Skip navigation
1 2 3 Previous Next

Sales & Marketing

366 posts

Call a major company, and you’d be surprised if a real person answered the phone. It’s more likely that you’ll first be told which button to press based on your question. Pressing that button opens a new menu of options, which leads to another branch, and so on.

 

christiann-koepke-dQyS2pMYtok-unsplash (1).jpg

For customers, the process can be frustrating but as you’re pushing your keypad, the company’s computer system is collecting information about you. By the time you finally get to speak to a customer service rep, you’ve already answered most of the questions that she would have needed to ask. She can read your selections then focus on the task that the computer can’t accomplish: identifying the details of the issue and solving your problem.

 

This process describes customer service automation in one of its most common and simple forms, and the benefit to the company is clear: the less time staff spend asking routine questions, the more time they’ll have for the more difficult problems. The company will become more efficient.

 

Call automation is just one part of a growing trend in both sales and customer service. That trend includes asking customers to select answers from a website FAQ instead of sending an email. It includes autoresponders whose content and sales recommendations are based on contact lists segmented by purchase, demographics or registration. It includes algorithms that make special offers based on previous choices. It even includes chatbots that turn up in the corners of websites and use text and natural language processing to create the illusion that the customer is talking to a real customer service rep.

 

All this artificial intelligence can be very effective.

 

When Smyths Toys, a toy company in the U.K. and Ireland, increased its online marketing, it found that it also generated significant volumes of abandoned shopping carts and customer service tickets. The company turned to an automation software firm to solve these problems. According to the software firm’s case study, the toy company focused first on tracking the customer journey on the website, and in particular on the checkout form. When customers contacted a customer care representative, that rep could see where the customer had been and precisely where they had got stuck. That quickly improved the response rate. When a customer used a promo code that expired before the transaction was complete, for example, the rep was able to quickly identify the problem and honor the discount.

 

The software was then able to use the data it collected to reach out to customers using chat, SMS, or voice based on their on-site experience. Because it was able to predict customer needs, a simple form of artificial intelligence, nearly two-thirds of the customers offered live chat messaging responded positively, reducing the number of support tickets.

 

It’s no wonder that a 2018 survey by The Economist Intelligence Unit found that 90 percent of respondents expected AI to improve growth, and 27 percent had already incorporated AI into key processes and services. Nearly half had at least one AI pilot project already under way.

 

Many of the automation systems made by firms like HubSpot, Salesforce and Genesys (which powered Smyth’s Toys’ software) are aimed at medium to large businesses. Service organizations generally use them to gather information, to automate routine customer issues such as resetting passwords and tracking orders, to route cases to the right agents, and to pre-fill fields for both agents and customers.

 

But complete systems aren’t cheap and their implementation requires re-training staff and making new technical demands.

 

Even small firms though can begin automating their processes themselves:

 

  • A FAQ page that predicts and answers common questions can be bought off the shelf.
  • Phone call branching software might irritate customers but its automated data collection improves efficiency and is easily available.
  • Customer tracking through website cookies can reveal bottlenecks, allowing the business to deliver better options and build a smoother path from recommendation through selection to checkout.
  • Contact list segmentation is a staple of email marketing and doesn’t require powerful, state-of-the-art technology to use. It just demands an understanding of customer demographics and a marketing team that can produce targeted content and track the results.

 

Even small firms have plenty of options to implement simple automation and AI-powered sales and customer service processes. But small firms also have an advantage: they can talk to customers directly. Automation works best when it improves a personal connection, not when it replaces it.

 

There still needs to be a friendly voice at the end of the phone.

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Holiday spending in 2019 is projected to increase 4.9% from 2018, according to The Holiday Shopping Intentions Survey, with the average U.S. adult spending $683 on holiday-related purchases.

 

craig-whitehead-QKfWXNtb1CU-unsplash.jpg

A whopping 90% of those shoppers plan to visit physical stores to make purchases. How can you ensure they visit your store? Experiential marketing is the key.

 

What Is Experiential Marketing?

 

Unlike traditional advertising, such as print ads or TV commercials customers simply look at, experiential marketing invites them to experience and engage with your business in a memorable way. The goal is to make the customer feel part of your brand so they promote it to others and keep coming back to your store.

 

Experiential marketing has become a buzzword, with some retailers believing it requires immersive experiences like virtual reality technology. But that’s not true. In fact, in today’s increasingly tech-obsessed world, the way to stand out can be to offer a more hands-on experience.

 

The good news for small retailers: That means experiential marketing is something you can do, too.

 

Holiday Experiential Marketing Ideas

 

The easiest way to create experiential marketing during the holidays is the way retailers have always done it: Appeal to your customers’ five senses. Play holiday music, go crazy with holiday décor, use evocative scents and serve tasty treats like cookies or apple cider. Use touchable displays and fabrics to encourage customers to explore the merchandise.

 

Make your holiday experience unique and relevant to your brand; if you own a surf shop, play holiday surf music instead of classic carols, or plant a Christmas tree in the middle of a sand dune.

 

Here are some other experiential marketing ideas to get you started.

 

  • Give away samples: Nothing gets customers to engage with your products like letting them try the merchandise. You can hand out samples outside your store to attract a crowd. Include special offers for discounts if they buy the product.
  • Do a popup shop: A short-term or popup shop generates lots of excitement at any time of year and is a great experiential marketing tactic for the holidays. You could host a popup shop inside a complementary retail store or have a complementary business do the same in your store. Get more tips on how to run a popup shop.
  • Hold in-store events: When customers take the trouble to visit a physical store instead of doing their holiday shopping online, they want to have fun. In-store events such as live music, author book signings, art openings or fashion shows are memorable experiences that will get customers talking.
  • Offer educational classes: Give customers new ideas on how to use your products or make the most of your offerings. Art supply stores can hold painting classes, pet stores can teach customers dog grooming tips, housewares stores can host cooking classes—the ideas are endless.
  • Make it shareable: Unique and memorable events will spark social sharing. You can help it along by creating Instagrammable settings for customers to take pictures or fun moments they’ll want to remember.
  • Give it local flavor: Drawing on the local environment is one way to design an experience. For example, a camping supply store in the Pacific Northwest could use a rough-hewn, cabin-like interior, pine scents and cozy furnishings to craft a fitting setting for its wares.
  • Mix it up: Consumers are hungry for new experiences, so be sure to change your store’s experiential marketing on a regular basis. You can tie these changes to the season, to new product lines or to current events.

 

Whatever experiential marketing tactic you choose, be sure to promote it in advance, both in-store and online. Create a hashtag for your store and for any special event you’re holding. Use social media posts, email marketing and your website to build excitement about what’s going on at your store.

 

By making your in-store experience memorable and fun, you’ll boost your holiday sales, too.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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.

