Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Are We Ever Really in Equilibrium?

From AIER:

One mistake made frequently by economists is to focus on the destination rather than the journey. We like setting two sides of an equation equal, solving for a variable and focusing on that neat and tidy result.

But a little common sense shows that even the most canonical equation in the field, “supply equals demand,” requires a process to become true. Firms don’t know the magical market clearing price, they must experiment to find it, and every time there’s a shock an adjustment process must ensue. If shocks are frequent enough, that process would never end—a complex real-world economy might be all journey and no destination.

Alexander Salter has an interesting post at the Sound Money Project about nominal versus real interest rates that echoes the scenario above. Economists like to think central banks can only influence real variables in the short-run.

Monday, March 27, 2017

There Is One Thing that Would Help Make Mobile Purchasing Easier

From eMarketer:

What’s stopping mobile users from making purchases on their phones? Unfortunately, the solution is out of the hands of retailers.

For one thing, the screens are too darn small.

That was one of the findings of a PricewaterhouseCoopers survey conducted in September 2016. The data was part of a UK-focused report that compared consumer usage and attitudes in the UK with those in China and the US.

According to eMarketer’s latest estimates, some 147.3 million people in the US will use a mobile device to make a purchase this year. That works out to slightly more than 55% of all mobile phone users.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

FTC Charges Online Marketing Scheme with Deceiving Shoppers

From the Federal Trade Commission:

“Free” and “risk-free” trials come with hidden charges

The Federal Trade Commission has charged a group of online marketers with deceptively luring consumers with “free” and “risk-free” trials for cooking gadgets, golf equipment, and access to related online subscription services.

According to the FTC, the defendants asked people for their credit card information to cover shipping and handling, and then charged them for products and services without their consent. The FTC’s complaint alleges that Brian Bernheim, Joshua Bernheim, Jared Coates, Robert Koch AAFE Products Corp., JBE International LLC, BSDC Inc., KADC Inc., Purestrike Inc., and BNRI Corp., formerly known as Bernheim and Rice Inc., violated the FTC Act and the Restore Online Shoppers’ Confidence Act.

According to the complaint, the defendants’ websites, TV infomercials and email deceived consumers by prominently claiming that their products and services were free, without clearly disclosing that they would start charging consumers if they did not cancel their “free trial” or return the “free” products. They also misrepresented their return, refund and cancellation policies. Specifically, they buried these terms in pages of fine print that people could reach only through a tiny hyperlink.

During the purchase process, the defendants signed consumers up for more “free” trials after forcing them to click through as many as 14 upsell pages to reach a final confirmation page. According to the complaint, many of those pages included poorly disclosed, or undisclosed, additional “free trials” that resulted in yet more unauthorized charges.

The defendants marketed their products under various company names, including Kitchen Advance, Gourmet Cooking Online, Gourmet Cooking Rewards, Medicus Golf, Kick X Tour Z Golf Balls, Golf Online Academy, Golf Tour Partners and Purestrike Swing Clinic.

NOTE: The Commission files a complaint when it has “reason to believe” that the law has been or is being violated and it appears to the Commission that a proceeding is in the public interest. The case will be decided by the court.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Common IT Wisdom That Keeps You Secure


Re-posted from the NYS Enterprise Information Security Office's March 2017 Newsletter.  

View more of their great newsletter topics here

From the Desk of Thomas F. Duffy, Chair

Day in and day out, employees hear the same things from their IT staff about cybersecurity and safety. Though they may sound like a broken record, there are very important reasons and rationale behind these practices and advice. Keeping safe and secure while connected isn't just about how your system is set up - it is also very much about how you end up using it. Below, we discuss some common IT staff wisdom and provide some background information and the rationale as to why it definitely merits your attention.
 
Make sure you lock your screen when you are away from your desk:

Screen locking policies exist for a reason. Even if you are leaving for just a few minutes at a time, be sure to lock your screen. Though physical intruders are rare during daytime and in conventionally secured offices, intrusions do occasionally happen. Screen locks also thwart opportunistic insider attacks from other employees that may seek to obtain information or access information beyond what they should normally have. If you don’t adhere to a screen locking policy, an attacker can simply walk up and start manipulating or stealing your information without having to even work at getting in to your system. And remember, you are ultimately responsible for everything done under your login!

Don’t write down your passwords or user credentials:

The same concept applies here as in establishing a screen lock on your system. On the rare occasion a

Thursday, March 23, 2017

YouTube Losing Major Advertisers Upset with Videos


SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — AT&T, Verizon and several other major advertisers are suspending their marketing campaigns on Google's YouTube site after discovering their brands have been appearing alongside videos promoting terrorism and other unsavory subjects.

