Message from CT...

The key to success is the knowledge one gathers from the relationships we make and the experiences of others. If you have just discovered CT Jewelry Design, I encourage you to subscribe and follow along. Feedback is always welcomed! - CT

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Art of Selling

Photo courtesy of  Bill Stoler Photography

Many people throughout my career have told me that I missed my calling. They have said, “You need to be in sales”, or “You’re some sales person”. Well the truth be known I don’t really like to sell. Sure I worked in the retail industry part-time many years ago while I was going to college and it was fun, but to do it full time…no way. What I do know how to do and feel do fairly well is to be myself at all times and promote the things I enjoy and love in life.

Selling and promoting have more in common than you may think. Both take the ability to communicate, persuade and influence. Plus you must be passionate and believe in your product. As time goes on and you start feeling confident with promoting your product you’ll find that selling really isn’t so hard and you’ll start enjoying the process.

There are however several key steps to selling that have stood the test of time. They are prospecting, presenting, listening and closing. To prospect effectively you will need to determine who your customer is and what sets you apart from the competition. Ask yourself what would make a prospecting customer buy your product? Why would you buy your product over some other product?

Then you must have the ability to present well. All that really means is that you need to tell a good story. This is the fun part (the part I love…promoting). Everyone loves a good story especially an artisan story. Buyers love to hear what the inspiration was, what materials were used and how long it took to complete. They want to hear the features of your product that is relevant to them. Be honest and sincere with your story and be careful not to bore the customer with all the little details. A quick 30-60 second summary will do.

If you have told a good story now it’s time to listen. If you aren’t already, learn to be a good listener and remember that you will not sell anything if you don’t listen and understand the needs of your potential buyers.

Ok the final part…the closing. The best way to close a sale is to ask a simple question, “Can I answer any questions for you?” If the customer says no, you can ask for the sale, “Well, then why don’t you give it a try?” If the customer appears to be unsure you can say, “I really think this would be ideal for you.” You would be amazed at how many people just need an invitation to buy.

Understand that a sale is always being made, so either you will make the sale or your competition will. So promote yourself and be passionate about your product, even if you don’t make the sale that day, you have left a positive impression on them…they will remember you and will typically come back. - CT

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Personal Invitation to Art Fire

ArtFire - Buy Handmade - Sell HandmadeLet me invite you and your friends to join Artfire! Here’s a little more info:

As you know the site is free for artisans, it's new and it is still in Beta. Personally I like Beta's. You get the opportunity to submit ideas or features you would like to see on the site. Plus Art Fire is a green community. As a member of Art Fire you are making an impact on the planet and supporting causes and organizations that help us all.

Artfire is an interactive artisan community designed to help artists promote and sell their crafts.

Here, check out the features:
• Customizable studios
• Studio statistics
• A backend control panel
• Unlimited shop categories
• Promotional Tools
• And much more!

There’s also a host of interactive features including:
• Forums
• Messaging
• Artifacts - Participation Badges
• Custom groups (on the way!)
• Personalized blogs (on the way!)

When you join Artfire, you get the opportunity to help make a difference, since they have pledged to plant a tree for very new member at no cost to you. They planted one for me and I didn’t even get my hands dirty. :)

While basic membership allows crafters to sell 10 of their creations at a time for completely free, verified membership level allows for unlimited listings with full access to all of the features listed above. Currently they are offering a special deal for the verified membership level—only $7 a month for the rest of your stay on Artfire. That’s right, only $0.23 a day for unlimited craft and supplies listings with full access to all Artfire has to offer.

If you want to take a peek at my Artfire Studio Click Here

If you interested in more Art Fire information or want to sign up feel free to Click Here

Or feel free to send me a message and I will try to answer your questions. If I don't know, I will try to find out for you. Have a Safe and Happy Thanksgiving Everyone! - CT

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

Have a Safe and Happy Holiday


Monday, November 24, 2008

Road to Success

In order to understand where you want to be in life you must identify where you want to end up. In other words you need a clear understand of what your ultimate destination is and which roads you must follow to get there.

These roads are goals that will get you to your outcome. Don’t confuse goals with outcomes. Goals are conceptual as they guide your actions. Outcomes are what really happen which often times aren’t always how you envisioned it. Sometimes the outcomes can be even better than what your original goal was. Your ability to adapt and stay flexible is extremely important, so don’t be ridged.

