Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why My Crowdfunding Campaign Failed

Crowdfunding has a reputation as an accessible way to secure funding for startups and small businesses. It’s quick and easy; just throw up your video, backers start investing their money, and you’re set. Anyone can do it, right?

The truth is, it’s far from that simple. For every story of someone whose project went viral and exceeded its goal in the first few hours, there are several from earnest entrepreneurs whose crowdfunding efforts missed the mark.

So, why do more crowdfunding campaigns fail than succeed? What can you learn from a crowdfunding failure? I talked to entrepreneurs who’ve made crowdfunding mistakes, and got their perspective on what went wrong with their initial campaigns, and what eventually led them to success.



Read more from BPlans

Monday, March 30, 2015

Make Your Phone Presence a Key Driver in Your Marketing Mix

As marketers, we read, think, and talk a lot about Web presence—whether social media, content marketing, search, or other digital medium—and we put a lot of time and effort into perfecting our brand's image, messaging, and positioning. As we should. However, when was the last time you considered "phone presence" during your branding refresh exercises and marketing brainstorms?

Traditional telephony may not be one of the first agenda items that come to mind in a content planning meeting, but perhaps it should be. More than half of consumers still prefer to pick up the phone and talk to a person when they decide to interact with a business, according to Actionable Research's June 2014 survey of consumers in the US and seven other countries. That's huge!

Also, although soaring smartphone penetration makes apps a viable channel, many consumers still find it more convenient to use their mobile phone to talk with an agent than to peck out their contact information and questions on screen, the Actionable Research survey finds.

So, why is it that so many marketers tend to overlook the branding opportunities in voice communications?



Read more from MarketingProfs

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Top 8 Most Distressed Industries

The following list comprises the most distressed industries in the US economy, curated using IBISWorld’s proprietary database. The industries are ranked by the fastest anticipated annualized rate of decline in the number of industry enterprises over the five years to 2020. Operators in most of these industries contend with mounting pressure from disruptive technologies, overseas competition and shifting economic forces. In turn, a pronounced number of companies in each industry have opted to consolidate or end operations entirely. This cursory overview of IBISWorld’s Top 8 Most Distressed Industries demonstrates the qualitative and quantitative application of IBISWorld’s research reports for investors.

DVD, Game & Video Rental Industry

Projected annualized enterprise decline (2015-2020): -15.1%

IBISWorld expects operators in the DVD, Game and Video Rental industry to experience the greatest number of business closures of any industry within the economy over the next five years. Companies within this industry have been pummeled by competition from rental kiosks, mail-order subscriptions and the growing popularity of streaming media. In the five years to 2020, industry revenue is forecast to plunge at an annualized 20.2% to $999.7 million. This represents a fourfold decline from 2015 levels and a tenfold decline from prerecessionary levels.

More from IBISworld.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Why You Hate Work

THE way we’re working isn’t working. Even if you’re lucky enough to have a job, you’re probably not very excited to get to the office in the morning, you don’t feel much appreciated while you’re there, you find it difficult to get your most important work accomplished, amid all the distractions, and you don’t believe that what you’re doing makes much of a difference anyway. By the time you get home, you’re pretty much running on empty, and yet still answering emails until you fall asleep.

Increasingly, this experience is common not just to middle managers, but also to top executives.

More broadly, just 30 percent of employees in America feel engaged at work, according to a 2013 report by Gallup. Around the world, across 142 countries, the proportion of employees who feel engaged at work is just 13 percent. For most of us, in short, work is a depleting, dispiriting experience, and in some obvious ways, it’s getting worse.

Demand for our time is increasingly exceeding our capacity — draining us of the energy we need to bring our skill and talent fully to life...

More from the New York Times.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Most Americans are moving farther away from their work

Proximity to employment can influence a range of economic and social outcomes, from local fiscal health to the employment prospects of residents, particularly low-income and minority workers. An analysis of private-sector employment and demographic data at the census tract level reveals that:

*Between 2000 and 2012, the number of jobs within the typical commute distance for residents in a major metro area fell by 7 percent. Of the nation’s 96 largest metro areas, in only 29---many in the South and West, including McAllen, Texas, Bakersfield, Calif., Raleigh, N.C., and Baton Rouge, La.---did the number of jobs within a typical commute distance for the average resident increase. Each of these 29 metro areas also experienced net job gains between 2000 and 2012.

