Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Digital Discounts - part 2

I've been harsh on digital discounts in the past, because I've seen mostly bad experiences from the business' side: "Lost money on the deal", "They came in for it once and never came back", "Didn't even know what they were buying".  However this week, I'm giving it a shot and suggested to my husband that we try a half off deal through Living Social.

The deal went live Tuesday October 18th at 5am.  By 9am we had already sold 7.  Honestly, we were pretty excited about it.  By 5pm we had sold 21.

For those who aren't familiar with these half off deal sites (really?) - the consumers get a product/service for at least 50% off.

The customer is getting 50% off, the business only receives 50% off that.  So for a $65 photo session, we received $15.  Now, we do not have any overhead, as we are a home based business, and our only expense is time.  So for 1 hour of photography and 1 hour of editing, Steve made $7.50 an hour.

Around 3pm we received a phone call asking if this is a good deal...

Well for the consumer who might usually visit a studio like JC Penny or Sears, if you are a family of five, like we are, you would be paying $9.95 per person sitting fee: a whopping $49.75.  Then, you have to purchase prints.  If all you want are the digital files - which are covered with their logo and are small images files so you can't make prints your self, it's an additional $15-$20.  You are given 45 minutes for your in studio photo session, and are posed in the same positions as every other family, with the same 4 background options.

Now consider Sylvania Area Photography.  You are given about an hour with a photographer, in any location that you choose.  You can change your clothes, have props, even include the family pets.  You are not limited to 4 pre-set poses, but can interact as a family, which is the memory you are trying to capture anyway.  And digital copies are provided with every session

So which would you prefer? Paying $65 at a department store, getting the same images as everyone else, just with different faces?  Or $65 with a professional photographer, capturing the personality of your family in a setting that best shows who you are?

So was it a good deal?  Since I'd consider Sylvania Area Photography a better deal than department store photographers, that half off deal was an AMAZING DEAL for the consumer.  And if you missed out on getting it, using Sylvania Area Photography is still a great choice. (Plus, if you Like the Facebook page, specials are offered regularly).

Family Portrait, Sylvania Area Photography

Disclaimer: I'm not saying you shouldn't purchase these daily deals.  But please consider the businesses that you are buying them from.  If they offer you additional products/services - get it.  Consider how much money you're already saving there anyway.  And if you liked the business, don't wait for another deal to come along to go back - there's plenty more perks for return clients then there are for first time visitors.

Sunday, September 11, 2011


Ten years.... Ten years since I graduated high school.  Ten years since I started college.  Ten years since the Twin Towers came down.

I think it's safe to say we all remember most vividly those moments when your life changes.  I remember all the details of my wedding day; I remember most of the details of my children's' births;  I remember very clearly the day my dad was diagnosed with cancer; I remember where I was on September 11, 2001.

I was in my first sememster at the University of Toledo. I had just come out of Dr. Tucker's Intro to Communcation lecture just after 9am. I got in my car and turned on 92.5, Kiss FM; Denny Schaffer's Breakfast Club.  I remember Trisha Courtney coming on with the news that there had been a plane crash in New York, that one of the twin towers had been hit, moments later, stating that a second plane had hit the other tower.  I was thankful that I had just gotten my first cell phone, and called my mom at home.  

When I got home, hearing the news that the planes had come from Boston, and we were calling our family to see if anyone had been traveling that day, fearing that one of my family members might have been on those planes (they weren't). I remember sitting frozen in front of the television with my mom; my brothers were in school and my dad was at work, horrified by the images that we were seeing.  I'd never been to New York City, but what if that had been happening here... I couldn't believe my eyes, watching the buildings fall.  Then it began in Washington, and it really hit home.  My aunt works in DC, I could barely breath, praying she was ok.  She was.

One of my best friends was leaving for college that day, we were suppose to meet for lunch.  We did meet, if only for a little while.  Such an emotional day.  I called Steve, we had broken up a few weeks before, and even though we barely spoke, I needed to talk to him.  He was considering enlisting, all the men in his family were military men.  He ended up not, sometimes I wonder how things would have changed if he had enlisted.  I can say that we probably wouldn't have gotten married the following year if he had joined up.