Goals should be an extension of your values. Life becomes meaningful and exciting when your goals support what you believe in. Set challenging but realistic goals. They should be very specific with an objective and a deadline so you can measure your progress.

Keep in mind that setting goals is hard work. It requires time and soul searching. Many people have a fear of failing. Others feel if they don’t set goals they can’t fail. While that may be true they won’t succeed either. Then there are those who have a fear of success because they don’t value themselves enough to feel they deserve success.

Don’t be afraid that you won’t reach your goals. The first step in reaching your goals is deciding which road you want to follow. Then get on the road and follow it. Chances are when you arrive you’ll want to go even farther. - CT

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Holiday Sale Marketing

The holidays are a great time to raise your company’s visibility and enhance your image. Here are just a few ideas for this holiday season:

Hold a charitable holiday party. Instead of having the same old party during the holidays, make it a special event by linking with a local charitable organization. This will establish a good corporate citizen image and raise your visibility in the community.

Donate a portion of your proceeds. The holiday season is a great time to let your customers know that you care. One way to do this is to donate a portion of sales from a particular type of product or service to a charity. Or better yet, let your customers choose from a list so they can donate to the charity of their choice.

Create a holiday promotion. Offer a unique promotion on a specific product or service. Promote a buy one and get the second item for 50% off for someone else on their list. Another well received promotion is offering free gift wrapping or free shipping during the holidays.

Preferred customer rewards. Reward your top customers with special discounts or perks on certain products. Offer double rewards points for spending more.

Try one or more of these ideas and you’ll foster good will and more than likely increase your sales this holiday season. - CT

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Don't Rinse the Dish!

Did you know that by not rinsing the dishes before using your dishwasher you could save up to 20 gallons of water each load! Plus your saving energy used to heat the additional water. So don’t rinse the dish...let the dishwasher do its work!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Give A Hand

Support World Children's Day at McDonalds. During November 10 -20 McDonald’s restaurants invite customers to participate in World Children’s Day. Restaurants contribute a portion of select product sales and others offer a $1 Give A Hand for Ronald McDonald House Charities paper hand for customers to display their commitment to helping children around the world. Help spread the word and tell your friends how you can help change children's lives. - CT

Friday, November 14, 2008

Green Tip

Do double duty by printing on both side of the page when printing by configuring your printer. Plus recycle all those extra pages you print with only one side printed by turning them over and puting them back in the printer for reuse.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

I Know a Secret About Artfire!

Hi everyone...let me tell you a secret. For the next 5,000 verified artists who sign up as verified artisans on artfire.com they will lock in your membership at just (US) $7.00/month for life. That's less than 23 cent a day! About the cost of one daily listing or renewal on that other site! But you have to act fast...tomorrow it goes public and the secret will be out. So follow this link to artfire.com and see what all you can get for $7.00/mo! Tell them I told you the secret and sent you over to sign up! - CT

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Artisan Spotlight Article‏

Hi everyone! Check out the new "Artisan Spotlight" article on Artfire. You may find out some interesting things you never knew about me and CT Jewelry Design. Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the Art Daily page as a guest...you know how much I enjoy your feedback. Thank you for your time & for making our small business venture successful because without your kind support none of this would be possible - CT

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Green Tip

Do you get too much Junk Mail?
Go to http://www.dmaconsumers.org/ and register to get off junk mail lists. In about three months you'll see a big reduction. - CT

Phone Skills: It’s Not What You Say But How You Say It!

Customer service was built on excellent communication skills. Expressing confidence over the phone and creating a positive experience for your customer is essential part of any business. As someone who has been in a customer service environment for many years…too many to mention…there are a few simple techniques that I use when training staff that are beneficial when dealing with the public over the phone.

Now I know that while most of us have web based businesses and we’re not brick and mortar establishments, we use written media to get our point across, but there will still be times when we need to discuss items or issues with a customer over the phone. Our voice skills are often more important that the words that are used in print or face to face.

Research has shown that while our vocal skills are important in a face to face conversation, they only make a small impact on the total transaction. However our voice skills in a phone conversation have an enormous impact…remember they can’t physically see you so the visual body language is taken out of the picture.

