Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Take Part in our Cyber Monday Contest to Win an Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

It’s one of the fastest growing shopping days on the calendar.

Cyber Monday!

And now, it’ll be your chance to win a new Amazon Kindle Fire tablet.

It’s a big day for a lot of our readers who have been working so hard for this moment, to put their online businesses to the ultimate test. To celebrate that hard work, Small Business Trends is giving away a latest generation Amazon Kindle Fire 7 tablet.

This handy little companion has a stunning 7″ IPS display. It’s super thin and light and perfect for taking on business trips. Inside, its got a 1.3 GHz quad-core processor, 8 GB of internal storage and a microSD slot for up to 256 GB of expandable storage. The battery lasts up to 8 hours.

It’s handy for some business tasks but it’s best when you need to get away from work for a bit and unwind.

Check out the contest widget below to enter. Perform more tasks for multiple entries and come back every day for more chances to enter.

Small Business Trends – Fire Tablet Giveaway

This article, “Take Part in our Cyber Monday Contest to Win an Amazon Kindle Fire Tablet” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 Helps Businesses Save on Postage

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Sponsored Post

Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 Helps Businesses Save on Postage

Shipping costs go up every year and for small businesses it means losing a bigger chunk from their bottom line. The Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 is a comprehensive shipping and mailing solution which will automate the shipping process and save you money while doing it.

This is a fully integrated all-in-one solution designed to simplify shipping and mailing from a single station. There is no more guess work in your small business. You are ready to process your mail and packages for shipping with SendPro C200.

As the company says, you will be able to identify, locate, communicate, ship and pay enabling the full commerce continuum of today’s physical and digital retail ecosystem.

Small businesses will have access to the latest features that were only available to large enterprises – at a reasonable price.

The Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 makes small business workflow more efficient while lowering shipping costs.  The device can be rented starting at $36.99 per month.

Pitney Bowes SendPro C200

As an all-in-one unit, the Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 is controlled with a large color touch screen connected to Pitney Bowes Commerce Cloud. This allows you to get the latest information on all shipping costs across carriers, so you can find savings with USPS, UPS or FedEx depending on the shipping service you choose.

With the SendPro C200, you are always up to date with shipping rates.

When you are ready to ship a package, you can weigh it on the integrated scale, select your carrier, compare delivery service and print a shipping label.

Before you send the package, you can verify the address across all three carriers to make sure you are shipping the item to a legitimate location. And once it is shipped, you can track it with secure access from your computer or mobile app so you can keep your customers informed until they get their package.

If you are sending letters or flats, the SendPro C200 can print postage and seal envelopes in one step processing at up to 40 envelopes per minute.

As part of the Pitney Bowes system, you will be able to get discounts with USPS retail rates and negotiated discounts. And as a certified provider of UPS, Pitney Bowes can help you with UPS savings on next day air, ground and residential.

The fact that the SendPro C200 lets you choose between carriers has become even more important with the announcement of a planned rate increase by the USPS beginning Jan. 27, 2019.

If approved by the Postal Regulatory Commission, the change would raise the price of a First Class Mail Forever Stamps from 50 to 55 cents while First-Class metered letters would rise in cost from 47 cents to 50 cents — still a 5 cent savings over stamps.

Meanwhile, additional ounces for First-Class letters will decrease from 21 cents to 15 cents. However, product prices for mail services are expected to see a 2.5 percent hike while Priority Mail increases by 5.9 percent and Priority Mail Express by 3.9 percent.

With Pitney Bowes’ new product, clients can save money despite the rate changes by using it to choose the least expensive option amongst a variety of carriers.

Growth of Shipping

According to the Pitney Bowes Parcel Shipping Index, the total number of shipped parcels globally grew by 17% in 2017 to 74.4 billion. In the US, it was up by 8% to 11.9 billion.

This growth is in great part being driven by ecommerce, which has made shipping an integral part of small business operations, and one that gets more expensive every year. Mailing and shipping costs therefore are becoming a growing concern.

In an exclusive interview with Small Business Trends, Chris Giles, Vice President of Global Product Management, at Pitney Bowes, gave our small business audience some of the ways they can save on shipping earlier this year.