The spreading boycott confronts Google with a challenge that threatens to cost it hundreds of millions of dollars.

YouTube's popularity stems from its massive and eclectic library of video, spanning everything from polished TV clips to raw diatribes posted by people bashing homosexuals.

But that diverse selection periodically allows ads to appear next to videos that marketers find distasteful, despite Google's efforts to prevent it from happening.

From: Fox Business News

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Lack of Oxford Comma Could Cost Maine Company Millions in Overtime Dispute

From the New York Times:

A class-action lawsuit about overtime pay for truck drivers hinged entirely on a debate that has bitterly divided friends, families and foes: The dreaded — or totally necessary — Oxford comma, perhaps the most polarizing of punctuation marks.

What ensued in the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and in a 29-page court decision handed down [last week], was an exercise in high-stakes grammar pedantry that could cost a dairy company in Portland, Me., an estimated $10 million.

In 2014, three truck drivers sued Oakhurst Dairy, seeking more than four years’ worth of overtime pay that they had been denied. Maine law requires workers to be paid 1.5 times their normal rate for each hour worked after 40 hours, but it carves out some exemptions.

A quick punctuation lesson before we proceed: In a list of three or more items — like "beans, potatoes and rice" — some people would put a comma after potatoes, and some would leave it out. A lot of people feel very, very strongly about it.

The debate over commas is often a pretty inconsequential one, but it was anything but for the truck drivers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

NYSBDC to Celebrate Inaugural SBDC Day March 22, 2017

The New York SBDC will join other SBDC centers across nation in celebrating the first annual SBDC Day on March 22. SBDC Day is a national recognition movement to share the small business success stories and notable impacts SBDCs have fostered in communities nationwide. Clients, guests, and prospective entrepreneurs are encouraged to stop by NYSBDC locations to meet the staff and learn more about the SBDC.

Since 1980, America’s SBDCs—the nation’s largest small business and entrepreneurial assistance network—have helped aspiring and emerging small business owners achieve the American dream of entrepreneurship. SBDC Day will celebrate the collective impact and success SBDCs have across the nation and in local communities each year.

With nearly 1,000 locations across the country, SBDCs provide local businesses and entrepreneurs with the resources needed to succeed. In 2016, America’s SBDCs provided 1.3 million hours of consulting to 192,205 client businesses, resulting in 100,233 jobs created; $6.9 billion in sales growth; $4.6 billion in capital investments; and 17,864 new businesses started.

Monday, March 20, 2017

The Difference Between Cash and Profits

From Bplans

Although cash is critical, people think in profits instead of cash. We all do.

When you imagine a new business, you think of what it would cost to make the product, what you could sell it for, and what the profits per unit might be. We are trained to think of business as sales minus costs and expenses, which is profits.

However, we don’t spend the profits in a business. We spend cash. Profitable companies go broke because they had all their money tied up in assets and couldn’t pay their expenses. Working capital is critical to business health.

Unfortunately, we don’t see the cash implications as clearly as we should, which is one of the best reasons for proper business planning. We have to manage cash as well as profits.

Friday, March 17, 2017

2015 Annual Retail Trade Survey

From the Census Bureau:

This report provides national estimates of total annual sales, e-commerce sales, end-of-year inventories, purchases, total operating expenses, inventories held outside the United States, gross margins, and end-of-year accounts receivable for retail businesses and annual sales, total operating expenses, and e-commerce sales for accommodation and food service firms located in the United States.
The Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) sample covers employer businesses classified in retail trade sector and accommodation & food services sector located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ARTS excludes data for businesses located in the U.S. territories. The data are published on a North American Industry Classification Systembasis and the estimates are used to benchmark the monthly retail sales and inventories estimates each spring.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

FTC Offers Tips for Businesses Impersonated as part of a Phishing Scam

From the Federal Trade Commission:

Think consumers are the only ones harmed by phishing scams? It’s not just a problem for computer users but also for the businesses that the scammers are impersonating. And people who have been scammed may look to the business that was impersonated for help.
The Federal Trade Commission has long provided advice to consumers about steps they can take to avoid phishing scams. The FTC has released tips and a video for businesses on how to respond if they are impersonated as part of a phishing scam. Among the steps businesses should take include notifying customers as soon as possible through social media, email or letters; contacting law enforcement; providing resources for affected consumers; and reviewing the company’s security practices.
The Federal Trade Commission works to promote competition and protect and educate consumers. You can learn more about consumer topics and file a consumer complaint online or by calling 1-877-FTC-HELP (382-4357).



Wednesday, March 15, 2017

When Do You Really Need Insurance for Your Business?

From BPlans

As an entrepreneur, you know that not every part of the job is glamorous.

