60% Co-op Reimbursement – Now What?

The New Year always brings about big changes and challenges, and this year is no different, especially with DISH’s co-op reimbursement percentage change from 80% to 60% already in place. Don’t panic! We’ve got the team to guide you with a few tips to  change your advertising focus from volume to value.

When thinking about your advertising budget, quality, not quantity, is what you’re looking for. Take a deep breath and really think about where you spend your advertising dollars: Which mediums are working for you and which ones aren’t? Are you doing any advertising just because it’s inexpensive, even though it may be ineffective? Now is the time to scrutinize your marketing plan, eliminate the part of the plan that is not working, and get creative to spend your advertising budget in the areas where it’s the most effective.

Review your Marketing Plan

When analyzing your current advertising budget, you can place your initiatives in one of two categories: those you spend money on and those that make your business money. If the majority of your leads are coming from one or two advertising tactics, but you have three or four total, then you need to shift your money to the mediums where you’re actually getting a return on your investment. Stop spending in the areas where you are not. Just because your out-of-pocket expense per initiative is going to increase doesn’t mean that your total budget has to.

Cut the Fat

Once you have identified the mediums that aren’t bringing in quality leads, you need to pull those ads as soon as possible. If you have gotten in the habit of advertising in ways that aren’t the most effective, make it your resolution to focus the money on other avenues that can make your business better. Even if the advertising is cheap, it’s still money wasted if it’s not bringing in customers and it is money better spent elsewhere. Now that you’ll be responsible for paying 40% of the total cost on any advertising initiative, you really need to focus on getting the best value for that money and only advertise where you are seeing results.
Get Creative
With a higher investment for advertising on your end, you want to look for every value-add opportunity you can. See if your radio station or newspaper will give you a better rate if you commit to a larger number of advertisements. Is there a discount for running on certain days of the week? Many newspapers will include a web ad at no additional charge when you buy a print ad. It’s ok to be shameless in asking your vendors for discounts or bundles– the worst they can do is say no, right? Don’t forget to look into opportunities for free advertising, too. Get those social media pages in shape, start a blog, or send out a newsletter to current and prospective customers. You could even try bartering or trading advertising. Ask a popular local business if you can hang a banner in their store or place some business cards at the counter in exchange for the same at your business. Networking and word of mouth will always remain powerful advertising tools.
It’s certainly going to be an adjustment switching over to a lower reimbursement percentage, but if you sit down and take the time to analyze your business’s marketing plan and think outside the box a little, you can make it work without breaking your advertising budget.


Need publicity? Try this!

Happy Friday, readers! This week’s post is going to be short, sweet, to the point, and very helpful if you want to get some PR (and not pay a dime for it). I recently discovered a handy little website that connects journalists and bloggers to potential sources.  It’s called HARO (Help A Reporter Out), and it works on the premise that “everyone is an expert at something.”

Screenshot: helpareporter.com

All you do is sign up on the website by providing your contact information, business name, and select an annual revenue range. Simple! Once you’ve signed up, you’ll start receiving emails with potential stories from journalists– about 3 each day, containing 30 or 40 potential stories (so you’re basically guaranteed to find something that’s up your alley). Some of them may just be a basic subject line, like “How to run a small business,” and others are more direct, like “Looking for small business owners to tell their story.”  When you click on a headline, you’ll get a few extra lines about the story as well as contact information.

The HAROs sent to you will cover a pretty broad span of topics, and are grouped in an index according to subject matter: i.e. Business and Finance, Education, Entertainment, High Tech, etc. Since our readers are most likely going to be in the Electronics, Satellite, Home Security or similar fields, you’ll want to scan for HAROs that cover these topics. For example, today I received one where the reporter was looking for “Future Car Technology.” You may not be an expert on automobiles, but if you sell car audio products you probably have a good idea of where the technology is going– let the reporter know your take on the matter, how it will affect you, and you might just get a bite! Do you sell home security products? Another one I received was on the topic of security companies and the green movement’s effect on them, an obvious fit for this industry. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box and put your own spin on the subject when you contact the journalist. Once you find one that you know would be a perfect fit for you and your business, you make your pitch to the reporter.

