Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Quick Guide to Marketing for Small Business Saturday – November 30

Organizations have many options when it comes to marketing for Small Business Saturday, which occurs on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. Small Business Saturday encourages consumers to support local businesses. The event drives attention to local small companies, presenting them with an opportunity to create brand awareness and increase local sales.

Taking advantage of Small Business Saturday requires planning, executing, and financing strategies. Funding your efforts can be done through securing a small business loan. The working capital can be used to hire seasonal staff, purchase extra inventory, or pay for a marketing campaign.

However, marketing isn’t always simple. Here’s what you need to know and how to take advantage of small business’s big day.

Ramp Up Digital Marketing for Small Business Saturday

Brands must work to engage customers through both digital and physical means. This omnichannel experience begins with digital marketing basics. You Should Consider:

Building Relationships on Social Media: Connecting with customers on social media can help you capture additional holiday sales. When marketing for Small Business Saturday, you may want to gradually tease out your plans for the big day. You can use social media to broadcast a special offer or invite customers to an in-store event. Social media is ideal for highlighting how you plan to celebrate Small Business Saturday. When posting on social media, be sure to include the #ShopSmall and #SmallBizSat hashtags.

Using Email Marketing: Email campaigns are an effective way to garner consumer attention and bring awareness to exclusive Small Business Saturday deals. It’s important to go beyond broad, generic messages. Personalization is increasingly vital in standing out in email campaigns.  Key Strategies to Employ:

  • Take the time to get to know your audience.
  • Create copy aimed directly at them.
  • Highlight promotions that fit their needs.
  • Give them a clear action to take in response to the message.

Fostering Online Reviews: Consumers actively research products and services before committing to a purchase. Consider teaming up with an influencer who has a large following and a fair amount of influence within your area or niche. You can send them product samples in return for an honest review. This will help drive visibility and increase consumer confidence.

Implement Traditional Advertising Programs

Small businesses benefit from the ability to offer localized, personal services. You can leverage your relationship with your community to build trust and increase brand awareness. Traditional advertising campaigns can be ideal for furthering your presence in your community. Key Strategies to Employ:

Getting Involved With Your Local Xommunity: Participating in community service events helps you get to know those around you. And helps them get to know your business. Interacting with potential customers in a community setting shows that you’re interested in relationship building rather than just maximizing sales. You could consider sponsoring a charity or local event. Successful community involvement plans require commitment and a genuine interest in what you’re doing.

Run Ad Campaigns With Local Media: If you want to drive engagement at a local level, you must use channels that are specifically aimed at your local community. Your message can slip into the background on far-reaching media channels, but an ad campaign in a local paper can go a long way in helping people connect with your brand.

Offer Deals and Promotions: It’s critical to recognize the importance of deals and promotions when marketing for Small Business Saturday. Limited time offers, and discounts can persuade customers who are on the fence about your products and services to give them a try.

Prepare Your Systems and Operations

If you’re successful at marketing for Small Business Saturday, then you’ll need to be prepared for an increase in volume and customer interactions. Consider:

Optimizing for Mobile: Consumers do everything from product research to actual purchases via smartphones and tablets. Make sure your website is mobile optimized. If your website is not optimized for mobile, you risk running into problems as you work to increase traffic surrounding Small Business Saturday.

Updating Your Website: Make sure your address and contact info is correct on your website. Additionally, review your site to make sure that promotions are prominently displayed, and your payment process is working properly. Put new product pictures out if your current listings seem dated and ensure copy properly reflects your services. Take time to upgrade and adjust your site before the big event.

Hiring Seasonal Staff: Since Small Business Saturday falls in line with the holiday season,  it’s a convenient time to bring in extra staff. Seasonal employees can be used to help launch a new marketing campaign, handle sales, or interact with customers.

Managing Your Inventory: One of the most important considerations for Small Business Saturday is that you have plenty of goods to sell. A boost in sales won’t matter if you don’t have inventory available to meet customer needs. Take some time to analyze your supplies and ensure you’re ready for the increase in demand.

By participating in Small Business Saturday, local businesses receive quite a few perks including community support, great local marketing opportunities, and the high potential to reach new customers. Utilize the above marketing strategies to better prepare for Small Business Saturday and take advantage of the shopping frenzy.

Ben Gold is president of QuickBridge, a privately-held financial services firm providing “small business loans” and short-term working capital funding solutions for small-to medium-sized businesses nationwide. Based on its growth, QuickBridge has ranked two consecutive years on the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing American Companies list. Ben is a thought leader in the financial tech. industry and a contributing member of the Forbes Finance Council.

7 Tips to Help You Balance Work and School

7 Tips to Help You Balance Work and School

by Erin Pettus

1. Tap Your Support Network

Your support network is made up of the people who are in a position to help you get your degree. Your support network might include your family, friends, significant other, children, and your fellow students.

A group of students that enter a program together are called a cohort. Often, these students will follow a similar education track and complete the program around the same time. Your cohort might have a mixture of traditional and adult students, but it’s ok to seek out those who are balancing work and school, just like you.

