Friday, December 28, 2012

Visit from our Mayfair Friends

A couple weeks ago our good friends at Mayfair Games came by the Alliance East office in Baltimore to educate our staff about upcoming products they are developing. We also had the pleasure of having group game demos, where a couple of the members of the sales team sat with Mayfair to review and play their newly released games.

Alliance loves when Mayfair Games comes to visit! Our relationship with them has been a long one, but it has grown stronger this year. We want to share with our readers a couple images from their visit to our East office.

The sales team dove right in and began learning the ins and outs of Urbania [MFG 4124]. 
 In Urbania the city center has seen glory in its past. But the future calls to you for renewal! Build the new city upon the old, and forge ahead with progress, hammering new profits from those old foundations! Plan a new landscape and garner power and prestige to yourself!
They took a step by step technique to break down the rules of the game. In a matter of minutes the guys were working together (or plotting demise) and the game kicked off!


In the next round of gaming, our sales staff was able to preview Road Rally US. Road Rally USA is still in production, but Mayfair was generous enough to bring their prototype to allow our sales representatives to get a feel for their upcoming release.

*The image provided of Road Rally USA is a prototype of the game, and is not the final production of the product from Mayfair Games.*

We thought it would also be cool to share with our readers a picture of the candies we got from Mayfair Games this holiday season. We think you will appreciate them as much as we did!


Catan Resources! 

Thanks for letting us share our visit with Mayfair Games this December.

- Emily


Friday, December 21, 2012

Happy Holidays!



Thank you for everything you do! We would like to celebrate the partnership we have developed with each and every one of you. May everyone have a healthy and peaceful holiday Season.

From Everyone at Alliance!


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Placing Those Preorders!

Hello Blog Followers!

Alliance is happy to announce the installation of preorder functions on the Retailer Services Website! Last week the Alliance Blog discussed how to set up a new account on the Retailer Services website, but now we want to show you how to do the really cool stuff!

Previously, our retailers were asked to continue to contact their Alliance sales representative when placing preorders. At the launch of the new Alliance website (Retailer Services), customers were not able to edit their own preorder numbers. They were however, able to view their preorder numbers through the website. With the help of our technical team, feedback from our customers, and a little patience and hard work, we are finally proud to show off the preorder functions in all their glory!

We have made the preordering function as user-friendly as possible. Placing preorders is just as easy, and very similar to, ordering any other item. One thing we want to make you aware of; if you have set up multiple user accounts, only those that you (the admin) granted the ability to create/update preorders can perform these preordering steps. If you need to change this function, go to ‘My Account Details’ tab and modify the sub login permissions at the bottom.

Let’s get to preordering some goodies!

1) Use item search to pull up the item you wish to preorder (if you like, you can set the ‘Item Order Type’ filter to ‘Preordarable Items Only’ to restrict the results)

2) Select which “ship to address” you wish to send the order to, in the section marked ‘Processing Preorders for’ (please be sure to click ‘Save Changes’ after selecting your ship to address).

3) Enter the amount you would like to preorder in the preorder qty column.  You may see numbers already populated in this column; this indicates that this amount has already been placed on preorder for the selected ship to.  Any quantity you change will be highlighted yellow, until you click on ‘Save Changes’.

Customers now also have the ability to further manage their preorders on the Alliance Games website.  Under ‘My Preorders’ you can view all items you have on preorder (this is broken down by “ship to address” if you have more than 1 location). In this screen, you can change the preordered quantity for an item, as long as the item is still taking preorders.  There may be some items you are unable to change the quantity for; these items will have an indicator next to the item code. The indicator meanings can be found at the bottom of the page. (Example: It will display a ‘C’ when a preorder is closed).

If you have questions about preorders, please visit the site manual located at the top of the homescreen.

Give us your feedback below, and let us know how the preorder function is helping you!

- Emily

Thursday, December 13, 2012

How to Set Up a New Account on the Retailer Services Website!

Hey there Retailers – if you haven’t signed up for an account on our newest website, you are missing out on so many great features. Before we can even discuss how amazing the website is in comparison to the old, we must get you signed up!

The username and password from your former Alliance web account is no longer active. This time around, Retailers have the ability to set up their own account username! Make sure to have the email address associated with the account, and the Alliance account number handy the day the account is created.

