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In a world where consumers and B2B buyers alike have hundreds of choices available at the tap of a touchscreen, customer service is becoming a key differentiator for businesses. In Microsoft’s most recent State of Global Customer Service Report, 61 percent say customer service is very important; in fact, bad service caused 60 percent to stop doing business from companies in the past.

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.png

 

How can you provide the kind of customer service that gets customers talking (in a good way) about your business and keeps them coming back? Start by unders

tanding the No. 1 thing your customers want from customer service: convenience.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Convenience likely means different things to different customers. To ensure you’re delivering the convenience your customers want, you need to know their demographics, key concerns and preferred communication methods. However, no matter what target market your business serves, convenient customer service basically boils down to four factors:

 

Speed. Rapid resolution of problems and complaints is crucial to providing customer satisfaction. That starts with responding to them quickly. In the Microsoft survey, for example, 57 percent of consumers say they’re not willing to wait more than five minutes on hold to speak to a customer service rep. Whether you handle customer service via email, phone, chat or some combination of the above, make sure you have adequate support to handle your customer load.

 

Consistency. Today, your customers want to do business with you wherever and whenever they please—online, in pe

rson or over the phone. They expect their experience with your business to be seamless. They don’t like having to repeat the same information they entered online on the phone, or struggle to pick up a package they ordered online in your store. Look for customer relationship management tools that help you maintain information about customers in a central, web-based location so you and your customer service reps can access it wherever you are.

 

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Flexibility. For a 22-year-old, convenience is being able to text a company’s customer service department. For an 82-year-old, texting is the opposite of convenient—he wants to call you and get a live person, not a voicemail menu. To ensure all your customers have a positive opinion of your service, provide a variety of ways for them to contact your customer service team. That might include phone, email, chat, text or even social media. When customers have the option to reach out to you in the way that’s easiest for them—you’re starting the customer service interaction off on the right foot.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: When it Comes to Marketing—Timing is Everything

 

Proactivity. More than three-fourths (77 percent) of consumers in the Microsoft survey have a positive opinion of companies offering proactive customer service notifications. After all, what’s more convenient than having a business take care of customer service issues before they even arise? Provide online training videos, how-to guides, or FAQs on your website to help customers better use your product or service. Create an online knowledge base or user board to help them resolve their own questions. Send customers automatic notifications when products need to be refilled, equipment needs to be serviced, or upgrades are available. Consumers will love it when you do the work for them.

 

Customer service is becoming a more important factor in business success. Fortunately, by providing the convenience customers crave, you can make your business stand out in a positive way.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhether your business is B2B or B2C, summer calls for special marketing ideas. With summer fun on customers’ minds, it's a good time to loosen up, get creative with your marketing mix and experiment a little. Here are 13 fun summer marketing ideas to try.

 

Summer events

1. Every community has its share of summer events, whether it's a downtown July 4th celebration, a 10K run or a beachfront craft fair. Find a summer event that resonates with your target market and get your business involved. You can sponsor the event, rent a booth or hand out product samples—whatever works for your business there is likely an opportunity.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Host your own summer event. Customers have more time to socialize in the summer, so invite them to an event at your business (or outdoors, to take advantage of the weather). Keep it fun and entertaining—instead of serious gatherings like workshops for B2B clients, host a happy hour, outdoor dinner at a local restaurant or beach barbecue. A beauty salon could partner with a clothing boutique and host a summer fashion show featuring the hottest hairstyles, makeup trends and outfits.

 

3. Give away tickets to a local summer event. Is your community home to an annual music festival, car show or other popular event? Take advantage of the event's popularity by purchasing some tickets and giving them away in a contest.

 

4. Print calendars that highlight summer events in your town. Target the calendars to your customer base—if your business sells toys or children's clothing, feature fun family events; if you own a personal training business, feature fitness-related events. Whenever your customers check their calendars, they’ll think of your business.

 

Get outside

5. People spend more time outdoors in the summer, so if your business is in a location with lots of foot traffic, use summer-themed posters, banners and window displays to get attention. If your business isn't near a high-traffic area, place outdoor banners advertising your business in parts of town that do get a lot of traffic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHEN IT COMES TO MARKETING—TIMING IS EVERYTHING

 

6. Have a sidewalk sale. Join other business owners near your location and organize a sidewalk sale or “taste of” event, for example, where retailers promote sale items outdoors and restaurants sell samples of their signature dishes.

 

7. Take a road trip. A B2B business can go on a “road trip” to visit key customers and share their adventures on social media. A B2C business can go mobile with a cart, booth or display at sports arenas or community events.

 

34737923_s.jpgVacation time

8. Get your customers engaged on social media by holding vacation photo contests. Share your own vacation photos and those of your staff, and ask your customers to share theirs with your business hashtag or contest hashtag.

 

9. Entertain the kids. Summer vacation for kids can mean endless cries of “I’m bored!”. If appropriate for your business, hold classes or workshops for children to learn new skills, such as cooking or crafting, with supplies purchased from your store.

 

10. Target tourists. If your business is near a tourist area, print up brochures and postcards you can place at local visitors’ centers, hotels and other places travelers frequent.