 

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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. 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

The mobile revolution has radically transformed shopping and selling. The statistics are staggering:

 

  • During the 2018 holiday season, almost 40% of all sales were made on a smartphone.
  • Eighty percent of all shoppers use their smartphone inside a store to comparison shop, get reviews or price items.
  • Mobile shoppers browse 61% more, making 106% more orders, and spending 121% more money.

 

robin-worrall-FPt10LXK0cg-unsplash.jpg

Several trends are affecting this sea-change and it would behoove you to know them so you can use them to your advantage this holiday season.

 

1. Delivery times are getting much shorter: Amazon Prime has made next day delivery a standard in the industry and as such, given Amazon’s deep reach, this has become what consumers expect.

 

Your delivery must be free and quick if you are to compete. Indeed, for the small business that wants to sell more this holiday season, offering mobile shoppers same-day delivery (in the store) or at least next day delivery, is essential.

 

Option: UPS’ new program Ware2Go offers small business the chance to have UPS store and ship orders directly, and practically immediately.

 

2. Last minute shopping is booming: With the rise of overnight and same-day delivery, consumers feel safe shopping at the last minute. The key then is to cater to these procrastinators.

 

Remember, the two most powerful words in all of marketing are:

 

    • Sale! and Free!

 

Use that.

 

Strategy: Have a sale. Offer free shipping. Give a discount to last-minute shoppers. Here where I live, every year, a local outdoor marketplace has a “Festival of the Last-Minute.” That’s the ticket.

 

3. Delayed products sell. Last year, “We saw electronics purchases spike at midnight on both Thanksgiving Day and Cyber Monday, and toy purchases spike on Cyber Monday. Consumers clearly began browsing and shopping for toys after getting those electronics deals and continued throughout the holiday season.”

 

Idea: Put expensive grown-up items on sale early and offer less expensive kid items on sale later.

 

“The on-the-go nature of mobile purchasing enables these spur-of-the-moment decisions,” According to TotalRetail.

 

4. Power users are your magic 20%: The 80-20 Rule says that 80% of your sales come from your top 20% of customers.

 

Something similar is occurring in online and mobile shopping. One-third of new cyber shoppers last year came back to shop again after Cyber Monday ended. Moreover, they:

 

    • Accounted for 22% of sales generated over the holiday period, and
    • Completed purchases twice as often as average shoppers

 

Secret: Incentivize power users so that they make your online store their desired spot for late-in-the-game shopping. Market to them, give them deals, make them feel special.

 

Because they are special.

 

5. Hop on board early: Last year, top retailers like Walmart, Best Buy, Target and Kohl’s started offering holiday deals as early as November 1, according to PYMNTS.com.

 

Learn from the pros. Do what they do. No need to reinvent the wheel.

 

Bottom line: Work to capture and convert those late-buying, procrastinating, power shoppers and you will have a very Merry Christmas indeed.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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 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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Some business owners live for the sale. They spend months designing sales funnels, testing offers, and reviewing conversion rates to maximize their efforts and ensure that every dollar they pour into advertising comes back with friends.

 

charts-commerce-data-265087.jpg

For other business owners, time spent marketing is time they would rather spend developing their product line or handcrafting their goods. They know marketing is a vital part of building a business but they see it as a chore. They would rather do anything—even clean the office—than chase those conversions.

 

But there is a solution. Marketing doesn’t have to be about spreadsheets and copywriting and sales software. It can be about customer engagement.

 

Or to put it another way, sales can happen when you talk to people with the same interests and tastes as you. That doesn’t feel like work. It certainly doesn’t feel like marketing. It feels like fun!

 

There are three ways to engage with leads and customers.

 

1. Let Your Fingers Do the Talking

 

The simplest way is to join online groups and forums where people discuss products like yours. Every interest is represented online from beauty tips to garden gnomes so whatever you’re selling, you can find your community. Look for them in forums and discussion threads. Follow people discussing your topics on Twitter, and collecting images on Pinterest. Search for Facebook groups that are filled with people who might love your goods.

 

Join those groups but don’t sell in those groups. Instead of marketing, just take part in the conversations. Talk about a subject you love, and do it regularly. Mention that your expertise comes from making or selling related products but don’t push for the sales. Trust the sales to come to you as people get to know you, and see your expertise and passion for an interest that they share. As they recognize your knowledge, they’ll come to trust you. Once they trust you, they’ll want to buy from you. You won’t have to persuade them. The sales will come naturally.

 

2. Create Your Own Shopping Channel

 

You can also broadcast live videos.

 

While forum and Facebook group discussions will let you take part in discussions about your industry, a live video will let you show people how to use your products. Sellers of beauty products, for example, have used live videos on Facebook to demonstrate make-up techniques—and offered ways for viewers to buy the products they’re demonstrating.

 

Promote the broadcast details before it takes place so that people know when to watch, and make use of the ability to see comments as they come in. Live video is interactive. You’ll be able to answer your viewers’ questions on the fly and you’ll be able to talk with audience members while you’re demonstrating.

 

The aim should be to make sales, but it should also be to enjoy yourself. When you’re demonstrating the benefits of a product you love, you should be having fun. That pleasure will be infectious. Your audience will feel it and they’ll want more of it. They’ll sense that by buying the products you’re demonstrating in your live video, they’ll have access to that fun whenever they want.

 

 

3. Set up Your Booth

 

A live video will put you in front of lots of people at the same time but there will still be a distance. There will always be a screen between you and them.

 

That’s why another great way to market (without feeling like you’re marketing) is to take part in your industry’s fairs and conferences. These are opportunities to meet your most dedicated customers and leads in person. Again, you won’t be pitching here. Your booth might be decorated with all sorts of marketing material but the aim will be to talk to people like you, to listen to their preferences, and hear their needs. Those conversations will bring sales too. The discussions will open new networks. The knowledge you share and receive will deepen customer loyalty and make you the first choice when those people want the products you sell.

 

None of this feels like marketing. Why?

 

    • Joining discussions on Facebook groups will feel like procrastination. It’s the sort of thing you do when you don’t feel like working.
    • A live video will feel like showing friends something really cool—and being appreciated when you do.
    • A fair or a conference is a chance to meet old friends and have a coffee with the people you’ve met online.

 

It’s fun—and that’s when the marketing magic really happens.

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Authenticity is key in marketing to women. Look at how your brand or product can genuinely help and/or empower women while tapping into what they find valuable. And, what women value is pretty much everything from work and growth, to autonomy and family.

 

daytime-discussing-facial-expression-1181562.jpg

Gloria Moss, author of Gender, Design and Marketing: How Gender Drives our Perception of Design and Marketing, points out that not only do women make up 80% of consumers’ buying decisions, women shop differently from men. Whereas men look at a product’s usefulness, women want to know what that product will do. Men want an overview, but women will not make a buying decision until they have all the information and are completely satisfied.