The pitching part of this service is arguably the most important and you should spend a little time thinking about what makes you a good source for the reporter to interview. Write them an email explaining your experience or expertise in the subject at hand and let them know what you have to offer– what sets you apart? Once they have read your pitch and decided that you can contribute to their story, they will contact you for an interview. I was really pleasantly surprised by the quality of the media outlets looking for sources. Not only do industry specific blogs use HARO, but also big names like The Associated Press, Forbes, and Huffington Post.

Check out @helpareporter on Twitter

You can also keep an eye on their Twitter stream for “urgent HAROs,” or last-minute stories for which reporters are looking for someone to interview.

Obviously this isn’t your ordinary advertising tactic and it takes a little bit of effort to make it work for you, but just imagine the effect if you were quoted in a major media publication! Customers will be rushing to make a purchase from the guy they saw on CBS or read about on their favorite website.  You don’t have to wait around anymore and hope that luck lands you a chance for publicity like this. Reporters are looking for people like you, all you have to do is let them know you’re there. This isn’t traditional advertising, you won’t be able to promote your products or specials. However, it is  a great way to get your name out there as the local expert, and some would argue that brand recognition is worth its weight in gold– so try it! What do you have to lose?

Give it a try and come back to tell us about your experience in the comments below!!

Help Us Help You: 3 Simple Ways to Keep Your Business Running Smoothly

If you’ve tuned into our blog before, you know that I work here in the Marketing Department at DOW Electroincs. In my 2 years here, I’ve seen a lot of retailers falling into the same traps time and time again. I deal with the co-op process every day, and sometimes I have to remind myself that our retailers don’t, so it may not seem as straightforward to you as it does to me.  Recently I read a blog post about people who offer criticism without giving a possible solution at the same time, and I decided that I don’t want to be “that guy” (or “that girl” in my case). With that in mind, I put together a short list of common problems that I see come up for our retailers and how to fix them.

Image: Bruno Girin | Flickr

1. Don’t Wait Until the Last Minute (or later!)

“A lack of planning on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.” We all heard this back in school when we asked our teachers for an extra day to turn in that term paper or when we showed up late on test day. One of my teachers even had it posted on the classroom wall, and I couldn’t stand it! Like it or not though, the statement often rings true in the busines world, just as it did in the classroom.

We know that accidents happen and sometimes you may forget that you need to submit an approval a few days before you plan to advertise or that your claim paperwork got lost in a stack of paper, but sometimes exceptions and rushes just can’t be made, so planning ahead is always the best bet. The simplest way to keep deadlines and due dates in order, and to keep your business flowing smoothly is to keep a calendar. Write all of your advertising run dates, events, installs, and truck delivery dates on your calendar and then go back and see where you’ll need  to add your deadlines:

  • Approvals should be submitted a minimum of 2 days before your vendor’s deadline (make that 5 days if Dow is creating your ad).
  • Note that you’ll need all of your claim documents from your vendor immediately after your initiative is complete so you can send them in as soon as possible, why wait to be reimbursed?
  • Check your co-op guidelines  for the final submission deadlines and co-op expiration dates you’ll need to keep in mind, or just give us a call!
  • Go through your inventory of equipment, approved parts, and accessories, and try to estimate when you’ll need to order more.

Write all of these “to-do’s” on your calendar, in red, so you know you need to pay special attention to them. If you’re using a digital calendar, make sure to set a reminder alarm and your phone or computer will let you know!

Whether it’s an old-school desk or wall calendar, or your Outlook or phone’s calendar complete with reminders, writing all of these dates down will make your job (and ours) much easier.

2. Have a Plan B

I can’t stress enough the importance of always having a backup plan. I’ve seen several retailers who are left in the dark when a key employee leaves their business and they don’t know where to start with a particular process. Obviously, you can’t always be in control of every aspect of your business, you are just one person after all, but having a strategy for these scenarios is key.