The three ways a small business can do to save on shipping are by being accurate when calculating rates, always seeking out discounts, and making the right selection of carrier.

Weigh your mail with a scale so you don’t overpay on shipping packages. The SendPro C200 has a built-in scale and is digitally connected so all rates are always up to date.

Carrier discounts for volume are often lower than you might think. Pitney Bowes has pre-negotiated a 3 cents postage discount with the USPS. When you are shipping through an authorized vendor or are shipping a volume of mail, you can get discounts that are often up to 39% off the retail rate.

With SendPro C200 you can switch between carriers to get the best price for the type of package, destination and delivery time you need. The same package going to Maine will cost three different amounts depending on whether you select USPS, UPS or FedEx — and USPS isn’t always the cheapest option. Check the rates to make sure you are getting the best one.

Bottom line: When it comes to saving money on shipping, the Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 does it all.

Photo: Pitney Bowes

This article, “Pitney Bowes SendPro C200 Helps Businesses Save on Postage” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Everything You Need to Know About Small Business Saturday 2018

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Everything You Need to Know About Small Business Saturday 2018

Small Business Saturday 2018 is around the corner, as communities gear up for a day of supporting small businesses across the United States.

If you’re a small business, an employee at a small business, or a supporter of small businesses and want to become involved in Small Business Saturday 2018, take a look at everything you need to know about this day dedicated to supporting small businesses.

Small Business Saturday is always celebrated on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and Small Business Saturday 2018 is taking place on November 24.

Unlike Black Friday and Cyber Monday, which focus on larger retailers and ecommerce stores, Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to shop at predominantly small and local retailers and to use small, local service such as restaurants and other independent local businesses.

By encouraging people to ‘Shop Small’, Small Business Saturday helps bring more holiday shopping to small businesses.

The campaign was launched in 2010 by American Express, a time when many small businesses in the United States were struggling as a result of the recession.

The Small Business Coalition was also formed this year, made up of non-profit trade groups, public officials and municipalities, designed to actively encourage consumers to shop small.

A year later, the small business movement had gained national support, with many businesses and organizations across the country acknowledging and promoting Small Business Saturday. The same year, the Senate passed a resolution in support of Small Business Saturday.

Support for the movement continues to grow and in 2013, more than 1,400 organizations and individuals had signed up as Neighborhood Champions, promoting and participating in community activities and events on Small Business Saturday.

By 2017, the number of Neighborhood Champions across the country had grown to over 7,200. The movement has been a resounding success. As American Express notes, since the initiative began, consumers in the U.S. have reported spending an estimated $85 billion at local, independent retailers and restaurants.

Consumers remain supportive of the campaign, with 90% of shoppers believing it has a positive impact on their community.

Small Business Saturday 2018 Local Events

On November 24, 2018, communities across the United States will be hosting events and activities in celebration of Small Business Saturday 2018.

One key event is taking place at the New York Chamber of Commerce. Hosted by Watkins Glen in the Watkins Glen Area Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center, the event will kick-off the Small Business Saturday 2018 party, with pop-up stores, crafts for kids, a story hour, a welcome station for shoppers, and much more.

Meanwhile, over in Santa Monica, the Montana Avenue Merchants Association, Buy Local Santa Monica and Santa Monica Travel and Tourism, are taking part in an event of fun and festivities to mark and celebrate Small Business Saturday 2018.

The event will see Montana Avenue lined with participating merchants offering special deals and promotions, as well surprises unveiled on the day.

On Small Business Saturday 2018, Neighborhood Champions in all 50 states will be taking to the streets, working tirelessly to unite shoppers and small businesses. These champions of small businesses will be handing out Shop Small tote bags, balloons, posters and more, to small businesses and shoppers to help raise awareness and support.

You can find out about Small Business Saturday 2018 local events taking place on the Small Business Saturday Facebook page @SmallBusinessSaturday.

Promote Your Own Business and the Small Business Movement

If you own a small business and would like to become involved in Small Business Saturday, you can download posters, email templates, social posts, and more, from the Shop Small Studio to show you are involved and promoting this small business movement.

Compliments of American Express, these downloadable materials, which include how-to videos, event planning advice and calendars, and everything you’ll need to promote your business and spread the word, are all free from the Shop Small store.

Plan a Small Business Saturday 2018 Event

If you’re a small business supporter keen to become involved in this national campaign, why not host your own local event? Whether it’s a pop-up market, a food festival, or a kick-off breakfast, organizing a local event will help bring your community together and help connect customers with local business.

Use the American Express Event Flyer and Event Planning Checklist to help promote your Small Business Saturday event.

Or simply get out on November 24 and shop or eat out at a small local business. Invite friends and family to shop and dine with you, as when it comes to supporting small businesses – the more the merrier.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Everything You Need to Know About Small Business Saturday 2018” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Google Shares Tips for Attracting More Customers Online This Holiday Season

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Online Ad Tips for the Holiday Season

The holiday shopping season is responsible for generating a large percentage of the yearly profits for many businesses. A new infographic from Google wants to help you prepare your site and ads for the increased activity which will come your way as the season moves along.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), the holiday sales during November and December 2017 was up 5.5% with a total of $691.9 billion. The NFR is predicting the numbers for 2018 will be higher yet again, with a forecast that says the sales could hit $720.89 billion.

It is important to note the NRF came in short of its $678.75 billion to $682 billion forecast for 2017. So, the numbers could be much higher.

Online Ad Tips for the Holiday Season

For many small business owners who are now just as much online, or more, as they are with their brick and mortar presence, this infographic offers a wealth of information.

Google Insights

It is a given traffic is considerably higher during the holiday season. The numbers Google highlights are significant enough businesses should seriously consider making the necessary changes to optimize their sites.

How much is the increase? According to Google, it is 22.11% on Thanksgiving, 23.11% on Black Friday, 26.11% on Cyber Monday, 25.12% on Christmas, and 31.12 on New Year.

Prepare your Ads

Google says you should get ready for the holiday season by preparing your ads so you can get more from Google AdSense.

To do this you should use responsive ads so your ads look the same no matter what device people open them in. As Google points out, searchers hunt for gifts on multiple devices and without responsive ads, the long load times can result in high abandonment rates.

You can further get your ads ready and make the profitably using Ad Balance to show only the best performing ads. This will create more space for your holiday content.

Speaking of content, you should also create more holiday content to populate the space with Auto ads.

Last but not least, make your ads more viewable by placing them in different locations or sizes for your users. Once you have made these changes, it is time to attract more users to your site.

Attracting More Users

Attracting users to their site is one of the biggest challenges small business owners face. The competition is fierce, not only from local small businesses but also from other small and large retailers from around the world.

The infographic says you should offer searchers more choice. As an example, Google says mobile searches for “Stores like …” are up 60% in the last two years.

By figuring out what store your store is similar to and adding them to your keywords is one way to get more eyes on your site.

The next suggestion is to increase your mobile presence by creating a mobile site or app just for the holidays. With 64% of smartphone shoppers searching on their device to get ideas before they go to a store, this is a great way to get them walking through your front door.

Google also recommends trying video and knowing your audience better.

You can take a look at the rest of the suggestion from Google in the infographic below.

Online Ad Tips for the Holiday Season

Image: Google AdSense

This article, “Google Shares Tips for Attracting More Customers Online This Holiday Season” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Spotlight: Online Product Photography Creates Quality Visuals for Ecommerce Companies

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Spotlight: Online Product Photography Company Creates Quality Visuals for Ecommerce

If you have an ecommerce company, you probably know the importance of offering quality visuals for your site. Online Product Photography knows that more than most. The company actually started as a retailer and switched over to photography after they couldn’t find a quality solution for their own needs. Read more about the team’s journey below in this week’s Small Business Spotlight.

What the Business Does

Offers a variety of product photography options for ecommerce businesses.

Co-founder Peter Geerts told Small Business Trends, “When consumers buy online or via a catalogue they only have a picture or a video to rely on, hence you want to make sure you showcase your great products in the best possible way. Whether you are a small eCommerce start-up or a multinational company, we can offer the right solution tailored to your needs. From simple eCommerce product pack shots to 360 degrees product presentations or video & 3D modelling, we offer it all.”

Business Niche

Covering all aspects of the process.

Geerts says, “At Online Product Photography we provide free account management for all our clients. It’s a deliberate choice as many of our competitors just try to offer the lowest possible price per picture. We don’t believe this could ever be a sustainable business model, as professional product photography is very complex and believe you pay for quality. Therefore, we help all our customers in finding the perfect solution within their budget constraints. Contracting a product photographer can be very stressful and customers might wonder if they are missing out on important details or opportunities. Therefore, we have a dedicated account manager for every client that assist them from start to finish.”

Spotlight: Online Product Photography Company Creates Quality Visuals for Ecommerce

How the Business Got Started

As a furniture company.

Geerts explains, “Our business started when our company started a furniture project. We realized quickly that a good photographer for our products was vital. When we searched online, we found a lot of small businesses that offered product photography services, but most of them have poor websites, no price indication or a difficult order process. We realized quickly that we could make more money in the photography business than with our furniture project if we could have a certain scale and a professional framework.”

Biggest Win

Opening product photography studios all over Europe.

Geerts says, “This gave us a lot of flexibility. By opening multiple studios, we could lower the waiting time for our our customers and at the same time improve our product service. Furthermore, every studio is specialized in different services and they have a different cost structure. The latter allows us to maximize profits.”

Biggest Risk

Opening a Product Photography studio in Bucharest, Romania.

Geerts adds, “We were very skeptical in the beginning as had no experience of working in Eastern Europe and we had no idea about the quality they could offer. All our studios till then were in Western Europe (London, Paris, Madrid). The risk was enormous, as one unhappy client can destroy your reputation. We traveled several times to Romania in order to prepare the opening of our photo studio there. After all, it turned out that Romanian photographers are just as motivated (or maybe even more) than Spanish, French or British ones. We never regretted opening the studio there, but it could have a very negative impact on our business.”

Lesson Learned

Control as much of the process as possible.

Geerts says, “In the beginning, we subcontracted special services, like 360 degree photography or ghost mannequin photography. But in the service world, it’s very annoying when you depend on third parties. There is nothing more frustrating when you promise a client they will receive their photos by a certain date and your subcontractor does not deliver on time.”

Spotlight: Online Product Photography Company Creates Quality Visuals for Ecommerce

How They’d Spend an Extra $100,000

Purchasing more equipment and studio space.

Geerts says, “We would definitely further invest in state of the art equipment (360 degree and model robots) and secondly open more studios in other European countries like Germany and The Netherlands as eCommerce is also booming in those countries.”

Team Tradition

Rotating annual events.

Geerts explains, “As we have offices all over Europe and the UK, we gather every year in a different country for a team building event. One team is hosting the event and invites all colleagues from the other countries. We saw it’s a fun and engaging way to share the best practices from one studio to another. Despite the high travel costs, we never regretted organizing a single event as we always saw an immediate positive impact. (Better quality, reduced costs, standardization,…)”

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Find out more about the Small Biz Spotlight program

Images: Online Product Photography, Facebook

This article, “Spotlight: Online Product Photography Creates Quality Visuals for Ecommerce Companies” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Asking These 3 Questions Will Improve Your Small Business Financial Management

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Small Business Financial Management: What’s Holding Up Your Books?

What does financial management at leading, growing businesses look like — right now? Today’s fast growth businesses often require CFOs to work closely with the controller to ensure that the organization gets the full benefit of the controller’s talents and knowledge and, the controller’s office is operating at the highest levels of efficiency and accuracy. As the office of the controller becomes ever more strategic — creating higher levels of financial visibility to help drive growth and profitability — the organization’s relationship to the controller role must evolve as well.

Boost your Small Business Financial Management with these Questions

  • How long does it take to close our books? The best measure of controller efficiency is how quickly and accurately the team closes the books. Start with strong planning and preparation, such as handling all billing and expense issues prior to the period end. Automation is also essential — it provides the desired speed, efficiency, and accuracy without increasing staffing levels. A fast close enables the accounting and finance team to move beyond merely reporting results and into forward-looking activities that can shape future outcomes. You and the executive team need financial information as soon as possible to make any necessary course corrections. This information includes traditional financial statements (income statement, balance sheet, and statement of cash flows) as well as operational reports and detailed analyses of business results. In addition to tracking the number of manual journal entries, monitor the number of expense reports, accruals, bills, and invoices that your finance team must process. Consider creating a simple scorecard to measure your progress and to understand where the bottlenecks are occurring. Keep in mind, in general, manual entries and workarounds are red flags for auditors because they are an open invitation to policy deviations. Automated processes enforce your accounting policies—while also increasing closing speed and reducing errors.
  • Are we still using Excel? If so, why? Excel can be a valuable tool for specific, limited purposes.While there are many reasons to limit Microsoft Excel use in corporate accounting — such as its inherently breakable models, security issues, and lack of share-ability — it can still be useful to controllers in certain situations. Love it or hate it, Excel has been — and will likely remain — one of the go-to components in every accountant’s toolkit. Just make sure you’re clear on why you are using it. Some of the best practices for using Excel include isolated tasks, ad hoc reporting and ancillary reporting. For instance, multi-user corporate accounting systems have their own native reporting facilities, but sometimes controllers prefer the familiarity of Excel for reconciliation reports, creating flash reports at period end, modeling various forecast scenarios, and similar forward-looking reports.
  • How are we managing our operating metrics? Can we integrate our financial information and our operating metrics? Because many financial systems can now accommodate analyses of operating metrics to create a richer, fuller picture of the business, the controller is assuming a role as the provider of financial visibility — once the domain of financial planning and analysis (FP&A) teams or the CFO. Keep in mind, implementing a single reporting system to eliminate unproductive reconciliation time. Merging financial data and operational metrics could help your organization in several ways, such as identifying opportunities, emphasizing operational metrics, such as product shipments, raw-material inventories, delivery performance and customer acquisition, as well as reporting revenue for GAAP, sales compensation and more by leveraging a single, merged reporting system — with everyone on the same page. An excessive number of manual journal entries needlessly extend a closing period — and can also be a leading indicator of lurking problems. They can conceal anomalies and errors that actually have broad, systemic roots. You may be plagued with variable accounting processes — or a level of complexity that calls for revised standards.

When it comes to financial management, growing businesses suffer with issues ranging from scalability, and visibility to limited accounting software functionality — often facing the realization that they require a deeper vision into real time analytics to fully support growth. Fortunately for today’s fast growth businesses, there exists an array of technologies — from advanced accounting software solutions to cloud based ERP systems, fully equipped to  overcome the limitations of more fundamental financial management alternatives … including QuickBooks.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Asking These 3 Questions Will Improve Your Small Business Financial Management” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Businesses Prefer Regional Trade as Tariffs and Protectionism Threaten Global Prospects

Wednesday, November 14th, 2018

Businesses Prefer Regional Trade Over Global Trade

Due to customer demand and favorable economic conditions, businesses worldwide have growing confidence.

But however confident they may be, many companies are beginning to shift toward doing business within their own regions due to uncertainty surrounding global trade, according to a new HSBC survey of over 8,500 companies.

As protectionism becomes more of a focus for governments around the world, companies are beginning to worry about their prospects. Of those companies surveyed, 31 percent of those with negative outlooks cited tariffs and the U.S-China trade dispute as the main reason for their pessimism.

As a result, many companies are shifting toward intra-regional trade over inter-regional trade. Regarding companies’ top targets for trade growth, there has been a drop in both European and North American companies that are targeting Asian companies.

More North American companies are planning to trade within their home regions in the next three-to-five years.

The number of Asian companies targeting North American companies for trade growth is also declining. and more Asia-Pacific companies are aiming for China as a future growth market.

“Businesses are staying positive, but they’re signaling to policymakers that protectionism is a significant concern that’s reducing their appetite to grow through international trade. Some are looking closer to home for opportunities, and many are adapting their approach to stay fit for the future,” said Noel Quinn, chief executive of Global Commercial Banking at HSBC.

This survey also showed that 51 percent of companies expect that free-trade agreements, how they apply in their specific country and industry, will benefit them over the next three years.

Technology will also have a big impact on a lot of companies in the future as 22 percent of businesses have invested in research and technology over the last two years, 75 percent are looking to data to drive business optimization, and 26 percent consider technological advancement the top reason for choosing a supplier after cost and quality of their products.

“We expect technology, digitization and data to play an increasingly important strategic role by enabling businesses to develop their products and services, reach new customers and cut costs by improving operational efficiency,” said Quinn.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Businesses Prefer Regional Trade as Tariffs and Protectionism Threaten Global Prospects” was first published on Small Business Trends

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These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Pains for Retailers

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Retail Pain Points

Speed, cost, and seasonal increase in volume are the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers.

This according to a new survey by Simplr, which looked at the pulse of small-medium sized e-commerce retailers handling customer service inquiries to determine how businesses were getting ready for the holiday shopping season. The survey also identified opportunities and challenges facing online retailers.

Many of today’s retailers are small businesses who have a brick and mortar and online presence. Addressing the customer service needs for both segments is equally important, but handling customers who may be on the other side of the world requires different tool sets.

In an emailed press release, Eng Tan, CEO of Simplr, said the survey wanted to understand how businesses approached the holidays, especially the growing contingency of businesses online.

Tan adds, “Our goal with this survey was to obtain data around the pain points and opportunities that small-medium sized businesses are seeing, particularly around areas that customer support touches, that can be leveraged to better understand the challenges they are seeing and how services like Simplr or others in the ecosystem can step in to help.”

More Online Holiday Season Retail Pain Points

When you are able to identify the pain points of your business, you can remove them. This will make your company more efficient, especially during the upcoming busy holiday shopping season.

The survey reveals the holiday season can start in October or November, with 35% stating it is the former and 37% the latter. The fluctuation can be responsible for having too much inventory or missing on sale opportunities because it is too low.

This is pointed out by another survey question regarding when the holiday shopping season ends for businesses. Forty-eight percent said in December, while an almost equal number or 47% said January.

Simplr says it is important to ramp up for the holiday season as early as possible because staying competitive means being ready.

These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Retail Pain Points

When it comes to the most time-consuming actions for an online business 62% said it was fulfilling orders, followed by 48% who said processing online orders. Another 37% said it was processing returns and 38% stating it was customer chat support addressing online orders.

According to Simplr it is important to address these support related tasks because they are a big opportunity for online retailers to build their brands.

How are businesses engage with their customers when it comes to customer service? The primary method of inbound customer service requests and issues was addressed by email and phone for 92 and 83 percent of the respondents respectively.

However, a growing number of businesses or 43% are using chat or a combination of either email or call and chat.

Of those companies who use chat, 80% said it was being carried out on the company website. Being able to handle chat conversation on a company site gives businesses the ability to respond to requests immediately.

For small businesses with a limited workforce, this is an affordable option for delivering live customer support in order to stay competitive.

So why are Speed (51%), cost (48%) and seasonal increase in volume (45%) the biggest holiday shopping season pain points for retailers? For small retailers, Simplr says the great opportunities the season offers is a burden on small support teams.

This requires hiring part-time seasonal workers, which adds more cost. But having more people may not always deliver because it takes that much longer for the new hires to jump right into taking support tickets, which can impact customer experience.

Simplr provides US-based customer service which can be scaled up or down depending on the volume to address the needs of e-commerce startups and other businesses.

In addition to the survey, Simplr has developed a guide for getting ready for the holiday shopping season with planning, best practices and more. You can access The E-Commerce Entrepreneur’s Guide to Crushing the 2018 Holidays, here.

Image: Simplr

This article, “These 3 Things are the Biggest Online Holiday Season Pains for Retailers” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Best Places to Promote Your Small Business Marketing Content

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

Where to Promote Content to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck

A robust content promotion strategy has become a non-negotiable element of a successful content marketing plan.

Simply throwing your articles out into the social jungle doesn’t yield much. Go ahead, pop on over to Twitter or Facebook and search for the terms you’re targeting. It’s a wasteland of content that people put time into with little to no engagement. If you’re putting your own content online — you probably know this already.

Some businesses choose not to keep their social accounts updated, or even worse, many choose to stop creating content.

Where to Promote Content

If that’s you, stick around. This post highlights 5 places to promote content that could improve engagement and send the right traffic your way.

Where: Social Groups

In the early 2000’s, chat rooms were all the rage. Now (and for the foreseeable future) social media groups are a top internet gathering place. People come to find and share opinions, forge connections and promote what they care about.

Facebook groups are often the most active, but you can find thriving sub-communities on LinkedIn and Twitter (through lists, hashtags, and private group chats).

How:

Finding a list of groups that are relevant to your content and goals won’t be difficult, but finding one that will be right is challenging. For instance, there are a large number of Facebook groups for realtors.

Where to Promote Content to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck - Realtor Groups

(Screenshot via Facebook)

So, if you’re a business that sells to realtors, the group may be skeptical of you. Closed groups can be more active than open groups, but the expectation in closed groups is that content focuses less on blatant self-promotion.

Commitment: Medium

What you share in the groups you join should be highly valuable and mostly NOT from your own content. The self-promotional content that you do share will be better accepted if you’re known for showing genuine interest and sharing knowledge about the group’s topic of interest.

Proving you’re there to benefit the group takes requires gradual, thoughtful action: responding to others’ posts, curating content (not just yours), and knowing what you’re talking about. In other words, it takes a serious time commitment, but the payoff can be well worth the investment.

Where: Medium

Medium is a site where people can share their writing and ideas — kind of like a social media site mashed up with Blogger. It’s a great place for businesses to repost content where it could find more eyes.

How:

  • Once you sign up for Medium, you click on your account avatar. Then, click “New Story” and an intuitive writing editor pops up.
  • Copy/Paste your content (Medium is very good about transporting images), check to see if everything made it, and if you’d like to make any changes.
  • When you go to publish the post, you can add a handful of “tags” so people searching for relevant topics are more likely to discover your post.

Where to Promote Content to Get the Biggest Bang for Your Buck - Real Estate tag on Medium

(Screenshot via Medium)

Commitment: Easy

Copy/Paste, a bit of formatting, and publish. Easy-peasy.

Note: You will likely want to wait a week or two before reposting your blogs to avoid confusing the search engines. Some companies put their actual blog on Medium and don’t have one hosted on their own domain.

Where: YouTube/Live Video

You may think, “We don’t do videos right now.” But don’t skip this section. Numerous reports over the past decade have shown the importance of creating video content. And as history has played out, we know they were largely accurate.

Key Stat: Cisco predicts by 2020 more than 80% of internet traffic worldwide will be online videos.

It’s where the people are, which means it’s worth your time, effort, and money.

How:

There are a couple of ways you can do this.

  1. Sit down and create a 2-5 minute script discussing the points you want to cover in your video. At your desk, on your couch — doesn’t matter.
  2. Create a video using a tool like Lumen5 or a slideshow highlighting the best points of your article. You could even voiceover the slideshow, meaning you wouldn’t even need a camera.

Commitment: Medium to Hard

Using a tool could cost money but will make the process much easier. Purchasing a camera and other equipment is costly. Creating a slideshow with a simple voiceover is inexpensive and effective — but requires time.

Where: Email

Not building an email list is perhaps the gravest online marketing mistake a business can make, followed closely by those that have an email list but fail to utilize it. Having a list and not sending them regular updates about content is a travesty.

Infrequent communication destroys open and click-through rates. Sending a weekly or bi-weekly update of content published is a fantastic way to get eyes on your content.

How:

Craft your email in a way that creates an interest in your article. Don’t just say, “Here’s this week’s blog.” Show them why they should read it and don’t forget to ask them to share it (both in the email and via share buttons on the post itself).

Commitment: Easy

You can’t get much easier than sending an email to a list of people who have already said they want to hear from you.

You spend a lot of time creating engaging content that’s valuable to those who read it, but if your content isn’t getting views, you’re not getting the traction that you should be from your effort. Employing these tactics is a sure-fire way to get more mileage from your carefully-crafted content — and get a bigger bang for your content marketing bucks.

Photo via: Shutterstock

This article, “Best Places to Promote Your Small Business Marketing Content” was first published on Small Business Trends

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FTC Launches New Cyber Security Tools for Small Business

Tuesday, November 13th, 2018

FTC Cybersecurity Resources Launched for Small Business

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has launched a resource to raise awareness about the vital role cybersecurity plays for the 32+ million small businesses in the US.

This effort was part of the National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM) in October, which has been recognized every month since 2003. The NCSAM was established with the collaboration of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and the National Cyber Security Alliance to ensure the safety and security of internet users.

As more small businesses started getting online after, the cyber threats they face has been growing with them. And today small businesses are a big of a target as anyone else in the digital world.  The goal of the FTC’s new resources platform is to keep small businesses informed and fully aware of the dangers they face with their online presence.

Rosario Méndez, Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC, explained how this campaign to educate small businesses came about.

On the FTC blog, Méndez said, “This new national cybersecurity education campaign grew out of discussions we had last year with small business owners across the country about cybersecurity challenges.”

She goes on to say the FTC took notes and developed a resource which was easy to digest for small business owners and their employees. The campaign is co-branded with the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and the Small Business Administration (SBA).

The Tools and Resources

The tools and resources the FTC provides come from cybersecurity experts in the private and public field.

An easy to use format clearly displays a wide range of cybersecurity topics with fact sheets that can be downloaded for business owners, their employees, vendors, and anyone which is part of the organization.

The fact sheets, videos, and quizzes cover the following topics.

  • Cybersecurity Basics
  • Understanding the NIST Cybersecurity Framework
  • Physical Security
  • Ransomware
  • Phishing
  • Business Email Imposters
  • Tech Support Scams
  • Vendor Security
  • Cyber Insurance (with thanks to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners)
  • Email Authentication
  • Hiring a Web Host
  • Secure Remote Access

According to Andrew Smith, Director, FTC Bureau of Consumer Protection, each topic has been designed to get to the point it is addressing without wasting your time.

A good example of this is Cybersecurity Basics. When you download the fact sheet for this topic and go through it, you will be able to answer:

  • Why you should set your apps, web browsers, and operating systems to update automatically.
  • Three key steps to help secure your router.
  • Multi-factor authentication: What it is and why it should matter to your business.
  • How planning for the “what ifs” may help keep your business running even if you experience a data breach.

You can also watch the video of the same topic, which you can see below.

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What Should you do in the Event of a Security Breach?

The FTC has come up with 10 practical lessons small businesses can apply based on the more than 50+ data security settlements the agency has overseen.

  1. Start with security – Don’t collect personal information you don’t need,; Hold on to information only as long as you have a legitimate business need; Don’t use personal information when it’s not necessary.
  2. Control access to data sensibly – Restrict access to sensitive data; Limit administrative access.
  3. Require secure passwords and authentication – Insist on complex and unique passwords; Store passwords securely; Guard against brute force attacks; Protect against authentication bypass.
  4. Store sensitive personal information securely and protect it during transmission – Keep sensitive information secure throughout its lifecycle; Use industry-tested and accepted methods; Ensure proper configuration.
  5. Segment your network and monitor who’s trying to get in and out – Segment your network; Monitor activity on your network.
  6. Secure remote access to your network – Ensure endpoint security; Put sensible access limits in place.
  7. Apply sound security practices when developing new products – Train your engineers in secure coding; Follow platform guidelines for security; Verify that privacy and security features work; Test for common vulnerabilities.
  8. Make sure your service providers implement reasonable security measures – Put it in writing; Verify compliance.
  9. Put procedures in place to keep your security current and address vulnerabilities that may arise – Update and patch third-party software; Heed credible security warnings and move quickly to fix them.
  10. Secure paper, physical media, and devices – Securely store sensitive files; Protect devices that process personal information; Keep safety standards in place when data is en route; Dispose of sensitive data securely.

The FTC wants small businesses owners as well as everyone working for/with them to be well informed. The more your organization is aware, the harder it will be to fall for the scams, tricks and methods hackers use to breach the protocols you have in place.

The key to doing this is staying informed and hyper-aware of the existing threats your small business faces day in and day out.

You can go to the FTC small business page and get more information on cybersecurity and other related issues here.

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This article, “FTC Launches New Cyber Security Tools for Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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