*As employment suburbanized, the number of jobs near both the typical city and suburban resident fell. Suburban residents saw the number of jobs within a typical commute distance drop by 7 percent, more than twice the decline experienced by the typical city resident (3 percent). In all, 32.7 million city residents lived in neighborhoods with declining proximity to jobs compared to 59.4 million suburban residents.

*As poor and minority residents shifted toward suburbs in the 2000s, their proximity to jobs fell more than for non-poor and white residents. The number of jobs near the typical Hispanic (-17 percent) and black (-14 percent) resident in major metro areas declined much more steeply than for white (-6 percent) residents, a pattern repeated for the typical poor (-17 percent) versus non-poor (-6 percent) resident.

* Residents of high-poverty and majority-minority neighborhoods experienced particularly pronounced declines in job proximity. Overall, 61 percent of high-poverty tracts (with poverty rates above 20 percent) and 55 percent of majority-minority neighborhoods experienced declines in job proximity between 2000 and 2012. A growing number of these tracts are in suburbs, where nearby jobs for the residents of these neighborhoods dropped at a much faster pace than for the typical suburban resident (17 and 16 percent, respectively, versus 7 percent).

More from the Brookings Institute.

However, Albany (NY) area commuters are getting closer.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Why enterprise social initiatives still fail

Many companies are rushing headlong into using enterprise social networks to keep up with the Joneses, experts say.

Enterprises blindly believe that they should implement social initiatives simply because others have. But they need to determine how social connections can make work tasks more efficient. As a result, companies often fail in their strategies because they haven't put enterprise social projects in the context of how their businesses operate.

"There is no app for this."

More from TechTarget

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Happy Employees = Higher Stock Prices?

Companies trying to decide whether it’s worthwhile to create a friendly workplace could do well to consider this: Companies that employees report to be a good place to work have significantly outperformed the S&P 500 over the past six years.

The data comes from Glassdoor Inc., an online job and company information website, which solicits employees to post anonymous reviews of their employers. The employee ratings are aggregated and analyzed to produce an annual list of the best places to work, published since 2008.

More from AIER

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Basic, Yet Critical, Mobile Marketing Tips

Mobile marketing has finally come of age with more consumers than ever making purchases using their mobile devices. If you're in business, then this is a trend you need to pay attention to.

CIO.com reports that 28 percent of sales are now conducted on mobile devices, primarily smartphones. In 2014, sales using smartphones increased by 87 percent year-over-year. While sales via tablets expanded by a smaller percentage, it still grew by 52 percent. In other words, mobile marketing is the wave of the future.

Yet, many brands have yet to develop fully mature mobile marketing strategies. For some, mobile marketing remains somewhat vague and difficult to contain in the same way as traditional marketing. While mobile marketing is still growing and evolving, it is basically any type of marketing that is used to promote business through the use of a mobile device, including smartphones and tablets.

Mobile marketing doesn't have to be some mysterious thing.

More from Entrepreneur.com

Monday, March 23, 2015

Trends in Customer Experience Make Companies Seem More Human

Customer experience is becoming a huge focus across industries, and technology is playing a starring role in its evolution.

Technology is making everything more computerized and automated; nevertheless, customers are feeling more and more that businesses are listening to their individual wants and needs.

Why? Let's take a look at some hot trends in customer service.

1. Businesses are focusing on emotional intelligence to better understand and respond to customers

Put simply, emotional intelligence is the ability to relate and empathize with others, ultimately enabling positive interactions.


Read more from marketingprofs.com

Saturday, March 21, 2015

10 Startup Founders Share The Best Advice They Ever Received

When you're thinking about starting a company or first in the entrepreneurial trenches, any nugget of advice you can get from someone who's been there before is like gold.

But as time goes on, you'll realize that some of those tips are better — and more applicable to your business — than others.

