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It may be surprising to learn that of the 30 million businesses in the U.S., at least 80% are one-person operations. And, just like those businesses that have employees, solopreneurs also need help in the era of coronavirus. steve self employed pic.jpg

 

The good news: There is a lot of assistance available.

 

Here is a round-up of the best assistance programs for solopreneurs:

 

The Small Business Administration: The bulk of the news about the SBA recently has to do with its handling of the enormous Payroll Protection Program, but the SBA does and offers much more than that. For example, if you already have a loan through the SBA 7(a), Community Advantage, 504, or microloan programs, you can qualify for payment relief for up to six months. You can find its coronavirus resources and financial assistance page here.

 

  • Additionally, the SBA has created a streamlined application process for its Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program. Applicants are eligible for a $10,000 advance ($1,000 per employee) that does not have to be paid back even if you are declined for the EIDL loan. You can apply here.

 

Unemployment: Yes, state unemployment offices are overwhelmed with applications, but that doesn’t mean you should not apply. Due to Covid-19, 1099 contractors now qualify for government assistance. Learn more here.

 

Industry specific grants and programs: Many different industries that employ or represent contract workers have created a plethora of programs:

 

 

As small businesses look to the future it’s important to remember that there are a number of resources available. It’s making sure to stay informed and leverage the ones that are relevant to each business that will help small business owners move forward.

 

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his steve strauss headshot.pngAsk an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Defined as marketing “that involves the creation and sharing of online material” to generate interest in a product, content marketing has been around longer than you may recall.steve marketing pic.jpg

 

Back in 2004, Merriam-Webster named “blog” the word of the year and marketers across the globe were scurrying to create blogs, e-books and soon podcasts, webinars and video all with the goal of capturing an online audience and driving them to websites or brick- and-mortar stores. If you think over more than a decade, we’d have perfected content marketing, you’d be wrong.

 

In a time like this, when the traditional sales funnel has likely slowed, investing in content that provides value to your customers and clients beyond the product they buy from you can help to keep them warm until things pick up again.

 

Here are five things you should know about content marketing today:

 

1. Surprising news about attention spans

 

A recent study by Prezi reveals six in 10 respondents believe their abilities to retain focus has actually improved and they can now better give content undivided attention—with millennials more likely than Gen Xers and boomers saying the right content can hold their attention for a long time. Of course, it has to be the right content. Respondents report being more selective about what they give their attention to. 9 in 10 respondents say a strong narrative (85 percent) or telling the story behind what’s being presented is critical in maintaining engagement (81 percent). Right now, with people home, everyone is spending even more time online. Taking advantage of this moment can help increase your business’ perception for when your customers are ready to return to business as usual.

 

2. Getting personal

 

It’s all about the customer experience today and what customers want - actually, what they demand - is personalization. Trying to reach a mass audience does nothing for consumers looking for specific information important to their lives. Using big data, studying consumer trends and keeping detailed customer records can help you focus on what your customers want from your business. Research shows businesses still need work in this area: Only 66 percent of content marketing programs prioritize their audience’s informational needs over their organization’s sales/promotional message, while 88 percent of top performers do.

 

3. Start a conversation

 

Experts at the Content Marketing Institute recommend moving away from “brand speak” and delivering information in the language your customers understand—in words they would use. Afterall, talking to customers in a natural, more conversational way not only shows you “get” them, it also helps you build engagement and, consequently, trust.

 

4. User-created content

 

User-generated content is exactly what it sounds like: content (text, videos, images, etc.) created by your audience, rather than by your business. You can then share user-generated content across your marketing platforms such as your social media pages and website. Why do you want to do this? The biggest reason is credibility. Consumers are 2.4 times more likely to perceive user-generated content as authentic compared to content created by brands. The other reason is people influence other people’s purchasing decisions. Amassing user-generated content involves starting conversations on social media and asking followers for opinions, stories, videos and images. Be sure to ask permission and credit the creator.

 

5. Immersive content

 

Immersive content is a fairly new tactic for marketers and gaining momentum. This includes formats like augmented reality and virtual reality. For augmented reality think live streaming on Instagram, which involves a real-world environment enhanced by computer-generated graphics or objects. Virtual reality involves complete immersion in a computer world, like Facebook Horizon. Both might be too far forward to initiate immediately, but as the technology gets more user-friendly it could be a great tool to create just the kind of engagement your marketing can benefit from.

 

Once you have an idea about what content you want to produce, you need to deploy it strategically. And remember: the content marketing game is consistently evolving. Don’t be shy to try something new.

 

The Content Marketing Institute recommends you create an editorial calendar, but, “Instead of thinking of your calendar as a schedule of content, consider it the implementation plan for your documented content marketing strategy. Plan content in quarterly sprints so you can adapt topics to real-time changes in the industry and content based on real-time performance.”

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

Rieva headshot.png

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

As different areas begin to relax stay-at-home orders, there is a lot to consider before fully re-opening your business, both in terms of the customer experience and with regard to employee and customer safety. pexels-photo-3345876.jpg

 

In addition to the thoughts below, always make sure to check on your local guidance for opening back up to the public as well as regularly checking the CSC’s Guidance for Businesses and Workplaces.

 

Here’s what you should consider:

 

1. Remote work policy: If you are like most small businesses, you did not have a telecommuting/remote work policy in place when shelter-at-home orders were enacted. But that needs to change.

 

If you plan to allow some or all of your workforce to continue to work remotely, consider:

 

  • Which jobs will be remote, and which will require an employee’s physical presence? This needs to be spelled out, either in an employment manual or in an employment contract.
  • Can the right to work remotely be altered or revoked?
  • What sort of communication, productivity and reporting will you require?
  • Will the business reimburse employees for work-at-home expenses?
  • Document which positions will not be suited for remote work.

 

If you found telecommuting did not serve your business well, you should document why remote work is not feasible for certain positions. A paper trail is important to show should an employee request the right to work remotely and you have to deny the request.

 

2. Safety and sanitation: For both the safety of your employees and customers, as well as the legal protection of your business, you need procedures and policies with regard to how you will be sanitizing your place of business. What will be cleaned and how often? Who will be responsible? How often will communal spaces (lunchrooms) and shared equipment (computers) be cleaned? What products will be used? How will your cleanliness procedures be documented?

 

Similarly, consider creating hand-washing stations and protocols, as well as having hand sanitizer out for public use.

 

3. Social distancing: This will be with us for a while; how will your company do it? What will your employees need to know in order to create and enforce six-foot distancing? Many businesses, markets for example, are painting six-foot markers for where customers need to stand in the checkout line. Should you institute some visible markers for your employees as well?

 

Also, does your locale require the wearing of masks? Even if not, will you want to require that rule for your staff, for the safety of both themselves and customers?

