Friday, June 22, 2018

The Relentless Pressure to Discount

From eMarketer

An April 2018 study of US retailers by Retail Systems Research (RSR) found that pricing concerns far outstripped other issues. Keeping up with the competition’s prices was the No. 1 challenge, cited by 58% of respondents.

When asked about their top three business challenges, 65% of retailers cited "aggressive competitors of like items make price our primary demand driver." And 60% cited "increased consumer price sensitivity." Those two challenges were the only ones cited by more than half of the respondents.

But pricing pressures were more acute in some sectors than others. In particular, the study noted that fashion and apparel retailers were much less likely to be focused on pricing parity (at 39%) and tended to be more concerned about minimizing markdown spend (48%).

Thursday, June 21, 2018

How Small Business Owners Got Their Start

From MarketingProfs

Most small business owners worked a full-time job while starting their own firm, according to recent research from Paychex.

The report was based on data from a survey of 413 people in the United States who own a business that has fewer than 500 employees.

Some 59% of respondents say they worked a full-time job while initially building their own business.

The reasons small business owners started their own firms range widely by industry, the survey found.

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Young, in Debt and (Maybe) Holding Back on Purchases

From eMarketer

Retailers still trying to unlock the question of millennial spending patterns, take note: Millennials are sagging under a heavier debt load than Gen Xers faced at this point in their economic lives. It's the makeup of that debt gap that hints that millennial spending might not be unlocking anytime soon. Gen X had more mortgage debt than millennials, while millennials have more education debt than Gen X.

A research paper published by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis compared the overall finances of millennials in 2016 to Gen Xers in 2001. It found that millennial households in 2016 had an average net worth of about $90,000 vs. $130,000 for Generation X households in 2001. Millennials, it noted, had fewer assets and more debt.

The combination of education debt and a lower level of investment in real estate could hold back spending on a host of items, from furniture to hardware to garden supplies.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Stopping Small Business Scams Law Enforcement and Education Initiative

From FTC.gov

Yesterday, the Federal Trade Commission, jointly with the offices of eight state Attorneys General, the New York Division of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service, two U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and the Better Business Bureau (BBB), announced the results of Operation Main Street: Stopping Small Business Scams, a law enforcement initiative targeting operations seeking to defraud small businesses, and an education outreach effort to help small businesses protect themselves from fraud.

Operation Main Street - Stopping Small Business Scams (24 Law enforcement actions nationwide; 12 Partners in law enforcement, including the FTC, brought these federal and state actions; 6+ Types of scams - including unordered merchandise, business directories, fake invoices, and imposters - collected more than $290 million from businesses in these cases) - Go to ftc.gov/smallbusiness.The agencies are announcing a total of 24 actions involving defendants who allegedly perpetrated scams against small businesses, including one new FTC case, three other FTC actions from the past six months, two criminal actions announced by U.S. Attorneys’ Offices and 18 actions by state AGs over the past year.

The BBB is announcing a new research report on small business scams (link is external) that provides substantial new insights into how fraud affects small businesses. In addition, the FTC and the BBB are pleased to announce new business education materials, designed to help small business owners and their employees avoid, identify and report scams.

Monday, June 18, 2018

Are Retailers Ready for a Cashless Store?

From eMarketer.Retail

According to a March 2018 survey of US B2C retail executives by 451 Research, commissioned by Adyen, 78% of respondents said they're considering cashless stores that only accept credit cards and other digital payment options. In contrast, 36% of operations managers, essentially those that are more involved with the customer journey day to day, were in agreement.

And their differing views don't stop there. Retail executives were more likely (81%) to say they saw an increase in customers using their mobile devices while shopping in-store—either for coupons, payments or product information—than operations managers (53%).

In theory, cashless stores may reduce friction at checkout, which is often caused by long lines

Friday, June 15, 2018

For Customer Experience, Consumers Prefer People to Bots

From eMarketer:

Technology may be changing the customer experience, but many consumers still want a human interaction, even as tech continues to improve.

That's what PwC found when it surveyed 4,000 US internet users ages 13 and older, as well as 11,000 internet users ages 18 and older in countries including Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Mexico and the UK.

More than eight in 10 US respondents said that even as technology improves, they will want to interact with a real person. And that sentiment was nearly the same across the other countries polled—although people in China, Brazil and Japan were less likely to agree.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

First 3D Printed Carbon-Fiber Bike a 'Technological Marvel'

FromThomasnet

According to Bicycling.com, the modern carbon-fiber bike is “a technological marvel” based on its superior strength over traditional metal bikes, at a fraction of the weight. So why isn’t everyone hopping on one of these top-notch bikes to pedal around town? Two reasons – the cost is insane and, say the experts at Bicycling.com, carbon-fiber can be a manufacturing nightmare.

Typical problems mostly relate to quality control, in a production environment that requires lots of labor and precision, which is why the Silicon Valley startup Arevo intends to upend the process with 3D printing.

The company has a prototype of the first 3D printed carbon-fiber bike, and Arevo hopes to propel the business into manufacturing ASAP. The intention is to partner with existing bike manufacturers and automate the production aspect using a robotic arm.

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

New York Population FactFinder

From FactFinder:

NYC Department of City Planning’s Population Division is proud to announce the release of New York City Population FactFinder (NYC PFF), a major update of NYC Census FactFinder (CFF). The application has been developed at City Planning by its extraordinary Labs Team, and they are excited to finally share it with you! The latest iteration includes a host of improvements that the user base has requested, including:

Intuitive design that allows you to easily define study areas

Enhanced interactive map and expanded geographic options for creating custom study areas by combining census blocks, tracts, neighborhoods (NTAs), or Community Districts (PUMAs)

Expanded profile content, including population density; and detailed languages, countries of birth, and disability status

Indicators of reliability and statistical significance for all estimates, so you can be confident using the data

Change over time and detailed comparisons of two areas

Ability to save and share unique weblinks for your selections

These innovations push the boundaries of population analyses and City Planning is excited to see them advance your understanding of a diverse and complex city!