 

Heat up your product mix

11. Plan summer-themed giveaways of seasonal promotional products, such as beach towels, reusable water bottles, portable mini-fans or sunglasses with your company name and logo on them.

 

12. Create summer-only products. Tempt customer with limited-time products. Develop special menu items for your restaurant or fun summer drink specials for your bar.

 

13. Put together summer-only packages. Package products or services to appeal to customers’ summer needs. For example, a beauty salon could offer a pre-beach package: a spray tan and pedicure. A gas station or automotive shop could sell compact first-aid kits for summer road trips.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN,The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot New.pngIn an age when most of us spend a little too much time on screens (guilty as charged!), it is no wonder that small businesses seem to have finally read the memo that marketing today equals digital. 

 

That said, for some business owners, digital marketing remains a bit of a challenge. However, even though digital technology tends to feel like a very specialized skill, the good news is that that is only a façade. It really is not that difficult. It just takes a plan and some time.


CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

All of this begs the question: What works? Here is our list of the four most important digital marketing techniques:

 

1. Website: Yes, you must have a great website for your business. Period.

 

OK, with that out of the way, the next most important factor is that this is a place to not skimp - to do it right, and create something that is special and compelling. Your website is that important. It is the main portal where people find you today. Yours must therefore be clean, attractive, functional, easy-to-use, intuitive and informative. If a website looks cheap, the business looks cheap.

 

And don’t try to tackle this one yourself. Hire a designer, or find a reputable online point-and-click website design partner.

 

Additionally, and just as importantly, be sure that your website is mobile friendly. More and more people are accessing the Internet through their handheld devices:

 

  • Half of all searches are now done on a mobile device
  • According to Google, 61 percent of users will not return to a website that doesn’t load properly on their mobile device, and
  • 40 percent of those users will surf on over to a competitor’s website.

 

Digital marketing today means having a great, fast, mobile-optimized website.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: MOBILE MARKETING MADE EASY

 

2. SEO/Pay-Per-Click: Most consumers will begin online with a simple search (48 percent of users, in fact.) What this means is that you must invest a little time and money in your search engine optimization (SEO).  This means that you need to make sure that your website shows up in search engine inquiries by:

 

  • Creating specific pages that you want found
  • Including keywords in your website’s title pages and content
  • Using a good SEO plugin to analyze your pages and site

 

If you’re OK with spending some money, you should also consider pay-per-click (PPC) advertising. These are the ads that appear at the top and bottom of search engine results.

 

43380028_s.jpgEven if you don’t get organic SEO Page 1 Google rankings, with PPC you can buy your way there. How amazing is that?

 

The beauty of pay-per-click, as the name suggests, is that you only have to pay when a user clicks on your ad. This is perhaps one of the most important things you can do to increase website traffic, and ultimately increase revenue.

 

Google has a great SEO guide here.

 

3. Content marketing: Content creation is a powerful way to attract people to your website and social sites. Content creation can include anything from blog posts, to YouTube videos, email newsletters, and so on. The wider the array, the better the exposure.

 

The key is to create great content and have some of it link back to your site. Voila! Content marketing made simple.

 

4. Social media: Developing a robust social media presence is, as you know, one of the most important ways for you to communicate with your customers and spread your brand digitally. It is also a powerful way to keep current customers engaged, reach out to new ones, collect feedback, advertise events, and more. 

 

Additionally, if you are trying to connect your business with Millennials, then social media will be even more important – 81 percent of Millennials go on Twitter at least once a day, for example.

 

Can’t or don’t want to do all of this posting and clicking and blogging and tweeting yourself? No problem.

 

Hire a Millennial to do it for you.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngTiming is everything—at least when you’re creating marketing campaigns. In fact, as mobile devices and social media connect consumers with brands and businesses 24/7, timing becomes even more important.

 

Consider these factors when deciding on the timing of your marketing promotions.

 

How long is the decision-making process? How long do your prospects typically take to go through the sales funnel from considering buying a product/service, to researching the field, to making a purchase? If you sell software to large corporations, your sales cycle could be 6 t0 12 months, or more. However, if you own a restaurant, the decision process, from consumers deciding to go out to eat to choosing a location, could take minutes.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

What are you trying to accomplish? For marketing campaigns with ongoing goals, such as increasing brand awareness, timing may not matter as much. However, if your campaign has a time-related goal, such as attracting more customers to your restaurant for your lunch specials or selling all your boutique’s winter sweaters before spring, timing is critical.

 

Is this a seasonal promotion? For marketing tied to a specific date or time frame—such as the holiday shopping season or Father’s Day—first, find out when customers typically begin shopping for the event. If, for instance, most people don’t shop for Father’s Day until the week before, marketing efforts six weeks out are a waste of money. Combine your customer data from past years with information from industry associations and trade publications to pinpoint the best timing.

 

What media do you plan to use? Lead times vary depending on the specific medium you choose. For television or radio advertising, for example, you will need to build in time to develop, record and edit your ad. For print advertising, you’ll need to create ads to fit different publications’ specifications and meet their print deadlines (which often are months earlier than the actual publication date). Allow time for copywriting, design and other creative work. Contact the media outlet for a media kit and other advertiser information.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: MOBILE MARKETING MADE EASY

 

On the other hand, pay-per-click ads, social media posts or advertising, and text message marketing can be created on the spot, making them ideal for timely promotions. For instance, if your store sells umbrellas and there’s a sudden downpour, quickly create posts or texts promoting the umbrellas and send them to your customer list. Is your restaurant having a slow day? Send a text message promotion about Happy Hour to attract people after work.