Throw on some of your favorite tunes, and let’s set you up!
  1. Jump over to the new Retailer Services website: https://retailerservices.alliance-games.com/
  2. Since you haven’t made your new account yet, click “Get a password” at the bottom of the screen. (Be sure not to confuse it with “Forgot your password?” – this option is for members who already have a new account on Retailer Services)
  3. Told you to keep it handy! Type in your Alliance Account number and email address associated with the Alliance Account.
  4. On the next screen, we need your important information. Make sure your username contains ONLY letters, numbers, underscores “_”, and dashes “-“.  (Please make the username is at least 5 characters long, and no spaces are permitted)
  5.  After this step, wander over to your email inbox. An email will be sent to you with your initial password. This password consists of random characters, and will be changes as soon as you have logged in.
  6.  Return to the login screen of Retailer Services, and paste the temporary password you were emailed. You will then be prompted to change the password to something of your choosing.
  7. The site was designed to allow you to create additional usernames for your staff. We’ve also allowed you to choose their permission levels.  This can be done through the ‘My Account Details’ section in the left set of tabs.
  8. Hooray! You did it! Now play around and check out the features! The Site Manual is in the top right hand corner, along with your sales rep’s contact information. EXPLORE, EXPLORE, EXPLORE!
Can't wait to see you place your orders more easily this fourth quarter!

- Emily

Friday, December 7, 2012

Good News for the Fourth Quarter

Economists and Marketers have estimated that in 2012, retail will see a significant fluctuation in sales during the holiday season. Make sure to consider planning ahead!

Start by poking around, and ask your customers questions. (Engage - hint hint!) Talk to the customers when they walk in the door of your retail store, and ask what they'd like to get this holiday season. Like many companies in retail, hobby stores will see an influx of spending this holiday season.  

Will your retail store be offering any holiday deals?

What about a holiday themed organized play event or open gaming night?

Maybe with each purchase during December, customers get a 15% off (or your choosing) coupon for their next purchase in January!

Check out the graphics below to learn more about the prediction of 2012 holiday spending!

Click me!
VerticalResponse 2012 Holiday Spending & Promotion Infographic

Happy Selling!

- Emily
(Image Source 1, Source 2.)

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December to Remember!

Engagement and content are the top two topics all professionals in marketing are talking about this year. Our last post touched on engagement and the importance of being relatable and real with your customers. The most common way to increase engagement is through contests and polls on social media and company websites.

Consider picking 4-5 of these easy ways to improve your engagement online. Most of them are pretty simple, fairly-easy, and do not take much of your time. I especially think they are good to implement now because of the holiday season. Sales will be increasing their most this quarter and it's always good to be prepared. Think about the ways you can improve your engagement with customers online, and see if it generates more sales and foot traffic in your retail store. Connecting with them online, will usually draw them in to connect in store!

Here are my favorites from the article by Jim Belosic on Social Media Today entitled, 22 Easy-to-Implement Social Media Tactics for December


  1. Create a fun holiday poll for your online fans and followers to take and share with friends
  2. Update your Facebook cover photo to a festive or winter-themed image
  3. Tweet out holiday song lyrics
  4. Host Facebook contests
  5. Create a holiday gift guide featuring your business' products

Click the link below to read 20 more ways to engage with your customers! Share your ideas below by clommenting on this post.

Article Source


- Emily

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

ENGAGE! 5 Tips to Engage with Facebook Fans

Did anyone grab any great deals on Cyber Monday? I didn't this year... instead I went home early yesterday with a terrible cold. But I am rested and back with blog-vengeance today!



I stumbled upon this excellent article on Social Media Today about engaging with Facebook fans, that I want to share with our retailers. I found this article to be pretty witty, but also very informative. As the Direct Marketing Representative at Alliance, I try to implement these simple social media tips throughout my day. Read the tips below and let me know if you use these same tricks without even realizing on your own retail Facebook page. Write me below by leaving a comment!