I remember babysitting that night, and the little boy, who was maybe 3 was telling me about the big explosion he saw on TV at school.  At first I was shocked to think that the teachers were actually watching the events of the day in a preschool classroom.  But what if they 
knew someone who was there...  

I remember that first anniversary programs being difficult to watch.  I remember going to visit my now father-in-law with Steve, about 18 months after the initial attacks.  He was an Air Force Major, and after the initial attacks happened, put a blank tape in the VCR, hit record then left for work as quickly as he could.  All he saw was the plan crash when he left, but we were able to see all of it again (before DVR was so common).  

I remember being heartbroken a few years ago watching a special, compiled by everyday people who took out their video cameras and were taping the scenes out their NYC windows.  The videographer that was featured, I don't remember his name, but he was in the streets for some other 'Man on the Street" tapings, and he was not rushing to the Trade Center, but getting the reactions of people watching it on the big screens downtown.  

I've been humbled by the interviews that I have seen from the families of those killed that day.  Seeing how strong the young people were, hearing the things that have brought them comfort over the last ten years.  Hearing the voicemail messages left by those in the towers. My heart goes out to all those affected.  

So where do we go from her?  We grow, but never forget.  

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Double Your Likes

The whole point of creating a Facebook Page for your
business is to build a fan base of people interested in
your product or service, right?

Facebook Pages are a great tool for interacting with
your fans on a regular basis and for them to discover
whether or not your product or service is right for them.

But to build a HUGE fan base you need people clicking
the all mighty "LIKE" button. Yep, the tiny little button
sitting at the top of your page. :-)

Gone are the days of "Become a fan." Today, it's all
about the "LIKES" and YOU WANT THEM (a lot of them!)

Because without them... you have ZERO reach. If you
have zero reach, you make ZERO dollars.

And this is where most Page Admins fall flat on their

Let me explain...

Have you ever visited a Facebook Page for a business,
only to land on their "Wall" where you see the comments
and status updates?

If so, did it make you want to "LIKE" the page?

Probably not.

Allowing your visitors to land on your "Wall" is the #1 mistake
Page Admins are making all across Facebook.

But it doesn't have to be this way...

Because as a Page Admin, you have the ability to create
a custom landing page AND set this page as your "Default
Landing Tab" for your Page.

You'll first need to install an iFrame application into your
page (which is beyond the scope of this post unfortunately.)
This will allow you to create a custom tab on your Page.

Once you have your custom tab, you will want to create
some type of "offer" along with a "call to action" to entice
people to "LIKE" your page.

An example offer would be something like this:

"Click Like Above To Get Access To _______"

It's proven that you will get more "Likes" just by making
this one small change to your Facebook Page.

Good luck!

- James Grandstaff

James Grandstaff is an Internet Entrepreneur and all
around good guy. To find out how he got 52.94% more
"Likes" to his Facebook page, check out his amazing
FREE presentation at: http://cindyu1983.dblikes.hop.clickbank.net/?tid=BLOG

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Do Discounts Work?

As I'm spending more time assisting my clients with some marketing ideas, discount programs have been a heavy topic of conversation.  Here is a 'rant' I gave to my friends at @DealSavant regarding my opinion of discount programs...

Who would have thought that trying to get customers in the door would actually force businesses to close their doors?

Today many businesses think that in order to get people in their doors, they have to paper the town with coupons and have crazy specials. The minute they take them away the customers stop coming in.  Why?  Many consumers today have tightened their budgets, and often time only ‘splurge’ when they can get a discount.  However, many business owners are constantly trying to outdo their competition with the best offers.  When does it stop?

In marketing, I know that it’s good to put your advertising efforts in every avenue financially reasonable – but we shouldn’t have to give our products away in each!  As a business owner, we try to price our services to stay competitive, but if our prices are so low, people may question quality.  Now I don’t mind offering incentives for upgrades: My husband is a photographer, and we occasionally offer “buy a photo package get additional prints free.”  Our margins allow us to do that.  However, I’m not discounting the sitting fee in hope that someone will buy enough prints to cover that cost.  