Buying insurance can feel like a hassle, but if you invest in finding the right policies now, you’ll save yourself from potential legal headaches and unexpected costs down the road. You probably have a lot of questions surrounding what specific risks different types of coverage actually protect against, and whether or not they apply to your business.

When it comes to insuring your business, factors like your location, industry, and the number of employees can all affect what coverages are applicable. To ensure your new business is protected in any scenario, here’s a list of common business insurance policies that may apply, and how they actually work for you.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Retailers: Brace for a New Wave of Generational Disruption

From eMarketer

Retailers, still struggling to adjust to millennial shopping preferences, face a new wave of disruption from the youngest millennials, with Gen Z in their wake.

While there are some similarities between the youngest millennials and their older predecessors, there are also distinct differences, according to an Accenture survey of nearly 10,000 consumers ages 18 to 37 across 13 countries. For instance, while Facebook remains the most popular social platform for both younger (21-27) and older (28-37) millennials, YouTube is actually the most regularly used social media platform among the very youngest group, those 20 and under.

Meanwhile, two-thirds of the younger shoppers said they regularly use Instagram, compared with only 40% of the older ones. Echoing other survey findings, the study found the younger group was twice as likely as the older millennials to use Snapchat.

Why does their social media preference matter?

Monday, March 13, 2017

Here's How to REALLY Prove Marketing's Value

From MarketingProfs


Research published in AdAge at the end of 2016 helped decode today's five CMO priorities. Two of those priorities fell squarely into the domain of marketing performance management (MPM). The first priority was measurement. However, the study revealed that not just any kind of measurement will do: To be effective, you need to be able to measure Marketing's impact. The second priority was the need to do a better job of justifying Marketing investments.

AdAge was not alone in shining a light on those CMO priorities. The trend toward more compelling measurements of value were reflected in a Chief Marketer article that identified six trends for 2017, three of which included some type of measurement: cross-channel measurement, more sophisticated marketing measurement, and real-time attribution.

And a Forbes article predicted that 2017 is the year Agile Marketing will be taken more seriously. Why? Because "agile marketing results in a measurable improvement in marketing performance."

In another instance, Steven Wastie, CMO of Origami Logic, wrote that "2017 will the year of data and measurement.... Marketers will be under more pressure than ever before to prove accountability."

Perhaps you see the pattern emerging: For today's marketers, the challenge really isn't measurement; there is an abundance of metrics. The challenge is measuring Marketing's value and performance.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Customer loyalty is not about the customer

From Verizon:

For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

Newton’s Third Law of Motion

As a college student, I majored in physics where the Laws of Motion and the Laws of Thermodynamics provided a reliable framework for explaining how things work. With a basic understanding of these laws, one can make reasonable predictions about the behavior of things in the everyday world. Who knew, though, that these laws could also be relevant in explaining behavior in the world of a customer experience professional?

The behavior of most interest to businesses in today’s digital economy is customer loyalty. They talk about it in employee webcasts. They track it on social media. They report on it in scorecards with metrics like churn, repeat purchases, and average revenue per user (ARPU).

And in doing so, they completely miss the point.

To put it in Newton’s parlance, loyalty is not an action, but a reaction.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

2015 Annual Retail Trade Survey

This report provides national estimates of total annual sales, e-commerce sales, end-of-year inventories, purchases, total operating expenses, inventories held outside the United States, gross margins, and end-of-year accounts receivable for retail businesses and annual sales, total operating expenses, and e-commerce sales for accommodation and food service firms located in the United States.
The Annual Retail Trade Survey (ARTS) sample covers employer businesses classified in retail trade sector and accommodation & food services sector located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia. The ARTS excludes data for businesses located in the U.S. territories. The data are published on a North American Industry Classification System basis and the estimates are used to benchmark the monthly retail sales and inventories estimates each spring.

Tuesday, March 07, 2017

USCIS Will Temporarily Suspend Premium Processing for All H-1B Visa Petitions

Starting April 3, 2017, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will temporarily suspend premium processing for all H-1B petitions. This suspension may last up to 6 months. While H-1B premium processing is suspended, petitioners will not be able to file Form I-907, Request for Premium Processing Service for a Form I-129, Petition for a Nonimmigrant Worker which requests the H-1B nonimmigrant classification. USCIS will notify the public before resuming premium processing for H-1B petitions.

Who Is Affected
The temporary suspension applies to all H-1B petitions filed on or after April 3, 2017. Since FY18 cap-subject H-1B petitions cannot be filed before April 3, 2017, this suspension will apply to all petitions filed for the FY18 H-1B regular cap and master’s advanced degree cap exemption (the “master’s cap”). The suspension also applies to petitions that may be cap-exempt.