With more than a billion active users, Facebook is a behemoth of a marketing opportunity – and one that a growing number of companies are positioning themselves to take full advantage of. According to a September 2012 study conducted by the social media experts at HubSpot, 42 percent of marketers consider Facebook to be an integral part of their marketing strategy. Though a substantial percentage of businesses now have fan pages, at this point in the game, simply being on Facebook is not enough. For a fan page to be effective as a marketing tool, time must be devoted to cultivating and maintaining an active, engaged fan base.   
1. Be cool.Facebook is high school and you’re running for election. People who like your brand or business may “like” your fan page, but the personality behind the label is what will drive them to engage. Don’t be afraid to be funny or spunky; fans respond to posts with individuality. If you have a dedicated social media manager, reveal who’s posting: “Dave from Extreme Hockey World” beats “Extreme Hockey World,” any day. 
2. Forget the text – go visual.In June 2012, Social media researcher Dan Zarella analyzed 1.3 million Facebook posts of varying types and the response rate of each. His conclusion? Photos garner more attention and engagement than any other type of media on Facebook. More responses means more exposure, which equates to more opportunities for expanding your follower base. 
3. Pad the deck.Invite friends and business contacts to connect with your fan page by uploading an email contact list and inviting everyone on it to “like” your page. People familiar with you or your business are far more likely to engage with your fan page than those with whom you have had no previous contact. This opportunity is only available to Facebook pages with 4,999 likes or less, so take advantage of it while you can. 
4. Make your fans interesting by association.Everyone wants to be clever and entertaining on Facebook – so give your followers what they want. Post genuinely unique, compelling content that is relevant to your brand or business. Your fans will like it, comment on it, share it – and love you for making them look good. Each time they share your content, their friends will have the opportunity to like your page too.   
5. Don’t be a vacuum salesman.Use Facebook as a means to build relationships, not hawk your product. If your fans like you, business will follow. Make interaction the goal, and don't underestimate your followers – they like being marketed to about as much as you do. If you're genuine and give with no expectation of getting, your fans will respond. 

If you have a minute, swing over to our Facebook page to examine our engagement with fans.
Have a good day!


- Emily

(Article Source) - (Image Source)

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Happy Small Business Saturday!

Alliance hopes all of our retailers had a great Thanksgiving with family and friends!
We hope you prepared for and promoted Small Business Saturday around your community.


Please be sure to share your Small Business Saturday success story by commenting below.
Have a great weekend!

- Emily

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving To All!


Happy Thanksgiving!

We at Alliance are thankful for all of the retailers who we work with. Thank you for allowing us to be your source for products, for trusting us with your business, and for all you do to keep our industry vibrant! In 2012 we have made many changes to our infrastructure and our marketing tools with one intent – serving you even better. Thank you for working with us through the changes and for the amazing input and guidance you provided in the process. We look forward to serving your store far into the future!

Enjoy your holiday with family and friends! Treat your loved ones by teaching them a new game you currently love.

Let us know what games you played over Thanksgiving by leaving a comment below!

- Emily 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Holiday UPS Schedule

Alliance Thanksgiving Holiday Shipping Schedule

With the holidays fast approaching, please be aware of the holiday UPS schedule.

Tuesday, November 20th: Normal pickup and delivery service for air, international and ground packages. UPS 2nd Day Air packages picked up 11/20 will be delivered Friday 11/23.

Wednesday, November 21: Normal pickup and delivery service. UPS Next Day Air packages picked up 11/21 will be delivered Friday 11/23. UPS 2nd Day Air packages picked up 11/21 will be delivered Monday 11/26. Air and International Packages for pick up 11/23 must be pre-arranged by today (Wed).
NOTE:  This is the last day to ship UPS Ground until Monday, 11/26.

Thursday, November 22: No UPS pickup or delivery service.

Friday, November 23: Delivery of UPS air and international packages only. No UPS ground pickups or deliveries. Pickup service for air and international shipments only if arranged prior to Wednesday, 11/21.

Thank you for your cooperation and please plan accordingly.

-Troy 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

How will you be participating in Small Business Saturday?

Are your retail stores prepared for Small Business Saturday? Small Business Saturday will be held on Saturday November 24th 2012. This will be the third year for the annual event. First founded by American Express, Small Business Saturday encourages customers to shop small business the day after Black Friday. It would be great to see some of our retail stores participated in this important day!
Below are a couple promotional ideas businesses will be participating in, this upcoming Small Business Saturday.
“This year, almost half (47 percent) of small business owners nationwide plan to integrate Small Business Saturday into their holiday marketing strategy, reports the first Small Business Saturday Insights Survey by the National Federation of Independent Businesses (NFIB) and American Express. 
In order to get customers to “shop small,” the majority (67 percent) plan to offer discounts on Small Business Saturday. In addition, 46 percent will create coupons for future offers or discounts; 23 percent will give away prizes or host contests; and 20 percent will give away free gifts with a purchase.”
What will your small business retail store do for Small Business Saturday? Start brainstorming now about giveaways or coupons customers can use another time. We especially enjoy this promotion; it provides an incentive for your customers to return again before the holidays.
What are you doing this upcoming Small Business Saturday? Email Emily at eme@alliance-games.com to tell her your story. We’ll schedule to share your ideas on our blog in the upcoming week.
If you would like, tell us about your successful Small Business Saturday in the past. Any advice you would provide a retailer participating for the first time?
We love your feedback!
-       Emily