For example, a local radio station contacted my husband to participate in their half off program.  They wanted us to offer a $1500 wedding package for $750 for one day.  When we asked what our portion of it was, they said “None, its payment for exposure”.   Now, I know radio spots are not cheap, but what if it had worked? We would have lost at least $1500 if one person bought the deal – and a lot more if more than one bought it. 

The problem that I have with these various discount programs is that the people who are purchasing them seem to be only getting them for the savings, with little to no intention to ever go back.  Early on, one of my clients told me that they would not participate in any of these discount programs because they didn’t want to give away their talents.  However, they are very open to give special incentives to their current customers; it’s a way to say “thank you” for being a great customer, and we know they’ll be back because they have already proven that they will return.  The customer in turn will be more likely to tell all their friends about this great gift to all their friends (the power of Social Media makes it stronger)!  Now, that same client did, after MANY months in business, participate in a discount program, and offered an extra incentive to have those probable one-time customers make additional purchases or schedule their next visit.  And it's working.

I’ve watched businesses who participated in a card-based discount program: it gives the cardholder access to special offers – no limit unless specified by the business.  Because some these businesses did not put a limit on this program, they saw many new customers who became repeat customers. Obviously, it worked… too well, because they were only getting the discounted product.  The business began to lose money – a lot of money.   And of course, when they removed themselves from these programs, they lost those customers.  

So what do we do?  Yes, sometimes we have to give a few things away to get our names out into the world.  But we have to be strategic!  Papering the town with coupons is not going to bring us the quality customers that we want or deserve.  We have to step out of our store and find them!  Partner with the businesses that have similar customer demographic, participate in the events where your clients will be. Then, give them a taste of the things they can get from you, and then give them a small incentive to come in.  Once they’re in – if your services aren’t what they want/need, they won’t be back (so you’d better be sure you give every customer 110%)!    

Consumers today are informed, and are savvy.  They know what they want but want a bargain.  But we all want quality – if we as business owners stop worrying about giving the greatest discounts and marketing schemes, and start focusing on making sure our product is the best around, the customers will find us.  And they’ll bring friends.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

When it comes to this - DO NOT mess with me

I hate bullies, 'mean girls', cliques and all that punk kid stupidity.  I don't like to be negative, it doesn't get anyone anywhere, but this is one thing that I just WILL NOT tolerate.

I recently posted on my Facebook profile that I'm not a good person to piss off… if I offended anyone, I apologize.  But when a friend jokingly said "good to know", I elaborated a bit.  I felt the urge to continue on.

While out for a walk with my family, some High School students were out selling something in support of their sports team.  The last few years, we've opted to not purchase anything from this team in support of another that I'm more passionate about.  However last year, the team members didn't like that myself and a few neighbors did not buy anything from them and they chose to vandalize our houses and cars.  

So after we catch you doing that to us last year, do you really think I'm going to by something from you this year?  And you think that when I tell you "no not right now" it's appropriate to use very foul language around me and my 3 small children?  I think not.  

I'm a mom, before anything else, I am a mom.  And I love my community and want to support my local athletic teams.  But if you are going to write foul words on our cars and vandalize our yards and then call my neighbors and I a B---- in front of our kids - you've got another thing coming!

I've expressed my distaste for anything of this nature to my kids.  Joking with a neighbor I swore I'd lock my kid in their room every night until they moved out if I ever caught them TPing someone's house.  My husband use to think it was funny until it happened to us and he was the one who had to clean it all up.

I don't know why people think it's ok or funny.  I don't understand why some parents encourage and even drive the getaway car.  I've work VERY hard to buy a house and a car and to have you write dirty words on it and TP my house and to shove things into my mailbox... just because I didn't buy your $10 booster card?

Kids today just don't seem to have any respect for things or people.  Wait until you get into the 'real world'.  When you have worked your but off to buy a house that's just right for your family, and you get the first brand new car you've ever had... Then tell me how it feels to have to wash every foul word in the dictionary off your car and driveway before your 6 year old starts sounding them out...

So again, if I offended anyone by saying "don't piss me off" - unless you were planning on vandalizing my house, we're good. But again, I'm sorry if I offended you.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Guess it's time to make it official...