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

FTC Action Halts MOBE, a Massive Internet Business Coaching Scheme

From FTC.gov

The Federal Trade Commission has charged three individuals and nine businesses with bilking more than $125 million from thousands of consumers with a fraudulent business education program called MOBE (“My Online Business Education”). A federal court halted the scheme and froze the defendants’ assets at the FTC’s request.

According to the FTC, the defendants behind this international operation target U.S. consumers—including service members, veterans, and older adults—through online ads, social media, direct mailers, and live events held throughout the country. This action follows the agency’s recent action against Digital Altitude, LLC, a competing business opportunity scheme that was also halted by court order.

The FTC alleges that the defendants falsely claim that their business education program will enable people to start their own online businesses and earn substantial income. They claim to have a “proven” 21-step system for making substantial sums of money quickly and easily from internet marketing, which they promise to provide to those who join their program.

According to the complaint, consumers who pay the initial $49 entry fee for the 21-step program are bombarded with sales pitches for membership packages that cost thousands of dollars, which the defendants pressure them to buy in order to continue through the 21 steps. The defendants eventually reveal that their “proven system” for making money is for consumers to sell the same memberships to others in the hopes of earning commissions on those sales.

Most people who buy into the program and pay for the expensive memberships are unable to recoup their costs, and many experience crippling losses or mounting debts, including some who have lost more than $20,000, the FTC alleges.

The FTC also alleges that the defendants offer refund and money-back guarantees to further mislead people to believe the program is risk-free, but they often refuse to honor refund request, or they provide refunds only after buyers make persistent demands or threaten to complain to the Better Business Bureau or law enforcement agencies.

The defendants are Matthew Lloyd McPhee, also known as Matt Lloyd, an Australian living in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Russell W. Whitney, Jr.; Susan Zanghi; MOBE Ltd., also doing business as MOBE, My Online Business Education, and My Own Business Empire; MOBEProcessing.com Inc.; Transaction Management USA Inc.; MOBETraining.com Inc.; 9336-0311 Quebec Inc., also d/b/a Business Education Training; MOBE Pro Limited; MOBE Inc.; MOBE Online Ltd.; and Matt Lloyd Publishing.com Pty Ltd., also d/b/a Matt Lloyd Publishing and Home Business Builders.

The Commission vote approving the complaint was 5-0. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando Division, entered a temporary restraining order against the defendants on June 5, 2018.

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.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Machining Demand Surges With Boom in U.S. Manufacturing

From ThomasNet

This week’s Thomas Index will be taking a look at sourcing activity for Precision Machining by users in the Thomas Network at Thomasnet.com.

Precision Machining is a process in which a machine operator starts with a piece of material called a blank, which is typically metal and uses the machine for precise, controlled removal of materials to transform that blank into a finished product.

Machining encompasses a number of different manufacturing processes such as milling, turning, drilling, and tapping. It’s high-tech stuff; computer numerical control, or “CNC” machining involves computer programming and electromechanical devices for ultra-precise positioning of machining tools, to create incredibly complex surfaces and intricate geometries.

Friday, June 08, 2018

The hostile work environment checklist: How toxic is yours?

From Monster.com:

The hostile work environment checklist: How toxic is yours? Don't let dysfunction and drama reign.

Workplace stress is hardly a phenomenon. Everyone has a bad day (or even month) at work now and then. Your client presentation didn’t go as well as planned; your boss didn’t fall head over heels for your proposal; you had to stay late to finish a project; your co-worker’s been having a series of too-loud sales calls. But there’s a big difference between aggravating incidents and a full-blown toxic work environment.

What is a toxic work environment?
A toxic work environment is one wherein dysfunction and drama reign, whether it’s the result of a narcissistic boss, vindictive co-workers, absence of order, et cetera.

Basically, a hostile work environment “leaves you feeling like dirt,” says Robert Sutton, a Stanford University professor who studies organizational behavior and author of The A**hole Survival Guide.

In addition to harming your morale, this kind of climate can also be damaging to your health, says Paul White, co-author of Rising Above a Toxic Workplace. “Stress takes a toll on your body,” White says. Health problems stemming from workplace stress include hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and decreased mental health, and can lead to fatal conditions, recent research from Stanford and Harvard Universities found.

To counteract such conditions, you first need to know what you’re looking for. Read on to see if you’re in a potentially toxic workplace, plus ways to restore calm on the job.

Thursday, June 07, 2018

The Impact of Coupons on the Purchase Journey

From eMarketer:

Though some people prefer to enter the supermarket armed with a detailed grocery list, an attractive coupon can trigger impulse purchases, and encourage consumers to buy something they may have otherwise not.

In fact, an Inmar survey of 1,000 US grocery shoppers in January 2018 found that nearly four in 10 respondents had bought more than they intended to because of a good deal. And almost as many bought from a brand they wouldn’t have otherwise purchased.

As expected, consumers continue to rely on a combination of coupon types for savings. Fully 55% of those surveyed said they use both digital and paper coupons.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

These leadership strategies can help you build a stress-free team

From Monster.com

When it comes to stress, there’s probably no greater trigger than what happens at work.

And while some jobs are more stressful than others, The American Institute of Stress says there are common pain points that many workers share. The biggest is workload (46%), followed by people issues (28%), work/life balance (20%) and finally, lack of job security (6%).