While premium processing is suspended, USCIS will reject any Form I-907 filed with an H-1B petition. If the petitioner submits one combined check for both the Form I-907 and Form I-129 H-1B fees, it will have to reject both forms.

USCIS will continue to premium process Form I-129 H-1B petitions if the petitioner properly filed an associated Form I-907 before April 3, 2017. Therefore, it will refund the premium processing fee if:

The petitioner filed the Form I-907 for an H-1B petition before April 3, 2017, and
It did not take adjudicative action on the case within the 15-calendar-day processing period.
This temporary suspension of premium processing does not apply to other eligible nonimmigrant classifications filed on Form I-129.

Requesting Expedited Processing

While premium processing is suspended, petitioners may submit a request to expedite an H-1B petition if they meet the criteria on the Expedite Criteria webpage. It is the petitioner’s responsibility to demonstrate that they meet at least one of the expedite criteria, and we encourage petitioners to submit documentary evidence to support their expedite request.

USCIS review all expedite requests on a case-by-case basis and requests are granted at the discretion of the office leadership.

Why USCIS Is Temporarily Suspending Premium Processing for H-1B Petitions

This temporary suspension will help us to reduce overall H-1B processing times. By temporarily suspending premium processing, it will be able to:

Process long-pending petitions, which we have currently been unable to process due to the high volume of incoming petitions and the significant surge in premium processing requests over the past few years; and
Prioritize adjudication of H-1B extension of status cases that are nearing the 240 day mark.

See also article from Quartz (India):

After months of anxiety, India’s $150-billion IT outsourcing industry has received a big blow from the Donald Trump government.

India’s IT outsourcing industry, which gets over 60% of its revenue from the US, has been fearing a rise in protectionism in its largest market ever since Trump got elected. The temporary suspension is in line with the US president’s anti-immigration stance and could hint at a tighter H-1B visa policy in the future, according to recruitment experts.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Marketers 'Unaware' of FTC Social Media Guidelines Regulating Influencers

From eMarketer:

Influencers are taking an increasingly large chunk of the digital ad market, and many individuals with hefty, engaged social media followings are charging top dollar to work with brands to spread the word about their products and services.

Guidelines from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) require sponsored posts on social media to be tagged as ads. However, influencers and content marketers have very different levels of awareness about these guidelines, according to a survey conducted by Lightspeed GMI and Research Now for Izea.

The study found that six out of 10 US influencers polled in September 2016 said they’re aware of or understand the guidelines, and another 23% said they’re aware of or at least somewhat familiar with them.

Only 11% of marketers reported being aware of or having an understanding of these guidelines, while 23% said they’re “somewhat familiar.”

Friday, March 03, 2017

Data Breach Digest: Perspective is Reality

From Verizon:


Every year, the Verizon RISK (Research, Investigations, Knowledge, Solutions) Team investigates hundreds of cybercrimes and helps organizations recover fast. In the Data Breach Digest, we share some of our most interesting cases—anonymized of course—so you can learn from the lessons of others.

Our 16 cybercrime case studies cover the most lethal and prevalent threats you face—from partner misuse to sophisticated malware. We set out the measures you can take to better defend your organization and respond quickly if you are a victim of an attack.

A cyber attack isn’t just a problem for IT. The fallout can affect every part of your organization—from Legal Counsel to Human Resources and Corporate Communications. To reflect that, each of the cybercrime case studies is written from the viewpoint of a different stakeholder. That will help you understand the critical pivot points in an investigation and the kind of decisions you might be faced with if you’re a data breach victim.

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Should I Quit My Job to Start My Own Business?

From Bplans:

For many, the hardest part of starting a business isn’t coming up with the idea or choosing the right name.

Deciding when the time is right to start a business is often the biggest challenge. How do you know when to take the plunge? Should you go all in, all at once—or take it more slowly?

This can be an extremely difficult question to answer, and doing so involves a careful assessment of your own strengths and weaknesses, your position in life, and (of course) your financial situation.

Generally speaking, it comes down to a decision between “jump right in,” and “slow and steady.” That is to say, some feel it’s better to quit your job and start your business right away, while others will advocate for a more measured approach, involving building up your new business on the side before transitioning into the role of full-time entrepreneurship.

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Tips for Nailing Your First Trade Show

From MarketingProfs:

You're at your first trade show.

The booths are dazzling, industry bigwigs are here in the flesh, and potential partners are prime for the picking.

Tradeshows can feel overwhelming, especially if you're there representing a startup or you're otherwise new to shows. Unless, of course, you have a few tips and tricks up your sleeve.

Luckily, you know exactly what you need to do to make a fantastic impression thanks to an article you read about nailing your first tradeshow...

1. Promote the event like you're the host