 

The other element of the equation is emotion. Women are different from men, so marketing to them the same way will not work. Years of history in advertising is proof of that.

 

Keep in mind, it’s not always about the product. If your brand stands for positive, life-affirming, or empowering attributes- if your brand is inclusive and diverse - that emotional connection may also help in aligning a consumer with your business.

 

Marketing to Women

While businesses are getting better at listening to consumers, there is still work to be done. So, how can your business better market to women?

 

  1. Study your ideal client. Who is your buyer and how can your product or service help them? Create buyer personas to help with your targeting.
  2. Ask what they want. Post on social media, asking your customers about their needs and wants. This can be features for product development or values-based content. You can also ask family members to chime in.
  3. Stand for what your customers value. If there is a cause that is near and dear to your ideal customers - or to you - shine a light on it to amplify awareness. Showing that you care triggers an emotional connection.
  4. Elevate your customer service. Women consumers want to know everything they can about a product or service before they consent to buy. Make sure you have customer service available on multiple platforms (phone, email, social media), and let prospects know how to reach you in your marketing.
  5. Hire real women. To get the voice and needs of your women customers, especially if you have products directly related to that demographic, have women on your team. Inside information on your client or customer is always an asset.

 

Messaging to Women

There are several tenets to embrace when cultivating your business’ marketing message, as it relates to women.

 

  1. Don’t stereotype. You want to find that balance of truth in advertising without going overboard - too feminine or too masculine - in either direction. Stereotyping is a sure-fire way to alienate your customers.
  2. Follow the leaders. If there are brands you admire, keep an eye on what they are doing. For instance, Microsoft, HBO, and Nike regularly do women-focused campaigns. Then see how you can use their examples as a barometer for your own unique marketing.
  3. Use real people. Women like to see themselves using and embracing your products. Whatever the medium - social media, TV, video - use people your prospects and customers can relate to. User-generated content is another option for this strategy.
  4. Create great content. No matter what you put out in your messaging, it should be high quality. Use all the senses, education, and humor whenever possible.
  5. Jump on trends. #InternationalWomensDay, #STEM, #LeanIn. Look at the events and research the hashtags that empower women. Then see how your business can support and promote them, as appropriate.

 

No matter how you approach marketing to women, keep one thing in mind. Be true to your brand. Your company’s mission and values are what humanizes you. And it’s that human, authentic touch that is most important when presenting and marketing your brand.

 

About Mari Smith

 

mari_0362xFACE_preview.jpg

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.

 

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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Mari Smith is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles 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.

In marketing and business, we get quite caught up in all that’s come before, where we are, all our history.  Yet there’s no greater enemy to small business than “that’s how we’ve always done it.”

 

blur-brainstorming-chatting-1881333.jpg

Sometimes, it’s important to reset, to tear it all down. If we were starting today, then what? If we lost everything, what would this look like? How did we get here in the first place?

 

Start at Zero

 

I’m a big fan of comic books. I started reading them when I was five and my grandfather bought them for me on his candy sales route. They helped me learn to read, and they gave me a bigger perspective on the world than I otherwise would’ve had. In that comics industry, there’s a kind of necessary cliché that’s said when a new team takes over a title, especially something like Spider-Man or Batman.

 

“We’re going back to the basics.”

 

And that means they strip away all the weird stories currently running in the comics, like Spider-Man having clones or Batman with a team of other people pretending to be him, and so on.

 

This is something we can do with our businesses, only without capes and tights.

 

What Does Zero Look Like?

 

If you launched your company today, what would be the cleanest, simplest representation of it? What is the bare bones version of what you sell? How do you talk about it? How do you sell? Who is your best customer?

 

Volkswagen recently showed off its “new” logo. It pretty much looks like the old one, only now it’s “flat” so that it can be used in lots more ways, like on applications or charging units, and so on. If you’re not a designer, you’ll look at it and say, “Looks pretty much the same.” But it’s new. And that “new” is a zero from where they can race towards an intentional path forward.

 

But anything can be a zero point for your business.

 

    1. Logo. Pricing. Offering. Customer base. Locations. Hours. Any aspect of the business can and should be reconsidered.

 

Dunkin Donuts rebranded as Dunkin. Why? Because people like the coffee and there’s a mixed feeling about their donuts when it comes to health. Ditto KFC instead of Kentucky FriedChicken. Both restaurants still have bloated menus and could really get even closer to zero, but there’s a caution.

 

Less Than Zero

 

There’s one catch, one warning. You canaccidentally throw away the wrong part.

 

    • Kodak had digital camera technology patents and prototypes long before that market came and crushed the company.
    • Coca-Cola fumbled by launching New Coke in the 80s.
    • When the Internet came around, many print media companies gave away content online  and it took them years to reclaim even a fraction of the revenue lost.

 

You can throw away the wrong part of your business. Will Dunkin be wrong for dialing back donuts? I can’t see it, but we’ll all know if that happens.

 

Can It Fit on an Index Card?

 

One easy way to know if you’ve brought your company back to zero in one way or another is by answering the question, “Can it fit on an index card?” If you can explain the entire concept with one 3” x 5” card, chances are, it’s a really simple business.

 

This is one area where small businesses have a chance to thrive. Something big like Disney can’t ever do the index card test. They might be able to sum up various divisions that way, but not the entire enterprise.

 

Your company, however? The answer had best be yes.

 

Try It

 

You don’t have to take my word for it. Try it. Start with an index card and write/draw out what your business looks like at zero. What’s the smallest “menu” of offerings you could make? What’s the simplest way to describe your business? What’s the easiest way to handle the customer experience journey? And so on.

 

It’s okay if you need a few cards to get started. Crumple up all you want until you find the right zero for your business.

 

It’s an exciting exercise every time

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

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 advisesleadership 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

As I wrote this, the “chicken sandwich wars” were raging. Let me quickly catch you up:

 

Fast food restaurant Popeyes released a chicken sandwich (they didn’t have one already?) and rival Chick-Fil-A got a bit lippy about it on social media (and then Wendy’s chimed in because that’s what they do) and it all kind of backfired. Everyone (and this is nuts) suddenly wanted to try this chicken sandwich at Popeyes, a place few folks ate at before this all started. Long lines. Traffic jams. Employees quitting because overtime has become insane.

adult-businessman-buy-327540.jpg

 

This is about a chicken sandwich. And while I’ve not yet put one in my belly, everyone seems to say the same thing: it’s okay. Not “it’s amazing.” But just “okay.”

 

McDonalds sells one or two different types of chicken sandwiches. KFC has one. Wendys. Chick-Fil-A. Sonic. I haven’t checked with too many more fast food chains, but they probably sell chicken sandwiches.

