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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, 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. 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

What the post-coronavirus world will be like is fodder for constant discussion, but today small business owners continue to work to find solutions that help keep budgets in line.Cost sharing.jpg


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?


Cost-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 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 insurmountable 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.


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 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: 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: 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

by Chris Brogan.


All of us experience slow seasons together. Yours might be different than mine, but it’s likely that we’ll be in it together. What matters most when Slow Periods to Grow.jpgbusiness is slow is that we take advantage of this time (while taking time for ourselves and those we care for).


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 busywork 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 bolder, 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 busywork. 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.




Bank of America, N.A. engages with Chris Brogan 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 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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