 

27490300_s.jpgWho are your target customers? Each demographic has its own habits when it comes to engaging with advertising and marketing. Millennials are likely to view your emails, online videos or social media posts on their smartphones, and be more responsive to digital marketing. Baby boomers are more likely than younger customers to watch TV and read newspapers, making these better marketing channels for this demo. Find out from your customers the media they spend the most time with. 

 

When are your customers paying attention? Ask the media you’re considering when your target customers are most likely to be watching/reading/listening. 

 

As for social media posts and email promotions, there are numerous studies—which all seem to contradict each other—about the best times, days and frequencies to post on social media or send emails. The only way to really know what timing works best is to test and monitor your results.

 

For television, radio or print advertising, code your ads to track which ones get the best results. For social media marketing and email marketing, use your platform’s analytics tools to see which days, times and frequencies attract the most attention — and convert the most customers.

 

By choosing the right timing for each marketing method and goal, your small business can achieve better results for each dollar you spend.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering Americas 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 Administrations 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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Steve Strauss Headshot.pngHow big is the screen where you spend most of your time online these days? If you are like most of us, you are probably guilty of spending a little too much time on your phone or tablet.

 

And that, my friends, is exactly why mobile marketing is so important.

 

While mobile marketing can certainly open a lot of doors, for a lot of entrepreneurs, it also poses a challenge. For many (well, maybe not you, millennials!) small screen digital marketing is a specialized skill that is not always easy to master.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT STEVE STRAUSS

 

Don’t know where to start? Don’t worry, we’ve made it easy for you:

 

Make sure your website is mobile friendly: With an increasing number of consumers using their mobile devices, it is imperative that you have your website “mobile-optimized.” Even if you aren’t selling retail merchandise, your website is still the first place users will go if they need information about your business.  According to Google, 61 percent of users will most likely not return to a website if it doesn’t load properly, while 40 percent of those users will visit a competitor’s website instead. This is a huge chunk of your potential customer base, so make sure your website is ready for action.

 

Stay active on social media: Having a developed social media presence is one of the best ways for you to connect directly with your mobile customers. It is a great way to keep current customers engaged, reach out to new customers, collect feedback, advertise sales or events, further establish your brand, and so forth.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: WHY LOCAL SEO MATTERS MORE THAN EVER (AND 4 STEPS TO SUCCESS)

 

Social media is especially important if you are trying to reach out to millennials – for example, 81 percent of millennials go on Twitter at least once a day. More importantly, about 80 percent of total time spent on social media happens on mobile devices.

 

Create a text campaign: Text campaigns are becoming one of the more popular and successful forms of mobile marketing. Businesses use text marketing to offer promotions, sales, coupons, free trials, etc., and it is an incredibly effective way to drive sales and create that all-important engagement.

 

It’s easy to get started. A simple “text campaign” Google search will provide you with dozens of text services you can sign up for, some more expensive than others (depending on what you’re looking for). Some notable ones include ActiveCampaign, Mozeo, Mail Chimp, and SlickText. The key is to create a compelling campaign and offer so much so that your customers will agree to let you text them, or they will want to text you (i.e., you get them to “opt-in”).

 

A few golden rules are:

 

  • Offer real benefits
  • Send out texts at regular hours
  • Don’t text too often

 

58624169_s.jpgStay on top of SEO and mobile advertising: 48 percent of users begin mobile research with a simple search. This means that you should invest some time and money in your search engine optimization (SEO).  An easy first step is to include keywords in your title pages; words you know people will be searching for. This will increase the likelihood that your website gets seen. There are many elements to optimizing your search engine results (too many to list here) so it might be wise to do a little research on your own. Google has a great SEO guide, found here.

 

The other option, aside from organic SEO, is to buy ads that will appear at the top of mobile search results. Google AdWords is an excellent service for this, and you only have to pay when a user clicks your ad. This is a sure-fire way to increase website traffic, and ultimately expand your customer base

 

Given that a majority of millennials are looking to grow their businesses right now (according to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report), reaching them where they spend their time makes a lot of sense.

 

It’s time to market mobile.

 

About Steve Strauss

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 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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngUnderstanding consumer behavior—what your target customers think and feel and how they buy—helps you better market your business. Here are the top priorities today’s consumers seek every small business owner should understand.

 

1. Personalization. Once upon a time, you could group consumers broadly by age groups, such as the 18- to 54-year-old TV viewer. Those days are long gone. Even within demographic groups, such as millennials, Generation X, baby boomers, women or Hispanics, there are multiple subgroups that exhibit very different behavior. To capture today’s consumers, you need to understand each customer niche you cater to and target your marketing directly to their interests, needs and concerns.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Experiences. Consumers of all age groups are placing value on experiences over things. More than half of customers in a McKinsey survey say if they had extra income (after buying necessities) they would spend it on vacations, while over 40 percent would spend the extra money on entertainment and/or eating in restaurants. This is good news if you sell experiences. However, if you sell products, you’ll need to provide a customer experience that’s exciting enough to separate shoppers from their dollars.

