Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

GoDaddy Expands Small Business eCommerce Options

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

godaddy small business

GoDaddy aims to make it easier for small businesses to launch an eCommerce presence.

The Scottsdale-based company, which already provides online eCommerce options and digital storefronts, announced recently that it has expanded its GoDaddy Online Store’s product assortment.

The store now offers a GoDaddy Email Marketing feature, customized shipping label solution called Shippo, and the ability to display McAfee’s Secure certification badge following a site scan.

In a release announcing the expanded services, Lauren Antonoff, senior vice president of Presence and Commerce at GoDaddy, says:

“We created Online Store to make it easier for small businesses to build eCommerce sites. We’re proud to increase the value of our offer by integrating GoDaddy Email Marketing, Shippo, and McAfee Secure certification.”

The Email Marketing package is designed to help small business owners utilize a newsletter to more easily engage customers, prospects and repeat business. Adding the newsletter signup widget to a website takes only a click. With it a small business can collect the email addresses of site visitors and buyers. It also helps manage contacts, as well as create and send newsletters from one place.

Email marketing has proven to be an effective online tool, according to the Direct Marketing Association. One report by the association notes this approach can generate an average of $43 for every $1 spent.

The store also will include a new shipping label solution from Shippo, a Bay Area outfit. Through the use of a single dashboard, small businesses can manage and track orders and print shipping labels. Shipping rate discounts, designed to bolster small business efforts to compete against larger online stores are included.

The McAfee Secure certification program allows GoDaddy Online Store users to display the McAfee icon on their sites to publicize safety and security.

McAfee first scans the website for any threats or vulnerabilities. Once it considers an online store trustworthy, the McAfee seal can be displayed, BizJournals reports. Depending on the number of transactions, for most users the scanning will be available as part of McAfee’s free tier, the publication adds.

GoDaddy Online Store launched in 2014 and has grown to serve merchants globally who are selling goods worth millions of dollars a week. GoDaddy has about 13 million customers worldwide and manages more than 59 million domain names.

Image: GoDaddy

This article, “GoDaddy Expands Small Business eCommerce Options” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Use the 5 Senses for a Great Customer Experience

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

grocery store

Chain grocery stores have done an enormous amount of research on how people shop.

In these huge stores, marketing is primarily transactional. That means there is a minimum amount of personal communication between the customer and the store’s staff.

Location, lighting, display and packaging take the place of person-to-person interaction.

How do these huge stores entice customers to spend money? Easy. They use psychology.

They put the milk in the back of the store forcing the shopper to wend his or her way through all manner of enticing goodies before getting to the milk, which is why he or she came to the store in the first place. But that’s just the beginning.

Grocery stores also engage the five senses for a great customer experience. And they are masters at it.

The vast majority of people entering any store look left and turn right. Grocery stores put the bakery on the right, somewhere near the front, so it’s one of the first things people visit. Why? It smells good. Smell is purely emotional, not intellectual.

Often the deli is close to the bakery near the front of the store. Again, it’s about the senses. Deli food tastes good and makes your mouth water. Delis offer free samples, too.

Once past the bakery and deli, the shopper comes upon the fresh produce section. This area has mirrors, spritzed water, and bright-colored fruits and vegetables. Special lighting may be used to enhance the vibrant colors. The shopper’s sense of sight is now fully engaged.

By this time, the customer is salivating! Right about now the shopper is ready to go up and down the aisles on a shopping spree.

The next thing the shopper sees is product on the ends of shelves promoting specials. These items are easy to pick up and put in your cart. Down the aisles, items that cost more are at eye level. Ever notice how the higher priced wines are on higher shelves while bargain bottles are near the floor? And of course, impulse items like candy and magazines at the checkout counter beckon you to pick them up.

Finally, there’s sound. Some grocery stores play background music. Then there are in-store cooking demonstrations. A more recent innovation is the autoplay video display. These videos tell the advantages of a certain fruit or how to prepare seafood.

Can non-grocery stores also benefit from appealing to the senses? Sure. It works in just about any retail environment. The product lines could include hardware, clothes, books, recreational products, antiques, you name it.

