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2020

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

For a guy who writes about future concepts and ways we could do business, sometimes it takes me awhile to try new things. chris article contact in contactless world pic.jpg

 

I’d never used DoorDash until the pandemic rolled in. (No, this isn’t an ad for DoorDash.) I’ll talk about them in a moment. For the last 15 years, I’ve shared how to work at a distance. Only now, people are forced to consider that reality.

 

How Do You Do Business in a “Contactless” World?

 

As a business advisor, a lot of what I do is suggest ways companies can develop marketplaces around what they sell. I’m probably most well-known for advocating the use of social networks and media tools like YouTube and podcasting and Twitter for further developing ways to interact and sell.

 

But all this time, it’s been a “gee whiz” and a nice to have.

 

When a global pandemic comes and forces governments to close businesses (most of them small, by the way), now we have to think about what it means to deliver our business remotely. The concept of “contactless” business is now a “thing.” And it has many implications.

 

 

Here are some questions for you to consider:

 

  • If you can’t sell and market face to face, what other ways can you find?

 

  • If people like your face-to-face experience, how can you recreate that online?

 

  • Not everyone loves coupons. How else can you stay top of mind for your buyers?

 

  • If people are watching more YouTube, Facebook, and TikTok while in quarantine, what can you do to reach them?

 

  • Do you have your customers’ email addresses? How will you earn them?

 

Let’s talk about this. On one hand, I know you’d rather things just go “back to normal.” But what if normal wasn’t exactly killing it for you? And nothing in life ever goes “back to normal.” It moves forward. And it changes. And eventually we accept the “new normal.”

 

Digital Business and the Digital Channel

 

If you can’t sell and market face to face, you have to reach people where they are: their inbox and on various social networks. Yes, your buyer is online. My small-town Facebook group is populated by people who are mostly over 50, for instance. B2B people are actual humans and are also online.

 

Once you accept that everyone is online, the question is: how do we earn their attention?

 

  • People like how-to content. The COVID-19 quarantine data shows that people are filling some of their entertainment time with learning and educational content. Is there an angle there for you?

 

  • People like personable content. Can you shoot video showing what’s going on at your business and how you’re serving people?

 

  • People like to belong. Can you reinforce the identity of the people you serve?

 

Before this all happened, the prevailing idea of content marketing was that it existed to give people something interesting to consume that somehow related to your product or service. While that’s still true, the adaptation in a post COVID-19 world will focus more on transporting the more personable elements of your real-life presence into an online package.

 

Understand the New Cadence of Business

 

Part of your job rolling forward is to connect with people using various digital tools so you can keep customers and prospects feeling “warm” about your offerings in between opportunities to purchase from you.

 

This is the new cadence. It’s all about staying connected between sales moments. It’s about showing your support for the community you serve. It’s about being more personable and present.

 

All your functional work to make your business work in a contactless world is still before you. How do you sell? How do you deliver? What happens with the face-to-face parts of the experience? But the way you’ll earn and keep customers involves showing people a human face from a distance using all the digital tools out there.

 

Oh, and let me tell you about DoorDash. What made the experience great wasn’t the ordering platform (which was really well done) and it wasn’t the variety of restaurants (which is fine, but you kind of expect that), but instead, it was one detail: constant contact.

 

Every step of the way, I was notified:

 

  • Five Guys has your order.

 

  • Five Guys is making your food.

 

  • Five Guys says your food is ready for pickup.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is picking up the food.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is near.

 

  • Your DoorDash driver is here.

 

That level of connection was better than any other detail of the process. I got what I wanted and every step of the way I was kept in the loop.

 

What a lot of people want is a connected experience with a company that matches their views and values. What they need is good fast communication all the way through the process.

 

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 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.chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

 

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

 

 

I started helping companies figure out how to manage employees remotely in the late ‘90s. chris understanding article pic.jpg

 

 

The reasons were clear: It saved time, saved money, and improved the potential hiring pool because no longer would a company be limited to talent based on proximity alone. Well, welcome to 2020 and the millions of people working remotely for managers who haven’t once trained or much considered how to be a boss from afar.

 

The Problem with Managing Remote Workers

 

Managers are worried because they don’t have any real systems or tools in place, and they can easily envision a day when deadlines fall all over the floor and they (the managers) can’t explain clearly enough what their remote teams are doing or not doing to fix the challenge.

 

It’s a reasonable fear.

 

But the solution is NOT to bury someone in project management software hell. In fact, there are so many ways to do this wrong that an entire league of management consultants exist just to fix all the bad choices managers are doomed to make in moments like these.