 

What Happens When We Can Buy from Everybody

 

My point: What you sell isn’t all that unique. Very few businesses sell anything unique. I write articles like this but so do several thousand other people. Everyone really wants to point out what makes them different, but they all say the same things: we treat you like a person, or we value you, or we take your business seriously. Yada, yada, yada.

 

In a world where people can buy from anyone, why should they buy from you?

 

I’ve posed this question several times to many corporations over the years. It’s my go-to starter for companies that feel threatened by a competitor. A large auto parts company brought me in because they were feeling the pressure of their customers suddenly being able to Google something, go on Amazon, and buy it themselves.

 

My advice was: get amazing at in-store service. Make people feel well tended and cared about in your stores. Treat everyone who walks in as if they own the business and you want nothing more than to please them.

 

Let me ask you three questions:

 

      • What can you do at your business that would separate you from the competition?
      • What value can you bring to your customer differently than anyone else?
      • How can you deliver something that goes beyond the borders of a buyer’s expectations?

 

These questions apply to any kind of business. No matter if you run a chiropractic practice, a pizza shop, a bridal store, or an accounting group, you can craft a better experience for your customers.

 

True story: my plumber is the best in town because he calls you back within a few hours of you leaving him a message. This beats out the five other competitors (in my small town) because they don’t get back to me in a timely fashion. That’s it. Returning calls. That’s his massive advantage.

 

Make that Advantage Clear

 

The worst kind of marketing small business owners do is generic or vague. “Our difference is that we care.” That’s the worst possible thing to say. Everyone cares, and most customers don’t believe it when they see something like that.

 

But if you say, “We work on your schedule, not ours,” now that’s something very specific.

 

Sometimes, you don’t even have to sayanything. Maybe it’s clear from your very simple menu that you sell two types of burgers, fries, shakes, and that’s about it. Maybe you run the most pet-friendly tax preparation business in town. Or maybe it’s that you prompt your customers when it’s time to repurchase so that they don’t have to remember. That idea alone could really separate you from the competition.

 

We Can Buy from Anyone. Now What?

 

I used to work part-time at a little bookstore in northern Massachusetts. The place was very small, independent, and in a quaint little tourist town. When Carolyn ran the store, her big advantage over buying from Amazon or driving another 20 minutes to Barnes and Noble wasn’t that she had every book you could ever want on the shelves. It was that she always had great recommendations for what to read next. That and the ability to remember everyone’s name – so that she greeted you personally when you walked into the shop – was what kept her business alive.

 

There are so many ways to stay important to your customers, if you want to sustain a strong business relationship. It’s up to you to treat that part of your business as if it matters, and to align your efforts accordingly. So, how do you answer this? 

 

 

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

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 advisesleadership 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

Josiah Wedgwood started the ball rolling. Back in the 1760s he added royal endorsements to his pottery to show customers they could trust his tea sets. In the early 1900s, Mark Twain put his name to pens. Later, Ty Cobb would beat Michael Jordan to athletic endorsements by marketing tobacco.

 

blurred-background-cellphone-communication-1092671.jpg

From Doris Day pitching Harvester road rollers to George Clooney selling coffee pods, we’re accustomed to seeing celebrities offering products they think their audiences will enjoy—and earning money from it.

 

What’s changed in the last few years is the nature of celebrity. People no longer need to write classic books, hit home runs, star in movies or wear a crown to build an audience whose buying decisions they can influence. They can publish their content on platforms like Instagram and YouTube, and build those audiences themselves.

 

For businesses, the result has been a huge expansion in both the range of possible endorsements and depth of those endorsements. Companies don’t need to approach movie stars with requests to use their names. They can just contact someone with a big Instagram account, and ask them to influence their followers to buy the products they make. This year the value of the influencer marketing industry is expected to reach $6.5 billion.

 

Much of that money has flowed from consumer-facing businesses, and in particular cosmetics firms, food companies, and the hospitality industry. These are businesses with photogenic products whose images are easily shared on Instagram or shown on YouTube. They also have the kind of young markets found on those social media platforms. It’s a good match.

 

But other industries are also looking to benefit from influencer marketing, and at the same time businesses that have used influencer marketing are showing concern. They’re worried that they might be paying for fake followers and inflated figures. In one recent study, nearly two-thirds of respondents who had used influencers said that they had direct experience of influencer marketing fraud.

 

Together, those pressures have created a new opportunity for non-traditional influencers. These are people who may have small followings or who have built an audience in a particular niche market. Instead of aiming to attract millions of young people who love pranks or new lipstick ideas, they may have audiences of just a few thousand who like making cushions or who need carpentry advice. Those audiences might not be a direct match for a product but they do overlap.

 

Chief Marketer, a marketing publication, recently described how drinks company Sparkling Ice turned to Margaret Scrinkl, a papercraft artist, to market their new product.

“Having seen her work we knew she would be a good brand fit given the fun and color,” Sarah Gustat, vice president of  marketing at the brand’s parent company, told the website. “It felt like a reflection of the Sparkling Ice brand and really brought the campaign to life.”

 

The content didn’t match on its face. Scrinkl creates videos about art; Sparkling Ice makes cocktails. But Scrinkl did bring a number of features to the brand that made buying her influence worthwhile: the demographics overlapped; the style of the brands were in sync; and Scrinkl’s engagement levels were high, a sign that her audience is genuine and that she has the ability to move them. Sparkling Ice was very happy with the result, and didn’t have to turn to an expensive drinks influencer to achieve them.

 

Finding non-traditional influencers who can help your business takes a little time—but it can also be fun.

 

Skip Google and head straight to a social media platform, especially Instagram. Search for the keywords or hashtags related to your product then do a deep dive. Instead of stopping at the biggest influencers, look through their followers and see who else they follow. Those additional accounts represent a new entryway into your market. Identify a handful of influencers with interesting content and high levels of engagement, then approach them with an offer.

 

Because they’re still small, that offer won’t need to be huge. Some influencers have been known to take free samples as payment for promoting a product. (If you’re trying to create a long-term relationship, you might want to go bigger than that though!)

 

And make sure that you know what your call to action will be, whether it’s clicking a link, following your own account, or taking up a special offer. You want to be able to measure the effectiveness of the influencers you use.

 

You might not be able to land a royal endorsement, but you should find that you’re able to move an audience and influence sales.

 

READ NEXT:

 

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

Just when you think you have a grip on demographic marketing along comes Generation C.

 

Screen Shot 2019-09-09 at 10.31.32 AM.png

Actually Gen C is not new—Brian Solis first introduced businesses to the “Connected Customer” in 2012, but many small businesses haven’t yet embraced Gen C, which says Solis, “is not limited to one group or demographic. Demographic marketing is based on age, income, etc.” But Solis’s research on the rise of social media and mobile found that psychographics mattered more. Gen C is more defined by interests, behaviors, and the resources they demand. “It’s not an age group; it’s a lifestyle,” explains Solis, adding “Generation C is anyone relying on tech.”