Here are tips for how you can engage the five senses in your retail business:

Sense of Smell:  If you sell anything with pleasing aromas, such as coffee, put out open bins or samples for shoppers to smell. Or you might use vanilla or other pleasing scents to engage the shopper’s sense of smell. Don’t overdo it, though, as overpowering smells can backfire.

Sense of Taste:  Even if your store doesn’t sell food or drink, you can still engage the sense of taste. Offer free beverages or a bowl of hard candy on the counter. Hold a wine and cheese tasting to celebrate a new product line or a special company anniversary.

Sense of Sight: An open store layout with pleasing displays is a must, starting with the front door or window display. Bright, eye-catching digital signs or pleasing vertical banners that can be printed inexpensively add visual punch. Cleanliness is part of the visual appeal, too, so make your place of business spotless.

Sense of Touch:  Selling the silkiest hand lotion on the planet? Supply testers for customers to feel for themselves. Make things accessible for customers to touch (except for fragile things). When goods aren’t accessible, even as a sample, there’s an invisible buying barrier.

Sense of Hearing: Soothing music or even a white-noise machine to mask street sounds makes for a relaxing environment. Eliminate negative sounds, too. Don’t allow employees to talk on mobile phones, gossip, or gab in groups in front of customers.

Take advantage of what grocery stores have known for years. Use the five senses to create a great customer experience to encourage buying.

Grocery Store Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Use the 5 Senses for a Great Customer Experience” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Tech Companies Setting New Standard in Parental Leave for Employees

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

tech parental

Want paid parental leave? You should work for a tech company.

Microsoft recently increased its paid leave to 20 weeks for mothers and 12 weeks for fathers. Even more impressive is Netflix, which announced recently that it will provide up to a year of paid parental leave for employees. Though companies in other developed countries routinely offer paid parental leave for employees like this, it’s remarkable for a U.S. company.

It’s also noteworthy because the one-year paid leave includes fathers along with mothers.

To visualize Microsoft and Netflix’s progressive approach, visual communication and design agency Column Five created a simple a graphic. It emphasizes how these two tech companies are generously compensating their employees compared to the legal minimum of zero weeks.

Over the years, tech companies have made groundbreaking changes in terms of work-life balance. So far, only Microsoft and Netflix have offered the generous parental leave benefits described here, but other tech companies are sure to follow.

Parental Leave for Employees

Image: Column Five

Republished by permission. Original here.

This article, “Tech Companies Setting New Standard in Parental Leave for Employees” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Sprint, AT&T Competition Could Mean Lower Fees

Thursday, September 3rd, 2015

sprint storeSprint is using the AT&T acquisition of DirecTV  to lure a competitor’s customers away. To mark the occasion, Sprint is offering current customers of DirecTV a free year of service.

In the release, Kevin Crull, Chief Marketing Officer of Sprint says:

“DIRECTV customers love their TV service – but they shouldn’t have to settle for AT&T wireless. Why not build the perfect bundle by combining with Sprint wireless? We’re winning awards across the country because our network has never been stronger, faster or more reliable, and our customers have never been more satisfied.”

This is absolutely in the spirit of competition in the marketplace and could lead to better prices for the customer — including small businesses. It’s the spirit that used to be demonstrated in gas station wars, where stations in the same neighborhood competed for the lowest price. This sometimes went to the extreme of the stronger business outlasting the other in selling at less than cost, leading to the failure of one and sometimes both gas stations.

Don’t look for either of these giants to fail, though, but one can hope for better prices and services.

According to Sprint’s announcement, from now through September 30, 2015, Sprint will give DirecTV customers who switch to Sprint a free year of service with unlimited talk, text and a full 2GB of data per line (up to five). DirecTV customers already with Sprint can get in on the deal by adding a new line.

For those currently on contract with another company, Sprint will pay off your old phone and contract. If not on contract or paying off a phone, Sprint will buy back your old working smartphone for up to $300. To get in on this offer, go to any Sprint store with your DirecTV bill or upload a copy of your bill to Sprint.com or call 1-800-Sprint-1.

