Friday, December 29, 2017

Turn Your YouTube Subscribers Into Customers

From MarketingProfs:

Video plays an important role in driving consumers' purchase decisions: 79% of consumers say they would be willing to spend more money on a product after they watch a social media influencer's video about it, gen.video has found. So using your YouTube channel could be a perfect option for you to drive sales. At the same time, you may face some challenges in converting your subscribers into customers.

In this article, you're going to learn three ways to turn YouTube subscribers into valuable customers. However, you still need to keep the basics in mind, such as adding a clear call to action at the end of the video, prompting subscribers to take the desired action.

You should also include easy access to a relevant landing page to drive conversions. You could embed the link in the form of a button at the end of the video.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

You fired your top talent. I hope you’re happy.

From Startups and venture capital:
I recently read a story here titled "We fired our top talent. Best decision we ever made..."

Let's dissect this because there is so much more than meets the eye here. Presumably, if you have read the story, you understand that the author describes a problem worker that he has dubbed “Rick”. Rick is the local genius with a ton of domain knowledge about their product and a member of the core development staff for this product...

Personally, I'm of the opinion that if you find these people and you are in the process of interviewing them, regardless of whatever modicum of talent they have, they aren't worth your time because of the loss of morale and teamwork they bring to the team. This is actually something brought up in the story itself — about how Rick ignored team meetings and belittled his co-workers. About how after Rick left, productivity soared and they managed to pull together to save the day! The author does this to make you hate Rick, and say “yeah! Screw that guy!...

If you were paying attention though, there were some troubling things that you might have picked up along the way...

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Marketers Can Implement a Customer-Centric Mindset

From MarketingProfs:

For marketers, a mindset that puts the customer first is critical to competitive success. That's something marketers know. Yet, during day-to-day execution, that customer-centric mentality tends to get pushed aside, more so in Marketing than in other, client-facing parts of the business, such as Sales and Customer Support.

It happens easily, even to the best of us.

With so much going on in our pipelines at any one moment—from lead gen campaigns, events, new product launches, and more—marketers can't help but get caught up in the weeds of project execution. We run fast, focusing on what needs to get done now; in those moments, the customer-centric mindset is important, but not mission-critical. Or so it seems.

The truth is that a customer-centric mindset is necessary for our marketing to be successful. It helps campaigns resonate with prospects and customers, leading to more sales and enhanced client satisfaction and engagement. Those results benefit everyone, and taken together they can offer a powerful differentiator from your competition.

So how can busy marketers implement a customer-centric mindset? Here are five ways.

Monday, December 25, 2017

Do You Make These Thinking Errors?

From Medium:

Have you ever made a decision that seemed illogical looking back? We’re all highly illogical beings even though we think the opposite!

Every person creates their own social reality. The way you view the world is completely subjective because we all have cognitive biases.

The concept of cognitive biases was introduced in 1972 by two psychologists, Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman. A cognitive bias is a systematic thinking error that impacts judgments, and therefore, our decisions.

As of this writing, there are 106 decision-making related cognitive biases known! We all make these errors. So there’s no point in trying to become a perfect thinker. It’s impossible.

However, with practice, you can avoid some thinking mistakes that many of us make. And by avoiding these errors, we can improve our decisions, and consequently: Our lives and careers.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Workplace Rules For Business Owners & Employees

From BizFilings
Managing the employees in your workplace effectively necessitates that even the smallest of businesses set up work rules. Work rules protect your business and your workers and if correctly implemented and executed, create and maintain a better work environment for all.

 Having formal work rules in your business, even if they're not required, are a good idea because they can help you protect your business from litigation and maintain a high quality of work life for your employees. You need to make sure that your employees understand what is expected of them, not only in the work that they do, but in their behavior and in other areas of your employment relationship. If the rules are carefully selected, clearly related to the business, and fairly enforced, they can help you to better manage your workplace and your workers.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

How Mall of America Is Changing with the Times

From eMarketing:
Mall of America has introduced a chatbot that uses AI and natural language to answer customer questions in real time.

Through the technology, visitors accessing its website, mobile app or Facebook Messenger can get answers immediately, whether they're looking to shop or find the nearest restroom.

