Connect with Non-Profits to Increase Your Sales and Expand Your Brand

Laurel Tielis

You know the saying, You can’t have too many friends. A great way for a business to create new friendships is by teaming up with a non-profit.

One way to do it is  to designate a percentage of your sales for the charity of your choice when you plan an event.

The charity will spread the word to its supporters, and that should broaden the base of your attendees, as well as increase your actual sales. Of course, whenever you link up with a non-profit you also exponentially increase the possibility of getting media coverage, which means that still more people will know about your business.

But you don’t even have to have an event to donate to a charity. You can just pick a date, for example, the anniversary of your store’s opening, and give a percentage of purchases that day to a charity of your choice. Tell everyone via your website, email, and newsletter. Also use mainstream and social media to broadcast the news.

They’ll get the word out to everyone on their lists as well, and both you and the charity will profit. If their supporters become ongoing customers, you’ll continue to do well from doing good.

For years, small business owners supported local sports teams and benefited by having their name splashed across the front of t-shirts. While that still works, here’s an updated way to do this.

Donate merchandise for goody bags at a charity’s events. It can be as simple as shoelaces if you’re in the shoe business, to seeds if you’re a florist, to diamond cleaner if you’re a jeweler. Naturally, all of the products will have your name on them.

But with the okay of the non-profit, you can also go more upscale. You can give away one half of more expensive items–one glove, one earring, etc.—and let event attendees know that the mate is waiting at your store.

At a minimum, you’ll be thanked in the program. Sometimes, charities also talk up donations when they introduce the program, so there’s a chance you’ll be spotlighted there as well.

Help others and you’ll be helped as well.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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When Your Store Looks Good Your Sales Increase

Laurel Tielis

Oscar Wilde phrased it beautifully in The Picture of Dorian Gray. He wrote,”It is only shallow people who do not judge by appearances.”

Good looks create good luck, both for people and places. While we’re supposed to be non-judgmental, we’re not. Most of us make an immediate judgment call based on a first impression. We evaluate people by how they look—from what they weigh to what they’re wearing; we evaluate places by how they’re furnished and finished.

We rate our own appearance as well. When a woman who’s shopping looks at herself in the mirror, if she likes what she sees, she’ll buy. It’s a kind of “Mirror, mirror, on the wall, Who’s the fairest one of all?” If a woman thinks she is, she’ll back up that feeling with her dollars. So the obvious place to make women look good is the dressing room.

Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall

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You Attract More Customers When Your Store is Attractive

In addition to mirrors that truly reflect a shopper’s appearance, curtains that close, doors that lock, and better lighting all make shoppers look better and reflect well on a retail outlet. Savvy store owners pay a lot of attention to the front window as an entrance to the business, but extending that attention to the way the front of the store looks, from the sidewalk to the sign, will pay dividends as well.

Inside, shoppers are interested in the merchandise mix, but they also check out the convenience of the layout before they check out. Convenience also figures in to what gets bought and what gets left.

The Powder Room

Then there’s the powder room. It’s a good idea to make sure that it looks like a place for ladies, or shoppers will take a powder. If it’s not clean, you can probably kiss that customer goodbye. Ditto if it’s blocked with cartons or other paraphernalia.

Shopping, as smart retailers know, should be a pleasure for the customer. To maximize your sales, make sure customers like the products you carry, the physical space, and your service with a smile.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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Events Increase Sales and Drive Customer Traffic

Laurel Tielis

If you’re bringing in the majority of your  business by discounting your products or services, whether or not you’re in retail, you’re giving away the store. There are other ways to increase your sales more profitably.

Events, for example, are a great way to get people to come out and buy; you get to engage current customers and attract new customers by involving them in your business. With sales and discounts, shoppers are buying on price alone. With events, you build strong associations and create customer loyalty.

Hosting a Successful Event

A successful event is a win-win–it’s good for you and your customer. You can make yours mutually beneficial by taking a tip from sales: plan your work and work your plan.

Figure out what your customer wants. You can do that by thinking about comments shoppers have made, about posts you’ve gotten on your Facebook wall, email queries, and phone call questions.