 

3. Savings. The Great Recession may be over, but it forever changed the way consumers buy. Shoppers simply expect competitive pricing, discounts and deals, according to Mintel’s North America 17 Consumer Trends report. Sales, promotions and coupons will all resonate with consumers. To encourage repeat customers, set up loyalty programs that let you tailor offers to customers’ past purchasing behavior.

 

4. Convenience. Sure, consumers want to save money, but they also want to save time. Speed and convenience are now baseline expectations when shopping. Many consumers are more willing to spend extra for products or services that make their lives easier. Promote ways your business can help consumers save time, spend more time with their families or get something done more efficiently.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE ONGOING DEBATE: SHOULD YOU FOCUS ON WINNING NEW CUSTOMERS OR RETAINING LOYAL CUSTOMERS?

 

5. Authenticity. Euromonitor says today's “new consumer” has replaced conspicuous consumption with conscious consumption. Consumers want to do business with companies that share their values. For many, environmental sustainability and authenticity are key deciding factors in their purchasing behaviors.

 

57050546_s.jpg6. Transparency. Consumers expect the companies they do business with to be ethical and open about their business practices, whether that’s how they treat their employees or where the materials for their products are sourced.

 

7. Little luxuries. Overall, consumers are still counting their pennies when it comes to product purchases—but there are a few key areas where they are more likely to be “trading up.” McKinsey says consumers are willing to spend more money for premium products, particularly on alcoholic beverages and personal-care products. More than half of consumers in Nielsen’s Global Premiumization Report say buying premium goods makes them feel good; half say it makes them feel confident. Millennials, in particular, prefer premium products.

 

8. Self-directed shopping. Consumers are relying less on salespeople and advertising to guide their purchasing. Two-thirds (66 percent) of consumers in a Deloitte study say they prefer a self-directed shopping journey, up from 30 percent in 2014. Fewer than 30 percent say advertising influences their purchasing, compared to 70 percent in 2014. Don’t worry: You can still influence consumers. You just need to alter your tactics a bit and use social media, search engine optimization and online reviews to capture their attention throughout their shopping journey.

 

9. A mobile-first experience. Mobile devices and especially mobile search have become essential to the shopping experience. Even among non-millennials, 78 percent use digital devices multiple times during the average shopping trip, Deloitte says. With all age groups searching, browsing and buying on mobile devices, and Google using mobile-friendliness as part of determining a website’s page rank, a mobile-first business website is a must.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Ebong Eka

Beware the Nickel & Dimers

Posted by Ebong Eka May 10, 2017

Small business expert Ebong Eka offers tips on how to manage clients attempting to nickel and dime your business.

 

 

If you have questions for Ebong, please scroll down and ask in the comment below. Ebong will do his best to respond.

 

 


 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngWhat is local search engine optimization (SEO) and why is it so important to small businesses?

 

While SEO optimizes your website so it will rank higher in search results, local SEO ensures your business shows up when people search for companies like yours, specifically in your local area. Local SEO is an important marketing tool for any small business targeting a local customer base.

 

Basically, to increase customer visits to your location, you need to be doing local SEO.

 

Local SEO is becoming more important because more people now search for businesses, products and services on mobile devices. When a prospect searches via smartphone, Google takes the phone’s location into consideration when displaying search results. That gives businesses using local SEO an edge.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

Local SEO can offer many benefits, including:

  • Putting your small business on equal footing with your biggest competitors.
  • Reaching the specific target audience you want—nearby prospects.
  • Grabbing prospects at the exact moment they’re looking for what you’re selling.
  • It’s free!

 

Here's how to implement local SEO for your business.

 

Step 1. Claim your business listing on local search directories.

Begin with Google My Business; then move on to other directories such as Bing Places for Business, Citysearch, MerchantCircle, Yelp and Superpages. Also add any region-specific or industry-specific directories you can think of, such as Angie’s List. You may find a directory has already created a barebones listing for your business; go ahead and claim it (it’s free).

 

Step 2. Claim and optimize your directory listings.

Start with the basic information prospects will use when deciding whether to visit your business—address, phone number, hours of operation and website URL. If you have more than one business location, you will need a separate directory listing for each; this helps improve your search engine rankings.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE DOS AND DON’TS OF CONNECTING WITH INFLUENCERS ONLINE

 

It’s critical for your business name, address and phone number (NAP) information to be completely consistent across the various directories.  In other words, if your business is on 42nd Avenue, don’t spell it Av. in one listing, Avenue in another and Ave. in a third. Inconsistent entries confuse search engines and lower your ranking.

 

26897182_s.jpgOnce you’ve got the basics covered, go back to the listings and add details to convince customers to patronize your business. This might include photos of your location or products, menus, current promotions or seasonal hours.

 

Finally, make sure to categorize your listing under the proper type/s of business. (Most search directories allow this.) Proper categorization helps to deliver more accurate search results to users.

 

Step 3. Optimize your website for local search.