So, to get you started on the right foot, no matter where you are in your startup journey, we asked 10 founders to weigh in on the absolute best advice they received as they built their companies. Take note of these (sometimes surprising) lessons for your own venture.

More from MASHABLE>

Friday, March 20, 2015

3 Social Media Strategies to Inspire You

Social media has become one of the most important outreach and marketing channels available to brands, which in turn means that it’s important to have a social media strategy as a core part of your overall marketing plan.

Social media channels offer businesses a cost-effective way to promote their companies, to increase brand awareness, and to generate customer engagement.

On the other hand, social media marketing is also still a very young discipline, and a rapidly changing one, which means that as a whole it is one of the hardest channels to consistently get right. Unlike TV advertisements or other types of advertising, there are no established rules and no real paradigms or laws that marketers can reliably follow. In this absence of rules, how do you know what to do?



Read more from BPlans.com

What's a Picture Worth?

There is no question that the way that social media has developed, images play a central role more YouTube enjoys over 4 billion views daily. Instagram has bypassed Twitter for mobile users. photographs on Facebook draw 53% more "likes" than those without. Pinterest is the 2nd largest referrer of social traffic. It grew by 50% in a year. These tools are driven by images and require (almost) no words. The fact that FaceBook was willing to pay the big bucks for Instagram is testimony to the importance of images.
than ever before. There has been a dramatic shift towards visual marketing. Everyone needs to start thinking in these terms.

As I visited the RN Pinterest Page I searched on "SBDC" to see the results and they were patchy. A quick visit to a few SBDC websites demonstrated very, very few images.We are often looking for good pictures from the various centers for different uses. Potential clients visiting our center sites would benefit from a glimpse at what they can expect from a visit, what our clients are doing, and what the local streets look like. Pictures of the backs of peoples' heads at meetings or drab images don't do your center justice. Take a picture of the store fronts on your street, a flattering
office shot, an image of an advisor meeting a client. Close-ups to a client's products, or a picture of the client from an interesting angle, the sandwich board out on the sidewalk of a restaurant, Any natural scenes will brighten your page and lend a little humanity. Images of your local city are also good to create a mood and build a sort of like a "team" persona. I would encourage center staff to keep their phones or cameras at the ready when visiting sites, walking through your downtown business district, or meeting with clients, especially informally. These images can all be fodder for social marketing opportunities.  Relaxed meetings lend themselves to natural photographs.


We know that press materials that use imagery get more attention. A lot more. Online consumers are 60% more likely to contact businesses that provide an image with the results. While the focus is on the photographs, the accompanying words need to be concise and descriptive. Choose relevant terms in your captions so they will show up in searches. How complete your tags are, the easier customers can find you.

Notice the images in your favorite news site or publication. When you visit websites, pay attention to how photography is used, how the best ones use images to project their brand. Pay attention to how simple images can evoke more than busy, cluttered photographs. Think of your clients and how you can communicate the value you provide, the expertise you offer, the love of your city, the individuals who bring their experience to the aid of entrepreneurs. Be creative and if you have good pictures of your center, clients or city, please share them with us.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

How Much Longer Until Small Businesses Join the Mobile World? -

Small businesses acknowledge the business effect mobile can have, but so far, they haven’t done much about it. In March 2015 polling by Endurance International Group, 78% of US small-business respondents said their businesses did not have a mobile solution or app, despite the fact that 71% felt that having one would have a positive impact on business.

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Expertise, time and money all play a role in mobile’s low adoption. Among respondents who didn’t have a mobile solution or app, half blamed it on the fact that they didn’t know how to build one. Around one-quarter said they were too busy running their businesses to maintain an app, and spending itself was an issue, as a similar percentage said creating a mobile app simply cost too much. Similarly, 37% of respondents cited the time and resources required to enable mobile sales as one of the biggest mobile strategy challenges.
- See more at emarketer.com

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

​It's never too late to be a late bloomer

From CBS Sunday Morning:

Meet the bulldog Zelda -- pampered, adored, and really spoiled by owner Carol Gardner. And why not? Gardener says Zelda changed the course of her entire life, which in 1997 needed changing.