Next year the chatbot, developed by tech startup Satisfi Labs, will also be incorporated with Mall of America's three new Pepper humanoid robots, which it recently brought to its 5.6 million-square-foot property for the first time since Black Friday weekend. What's more, Amazon’s Alexa voice assistant feature is also being included so that mall patrons can ask questions without typing.

In addition to the new chatbot, Mall of America—which draws 40 million visitors annually and is known for entertainment features from an aquarium to an amusement park—Tuesday unveiled an updated website. It features not just the new chatbot, but also rich media and virtual reality that its various brand tenants may use to make their traditionally “solid” tenant pages more “robust.”

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cash Use Still Common Despite Widening Payment Options

From eMarketer:

When it comes to payments, cash may no longer be consumers' first choice—though it's still a widespread and even preferred option for many, depending on the type of transaction.

A study from ATM network Cardtronics found that 91% of internet users said that they used cash either to make a purchase, or to give money or get money from another person. This was a decrease of 4 percentage points over 2016.

But the inverse of that measure is telling. According to the study, nearly one in 10 respondents said they had not used cash at all in the previous six months.

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Early Due Dates for W-2, W-3 and Form 1099-MISC

From the Internal Revenue Service:


Employers face a January 31, 2018, due date for filing 2017 Forms W-2 and W-3 with the Social Security Administration. This date applies to both electronic and paper filers.

Form 1099-MISC is due to the IRS and individuals by January 31 when reporting non-employee compensation payments in box 7.

Penalties for failure to file correct information returns or furnish correct payee statements have increased and are now subject to inflationary adjustments. These increased penalties are effective for information returns required to be filed after December 31, 2015.

Monday, December 18, 2017

Retailers Want to Modernize Payment Options

From eMarketing:

Retailers are constantly looking to improve the shopping experience, but leveraging new technologies to do so can be costly.

A spring 2017 study from Oracle and cloud-based marketing automation provider Bronto Software, which was released this past November, asked US retailers a hypothetical question: What ecommerce innovations they would focus on if money or time were not issues.

A large share of respondents (44%) said they would focus on newer payment options, like one-click ordering, while a little over a third said they’d like to focus on social selling.

Overall, many of the responses had a similar theme—enhancing the user experience.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Millions Are Hounded for Debt They Don’t Owe

From Business Week:

Andrew Therrien had been caught up in a fraud known as phantom debt, where millions of Americans are hassled to pay back money they don’t owe. The concept is centuries old: Inmates of a New York debtors’ prison joked about it as early as 1800, in a newspaper they published called Forlorn Hope.

But systematic schemes to collect on fake debts started only about five years ago. It begins when someone scoops up troves of personal information that are available cheaply online—old loan applications, long-expired obligations, data from hacked accounts—and reformats it to look like a list of debts. Then they make deals with unscrupulous collectors who will demand repayment of the fictitious bills. Their targets are often poor and likely to already be getting confusing calls about other loans. The harassment usually doesn’t work, but some marks are convinced that because the collectors know so much, the debt must be real.

The problem is as simple as it is intractable. In 2012 a call center in India was busted for making 8 million calls in eight months to collect made-up bills. The Federal Trade Commission has since broken up at least 13 similar scams. In most cases, regulators weren’t able to identify the original perpetrators because the data files had been sold and repackaged so many times. Victims have essentially no recourse to do anything but take the abuse.

Most victims, that is.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Access to Capital is Greatest Barrier for Veterans with Dreams of Business Ownership

FromInstitute for Veterans and Military Families




SYRACUSE, N.Y., Nov. 28, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- If home ownership is one quintessential American dream, owning your own business is another. While a higher percentage of veterans are self-employed compared to non-veterans, the rate of veteran entrepreneurship has seen a significant decline. Forty-nine percent of veterans returning from service in World War II started businesses. Today the rate of post 9-11 veterans doing the same has fallen to 5.6 percent (from 12.3 percent in 1996).

The question now becomes why are we losing a potential class of business owners who come out of the military well equipped with important skills and attributes for success as entrepreneurs? A new study of veteran business owners, conducted by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) in collaboration with Bunker Labs, takes an in-depth look into factors that account for the motivation, success, failure or survival in veteran entrepreneurship. The report, Bridging the Gap, Motivations, Challenges, and Successes of Veteran Entrepreneurs, sees veteran business owners cite difficulty accessing capital as one of three core impediments to starting or expanding their businesses. Limited or no opportunities to network and difficulty developing mentorships were the other top blockers.

The continued loss of veteran-owned businesses that lack cash or financing will have an impact on our economy as veteran-owned businesses employ over 5 million U.S. workers and cover a payroll nearing $200 billion. This number could continue to go down as would the incomes for households of veteran entrepreneurs who have higher incomes and greater wealth.

“We cannot continue to watch as veterans become a smaller and smaller part of the U.S. entrepreneurial population,” says Dr. Mike Haynie, IVMF Executive Director and Vice Chancellor for Strategic Initiatives and Innovation at Syracuse University. “Veterans and entrepreneurship are a natural fit given their ability to take risks, be determined, think on their feet and survive challenges. We must continue to encourage them to pursue this path, and support them every step of the way.”

“We know the ‘who’ and the ‘what’ when it comes to veteran entrepreneurship—but we’ve never looked at the ‘why’ and the ‘how’, and this study does just that,” says Misty Stutsman, IVMF Director of Entrepreneurship and Small Business. 

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Mohawk Networks

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the Canton SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report



Jeff Beekhoo
Mohawk Networks, LLC
Canton SBDC

The mission of Mohawk Networks, LLC is to provide reliable, affordable high-speed broadband Internet access to the residents of the North Country and beyond through existing fiber optics and new wireless infrastructure. Jeff Beekhoo consulted the SBDC for assistance in expanding internet services throughout the North Country. When he first met with Advisor Jennifer McCluskey at the Canton SBDC, Jeff was the general manager of the Broadband Department for the Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe. 
At the time he was overseeing a $10.5 million USDA grant awarded to the tribe to provide internet access to the Tribal lands. Jeff and the Tribe wanted to create a new company, Mohawk Networks, LLC (MNLLC), to expand internet services outside tribal lands and throughout the region. Jeff needed assistance from the SBDC to develop a business plan and projections to present to the Tribe. Jennifer assisted Jeff in developing the plan with five-year projections. With the Tribe’s approval, MNLLC was created and a new facility was built for the business in Bombay. She also assisted Jeff in developing a presentation for local governmental leaders and key regional partners. 
Finally, Jennifer developed a spreadsheet to plan customer growth, which has been a foundation of the new LLC’s budget creation. Mohawk Networks, LLC has been in business for a full year, and now has 20 employees. The business provides internet services in its local area and has expansion plans for working with underserved areas throughout the region. MNLLC will work with key service providers in the region such as BOCES, hospitals, and local school systems, to ensure they have access to high-speed internet. 

Monday, December 11, 2017

What Entices Holiday Shoppers Into Physical Stores

From MarketingProfs:

Male holiday shoppers are more likely than female holiday shoppers to be drawn into brick-and-mortar stores by online ads and deals displayed in windows, according to recent research from Euclid.

The report was based on data from a survey conducted in September 2017 among 1,500 US shoppers who own smartphones.

Younger consumers are more likely than older consumers to say they would chose one retailer over another during the holidays because of the store experience.

Friday, December 08, 2017

THE BUSINESS CASE FOR BLOGGING

From: NameCheap

You’ve heard it a million times: your website should have a blog.
But why? You’re probably imagining a lot of work going into something no one will read anyway, right?

While it’s true that a blog can represent a significant investment of time (or money, if you hire a writer), in this article we’re going to suggest that all businesses—from small one-person shops to major corporations—can benefit from having a blog on their website.

Do you have enough customers or clients? Chances are, you’d like to bring in more business. A blog offers you a great opportunity to find—and keep—your customers. 
First of all, blogs offer a great way for people to find your website. By writing about topics relevant to your business, your blog posts will start showing up in search engine results, bringing more people to your website. Solid content is also a signal that your site is relevant and reliable, which will boost your overall site ranking.

Thursday, December 07, 2017

U.S Small Business Administration Survey

From: U.S. Small Business Administration


 The U.S. Small Business Administration is interested in learning more about the needs of current and aspiring small business owners. This survey will ask for input on the resources you have used to start and manage your small business and your satisfaction with those resources.   

This survey is being administered by CFI Group, an independent third-party research group. It is voluntary and will take approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. Any information you provide will be strictly confidential. Neither names nor email addresses will be associated with any answer you provide.

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Small Business Success Story - Alpine Made

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the  Buffalo SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report


Kerry Beiter 
Alpine Made
Buffalo SBDC

Bieter & Sons’ Farm LLC is a certified organic goat dairy farm and Ms. Kerry Bieter is the sole owner of the business. In 2012, Kerry founded Alpine Made LLC, a soap and skin care company, through which she sells goat milk soaps and skin care products at farmers markets in Western New York, wholesale to local retailers, and nationally through a website. Bieter & Sons’ farm uses sustainable and organic farming practices to raise alpine dairy goats. The business is certified organic through the northeast Organic Farming Association of New York. The farm is located in the town of Wales in an agricultural district 30 minutes south of Buffalo.

Kerry began working with Buffalo SBDC Advisor Andrea Lizak in 2011 when she was in the planning stages of opening her business. Alpine Made opened a year later in 2012 and since then Kerry has continued to work with the center. Andrea has assisted Kerry with many facets of her business including start-up procedures and the development of her business and funding proposals. With Andrea’s assistance the company has made tremendous progress. Armed with a well-prepared plan, Kerry secured funding from various sources, which has enabled Alpine Made to expand in multiple directions. One major development was to move the business to a much larger facility. Most recently, Kerry landed a contract with one of the largest and most distinguished grocery retailers in the United States - Wegmans. The SBDC continues to help Alpine Made succeed as one of New York’s exceptional small businesses. 

Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Invaluable Advice From 18 of America's Top Small-Business Owners

From Entrepenuer
Every state in America picked one small business owner as its small business person of the year as part of National Small Business Week. Each one of them was up for the national award as well. These people are doing amazing things, from contracting with the Department of Homeland Security to making silver-gallium nanoneedles.



Max Nisen, Guidance Aviation is a high-altitude flight school and John Stonecipher just won Small Business Person Of The Year.  
One piece of advice for small business owners:"Surround yourself around the best people you can and give them an opportunity to do what they love to do best. Each one of my staff and faculty are leaders themselves. I cannot succeed without them."

Monday, December 04, 2017

Marketing Is Not About Your Company’s Values

From: Medium

Marketing is really about how customer values translate into aspirations, insecurities, fears and motivations.

Marketing, at the end of the day, is not just about a company’s values — it’s about understanding what these mean to a customer, and getting that meaning to be felt strongly enough that they buy.The success of a business — and its marketing message — is partially figuring out what people want. And partially the promise of fulfilling it.

There are a number of companies popping up that sell clothing with elephants on it and donate part of the proceeds to “saving the elephants.”
They’re popular. And they’re popular not because donating makes people feel good, but because elephants make people feel good.It’s not accidental. These companies aren’t donating to, say, endangered Amazonian spiders or rock moss.No. It’s elephants.Why? It’s simple. You want to sell some fast-fashion casual clothing? Look at who’s buying it. Once you know who’s buying it (and we all know who it is: early 20’s to early 30’s women), then look at why they’re buying it — their values, their insecurities, their wants and aspirations and motivations.

Friday, December 01, 2017

Seven Perfectionism Pitfalls to Avoid in Your Writing

From: MarketingProfs


Writing can take a lot of time. Sometimes that's because research needs to be done; sometimes the business owner you're working with may have unexpected changes; and sometimes you can be your own worst enemy by making your writing process inefficient—especially if you're a perfectionist.
Trying to create a "perfect" piece as you write can hinder creativity and slow you down. But the good news is that you are in control of making your writing process faster and more productive, and today's infographic by Enchanting Marketing offers tips to help.
"Perfectionism becomes unhealthy when you mix it with self-doubt and undermine your creative productivity," the graphic begins. "To speed up and enjoy your writing, become a writing pragmatist."
For example, a perfectionist wants to use perfect sentences in a first draft, whereas a pragmatist simply puts down ideas on paper that can later be finessed, the graphic explains. "Ugly drafts" are a great way to get a project moving.
Are you guilty of perfectionism in your writing? Check out these seven tips to get your creative process on a faster track.