Your family may be able to offer support at home by maybe taking on more domestic tasks, but your cohort at school can offer support in the form of resources and empathy as they’re going through the same experience that you are. Build your support network to include as many people as you can, and don’t be afraid to ask for help and support when you need it.

2. Manage Your Time Well

When you’re looking for balance, one of the biggest questions you’ll want to answer is how much time you can devote to what tasks. One of the most important aspects of time management is knowing yourself and scheduling time to study at your most efficient work hours. This might mean staying up later than normal or getting up early on the weekends to get in your study time. Time blocking is one technique that helps you to prioritize your to-do list, and honestly scheduling the time necessary for each task at the best time of the day.

If time blocking is just a little bit too much for you, consider creating a weekly and monthly schedule. A weekly schedule will focus on the details of how you spend your time and a monthly schedule will be more broad, letting you plan ahead for weeks that might be busier than others. We’ve also put together a list of study tips to help you use the time you have efficiently.

3. Talk to Your Boss

We understand that this might be intimidating, but the sooner you inform your boss that you’re going back to school, the more willing they will probably be to make accommodations. Letting your boss know that you’re going back to school will allow them to be more understanding of your elevated stress and work levels. You might even be surprised—many bosses want to help their employees go back to school, or may be in a position to offer a promotion once you’ve earned your degree.

You can also more easily balance school and work by taking time off during high stress times at school. As soon as you receive your class syllabus, look ahead to when midterms and finals will be. If you can take time off from work, try to schedule it around those high-stress time so your school stress won’t affect your performance at your job.

It might sound extreme, but you might also want to consider finding a flexible job when going back to school. A job with a flexible schedule, or one that’s part time, might make it easier to go back to school and manage your time.

4. Streamline Your Tasks

Streamlining your tasks will make it easier to get everything done. Consider this example: when you run errands would you prefer to get five items at 5 different stores or five items at one store? You’d pick one store, right? It would save you time and money spent on gas. Think of your work for school and your job like that.

If you have to do a project for school, can you make it about something at work so that you’re working on both at the same time? Maybe you can implement new skills that you learn at school while at work. Instead of keeping your work and school lives separate, let them integrate and make your time use more efficient. You might also consider doing homework on your lunch break or keep your school materials in your car so you can go directly from work to the library to study.

5. Optimize Your Tuition

There are many options for aid when paying for school. There are scholarships, grants, loans, and employer tuition assistance. For most students, loans should be the last option as they’re very expensive to pay back.

When applying and choosing your school, look for a school that gives you the most benefit for each dollar you will spend. We’re not recommending that you choose the cheapest school, nor are we saying the the most expensive schools are the best schools. What you want to look for is a school that will give you the biggest benefit for the money that you will spend.

6. Consider Online Classes

Online classes can make going back to school so much easier while working full-time. Most online courses give students the flexibility to work when they can, not have to show up at a certain time in a physical location (or commute!). Some online courses even offer self-paced classes, allowing students to start and stop when they need to. Be sure to look for online classes that will fit your learning style.

7. Love What You’re Studying

One of the easiest ways to find the time to balance work and school is to choose to study something that you love. If you love your classes, the homework, and your new area of study, then you’ll be more motivated to put in the necessary time and prioritize your school work over distractions. You might be surprised just how motivated you can be by doing something that you love.

We hope that these tips will help you to find balance in your life and be able to more easily manage going back to school while also working. This is one of our favorite topics to talk about so be sure to check back on our blog to see more great content just like this.

 

7 Steps to Prepare for Your Job Interview

7 Steps to Prepare for Your Job Interview

You have finally secured the coveted job interview, so what happens next?  Here are 7 steps to help you prepare.

 1.  Pick your outfit

What you wear on your interview is an absolutely crucial part of how to prepare for a job interview. After you choose your outfit, make sure it is cleaned and pressed and you have the appropriate accessories and shoes to go with it. It doesn’t hurt to try the outfit on ahead of time, just to make sure everything fits and you look great. Then put your outfit aside for the day of your interview and have it ready to go. Now that you have this crucial step out of the way, you can concentrate on the rest.

2. Practice greeting your interviewer:

You should always greet your interview with a friendly smile and firm handshake. If you do this right, you will set off the right energy and the chances of the interview going well will increase. This is a small and simple step that you should always to do to prepare for your interview

3. Study your resume and know everything about it:

Any work experience or skills you have listed on your resume are fair game to talk about during the interview. Your resume is all the interviewer has to go by in order to get to know you. They may pick things out from it and ask you to elaborate. Even though you may have a previous job listed that was many years ago, the interviewer may ask you to explain what you did at that job and you are responsible for providing an answer. This is one step you absolutely won’t want to skip on how to prepare for a job interview.

4. Practice your answers to the most common interview questions:

If you don’t know what these are, do your research and find out or see one of my other articles. You’ll want to have your answers ready and practice them. You should always be able to answer “Tell me about yourself” and “Why do you think you would be great for this job?” The employer doesn’t know, so it’s up to you to sell it.