Check in with your customer advisory board as well (if you don’t have one, start putting one together). Be clear on what your customers want, so they’re willing to come out and put their hands in their pockets.

Engage Your Customers

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5 Ws and an H

Then draft a plan. Work with the five Ws–Who, What, Where, When, Why–and one H–How. What you want to do, who you want to do it with, how much is in your budget, which charity you want to align with, and how much time you need to produce the event, are some of the questions you should be asking yourself.

Be as honest with yourself as possible. For example, how much time you allot to putting together the event is as important as how much money you budget.

Realistically, things generally take longer than we think. On a personal note, I always think I need 15 minutes to get ready, but it’s just not true. I need 15 minutes to get out the door once I am ready, and a lot more time than that to get ready.

It’s the same thing in business. You may think “I just need to make a few phone calls,” but making a few calls, or sending a few e-mails, also means waiting for responses.

So after you visualize the perfect event for your business, give yourself the gift of enough time to get it right. That way, you can relax and enjoy the process as well as the results. You’ll create an event that will engage your customers and increase your sales.

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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How to Broaden Your Market and Increase Your Sales

Laurel Tielis

Want to increase your sales? Here’s how. Start with your current customer or client list. They’re your base. Thanks to them, your business is viable. But they’re only a small part of the marketplace. For a bigger business, increased sales, and more profit, extend your reach.

Tap Into Other Markets

You have people out there, who, if they understood the benefits of what you’re offering, would line up to buy from you! They don’t, because they don’t yet know, you have what they need. Here’s how to access them.

Reframe Your Thinking

First, try this. Visualize a tree where your current customers are the trunk.  So If you sell toys, parents are your main market. But then there are grandparents, aunts and uncles, family friends, teachers, and others. They’re the branches. The strongest, thickest ones are those closest to the trunk. But the others are still important and viable.

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You access parents by getting your story out in places that interest them. In social media you’re going after mommy bloggers, looking for Facebook fans and friends, and using Pinterest to show your products.

In mass media, you’re looking for parents magazines, and lifestyle and health writers at newspapers

If you’re going after grandparents though, you need to kook at different media outlets. AARP The Magazine, for example, with its 47 million readers, offers you an opportunity to reach a new buying public

Teachers are a great market for you because they can buy for the classroom. A good starting could be the American Federation of Teachers e-newsletter.

Sell women’s apparel? Obviously, women themselves are the trunk. Then mothers, daughters, and friends are the second group, or the strongest branches, you need to reach. You’re probably getting to most of them through your traditional outreach.

Boyfriends and husbands can be an important market for you, though. Getting a story in a men’s magazine would be a major hit. You can also bring these men to you by creating events just for them.

Don’t limit these to Valentine’s Day and Mothers Day (although those offer you great opportunities). You can host a men-only party any time, making it comfortable for them to ask questions and buy gifts.

The idea is to go after outliers and bring them in. You’ll expand your client or customer base and increase your sales.
Want more ideas about bringing in business? I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People magazine.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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Drive Traffic to Your Store by Connecting to More

Laurel Tielis

The first person I met at a networking event was a managing partner at an international consulting firm. Pretty impressive! I was even more impressed to discover that the firm was made up of four women, each of whom essentially runs a home-based one-person business.

They deal with a similar client base though, so they can share information and insights. The also share a website and an accountant.

As individuals, they have autonomy, flexibility and speed on their side. As partners in  a corporation, they have support,  both emotional and financial. They’ve discovered the value of creating partnerships.

Partner Up to Increase Your Profits 

Creating partnerships is one of the best things any small business owner can do. The more partners you have, the more you increase the rewards of reciprocal benefits through each others products and expertise.

I once worked on an event that partnered the city of Bal Harbour, FL, and its high-priced real estate, with the French fashion group, the Chambre Syndicale. The object was to get media attention for the city and the clothing. The means of doing that was an expensive dinner and fashion show. The Greater Miami Opera was the beneficiary.

An area hotel supplied the ballroom, the meal at cost, and rooms for the designers; Air France flew in the group and their fashions; local restaurants invited them to meals, and even the Bal Harbour Shoppes hair stylist got involved by doing the models’ hair.