 

Solis is a principal analyst at Altimeter, the digital analyst group at Prophet. He’s an award-winning author, writer, and keynote speaker.  His latest book Lifescale talks about how our devices distract us. I talked to Solis about Generation C and why small business owners need to reach out to them

 

Rieva Lesonsky: What changes have you seen in Generation C since you first defined it?

 

Brian Solis: Mobile and social media have become even more profound—and consumers are much more connected. But many [businesses] haven’t embraced the concept yet.

 

Rieva Lesonsky: You say businesses aren’t in control of the touchpoints anymore—that consumers are “more empowered and creative and resourceful.” How do you get business es to recognize this?

 

Solis: [Businesses] need to think differently about catering to this group. Open-minded ones understand they’re dealing with a different, more connected type of customer.

 

And there’s a new generation of businesses—the innovators and disrupters coming into play. Companies like Uber, Postmates and DoorDash. They operate with speed and sophistication and have introduced new dynamics built around providing convenience, speed, value and personalization. Those are the pillars of experience for Gen C.

 

These innovators are disrupting all industries. They broke the mold, raised the bar and set new standards. Once customers experience these standards, they don’t want to go back. The new experience becomes the new standard.

 

And that’s the hardest part [for businesses]. Consumers base their next moves on their past experiences. Take Amazon and two-day shipping. Once customers experience it, they’re not going back. Their expectations have changed. Now, they consider two-day shipping the new standard.

 

Lesonsky: What are the common characteristics of Generation C?

 

Solis: Generation C is demanding, impatient and accidentally narcissistic. The world revolves around them and their devices. It’s all about speed. They consider impatience a virtue. [These] are their touchpoints, and we need to meet their expectations.

 

Lesonsky: Yet many businesses haven’t embraced the concept?

 

Solis: Most small businesses still operate from that traditional mindset. They’re trying to be the best chai latte place. That’s not good enough. They need to be the best chia latte place consumers find and love.

 

When Yelp first started there was a natural resistance to it among local business owners—they didn’t want people talking [negatively] about their businesses. They saw Yelp as a threat, not an opportunity to see what people think about their businesses.

adolescent-connection-discussion-1595391.jpg

When companies like DoorDash came along many restaurants wanted to pull away. They didn’t see the growth [possibilities]. They thought their job was to put butts in seats. They didn’t realize their job was also to put food in the bellies of people not sitting in their restaurants. They need to reset and ask ‘Do we need a bigger kitchen. Should we open another kitchen to serve these new customers?’

 

Lesonsky: How can a small business reach Generation C?

 

Solis: Mobile has made consumers even more self-centered. They’re searching for the ‘best…for me’. Many go on Facebook and Twitter and ask, ‘what’s the best…’ and let the lazy web solve it for them. Businesses need to cater to customers who have different needs. Small business owners need to find Generation C. Go where they go.

 

The internet has changed how consumers buy. This online decision-making is what Google calls the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT). [This is “the moment in the buying process when the consumer researches a product prior to purchase.”]

For Generation C it’s about the ultimate moment of truth, about sharing their experiences. Consumers will make different [buying] decisions based on others’ connecting the dots back to their [ZMOT].

 

Lesonsky: How can small businesses adapt?

 

Solis: It can be a challenge to [change their] mindset. But they need to be part of the discovery process. They have to become a new type of business owner. Become an innovator. And many aren’t ready for that.

 

We live in a time when it’s not good enough to have just a good business; you need to have an exceptional business where people connect and share their experiences, whether good or bad. It’s not about offering great service. You need to offer exceptional service people want to talk about.

 

Experiences are going to be shared whether good or bad. That share is the ultimate moment of truth, which becomes the next person’s zero moment of truth.

 

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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.

 

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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. 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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

Ready to sell your business? Whether you want to retire, start a different venture or just take a break for a while, this is a good time to sell, according to BizBuySell’sInsight Report. Median sales prices are at record-high levels.

 

daydreaming-desk-hair-6384.jpg

There’s a lot of preparation that goes into the selling process, says Luba Kagan, Business Development and Strategic Partners Manager at BizBuySell. One of the first questions potential buyers ask is “Is the business worthy?” You need to show that it is.

 

You’ll need to get your documents in order. In some cases, business owners have prioritized minimizing taxes and not showing profits. While this may have helped you take home more money, it’s not beneficial when you’re trying to sell. Buyers, Kagan says, will likely use standard industry formulas to evaluate the value of your business (such as multiple of earnings or multiple of sales).

 

One way to avoid this problem is planning early. If you know you’re going to sell in 3 to 5 years, Kagan advises “to start reporting your earnings with this in mind.” While you may have to pay more taxes, your business will likely sell for more.

 

Determining Your Sales Price

 

To determine a fair price, Kagan recommends starting by estimating the value of your tangible assets. Make a list of your physical assets (furnishings, fixtures, equipment and inventory) and consider their acquisition cost, age and condition when estimating their value. If these assets are close to the worth of your business, Kagan suggests it might be more cost-effective to liquidate those assets before you sell.

 

The specific financial statements you’ll need are:

 

    • Income statement with gross revenue, expenses and bottom line profits or losses
    • Cash flow statement
    • Balance sheet
    • Statement of seller’s discretionary earnings showing how much your business makes after backing out non-recurring and discretionary expenses

 

Your accountant can help you create a statement of owner’s cash flow or statement of seller’s discretionary earnings. This, says Kagan, is the basis for sale pricing and of primary interest to buyers.

 

Estimate Value Using Earnings Multiples

 

There are numerous factors that affect your multiples, including business type and location. Typically, business values range from 1- to 4-times your annual cash flow. Estimate your earnings multiplier by assessing your business in key areas, such as revenue and profit trends, products, customer base, or position in its industry. To determine an estimated sales price, multiply your seller’s discretionary earnings by your earnings multiplier.

 

Analyze the Comps

 

Compare your estimated sales price with the prices of other businesses for sale in your industry and area.

 

Closing the Sale

 

Kagan says you should create a pre-closing day checklist. Your attorney and accountant will know what specific papers you’ll need, such as the government and tax forms required by your Secretary of State, any transfer contracts and agreements, list of accounts receivables and accounts payable, loan documentation and more.

 

Kagan suggests scheduling your closing in the morning, when it’s easier to reach banks and government offices. “Aim for the last day of the quarter, month or pay period to simplify proportion of monthly expenses that transfer with the sale,” she adds.