As a manager, you can’t necessarily turn the office into a zen meditation garden, but there are things you can do to lower your team’s stress levels—and create a happier, more productive office.

“It’s important that the team not be stressed,” says Joanne Vitali, a certified career coach in the Philadelphia area. “Stress releases cortisol, which takes energy away from the prefrontal cortex, making you less able to reason and respond well. You are, in a nutshell, way less productive.”

So, should you be encouraging your employees to meditate? Maybe. But there are other things you can do that directly affect their health and happiness.

Tuesday, June 05, 2018

Taking Experiential Marketing Beyond Events and the Tradeshow Floor

From MarketingProfs

In a world where consumers are more likely to shell out for concert tickets than buy their favorite band's merchandise, there's no doubting the power of experiences.

Consumers today want a brand they patronize to enrich their lives, not just fill their closets or decorate their walls. That's why brands were predicted to increase their spending for experiential marketing 11% in 2017—nearly double from just two years ago.

That said, to deliver truly transformative experiences, brands must challenge the traditional take on events and tradeshow exhibits. We're entering a new generation of experiential marketing that considers cultural context, program timing, content development, and positioning within a brand's long-term business objectives.

Using better insights to expand your experiential efforts, you can go beyond the places your brand normally advertises and activates.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Tesla's Musk Admits to Over-Automating

From Thomasnet:

Rolling off the couch in his office at Tesla Motors in Fremont California, which is where CEO Elon Musk admits to sleeping lately, the entrepreneur recently discussed some Model 3 production difficulties with CBS This Morning anchor, Gayle King.

Just to recap, the Model 3 was rolled out last July with that now infamous “production hell” claim from Musk that accompanied a promise to produce 20,000 vehicles a month. First quarter projections have that figure closer to 3,300 Model 3s per month.

Perhaps the most interesting part of the dialogue was that Musk agreed to over-doing the automation at the Fremont facility.

Friday, June 01, 2018

Economic Census End Date Approaching

Obtained From: US Census Bureau


With only a few weeks left for your business to submit their census survey to the United States Census Bureau (USCB), the deadline is fast approaching. This year the USCB will be conducting the surveys online for the first in its history, which it hopes will streamline the process and make it easier for them to consolidate and itemize the data.

Below is a brief list of just why the economic census is important and what they use the information for:


What is the Economic Census? 
Every five years, the U.S. Census Bureau conducts the Economic Census, the official measure of the Nation’s businesses and economy. Businesses, policymakers, governments and communities use Economic Census data for economic development, business decisions, and strategic planning.

The Economic Census serves as the statistical benchmark for current economic activity such as the Gross Domestic Product and the Producer Price Index. It provides information on business locations, the workforce, and trillions of dollars of sales by product and service type. Comprehensive information is generated for almost one thousand different industries and thousands of geographic areas.

The next Economic Census will gather 2017 year-end figures from approximately four million business locations. The data collection for the 2017 Economic Census will occur in 2018. Businesses included in the 2017 Economic Census, which includes U.S. territories, are required by law under Title 13, Section 224, to respond.

Starting with this Census, respondents will use an online, secure portal to respond, making filing easier while at the same time improving data quality and reducing costs. The business community’s participation is essential to obtain reliable, comprehensive results that accurately represent our rapidly changing economy.


Why does the government take the Economic Census?
United States Code Title 13, Section 131, mandates the Secretary to take, compile, and publish censuses of manufacturers, of mineral industries, and of other businesses every fifth year.

Good public policy depends on accurate information. The Economic Census provides official measures of output for industries and geographic areas, and serves as the cornerstone of the nation's economic statistics, providing key source data for the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and other indicators of economic performance.

The Economic Census is also used to update the Census Bureau’s master list of businesses. Without the Economic Census, the Census Bureau would miss vital information about changes in the ownership and organizational structure of American businesses and industries.


Must businesses report electronically?
Yes! Businesses will report directly through an online survey. Businesses with more than one location have the option to download spreadsheets, upload the spreadsheet files, and submit data to the Census Bureau.


Why do we need an Economic Census when surveys provide more timely figures?
The Economic Census provides comprehensive details about the United States economy, from the National to the local level. Surveys, like Monthly Retail Sales, provide timely information, but only for particular industries or sectors. Since surveys are based on samples that include only a small fraction of all businesses, they cannot supply the geographic and industry details that are unique to the census.

Economic Census statistics about industries, their inputs and outputs, and how they relate to each other, are available nowhere else. Census totals also serve as benchmarks to keep our surveys accurate. 

The Economic Census is also used to update the Census Bureau’s master list of businesses. Without the Economic Census, the Census Bureau would miss vital information about changes in the ownership and organizational structure of American businesses and industries.


How can the Economic Census help businesses and local communities?
The Economic Census helps every American. Businesses use Census data to make decisions about where to locate, how much to produce, and to compare their performance to other businesses in their industry or community. Local communities use Economic Census results to attract new businesses, assess the economic health of their localities, understand the characteristics of their business base, and compare their community to other geographical areas.

Individuals can use census results to identify emerging job markets and growing industries. Click on the following link (Census Business Builder: Small Business Edition) to see how Census economic data can profile businesses and their customers for various localities.



The link attached to this article contains a much more extensive list that will answer any and all questions you may have regarding the survey. Clock's ticking!

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Mobile Ad Spending to Surpass TV in 2018

From eMarketer:

This year, driven by display ads, mobile will account for 69.9% of all digital advertising. With a 33.9% share of total US ad spend, mobile will pass TV as the leading advertising medium in the world’s largest ad market—and we expect that share will grow to a whopping 47.9% by 2022.

"Advertisers are pouring dollars into mobile due to growing mobile commerce activity. Conversions from mobile display ad placements have already surpassed those of desktop," said Corey McNair, forecasting analyst.

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

2016 ZIP Code statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau

The U.S. Census Bureau’s County Business Patterns (CBP) program has released its 2016 ZIP Code statistics. This is an addition to CBP's recent release of U.S., state, metropolitan area, county, and congressional district statistics. The ZIP Code data cover more than 7.7 million U.S business establishments.

Employment and payroll data are available for all U.S. ZIP Codes with a business establishment. Data for the number of establishments by employment size are available for nearly 1,200 industries.

CBP's ZIP Code statistics are obtained from Census Bureau reports and administrative records from other federal agencies. CBP defines employment as all full- and part-time employees who were on the payroll during the pay period that includes March 12.

Statistics are presented in comma separated value (CSV) files for download and manipulation on the CBP website. CBP data can be accessed using multiple tools available via the Census Bureau website, including American FactFinder and Census Business Builder.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Crafting Your Brand?

From Bplans:


Everyone’s talking about branding for a good reason:

Your brand is the identity of your company. It’s what sets you apart from your competitors.

Everything about it should evoke certain thoughts or feelings in your customers, compelling them to want to do business with you. Because your brand is your primary means of communicating what your company stands for, it extends far beyond just your logo or website.

Branding is even more important now that people have increasingly more access to products and services from anywhere in the world. A standout brand is the best way to attract their attention, but first, you need to know exactly who your customers are and what appeals to them. You should view the process as an opportunity to get more deeply in touch with your customers’ perspectives and expectations in order to craft a brand identity that truly speaks to them.

Research is the key to successful branding.

Business Branding Guide

Monday, May 28, 2018

Veterans Finance Guide

From Bank Rate:

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) provides the most comprehensive economic and health-related assistance for vets and their families. However, there are some limitations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, a total of 3.8 million veterans had a service-connected disability rating as of 2014.

Service-connected disabilities are wide-ranging, but consist of a disease or injury obtained during active military service. While not every individual faces the same problems after service, the top three economic challenges tend to be unemployment, poverty, and homelessness. Veterans with service-connected disabilities, who are in need of specific home modifications and medical treatment are among the most at risk of experiencing some kind of debt that can lead to bad credit.

Government assistance for veterans
There are various resources for veterans with debt. One example is called the VA Medical Care Hardship Program. In addition to receiving help with some copayments related to medical treatment, veterans can also benefit from existing debt waivers. While programs like these largely make approvals based on service rather than credit history, there are still some strict eligibility requirements attached – i.e. you need to submit a letter for review, outlining your financial hardship. And this mostly applies only if your gross household income has decreased.

Grant eligibility
For service members and veterans who are living with a family member, there are three VA housing grants that allow for home modifications to the family member’s home:

Specialty Adapted Housing Grant
Special Housing Adaptation Grant
Temporary Residence Assistance Grant

However, like the larger health benefits programs, the scope of eligibility can be narrow.

Friday, May 25, 2018

5 Essential Pages For Your Small Business Website

From Small Business Administration,Anita Campbell, Guest Blogger

There are certain pages every website can’t be without. A small business’s site needs to give visitors what they are most likely to be looking for.

If you’re getting a website together for your small business or reinventing an existing site, take a look at the five essential pages every small business website needs. We include three other recommended pages as well.


Homepage
Your homepage is the virtual lobby of your business, the first thing people notice when they visit the site. It’s therefore vital that your homepage presents your business in a professional and engaging light. Make a great first impression!

As research from the Neilsen Norman Group highlights, you have less than 10 seconds to convey your value proposition. Get to the point about what your business is about. Keep words concise, punchy and compelling to hook visitors and get them to explore deeper into your site.


About Us
People (including business people) do business with other people. Customers like to know a bit about a business, its experiences, ethos and goals. An About Us page informs visitors of such information. Avoid making it too lengthy or dull - show your company’s human side and let potential customers see who’s behind the business. Pictures of the team in action help.


Products / Services
Depending on what type of business you have, you’ll want a Products page, a Services page, or perhaps both. List what you sell in an organized way, so that it’s clear to people. If you have a lot of different products or services, you might summarize them in logical categories, and link to more detailed pages about each product or service.

Images really help for products. Be detailed enough so that what you sell is clear to visitors. Also, by being clear in your language, you better optimize your pages for search engines and this means it will be easier to you find your site.

Contact
Why bother with a website if your visitors don’t know how to get in contact with you?

As well as providing essential contact information, including your email address, phone number and address, your contact page should encourage visitors to connect with your business on the social media channels you use as well.

If your business gets foot traffic, include directions and possibly a map. Many website platforms today make it easy to embed an interactive Google map so visitors don’t get lost. Be sure to include your hours of operation.


Testimonials
For small businesses, a testimonials page is your chance to let your business shine. It’s a good idea to put the name of the person with their perspective company alongside the testimonial to give the endorsement greater credibility and authenticity - rather than anonymous testimonials.

Video testimonials are really good, but simple text works too. Some businesses today also use apps that embed reviews from external sites, and those reviews may appear on a testimonials page or somewhere else in the site.

If you haven’t got any testimonials yet, now’s the time to start contacting satisfied clients and customers. Ask them right after you’ve provided your product or service when they’re satisfied and it’s fresh in their minds.


Once you are sure you’ve done a great job with the above five essential pages, here are three other recommended pages/sections to build out over time:

FAQs
Having a Frequently Asked Questions page on your website gives you the opportunity to answer common questions for customers so valuable time doesn’t have to be spent answering them over and over. FAQs can also allay customer objections. As Bourn Creative advises, always present the questions on your FAQ page in a positive light and answer the questions honestly.


Appointment Scheduling
Businesses that depend on consumer appointments (salons, pest control, car repair) may want to consider a page with a calendar to find an open slot and schedule the appointment online. More and more appointment scheduling apps are available to embed into websites. It’s a great convenience for customers, and companies can see an increase in customer registrations from these apps.


Blog
Finally, consider a blog on your website. Keeping it up-to-date with fresh and engaging content will ensure your business is portrayed as digitally-minded and can help you be seen as a leader in your field. A regularly updated blog can also work wonders for the search engine optimization (SEO) of your site, helping it to rank higher on the search engines.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Contest Marketing: A Powerful Form of Content Marketing

From MarketingProfs:

Enter for a chance to win..."

I see that call to action—or something similar—all over.

You do, too. Social media is certainly no exception. Contests, competitions, and sweepstakes are raging hot across the major networks as a go-to strategy for so many content marketers.

Why?

The answer is that we humans are wired to get involved in contests. We want to play, compete, and, of course, win.


As a copywriter and marketing strategist, I've been probing what makes people tick for decades. I know a fair share about what engages people, but I'm no psychologist.

So I did some research because I wanted to know why "contest marketing" is so compelling.

I picked up these insights from Sander van der Linder PhD on Psychology Today:

For most people, there is something inexplicably compelling about the nature of competition.
"Competitiveness" is a biological trait that co-evolved with the basic need for survival.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Delegation: What Your Team Wishes You Knew

From Outpost Blog:

For someone who prefers knowing that I alone control the outcome of a project, trusting others to hold up their end wasn’t an easy thing to do. It felt so blind; maybe my teammates would do a good job, but maybe not. Maybe they wouldn’t do the work at all, and I’d be left to pick up the pieces.

Sometimes I’d throw up my hands and just take on all the work; hey, at least then it’d get done, right? Other times, I’d delegate like crazy and cross my fingers. Still, the entire process always felt a bit hellish and not conducive to putting out great work.

It’s an experience that probably rings true to many new entrepreneurs and small business owners.

In the beginning, it was likely just you—you were the only one running your business, making key decisions, and doing the work.

You did the whole “group project” on your own; while it may have meant a lot of late nights and gnashing of teeth, you could be confident that everything was being done to your standards, and there was never any doubt about whether or not something had been completed.

However, difficulty arises when it’s time to scale. As your business grows, you’ll inevitably need to take on more team members.

Suddenly, projects that you would have taken on all by yourself are now your responsibility to split up and assign to multiple people. Not only are you faced with the prospect of giving over control of your “baby,” but you also have limited oversight on who is doing what. You have the power and responsibility to delegate effectively—but doing so can be a challenge.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

How to Use Webinars to Build Good Customer Relationships

From MarketingProfs

Webinars are truly a great marketing strategy for generating leads for your business. However, that's certainly not the only measure of their effectiveness.

Webinars are an excellent platform to communicate and interact with your customers, and they can be your secret weapon for building great customer relationships.

People attend a webinar because they believe the experience will be valuable to them. The value you provide through your webinars via actionable insights and takeaways that viewers won't find anywhere else will help you build great customer relationships.

Here we'll look at how to build those relationships by using webinars to engage and train your audiences.

Monday, May 21, 2018

The Cost of Returns

From eMarketer:
Even without an established try-before-you-buy model, retailers’ generous free return policies have led to consumers purchasing multiple items with the intent to send some back.

Retailers like Warby Parker and Amazon have popularized try-before-you-buy by letting consumers try on products at no upfront cost. The consumer is only charged for what they keep, and the remainder is returned.

As a result, a February 2018 study from Brightpearl, conducted by OnePoll, found that over 40% of US and UK retailers have seen a spike in intentional returns compared with a year ago. What's more, some 70% of retailers believe the try-before-you-buy model leads to more returns.

"[Try-before-you-buy] creates a tsunami of returns that could easily overwhelm retailers who do not have the processes or workflows in place to cope with that level of change," the study said.

And this may be why many are hesitant to try it out.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The State Of Industry In 2018

From Thomasnet
Industry is no stranger to change, and today, several monumental shifts — in business, technology, and even politics — are changing it once again.

As a supplier, it's imperative for you to understand these shifts in order ensure your success today, and tomorrow.

Our eBook, The State Of Industry In 2018, can help you keep ahead of the latest trends. It explores:

Critical changes in the manufacturing workforce
The most in-demand products and services in 2018
The role that politics is playing within industry
And more!

Download your free copy now.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is Social Media a Waste of Time for Free Traffic?

From jeffbullas.com:

In 2014 I wrote an article titled “Why You Should Forget Facebook”

The main premise of the post was that Facebook was reducing its organic reach. In fact, the numbers showed it was trending to zero.

So…. we dived into why using Facebook for organic and free traffic was becoming a waste time and you maybe need to forget it for earned attention.

It was rapidly becoming a pay to play platform.

The big promise that drew me to social media was that you could reach the world without paying the gatekeepers or begging for attention.

They were the media moguls and book publishers to name just two.

So I was disturbed and annoyed by this trend.

So where are we today? We now have new gatekeepers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Problem With Loyalty Programs

From eMarketer:

Consumers like loyalty programs, but they have complaints. A major one is the hassle of accessing rewards.

In a February 2018 survey from mobile coupon solution provider CodeBroker, some 54% of US loyalty program members said it’s frustrating when programs can’t be easily accessed on smartphones or when an app download is required.

More than five in 10 respondents agreed that without easily accessible programs, rewards often go unused or expire because members aren’t aware they’ve accrued.

Of those polled, 37% prefer accessing loyalty program information, such as balance or redemption details, via a periodic text message. Some 28% rely on a mobile app.



Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Business Branding Guide

From Bplans:

75 percent of buying decisions are based on emotion. The right brand captures the right emotions—and is one of the powerful tools for building a rock-solid business.

A professional brand does so many things for your business. It sets you apart from competitors. It builds trust with existing customers—and future ones. It extends your reach—online, on the street, in referral conversations. It brings the whole team together and gets your employees excited about coming to work. In short, branding is one of the best business investments you can make!

TOOL: Discover Your Brand in 12 Easy Steps!

PROJECT: Brand Yourself in 5 Days

BRANDING CHECKLIST: 10 Essentials Before Launch

RESOURCE: Tools to Help You Name Your Business

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

7 places to find cash after a disaster

From Bankrate:

When nature goes wild, it can be disastrous for your finances. According to the National Climatic Data Center, major weather disasters have caused more than $1.2 trillion worth of damage in the U.S. since 1980 — and that doesn’t include Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria or Nate.

If you’re hit with an emergency and need to find cash fast, tap into the emergency reserves in your savings account. Then look to these resources.

Monday, May 14, 2018

How to Write a Company Overview

From bplans:

Your team matters just as much as your great business idea.

A company overview (also known as company information or a company summary) is an essential part of a business plan. It’s an overview of the most important points about your company—your history, management team, location, mission statement and legal structure. It usually appears after the executive summary in your business plan.

This is typically the shortest chapter of a business plan document, but that doesn’t reduce its importance. If you’re presenting this plan to people outside of your company, this is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business, and you are going to want to put your best foot forward.

Imagine that the person reading your business plan document has never heard of you, and doesn’t know anything about your business.

What should be their takeaway? What do they need to remember about you and your company?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fluency Through Fonts

From Monotype:

The world isn’t literally getting smaller, but you’d be forgiven for feeling that way. Customers around the world expect a consistent, on-brand experience on any device and in any country or language, and brands must face the challenge of delivering on that expectation.

Our latest eBook, Fluency Through Fonts, shows how a smart font strategy can help break down language barriers and lead to a smoother, more effective workflow for brands with a global audience.

Read the free eBook to learn:

Why fonts are crucial to strong customer loyalty and brand perception around the world
How mobile has changed the way brands need to think about their global customers
What problems can arise when your font library isn’t developed in a strategic way

Friday, May 11, 2018

Franchising in America: Not Just Fast-Food Restaurant

From the Census Bureau

Mention franchises, and images of the thousands of fast-food restaurants that dot landscapes across urban and rural America immediately come to mind.

Franchises, however, go well beyond fast-food chains. They are important to many industries instrumental in providing other day-to-day services, from storage and warehousing to eyeglass stores and weight-loss centers.

Detailed data on franchises comes from the Economic Census, which is taken every five years, and covers employer businesses in the United States. The latest Economic Census will be conducted this year, and continue to offer detailed information only available through this program. Comprehensively collected for the first time for the 2007 Economic Census, the franchise question covers over 300 different types of businesses (industries) and measures the number of franchisee- and franchisor-owned businesses in each industry and their total employment, annual payroll and sales.

The question was added as part of a partnership that was established between the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the U.S. Census Bureau. This partnership has not only resulted in data that entrepreneurs can use but may also have helped improve the overall response rates that impact the general data quality for these industries. Businesses in these industries often rely on organizations like IFA for guidance and their role as a “trusted voice” of their industry can help promote response to our surveys.

The franchise data from the 2012 Economic Census revealed some information that few would find surprising. For example, the estimated 122,042 limited-service franchise restaurants (NAICS 722513) make up approximately 54 percent of all fast-food restaurants in the United States, nearly 70 percent of the sales of fast-food restaurants ($185.4 billion), and about 73 percent of the employment of fast-food restaurants (3.6 million).

However, the data did reveal the importance of franchise businesses in industries that many might not immediately associate with franchising.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Web Browsers Reject About Two-Thirds of Cookies

From eMarketer:

It’s a hard knock life for tracking cookies these days.

Ad serving firm Flashtalking analyzed 20 advertisers worldwide throughout Q4 2017 and found that 64% of their tracking cookies were either blocked or deleted by web browsers. According to the research, rejection rates on mobile devices were particularly high—75% of mobile cookies were rejected, compared with 41% on desktop.

Tracking cookies have been a staple of digital advertising since its inception, and the de facto method that many marketers rely on to track and target users online. But the cookie is beginning to crumble as users shift their media consumption to mobile devices, and as browsers and regulators crack down on digital privacy.

Just a few years ago, people spent most of their time online on desktops and laptops.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Don’t quit your job yet: how to lay the foundation for a successful startup

From Medium:
Humans are wired to love a good before-and-after story.

We crave transformation, whether it’s fixing up an old house or turning a clever idea into a thriving business.

But pushing for that “after” state can lead us to overlook all the fun of getting started.

Sure, the early days of building a product or a business can be tough. There are late nights, financial struggles, mistakes, and self-doubt.

Yet, it’s also a great time to explore. You can experiment without millions of paying customers watching your every move.

And if you don’t have investors breathing down your neck, you can afford to play the long game... But, how do you get started, especially if you’re not ready to quit your job?

You can begin, right now, to build a foundation that will support your business for years. Even if you’re not a software engineer (or you don’t have an MBA), there are smart ways to get the ball rolling.

Today’s startup media often celebrate the blind leap, but I believe in scoping out the terrain before you jump.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

How to Use Data to Reveal Your Brightest Star Customers

Obtained From: Marketing Profs

Just as the universe comprises a wide variety of types of stars, so does your customer base. And like the universe, where some stars shine brighter, some of your customers are better than others.
Now imagine the power of being able to separate your worst customers from your brightest star customers—and find more like your brightest ones!
Doing so entails evaluating and understanding what it takes to attract, acquire, keep, and grow your new and existing customers' value. And to find, keep, and grow the value of your customers requires a customer-centric culture and approach in your marketing.
Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity, defines customer-centric marketing as looking at a customer's lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits. The suggestion here is that by understanding who your current high value customers are, you are better positioned to acquire more customers like them.
That idea of customer-centric marketing entails placing the customer at the center of your marketing strategy so you can create and extract customer value. Gautam Mahajan, president of the Customer Value Foundation, defines customer value as "the perception of what a product or service is worth to a Customer versus the possible alternatives. Worth means whether the Customer feels s/he...got benefits and services over what s/he paid."

Monday, May 07, 2018

3 Tips to Maintain the Effectiveness of Email Marketing

Email, Newsletter, Marketing, Design, Business
From Camille at superhuman.com

Email marketing is one of the oldest strategies for marketing on the internet. This leads some to wonder whether it’s still worth spending all the time and effort required to run campaigns.

The truth is that while email may not be the newest or most exciting tool in digital marketing, it still has the potential to be one of the most effective. In 2018, nearly 90% of marketers list email as one of their top three priorities, with 45% saying it is their top concern. Furthermore, it still offers of the best returns on investment when compared to other marketing channels.

Numbers like this make it easy to see that email marketing is not going away anytime soon. However, if you want to produce competitive email marketing campaigns, you have to make an effort to develop a strategy that can meet the demands of the modern market and use tools like an email verifier to ensure the highest possible deliverability and conversion rate. If your tactics are old and outdated, your campaigns will not be able to achieve their full potential.

Here are three tips for email marketers looking to maintain the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Personalize Email

The internet is an attention economy, and inboxes are full of competition. If you want your email campaigns to succeed, you need to take steps to ensure your emails stand out and connect with consumers.

Through email personalization, you can achieve both of these goals and increase the ROI of your email marketing. Individualized emails have been shown to increase click through and conversion rates. If you’re not already taking steps to personalize your marketing emails, it’s time to start.

Email personalization should include simple steps like unique subject lines and emails that address the recipient by name. Additionally, marketers can have great success when emails include personalized offers and recommendations.

List Management

One common misconception is that having a bigger subscriber list is always better. While it is good to reach as many people as possible, there can be some cases where you may want to remove people from your subscriber list.

If you have a lot of subscribers that never open your emails or addresses on your list that always lead to a bounce, this can put a blemish on your sender reputation. If you want to maintain your sender reputation and improve your engagement rates, you need to clean your list.

Start by removing all of the addresses that are always a hard bounce. Next, you want to identify the recipients that never open your emails. See if you can develop a strategy to re-engage these recipients. If not, remove them from your list as well.

Finally, look for the addresses with inconsistent engagement. Identify the types of content these recipients engage with, and see if you can develop a segmentation plan to deliver the most relevant content to these individuals.

Adapt for Mobile

Email marketing has reached a stage where mobile has to take priority over desktop. Mobile devices now account for more than half of all email opens, a trend that is very unlikely to reverse. If you want to be able to reach customers no matter where they are, you must adapt your campaigns for mobile devices.

For your emails to work well on mobile, you need to develop mobile-friendly email templates that will display well on the smaller screen. Additionally, you will need to write shorter subject lines, select images that work well with mobile email servers, and take steps to develop content that is easier to consume on the small screen.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Grief At Work: A Guide For Employees and Managers

From the American Hospice Foundation:

Although we try to establish healthy boundaries between our work and personal lives, we know the importance of jobs and co-workers. For many, work provides a sense of community. For some, it even feels like family. Employees often derive their sense of well-being from their work.

Every workplace must deal with complex emotional issues. The more difficult emotions, like grief, can disturb workers and diminish the work environment. Colleagues want to do the right thing, but don't know how to do it. Meanwhile, managers and employees may feel pressured and anxious, knowing the work still must get done. It's no wonder we need helping in working through grief.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

How Marketers Can Be Effective Business Storytellers

Obtained From: MarketingProfs

Want to know a secret? A lot of business success can be attributed to the unwitting storytellers among us: leaders who passionately narrate their visions to inspire change; account reps who conceptualize products or services through real-life examples; trainers who design engaging, scenario-based learning...
A simple example of the power of story: I was recently cruising along an empty Texas road, singing along to the song on the radio, when the song ended and an announcer said, "Buying a house is exciting, and by 'exciting' I mean 'terrifying.'" Anyone who's traveled the road to home ownership could instantly feel those words—because it is a little terrifying to buy a house. The announcer's narration evoking the buyer's perspective had me tuned in and wanting more.
That's the secret to storytelling success: the ability to convey personalized nuggets up front to gain someone's attention, followed by a well-designed narrative that drives action. A good story makes us feel something, and in business that can be transformative.
Stories that allow us to relate to each other and share common experiences are the most influential because we, the audience, can see ourselves in those stories. And those relatable nuggets can come from anywhere.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Oasis Ponds & Patios

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

David VanLoon 
Oasis Ponds & Patios
Corning SBDC


David VanLoon, a 14-year military veteran who served tours in Irag and Afghanistan, began Oasis Ponds & Patios in April 2016. Oasis Ponds, a full-service landscape company, is a certified Aquascape contractor that provides waterscape designs and installation. The company installs fountains, waterfalls and ponds, maintains water features and also performs seasonal care for their installations. Oasis Ponds also installs firepits, retaining walls, patios and walkways, landscape lighting, plant and tree installation. They also provide weekly lawn services, as well as spring and fall clean up.

David worked with SBDC Advisor Susan Buchanan to develop a business plan to accompany a funding request for his startup. David secured a $57,000 term loan from Community Bank, a $20,000 line of credit, and contributed $10,000 of his own equity. Oasis Ponds is a true family business. David serves as the General Manager and is responsible for all estimates, the generation of new business and landscape designs. His wife Jenna serves as Office Manager and is responsible for marketing and networking, scheduling and ordering inventory. 

Near the end of July 2016, David approached the SBDC for assistance in securing a small loan. With SBDC’s help, Oasis Ponds received a $30,000 loan from REDEC to purchase additional equipment and supplies in preparation for the upcoming winter months. With the money provided, they were able to purchase snow plows, a salt spreader and a snow blower, which will enable them to take care of customers’ needs throughout the winter months. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Are You an Empowered Marketer? Here's How You Can Be

Obtained From: Marketing Profs
What does it mean to be an empowered marketer?
Let's start with the definition of empowerment. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us it is "The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights."
So what does the word mean when applied to B2C marketers?
Marketers today have a million demands on their time. During a typical day, you might send out a few personalized emails, run A/B tests to drive conversions on your e-commerce website, publish some beautiful targeted ads on Instagram, and then analyze the ROI across all your marketing campaigns.
And that's just in one day! It's no wonder B2C marketers are feeling the pressure to continually perform.
Sound fantastic? It is.That is exactly why marketers need to become empowered—so they can access customer data directly, easily execute complex marketing campaigns, and dive into detailed analytics to prove the value of their work. Empowered marketers work independently and efficiently, and still have enough time to spend on creative endeavors.

Here's how you can strive to become a truly empowered marketer.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Five Reasons B2B Marketers Who Don't 'Do Video' Are Getting Left Behind

Obtained From: MarketingProfs

For a long time, B2C marketers have dominated video advertising. But the evolving landscape of video advertising has opened up opportunities for B2B marketers, too, driven in large part by a changing demographic of B2B buyers and their video-consumption behaviors. According to a recent Google study, 70% of B2B buyers watch videos along their path to purchase—a whopping 52% jump in just two years.

Are you still on the fence about whether to take advantage of video in your marketing program? Consider these five reasons to take the plunge.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Economic Census Response

Obtained From: US Economic Census

Response for the Economic Census begins on   May 1, 2018 and is available for the following month, up until June 12, 2018. The data businesses provide is compiled into official statistics that are available for companies to use for planning and decision making.

The Economic Census asks for the following information by location:
     1. Employer Identification Number
     2. Physical Location
     3. Primary Business Activity
     4. Sales, receipts, or revenue
     5. Employment and payroll
     6. Industry-specific questions

Here is some information to help businesses navigate the Census:


How do I get started? 
To begin, link yourself to your survey. You link your account to your survey by an authentication code sent to you from the Census Bureau. Once you have this code, click on the “Add Authentication Code” button under “My Surveys.” Enter and submit your unique 12-digit code.

After submitting your authentication code, a survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.” This “card” will contain the following:
     •Name of the survey
     •Due date (or extended date if a time extension was granted)
     •Company name
     •Company ID “Report Now” (used to start reporting or access a printable PDF worksheet)
     •“Options” (used to request time extensions, if available; check filing status; access survey FAQs; find contact information)
     •“i” (used to learn more about the survey)

Each unique authentication code can only be used one time. If others in your company need access to your survey, please refer to the “How Do I Share Survey Access?” section.

The Census Bureau will mail separate, unique authentication codes for different surveys. Each code can be entered and a separate survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.”


How do I add an authentication code?
Under “My Surveys” click on the “Add Authentication Code” button. Enter and submit your unique 12-digit code.

 Each unique authentication code can only be used one time. If others in your company need access to your survey, please refer to the “How Do I Share Survey Access?” section.


How do I start reporting? 
If you have not done so already, link yourself to your survey. You link your account to your survey by an authentication code sent to you from the Census Bureau. Once you have this code, click on the “Add Authentication Code” button under “My Surveys.”

 When you have linked your account using an authentication code the survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.” You can click on “Report Now” to access your electronic reporting instrument where you can begin entering data, or print the questions/instructions (PDF document) found on the main menu that can be used as a guide prior to reporting.


How do I learn more about my survey?
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Select “Survey FAQs” to view commonly requested information.
OR
     •Click the “i" symbol on your survey card.
     •View a short description of the survey.
     •Click the “MORE INFORMATION” link at the bottom of the text.
     •View survey information found on the main census.gov website.


How do I update my email address, name, and/or phone number associated with this account? You cannot update your email address, but you can update your name and/or phone number by following these steps:
     •Select “Manage Account”
     •Select “Update Account Info”
     •Enter the email address associated with the account & submit
     •Enter your account password & submit
     •Make changes to first name, last name, and/or phone number
     •Click “Submit”
     •Click “Return to Respondent Portal”


How do I contact the Census Bureau?
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Select “Send Message” to email the Census Bureau.
OR
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Call the Census Bureau at the telephone number listed.
OR
     •Refer to your letter for the appropriate telephone number to call.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups

Obtained from: MarketingProfs


Which types of content do consumers of various ages want to see more of from brands? Do some content formats resonate more with certain age groups?
To find out, HubSpot surveyed 3,010 consumers age 18 and older in Colombia, Germany, Mexico, and the United States.
More than half of surveyed consumers age 54 and younger want to see more videos from brands they support. Some 47% of consumers age 55+ also want to see more videos from brands they support.
There are significant differences in the preferences of various age groups for other content types. Only 22% of consumers age 18-24 value emails from brands they support, compared with 68% of consumers age 55+.