PS. The YouTube channel Geek&Sundry will be slowing down TableTop episodes over the holidays. There is a new TableTop episode scheduled today November, 15 2012. Episodes will air again in January of 2013.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Happy Employees Generate Happy Customers

If you have happy and motivated employees working in your retail store, you are bound to make more sales and create stronger connections with customers! Here are a couple steps to keep your employees motivated. Remember, good or bad customer service will affect your customers decision to return to your store or to seek your competition. Try to keep your customer retention in mind, everyday.

  1. Make employees feel they are doing something meaningful
  2. Effectively communicate and share information
  3. Give employees clear job descriptions and accountability
  4.  Give and receive ongoing performance feedback
  5.  Have, and show, faith and trust in your team
  6.  Listen to, focus on, and respect your employees' needs
  7.  Provide recognition to worthy employees
  8.  Foster innovation

-Emily



 Article Source: The Employee-Motivation Checklist by Dave Lavinsky

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Instagram - Fun and Cheap!

Instagram is a newer tool in the social media network family. It's less about updating your status like Facebook, and more about visually showing your followers what you’re up to or what your interests are. It's a photo sharing network that allows people with like interests to follow you, like your pictures, and comment on the ones they love.


Alliance Game Distributors is jumping on the Instragram craze. We are not sure how, or if, it will be successful but our goal is create community around gaming. We plan to have #hashtag projects regularly if we find them to be successful. It's hard to say how a company will do on Instagram, but we would like you to come along for the ride. After all it's a place for fun, inspiration, and creativity; and we plan to use it for such.

We like this article, and we hope you get the inspiration to join as well! 5 Ways to Grow Your Exposure With Instragram.

Follow us on Instagram: @AllianceGames

 

- Emily

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Social Media for Small Businesses

In the most recent years, social media has created the most buzz around companies and small businesses. First and foremost, most social media websites are FREE - so if your small business is on a budget, social media certainly fits. Although social media is free, in order for it to be effective, it must be updated and attended to often. Ask around and see if one of your employees would be willing to take on the social media project, or appoint someone who has great initiative.

Your viewers and followers chose to follow you for a reason; they see value in following your company. Emphasize value, when considering social media for your small business. Provide information that your followers should know, and are desperate to hear more about! You can also advertise new product receiving, restocks, events, and tournaments.  

Check out this awesome graphic from Entrepreneur.com about small business on social media.

(Source: Entrepreneur.com Blog
If you have a social media site that you take pride in, please share it below in our comments section with the link to the site. 
- Emily

To read the full article, please click here.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween! Alliance hopes everyone has a very fun, spooky, and safe Halloween!

We hope everyone is safe after Hurricane Sandy, and to those who have been affected by the storm, our thoughts are with you. 

Gather some friends and family members this Halloween to play your favorite game.  Leave a comment below and let us know what you are playing, we’d love to hear about it!

(Source: Wizards.com)

(Source: Tanay Nestico via Catan Facebook)


Happy Halloween!
- Emily 

Monday, October 29, 2012

Unique Selling Propositions: Does your retail store have one?

If you haven’t heard of guerrilla marketing, you’re missing out on some awesome opportunities. The father of Guerrilla Marketing, Jay Conrad Levinson, has an excellent site and daily marketing tips that could really create some buzz around your retail store. This weekend Jay’s marketing tip was about unique selling proposition, or USP, founded by the advertising legend Rosser Reeves in 1961.

Here is Levinson’s take on USP's in order to grab the attention of customers, and keep it.

"A USP is a unique selling proposition. Your USP is your proprietary competitive edge stated in clear, concise terms. Every business must have one to succeed. But most businesses don't. Not surprisingly, most businesses fail. Your USP needs three traits to be effective:

1. It should make a specific promise to customers. Example: "Buy this product and you will get this clear benefit."

2. It should be one your competitors cannot or will not match. It must be unique. Your customers should not be able to get the benefit anywhere else.