 

4. Health screening: While you may be tempted to implement a procedure to require regular health checks and temperature screenings for employees, this needs to be done very carefully. There are HIPAA health privacy laws that must be adhered to and as such, any such screening must be done in conjunction with federal and state laws, and your lawyer.

 

For more information, see Updated EEOC COVID-19 Guidance, and note “Employers should remember that guidance from public health authorities is likely to change as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves. Therefore, employers should continue to follow the most current information on maintaining workplace safety.”

 

5. Sickness and sick days: Your policies with regard to illness and calling in sick need to be clear and airtight so your staff knows when to call in sick, especially with regard to COVID-19. Obviously, you do not want anyone coming into the office who could even possibly be experiencing coronavirus or have had exposure to someone who has, so this needs to be made clear.

 

Moreover, what process will you use to determine if someone showing possible symptoms needs to be sent home? You may want to consider implementing a mandatory 14-day work from home policy for employees who may have been exposed.

 

In fact, you may want to consider creating a specific stand-alone health policy for coronavirus-related illnesses, time-off, and family leave (even if you are not subject to the Family and Medical Leave Act).

 

6. Documentation: It is especially important to implement processes for documenting everything related to your safety, health, sanitation, and employee efforts. This means you should update employee handbooks and contracts. Post rules and policies publicly and create a physical paper trail. We are in uncharted waters and being extra cautious, and documenting that caution, is the smart move.

 

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an steve strauss headshot.pngExpert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Shhh. I’m listening in. My graduating senior, Vince, is having one of his last digital quarantine classes. And there’s a big business lesson for you in this. But you have to indulge a chris school.business connecting pic.jpgdad for a minute.

 

You see, Vince was a very shy, non-participatory student for most of his life. He was bullied in 6th grade for being different (his sin was not caring about fashion and current pop culture) and it left a rough mark on his future education.

 

Right now, Vince is showing off one of his cats to the class and talking about the graduation baskets (full of decorations) they all received. And just like that, they’re debating whether the U.S. will adopt more fashionable masks the way China has for over a decade now. And now, this is suddenly their “social studies” class.

 

Schools (And Businesses) Must Have Connection

 

Have you thanked a grocery store employee for their help over the last few months? Did you do that before the pandemic? Not with the same sentiment, for sure. Why? Because you’re recognizing the contribution of their service to your day’s success.

 

Do we do that at work? No. We speak to the screw ups. The rest of the time, we placate and repeat empty phrases.

 

Have you ever realized just how much of office work is repeating the same stupid chatter over and over? Probably you didn’t until you were forced to stay home and participate in endless Zoom meetings.

 

At home, Vince was asked about his cat. We all do this. We take in the little video rectangle behind the student or employee and we do mental inventory. We look for weird things, interesting things, and most importantly, we seek to find items to which we relate.

 

We seek connection as an important part of our business interactions. Not like we have to be best friends while I buy this extended warranty kind of connection. But more like, “I see you.”

 

Sawubona

 

In the age before it got tricky to understand what appropriation was versus what was sheer appreciation (practically the same word), I started every speech for two years by saying this:

 

“‘Sawubona!’ This is the Zulu greeting. It means literally ‘I see you.’ I love it so much more than hello or hi or waving my hand. Waving your hand, by the way, was a historical way of telling the person you were approaching that you were unarmed and meant them no harm. It meant ‘I have no intention of hurting you today.’ By  contrast, Sawubona means, ‘I see you.’ I recognize that you are here and a person.”

 

In the post-pandemic world, I suspect we’ll be required to wear masks for some time. Everything will have a slightly “removed” feeling. But people seek/want/need to feel some level of connection. It’s why you might find yourself talking to strangers a bit more often right now.

 

And companies must embrace it, nurture it, and find ways to add it to the value of working somewhere, and of what it means to work with your organization.

 

My son Vince is one of the most active and contributing kids in his senior class. All it took was people recognizing him as a human and someone with interests as well as a student filling up space. Your customers and employees and even the bosses of all this want that. They want to be seen.

 

Sawubona - I see you.

Ngikhona - I am here.

 

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-sized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members bychris Brogan headshot.png sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

 

Have you taken an online course over the last few months? How about over the last several years?mari digital course pic.jpg

 

There are numerous digital courses available, covering every imaginable subject and skill, from cooking and crafts to continuing education. Online learning is incredibly convenient. And now, due to the coronavirus, digital learning has become a necessity.

 

Creating a course is an excellent way to leverage your knowledge, skills, talents and thought leadership, while bringing attention to your business. In fact, online courses can generate a nice source of additional income.

 

According to the latest market research report by Technavio, the academic e-learning market is expected to grow by $72.41 billion from 2020 to 2024.

 

If you have ever considered leaping into this massive growing market, now is the time. Here’s how.

 

Your Course Content

 

To get the most out of creating online courses, think big picture. What end result do you want your students to achieve as a result of taking your course? And what does that journey look like for you…and for them?

 

I’ve been creating courses online since the early 2000’s. It’s one of my favorite aspects of my business. Rather than a digital class that is “‘one and done,” conceptualize a series of courses that progress your students through a curriculum.

 

To get to the heart of what to create, ask yourself:

 

  • What is the problem you’re solving? For what audience?
  • What transformation do you wish to create? How will you educate your participants and guide them from their current state to the desired outcome?
  • What is the value? How will your teachings enable your students to improve their life, health, business/career, finances, relationships, etc.?

 

The clearer you are on the problem you’re helping to solve and how your audience will benefit, the easier it will be to craft your course outline and materials.

 

If you’re not clear on what to teach, do a little research. Start by assessing the most frequently asked questions you get from your customers. You can also think about what things your colleagues say you innately do. Also consider this: What is a real passion of yours that you’ve always wanted to share with others? For example:

 

 

  • · A tech expert for boomers, Steve Dotto has a series of courses. He covers productivity topics, such as how to optimize tools like Evernote and Slack, and also touches on subjects, such as how to manage your online legacy.

 

By taking the time to hone in on what will best help your potential students - and your business - you will be more likely to set yourself up for success.

 

Your Course Platform

 

Although you can self-host your e-learning classes on your own website, it’s easier to use a ready-made learning management system (LMS). You upload your materials -- videos, audios, PDFs, checklists, cheat sheets, etc. -- and that is where you offer your content, interact with your students, etc.

 

Some of the more popular platforms include:

 

Thinkific. I’ve been using this one for years. Check out one of their many helpful articles here: Create and Sell Online Courses: A Step-By-Step Guide (Updated for 2020)

Teachable

Coursera

Kajabi

Udemy

LinkedIn Learning (formerly Lynda.com, acquired by LinkedIn). LinkedIn Expert Viveka von Rosen, Cofounder and Chief Visibility Officer at Vengreso, creates LinkedIn courses on topics, such as B2B Marketing and Branding, and hosts them on LinkedIn Learning.

 

The Details

 

How to Record: Record your course using your favorite tools. I use Screenflow for Mac, which records my screen and camera. Also worth checking out are Loom (a free solution) and Camtasia (free trial, then different levels of premium pricing); both of these are for PC and Mac. Make sure to have a good microphone, complementary lighting, and a simple background. You want your course videos to look as professional as possible. I put together this list of video gear.

 

How Much to Charge: E-learning has a vast range. Classes can go from $10 up to $1,000 or even more. When figuring out what to charge, consider all the factors. How long is your course? Is it a prerequisite for other training? Is it a one-off course, or a series? Are you offering a discount for packages? Are you creating classes as a side hustle, or do you have dreams of being a full-time course creator and leader?

 

How to Promote: Market your course - as you would any other promotion - using a variety of social channels, content types, and strategies. Test Facebook ads, use your email list, and create media (podcast and video interviews). Ultimately you want to drive traffic to your course sign up page.

 

Note: if you use a platform like Udemy, they will help you market. Do your research to find the solutions that work best for your technical skill, budget, and needs.

 

Additional Resources:

 

How to Create Irresistible Offers for Facebook Ads

How to use Compelling Video On Social Media for your Small Business

Instagram and IGTV Video: 3 Examples of Great Business Content

Bringing Your Small Businesses to Life with Facebook and Instagram Stories

How to Succeed on Facebook in a New Era of Privacy

 

“Whether your SMB is a storefront, online business, or consultancy, if you have something important to share that can help to change people’s businesses or lives, to have the most impact, you must share it at scale,” adds Viveka von Rosen. “Creating a course is one of the best ways to share your thought leadership - and showcase your business - at scale!”

 

Whatever your business, you are an expert in your niche. And if you have ever thought about putting your own knowledge into a course, now is the time.

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top mari headshot.pngSocial Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events. /servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3411-448454/mari+headshot.png

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

“Live as if you were to die tomorrow,” Mahatma Gandhi said. “Learn as if you were to live forever.” rieva virtual life pic.jpg

I view these words as a challenge of sorts—and try to learn as much as I can every day.

There are plenty of ways to always learn: reading, listening to podcasts and attending conferences among them.

 

To maintain your entrepreneurial edge during coronavirus, check out this list of books, podcasts and conferences to help you maintain your entrepreneurial edge.

 

Listen Up: Podcasts

 

Since I’m relatively new to the world of podcasts—and just launched my own, I asked JJ Ramberg, serial entrepreneur, journalist, former host of the Your Business television show and cofounder of Goodpods, a new social network dedicated to podcasts—where you can follow your friends, influencers and favorite podcasters to see what they’re listening to, for advice. Here are JJ’s recommendations of podcasts for small business owners.

 

  • HBR Ideacast: A weekly podcast hosted by Alison Beard and Curt Nickisch, both senior editors from the Harvard Business Review. Topics: Interviews with the leading thinkers in business and management.

 

  • How I Built This with Guy Raz: The podcast from NPR examines the stories behind some of the world’s best-known brands. Topics: Interviews with “innovators, entrepreneurs and idealists.” And a special shorter segment, “How I Built Resilience” featuring conversations with founders and entrepreneurs about “navigating these turbulent times.”

 

  • Masters of Scale: The podcast, hosted by LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman, focuses on business growth strategies. Topics: Hoffman describes it as showing “how companies grow from zero to a gazillion.” Guests include business luminaries like Bill Gates, Arianna Huffington, Marissa Mayer, and the founders/cofounders of Etsy, Shopify, Rent the Runway and Airbnb.

 

  • RISE Podcast: This weekly podcast, hosted by leadership expert Rachel Hollis, offers “tangible and tactical tools for your life.” Hollis wrote the New York Times best-selling book Girl, Wash Your Face and runs The Hollis Company with her husband. Topics: leadership, interviews with authors, business and personal development leaders and snippets from her continuing entrepreneurial journey.

 

  • School of Greatness: Hosted by Lewis Howes, who started his business career (he formerly played Arena Football) by training sports professionals to use LinkedIn, among other tips. . Howes’ book, The School of Greatness was a New York Times bestseller. Topics: Interviews with leaders in the fields of entrepreneurship, health, athletics and more.

 

  • The GaryVee Audio Experience: Hosted by Gary Vaynerchuk, chairman of VaynerX, a media and communications holding company and the CEO of VaynerMedia, an advertising agency. Topics: Episodes of the #AskGaryVee Show, highlights from his DAILYVEE documentary video series, keynote speeches on marketing and business, and interviews and fireside chats.

 

Reading List

 

 

  • Driving Innovation from Within: A Guide for Internal Entrepreneurs. This book, by Dr. Kaihan Krippendorff, an expert on growth strategies and innovation, dispels the notion that visionary startups are the disruptors fueling innovation. Instead, he maintains intrapreneurs, not entrepreneurs are responsible for some of the greatest innovations, such as mobile phones, personal computers and email. The book gives businesses a framework to drive growth by “activating employee-driven innovation and entrepreneurship.

 

  • Fix This Next: Make the Vital Change That Will Level Up Your Business. Do you know what the biggest problem in your business is? Bestselling author Mike Michalowicz contends most business owners don’t know how to properly prioritize their problems, so the real issues never get addressed. Michalowicz, a serial entrepreneur, created a system to help business owners identify what needs to be “fixed next” so you can propel your business forward.

 

 

  • Selling Naked: A Revolutionary Approach to Launching Your Brand Online. Written by Jesse Horwitz, the cofounder and co-CEO of Hubble Contacts, a direct-to-consumer (DTC) eyewear brand, this book explores the DTC trend, explaining how to start and grow an e-commerce brand via social media platforms. When he launched Horwitz got 2,000 signups in four days, enabling him to raise $3.5 million in seed capital. If you want to launch a DTC company, you’ll find this book a useful guide.

 

Virtual Conferences

 

 

 

 

 

  • MozCon: Search Engine Optimization (SEO). July 7-8 (tentative).

 

 

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.Rieva headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

Networking is an essential part of work and life – and it has never been more important. When you meet new people, it widens your circle. That in turn brings you closer to the resources, opportunities, prospects, and clients you need to enhance your career and/or build your business. mari social networking.jpg

 

The purpose of networking is typically for professional versus personal reasons. Fortunately, even when in-person networking is not an option, there are plenty of opportunities to network online. After all, it is social networking.

 

The Smart Approach

 

It’s easy to get carried away, spending several hours a day chit-chatting with people in a Facebook group or via Twitter – particularly during the coronavirus quarantine we are living through. But does that really benefit you or your business?

 

To make the most of your networking time, you need to understand your why. What is your purpose for networking? What do you hope to gain from it? Who do you hope to meet?

 

  • Perhaps you’re looking to add a few new top-notch consulting clients to your book of business.

 

  • Or, you want to identify key referral partners for your real estate business.

 

  • Or, you’re putting together an online summit and want to connect with the best experts.

 

When you connect your digital networking activities to why you want to expand your network, you can better research and identify the most ideal networking platforms and communities to help you reach those goals.

 

Best Places to Network

 

Start with LinkedIn: LinkedIn has 675 million monthly users. Since it’s one of the most renowned professional communities online, you know you will be networking with other similar professionals.

 

  • To start, look for groups to join and engage in. These can be related to your industry, location, or niche. There are alumni groups, groups for professional organizations, marketing groups, and more.

 

  • Next, identify key contacts to follow. Watch who posts what. Reply, answer questions, and contribute to their conversations in a natural way.

 

  • After you have established some rapport in the group, send a contact request and/or private message when appropriate.

 

People who do ‘bulk adding’ of contacts with the same copy and paste message can usually be spotted a mile off. That approach isn’t effective and could be considered spam. Instead, take a moment to personalize your note and make the intent of your outreach clear.

 

Explore Facebook Groups. Over the last couple years, Facebook has been giving priority to groups

 

  • Facebook’s focus on groups is good news; there’s a group for every imaginable interest. The tricky part is finding the right groups.

 

  • Don’t go crazy joining tons of groups. Instead, take time to properly seek out and vet. Ask your friends and peers which groups they love and why. What works for one person may not work for another, but getting recommendations is an excellent start.

 

Join groups that help you with your professional and client development, as well as those designed for interaction. For example, Debra Eckerling’s Write On Online Group, which focuses on goal-setting and productivity for writers, creatives, and entrepreneurs, has a different conversation-starter thread each day. She starts  Monday with a “share your networking goals” post and rounds out the week with “Toot Your Horn” Thursday and “Foto” Friday. 

 

  • Consider starting your own Facebook group. You can establish your leadership while highlighting your business. Come up with a catchy title that explains what the group is, as well as who it’s for. What is the value? How does it help others?

 

Be sure to connect the group to your Facebook page. For example, my Social Scoop Group is run through my Mari Smith Facebook Business Page. It’s aimed toward leaders of all types. I regularly share social media trends, news, tips, special offers, and more. It’s also a forum to encourage questions and peer support.

 

Find Other Niche Communities. When looking for online networking opportunities, look beyond the traditional social networks. Here is a list of virtual communities with more than a million users.

 

There are online networks that serve as a hub or platform for mini networks. A few standouts:

 

  • Slack

 

  • Ning is an online platform for people and organizations who want to create custom social networks. There’s a directory and featured groups on the home page, making it easy to find groups that match your interests.

 

  • If you are looking to host a group, independent of Facebook and LinkedIn, check out Mighty Networks, which offers free and premium plans.

 

 

The No. 1 Rule of Networking

 

Approach your online networking in a similar way to how you network in real life. Basically, mind your manners.

 

It’s amazing how many people online bulldoze into a conversation or new relationship without regard to building rapport. If you were at an in-person networking function, you’d meet someone, make eye contact, smile, shake hands, and ask the other person a little about themselves. You behave with genuine actions and interest. And if you have an agenda - such as to promote or sell something - people can see it and often back away.

 

If you have an agenda, when networking online, it shows immediately. While some “power networkers” might think their intent isn’t that obvious, it’s usually very apparent they’re trying to get something from you. Don’t be that person! It just does not work.

 

Networking Etiquette

 

When networking online, focus on building genuine relationships. Find ways to add value to the conversations you have online.

 

See how you can help others. That genuine intent comes back to you ten-fold. One of my favorite quotes comes from Zig Zigler: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will just help other people get what they want.”

 

The basic concept: Givers Gain. This is illustrated beautifully in my friend Bob Burg’s parable The Go-Giver. Bob is a leader who shares how a subtle shift in focus is not only a more uplifting and fulfilling way of conducting business, but the most financially profitable way, as well.

 

Show empathy when appropriate. In my own book, The New Relationship Marketing (Wiley, 2011), I dedicated a chapter on the new business skills everyone needs. These are predominantly soft skills. Empathy and deep listening are at the top of my list.

 

The ‘new’ part in my title refers to the digital aspect. It’s more important than ever to hone these soft skills when connecting - and communicating - online.

 

Another aspect very much in alignment with empathy and other soft skills is habit No. 5 of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen R. Covey: “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” In online network terms, this translates to being curious and asking about the other person as you begin to build a dialog. Don’t be all about you, and don’t be pushing your own agenda.

 

Go the extra mile. if you’ve found a really strong contact you want to reach out to - and connect with - first find out more about them. Search a bit on Google and other social channels. Then just ‘tuck’ away some of the tidbits you discover. Don’t use that as a means to show off how much you know to the other person, as they could easily get creeped out that you’ve been basically stalking them online! However, finding points of connection to subtly add to the conversation (perhaps you have a friend in common or have similar hobbies) will help to develop rapport. This will serve you well in the future.

 

Keep your ego in check. Before ever hitting that publish/share/send button, I say to myself, “What is my deepest intent?”. Checking my underlying motivation helps to ensure that any communication comes from a place of generosity and humility.

 

A Final Thought

 

The secret to networking is community. Whether you facilitate your own online hub, take part in someone else’s, or both, approach networking from the standpoint of being genuine and helping others.

 

When you do that, you meet new people, make connections, and develop lasting relationships. And then everybody wins. Your network is truly directly conn

ected to your net worth.

 

 

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Media Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events. mari headshot.png

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

“Give me a ping, Vasili. One ping only, please.”chris high-tech customer service pic.jpg

 

“The Hunt for Red October” is a worthwhile quarantine watch and I’m going to use it today to give you customer service advice.

 

It was a different time when the film came out in 1990. Heck, the movie came out shortly after the Berlin Wall fell and pretty much at the tail end of the Cold War. Alec Baldwin played CIA analyst Jack Ryan and Sean Connery played Captain Marko Ramius, a Russian nuclear submarine captain, who may or may not be defecting.

 

The Red October has all kinds of stealth technology and is nearly impossible to find. In one important scene, Ramius must  show himself. He does so by commanding his submarine to send out an audible “ping” that U.S. sonar can detect.

 

It’s a very tense scene. It’s a terrible way to run a business, and yet, most of your customer service efforts feel like Captain Ramius running silent under the cold, cold sea.

 

Customer Service During and After Coronavirus

 

Lately, I’ve praised the food delivery service DoorDash as the best in class for delivering lots of pings.

 

Here’s how a transaction goes when you order from them:

 

  • We received your order
  • The restaurant has your order
  • They’re cooking your food
  • Your food is ready for pickup
  • The driver is picking up your food
  • The driver is a few minutes out
  • The driver is here

 

If I order a cheeseburger and fries from Five Guys, I get a far more communicative customer experience than I do when I order a replacement server array for my data center. And if I schedule an appointment with a professional like a lawyer and give them my material to work on, I won’t hear about anything usually until I send a few (never one) messages to ask about how everything is going.

 

The Future of Customer Service is High Touch, High Label

 

High touch - lots of messaging. Lots of interactions. Not an annoying amount (and that’s a very subjective thing to say) but more than most businesses do right now.

 

High label - instruction. If you’ve ever stayed in an amazing Airbnb property, you know what I mean. “Here’s how you get on wifi.” “Here’s the jacuzzi instructions.” “How to use the magic sinking fireplace.”

 

High touch, high label is the way to go with customer service.

 

  • “I’m doing this thing right now.” (Touch)
  • “What comes next is you can expect a response in two days with the finished product.” (Label)
  • “I’ll text you a photo of your exact product on our manufacturing line.” (Touch)
  • “If you have questions or need anything, message me here.” (Label)

 

People who couldn’t get through my drawn-on analogy of The Hunt for Red October will never know the list above this sentence is the GOLD for this article. (Label)

 

Personable Customer Experience

 

I wrote another post about how business has to get back to being more human. The analogy used there was about my son Vince and how online schooling has somehow humanized all the students in ways that face to face didn’t accomplish. This mixes nicely with how customer service must change.

 

It’s vital that we treat customers like important people and that we empower our customer service teams to operate like actual humans with personalities and feelings. Sure, there are rules. There might even be some level of a script. And there must be some guidelines about what not to say and how not to act.

 

But this humanizing effort will change customer service for the better in ways you can barely imagine.

 

I’ll give you a strange personal example. I’m late on a bill. It’s a significant bill and I’m just like everyone else who lost a significant amount of incoming revenue during the pandemic. But my experience with this particular bill collector ensures two things:

 

  1. I appreciate how ridiculously human this collector has been in dealing with what is a basic financial transaction.

 

    2. I like this company more than I did before I owed them money, and they have earned even more business from me in the future.

 

Can you imagine that? I’m happy about my customer service experience with a bill collector.

 

Aim for that with your business and you’ll see what I mean.

 

While “one ping only” was good advice for Captain Ramius, it’s not for your business. Lots of pings. Personable pings. And share your great customer experience gospel with everyone who interacts with your business.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-chris Brogan headshot.pngsized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

rieva we're open pic.jpgAs the country reopens for business in phases, many small business owners are awash in mixed emotions—torn between the elation of finally getting to open their doors and the fear of what happens next.

 

Will customers show up? Will their trusted employees return?

 

In the May issue of the National Retail Federation’s  Monthly Economic Review, NRF chief economist Jack Kleinhenz says, “households [are] likely to tiptoe back in rather than making an immediate return to the lives they experienced before.”

 

A Washington Post-University of Maryland poll shows the public is apprehensive about the reopening of retail stores (only 34 percent support it), hair salons (31 percent support) and restaurants (26 percent support). Other polls show even less consumer support for going out to eat. Business owners, on the other hand, are eager to reopen their doors. A poll taken in early May by Alignable, a network of small businesses, shows of the businesses that were forced to close, once allowed to open, 34 percent will reopen immediately, 19 percent will reopen within a month, and 13 percent need more than a month to reopen. But 40 percent worry consumers will be reluctant to return to their businesses.

 

That’s a legitimate concern.

 

“Businesses that think everything will go back to ‘the way things were’ are operating on a going-out-of-business strategy,” said Peter Newell, CEO of BMNT, a consultancy and early-stage tech accelerator.  He believes customer behaviors have changed irrevocably and the businesses that will thrive in this new environment are those that “continue to leverage the tools and processes they adopted during the crisis.” Examining these new practices, he says, offers insight into what will work “in the new normal.”

 

People who need people

 

But Newell says, “From startups to small companies it all revolves around your people. Acquiring and retaining good people are the hardest tasks for many small businesses. For some companies their futures are determined by whether they can bring back the talent they need.”

 

Bob Prosen, the CEO of the Prosen Center for Business Advancement, says you can reopen in phases, if need be.

 

“Bring your essential workers back first,” he advises. And make sure to check the health of your employees before they return. “Those in direct contact with customers must be tested for COVID-19. Employers can require employees to have their temperature taken as well as be COVID-tested. [They] can also ask employees health questions. You just have to keep the records private. Have a plan to conduct testing and ensure you have ample resources, like test kits, etc.”

 

Check out these safety guideline resources:

 

 

 

 

What if you have some employees who aren’t comfortable going back to work just yet? “Employers cannot force employees to return,” Prosen says

 

The key, says Newell, is to “overcommunicate.” If you want your staff to return, he says, “you need to ensure your workspace meets the new standards for workplace interaction. Show your employees you have their best interests at heart.”

 

Prosen says you have to “overcommunicate” with your customers as well. “Update your social media and website with the actions you’ve taken to ensure workplace safety. Go overboard. You can always pull back.”

 

Before you open

 

Prosen says you also need to be concerned about the “capabilities of your suppliers, trucker availability, etc. And ask yourself if you can make money given the rules around capacity and social distancing.”

 

How do you determine how much cash you need to reopen? Prosen advises business owners “to create different revenue forecasts. Take into consideration there will be fewer sales opportunities to chase, your average deal size may decrease, and it may take longer to close new business.” He adds you should be “overly observant of your competitors” and how they’re performing. “This can be a great opportunity to take share from weaker competitors.”

 

Breaking with tradition

 

This might be a good time to break with traditional practices. Prosen suggests putting “traditional sales on the back burner. Find ways to offer meaningful advice. Employ a ‘give before you get’ marketing strategy. Be empathetic. Offer solutions to customers.”

 

Reopening your business is not going to be easy. The longer this goes on, Newell says, “the harder it’s going to get. Come up with a new norm. Talk to your landlords. Negotiate your rents. Work with your property management company and ask, ‘How can we get through this financially?’”

 

In our consumer-driven economy, customers are key to business survival. Want to know how many of yours will return?

 

Prosen says it’s simple, “Ask them.”

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small Rieva headshot.pngbusiness and entrepreneurship, and the /servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3371-417615/Rieva+headshot.pngblog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah./servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3367-416250/Rieva+headshot.png

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, it's affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

There’s nothing official on my schedule today. My lunch plans seem to have canceled on me without a notification. I’ve got nothing that needs doing and plenty to do, if you know the feeling.

 

It’s the slow season. Yours might be different than mine. That’s not important. What matters most is that you don’t make a big mistake  and waste these days.

 

Slow Times are Growth Times

 

Let me start by telling you what most people do incorrectly with space and time. They fill it. Sometimes, they stuff it full of busy work that “needed to get done.” Other times, they look for meetings or calls they’ve been putting off. They stuff days full to the top like fat ticks on a dog.

 

When you hit slow times, the best possible use of this time is growth. This must be the measure by which you gauge the worth of actions you might take. Growth can mean rebuilding. It can be learning. It can represent restocking and preparing for the next busy cycle.

 

You might look at a quiet time as an opportunity to seek what might need pruning. This could feel counterintuitive. It’s quiet. Why cut something further?

 

Let’s pretend you run a manufacturing business, and you make seven different lines of products. When you’re busy, everything operates at or above capacity. But should it? Maybe in the slow time, cut back the line to five and then shift resources around to better suit that new configuration.

 

Slow Times Are Sales Times

 

You have the clients or customers you have. Go after new ones. Look for partnerships. Look for new seeds to plant that will turn into rich opportunities later.

 

Call your best clients and see how you can help, or look for referrals. This is slow season work for sure. That means your clients may also need a little boost in getting business. Ask if you can help grow their business in some way. Who turns away helpful people?

 

Make Your Own Conference

 

As a keynote speaker with thousands of friends in that industry, I can tell you that there are no shortages of quality content all over YouTube. Beyond just TED, there are more conferences posting material every single day. You could seek out a particular speaker, an industry, or an idea and find mountains of opportunities.

 

Because it’s your conference, you’re not relegated to live speakers on a stage. You can add documentaries and slideshows and instructional materials. You can learn from other industries and look for crossover points of support. This is a powerful way to fill a slow season day.

 

Write or Record Something Helpful

 

Your customers would love helpful guides, to-do materials, and more. When you’ve got some time, it’s a great time to create this kind of material. It’s a wonderful way to equip your customers for even more success.

 

You can do a step-by-step document, or if you want to get even more bold, you might make a small series of videos or audio recordings. Any of these can help.

 

Set Some Future Planning Days

 

Look at what’s coming this year, next year, and then five years out. Don’t just look at your own business. Think about what you’ve been reading and maybe even research more.

 

For instance, if self-driving cars and ride sharing apps are reducing the number of new cars sold, that also means that people will do a lot less “browsing” while driving. They’ll drive from destination to destination with fewer unplanned stops. How will that impact your business?

 

 

But Again, Never Overload the Slow Days

 

We often see slow times as an excuse to finish up busy work. The truth is, busy work needs to vanish. Priority or growth. Those are your only categories. And schedule this kind of work into only 40% or so of your calendar over these slow days. Leave room for spontaneous opportunities.

 

It’s vital that you look at slow season days as an opportunity to prepare for success. That’s where it comes. From the planning you do when the fires aren’t raging.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-chris Brogan headshot.png/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3376-420067/chris+Brogan+headshot.pngsized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by /servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3365-414530/chris+Brogan+headshot.pngsharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

With most of the world on stay-at-home orders, it’s no surprise time on social channels has dramatically increased over the last few months. mari smith social ad.jpg

 

Social media engagement has increased 61% over normal usage rates and overall Facebook usage has increased 37%, according to Kantar. Increased usage across all messaging platforms has been biggest in the 18-34 age group. WhatsApp, Facebook and Instagram have all experienced a 40%+ increase in usage from under-35-year-olds.

 

At the same, ad costs have tumbled. Socialbakers’ latest report states that ad costs in North America are down by as much as 50%. Plus, according to Statista.com, Facebook costs per click decreased from 11 cents a click in January to 9 cents a click in March 2020.

 

As a small business owner, now is the time to double down on your social ad campaigns. Yet it’s essential to be smart about how you present your brand and your offerings in any ad initiatives.

 

Here’s what you need to know to get the most out of your social advertising dollars in the time of Coronavirus.

 

Who Should Advertise?

 

There are two primary categories of businesses that are ideal to take full advantage of advertising right now:

 

- Any product or service that directly enhances people’s wellbeing on all levels, from physical fitness and spiritual offerings to solutions for improving physical and emotional health. This includes fitness instructors giving mini-lessons, chefs and food-delivery services doing demos, as well as businesses offering products and services related to meditation, healthy lifestyle, and organization, for example.

 

- Any product or service that directly enhances people’s finances on all levels. With so many businesses in flux, people are focused on ways to make money, save money, strategically lower costs, generate revenue, invest money, and/or hire the right people to grow.

 

For example, my long-time friend and colleague Jeanine Blackwell teaches people how to turn their expertise into online courses. Jeanine and her team are masterful at optimizing ads across social media channels. They start with a video, an image, or gallery of photos. The ad then drives users to register for a free webinar with high-value content. Within the webinar, Jeanine makes an offer and monetizes.

 

Jeanine’s ads offer her audience of primarily entrepreneurs and experts a solution: a way to turn their expertise into income, which will both help them with their emotional and financial health.

 

The Hyer App, which connects contract workers with businesses that need to hire help, is another relevant business in current times. (Disclosure: Hyer App is a client of the author.)

 

It’s ideal for small business owners who need extra staff, but do not want to commit to adding employees and great for workers who need to earn extra money. Their current ads are on point and targeted to the geographic areas with job openings. For instance, their posts lead with: 

 

- “Help Your Community & Earn Money on Your Terms.     Download the Hyer App to access Local Jobs.”

 

-  “Your local Meijer stores need help keeping shelves stocked. Download the Hyer App to access immediate, flexible job opportunities. Make Money & Make a Difference.   ❤️  ”

 

A good use of emojis can help catch attention, too, especially for a younger demographic that are so used to communicating in emojis.

 

Best Practices

 

Want to get the most bang for your advertising buck? Map out a simple customer journey - or funnel - for the audience you want to reach.

 

Start with the End in Mind. What do you want to accomplish with your ad? For most businesses the goal is to generate leads that turn into sales. However, one of the biggest mistakes that advertisers make with social media ads is going straight for a sale to a cold audience. People who have never heard of you are much less likely to sign up or make a purchase (unless it’s a low-cost, impulse buy). You need to build up that all-important “know, like, and trust” factor.

 

You’re likely striving to get new customers to make purchases. But, realize the process may require some extra steps. First:

 

Build Awareness. Use video content to build awareness with your cold and warm audiences. This initial content can be informative, educational, inspirational and perhaps entertaining. Use storytelling to engage new users and get them excited to learn more about your business.

 

Video is the most affordable and effective ‘top of funnel’ format. It’s very inexpensive to promote video content to build an audience of video views. Note: a video view is just 3 seconds on Facebook and Instagram.

 

Use the Video Views objective to grow your reach and views. Next:

 

Retarget with New Objectives. Once you have introduced video viewers to your company, retarget them with different ads. Use objectives such as i) Traffic to your lead generation/offer page, ii) Lead Generation (a very effective ad unit for getting qualified leads), or iii) Click-to-Messenger to entice and engage people to begin a dialog with you. Then:

 

Retarget Again. Now that you have a “hot” audience - people who’ve filled out the Lead Ad or landed on your offer page but not yet signed up - you can retarget again with different content.

 

The sales process will be similar for everyone you want going through your funnel. The speed with which prospects go through your process is really up to them. What you can do is continue to showcase your knowledge, provide value, and show humanity along the way.

 

Videos & Ads

 

Video, particularly right now, is an excellent way to introduce your small business to new people. Not only does video on Facebook get the highest reach and engagement, video is the best format for connecting deeper with your audience.

 

Make good use of Facebook Live video broadcasts as well, to connect more intimately with your audience. By the way, Live streaming video on Instagram is experiencing a massive uptick as well: a 70% growth rate. (And, good news: soon you’ll be able to save your Instagram Live videos to IGTV instead of them disappearing after 24 hours).

 

You can then amplify the reach of your videos and Facebook Live replays using Facebook Ads Manager.

 

If your business offers solutions and resources, now is the time for social advertising. Just remember to use compassionate and empathetic messaging. Plus, keep your offers relevant, timely and on brand.

 

About Mari Smith

 

Often referred to as “the Queen of Facebook,” Mari Smith is considered one of the world’s foremost experts on Facebook marketing and social media. She is a Forbes’ Top Social Medimari headshot.pnga Power Influencer, author of The New Relationship Marketing and coauthor of Facebook Marketing: An Hour A Day. Forbes recently described Mari as, “… the preeminent Facebook expert. Even Facebook asks for her help.” She is a recognized Facebook Partner; Facebook headhunted and hired Mari to lead the Boost Your Business series of live events across the US. Mari is an in-demand speaker, and travels the world to keynote and train at major events.

 

Her digital marketing agency provides professional speaking, training and consulting services on Facebook and Instagram marketing best practices for Fortune 500 companies, brands, SMBs and direct sales organizations. Mari is also an expert webinar and live video broadcast host, and she serves as Brand Ambassador for numerous leading global companies.

 

Web: Mari Smith or Twitter: @MariSmith

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Mari Smith to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Mari Smith.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC.  Equal Housing Lender.

 

© 2019 Bank of America Corporation.

 

Bank of America, N.A. is providing these third-party websites and/or other sources only as a convenience, and does not monitor or maintain the information available on the external websites mentioned, nor represent or guarantee that such websites are accurate or complete, and they should not be relied upon as such.  Bank of America provides informational reading materials for your discussion or review purposes only.  Neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

What the post-Coronavirus world will be like is fodder for constant discussion, but today small business owners continue to fight to keep their employees working and businesses rieva cost sharing.jpgafloat.

 

Even for those businesses receiving funding relief from the government, most realize they need to do more to make it through the next few months as consumers come out of lockdown and supply chains try to make up for months of disruption.

 

One way small businesses can get creative is with cost-saving strategies. Partnering with other small businesses for cost-sharing is one way to save money while the world gets back on its economic feet.

 

What is Cost-Sharing?

 

https://www.inc.com/encyclopedia/cost-sharing.htmlCost-sharing is “a process wherein two or more entities work together to secure savings that one alone would be unable to obtain,” according to the Inc.com Encyclopedia. For most small business owners, health insurance is probably the most familiar example of cost-sharing—micro-businesses with one or two employees can better afford health insurance by joining a group plan comprised of many small businesses.

 

But there are other cost-sharing partnership possibilities to help small business owners save on operational costs. Here are a few ideas:

 

·       Access to technology: With more business owners and employees working from home, you may find other businesses looking for access to your business’s high-speed internet, computers or even your office’s copiers. By offering your business equipment to others in need you may be able to barter other services or charge a small fee to help defer the costs of your Wi-Fi and other utilities.

 

·       Marketing: Finding and sustaining new customers might seem like an unsurmountable feat during these crazy times, but by reaching out to fellow owners in the same boat you may find the process not as difficult. Cost-sharing on flyers, direct marketing brochures, social media campaigns and more could open a new target market lasting well beyond the pandemic period.

 

·       Supplies: Many business owners are struggling to find new suppliers. By cost-sharing you and your partner businesses can save by ordering discounted bulk orders while also discovering new supply chain sources in your local community.

 

·       Distribution: There are several ways to join forces to get your products in the hands of customers. And while the arrangement may only be temporary, once you set up the partnership, you might find it works for you on a more permanent basis. Food businesses, for instance, are finding it cheaper to sign up with delivery services like  Postmates, Grubhub, Uber Eats and DoorDash rather than hiring extra delivery help. You can also “cost-share” with customers by making more of your business self-serve and DIY. Salons, for example, can package to-go hair treatments instead of doing the service themselves.

 

Finding a Cost-Sharing Partner

 

In times of crisis people often step away from being competitive and embrace the concept of “coopetition”— cooperating with your competitors. It shouldn’t be hard to find other businesses to start a cost-sharing partnership with. Call or email your city’s business development office, post a message on your website or social media platforms or ask your current suppliers for partner recommendations.

 

The key is to make sure the agreement is clearly defined, meaning the terms are detailed and there is an end date to the agreement. Like any contract, everyone’s obligations and responsibilities should be spelled out and as well as courses of action should the partnership need dissolving. Ask your attorney to look over the agreement in case there are scenarios or events you haven’t covered.

 

Cost-Sharing and the IRS

 

It’s a good idea to also have your accountant look over your cost-sharing agreement to see if the IRS would consider the partnership a bartering arrangement.

 

The bartering the IRS cares about is for the exchange of goods or services in the commercial sector. If you use a bartering exchange, the exchange is required to report the transaction and can guide you through the correct reporting process. If you set up the bartering transaction yourself, you must include the transaction as gross income. You can find more information on the IRS website.

 

Recommended reading: The Small Business Delivery Options to Tap During Coronavirus Stay at Home Rules

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has apRieva headshot.pngpeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.

 

Lesonsky regularly writes about small business for numerous websites and for corporations targeting entrepreneurs. Many organizations have recognized Lesonsky for her tireless devotion to helping entrepreneurs. She served on the Small Business Administration’s National Advisory Council for six years, was honored by the SBA as a Small Business Media Advocate and a Woman in Business Advocate, and received the prestigious Lou Campanelli award from SCORE. She is a long-time member of the Business Journalists Hall of Fame.

 

Web: www.growbizmedia.com or Twitter: @Rieva

You can read more articles from Rieva Lesonsky by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Rieva Lesonsky to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

 

Legendary basketball coach John Wooden not only had some of the greatest players ever (Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton to name just two) but he got them to play as a beautiful,steve strauss teamwork mentality.jpg harmonic team. Wooden’s UCLA teams won 10 NCAA championships between 1964 and 1975 and from 1971 to 1974, UCLA won 88 consecutive games, still a record in Men’s college basketball.

 

How does Wooden’s success apply to us now, while we work through a crisis in our small businesses? Let me tell you a few of his secrets; ideas you can use for your own business.

 

Start with the coach’s famous Pyramid of Success. Here’s my favorite story about this:

 

On the first day of practice every fall, every UCLA freshman was sat down and taught… how to tie his shoes.

 

According to Wooden, this was necessary for several reasons – basketball is played on your feet – but most importantly, it taught them the importance of little things, and how they add up.

 

“Little things make big things happen,” coach preached.

 

What does this have to do with your business? Everything.

 

All entrepreneurs want to create a great small business. The question is how. Of course, you need to serve the market with a valuable product or service, but just as importantly, you need to assemble and manage a great team that remembers little things make big things happen. 

 

Here’s a simple two-step process that can help you do just that:

 

1. Maintain a Great Culture: What made UCLA basketball so special was not only that Coach Wooden was able to attract top talent, but that he got everyone on the team to buy into the system.

 

Yes, he had some Hall of Fame players, but he had a lot more players who were more mediocre than meteoric. The difference in his teams was that the coach had created a system where even a B recruit could act and look like an A player.

 

In your world this means that you need to create a special culture; one that rewards your people and allows them to do their best work. One where, when they thrive, the entire organization benefits.

 

At this moment in time our cultures are likely going to take a hit. Take time to connect with your employees while they’re home and ask about how they’re doing personally. How are their families? If they’re working remotely find ways to support them. If you’re able to still be paying employees who can’t work from home be as transparent as you can about the future of the company and the steps you’re taking to keep them employed.

 

Additional reading: How to Help Your Employees Focus as They Work from Home

 

If you create the type of business and business culture where employees are treated well, where they feel appreciated, and where they are rewarded for a job well done, you will have created a small business culture that will reap tremendous rewards. Your people will love being part of it and will work hard to make sure you are a success.

 

2. Recruit (And Hang Onto!) Great Talent: Over the years, the best small businesses I have come across have a few things in common and one of them is that the owner knows his or her strengths, brings in people who can fill the gaps, and then lets them do just that.

 

The best small business owners are not micro-managers.

 

To assemble a special team, you need to employ people who fit and buy into your vision. You need people who are smart, savvy, dedicated, and coachable. People who see the big picture but who also are willing to pitch in on any level when times are tough.

 

Then you need to coach them. Show them what you expect and bring out the best in them.

 

This two-step system – recruiting great talent and then giving them an opportunity to shine – is the key to creating a great team, an exceptional team– a team that can work together to keep your business strong through a difficult time.

 

 

Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated busteve strauss headshot.pngsiness columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business SuccessSteven D. Strauss

 

Web: www.theselfemployed.com or Twitter: @SteveStrauss

You can read more articles from Steve Strauss by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Steve Strauss to provide materials for informational purposes only, and is not responsible for, and does not guarantee or endorse any of the third-party products or services mentioned.  All third-party logos and company names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners and are used under license from Steve Strauss.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

All of us are experiencing a slow season together. Yours might be different than mine. What matters most is that we take advantage of this time (while taking time for ourselves and those we care for).chris brogan business success.jpg

 

Slow Times are Growth Times

 

Let me start by telling you what most people do incorrectly with space and time. They fill it. Sometimes, they stuff it full of busy work that “needed to get done.” Other times, they look for meetings or calls they’ve been putting off.

 

When you hit slow times, the best possible use of this time is growth. This must be the measure by which you gauge the worth of actions you might take. Growth can mean rebuilding. It can be learning. It can be preparing for the next busy cycle.

 

You have the clients or customer base that you have, though they may be on hold for now. Think about how you’ll begin to get new ones. Look for partnerships. Look for new seeds to plant that will turn into rich opportunities later.

 

Call your best clients and see how you can help. This is slow season work for sure. That means your clients may also need a little boost in getting business. Ask if you can help grow their business in some way. Who turns away helpful people?

 

Make Your Own Conference

 

As a keynote speaker with thousands of friends in that industry, I can tell you that there are no shortages of quality content all over YouTube. Beyond just TED, there are more conferences posting material every single day. You could seek out a particular speaker, an industry, or an idea and find mountains of opportunities.

 

Because it’s your conference, you’re not relegated to live speakers on a stage. You can add documentaries and slideshows and instructional materials. You can learn from other industries and look for crossover points of support. This is a powerful way to fill a slow season day.

 

 

Write or Record Something Helpful

 

Your customers would love helpful guides, to-do materials, and more. When you’ve got some time, it’s a great time to create this kind of material. It’s a wonderful way to equip your customers for even more success.

 

You can do a step-by-step document, or if you want to get even more bold, you might make a small series of videos or audio recordings. Any of these can help.

 

Set Some Future Planning Days

 

Look at what’s coming this year, next year, and then five years out. Don’t just look at your own business. Think about what you’ve been reading and maybe even research more.

 

For instance, if self-driving cars and ride sharing apps are reducing the number of new cars sold, that also means people will do a lot less “browsing” while driving. They’ll drive from destination to destination with fewer unplanned stops. How will that impact your business?

 

Never Overload the Slow Days

 

We often see slow times as an excuse to finish up busy work. The truth is, busy work needs to vanish. Priority or growth. Those are your only categories. And schedule this kind of work into only 40% or so of your calendar over these slow days. Leave room for spontaneous opportunities.

 

It’s vital that you look at slow days as an opportunity to prepare for success. That’s where it comes. From the planning you do when the fires aren’t raging.

 

About Chris Brogan

 

Chris Brogan is an author, keynote speaker and business advisor who helps companies update organizational interfaces to better support modern humans. The age of factory-chris brogan.pngsized interactions is over. We all come one to a pack. And it’s time to accept that we are all a little bit dented. Chris advises leadership teams to empower team members by sharing actionable insights on talent development. He also works with marketing and communications teams to more effectively reach people who want to be seen and understood before they buy what a company sells.

 

Web: https://chrisbrogan.com Twitter: @ChrisBrogan

Read more from Chris Brogan

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. The third parties within articles are used under license from Chris Brogan. Consult your financial, legal and accounting advisors, as neither Bank of America, its affiliates, nor their employees provide legal, accounting and tax advice.

 

Bank of America, N.A. Member FDIC. ©2020 Bank of America Corporation

For manufacturers of every size in every industry, it’s no exaggeration to say that the coronavirus crisis has changed everything. Demand roberta-keiko-kitahara-santana-RfL3l-I1zhc-unsplash copy.jpgfor products has been upended, relationships with suppliers and customers are being tested and liquidity issues have multiplied.

 

Some manufacturers are pivoting to create essential gear to help combat the pandemic, while others are retooling in advance of future needs, and all are trying to keep their workers safe. Abhijit Bhide, managing director, Bank of America Global Banking and Markets, answers questions about this unprecedented upheaval and how businesses can respond now and in the months ahead.

 

Read more from our Global Banking & Markets team

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