The first step is to make sure that the person you are placing in charge of any part of your business is qualified and trustworthy. As salespeople, a few retailers think that they can’t do marketing, so they brush it off to the first person who knows how to use a computer– vendors, sales reps, interns, children, even the kid’s pet hamster! Okay, maybe that last one was a stretch, but the point is that Marketing is a key part of your business and your sales process, so why would you put it in the hands of someone who isn’t quite sure what they’re doing?

Once you’ve carefully selected a qualified party to head up your marketing efforts, make sure that this person creates a written process for all of their duties. On top of that, have them run through these processes with you. In the event that that person is out of the office, or should they leave the business for good, you now have the basics to jump into their role without missing a beat.

This is one specific scenario, but there’s always value in having a Plan B, you never know when your Plan A might fall through!

3. Check, Double-Check, Triple Check!

We all know what happens when you assume, so don’t fall into this trap. We see it all the time in the Marketing Department: you don’t read your co-op guidelines, you participate in an event, and then you realize after the fact that you forgot to display your business name, or even worse, you didn’t know you needed to get a pre-approval beforehand. This is easily fixed by simply consulting your co-op guidelines, or your DOW Electronics Marketing Department– think of us as your human co-op guidelines. We’re here to make sure that you are doing everything you need to in order to receive reimbursement for your advertising initiatives, but we can’t help you if you don’t ask!

Another area where this comes into play is when there is an issue with your account.  It becomes very difficult, and in some cases impossible, to fix a problem months after it occurs. Make sure that you are keeping an eye on your email and your Dow bulletin board to ensure that your payments are coming through as they should and that we don’t require additional action on your part to complete a process. By simply staying on top of your account information, or selecting a qualified employee to do so, you’ll be sure to keep those mistakes and oversights to a minimum. Trust me, we’d rather you call us 10 times a day and get it right the first time than have to deny your claims, and I know your sales reps and everyone else here at Dow feels the same way.

Going back and checking with your sales or marketing rep, or reading your co-op guidelines could save you time, money, and a big headache.

So there you have it! A “Do this, Not that” on being a DOW Electronics retailer. As a Marketer, most of my observations come from a Marketing and Advertising perspective, but these pointers can apply to all parts of your business. Let us know your suggestions in the comments below!


Product Review: Sony GS Mobile Line

This week I’ve got something special for you: a product review of our new Sony GS line from one of our resident Sony pros, Brad! Take a look below to get his take on the lineup.

SONY GS = GREAT SOUND!! Improving the sound in your car or truck just got a whole lot easier
By Brad L.

Sony XMGS400 Amplifier

Image: Sony

Sony’s new GS lineup includes 2 new amplifiers, 3 speakers, and 2 subwoofers and allows the specialty 12 volt retailer to make great margin while offering a complete 3 year warranty on the product. The sound quality is top-notch with the Sony engineers taking higher priced units from Focal into consideration for the ones to beat.

Sony XSGS120L Subwoofer

Image: Sony

In a recent Listening event at DOW Electroincs’ Tampa location, Sony showed off the sound quality of the GS speakers and sub compared to units from Focal and JL Audio. Everyone agreed that the GS line offered extreme bang for buck and stood above the other brands in sound quality and overall tone.


Image: Sony

The new 12” subwoofer XSGS120L sub pounded out clean controlled bass next to JL’s more sloppy sounding bass lines. Powering the speakers and Sub were Sony’s new XMGS400 and XMGS100 amplifiers which are conservatively rated at 70×4 and 600×1 for the sub amp. These amps have a super small footprint which allows you to mount them almost anywhere.

From the use of super light-weight material in their speakers to allowing the dealer to offer a full 3 year warranty, the new GS lineup offers up big sound for very little green.

Interested? Visit www.sony.com/car for a closer look, and then give your DOW Electronics sales rep a call at 800.627.2900!



Why Not Use YouTube in your Showroom?

If you’re a DISH retailer, you’ve probably already seen the Weekly DISH about DISH’s YouTube channel. Now, like most people, I generally use YouTube to watch funny cat videos… unfortunately there weren’t any to be found here, so instead I took some time to browse around the page :). I started thinking about our retailers and how this page isn’t just a great place to kill some time watching funny videos (check out the one below!), but it could also be a great resource for your showrooms and kiosks!


Here in the Marketing Department, we are often asked for promotional videos that can be played on a loop for customers to see in a showroom. We don’t usually receive these kinds of materials from DISH, but the DISH YouTube channel has plenty of content that could be used in your showrooms. Just set one of the playlists to run on a TV in your showroom and you can loop Hopper ads, promotional spots, how-to videos and even programming clips for your potential customers’ viewing pleasure! Clips of popular shows give customers an idea of what they’ll be getting with DISH, and how-to videos do a great job of explaining features like Primetime Anytime and TV Everywhere quickly and simply.

It’s definitely worth a few minutes of your time to head over to DISH’s channel to take a look at all of the funny, informative, and entertaining videos that are available (even if there aren’t any cat videos!). Even though this particular blog post is focused on DISH’s YouTube channel, don’t be afraid to branch out and see what’s available for the other products you may offer.  Sony, LG, and Onkyo all have great YouTube channels, to name a few.

When you’re done browsing around, make sure to come back and tell us what your favorite clip was in the comments!

P.S. If you like videos and can’t get enough of the Boston Guys, make sure to take a look at DISH’s Facebook page— there are a ton of interviews with the guys! You can get their thoughts on life, philosophy, and… Justin Bieber?


Five Ways to Get the Most out of the New DISH Portal

Shortly after our Training Manager, Keith, posted about Getting the Most Out of the Portal, DISH made some changes to it. As a follow-up, Keith has put together a video tour of the newly upgraded DISH Portal to help you get started and show you some great features that you should be taking advantage of!

In this video:
1. Browsing Portal Discussions (0:37)
2. Bookmarks (1:36)
3. Top Portal Participants (2:26)
4. E-mail Notifications (3:50)
5. Mobile DISH Portal (4:37)

Take a few minutes to watch the video below and brush up on your DISH Portal skills!  

Do you use the DISH Portal? What’s your favorite feature? Tell us in the comments!


Social Media + Lead Generation On the Spot!

So you’ve set up some snazzy Facebook and Twitter profiles, but you just aren’t gaining a following. What do you do? Well, as I’ve told you before, social media takes time and patience, but don’t get discouraged– a Twitter star is not made overnight. However, I recently stumbled upon a new iPad app that will help you gain fans and followers and generate some email leads for your mailing lists!

What is it?
It’s called OnSpot Social, and it works by engaging your customers while they are in your showroom (or kiosk or event booth) and getting them to follow your social media pages or provide their email right there on the spot– hence the name. There’s no need for your customer to pull out his smart phone to log into his Facebook app and you don’t have to hope he remembers your twitter handle when he logs on at home later tonight because you have an iPad set up in your showroom where he can simply type in his information and automatically follow you.

How Does it Work?
You simply download the app to your iPad* and configure it for your business with a theme and your company logo. You can choose to allow people to connect to you through Facebook, Twitter, and Email, or any combination of the three. You can even offer a special incentive for those who provide you with an email address or connect to one of your social networks! I like that the user interface is on the simple side. There’s no clutter on the screen to distract your customers, no games to play or websites to visit. People can get in and out quickly allowing the next customer to connect and eliminating the chance for any one person to monopolize your iPad.

*Sorry android users, the app is only on iPads right now. I am told, however, that the developers would consider making an android version if the demand is high enough. I suggest letting them know on twitter @OnSpotSocial 🙂

Is this for me?
OnSpot Social could be a great tool for just about any kind of business, but the integration of tablet computer technology into the lead collection process makes this tool the perfect fit for the consumer electronics and satellite sales industries– your customers will see that you are in tune with the latest technology and they will be excited to join you on the social web. Who doesn’t have a Facebook account, and more importantly, who can resist a touch screen?! Your customers need not be concerned about their privacy, none of their information is stored when they use this app. It also frees up your time so that you can collect contact information from one customer while simultaneously giving your sales pitch to another. This comes in really handy on a high traffic day or if you’re short-handed at your event or kiosk. Those few minutes you used to spend filling out a lead form can now be used for active selling– let your sales people sell and let the app take down leads.

How Much Does It Cost?
The OnSpot Social app is a free download from the App Store, however, the free version of the app is basically just a digital sign. In order to use the features discussed above, you have to choose a subscription plan: $25/week, $125/6 months, or $175 for a year. I know we all love the free stuff, but this is one place where your investment could really pay off. If you break the fee down, the one year plan is less than $15 per month– not a whole lot. If you think of it in terms of cost per lead, even if you retrieve only one lead per month through this app you are still getting a bargain. And I know that a lot of you who participate in events frequently can gather way more than one lead per month on this thing without even trying! Just think about how much your cost per call is on a direct mail campaign or a print ad and you will see that the fee here is pretty minimal. Just make sure that you actually have the app set up in plain sight and that you are directing people to use it. If you don’t, then why bother spending the money?

An additional cost to consider is securing your technology. The website offers iPad enclosures and stands so you don’t have to worry about anyone walking away with your tablet.

The Takeaway
While this is a really great innovation in lead collection, it’s all useless if you don’t take those leads and do something with them. At the very least you should be following up via email, phone, or mail… or better yet, a combination of the three! Make sure that you are adding all of the leads that you collect to your email newsletter recipients (and if you don’t have a newsletter, you should really consider starting one– but that’s another post). Provide fresh and interesting updates to your social networks to keep your new Facebook and twitter followers coming back for more. Remember that these are people who have freely given you their contact information and are now expecting you to get in touch– they are inviting you to sell them something. So take them up on the invitation, get in contact, and show them what you’ve got to offer!

How do you gather leads? How do you use them? Let us know in the comments!


Are you ready to get listed?

We look to the internet for everything from movie listings to shopping  and everything in between, so it only makes sense that if you own a business you should be listed online. In the past I have written about claiming your Google places listing, but I wanted to bring to your attention a website that will help you bring your business presence to a multitude of online directories. It’s called getlisted.org, and it’s not only really simple to use and free, but it’s a great tool for establishing an online presence for your business and increasing the search engine optimization of your website.

All you have to do is type your business name and zip code into the fields on their home page and click “Check My Listings.”

getlisted.org search

Screen capture; credit: Jessica Grybek / Dow Electronics

After you click that little button, the website pulls your address and business information and goes to work checking about a dozen different websites for your business (you may have to correct this information a bit– the address that generated for us was wrong). It tells you whether or not you are listed there, if the details match the ones they’ve got , and gives you a link to claim the listings that you haven’t claimed!

Screen capture; credit: Jessica Grybek/ Dow Electronics

I mentioned that you may need to correct your business information if the website pulls the wrong information. To do this, just click the “Accuracy” tab on the left of the screen and fields will appear on the right side where you can correct your information (both outlined in red).

Once you have corrected your information, click the “Re-scan Using this Info” button and the website will do a new search. When we corrected our address, we got much better results.

From here, you can click the buttons to the right of each listing to go to each website and claim your listing. If you’ve already claimed a listing, you can click the link to be taken to the website and make updates, or if the website isn’t sure whether or not you’ve claimed your listing you can head over to make sure!

By clicking the other tabs beneath the Accuracy tab, you can see your business’s full listing on each site, reviews from those sites, and a To-Do list to let you know which listings have been claimed, which haven’t, and what they are missing.  The site isn’t really offering you anything you couldn’t do on your own, but it makes the process way easier for you– one-stop shops are something I’m a big fan of :). Think of it like a dashboard for your online directory listings. With getlisted.org, you can just go down the list to make sure that your business is optimized on the web and anyone who looks for you will have no trouble finding you.

As you can see, I have a lot of work to do claiming our listings out there on the world-wide web, and I suggest you get started as well! Let me know what you think in the comments below.


Get Something for your Giveaway

We often refer to promotional items as “giveaways,” but should we really be giving them away to just anyone who walks by? Too often, people forget that there is a purpose to these items. They are meant to bring people into your booth, to generate leads, and to create awareness of your brand or company. By setting out a bin of free key chains or handing out a personalized pen to anyone who comes within range, you are really just telling people that they can come to your booth to get something for nothing. 

This method of distributing your “free” goods is not particularly effective. You shouldn’t just stand back and allow people to come by for a free item and then just walk away. Instead, stand out in front of your booth and greet them as they walk by. Let these people know about your business and what you can do for them! After a brief and  friendly exchange, you then hand the passerby your promotional item and let them walk away with a physical reminder of your business and a positive memory of the exchange that just took place. They will remember you each time they use the item, making chances greater that they will become your customer in the future.

Here’s another alternative to giving away these items at random: make a trade! Have them fill out a lead form for your personalized magnet (or keychain, or hand sanitizer, or T-shirt). When purchasing promotional items to distribute to potential customers, you should expect a return on that investment in the form of leads and, eventually, in sales. Once again, the potential customer has a tangible reminder of you and your business, and with a personalized item they will have your contact information at their fingertips. Not only do they have your information, but you now have theirs and can take the initiative to follow upon the lead after the event is over. 

The key to using giveaway items effectively is to not simply give them away for nothing in return. This doesn’t mean that you should demand that passersby make a purchase on the spot or provide you with personal information, but you should be implementing lead generation tactics with these items. Think outside the box with your promotional items. Will a simple balloon distract a child long enough so you can tell their parents about your business? Is a keychain enough, or will it take something more innovative to draw in the kind of people who will be interested in your product? Think about the audience you want to attract and select promotional items to cater to their needs or to compliment your product or service. Using promotional items isn’t complicated. By putting a little thought into the items you’ll bring, who you want to give them to, and what you want in return for them, you can make sure to get a return on the investment that you put into those items!

How do you distribute event giveaways? What items are crowd favorites? Tell us in the comments!


Springtime Means Event Time!

Image: Anita Martinz

It’s Springtime and we all know that means there are great opportunities to get out and promote your products, services, and your business at local events! Fairs, home shows, and community events are a great way to generate leads and interest in you as a local retailer. That being said, we have decided to put together a blog series outlining some tips and tricks for participating in events. From finding event opportunities in your area to choosing the right event representatives to run your booth, we’ll be covering all there is to know about bringing your business out for a day in the sun.

I encourage all of you to try out many different forms of advertising, and many of you already know what works for you and what doesn’t. Events are one of those things that can work for anyone as long as you have the right attitude and are ready to tell the public about your business face to face. The beauty of marketing your business at an event as opposed to other tactics is that the potential customer gets to meet with you (or your carefully chosen event rep) in person and get to know you and your business. This is something that a print ad or even a TV spot can’t achieve. You have the opportunity to make a connection with the public, and people want to make purchases from someone who they know and trust.

Not only do you have the opportunity to generate leads through a personal connection, but you also have the added bonus of being able to demonstrate your product to the customer on the spot. Being able to put the product into the hands of a potential customer is a powerful thing. Sure, this happens in your showroom, but you have to rely on the customers to come to you for that. When you participate in an event, you are bringing your product to the customer where they already are– no extra effort on their part required.

If you’re just getting started and have yet to participate in a local event or even if you’re a seasoned trade show pro, you’ll be sure to find something in our upcoming series that you can put to use for your business. So stay tuned to this blog over the next few weeks, break out the tent, balloons, and signage and join the crowd at the many spring and summer worthy events coming your way this season!

Where will we see your business this Spring and Summer? Let us know in the comments below!