Are You Using Answers to Generate Sales?

Posted January 28th, 2011 in Selling Online by Patrick

Ever heard of Yahoo Answers? LinkedIn? How about Quora?

These are all online communities where people go to ask questions and find answers about anything under the sun. These forums are also an excellent place to generate new business.


Simply join the conversation! Answering questions in an open forum is a great way to: build credibility, demonstrate expertise, and discover potential customers. Because these boards “never” disappear, they rank highly in search engines when people asking the same questions or use similar keywords. Whether you sell a service or a product, chances are someone is out there asking a question that you have the answer to.

To begin:

1) Start Googling for any of the keywords that your website already uses – just add “How” and turn the phrase into a question.

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The Art of Persuasion

We’ve all been there. You are about to walk out of the store, empty-handed, when the salesperson suddenly works their charm – turning your skepticism into a sale. Then you get home, look at your purchase and think: how on earth was I convinced so easily?

The art of persuasion might seem like an innate talent for the lucky, but any serious entrepreneur must hone this skill in order to find success, persuading others to invest, to support, to buy. So how do you convince more people to buy online? These three business experts reveal their secrets.

  • Peter Shallard explains there is only one question you have to answer to make a successful pitch: “Why?”
  • Brian Clark of Copyblogger explores some basic strategies to write more persuasively – including using story-telling, repetition, and comparisons.
  • The Six Minutes Blog lists several tips to become a more persuasive speaker, as Andre Dlugan emphasizes the importance of being understood, logical, and real.

Incorporating these techniques into both your website and your everyday life won’t be an overnight solution, but they will challenge you to look at your message through a strategic and more effective lens – no matter the audience.

When are you at your most persuasive? What was the last time someone used these tactics successfully on you?

Top 10: Our Best Small Business Blogposts


Over the last year we’ve written a few articles on running an online business (hopefully you’ve found some of them to be helpful!). We have also had a few terrific guest bloggers and reviewed some expert speakers. Because our customers often email us with similar questions – about SEO, paid search, and the like, we thought it would be helpful to compile some of this information in one place. You might want to bookmark this post for reference!

#10 How to Boost Holiday Sales

#9 How to Optimize Your Website for Local Search

#8 New Year’s Resolutions for Small Business Success

#7 10 Free Software Apps to Manage your Business and Cut Costs

#6 10 Website Mistakes to Avoid

#5 Thoughts on Customer Service with Shep Hyken

#4 3 Secrets to Getting More Customers

#3 Using Paid Search to Increase Your Traffic

#2 How to Build an Army of Brand Loyalists (guest blog by Jonathan Kay)

And presenting the #1 blogpost of the past year…. *drum roll*

Basics of Search Engine Optimization (John Lyotier of

**Bonus** 3 Ways to Convert Website Traffic into Customers

How to Sell More for Father’s day

Posted June 8th, 2010 in Selling Online by Mara

daddyFather’s Day is coming up, and most people I know (myself included) have trouble coming up with a great gift for the man responsible for giving us life. After all, shopping for women is easy – spa gift certificates, flowers, chocolates – but most men don’t have the same passion for luxury and sweets.

But what if you sell products online that are perfect for Dad’s Day?

As a retailer, you can effectively capitalize on the rest of the world’s complete bewilderment at how to show Dad they care.

Here are a few tips to help you sell more this Father’s Day:

Put it in HER eyeline
Chances are, it’s Mom or Daughter doing the shopping, so get your message in front of her eyes. If you are advertising, put your ads where she’ll find them and make them appeal to a female shopper.

Put HIM in the picture
If you have products perfect for Papa, include photos of men using the product in your promotion – or even just in your product catalog. If you make the connection between men and your product, your customers will too.

Highlight the perfect presents
If you carry a variety of products, make sure to feature the ones that are Dad-friendly right up front. Place some images and information prominently on your home page so they’re not missed, tucked away in your catalog.

Wrap it up
Top it all off with complimentary (man-friendly) wrapping paper and gift cards to help seal the deal.

Just like any promotion, it’s all about knowing who you are selling to, and there are many ways to cater to your audience.

So what about you? What Father’s Day promotions have worked for you – or on you?

5 Ways for Your Small Business to Capitalize on a Major, Greek God-Sized Event

Posted January 15th, 2010 in Selling Online, social media by admin

olympicsWith the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games and 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa just around the corner, there’s no better time to look at how to capitalize on a major event for your small business website. Events that give you the chance to access the entire world from on your doorstep don’t happen every day. Here are 5 tips to leverage that momentum.

Be Creatively Audacious

Take a hint from Lululemon Atheletica, whose clothing line for a “Cool Sporting Event That Takes Place Between 2009 & 2011” has stolen thunder from actual Vancouver Olympic clothing sponsor HBC. The language behind their marketing manages to dance just within trademark laws, while capitalizing on the Olympic craze AND simultaneously thumbing their nose at the organizers. The resulting uproar has led the clothing line to selling out multiple times before the Games even begin.

Another example is from the animal rights group PETA, who last week launched a spoof of the Olympic trading pin. Their “OlympicShame” pin draws attention to the killing of baby seals, with a shockingly graphic take on the Olympic logo.

Take a chance and go for broke, even if you have to ruffle a few feathers.

Be Targeted

As always in marketing your business, know who your audience is. Don’t be intimidated with the thought that “everyone” is coming to town. For example, the Olympic Games attract hundreds of international world-caliber athletes, thousands of worldwide media, tens of thousands of tourists, and billions of TV viewers. This does not include the millions of blog readers who will be searching for Olympic content daily. Your customer base likely doesn’t change – it is only amplified.

Don’t get overwhelmed – stay focused on the demographic that makes sales.

Be Aggressive

It’s not enough to be open for business during a major event: you have to pursue your customers like prey. Your competitors are trying to distinguish themselves and if your business is outside a high-traffic area, you may be in for a slow period. Give your customers a reason to find you – for example, a promotional offer your customers can’t ignore. Be proactive and build buzz before the event begins: start talking to your audience ahead of time through social media channels (e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs).

A great idea in a crowd is not enough: keep on the attack to build momentum.

Be In Position

Be ready for any opportunity that comes your way. For example, have a persuasive call to action on your home page, as well as your communications materials. You never know who is reading your site. On the same notion, spotting and leveraging celebrities is a huge yet informal way to boost your business. For example, many Vancouver restaurants and stores offer free products or special shopping hours to attract film stars. In exchange all they ask for is a photo for their wall – an easy, informal and affordable exchange that provides an invaluable amount of promotional value. There’s no reason you can’t do the same with your business.

Stay alert for low hanging fruit.

Be Inspired

NIKE said it best in the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with the catchphrase: “You don’t win silver, you lose gold.” At the time, the company was not an Olympic sponsor: this controversial yet extremely successful play was an example of ambush marketing. It was panned by the IOC, but following the Games, many thought NIKE was an official sponsor. In 2005 the IOC decided it couldn’t beat them and NIKE became a sponsor.

Find the people in your industry who are the most successful and learn from them leading up to your event. Ask the question: how can you apply their strategy to your own marketing efforts?

There’s no need to re-invent the wheel, and no shame in learning from the best.

Good luck and we wish your business every success in your pursuit of gold this year!

Black Friday: How to Boost Holiday Sales for Small Business

Posted November 20th, 2009 in Selling Online by admin

2009-11-20-blkfribagIt’s coming, and fast. Black Friday is one of the biggest days for retailers, particularly in the United States. It’s the Friday after US Thanksgiving and is recognized as the beginning of the traditional holiday shopping season – this year it falls on November 27.

We recently polled our customers, and 61% expressed that Christmas is an important sales period for them. So, as an online shopkeeper, are you ready to take advantage of the upcoming sales rush? Here are a few suggestions for making the most out of the holiday season:

1.    Create a Sense of Urgency
The great thing about the festive season is that there is a finite date where things need to be purchased and sent by. A gentle reminder of that will encourage your customers to get their orders in, instead of waiting to do it later. You can even make your own website countdown timer to remind your customers when items need to be shipped by – we like the free one at Widgetbox (

2.    Suggest Additional Products
Bigger orders mean more money, and a great way to get bigger orders is by suggesting additional products to the customers that are already shopping on your site. Try showcasing and linking to additional complimentary products on each of your catalog pages.
TIP: The website builder includes the “Recommend Product” feature – find it under ‘Edit Store’ > ‘Products’ > ‘Recommend Products’.

3.    Offer Free Shipping
One thing that still makes a lot of people hesitate to buy online is the cost of shipping. So, if it’s feasible for your business and isn’t going to eat into your bottom line too much, try offering your customers free shipping for a limited time. Not only will it help reduce their hesitation to buy online, but the limited time offer will also give them a sense of urgency and persuade them to buy now.

4.    Send a Holiday Newsletter
Do you already have a mailing list of existing customers? Reach out to them! Send them an email newsletter telling them about any sales or new products. You may even want to offer a special discount that’s only available to newsletter recipients, inviting them to come shop at your store.
TIP: A great way to provide a special offer to your newsletter customers is by giving them a special discount code that they can enter into the shopping cart on your website. If you’re using, you can make your own website discount codes through the website builder. Just go to ‘Edit Store’ > ‘Discount Codes’.

Do you have more great ideas for boosting your sales over the holidays? Let us know on Twitter! @CityMax