For even better results, you’ll want to implement local SEO on your website, too. Start by including your business address in the footer of the home page, on the Contact Us page and anywhere else it’s appropriate. Then add location-specific keywords (such as your neighborhood, city, county or state) in your website’s meta tags, title tags, descriptions and content.

 

Step 4. Keep your information up-to-date.

To get the most from local SEO, you need to maintain current listings on local search directories. Once a month, review your listings and make sure all the information is still accurate. Update as needed—for example, add recent photos or new specials. (Your webhosting company may be able to handle this for you as an added service, so you don’t have to visit hundreds of local search directories and update them by hand.)

 

Refreshing your content gets search engines’ attention and improves your standing in search results.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com. A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Carol Roth Headshot.pngTechnology – for better or for worse – has created the ability for you to connect with almost anyone, whether it’s a business professional you admire, a peer you desire to partner with or a potential future investor. In the movie “Wall Street,” Bud Fox had to regularly call Gordon Gekko’s assistant to try to get into the door. Nowadays, you can tweet, follow, “friend” and comment your way into a dialogue with just about anybody, including those people who can help you and your business.

 

However, when it comes to making those connections, far more people are bad at taking advantage of the opportunity than are good.

 

There is a protocol to getting noticed if you are looking to establish a relationship. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts that can help you meaningfully connect with influencers.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT CAROL ROTH

 

Don’t lead with an ask: Do not ask for something in your first few interactions. Building a relationship takes time and if you truly need assistance, insight or even some swag, influencers will be much more inclined to do so if you have done something for them first or at least built up a relationship.

 

Do be helpful: Offering your help and advice for a cause or endeavor important to an influencer is a good way to earn brownie points. If you comment on their blog, share their tweets, buy their book and send them a note about it or find other ways to be helpful, it can be a great way to build up trust with the influencer. But do it authentically. It’s obvious when someone sends an email saying they love your blog but clear they aren’t an avid reader. That’s an immediate turn-off for influencers.

 

Do be genuine and engaging: It’s clear when you are being yourself and clear when you are being a phony, even in 140 characters. Authenticity goes a long way, as noted above. Being funny doesn’t hurt either, but only if you have a good handle on the other person’s sense of humor – not everything translates clearly in writing.

 

Do talk about the influencer’s favorite topic – them: Everyone is open to flattery, although I advise that you don’t go overboard or you will look like a kiss-ass and/or a moron. Share what you admire about the other person’s work to start the conversation.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE 4 C’S OF SOCIAL MEDIA TO GROW BUSINESS (VIDEO)

 

Don’t be rude, offensive or defensive: Sometimes, people get their undies in a bunch if they don’t get the type of response they are hoping for when they reach out to an influencer. Building a relationship takes time, so be patient and influencers, almost by definition, are busy. If you act entitled, your targeted influencer will never engage with you. Being pushy isn’t a recommended method for making friends either.

 

Do be patient: As noted, influencers are busy, so it may take weeks or longer for them to respond. If you build a relationship and you have an “ask” that may take a long time to get completed, plan accordingly.

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Don’t make it difficult: If you want an influencer you connect with to do something for you, like be quoted in your article, invest in your business or write a foreword for your book, make it as easy as possible to say yes. This means don’t have them jump through hoops, click links or do something your way; do everything you can to make the process painless and seamless.

 

Do help them make money: If you have a referral for their business, that’s a great way to start or further a relationship. But make it legitimate, which means “getting in on the ground floor of your investment opportunity” does not count.

 

Do know the line between persistence and annoyance: There is a difference between being helpful and being a pest.  Always leave them wanting more. Also, remember that everyone needs to get some work done too, no matter how interesting you think you may be.

 

Don’t cross the line or be creepy, even as a joke: Seeking stimulating conversation is one thing. If you are looking for something else to be stimulated, look elsewhere. Remember trust isn’t implicit; it is earned. When the other person doesn’t know you from Adam (and yes, even if you are both on a social media platform, they don’t really know you), the creepy radar will be on high. Don’t make jokes that make you sound like a serial killer. You don’t want to end up on their list of people whose houses the police should check under if they go missing.

 


 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness. 

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngOftentimes business owners put a large focus on winning new customers or new business – which of course is necessary for business success. However, this may sound counterintuitive, but if you’re strictly focusing on getting new customers, you could be putting your energies in the wrong place.

 

Here are four reasons why retaining loyal customers is vital to success.

 

1. They cost less.

Statistics on the cost of acquiring customers vs. retaining customers vary widely, but common sense tells us it’s more expensive to land a new customer than to keep one you already have. (You can estimate your own customer acquisition costs by dividing your marketing budget over a certain time period by the number of customers acquired during that period.)

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

It’s easy to lose a customer. Nearly half of consumers will switch brands in return for a coupon, while 47 percent will switch to a competitor within one day of a poor customer service experience.

 

But it’s also easy to keep customers if you simply make the effort. While 68 percent of consumers won’t go back to a company once they switch, 80 percent say the company could have done something to retain them.

 

2. They spend more.

All customers are not created equal when it comes to their value for your business. A report from Accenture shows 43 percent of consumers spend more money with companies they are loyal to. In other words, they’re high-value customers, especially when compared to new customers who may make one small purchase and never come back. Loyalty program software or customer relationship management software can help you track how much a specific customer spends, how often they interact with your business, and how much they cost you so you can focus on your highest-value customers.