"I was recently divorced -- hence, depressed, hence in debt, and having a very difficult time," Gardner said. "And so a friend said, 'Sweetheart, you need to either get a therapist or a dog.'"

So at 52, Gardner adopted Zelda, an English Bulldog, though she had scarcely the money to feed her. Then she learned a nearby pet store was having a contest:

"The prize was 40 pounds of dog food every month for a year," Gardner said.

All she had to do was design a holiday greeting card. So she did what anyone would: she put Zelda in a Santa hat and sat her down in a bubble bath.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Everyman Business

From Everyman Business:

Everyman Business offers a wealth of free business advice, training segments, articles and information on online marketing, labor laws, human resources, business software, technology and much more. EverymanBusiness.com helps business professionals save time and money by addressing real-world business questions and presenting practical solutions.

Our site offers resources including:

Management – Anyone who has ever worked under an inefficient or unorganized manager has experienced firsthand how it can affect work flow and productivity. Learn good leadership tips, proper business reporting, project management skills and more.

Logistics - As an industry deals with technology, process and use of supply chain management. That is to say, how your product arrives to your consumers. Read about a variety of air freight options, drop shipping, trucking and warehousing options here.

Equipment & Supplies – No office would be complete and functioning without office equipment and supplies. Every piece of equipment and supplies assists in the daily running of a business and assures proper functioning for all employees. Take a moment and research what pivotal office furniture components you will need to succeed.

Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Create a Profitable Social Enterprise

What is it about a job that fans the flame inside you? The obvious answer is money—a healthy bank deposit at the end of the month is a primary motive for working. For others it’s about achieving something meaningful; helping society and feeling rewarded in passion, not pounds or dollars or whatever currency you get paid in.

But what if you could have the best of both worlds? Social enterprises are an innovative way for entrepreneurs to build their own business and make a change in society, too.

Getting a social business off the ground has never been easier. Before you get started, of course, you’re going to need the passion. Are you hungry for social change? Do you have the business head needed to run a company?

Read more from BPlans.com.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

5 Ways You’re Accidentally Wrecking Your Credit

It’s one thing to knowingly make decisions that hurt your credit score. We’ve all been there, and sometimes tough decisions must be made. But it’s an entirely different situation to accidentally wreck your credit.

In some cases, we make decisions without realizing the impact on our credit. In other cases we may know that certain decisions can hurt our score, but we don’t appreciate the severity of the impact. Either way, maintaining good credit requires more than casual attention.

MORE from Credit.com.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

What is the grain-to-glass trend?

The crops growing on 1,000-acre Myer Farm in upstate New York have been used in products ranging from animal feed to tofu. On a whim, fifth-generation farmers and brothers Joe and John Myer decided to try their hand at distilling their wheat, rye, corn and barley into spirits.

“Farming is in our blood,” Joe Myer says. “We put as much love and detail into distilling spirits as we do into growing crops.”

In 2012, Myer Farm Distillers released its first bottles of vodka, whiskey and gin handcrafted from grains grown on the farm. The entire process from growing the grains to milling, mashing, fermenting, distilling and bottling is done onsite.

The farm has devoted 100 acres to growing grains for its distillery and sells spirits from its tasting room and select retailers and restaurants in New York. Myer Farm Distillers also offers tastings and tours of the farm and distillery.

“You can look through the tasting room window and see where the grains are grown,” Myer says. “It opens up a conversation about food and farming, and deepens the connection to our products.”


Read more from Mother Nature Network

Friday, March 13, 2015

15 Tips to Become a More Successful Leader

From BPlans.com:

Do you have what it takes to become a successful leader? The best way to become one is to disregard it as your goal and focus on your learning journey. One of the most valuable skills I have learned is that if you want to be a leader, you need to be both focused and curious.

These 15 tips come from experience, reading, and attending master classes.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Exporting Resources

Learn about ConnectAmericas, the first online community of companies in Latin America and the Caribbean dedicated to international trade and investment. Then visit the ConnectAmericas website to connect with over 15,000 business opportunities.