 

Remember you and the buyer have different goals. Price is important to you, while terms and conditions are important to them. Kagan says you may be able to get the price you wantifyou provide the terms and conditions the buyer finds valuable, such as a seller financing option, or transition timing, etc.

 

If this sounds arduous, you might opt to work with a business broker. Kagan suggests checking with International Business Brokers Association, your local business brokers organization, or this list of brokers on the BizBuySell site.

 

          Related Links:

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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.

 

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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. 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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

You probably associate YouTube with music videos, children’s programming and strange influencers, yet the Alphabet property is as much a marketing channel as it is an entertainment channel.

 

black-close-up-colors-545334.jpg

Alphabet, the parent of Google and YouTube, doesn’t break out YouTube’s advertising revenues but in 2017 it  was believed to have earned about $12.4 billion from advertisers. In the first quarter of 2019 alone, a combination of YouTube and mobile search were responsible for much of Alphabet’s 17 percent growth. That was money spent by businesses looking to turn YouTube’s video views into revenue. Some of those companies would have been local—and not all local businesses on YouTube even spend money on placement.

 

Here are four ways to use YouTube for local advertising.

 

1.    Create Local Content

 

The easiest option is to create video content that appeals to your local market. This video from Del Sol Furniturelooks like the kind of commercial you might find on local cable. It picked up nearly 250 views on YouTube. That’s not much but even a 1 percent conversion rate would have been enough to give it an extra sale or two with little expense beyond the commercial itself.

 

You can be a smarter though. B&H Photo in New York City invited Austin Evans,a YouTube influencer with nearly 4 million subscribers, to tour the store after closing. Viewers got to see some cool gadgets. Evans got to shoot some good content. And the store won some free advertising. That video has clocked more than 1.25 million views. If you can turn a tour of your business into interesting content, either by shooting the video yourself or by working with an influencer, you can land some big views and plenty of new customers.

 

2.    Go Live!

 

In a recent trend report, Google noted that more and more people are watching “global cultural moments in real time.” The examples that Google gave included Felix Baumgartner’s leap from space and the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle but you don’t have to jump out of a balloon or marry into royalty to benefit from live video.

Whenever an event takes place at your business, or whenever your business takes part in an event, bring everyone with you. If you’re planning to take a stall at a fair, for example, tell your social media followers that you’ll be broadcasting from the event. Grab a camera and walk the stands. Talk to other stall holders and ask them about their products. If you’re holding a sale, broadcast from the store. Tell people what’s selling and why they should get down to your outlet fast.

 

A live video might land a small audience during the broadcast but it does bring a number of additional useful benefits. It’s interactive: viewers can use the comments to ask questions in real time. It’s urgent; anything can happen during live television. And it’s also permanent. Even live video becomes recorded video after the broadcast is over. The video just keeps on working.

 

3.    Go International

 

Over a third of the clicks on Google ads posted by U.S. businesses are generated outside the country. On average, more than 60 percent of the viewers of U.S.-made YouTube videos are outside America. Those fascinating figures are also from Google, and they show the size of the opportunity available to local companies that are willing to ship abroad.

 

Google cites a South Dakota bicycle-maker and a Maryland bow tie-maker as two examples of local businesses that use YouTube to reach customers overseas.

Clearly, this isn’t going to be a solution for everyone. A wedding photographer will only have a small market but even local manufacturers can export if they’re willing to figure out the logistics. YouTube’s borderless reach gives those companies access to new international markets.

 

4.    It Pays to Advertise

 

Finally, there’s always advertising. The advantage is that you don’t have to build an audience for your YouTube videos. You can just benefit from someone else’s audience. The disadvantage is that you pay for the placement and you have to be careful with your targeting to make sure that you’re only showing your ads to people who genuinely want to see them.

 

You also need to choose which kinds of ads to buy. Skippable ads are user-friendly. They let viewers scroll past after a few seconds. You need to give viewers a reason to keep watching as early as possible. Non-skippable ads force viewers to watch to the end. They deliver the message and tend to have high engagement levels but also a high abandonment rate.

 

“These ads also tend to get a bad rap because they seem forceful,” says marketing expert Neil Patel. “But, if your ads are good and targeted effectively, they don’t need to represent trouble. In fact, good ads will be shared on social media for entertainment purposes in their own right.” Get Started.

 

Start by creating your own content and building your audience on YouTube. Broadcast a live video to deepen engagement. Look for opportunities to make international sales. And once you’ve got the hang of video making and winning audiences, look for places to advertise and deliver the messages that turn YouTube viewers into your new customers.

 

                   Related Links

 

About Joel Comm

 

Screen Shot 2019-02-08 at 9.16.44 AM.png

As an Internet pioneer, Joel has been creating profitable websites, software, products and helping entrepreneurs succeed since 1995. He has been at the frontlines of live video online since 2008 and has a deep expertise in using tools such as Facebook Live, Periscope, Instagram or Snapchat to broadcast a clearly defined message to a receptive audience or leveraging the power of webinar and meeting technologies.

 

Joel is a New York Times best-selling author of 15 books, including “The AdSense Code,” “Click Here to Order: Stories from the World’s Most Successful Entrepreneurs,” “KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays and Twitter Power 3.0.” He is Co-Host of The Bad Crypto Podcast one of the top crypto-related shows in the world and has spoken before thousands of people around the world and seeks to inspire, equip and entertain.

 

Web: https://joelcomm.com/ or Twitter: @JoelComm

Read more from Joel Comm

 

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

When I was in law school, I took a class on how to run your own law office, and the topic on everyone’s mind was: where in the heck will we get clients?

 

A few years later, as I started my own business, the question was the same: where would I get clients? I began to interview every successful solopreneur I knew, and essentially, their ideas boiled down to:

cameras-composition-data-1483937.jpg

 

  • Networking
  • Advertising, and
  • Networking some more

 

While that might seem like pretty thin advice, back then, those truly were the options. And somehow I made it.

 

The good news is that these days there is no shortage of places to get viable leads, and most are highly effective andquite affordable. You know the drill: Google ads, e-newsletters, Facebook ads and campaigns, tweets and blog specials, yadda, yadda, yadda.

 

Is there anything new under the sun? Yes. If I was to give a new entrepreneur advice today on where to get leads and find clients, I would point to three very viable, but a tad under-the-radar options:

 

1. Craigslist: Sure we all know, love, and use Craigslist to get rid of the old stuff in the garage (or buy new old stuff for the garage) but you make a mistake if you discount what a great resource the site is for business leads.

 

First of all, the Jobs listings are a virtual cornucopia of business leads. Yes, of course, jobs are listed, but so too are part-time gigs, contract positions, requests for proposals and the like. Beyond that, there is also, in fact, a listing called “Gigs,” and then, beyond that,  an area listing for “Services.” And if you sell a product, and list it for sale in the right area, it will prompt more leads and potential customers.