 

Managing Remotely Is About Facilitation – Not Control

 

The goal of management in general is to help your team accomplish their tasks. You facilitate them. Your goal is to make their work environment as fluid and frictionless as possible. You exist to block other teams from interfering with your people. You profit when your team accomplishes their tasks and projects are completed on time and within budget. And it’s your job to know enough about all that’s going on to keep your boss in the loop, but MOSTLY to the tune of “we’ve got this” or “we’re slipping a bit.”

 

Tracking hours isn’t the answer period. That’s primitive. It’s not even worth a paragraph, but oh, here we are.

 

Tracking projects and flow is important, but so much software is built in a way to become a job unto itself. Systems that require 20% of a person’s daily attention to keep populated means that you’re eating more than an hour and a half of every eight-hour workday just filling in an app. That’s almost a full day EVERY WEEK lost to “productivity tools.”

 

Facilitate Success

 

What do you really need from your team? Status updates. Deliverables. An adherence to the deadline being the deadline.

 

What do they need from you? Assistance in clearing roadblocks. Resources when deadlines can’t be met. Support when challenges interfere with clear-cut experience.

 

“Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” - Mike Tyson

 

There are some software tools that do this better than not. I’m very biased (I’ve had past business experiences) about Workfront as a tool because it’s built to allow input from a lot of other tools. One person wants to use Slack and another wants to use MS Project? Perfect. It all threads in. That’s the kind of tool your team needs because it means no one has to change their existing habits in terms of software.

 

There are other products out there to evaluate, and this post isn’t about software, but keep the essential detail: Flexible tools mean easier input and fewer hours wasted on accountability.

 

What is useful are small and simple status updates. In Slack or email or Teams or whatever everyone uses, send twice daily updates on projects. Keep the flow going. Workers be clear on if you’re ahead or behind or on time. Red/yellow/green works well.

 

Further, have brief meetings, not more meetings. An hour isn’t the universal meeting unit of measurement and nor is 30 minutes. Do 20. 15. 10. You’ll be amazed how much people can transfer in 10 minutes if you keep the status updates sharp. If someone’s part in that meeting requires more than a whole ten minutes, that’s an offline 1-on-1 call, not meeting material.

 

Above All Else, Facilitate Success

 

The tools won’t save you. Communication will.

 

Everyone has been gifted more time by removing their commute and all that entails. Don’t fill it back up with monotony. Lead these people to success by facilitating their interactions and give them all that extra time to do even better, more thorough work.

 

Treat your team like the winners they are.

 

You manage the best to deliver incredible results for a company that trusts your leadership. Make sure you preserve that reputation by keeping your team rolling forward.

 

 

 

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 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.chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

 

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.

 

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Mark Matthews is a “big wave” surfer who faces fear and uncertainty with every extreme ride he takes. And he has something important to teach us in this new coronavirus world in which we live. strauss lead pic.jpg

 

You probably have seen people like Mark on TV – those amazing, brave (crazy?), intrepid surfers who ride humungous waves in Hawaii, or Australia, or wherever the endless summer takes them.

 

Mark is profiled at the start of a great new book called, Wild Success: 7 Key Lessons Business Leaders Can Learn from Extreme Adventurers. I recently spoke with the authors, Amy Posey and Kevin Vallely, who make the point that Mark isn’t crazy at all. In fact, as they put it, he is quite rational, and the way he approaches an extreme event like Coronavirus, err, I mean riding a monster wave, is something we can all do.

 

How Mark and other extreme adventurers handle stress is by using a method called “reframing.Instead of focusing on the danger in front of him (riding a wave that could literally kill him), Mark reframes the situation into “less terrifying problems that he can solve now,noted author Amy Posey, a leadership expert in Silicon Valley with an emphasis on neuroscience.

 

So, before heading into the surf, “Mark goes through an intense mental preparation, where he scenario-plans the direst outcomes and plans ahead of time his responses. Mark analyzes what he would do if he can’t breathe, is bleeding, or gets knocked in the head. He prepares and plans for the worst far in advance, as well as right before he goes in the water, and in that way, the scary situation does not seem as scary.  Mark even brings a defibrator in the rescue boat that follows him, just in case.

 

“By cognitively reappraising the danger, Mark anticipates how he will respond to situations and reframes those scenarios into less-terrifying problems he can solve now, according to Posey and Vallely.

 

How to Reappraise Danger in Business

 

Can you use this strategy of “cognitively reappraising danger” in business? Here’s an example from the book:

 

Let’s say you are on a conference call, making a presentation and you flub it a bit. Your boss calls you out in front of everyone. One way to look at that situation is to be embarrassed, or angry, or to assume the worst about your boss’ intent.

 

But a better way, the extreme adventurer way, is to reframe it and “assume a positive intent.” Flip the situation. Maybe your boss was actually trying to help you get better at presenting. Or maybe he simply wanted to make sure the team understood what you were trying to say. The trick is to “reframe the narrative in situations you can’t control. Doing so enables you to reduce the negative emotional impact you feel and improve the clarity of your thinking.”

 

Do you see how valuable just this one simple tactic can be at this scary moment?

 

Chunk down the big fear into manageable ideas. Plan for how to deal with them. See yourself handling and managing them. Instead of feeling like a victim of a pandemic, reframe your thoughts and look for the opportunity for your business, in your ability to lead, in your chance to help your team.

 

As Vallely told me, “Emotions can be contagions too. Your positivity will spread among your team, just as your negativity will. And as a leader, how you act, how you put yourself out there is critical, especially now. If you show confidence you will sow confidence.”

 

The adventurers profiled in the book have a saying: “Nothing is considered a failure in an adventure.” It all is an opportunity to learn, to grow, and to have stories to tell (and boy will we have some stories to tell).

 

The end result is that, yes, we are in uncertain, frightening times. But the intrepid adventurer – and the intrepid business leader – can use uncertainty as an opportunity to innovate, reframe, re-label, learn, grow and teach.

 

Cowabunga indeed.

 

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 Askan 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 steve strauss headshot.png

 

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

 

 

 

In “normal” times, selling your product on Amazon seems like a good distribution choice, right? During February 2020 alone, Amazon.com had over 2.01 billion combined desktop and mobile visits making it by far the most visited e-commerce property in the United States. amazon pic.jpg

 

So, now, with the coronavirus pandemic in full swing, can a small business still expect the same service and fulfillment expertise to make signing up with Amazon worth it? Here’s some background to help you decide if selling on Amazon is the right choice for your business.

 

A Small Business Commitment

 

More than 1.9 million businesses, content creators, and developers in the U.S. use Amazon products and services and 58 percent of Amazon sales come from small and medium-sized businesses, according to the 2019 Amazon SMB Impact Report. Following is a breakdown of the pros and cons of doing business on Amazon for small business sellers.

 

  • Seller options: The type of seller you are really depends on how much you expect to  sell every month.

 

    • If you plan on selling less than 40 products per month and don’t need access to any seller programs or tools, you can sign up as an individual seller. This is a good option if you’re starting out small and just want to test the waters, since the fees are low—$0.99 per item sold, plus referral fees. Referral fees, which range from 8-15 percent, are based on what kind of item is sold and the selling price.

 

    • Professional sellers sell more than 40 products per month and want sales analytics and reports. Professionals pay a flat $39.99 per month, plus referral fees. Of course, you wouldn’t be paying these additional fees if you sold directly from your website; however, the added exposure of being on Amazon is probably worth it.

 

  • Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA): Likely the biggest advantage to putting your product on Amazon is the fulfillment power Amazon offers sellers by giving them access to its massive distribution network. Amazon has state-of-the-art fulfillment centers all over the country, so you simply ship your inventory to Amazon’s warehouses. The warehouses then store, sort, pick, pack and ship your products for you. Because Amazon has relationships with multiple carriers, you’ll benefit from deep discounts on shipping. Plus, your products are eligible for Amazon Free Shipping and Amazon Prime Free Two-Day shipping.

 

    • Note: There are many requirements Amazon demands of FBA users before it will accept products such as product titles, barcodes, labels, routing, storage limits and more. Again, the requirements may be worth the hassle since once the products are in Amazon’s hands, the company handles exchanges, refunds and returns.

 

  • Advertising: As an Amazon seller, you have a variety of options to boost visibility of your products.

 

    • “Sponsored Products” appear before other products when a user searches for a particular item, while “Sponsored Brands” appear at the very top of the search page and highlight your brand logo and a few of your items.

 

    • When the user clicks on your logo, they are taken to your Amazon store page. An Amazon Store page is your very own e-commerce site within Amazon and is free for sellers although you do need to have a trademarked brand or at least have applied for a trademark.