 

Try this:

  • Create a loyalty program. According to a survey by Facebook, 77 percent of customers return to the same brands again and again—but only 37 percent say they are “loyal” to those brands. To turn repeat customers into loyal ones, use loyalty marketing software to create promotions that resonate with specific customers based on their prior behaviors. B2B businesses can create similar incentives, such as offering bulk discounts.
  • Upsell and cross-sell. Encourage salespeople to upsell and cross-sell whenever possible (without being pushy). From the retail salesperson who suggests a handbag to go with the dress a shopper is trying on, to the B2B salesperson suggesting a customer purchase an extended service plan, this approach can really boost your bottom line.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: TURN AN ANGRY CUSTOMER INTO A RAVING FAN – [RIEVA’S] TOP 10 TIPS

 

3. They refer new customers.

Existing customers not only spend more with your business, but they are also a valuable source of new customers. Some 55 percent of U.S. consumers who are loyal to a business or brand will recommend it to family and friends, Accenture reports.

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Try this:

  • Ask satisfied customers for referrals. Build this into your sales process so you automatically ask for referrals once you know a customer is happy.  You can even automate the process—for example, by sending emails requesting referrals to customers who post positive reviews.
  • Offer a reward, such as a discount on the next purchase, to incentivize referrals.

 

4. They boost your business’s profile online.

Customers who have an existing relationship with your business can easily be persuaded to engage with your business online by posting reviews. This raises awareness of your business and attracts new customers.

 

Try this:

  • Ask customers for reviews; then link to the reviews on social media and your website.
  • Encourage customers to share their experiences with your business on social media, such as posting a photo of the new hairstyle they just got at your salon. Service businesses or B2B companies can ask loyal customers to provide testimonials for use in marketing materials.

 

You can’t keep your current customers forever, of course. As time passes, their needs inevitably change, and you’ll need to replace these customers with new ones. But by devoting yourself to satisfying existing customers, it’s easier to generate a steady stream of new ones, as well.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Entrepreneur and pricing expert Ebong Eka explains why some small business owners forget the most important element of any successful business.

 


If you have questions for Ebong, please scroll down and ask in the comment below.  Ebong will do his best to respond.

 


 

About Ebong Eka

Ebong Eka is no stranger to the world of personal finance. As a certified public accountant and former professional basketball player he offers a fresh perspective to small business planning and executing. With over fifteen years of accounting, tax & small business experience with firms like PricewaterhouseCoopers, Deloitte & Touche and CohnReznick, Ebong provides practical money solutions tailored to the everyday person, the aspiring entrepreneur or the small business owner.

 

Ebong is the founder of EKAnomics, a sales, pricing and leadership firm. He is also the founder of Ericorp Consulting, Inc., a tax and management consulting firm. Ebong is the author of “Start Me Up! The-No-Business-Plan, Business Plan.

 

Web: www.ebongeka.com or Twitter: @EbongEka.

You can read more articles from Ebong Eka by clicking here

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngHave you heard the expression, “content is king?” Well, content marketing is one of the hottest buzzwords in marketing right now, which means it should be included in your marketing strategy if it isn’t already.

 

Content is wide-ranging and can take the form of articles, blog posts, white papers, videos and social media posts. All of these can help your small business build brand awareness, attract qualified leads and increase sales. So, what’s the trick to succeed at content marketing? Here are eight tips:

 

1. Set goals. As with any marketing effort, you must put measurable goals in place before creating your content. You may have different goals for different types of content. For example, Twitter posts may be intended to increase awareness of your business among new customers, while articles shared on LinkedIn might be targeted toward getting existing customers to contact you to purchase additional services.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

2. Understand your audience. Tailor content marketing to your specific audience. If you sell clever T-shirts targeted to teenagers, content marketing might mean posting funny GIFs on Instagram and Snapchat. If you sell IT services to businesses, sharing thought leadership articles on LinkedIn is more effective. What social channels, industry websites and other online venues do your target customers frequent? What common questions do they have about your product or service? What problems can you help them solve?

 

3. Plan different types of content. How-to content, visual content and online video are among the top content marketing trends, the Content Marketing Institute reports. If creating multiple types of content sounds daunting, try repurposing the same information in different formats. For example, create a white paper, break it down into smaller blog posts, pull out interesting facts to share as tweets, and use statistics to create an infographic.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: THE SURPRISING IMPACT OF EMAIL MARKETING AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE ITS EFFECT

 

4. Develop a content marketing plan. Your plan should specify what types of content you will share, where you will share it, when/how often, and your goals for each piece. Assign responsibility for creating content. If you don't have the staff or talent in-house, look for freelance copywriters and designers at sites like Upwork or Freelancer. If you’re going the DIY route, Canva is a great resource for creating infographics, charts and other visuals.

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5. Think mobile first. Whether you’re targeting B2C or B2B consumers, they increasingly view email, social media and websites on their mobile phones. Make sure any content you create looks just as good—and is just as readable—on a smartphone as it is on a desktop computer.