Chain

The results were amazing. By forming a chain, the city of Miami got world-wide recognition, the French fashion syndicate showed its collection to wealthy women who could afford to purchase it, the Opera received funding for future performances, and local citizens benefited by being the first to see the clothing after its Paris debut.

Increase Your Reach and You Increase Your Sales 

The point is, you can do the same in your business. Partner with a graphic design firm, and you can save on your website, stationery, invitations and display. Work with a florist and you’ll have breathtaking floral arrangements at low or no cost. Team up with a restaurant or caterer to minimize food costs.

Put them all together, and you can fairly easily, and lots more inexpensively, put on an outstanding event. Plus, by partnering, you can expand your social media fans and followers, as well as your email list. That let’s you increase the number  of attendees, providing still more opportunities to bring in business.

Another bonus, if you team up with others, you can hire a publicist or create a group advertising campaign, and just pay a portion of the cost.

Going it alone is doing it the hard way. I believe that partnerships are critical for independents  who want to achieve success, because when you form alliances with non-competing companies everyone benefits.

Want more ideas about bringing in business? I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People magazine.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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Use the Power of Publicity to Increase Your Sales

Laurel Tielis

Publicity gets the word out, which means you can bring more business in. In addition to raising your visibility, it helps you gain credibility. This new, stronger profile is your direct route to increased sales and profitability. Sweet!

What’s even sweeter if you’re working with a small budget, is that by focusing on publicity you never have to open your wallet. That makes it very different from advertising.

What’s publicity’s gold standard? Being featured in a major newspaper, a prime time broadcast, or an important trade publication. How about a blog post that goes viral? Yes, that’s another major hit.

But you don’t have to attract any of these, or at least you don’t have to start with any of these, to get your story told. As a matter of fact, savvy business owners know it’s best to start small on the publicity path. That way, you build a strong foundation for your ascent to media “stardom,” while any mistakes you make are less noticeable and more forgivable on a smaller stage.

How to Get Publicity 

The good news is, getting publicity is simple. You need a story that benefits readers, viewers, or listeners, that you can share it in a way that others find compelling.

The less-good news is that while it’s simple, it’s not easy. It takes patience, persistence, and an unceasingly pleasant manner to get the media as excited about your business as you are. But the payoff is well worth your time and effort. Keep in mind the 3 Ps–Patient, Persistent, Pleasant will bring you increased Profit.
 
5 Ways to Use Publicity to Increase Sales
 
1. Follow a reporter on Twitter and when you have a story idea that would benefit readers, viewers or listeners, send a tweet. Sadly, you can’t send a direct message to someone unless they’re following you, but happily you can get anyone’s attention using @ and following with their user name.
 
2. Add a comment, and your web address, to online articles. It takes just a minute to sign in, but once you do you can get your name, and your targeted message, in most publications.
 
3. Many articles include the reporter’s name and email address. Write a brief congratulatory note on the feature. That way, you’ve opened up a conversation. When you’re ready to pitch your story, refer to it.
 
4. Read and respond to a blog post. Tell the author why you agree or disagree with the post. Stay on point, and if you have doubts about what’s been said, be pleasant in raising them. Again, almost all blogs accept relevant comments. For example, even if you never finished high school, you can post pertinent comments to blog posts on the Harvard Business Review.
 
5.  Join the conversation on social media sites. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Goggle Plus, or even all of the above, participate and you can get your name out and build your business. Heck, you can even  get rich and famous by working social media. Lift a glass, for example, to Gary Vaynerchuk, who shared his passion with wine to one and all online.
 
Lagniappe
 
Here’s a bonus idea on how to get publicity. Speak up. It’s great if you have the time, and the chops, to stand in front of an audience and share information. But even if you don’t, you can still ask questions, or answer them, at lectures and conferences you attend.
 
Make sure to say your name, and the name of your company, before you start. And once again, keep to the subject, then let people know about it everywhere you connect with others. Good luck!

