Q: We've noticed that some competitor's websites suddenly started coming up with very similar ideas than the ones we have been promoting on our site (i.e. very similar promos, very similar ways of engaging customers on social media, even very similar pictures--to the point of really thinking those were taking from our site, among others), how can we deal with that in the best possible manner?, direct confrontation?, ignore and move on? Andres Arangomuichic, LLC, www.muichic.com
A: Contact your local SCORE office and speak with a counselor who specializes in trademarks and copyrights. You want to be sure that you are properly protecting your intellectual property. Once you have done so, you are then in a better position to defend your what is rightfully yours. Don’t hesitate to speak with a trademark attorney, if need be. Protect yourself at all times.
Please review the following articles: Checklist for trademark and copyright issues on your website and What to do when someone copies your website
Q: JustGano.com is a fashion jewelry monthly membership club. All items in the extensive collection are free. The only charge is a monthly membership fee and members get to create a wish list and receive the number of items pertaining to their membership plan. We currently have six membership plans. My question would be, what would be the most beneficial retention method for a canceling member to a membership/subscription-based business. Eliana Noboa, http://www.JustGano.com
A: If you will be contacting canceling members in the future to encourage re-subscribing, keep it simple. Create a file, folder or database of canceled memberships and just call it “Canceled Memberships.” However, be careful, when people cancel, they do so for a reason. Unless you know the reason (short survey question upon cancellation) and are willing or have the capacity to correct the issue and offer an appropriate incentive to re-join, you may want to avoid re-engaging them.
Q: Should I take my product into general distribution via brick & mortar grocery stores or stay virtual? Since the launch of my first initial spice blend I have been focusing solely on virtual sales and online market places to sale my spices directly to consumers, such as foodzie.com. I believe it helps with getting my product to my customers faster and fresher since everything is ground fresh to order. I also think it builds a stronger business to customer relationship over time while cutting out brokers and middlemen. Am I making a mistake by by-passing the normal distribution through brick & mortar grocery stores? Michael Anderson, www.SpiceCrafters.com
A: Consider the benefits of a “brick and mortar” store (i.e. local presence, in-person contact, etc.) Do they outweigh the disadvantages (i.e. permits, inspections, overhead, etc.)? It sounds like you are doing just fine virtually. Could you expand virtually (collaborate with “brick and mortar” stores and other virtual businesses) and find ways to enhance your client service and client experience?
Q: I am growing slowly, making a little money, yet I don't know when I should take money for myself or keep everything in the business. I have outlaid money, and would like to pay myself back...wanted to know if there was a magic formula for doing so. Dhana Cohen, www.thenextbigzing.com
A: Yes, if you are turning profit, at some point, you do need to take a salary even if it is a small one. A tax professional can provide you with the details.
Q: As part of my business, I write a blog. When I was setting up my blog, I was planning on allowing comments. My webmaster stated that I shouldn't allow comments because I wanted to share information with others, not receive information. Recently, a colleague told me that I should allow comments on my blog to promote discussion around my topic areas. Should comments be allowed on a business blog? Thea Lobell, Ph.D., Http://drthea.com
A: Even when the purpose of your blog is to disseminate information, allowing comments on your blog is an excellent way to increase traffic to your blog; which should be the goal. Comments are a great way to glean insight and generate additional discussions that you could provide your expertise on. If you are concerned about controlling what others say, simply “moderate” the comments before they go live.
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