Well after a few months testing the water with free lance work, I'm ready to 'officially publicly announce' the creation of Sociably Cindy.

I know, I know, some are thinking "it's about time".  But it was something that I needed to figure out on my own.  I love the girls from Amiche Capelli; they were my first client, and have really been very encouraging to me.  The catalyst was actually meeting with an ad agency in Columbus.  I honestly thought I was being offered a job, and maybe that is in the future.  If I got anything out of that trip it was that I'd finally been given the acknowledgement that I am good at something and that I have value...

In today's culture, consumers DEMAND interaction with businesses.  If something goes wrong with service or product, they want it taken care of.  As for businesses, this can be a great opportunity to regain the trust of their customers and get new ones.  The problems that arise is the fact that consumers have more than one way to talk to or about a business.

Not too long ago, if you had an issue with something, you'd call and complain, maybe send an email (if one was listed on the website) and then never hear back from the company. Person A may have told friends 1, 2, 3, 4, & 5, and maybe they stopped using this companies services.  With the growth of social media, if Person A had a terrible experience with something, within seconds, they can send out a Tweet or Facebook post or Text message saying how bad the service was.  And all their 500 plus friends immediately see that and they start commenting and sharing it with their friends... word of mouth is multiplied 100x with social media!  Now, what does the business do about it?  If they were smart and keeping tabs on their social media presence, they can start to interact to fix it right away; public apology, free whatever, something to get them back in the door and to publicly announce that it was fixed.  But what if they don't?

Most business owners are so busy running the day-to-day of their business that they don't have the time to devout to social media.  They may not have the resources to create a full time position for the need. Plus, technology is always changing, and by the time you learn something, it's out dated...  That's where I come in.

So what is "Sociably Cindy"?  Using the various social media tools, I am able to help businesses to interact with their customers/clients.  Give the customers information that they need to know to become a better customer.  Be there to answer any questions that may arise.  Know what your customers are saying and what they want.  I am here to help you: I'm not successful unless you are!

So welcome to Sociably Cindy - Helping You Stay Sociably Connected To Your Customers!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Featured Business: Amiche Capelli Salon of Style

Amiche Capelli Salon Of Style

124 N. Summit St. Ste 140
Toledo, OH 43604

I first met Jen at the NETT Event at the Oliver House.  I was out of my element, still new to the networking scene.  Jen found me, and we became instant friends.  At our first meeting, to talk business, we found we had several mutual friends - small world here in Toledo, Oh. 

Until a few years ago, I'd never had a 'hair stylist'.  I'd never had need for one.  If I needed a trim, I'd go to one of those quick in&out hair places.  When my dad got sick a few years ago, I made the decision to donate my hair - 18 inches of it!  I hadn't done much with it after that.  18 months later when the cancer came back, I donated it again.  And surprisingly again, another 18 inches.  

A long haired girl for most of my life, I did not know how to style my hair, how to properly dry my hair - complete novice in the ways of hair styling.  Jen has taught me A LOT! 

Did you know, that when you are conditioning your hair, you should wring it out until you can't get any more drops of water from it before you condition?  Your hair is a sponge and can't get the nutrients it needs from the conditioner if it's saturated with water.  

 Also, did you know that the natural oils in your hair are important for healthy hair. You only need to shampoo every-other day. When you're not washing, rinse it. 

When you are at the salon or spa, is your stylist talking with you before your cut, to make sure what you are saying you want is actually what you want, and going to work for you?  Most women can recall a bad haircut experience:  I went in for a trim and ended up loosing 4 inches because it wasn't straight.  

At Amiche Capelli Salon of Style, they pride themselves in taking time for you, educating you in the techniques to use to care for your hair.  A L'Oreal Salon in the Toledo Area, offering INOA color and offering products for every hair type.  Manicures and Pedicures offered include scrubs made in house, customized scents for the season.  Luna Bella scrubs are available for purchase in small and large sizes.  

Follow Amiche Capelli Salon Of Style on Facebook or @Amiche_Capelli on Twitter  for regular hair and skin tricks and tips, style ideas, and encouragement.