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People magazine.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2014 Laurel Tielis

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Want More Sales? I Can Help

If you’re going it alone, you’re going it the hard way. It’s the business equivalent of doing a one-armed pushup, when a traditional one is challenging enough. Let me give you a hand in those areas where you’ll best benefit from backup.

File:Marines do pushups.jpg

Does This Sound Like You?

  • As the CEO, CIO, CTO, CMO and more, you’re inundated with things you need to do. I can drive more traffic to your business by taking on the content creation and curation, social media, PR, and marketing. Reach me at askLaurel(AT)laureltielis.com.
  • You’re great at communicating verbally, but writing, not so much. Let me show you how to be more effective in communicating your business’s benefits so that you quickly grow your customer base. Use your time and energy profitably. Email me at askLaurel(AT)laureltielis for writing that moves people to take action.
  • Like folding a king-size sheet, it’s just plain awkward to do some tasks on your own. When you need a trusted advisor to provide an extra set of eyes and lend an ear, I’m available at askLaurel(AT)laureltielis.com.

Why Me?

Since business is all about “know you, like you, trust you, work with you,” let me tell you a little about my background. You can find more information here: http://laureltielis.com/about/.

As a reporter for People, the Miami Herald, WWD, W, Home Furnishings News, SportStyle, Supermarket News, and Footwear News, I interviewed U. S. presidents and corporate CEOs, covered investor meetings, and walked trade show floors. You could even catch me attending black tie events, tape recorder tucked into my evening bag.

That knowledge about how business works allows me to guide companies like yours in developing a compelling message that resonates across social media, attracts mass media, and increases sales.

You’ve got a great story; I’ll help you tell it. Together, we’ll get your message out so you can reach customers and goals. As for those one-armed push-ups? Once you’ve gotten the help and the skills to move forward, you might be ready for the challenge.

Please check out the rest of the site. You’ll learn a lot more about me at Meet Laurel Tielis. The Testimonials page will tell you how I’ve helped other companies bring in more business. Media Attention will take you to articles I’ve written, as well as articles where I’ve been interviewed for my expertise. Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales is an ebook chock full of useful advice.

Then, when you’re ready to go forward, let’s start this way. Send me an email at askLaurel(At)laureltielis.com and we’ll set up a free phone consultation. The sooner you do it, the sooner you’ll get where you want to go in business!

Copyright © 2013 Laurel Tielis

Marines do pushups.jpg by PFC Charlie Chavez

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Omnichannel Retailing Increases Customer Sales

Laurel Tielis

The impact of technology on retail has made taking care of shoppers a full-time commitment; you have to offer customers what they want, when they want, where they want it, at a price they’re willing to pay.

Ideally, you need to stock products and offer services not available elsewhere, cover shipping costs, and offer low prices. Then you have to be multichannel, so that goods can be purchased in a store, online, or via mobile, 24/7. Oh, and that 24/7; those are also the times you should be available on social media.

Let’s face it: Retail today is demanding. It’s especially demanding if you’re an independent whose basic business is a brick and mortar store. To bring in more sales, you have to rethink your business model.

One company whose model works is Chrome. Known for messenger bags that stand up to stress and last over time, it’s managed to mesh its online and in-store business so that customers are comfortable wherever they shop. Chrome refers to its online/offline business as “integrated channel.”

The company prides itself on providing simple solutions to problems. You need a sturdy bag, but you don’t want to be toting the same one as everyone else. The solution? Shoppers get to customize their purchases, to “build a bag,” online or in a store.They can pick and choose colors, threads, and patches, so while everyone gets the same functionality, the appearance is unique.

Chrome’s four brick and mortar stores, which they characterize as “hubs,” are located in hipster neighborhoods in San Francisco, Portland, Chicago, and New York. The staff works to engage customers, rather than just trotting out the tired, Can I help you? The idea is to create a space that goes beyond simply buying a product. Visitors can hang out, catch videos, or come in for Third Thursdays, when live music and free brews are on offer.

Technology has been game changing. Using it, Chrome has proved to be a winner. How are you doing?