After the year of free service is up, the accounts will roll over to a plan with competitive rates of $50 for one line through to $180 for five lines for the same plan. To see more, see Sprint’s announcement.

Sprint began life as a land line telephone company in 1899, supply service to rural customers around Abilene KS as Brown Telephone Company. After the turn of the 21st century, the company divested itself of landline services, spinning its assets into a new company called Embarq. That company became Sprint Corporation; joining with Nextel, it became known as Sprint Nextel. It is still the largest long distance carrier in the country and eventually became best known as a cellular service carrier.

Sprint is showing its mettle and its determination to become the largest cell phone company with its grab for DirecTV customers. But maybe we will all benefit from the competition.

Sprint Store Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Sprint, AT&T Competition Could Mean Lower Fees” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Nominations Now Open for 2015 Small Business Influencer Awards

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

2015 smbinfluencer 1

The 2015 Small Business Influencer Awards are officially open for nominations!  

If you’ve been chomping at the bit to nominate those individuals, organizations and apps, now is the time.

A Little About the Small Business Influencer Awards

The Small Business Influencer Awards are a joint effort between Small Business Trends and Small Biz Technology. Each year, we honor people, tools and companies that have positively impacted small businesses in North America. Nominees are grouped into eight categories:

The six primary categories are:

  • News Outlets (media companies)
  • Corporations (providers of products and services to the small business market)
  • Media (individual journalists, reporters, broadcasters, bloggers)
  • Leaders (executives or other key employees that are part of corporations serving the small business market)
  • Experts (mavens, authors, speakers, consultants)
  • Apps (software, mobile apps, tablet apps)

Last year, we added two special categories:

  • Small Business Marketing Campaign of the Year
  • Small Business Growth Story of the Year

These two special categories are truly unique in the influencer space.  We wanted to acknowledge the consultants and vendors who are behind the scenes helping small business clients with marketing campaigns and strategies that allowed small businesses to grow and reach their profit and revenue goals.  There is no doubt that these folks are influencers based on the most important measure of all — results.

Put These Dates in Your Calendar

2015 smbinfluencer 2

The Small Business Influencer Awards are unique in that we incorporate BOTH community votes and the votes from our volunteer panel of small business experts and influencers.  

There are four phases to the Small Business Influencer Awards:

  1. Nominations: Now through October 15 noon Pacific Time:  Nominate as many Small Business Influencers as you’d like.  
  2. Community Voting: October 16 through November 5 at Noon Pacific Time.  After nominations close, the community can vote for influencers across all of the categories.  You can vote for as many influencers as you like and you only need to vote once during the entire voting period.
  3. Community Choice Winners Announcement: November 6, 2015.  
  4. 2015 Small Business Influencer Champions Announcement: November 16, 2015.

Who Will YOU Nominate?

Take a moment and think about who has influenced you in the past year. Perhaps a mentor? A business colleague? Client? Partner? Or maybe it’s a business that’s helped you take your company to the next level.

What about YOU? There’s no rule that says you can’t nominate yourself, so if you think you’ve made a splash in the small business community, by all means, nominate yourself.

Participation is a Breeze!

The rules for the Small Business Influencer Awards are simple:

  • Nominees must be based in North America.
  • Entrants must be involved in supporting, assisting, serving or enabling small businesses, through products, services, information and/or expertise used by those in the small business market.

Now it’s your turn to nominate your favorite people and brands in the small business world.

Nominate!

Want to connect with influencers and be in the know? Be sure to follow @SMBInfluencer on Twitter, as well as the hashtag #SMBInfluencer, to get the latest news on the awards.

This article, “Nominations Now Open for 2015 Small Business Influencer Awards” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Should You Crowdsource Your Logo Design?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

Crowdsource Your Logo

Don’t know your CMYK from RGB or your typefaces from fonts?

For anyone who doesn’t “speak design” (which is about all of us!), the prospect of managing a major design project like logo development can seem overwhelming and downright intimidating.

For those of us lucky enough to work for a company with a seemingly endless budget, you can afford to hire a major design firm. They’ll handle your logo creation, color palette, and typeface selection, and all the different design elements that will go into creating your brand identity.

The trouble is that for the rest of us who are solo-prenuers or work at a small business startup, hiring a major design firm is often times a financial no-go.

Your solution: crowdsource your logo.

Crowdsourcing is the practice of outsourcing ideas by soliciting contributions for a large group or online community. Don’t confuse it with freelancing. While hiring a freelance designer is certainly cheaper than a major design firm, a freelancer is still similar to a design firm. You pay a retainer, receive a set number of options, and are limited for the number of revisions.

Crowdsourcing is quite different.

Most of us crowdsource every day and don’t even realize it. Ever posted a question on Facebook or Twitter asking for restaurant recommendations or what folks thought about the latest summer blockbuster? Yep, you’re crowdsourcing!

I know what you’re thinking. When it comes to getting dinner recommendations or a yay/nay on the latest movie, the stakes are a lot lower. Suffer through a forgettable meal and you move on. But make a major blunder on your logo design, and you’re not only wasted time and money but also you risk hurting your brand identity.

Many designers will argue that entrusting your brand’s future identity to a team of relative unknowns is risky, and they have a valid point. Working with a professional firm is certainly a valuable experience. But if you’re strapped for cash and just don’t have the funds to invest in design right now, one option for generating fresh ideas without breaking the bank is to crowdsource your logo.

Here’s why you should consider going straight to the (crowd) source for your next logo design.

Reasons to Crowdsource Your Logo

Stay Within Budget

Sure, you may dream about working with a Madison Avenue ad agency to build your brand, but if your budget can only afford the Microsoft clip art version of an ad agency, it’s time to think outside the box. Hiring a design firm can cost thousands of dollars; most insist on a retainer prior to initiating work, which means you’re stuck paying for the final results whether or not you like them. Additionally, you may be limited to a fixed number of initial options or revisions. Crowdsourcing provides more variety at a much lower price point.

Expand Your Options

When you’re just getting started with your business, more options are better! Maybe you have a clear vision that your logo should be in the color green and contain a natural element (like a wave or a tree) but beyond that, you’re totally lost. With crowdsourcing, you submit a basic design brief that’s open to creative interpretation by designers. The result: hundreds of options you might otherwise have never considered.

Build Word-of-Mouth Buzz

When you crowdsource a design, you first get to review all the options. Once you’ve narrowed it down to a handful that you like, you can then invite friends and colleagues to vote on their favorite design. Post a link on Facebook or Twitter to get customers, clients and fans in on the voting. Not only do you benefit from a wide range of feedback outside your immediate bubble, but savvy businesses can also use this as a free PR opportunity.

Optimize Creativity

While most design firms truly want the very best for their clients, sometimes firms will sacrifice good design in order to please a difficult client and secure future business. With crowdsourcing, designers are only concerned with presenting the very best options for the client; there’s no concern about retaining future work. This means that designers are free to think creatively in ways you might never have considered!

Bottom Line

While there are certainly drawbacks to crowdsourcing – you may end up sorting through a hundred designs you hate! – If your business is on a budget, it’s undeniably the best option to source quality design. Plus, with some crowdsourcing platforms offering a money-back guarantee, it’s definitely an option worth considering.

Colored Pencils Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Should You Crowdsource Your Logo Design?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Spotlight: Leave “Virtual Sticky Notes” with Drop Messages

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

drop messages virtual sticky notes

There’s no shortage of photo sharing apps out there. There are even plenty that let you share the location of each photo. But Drop Messages is trying to do something different.

The team created an app that lets users share photos with specific people, or the community as a whole, that they can see when visiting that physical location.

Read more about the app’s concept and the company behind it in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Lets friends share photos with each other in physical locations.

Users can share photos with friends that they can see when they visit the same locations. Or they can browse other drop photos taken nearby or even set up alerts for when their friends take photos in certain locations.

Business Niche

Focusing on the location of each photo.

Co-founder Eric Noeth told Small Business Trends, “While there are plenty of companies focused on photo sharing and building social networks, Drop Messages is the only player able to let you know via push notification when you have discovered a photo from the people you care about.

“It is a special feeling to see that you are sharing an experience with someone in your network that has been to a place before you and there are countless ways the app can be used.”

drop messages virtual sticky notes

How the Business Got Started

Because of the desire to be able to leave “virtual sticky notes.”

The idea came to the company’s co-founder Zach DeWitt. He later shared the idea with Noeth and the two decided it would be worth developing. Noeth explained that DeWitt was on his way to the airport one day and wanted to remind his roommates to take out the trash:

“He sent an email to that effect, and lo and behold, when everyone got home from work later that evening, the reminder wasn’t top of mind and the trash was neglected. Zach then had an epiphany that it would have been really useful to leave a virtual sticky note at the apartment alerting his roommates of the task as soon as they walked in the door and the information was relevant.”

Biggest Win

Being named a top startup at TechCrunch’s annual Boston Pitch-Off event.

Noeth explains, “As fate would have it, in our first day approved in the app store, we were to pitch the concept on stage in front of 1,000+ attendees in TechCrunch’s annual Boston Pitch-Off event. Out of 150 of the hottest startups in the north east, 15 were selected to pitch on stage and Drop Messages eventually won the event.

“This gave us the consumer validation we were looking for and opened up doors necessary to raise capital and grow our team. While a bit of a roller coaster, we couldn’t have hoped for a better first day live for download!”

Biggest Risk

Moving the business to San Francisco.

Noeth says, “Zach dropped out of Harvard Business School to make this move and we viewed this as a critical step in being closer to our technical co-founder, Matt Diepenbrock, and the richer mobile application ecosystem on the West Coast. While this was a risk, both financially for the business and personally for the founders, it ended up being a positive for the company.”

drop messages virtual sticky notes

Lesson Learned

Don’t stress too much about the little things.

Noeth says, “To start, there were always legal issues arising and minor product debates that were endlessly stressful, and in retrospect, losing perspective on what critical items really mattered to building a successful business resulted in too much lost sleep and premature aging.”

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Growing the team.

Noeth says, “Specifically, we would like to build out more talent in our social media strategy, marketing and partnership teams.”

Company Pet

A 60-pound golden doodle named Stanley.

Noeth explains, “Eric got Stanley a month before the company was formed and they have grown together! Stanley is a part of 90%+ of Eric’s ‘Drops’ and is an important decision maker at the company.”

* * * * *

Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program.

Images: Drop Messages, Facebook

Top Image: (left to right) Paul Diepenbrock: QA Manager, Zach DeWitt: Co-Founder, Matt Diepenbrock: Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, Dan Reese: Lead iOS Engineer, Craig Selmeier: Senior iOS Engineer, Eric Noeth: Co-Founder.

This article, “Spotlight: Leave “Virtual Sticky Notes” with Drop Messages” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Toshiba Reveals 12-inch Convertible Device with 4K Display

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

toshiba satellite radius

Toshiba revealed its newest laptop-tablet hybrid at IFA in Berlin today.

Called the Satellite Radius 12, the company claims this is the “world’s first 12.5-inch Ultra HD 4K convertible.”

Details for the Satellite Radius 12 have been a little thin so far.

What is known is the convertible will come in two display options. Users can choose a Full HD 1920 x 1080 pixel display, or go for broke with the beefed up 4K 3840 x 2160 pixel option. And really, the promise of 4K packed into a display measuring less than 13-inches could be hard to turn down.

Instead of a detachable keyboard to convert from laptop to tablet, the Satellite Radius 12 features a hinged keyboard offering 360-degree movement. This is not a new design, as other companies have featured a hinged keyboard on their devices.   

Users will be able to fold the keyboard into a number of different positions depending on their needs. Fold it all the way around to be a tablet, in half to be a tent, and so on.

Under the hood, Toshiba claims the Satellite Radius 12 will offer up to a Core i7 CPU. This is part of Intel’s sixth-gen Core i processors, perhaps more recognizable by the name of Skylake. Reports also claim the 2-in-1 device will deliver up to 8GB of RAM.

The Satellite Radius 12 is set to provide support for Windows Hello, a part of the Windows 10 operating system. Microsoft claims Windows Hello eliminates the need for passwords to unlock your device by instead using facial recognition, an iris scan, or a fingerprint scan.

This information is stored only on your device to offer more security. Though with reports of such biometric security measures being easily hacked on other systems and devices, some may feel more comfortable forgoing this feature.

Keep your eyes open for the Toshiba Satellite Radius 12 to hit the U.S. market sometime in the fourth quarter of 2015. Though no specific details were given as to release dates or pricing.

Image: Toshiba

This article, “Toshiba Reveals 12-inch Convertible Device with 4K Display” was first published on Small Business Trends

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8 Essential Tweaks to Supercharge Your Content Marketing Efforts

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

content marketing

The type of content you’re putting out on a daily, weekly, monthly basis can come in a wide array of forms.

You could be blogging, producing webinars, or creating a podcast about your life as a cat lady.

Regardless of what you’re doing, your content is not being produced for you; it’s being produced for your audience. And if you don’t have an audience, your content doesn’t matter.

You could be the best cat lady podcast out there, but if no one knows about it, it doesn’t matter. Let’s look at 8 ways you can underline, circle and highlight your content on the Internet.

Be Accessible on All Devices

Five years ago, it used to be that if you couldn’t view a webpage on a certain browser, it wasn’t worth your time. Today, it’s not just about your browser, but it’s also about your phone, your tablet, your eReader or any other device of choice.

There’s nothing worse than making somebody work to find you, so it’s best to ensure your content is accessible from any platform, anywhere and anytime.

Actionable tip: Use great cross-platform curators like WordPress which allows you to create high quality content, and have it optimized for all platforms and devices.

The nice thing about WordPress is its wide adoption: Everything has already been created for you: There’s WordPress friendly hosting, mobile optimization WordPress plugins and responsive mobile-friendly WordPress themes. WordPress is installed and optimized with just a few clicks of a button.

Mobile friendly wordpress themes

Focus on the Content Purpose

You can’t create content for the sake of creating content: That’s one of the biggest mistakes entrepreneurs and marketers make when planning content strategy.

Every content asset you publish needs to have a well-defined purpose. Every time you come up with the article idea or work on a content asset, keep asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is this content solving any problem?
  • Who am I targeting?
  • Would I find it useful if I find this article?

Quora is a good source of content ideas that clearly have a purpose.

Use Infographics

There is a little bit of magic in the infographic. It’s highly visible and easily read. It’s easy to find and share on major forms social media and high ranking sites.

The highest quality graphics, professionally produced, won’t even compare when you think about purchasing tweets, or likes, or paying to unique visitors to your site. Your infographic is easily picked up by sites like Facebook, Pinterest and major media sites like Huffington Post and Gawker. It’s a tool that should in every content creator’s arsenal.

Actionable tip: It’s also incredibly cheap (and sometimes free) to produce compared with other purposeful marketing campaigns.

Infographics can be cool AND easy!

Increase the Quality of Your Content

People want to read your content, but only if it’s any good. If you’re a writer, there are a whole host of tools available to you to improve your writing. Hemingway Editor is a neat tool that is like an English Teacher for your content, showing how to make it easier to read and share your work.

Hemingway Editor is a neat tool that is like an English Teacher for your content

If you’re a media fiend, use Canva, a brilliant site that allows you to easily create and design graphics without having the graphic design degree. Best, and cheapest, of all, follow the leaders in your field to see how they do it. Constantly pay attention to the leaders in your niche, and you can emulate their style and format to gain more followers.

Keep an Eye on Your Competitors

You may have someone in your field that you follow and admire, but you should also follow those who are producing content just like you. By monitoring what they’re doing, you can see what works and doesn’t work for them.

You can also see what mistakes to avoid by letting them learn the lessons for you.

There are great tools to monitor your competitors like BuzzSumo. This handy app instantly shows you what type of content are most shared in your niche. If you’re trying to get more Facebook likes for your videos, but most others are using Pinterest, this app will point you in the way you should go.