 

6. Include a call to action. Every piece of content should include a clear call-to-action (CTA) that helps you achieve the goals you set in Step 1. Examples include “Call for an instant price quote,” “Download our white paper on [X topic],” or “Learn more about [X product].” Link each CTA to a relevant landing page where viewers can take the next step, such as providing their contact information, making a purchase or filling out a form.

 

7. Promote and share your content. Host your content on your own website and share it on social media. (Budget for some social media advertising to make your content stand out in viewers’ crowded feeds.) Buffer and Hootsuite are popular tools to help you manage content on social media. Don’t forget email: A Content Marketing Institute study last year noted B2B marketers ranked email as the most effective channel for content marketing.

 

8. Measure results. With digital content marketing, you can see exactly how every piece of content performs. Use social media analytics and web analytics tools to track how many people interact with each piece of content and what they do afterwards. Also test different elements (headlines, images, keywords etc.) to see which get the best response from your audience.

It’s going to take some time, effort and investment, but content marketing can pay off big for your small business.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Rieva Lesonsky Headshot.pngMore than 83 million strong, Millennials (generally defined as those born between 1982 and 2000) account for more than one-fourth of the U.S. population and are becoming increasingly important as consumers. If you want your business to attract more of these influential customers, here are the seven things you should be doing.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT RIEVA LESONSKY

 

1. Get reviews. Some 85 percent of Millennials research products and services before making a purchase, according to a report from Kissmetrics. That means they’re checking out company websites, as well as looking at online reviews, checking social media and asking their social circle for recommendations.  Most (89 percent) Millennials trust recommendations from friends and family more than a business’s own claims, and 93 percent have made purchases based on these recommendations. However, recommendations from strangers are also important: 84 percent of Millennials say their purchases are at least “somewhat” influenced by user-generated content online. Make sure your business is on all the ratings and review sites relevant to your industry, and monitor your reviews for anything negative so you can quickly deal with the situation before it goes viral.

 

2. Be social. For Millennial consumers, it’s all about social media. They want to share what they’re thinking, doing and buying. Savvy brands are harnessing this social focus by creating “Instagrammable” products and services with visual appeal. (Facial masks, blue lipstick and rainbow-colored hair dye are all examples of beauty trends that have caught on with young consumers because they get lots of “likes” on Instagram.) Whether you’re brewing lattes at your coffee shop or creating hairstyles at your salon, think about how you can punch up the visual aspect of your business to create shareable moments. Then promote your business’ social media accounts and engage with your customers on them.

 

RELATED ARTICLE: YOUR CONSUMER IS CHANGING: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT MARKETING TO GEN Z

 

3. Be socially responsible. Millennials like to support businesses that share their values. That might mean your business taking a stand on a political issue, getting involved with a global charity or participating in local community events. Choose a cause that makes sense for your business (Millennials value authenticity—they know when you’re trying to fake it) and be sure to promote it in all your marketing materials. Think of ways your Millennial customers can get involved, too—they want to be participants, not just observers.

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4. Offer convenience. More than any other generation, Millennials are all about convenience, reports PWC’s Total Retail Survey 2016. In fact, one reason this generation surprisingly actually prefers to shop in-store rather than online is they can’t wait for even one-day shipping! “Ease of checkout” is highly important to Millennials in the PWC survey. Since this age group is wedded to its smartphones, be sure to offer digital loyalty programs so they don’t have to fumble for a plastic or punch card. Consider upgrading to near-field communications (NFC) contactless payment systems like Google Wallet and Apple Pay or, at minimum, offer mobile payments via smartphone or tablet in your store, so impatient Millennials can pay anywhere without having to wait in line.

 

5. Provide free Wi-Fi. For a Millennial, a business without Wi-Fi is like a business without oxygen—unthinkable. Make sure your store, waiting area or restaurant has it. Eight in 10 Millennials in PWC’s survey use their smartphones in-store, either to look up product information or ask friends’ opinions of a possible purchase. Setting up a separate guest Wi-Fi network with no password required offers optimum convenience for customers.

 

6. Let them customize everything. Millennials expect what they want the way they want it, and they like to express themselves through the products and services they purchase. The level of customization can range from simply being flexible with menu substitutions in your restaurant to offering “build-your-own-breakfast-burrito” options (and don’t forget about gluten-free, vegan and Paleo choices). If you sell services, try offering different menus of mix-and-match services, or different packages (bronze, silver, gold-level) with different services included.

 

7. Emphasize your independent status. As I mentioned, authenticity is important to Millennials, and there’s nothing more authentic than a small, independent business. Your marketing efforts should emphasize this. Tell the story of how you started your business; share how your product is produced or where it’s sourced; let customers get to know you and your staff through social media. Getting involved in your local business community, such as promoting shop-local initiatives or organizing “First Friday” sales, will help raise your profile as an independent business owner.

 

About Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva Lesonsky is CEO and Co-founder of GrowBiz Media, a custom content and media company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship, and the blog SmallBizDaily.com.  A nationally known speaker and authority on entrepreneurship, Rieva has been covering America’s entrepreneurs for more than 30 years. Before co-founding GrowBiz Media, Lesonsky was the long-time Editorial Director of Entrepreneur Magazine. Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs, including the Today Show, Good Morning America, CNN, The Martha Stewart Show and Oprah.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. ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Every brand makes mistakes now and then. It’s part of the growth process, and those mistakes can become valuable opportunities for improvement if the time is taken to learn from them.