 

Best of all: It’s free.

 

2. Project bidding sites: I would have loved these sorts of sites if they were around when I was still practicing law: Sites like Upwork,Guru,Freelancer, etc. These sites are amazing, listing tens of thousands of contract opportunities a day for the self-employed and other small business people to bid on.

 

Let’s take Upwork for example. Upwork is a fantastic all-in-one solution for corporations and contractors. Corporate clients list projects through the platform, and the contractors then bid on those projects and use the Upwork virtual workplace and guaranteed payment system to complete the work. Pretty cool.

 

Bottom line: There are thousands of companies who not only need your help but are actively seeking it out on these sites. It is your job to get on these platforms, let them know you are out there and get some of this available work.

 

3. LinkedIn: Sure you have a LinkedIn account and maybe you even have a couple of hundred contacts. But do you use them? Have you ever really considered what an incredible resource and opportunity LinkedIn is?

 

Consider my pal, a San Francisco entrepreneur who gets all of his business through LinkedIn: He scours the site looking for potential partners and other people with whom he would either like to do business with or to whom he would like to sell his services. He then finds out who he knows on the site who knows these folks and gets personal introductions. He then meets these leads and closes the deal, or not, but he sure does save time and money.

 

And that is the beauty of LinkedIn. What is the point of having all of these contacts if you don’t use them? So use them. Here’s how:

 

LinkedIn has a very powerful feature that lets you search for people by name, industry, title, keyword, region, company and more. Do that, and not only do you get a list of viable leads, but you also get a list of people you know who know these people. And since nothing beats a word-of-mouth introduction, a LinkedIn lead is often a hot lead. And away you go.

 

So happily, gone are the days when you had to either network (the old fashioned way), or advertise your way to success. These days, there are a lot more and better, options available.

 

    Related Links

 

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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 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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

One of the best ways to get more customers for your small business is by cross-promoting with other small businesses. Big companies cross-promote all the time (such as fast-food operators offering kiddie toys to promote the latest superhero movie), but small businesses can do it, too.

advice-colleagues-communication-1161465.jpg

 

Why should your small business consider cross-promoting?

 

  • It gives you credibility. Your partner company’s customers will trust you because the partner is recommending you.
  • By sharing the cost of marketing and advertising, you’ll reduce your marketing budget.
  • You can benefit from your partner’s strengths and experience.

 

One of the biggest benefits of cross-promotion has nothing to do with sales. Running a small business can be hard and lonely, and working with another business owner who understands your challenges and can share the load makes everything feel easier.

 

Where to find cross-promotion partners

 

Your cross-promotion partners should target the same customer base and be complementary to your business but not competing. For example, a children’s hair salon and a children’s clothing store are natural partners. So are a website design firm and a marketing copywriting business.

 

Select people you can trust and who share similar business values. Working with business owners you already know or getting references from trusted colleagues can help.

 

You can find partners through your Chamber of Commerce, social networks and local business networking groups. Alignable, a social network specifically for small businesses, can be a great way to connect. The founders started Alignable to give small business owners “an easy way to meet the other business owners on their street.” Today the company has over 3 million members.

 

Your community may also have local business organizations such as this club for women business owners in Chicago’s Logan Square neighborhood. If it doesn’t, consider starting one. The founders of Ladies of Logan Square—small business owners Kelly Marie Thompson and Mary Nisi—started their organization to help highlight the area’s female small business owners.

 

The founders say they had “trouble finding the time to network and collaborate with other business owners on top of all of their work and family obligations.” They told Block Club Chicago, they wanted to “create a community of ‘badass’ women” and give “women who have smaller companies. … an opportunity to get their name out there.”

 

Ideas for cross-promotion

 

Once you’ve found your partner/s, develop a plan together for your cross-promotion efforts. What are your goals? How will you measure success? What’s your budget?

Then brainstorm ideas. Here are 20 ideas to get you started:

 

      1. Do joint print advertising, such as mailers, postcards, or local newspaper or magazine ads.
      2. Host an event that appeals to all your customers.
      3. Display one another’s marketing materials.
      4. Give your customers your partner’s brochures or coupons when they check out of your store or packaged with their online order.
      5. Promote each other on social media to expose your business to a new audience of local customers.
      6. Support a charity together. Get your customers involved in volunteering or donating.
      7. Hold a joint contest.
      8. Link to one another’s websites. You can even create a section on your website and link to local businesses you recommend (making sure they link to yours, too).
      9. Offer a discount when a customer shows a receipt from the other’s business.
      10. Bundle your products and services. A website designer and a marketing copywriter could offer bundled services, for example.
      11. Do joint publicity. Team up to reach out to the media about a relevant topic.
      12. Conduct a survey and share the results to get publicity for your businesses.
      13. Produce co-branded marketing content, such as videos, e-books or white papers.
      14. Team up to write an article for an industry publication.
      15. Create and host a webinar together.
      16. Host a joint podcast.
      17. Write guest posts for your partner’s blog.
      18. Promote your partner in your email newsletter. Include an easy way for recipients to sign up for the partner’s email newsletter.
      19. Mail to your partner’s email newsletter list.
      20. Set up a system to refer relevant customers to your partner.

 

Ideas for cross-promotion are limited only by your imagination. Put your heads together and you’ll soon have double the sales success.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

 

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

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.

 

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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Rieva Lesonsky is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Rieva Lesonsky. 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. ©2018 Bank of America Corporation

People only read an average of 19 minutes a day, including texts, emails, social media posts, and books. As important as written communications are, other mediums are on the rise in terms of capturing attention from potential customers. Today I want to talk about video. YouTube serves over 1 billion hours of video a day and climbing. Most of the world consumes more video. So, are you using video to earn more small business customers?

 

16mm-lens-a6400-camera-2745106.jpg

One detail about your business that I see entrepreneurs underestimate is that what you do is often more interesting than you think. Okay, it’s true: Some of you have boring businesses. No one would ever want to watch a video of someone filling out an insurance form. But that doesn’t mean the information you know can’t be made interesting. There are tons of videos like this that prove the point.

 

Often times, what you sell can be interesting. I saw this swell video about coffee making. Or if you prefer beer, here’s my pal Sam Calagione walking you through one of Dogfish Head’s beers being made.

 

Video Isn’t SUPER Hard Once You Break It Down

 

To make video, you need only a few tools and a little bit of creativity. For instance, you don’t need a lot of tech. Your smartphone and the camera built into your laptop is a decent start. Let’s talk tech first and then production.

 

Tech

 

    • Something to shoot with - use your smartphone and laptop camera to start
    • Lighting - you can use something as tiny as this Lume Cube Air or get a little more fancy with a ring light kit
    • Editing - use iMovie on a Mac or Microsoft Photos on a PC
    • Music - if you want to get a little more fancy, get a subscription to epidemicsound.com and throw that into the mix.