 

    • Finally, a new advertising option is the “Sponsored Display” ad which allows you to create a display ad to use on Amazon or other targets of your choosing. If your ad budget doesn’t allow for more than one giant placement then you might want to consider another avenue for your product ads. However, the amount of data Amazon continues to amass has made Amazon into the third-largest digital ad platform

 

There are restricted categories on Amazon where you may need approval before being able to sell your products. Only professional sellers can request approval to sell in these categories. Currently, the list includes such categories as:

 

  • Automotive and Powersports

 

  • Clothing, Accessories, Shoes and Luggage

 

  • Collectible Books

 

  • Collectible Coins

 

  • Entertainment Collectibles

 

  • Fine Art

 

  • Fine Jewelry

 

  • Grocery and Gourmet Foods

 

  • Toys and Games

 

  • Video, DVD and Blu-ray

 

Amazon in the Era of Covid-19

 

To address the incomparable demand for certain supplies, Amazon has announced a temporary prioritization of products coming into their fulfillment centers. Sellers can check which of their products are deemed high priority by checking their seller restock inventory page and their restock reports.

 

  • Eligibility is based on high-demand products customers need immediately; current inventory levels, inventory in transit; fulfillment center capacity; and the latest health guidelines. As you might guess, household staples and medical supplies are most in demand while the crisis continues.

 

At press time, Amazon is trying to find its “coronavirus footing” and still be the online marketplace offering the most inventory, quick delivery and worry-free fulfillment and at the same time keep employees healthy and safe.

 

 

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 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/servlet/JiveServlet/downloadImage/38-3364-414071/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.

 

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

I want to share with you a simple, yet truly powerful success strategy that can work in any climate – including during a global pandemic.  (And note, this is not hyperbole.)

 

A little background:emai list Steve pic.jpg

 

About six months ago, I was on Facebook and a video ad popped up from a well-known “digital guru.” He explains how he has this great method for being able to – natch – “make millions.”

 

Riiiiiight.

 

But he’s good at this stuff, his video is captivating, and I know from my work that he is actually very successful, so I find myself clicking through.

 

The next thing I know, I‘ve listened to his entire hour and a half webinar, and most surprising to me, I bought his expensive training system.

 

I’m happy to say that it was totally worth my investment.

 

And I want to share the big takeaway with you because, especially right now, it can help you not only stay afloat, but get ahead.

 

Grow your email list. This seems almost basic, like Internet 101, right? Wrong. At least not the way this guy does it.

 

Here’s the deal: What he recommends, and what I have tried and found really works, is to focus a significant amount of your marketing energy, and yes, some of your marketing dollars, on growing your list in a big way. Don’t just dabble, go for it, because the payoff can be huge.

 

A big list gives you big reach.

 

When someone provides their email address, when they “opt-in,” they are giving you permission to contact them again. These are warm leads; people who trust you and want to hear from you. When it’s time for you to sell something, you can email this list and be almost assured that a good number of the people you are pitching will say yes.

 

Take my new guru for example. To watch his hour-and-a-half video, I had to opt-in. But because he gave me real value in that webinar, I was happy I did, and in fact, when he emailed me the next day with his pitch, I was interested.

 

And I was not alone. By advertising on Facebook and getting people to opt-in, he now has a list of more than a half a million people.

 

Think about that for a second.

 

The next time he has a new product, be it some system, or an e-book, or info-product or whatever, with one email he can tell 500,000 potential customers about it. The way he explains it is that this is akin to Starbucks. People like going to Starbucks (or at least they used to.) Millions of people would go there every day. And so, when Starbucks has a new product to launch, they simply roll it out in the stores and those millions learn about it and are inclined to buy it because they trust the company and like its products.

 

For you and me, our expanded email list is our digital storefront. When we have something new to sell, we can roll it out by emailing our list and letting them know about it.

 

Does this really work?

 

Well, the guru recently launched a new podcast and used his list to tell his tribe about it. Within a few weeks, the podcast had become one of the top new shows on iTunes.

 

In my case, I have been using some of his methods and my own business email list recently topped 30,000.

 

There are four steps:

 

1. Create a free offer. You have to give to get. What you give away for free in exchange for the opt-in should be something your potential customers would want – a free ebook, or podcast, free product, a discount, access to a special website, something.

 

2. Let them know about the offer. Do so on your website, on your social channels, and yes, consider buying some pay-per-click ads to promote your offering. The bigger you grow your list, the bigger your reach and the higher your potential sales down the road.

 

3. Offer real value in exchange for the opt-in. The webinar I listened to was chock-full of great info. No fluff. Give away your best stuff. If you do, people will trust and like you and believe what you tell them. You really don’t get a second chance to make a great first impression.

 

4. Don’t abuse the privilege. When people trust you enough to give you their email, they are also trusting that you will not bombard them with spam and selling.

 

Then, when the time comes for you to launch your Carmel Mocha Macchiato and you write to your list, guess what?

 

They are going to want to buy it.

 

 

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 Asksteve strauss headshot.png 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.

 

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

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