Shama Hyder Headshot.png

I think most of us would agree that we’d like to make fewer mistakes. Here are 5 common digital marketing mistakes that you might be making, and how to avoid them.

 

CLICK HERE TO READ MORE ARTICLES FROM SMALL BUSINESS EXPERT SHAMA HYDER

 

1. Ignoring negative comments

 

In today’s digital landscape, ignoring a negative comment can do a lot more damage than the comment itself. Consumers today prize transparency and authenticity above almost everything else. They want to see you reach out to dissatisfied customers and try to fix their problem.

 

Dippin’ Dots CEO Scott Fischer took this truth to heart when he wrote a friendly open letter to White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, who’d disparaged Dippin’ Dots on Twitter. The letter went viral, resulting in a potential combined reach of over 1 billion and more than 10 million views, as well as dozens of high-profile media articles.

 

2. Producing content for the sake of producing content, rather than trying to give their audience something of value

 

Content is king - but really, valuable content is king. With the emphasis placed on creating a steady stream of original content, it’s easy to get caught up in the need to blog, tweet, and post photos daily - even if you don’t have much to say.

 

While creating content on a steady, regular basis is important, it’s more important that the content you do produce has value to your audience.

 

RELATED: THE SURPRISING IMPACT OF EMAIL MARKETING AND HOW TO MAXIMIZE ITS EFFECT

 

3. Posting indiscriminately on lots of platforms, rather than selecting the ones that work the best for your brand

 

46515315_s.jpgJust as it’s easy to place quantity over quality when it comes to content, the same is true of social media platforms. Many marketers think they need to have a brand presence on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Medium, and every other platform, but this usually means you have to overstretch your resources.

 

Instead, select two or three platforms that make the most sense for your brand and focus on making your posts high-quality and timely.

 

4. Failing to pivot when the data indicates it

 

The mark of a truly successful business is the ability to pivot – adapt and change marketing tactics or business practices when the data shows that change is needed.

 

This can be something as simple as changing the time of day at which you post on social media, or as complex as a full rebranding project. It takes courage and commitment to change something we’ve become used to doing. But if you’re not operating off of what the data tells you, what’s the point in collecting it in the first place?

 

5. Not taking advantage of automation tools

 

Automation tools can be a godsend for marketers who have to manage several social media accounts.

 

Scheduling tweets and posts allows you to maintain a regular posting schedule, which can boost your traffic by up to 192%, according to research by CoSchedule. It also means you won’t get home from work only to realize you forgot to send out that link to your latest Facebook Live video.

 

Mistakes happen, but they aren’t inevitable. By paying attention to these 5 frequent scenarios, you can easily increase your digital marketing success.

 

About Shama Hyder

Shama Hyder is a visionary strategist for the digital age, a web and TV personality, a bestselling author, and the award-winning CEO of The Marketing Zen Group – a global online marketing and digital PR company. She has aptly been dubbed the “Zen Master of Marketing” by Entrepreneur Magazine and the “Millennial Master of the Universe” by FastCompany.com. Shama has also been honored at both the White House and The United Nations as one of the top 100 young entrepreneurs in the country. Shama has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the prestigious Technology Titan Emerging Company CEO award. She was named one of the “Top 25 Entrepreneurs under 25” by Business Week in 2009, one of the “Top 30 Under 30” Entrepreneurs in America in 2014 by Inc. Magazine, and to the Forbes “30 Under 30” list of movers and shakers for 2015. LinkedIn named Hyder one of its “Top Voices” in Marketing & Social Media. Her web show Shama TV was awarded the “Hermes Gold award for Educational Programming in Electronic Media” and most recently she was awarded the “Excellence in Social Media Entrepreneurship” award for 2016 by Anokhi Media.

 

Web: www.shamahyder.com or Twitter: @Shama.

You can read more articles from Shama Hyder by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Shama Hyder to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Shama Hyder is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Shama Hyder. 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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

Social media can be a great, cost-effective way to reach customers – but only if your posts are seen. Small Business Expert Carol Roth says small businesses can run successful social media programs if they follow the 4 C’s – Consuming Content, Creating Content, Curating Content and Communication. Watch the video as Carol explains how these C’s work together to create a compelling social media program to grow your small business faster.

 

 

 

About Carol Roth

Carol Roth is the creator of the Future File™ legacy planning system, “recovering” investment banker, billion-dollar dealmaker, investor, entrepreneur, national media personality and author of the New York Times bestselling book, The Entrepreneur Equation. She is a judge on the Mark Burnett-produced technology competition show, America’s Greatest Makers and TV host and contributor, including host of Microsoft’s Office Small Business Academy. She is also an advisor to companies ranging from startups to major multi-national corporations and has an action figure made in her own likeness.

 

Web: www.CarolRoth.com or Twitter: @CarolJSRoth.

You can read more articles from Carol Roth by clicking here

 

Bank of America, N.A. engages with Carol Roth to provide informational materials for your discussion or review purposes only. Carol Roth is a registered trademark, used pursuant to license. The third parties within articles are used under license from Carol Roth. 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.  ©2017 Bank of America Corporation

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