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2013 Laurel Tielis

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Increase Your Sales with Social Media

Laurel Tielis

Want to bring more business in? Use social media to get the word out. Once you become media-savvy, you can gain visibility, credibility, and profitability without having to open your wallet.

If you’re an entrepreneur or an independent retailer, “free” is probably one of your favorite words; “easy” and “effective” are most likely others. Savvy use of social media will give you all three.

 Easy, Effective, and Free Ways to get Your Story Out

1. Follow a reporter on Twitter and when you have a story idea that would benefit readers, viewers or listeners, send a tweet. You can get anyone’s attention using @ and following with their user name.

2. Add a comment, and your web address, to online stories. It takes just a minute to sign in, and once you do you can get your name, and your targeted message,  in just about everything, including major publications like the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

3. Read a blog, and respond to what’s been written. Tell the author why you agree or disagree with the post. Stay on point, and if you have doubts about what’s been said, be pleasant in raising them. Again, almost all blogs accept relevant comments. For example, even if you never finished high school, you can post pertinent comments to blog posts on the Harvard Business Review.

4. Join the conversation on social media sites. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a fan of Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Goggle Plus, or even all of the above, participate and you can get your name out and build your business. Heck, you can even  get rich and famous by working social media. Lift a glass, for example, to Gary Vaynerchuk, who shared his passion with wine to one and all online.

5. Speak up. It’s great if you have the time, and the chops, to stand in front of an audience and share information. But even if you don’t, you can still ask questions, or answer them, at lectures and conferences you attend. Make sure to say your name, and the name of your company, before you start. And once again, keep to the subject, then let people know about it everywhere you connect with others.

I find being patient, persistent, and pleasant pays off in getting the word out. How do you promote yourself?

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Connect with me at LinkedIn, or follow me on Twitter @laureltielis.

You can also get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com. For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2013 Laurel Tielis

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Increase Your Sales by Improving Your Service

Laurel Tielis

Remember the Men’s Hair Club commercial? It ended with Sy Sperling, company founder, saying, “I’m not only the Hair Club president, but I’m also a client.” It got a lot of laughs, but it also got a lot of attention.

So, to paraphrase Sy, I’m not only a retail strategist, I’m also a customer. And it’s not funny when a simple trip to the supermarket to pick up a couple of items (and yes, I mean two), requires a trip back because one of them wasn’t packed, and the other, although not passed its stamped due date, was definitely past it when opened.

Clearly, there was something wrong with the service, and this at a time when retailers need to offer superb service to keep shoppers coming in. Since second-rate service is a surefire way of sabotaging your business, here are several ways to offer first-rate service and keep customers sweet.

See to Your Staff so Customers Get the Best Service

If your staff isn’t taking care of your customers, it might be because you’ve made a bad hire, or because you’re not taking care of your staff. Make sure that anyone you bring on board who is customer-facing is a people-person. That means, even if an employee clearly has your best interests at heart, but is careless with customers, keep him or her behind-the-scenes, rather than on the sales floor.

Train your staff about how to behave in challenging situations. Make it clear what’s acceptable, and what’s not, in your business. Go over it on a regular basis. Role play different situations so you can reach the best outcome for your immediate and your long-term success.

Observe your staff on an ongoing basis. That way, you can step in if a problem arises, and intercede before it escalates and either your customer, or your employee is offended.

Most importantly, take good care of the people who work for you. The more you show them kindness, the more inclined they’ll be to pass it along to others. Also, if they’re happy in their jobs, the more cautious they’ll be about behaving in an insolent or unpleasant manner, because they’ll want to keep working for you.

What are you doing to keep foot traffic, and concomitant sales, up?

If you want more ideas about bringing in business, I can help. I’ve been a retail reporter at Women’s Wear Daily and Home Furnishings News, a columnist at the Miami Herald and a correspondent at People.

I’ve also handled the marketing and public relations at major corporations and small businesses. Need a speaker or a consultant? Get in touch at Ask Laurel (one word) at laureltielis.com or connect with me at LinkedIn.

For easy and effective ways to bring in more business, follow me on Twitter @laureltielis and read my book Ka-Ching! How to Ring Up More Sales.

Copyright © 2013 Laurel Tielis

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