Failing to pronounce words correctly or slurring words into each other make it difficult for the customer to understand what is being said. How many times has it happened to you? What is your perception of the establishment? Will you spend your money there? Put yourself in the caller’s shoes and make sure you are articulating the words properly. Use what I call the PTP principal: Pace, Tone and Projection:

Pace: The speed of what is being said can degrade the quality of a voice, besides in most cases the caller will miss half of what is being said and the information will just need to be repeated. So slow down and even more when you are providing information, such as account numbers, addresses, phone numbers, etc.

Tone: The tone of your voice will often say more than the words being used. If you use a dull monotone voice the caller will wonder why you still have a job there or worse why you are even in business. So use a bright, cheerful voice and smile as you speak. It will go through the phone as helpful and sincere and someone that has a lot of energy to help them. A bit of caution with this one, do not overdo it as the caller will pick up on that right away. You must be sincere and not fake it.

Projection: For the best sounding voice over the phone, project your voice to a point several feet ahead of you. You know the saying, “You’re talking to the wall,” it is case it is perfectly fine to talk to the wall rather than aiming your speech at your phone or headset.

Enlist a friend and test these new skills with them and ask them to be honest. Tweak your voice as needed and remember that your goal is for the caller to have a positive experience and have a comfort level with your business. So here you have it, three very simple skills to remember when you’re on the phone. Practice and you’ll be surprise how well your message gets across over the phone to your customer. - CT

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Living In A Beta World

First let me start by saying that my husband designs websites and my son is developing video games so in my house I’m called the “Bug Lady”. When I’m home and not designing jewelry, I’m the one they call on to test their products to find the defects…failures…the bugs! Interestingly that’s what they really want…they actually dare me to find bugs! Strange isn’t it, but truth be known, software testing in its Beta form, is the process of executing a program or application with the “intent” of finding software bugs. You want users to provide feedback on those nasty little bugs.

Typically prior to Beta testing there are rounds of Alpha Testing for system functionality, but Beta testing is actually the last phase of testing a site and it normally involves sending the product out for real world activity. This phase of user testing is critical. This is where improvements and current functionality can be modified for the user. This is also a great opportunity to suggest add-ons, but I am always reminded that it may take extra time to address these items as code must be written and/or reconfigured to make these changes work properly.

Needless to say, I’m always giving feedback usually in a constructive manner because I realize that folks that deal with computer programming live and breathe their craft just like I do when I’m designing a piece of jewelry. The last thing I want to do is insult them. They can spend countless hours, (sometimes forgetting to eat or sleep), and take in a huge amount of caffeine to perfect their art. They can spend hours, sometime days looking for just the right way to make navigating through a program, application or site easier for us, the user. They too are no different than sculptors or painters. They are perfectionist and artists in their own right.

So the next time you are at a site and it invites you to join in their Beta testing, give it a try. You may find yourself being the next "bug lady". As with all things, not all bugs are bad ones. Who knows you may find one that will turn into a brilliant butterfly. - CT

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Green Tip

Now that the weather is getting cooler and the days a little shorter, we seem to be spending more time indoors. That's not a bad thing, but did you know that there are certain air pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene lurking indoors? English ivy and peace lilies are easy toxin fighter that can help remove those indoor air pollutants. That’s an easy eco-friendly "green" house tip!

Dont Forget to Vote Today!

Today across America folks will vote either before work, at lunch or after work. Do your part. Vote Today! Track the results at CNN 2008 Elections

Monday, November 3, 2008

Green Tip

You've heard the saying, "one person's trash is another's treasure," right? So if you need to dispose of an old item like furniture, electronics, clothes, etc., don't throw it away in the trash. Recycle them! Here's a green site with great information: http://earth911.com/ - CT

2008 Holiday Season - What's Hot!

It’s never to early to plan for your holiday fashions. Just follow the key looks this season.

Most notably are the jewel tones which are hot right now. Sapphires, emeralds, amethyst, ruby and citrine are the holiday’s key colors. Line your neck with a dramatic necklace to dress-up that basic black dress.

Also, most prominent this season are earrings. They are the center of attention with the chandelier-style being a must. The longer the better. Faceted earrings catch the light and pair well with holiday up-dos. Check the above earrings at http://beauty.ivillage.com/fashion/0,,8d0w0jz7,00.html

Coordinate with an over-sized ring and you’re ready to enjoy your holiday with friends and family.
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