3. It should be so strong that it can create a crowd of eager buyers. Ideally, only a lunatic would refuse to buy from you.

Reeves goes on to say that 80% of all ads do not have a USP. If you look through your local paper or Yellow Pages, I think you'll find this percentage may be even higher. Keep your ideal prospect in mind when creating your USP. There's a big difference between affluent customers and bargain hunters who look only at price. Which group do you want buying from you?"

The USP technique might be just what your retail store could use. Brainstorm some ideas, and implement the one that will generate the most hype and increase sales.  More detailed information about the USP technique can be found in this article by Levinson.

To learn more about Jay Conrad Levinson check out his Guerrilla Marketing website here.

Does your store have a tagline or a unique selling proposition worth sharing? If you do, we want to hear it. Please leave it in our comment sections below!

- Emily


Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Worldwide Catan Championship 2012

In mid-September, Alliance had the privilege to send a half-dozen retail stores to the Worldwide Catan Championship hosted in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  Alliance held a contest through Game Trade Magazine earlier in the year; as a result, the lucky winners got an expenses-paid weekend vacation at the historical Normandy Farms. That’s not even the best part! They got to witness all of the excitement and action of the BEST Catan players in the WORLD.

The 2012 World’s Best Settlers of Catan Player went to Herbert Schager of Austria! He’s a Catan celebrity these days!

Check out these awesome insider images Alliance brought home from the championship. Enjoy!

-Emily


*Photos courtesy of Marc Aquino

For more images view Mayfair Games Facebook

Monday, October 22, 2012

New Website Feature: The Cool Stuff

If the new chat feature wasn't cool enough on its own…here are a couple more features that make our site top of the line.

Preorders – On the new webpage, customers are able to preview what products they have preordered along with the quantity. (As of October 2012: customers are not able to edit their preorders online, and should still contact their Sales Rep in regards to all preorders until notified otherwise.)

Searches – The search bars allow customers to search for any product in our database. Don’t you just get annoyed when you can’t remember the whole title of a product? Well, there is no need to fuss! The search bars are able to search by partial words. If “Zombie” is the only word you know in the title, put it in and see all titles that include “Zombie”.

Invoices – Customers can view past invoices online. Handy, right?

Employee Logins – Say the boss isn't in, and you need to add a few products to an order before you forget... Owners, or those who have administrative privileges, can add sub logins for employees. These sub logins are given limited access to the website. They are able to add products to “Potential Orders” for Owners to review, but are not able to place actual orders for billing.

Potential Orders – This gives the sub login employee the ability to add products needed in order for Owners and website administrators to review for purchase. Think of it as a “Wish List”.

Want to know about other specific features on our new website? Leave us a comment!

- Emily

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

New Website Feature: Want to Chat with your Alliance Sales Rep?

Have a question about your order or certain product? Don’t know your Sales Rep's email or phone number?


Don’t worry, the website has you covered! We've got great news, your Sales Representative is only a click away. Included on the new Alliance website is an interactive chat feature. Located in the top right corner of the site, you can view your personal Sales Reps contact information, and have the ability to chat with them online.

After your chat session is over, you have the ability to save what you discussed with your Sale Rep to review later or add to your records. The prompt will display as, “Thank you for chatting with us today. If you would like a transcript of this chat emailed to you, please enter your email address and click the Send button.”

Extra Highlighted Features:
Have a question for your Sales Rep after hours? Click the Contact Us link at the bottom of the page to send an email to your Sales Rep without even leaving the Alliance site! Customers can also use the built in email to contact Technical Support. Contact Support for help with technical issues, suggest web features you would like added to the site, and general feedback. Your feedback is important to us; with your collaboration we can make the website the gateway to your success!

- Troy

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Hello there!

Welcome to the Alliance Game Distributors Blog! We are so excited to be using a blog interface to connect on a more direct level with our customers. Our goals for this site are to increase interaction with customers, while providing them with detailed product information and personal insight. We would like to include guest blog posts from big name manufacturers, and retail stores.

If you would like to submit a post, please email the Direct Marketing Representative, Emily Eickhoff at eme@alliance-games.com for review; subject title "Alliance Blog Submission".

We hope you enjoy our blog! Please feel free to leave any comments you might have!

- Mike Webb