Engage with Your Audience

People want to be heard and acknowledged. By encouraging your content to be discussed, you can engage your audience, find out what they like and don’t like and what they will share. Build a community around your site and brand.

You can get instant feedback, which is great, and you can also get instant referrals, which is even greater. Respond to tweets, comment on Facebook posts and reply to questions on your website. These simple actions go a long way to demonstrating that you’re interested in your audience.

Engage with Your Influencers

Identify the people in your area of content that are most successful at producing content. You’re probably already following their blog, or subscribed to their YouTube channel. But by engaging with them, you have a greater chance of their audience seeing the content you’re producing.

Sites like InkyBee allow you to find those people with the most influence and get your content noticed by them. Their audience can become your greatest resource for finding your own audience.

Focus on What Works

Take a moment to look at what’s worked for you in the past, where your traffic is coming from and focus on that. If you find that most of your traffic comes from Pinterest, an increased production of high-quality imagery and highly sharable infographics could dramatically increase traffic to your site.

Don’t pay for videographers to produce YouTube videos nobody watches; stick with what is working. Justin Morgan of DMG explains:

“In every industry, there are marketing trends that don’t work, but create a domino effect. Avoid the hype and stick to what works, regardless of the industry.”

Content marketing doesn’t have to be hard. Everyone knows the simple tips to produce constant content or create with your audience in mind. But with a few simple tools and some purposefully planned analysis, you can get your content into the hands of your audience easier. If there’s something that works well for you, we’d love to know.

Supercharger Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “8 Essential Tweaks to Supercharge Your Content Marketing Efforts” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Could NLRB Ruling Destroy the Franchise Business?

Wednesday, September 2nd, 2015

joint employer

A recent ruling by the National Labor Relations Board has made it easier for unions to negotiate on behalf of employees at fast food franchises and other companies that use contractors.

The board voted 3-2 along party lines to expand the definition of what it means to be a “joint employer,” thus making it harder for companies to outsource.

The Washington Post reports:

“In doing so, the panel sided with labor advocates and academics who have described an increasingly ‘fissured’ economy, in which whole industries have been built on business models that offer workers few of the protections of a traditional employer relationship.”

The newspaper predicted the decision will “redefine the employee-employer relationship granting new bargaining powers to workers caught up in an economy increasingly reliant on subcontractors, franchisees and temporary staffing agencies.”

Writing on The Daily Signal, the Heritage Foundation’s James Sherk says the ruling will force franchisees to give up control of everyday business decisions:

“Until now, the NLRB has always defined an employer as the firm that hires, fires, pays wages, disciplines, promotes, and makes work assignments. That’s just common sense and comports with most Americans’ understanding of whom they work for. The NRLB is now saying that companies that contract with other firms for services or set quality standards in exchange for brand licensing implicitly influence the other firms’ employees and should be required to bargain collectively with them. If allowed to stand, this new interpretation will effectively destroy the franchise model of business.”

McDonald’s workers mounted a nationwide campaign to improve their working conditions in 2012. According to the NLRB, workers filed 310 unfair labor practice complaints against McDonald’s. Of those, 107 were found to have merit, but only one-tenth of that number involved a McDonald’s that was solely corporate-owned.

The NLRB said the complaints involved “discriminatory discipline, reductions in hours, discharges, and other coercive conduct directed at employees in response to union and protected concerted activities, including threats, surveillance, interrogations, promises of benefit, and overbroad restrictions on communicating with union representatives or with other employees about unions and the employees’ terms and conditions of employment.”

The NLRB says an investigation found McDonald’s “engages in sufficient control over its franchisees’ operations, beyond protection of the brand, to make it a putative joint employer with its franchisees, sharing liability for violations of our Act. This finding is further supported by McDonald’s, USA, LLC’s nationwide response to franchise employee activities while participating in fast food worker protests to improve their wages and working conditions.”

Still, the ruling may not be permanent.

According to a New York Times report, Republican lawmakers are expected to challenge the decision, as are companies like McDonald’s and Yum Brands, which owns chains such as KFC and Pizza Hut.

Wage Strike Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Could NLRB Ruling Destroy the Franchise Business?” was first published on Small Business Trends

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