 

Production

 

Video needs to serve your buyer. If you want to do a behind-the-scenes video on how your shop bakes wedding cakes, people will love it. If you want to interview your air conditioner installers to show what separates you from the competition is service, that’s great.

 

Start with a story. “I’m going to interview the president and a couple employees about a typical day here at the fish market.” From this, you can start to figure out what you’ll need. Obviously, you’ll need the interview video footage. You’ll also want some clips of the market, some of the workers doing their jobs, and so on. But what should you shoot?

 

My favorite secret to teaching people how to make videos for work is to look at and break down other videos to get a sense for what reallywent into making it. Scroll back up to the coffee making video above. Count how many clips of video show up in the first five seconds. I got 6 or 7. (That’s a little more than one clip per second.)

 

Your first recording/production tip is this: shoot lots and lots of tiny clipsof video to go with the longer ones. Get lots of angles, zoomed in and out, and use them to enhance the story. Notice in the coffee video, the clips showed loose grounds, then a menu sign (I’d have put that in somewhere else), then tamped down grounds, then coffee poured in, then steam coming out of the espresso machine.

 

Editing is Where It’s At

 

Once you shoot all the video clips you need, toss them into iMovie or Microsoft Photos (open a new project and you’ll see where to drag everything). This is the editing phase. (You can ask YouTube for a few tutorials on either software. There are literally thousands of videos to help you.)

 

Trim the clips to grab only the action you need. Phil DeFranco explains why jump cuts are important in this video. It’s what separates out useful video from “just a bit too long” video.

 

If you decide to add some music underneath clips, you might do two things: 1.) lower the music clips when people are speaking and 2.) lower the sound on your video clips if it doesn’t add to the experience. (That’s the very basics of sound editing in a few sentences.)

 

How Long Should Your Videos Be?

 

There are a few “magical” lengths of video to consider.

 

    • 30 seconds - 1 minute - this will get the most views.
    • 1 - 3 minutes - most people want nothing more than this.
    • 10 minutes plus - now you have a “show” length. People love shows, if they already have a video consumption habit. 

 

Notice what’s missing? The middle. Between 3 and 10. That’s the weird “people don’t watch these as often” times. Why that is the case is still up for debate.

 

Upload and Share

 

I post my videos to a few different places. I post to YouTube because it is, by far, the most used video service in the world. I add my videos to LinkedIn because they’re investing heavily in showing off video right now. I sometimes post to Facebook. I link to my YouTube account via Twitter, and I post some of my videos on my business website.

 

People’s number one protest to me about making and posting video is that THEY don’t watch videos online.

 

1.  Usually, people under-report how much video they actually watch, forgetting everything they scroll through on Facebook.

2.   Even if YOU don’t watch a lot of video, people of Earth do.

3.   Maybe you should watch more video.

 

There’s gold in here. It takes practice, but not as much as you’d think. Peek at some of my videos. They’re simple as anything. Often just talking head videos. But they serve my business well. You can do the same for yours!

 

Related Links

 

About Chris Brogan

 

chris-brogan-headshot.jpg

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.

 

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

Do you remember the first season of the podcast Serial, way back in 2014? Not only was it a captivating story, but the show launched podcasting into the stratosphere, becoming “an event.”

audio-b-device-55800.jpg

 

The lone advertiser at the beginning of that season, MailChimp, never expected to be part of a cultural phenomenon, but undoubtedly were quite happy with podcasts’ popularity.  To date, the first two seasons of Serialhave been downloaded – wait for it – 340 million times.

 

To say podcasts are hot now would be an understatement. Consider these stats from Edison Research:

 

    • About 50 million people listen to podcasts each week
    • They typically listen to five shows during the week
    • The average podcast listener subscribes to six different podcasts

 

I have been podcasting my popular show Small Business with Steve Strauss for over six years, a long time in the short history of podcasting. Moreover, my content business has now added podcasting as something we offer clients, it has become that popular.

 

You can also check out Steve Strauss on “The Heartbeat of Main Street,” a collaborative podcast between Bank of America and ForbesBooks.

 

From a small business perspective, I am a fan for a very good reason: Podcasting works. It gets your name, business and brand out there, and it does so in a way that is unique and memorable, a difficult achievement in this media-saturated world.

 

There are two ways to use podcasts to grow your business. You can start your own podcast, or you can advertise on someone else’s show. Let’s look at both:

 

Should you start a podcast?

 

There are plenty of good reasons to do so:

 

1. It builds the brand. With so many people listening to podcasts, hosting a show can help establish you as a “thought leader” and thus is a great way to get you and your business in front of a new audience.

 

Moreover, if you read my stuff with any consistency (and thank you if you do!), you know one of my main marketing maxims is to mix it up. Trying a new marketing trick gets your business in front of new people, and that equals new growth.

 

2. It is an excellent way to network: That same Edison Research survey states that podcast listeners listen to an entire show 85% of the time. People listen attentively and react. Where else do you get someone’s uninterrupted online attention for so long? Right, nowhere. Your listeners will want to network with you too.

 

Moreover, if your show would interview industry experts, then that is a powerful way to, well, meet industry experts.

 

3. It’s easy and affordable: There are two ways to launch and run a podcast: You can either do it yourself or hire someone to help you. Both are easy and affordable.

 

Let’s start with hired help. I have a great podcast producer who helps me book guests and does all the tech stuff. We record the show and interviews in his studio, he edits it, and then uploads it to iTunes, my website, and so on. A Google or Craigslist search will help you find an audio engineer in your area.

 

The other way to go is DIY.  Here, you need to choose the right app that works for you, invest in some basic sound equipment (like a great mic), and start recording. Your options include:

 

1.     Anchor.fm

2.     Garage Band (on a Mac)

3.     Adobe Audition

4.     Audacity

 

Advertising on someone else’s show

 

I love this option  almost more because it is just so potent. If the good news of podcasting is that they are so popular, the bad news is that they are so popular.

 

You can simply find a show that caters to your audience and advertise there. That show has already done all the heavy lifting, and yet, because it is such a niche audience, the fees should be very reasonable. Since you will be in front of people like your customers, and because the host would likely read your ad, your results should be excellent.

 

If you’re interested in advertising on a podcast you could reach out directly to podcasts you like or get in touch with a network like Stitcher, Gimlet or others to look into the cost of ads and where your target audience is most likely to be listening.

 

You will likely not become the next MailChimp on the next Serial, but who cares? Podcasting can drive leads and build awareness among a new audience, so start mixing it up.

 

About Steve Strauss

 

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngSteven 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 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 informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Steve Strauss is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles 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.  ©2019 Bank of America Corporation

Filter Article

By tag: