’t just lose fans and games, it loses credibility. The same is true in business. And loss of credibility “rebrands” a company in a way it does not want to be rebranded.

Picture your product or service on a store shelf, alongside similar products and services. Why will someone pay more for your product or service, if in fact you are very similar, if not identical to the ones next to you?

Morton Salt had that challenge. Morton Salt has the same ingredients as the salt right next to them, but costs more, yet to this day people are willing to pay more for Morton Salt? Why? Because “When it rains, it pours,” right? The Morton marketing crew knew what customers hated: Clumpy salt. They addressed the customer’s need in their branding, and after more than 150 years they are still the leading seller of salt.

Clearly this one example alone supports the widely discussed issue that your branding is directly related to your customer’s needs, which is why it’s imperative to know who your primary consumer is in order for you to gain that “unfair advantage”.

For the sake of space, let’s assume that you’ve defined who your target market is, that your business is up and running with social media networks humming, that you’ve carved out a place in the market, but that you’re still working 24/7, you’re exhausted, that time you thought you’d be having for vacations and new houses, and cars and necessities is being eaten away, and that suddenly your baby–your business -if the truth be told, is feeling more like a parasite, feeding off everything you have to give to sustain itself, rather than supporting you.

Ironically, this can be true even if you’ve grown your business to a million-dollar-plus industry. Bigger does not always mean self-sufficient or even better.

So, take a deep breath, clear your thought-clustered mind for a moment and ask yourself:

A. What one key thing differentiates my company from my competitor?
B. What one word summarizes my company that my consumer recognizes as being unique?
C. How is my brand reflected in my company’s operations, finance, marketing, administration, and pricing?

Remember, name recognition isn’t enough. Even companies like Disney, Hertz, Ford, Pepsi, Coke…and more, who are known worldwide have to have a “differentiating factor” that separates them from their competition, refreshing their brand and keeping it ever present and alive in their customers’ minds.

Your attention to both your branding and “re-branding” directly impacts competitive positioning, your promise to your consumers, and your consumer’s experience with your product or service.

My colleague has a favorite expression, “Line up your head with your heart and your feet will follow.” In business, aligning your brand with your strategy allows customers to experience consistency and confidence in your product or service.

Now, that’s a branding you want on your side.

May The Best Brand Win: How Outsourcing Providers Can Use Branding To Achieve A Competitive Edge

Over the past few years, our economy has made a nice rebound. Companies are spending, thinking creatively, trying and doing new things. From all of the hustle and bustle we’ve seen, 2007 looks to be another strong year for business in general. There are some great success stories, which will only inspire more success stories. But success produces one thing more than anything else…competition. And the competition is only going to get more intense. That’s why every outsourcing provider that wants to effectively compete must first and foremost do an exemplary job of communicating the core information that buyers want to know. This information must be portrayed consistently in all forms of communication, including: trade advertising, corporate literature, website, direct marketing, and tradeshow exhibit display.

Covering the basics of Why to Buy.”

#1 Quality and Compliance Overall quality is the primary qualifier in selecting an outsourcer. This is demonstrated in marketing by citing ISO certification, cGMP compliance, as well as commitment to quality systems, vendor-certification processes, and training programs for personnel and customers. Communicating this concrete evidence of your capability to maintain industry standards is a must.

#2 World-Class Service Satisfying customers is simply not enough. Delighting customers at every turn is the new standard. It’s all about being responsive, meeting your commitments with consistency, solving problems when they occur, proving time and time again that you can adapt to your client’s business requirements and take specific actions to maintain a positive relationship, through all the ups and downs.

#3 Unique Capabilities Are there any services or skill sets you provide that are unique to your facility, or relatively uncommon among your competitors? These need to be highlighted in every form of communication, and can include specialized equipment, or even top level personnel with great career track records.

#4 Speed-to-Market Many outsourcing providers cite this as a customer benefit, and it’s important to cite, but not overstate. The reason? It’s kind of expected. Unless, you’ve developed and can quantify a process that will deliver speed-to-market in some extreme way or circumstance, this promise should be more of a bullet point and not a headline.

#5 Proven Performance & Reputation Most often, customers will judge you more on what you’ve done, rather than what you say you can do. Obviously, citing specifics may be a potential breach of confidentiality. But there are ways to speak to your track record without naming names. Remember, people do and will talk. People will ask others informally what they think about you. Be as open and upfront as possible with respect to offering references. The best way to handle the reference question: Here’s who we work with. Who would you like to speak with?”

#6 Capacity Companies look at current utilization and capacity metrics to determine whether a potential vendor has sufficient assets, process technology and people to manage production and/or volume. Make certain your capabilities are well documented and easily accessed on line and available upon request in hard copy form.

#7 Competitive Costs While you don’t necessarily have to be the low-cost provider, your costs should be in alignment with other providers. Further, if you have demonstrated #1-#6 effectively in your marketing presentation, #7 should not be a deal breaker. Cost should not be a function of your marketing presentation, unless you intend to be the undisputed low-cost provider” or the Walmart of your industry.

Above and beyond the basics …it’s all about branding.

So you’ve demonstrated that your organization has the competencies and abilities to handle the job. But what if your competitors have done likewise? At the end of the day, a choice will be made and the project will be awarded. Given the high caliber of outsourcing providers in North America today, #2 and #3 will be, in many respects, just as qualified as the #1 choice to handle the business.

What does it come down to? It comes down to the intangibles; the soft stuff and little things that mean everything come decision time. And most of that ties into your corporate brand.

What is a brand?

A brand is a unique entity that can instantly be distinguished from all others. And it doesn’t just apply to consumer products, as is the most common notion when we think of brands.

Your corporate brand is the expression of your uniqueness as a company, and it doesn’t necessarily have to do with the actual services you provide, or products you manufacture. After all, what does Just Do It” have to do with the quality of Nike’s shoes?

And the concept of branding applies to more than just sneakers. You can brand a company, a service, a person, a region, a holiday, a movie. As Bill Schley notes in Why Johnny Can’t Brand (p. 7) Frank Perdue branded a chicken. Perrier branded water. Florida branded sunshine.”

Branding, then, is all of the work that you do to consistently reinforce, demonstrate and communicate your unique difference. It’s yet another way to define your company as different from the competition so that a customer has additional information to make a choice.

Any outsourcer that has been through a bidding process realizes that the buyer is trying to make a decision. The buyer does this by trying to make you conform to a grid of compatible suppliers to compare apples to apples. This is very hard to do if your brand image makes you look more like an orange. Because an orange, sitting prominently atop a barrel of apples, simply doesn’t quite fit.

But, that will put us out of the running,” you may be inclined to say. We’ll lose out on the opportunity altogether if we don’t play by their rules.” I would argue that this may be the case, but only on the rarest of occasions.

The goal of branding is to position your product, service or firm as the undisputed stand outto represent a unique option to the buyer, one that the competition can’t possibly touch.
Branding is your X factor, and a very powerful one. Because once that X factor is on the table, how does the buyer know if he or she is missing out on a chance to work with a remarkable provider that offers tremendous value?

By positioning your brand as the lone wolf instead of another member of the pack, you may very well give the buyer cause to pause, or provide a moment of clarity. It is in this moment that a purchasing decision maker will see you for all that you are, all that is uniquely special, and all that the two of you might do together that’s equally special.

The lone wolf commands immediate attention and respect. The lone wolf cannot be categorized, or duplicated, or compared. And while I’ve never encountered a lone wolf up close in the wilderness, I can only imagine that it would be a tough negotiation.

As outlined earlier, if you want to be truly successful as the seller of outsourced products and services, you must cover the basics efficiently. But then you must confidently put your company’s point of difference right smack in the middle of the negotiating table.
One central and powerful Why to Buy.”

Your brand message should deliver one central idea across all marketing fronts: advertising, direct marketing, web, tradeshow, pr, etc. And the idea must have some meaningful value for the recipient of the message. It must answer the question What’s in it for me?” The way to establish why to buy” is to first ask yourself, What is it about my company that is unique within my category?” Then ask, What do I want the recipient to do when I communicate to him or her?”

Focus on your core and most noteworthy capabilities. All too often, we see companies casting a wide net of services. But what are you truly great at? Every company, by virtue of its existence, is remarkable in some way. What’s remarkable about your business?

You’re in great brand shape if you can finish any one of the following statements:

We are the only outsourcing provider that . . .
We are #1 in . . .
We are better than any other supplier at…

Of course, making such a claim without evidence is irresponsible branding. You must support it throughout your marketing effort with credibility-building evidence that explains Here’s why” every step of the way.

Take the logo test.

Not sure if you’re delivering a distinctive image? Try this. Take a look at a recent ad, your website or brochure. Now, cover up your logo. If a competitor’s logo could easily be dropped in, and the core message maintained, then you aren’t doing enough to establish your point of difference.

No, you don’t want to be just another apple in the barrel when a buyer comes to market. You want to be distinctively differentdifferent in a way that has undisputed value. Branding is your competitive edge. Play your branding card for all its worth. And play to win. Good luck!

The Least Marketing You Can Do – And Still Have A Successful Small Business

Why do small business owners get such poor results from their marketing? You can sum this up in three reasons: They don’t know what to do, or they don’t know how to do it. Sometimes, even when they know both of these, they just don’t do it!

Not marketing is bad for business.

Marketing is by far the most misunderstood aspect of small business. Many people think it’s selling, which it isn’t. Some people avoid doing marketing, because they fear it’s too pushy and will make them feel needy. Nothing could be further from the truth.

If you love your business and love your customers, you can love marketing. After all, it’s just talking to people you love about something you love, which is your vocation.

Convinced? OK, maybe not yet. Let’s take a look at the three elements of marketing that are the absolute minimum you can do and still have a successful business.

1. Marketing is about creating awareness in your target audience. Unfortunately, most people don’t have psychic powers to sense that you are out there, available to help them.

Instead, we have to make them aware of ourselves. And then, we need to communicate to them in a way that lets them know how they will benefit from whatever we do.

So the first piece of this is a target audience. Since I don’t like the idea of shooting my audience with an arrow or a bullet, I prefer the term “intended audience.” Whom do I intend to serve in my business?

Again, we have to be specific. “Everyone,” “people” and other general terms like this are no good. Even “women” is too general. What kind of women are they? “Brides-to-be who want to capture their wedding memories on film” is better. “Mothers of children with autism” works well, too.

Articulating your intended audience with precision is one of the three things you must do. You will not be successful if you don’t do this step.

2. Now that you know who they are, how will you reach them? Where do they go? What do they read? How could they find out about you?

If you’re a restaurant, you may rely on nothing more than an excellent location to create awareness (like in a food court in a mall). Most of us have to do more.

A residential cleaning service may put up flyers at the supermarket or hang something on neighborhood doorknobs. A financial planner may attend networking events or speak at trade association meetings. A catering company could advertise in a local bridal magazine. A pressure washing service may go door-to-door, knocking.

Getting in front of your audience – whether literally in person, with an ad or an article, or through product sampling – is the second thing you must do. Again, no success without this step.

3. The third and final “least marketing you can do” is to craft a message. If you know your intended audience and get in front of them, what will you say – or broadly, communicate – to them? How will they know that what you are offering is something they should buy?

The core part of your message is your value statement. This is when you tell your intended audience why you are exactly the right choice for them. Think beyond your process (what you do and how you do it) to the final result, the benefit; think big!

Recently, a hotel events planner gave her value statement this way: “When you’re planning a business meeting and there’s no room for mistakes, we ensure a seamless event.” The caterer we talked about could specialize in vegetarian meals, and might say: “I offer vegetarian meals that are so delicious, even the carnivores will want seconds.”

You can vary your message all you want, but the requirement is that there is one. Be sure, when you have the awareness of your intended audience, they leave not with a question mark over their heads, but with an understanding of your value.

Now, that is the least marketing you can do and still be successful.

Merchant Service Becomes Increasingly Affordable

As consumers grow more comfortable with purchasing products online, more and more businesses are expanding to provide services and products on the internet. In order to accept payment, these businesses must implement a merchant service solution to process payments. In past years merchant service packages were very costly, with credit card payment processing systems costing as much as merchant accounts used by physical retail stores. Many smaller businesses simply cannot afford the expenses involved in maintaining these traditional merchant accounts.

The good news is that as internet business continues to grow, merchant service packages have become progressively more affordable. What used to cost businesses hundreds of dollars per month, not including individual transaction fees, for basic merchant account services, is now available for a fraction of the cost. In part the lower costs of merchant operation with regard to the processing of payments online are due to improved payment processing software as well as other integration improvements between database information and point of sale websites.

Merchant service accounts for processing online payments have also become highly sought by those taking part in the online auction industry. Cheaper, revolutionized forms of online payment processing have made it possible for even the smallest businesses and individual sellers to accept payments online. There are several popular merchant services provided by internet companies that do not even require the procuring of a traditional merchant account. This means that sellers and businesses can afford to accept online payments because there are no monthly fees. These types of merchant services generally charge a per transaction amount, as well as a percentage of the total bill amount.

Usually these same contemporary merchant service solution companies also provide more extensive packages comparable to more traditional merchant accounts. With these extended merchant service packages, clients are able to process additional forms of payment, such as lesser known credit cards, debit cards and online or electronic checks. Additionally, the more comprehensive merchant service packages offered by these affordable internet payment providers allow clients to process credit cards and other forms of payment directly through their websites. In the past, merchant account services similar to this cost anywhere from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month. Now, however, it is possible to secure high-end merchant account payment processing and notification services for much less than one hundred dollars per month. Innovations in these areas of merchant services have made it possible for small business owners to thrive on the internet.

Take a little time to research some of the various merchant services that are available to you. In today’s net-ready world, there are literally hundreds of top of the line merchant service packages from which to choose. This means that you will be able to find the merchant service package that best fits your needs as well as your budget. Some things to consider in choosing a merchant service account and provider are the monthly fees associated with maintaining your merchant account. There are also usually fees that apply to individual transactions. Many times, providers offer several different packages, such that depending on your volume of sales, you can pay lower per-transaction fees for an increased monthly account fee. Again, it is worth taking the time to compare the different merchant service packages in order to determine the most cost effective plan for your individual business.

Merchant Services: What Your Business Needs To Know

When a business owner hears the term “merchant services” they typically think of a generalized idea involved processing credit and debit card transactions. While not entirely wrong, it simply misses the entirety of what merchant services are as well as how they can hep a business grow and prosper.

Any business that accepts credit and debit card payments will need to use merchant services. This is especially so if they want to expand into other payment processing areas such as online or mobile. To do this, a merchant will need to utilize a credible merchant services provider to utilize new technologies and realize new revenue opportunities.

However, it’s important for a merchant services provider to know that each business is unique. For example, an eCommerce-based business may have different needs than a body shop. Even though security may be of paramount importance for each establishment, the eCommerce business will have higher security measures versus the body shop. In addition, the body shop will more than likely need a physical payment processor to process payments in person whereas the eCommerce business will simply need a virtual-based one.

So how does payment processing work? It begins with a merchant establishing a merchant services account with a provider. Once this is done then payments can start to be accepted.

When a merchant swipes a debit card, the payment processor simply acts as the traffic cop between the customer, merchant, credit card networks, and banks. The swiped card through the payment processor sends a message to the bank asking to either accept or decline this transaction. It does this by checking the account of the cardholder to determine if their is enough funds to cover the transaction. If so, the bank sends an authorization code to the processor who then passes it along to the merchant to process the payment and print out a receipt gathering the customer’s signature (if needed).

However, if the transaction is denied then the processor is notified who then lets the merchant know who informs the customer. The merchant can then ask the customer for another form of payment to complete the transaction.

At the end of the business day, the merchant will send all the authorization codes they’ve received on that day to the processor. The processor will then send them all in one batch to the appropriate banks for settlement. This process is called batching or batch settlement.

However, because a merchant is dealing with sensitive financial information, it is important to have security protocols in place to prevent fraud. In the merchant services industry, their is a specific protocol called Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS) or PCI for short. Everyone from the merchant to processors to banks have to adhere to these security protocols in order to minimize and prevent fraud when possible. This helps protect everyone involved should a breach of data or fraud occur. Should a merchant not be compliant and a breach occurs then they could face fines and penalties. In addition, they could lose their merchant services account which will have immediate impact on their revenues due to the inability to process credit and debit card payments. As well, they could gain a bad reputation with their customers causing them to lose even more business.

If your business is ready to select a merchant services provider, then where do you begin? A merchant can usually turn to the Internet to do a very simple online search using sites like Google. This will usually tell a merchant of the type and quality of companies that offer merchant services. Visit their websites and even read reviews from sites like the Better Business Bureau to find the best service providers. In addition, a merchant can ask other businesses who they use and recommend as a merchant services provider. Other businesses will usually have quite a bit to say about a merchant services provider whether it comes from a great partnership or awful experiences. In addition, feel free to reach out to the merchant services companies and speak to a rep to learn more about their levels of products and services. Since this is a technology-based industry, it’s important for your service provider to be on the leading edge so you have access to the latest technologies you can use to decrease your costs while increasing profits.

Service doesn’t simply end once the contract is signed and you have your payment processing terminals. It’s important to know the level and kind of customer service given once you sign up with a merchant services provider. Should a need or an emergency arise, you will need to how and when a merchant services provider will address your concerns.

It’s important that you know what rates and fees will be applied to your merchant services account. For example, some merchant services providers may tout the benefits of a free terminal which may sound good to a prospective merchant. However, many times their are higher than usual rates and fees associated with these “free” terminals so beware when you hear this.

In conclusion, these services may seem like something businesses might not need to know that much about. However, a properly educated merchant can use merchant services to help them reduce their business operating costs while increasing profits.

American Express Merchant Services

In case you are questioning whether to take American Express cards and establish up American Express merchant account services, take into account the benefits and drawbacks. Today, roughly 10% of US consumers use AmEx, a sizable enough figure for any business owner to contemplate.

Plus points:
Many businesses use AmEx with regard to their staff providing your business the opportunity to get company travelers who prefer to charge their expenses to their AmEx due to the positive aspects (e.g. air miles, cash back, and so on. Some AmEx card holders will not enter a store or use a website that does not exhibit the company logo indicating that they have American Express merchant services put in place. These card holders spend around 20% extra for every purchase compared to those working with a different card type.

The Negatives:
American Express merchant account services fails to always pay the merchant as soon as alternative card types. These accounts possess higher rate components, which suggests businesses spend a little more for every transfer within their AmEx merchant services account.

It is essential that you simply determine the following thoughts and currently being aware about the details of your business design can help you make the most efficient selection whether or not to use these merchant account services.

Must you take each and every form of charge card?

Do you need a new processing account for AmEx merchant account services?

Will you eliminate a number of shoppers if you don’t arrange American Express merchant services?

Has it been necessary for the prosperity of your business to set up American Express merchant account services?

To Accept: While choosing whether to establish AmEx merchant account services, you might want to determine whether or not you should recognize each individual kind of card. Is agreeing to AmEx going to affect your bottom-line gains? Can it be seriously worth offending an individual who employs American Express?

To Not Acknowledge: Many individuals who hold an AmEx corporate card, also have various other card companies that they might use if asked to do so. Bear this in mind in the event you truly feel the costs to maintain their merchant services are too high relative to the true fees involving processing various card versions.

The Conclusion: You will most certainly conclude that including additional options to customers is never going to hurt your business. Quite often, the decision to use these merchant services helps your small business develop. Many vendors do not have AmEx merchant services as a result of larger discount price charged in an attempt to spend less, however in actuality, this selection is not always cost-effective. It’s reported that the choice to set up American Express merchant services can easily improve business because of the following:

Impulse ordering. The greater number of selections you offer your clients the more likely they are to order. It would definitely end up being a pity for a competitor to take your business simply because they had AmEx and you did not.

You might eliminate a new recurring purchaser. Declining a purchase because it costs slightly more doesn’t save you money. The purchaser may no longer buy from you, he may be buying from an opponent who has put in place AmEx.

Greater Spending. Research indicates that these card holders spent 2.6 times as much on retail Internet buying in the past half a year swiping an AmEx Card.

Provided that your profit margins are actually higher than the fees, you should always acknowledge as many forms of payment as you possibly can. New customers will result in your decision to add these merchant account services. AmEx stands out as the third most favored bank card in America. Subject to who your potential customers will be, putting off such a merchant services account might be an inadequate business decision.

Below is a percentage within the type of credit card usage in accordance with the industry. Even though 10% with regard to AmEx inside retail industry is not a large number, 25% in the B2B segment where businesses market within places where there are tons of business people or appeal to other businesses is an important percent.

You don’t want to postpone opening an American Express merchant services account if businesses are your principal supply of income want to pay making use of their American Express credit card. It’s the same for choosing office products, equipment, computer systems, paper,etc. If you don’t have this merchant services, people planning to utilize their AmEx credit card will seek out a company that does.

If you decide to begin this merchant services, you’d first need to fill out an application for a credit card merchant account. Nearly all businesses will discover it cost-effective to receive all major credit cards. Your company doesn’t need to needlessly suffer a loss of clients

Contrary to popular belief there are still people who only have an AmEx cards. Declining one of these potential customers because you haven’t created an American Express merchant services account is avoidable. Allowing the credit card processor set up your merchant account is free (ordinarily) uncomplicated. The processor you decide on for your Visa and MasterCard merchant account has the option to set up an American Express merchant services and Discover merchant accounts free of cost. These do not charge a fee to get a new merchant account. Your merchant service provider should provide this particular service at no cost. If they have a cost for setting up an AmEx merchant services and/or Discover merchant account, you should request the actual way it benefits your business. At times upfront fees, counterbalance increased fees each month, therefore with regards to the overall arrangement, it might be the better choice.

You could get rid of the service at anytime. There won’t be any long term contracts connected with an American Express Merchant Account. This means you don’t have anything to lose by simply giving them a shot for a short time to see if there is an interest in American Express. You won’t need to publicize that you accept one card or a counterpart. If American Express merchant services premiums are not really something you’d like to promote, just recognize the credit card each time a consumer has no other way of payment to you.

Choosing From Among the Many Merchant Services

Being able to offer your customers as many payment options as possible can make your business grow in a huge way. By giving them the ability to pay for merchandise with their credit cards, especially if you are an online business owner, you give them an ease and flexibility of shopping that will have them returning time and again to make purchases from you. And with the popularity of online shopping higher than it has ever been, the demands to make your business better are just as great. The vast majority of shoppers prefer to pay for their orders with credit cards, so it makes good business sense that you would offer that option to them. By opening a merchant account with one of the many merchant services available to business owners, your customers will enjoy the simplicity and speed of paying by credit card, and you will see your profits soar.

Merchant service firms provide merchant accounts to business owners. A merchant account allows a business to accept credit cards as a form of payment from customers. A merchant account is not the same as a bank account. Rather, a merchant service works to make sure the credit card is verified and that the funds are transferred from the customer you’re your business bank account. It used to be that merchant services were only available through banks and providers to retail establishments that were located in a physical location, like a mall. But the demands of online shopping have caused many merchant account providers to begin to provide merchant services to online business owners. There are many online merchant account providers that offer reliable and secure services particularly to merchants that sell their products on the Internet. Because there are so many merchant service providers available, it is important to be familiar with all characteristics of merchant services, especially the potentially high costs, so that you don’t lose your profits. It is also important to find a merchant account provider that is dependable, trustworthy, and offers secure services for you and your customers.

If you open a merchant account for your online business, the type of payment processing usually offered by a merchant account service is real-time processing. Real-time processing is the best solution for online business owners since the charge from the customer’s credit card is promptly processed when an order is placed. The customer receives an email notification that the order has been processed and the fund transfer is approved by the credit card company, upon verification and approval of the credit card. You will see the profits from the sale in your bank account within a few days.

The potential fees put upon you for merchant services can be numerous. Since not all of the fees are necessary, and not all merchant service providers change them, check around with different providers until you find one with reasonable fees and monthly charges. Some of these fees include an application fee, a monthly statement fee, a discount rate and transaction fee (these are deducted with each and every sale you make), an annual fee, and a refund fee. There are also other miscellaneous fees that individual merchant service providers might charge you. There are many potential costs associated with opening an account with a merchant service provider. Try to compare services before you make a decision. It’s also a good idea to try to estimate the monthly costs by using your current sales figures to project expenses.

Your relationship with your merchant service provider should last the duration of your business, if possible. You should trust your provider implicitly. Your merchant service provider should offer quick and secure processing of your credit card sales, and they should offer additional services to offer your customers even more payment options. Not only should they accept several types of credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Discover, American Express, among others), but they should also provide your customers with added payment alternatives, like PayPal. Your merchant service provider should have a good reputation for having excellent service and reliability, as well as having a name for excellent customer relations. They should be equipped to deal with any issues or problems discreetly and quickly. The merchant services provider you choose to make a relationship with can make or break your business between its fees and service. Make sure you know the facts about merchant services and the providers so that you don’t lose your dream of being a successful business owner.

Learn the essential information for picking the right merchant account services. Merchant Services []

Article Source:

What Constitutes Business Law?

Running a business or being involved in a corporation can be a very complicated and stressful experience. One component of this is the fact that there are numerous laws and legal restrictions you must abide by. Many of these regulations fall under the term “business law”. By better understanding what business law entails you are better able to take measures for the legal advancement of your organization.

The following are aspects of business that can fall under legal restrictions, making them important components of business law:

Exporting and Importing: If you will be working with customs and international business law in the United States and throughout the world it is important you understand the legal restrictions surrounding this practice.

Carrying products over land and sea: If you will be shipping or transporting good across the country it is important you are doing so with an understanding of how transfer laws can negatively and positively impact your methods.

Distributing consumer goods: There are many laws surrounding who you may sell and market to depending on the specific products you manufacture. If you are not practicing with an awareness of these restrictions you could lose your business.

Manufacturing consumer goods: Depending on your product there can be many laws determining what materials you use, how your goods must be made, and more.

Hiring and employment practices: Employment law is strictly enforced; from non-discrimination in hiring to proper compensation for workplace injury, there are many factors of employment law that significantly influence your business.

Operations of corporations: Because corporations are public entities they have a unique set of restrictions and obligations to follow from that of other business types.

Partnerships and mergers: Partnerships and mergers require legally binding agreements to be reached by multiple parties, usually in the form of contractual decisions.

If you are a business leader it is important you seek the assistance of a legal professional who will help you with the above endeavors while also helping you work towards your business goals and interests.