Don’t completely memorize your answers so they come out rehearsed, but have a clear idea of what you are going to say. When you are asked, you want your answer to come out intelligently and natural. Be open to other questions as well and really know what you can offer to the company.

5. Research the company and the job position you are applying for:

Write down any questions you may have about either so you can ask during the interview. If there any requirement of the job that you are unsure of, you should definitely ask during the interview. It always looks nice when you go into an interview with intelligent questions. It shows you put effort into preparing for the interview. However, never ask questions just to ask questions. The interviewer will see right through that. Your questions should be genuine and relevant.

6. Find out the type of interview you will be going on:

There are several common types of interviews such as one on one, group, and behavioral. You shouldn’t assume you will get a certain one. Don’t be afraid to ask your recruiter what kind of interview will have if you don’t know – the interview will be more beneficial to both parties if you are prepared.

7. Print out the directions to the interview and be on time:

Allow enough time to get there and anticipate traffic. It’s ok to be up to 10 minutes early, but no more than that. Otherwise, the interviewer may not be ready for you. Bring the phone number of your interviewer just in case you get lost or are going to be late. If you are going to be late, call to let the interviewer know.

Follow these tips and you will successfully know how to prepare for a job interview. Interviewers can tell whether or not a candidate has prepared for it or not and they will appreciate it if you did.

Preparing for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

Preparing for a Hurricane or Tropical Storm

.Since June 1 began hurricane season here in Florida, we thought it would be a good idea to share some information regarding preparations for either a hurricane or a tropical storm.

You can’t stop a tropical storm or hurricane, but you can take steps now to protect you and your family.

If you live in areas at risk, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages you to begin preparing for hurricane season. The Atlantic hurricane season is June 1 through November 30 each year.

Please follow these important hurricane preparedness tips from CDC:

  1. Preparing for a hurricane:  Take basic steps now to ensure your safety should a storm hit.  Discuss the plan with family members so everyone is aware of what to do in an emergency.
  2. Emergency supplies you will need:  Stock your home and car with supplies.  Food should be non-perishable.  Gasoline may be in short supply, so when a storm nears, make sure your tank is full.
  3. Make a plan:  Create a family disaster plan.  Include a phone number that all family members can call to check in after the storm passes.
  4. Avoid flooded areas:  Take precautions before, during, and after a flood.  Storm surge can quickly flood low lying areas and water depth can be misleading.
  5. Prepare to evacuate:  NEVER ignore an evacuation order, especially if you are in a flood zone.  Where to evacuate should be part of your preparation plan so you won’t be scrambling at the last minute trying to decide where to go.  Make reservations in advance if you plan to go to a hotel/motel, as they quickly fill up during an evacuation order.
  6. Protecting older adults:  Understand older adult health and medical concerns, as well as making sure you have a supply of medications on hand.  If you are planning to go to a local shelter, you most likely will need to pre-register to ensure you are able to obtain a space.  Most shelters have special rooms designated for the special needs adults.
  7. Protect pets:  Make sure of your pet’s safety before, during, and after an emergency.  If you are evacuating to either a local shelter or to a hotel/motel, make sure ahead of time that pets are accepted.  Local shelters will require you to provide shot records and pre-registration.
  8. Prevent carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning after the storm:  Ensure your CO detector has working batteries.  Place generators outside at least 20 feet from any door, window, or vent.  Make sure you have ample fuel for your generator on hand as gasoline may be in short supply before, during, and after the storm.
  9. After a hurricane:  Learn how to avoid injuries, make sure your food and water are safe, and be sure to clean up any mold safely.  Broken glass and live electrical wires are common after a hurricane, so be sure you use caution when you are out walking and when walking your pets.

CDC strongly recommends that you print all important resources before a hurricane strikes. Power outages during and after a hurricane can prevent you from accessing information online when you most need it. Preparing now can help keep you and your family safe.

How to Survive the Coming Data Privacy Tsunami

How to Survive the Coming Data Privacy Tsunami

Author, KRISTINA PODNAR is a digital policy innovator. For over two decades, she has worked with some of the most high-profile companies in the world and has helped them see policies as opportunities to free the organization from uncertainty, risk, and internal chaos. Podnar’s approach brings in marketing, human resources, IT, legal, compliance, security, and procurement to create digital policies and practices that comply with regulations, unlock opportunity, strengthen the brand and liberate employees.

 Just as we have gotten used to the idea that the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a fact of life and have made modifications in our data collection procedures, the Brazil General Data Protection Law (LGDP), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and waves of proposed new data privacy laws are swirling in the calm forewarning of a privacy tsunami heading our way. In the middle of such deep acronym swirls, it could be easy to be overwhelmed. However, all the privacy regulations share a number of commonalities and by addressing these now, you will be on high ground as the waves begin to pound.

The compliance life raft

While you will need to pay attention to the details of individual data regulations as they arise, whether already adopted, pending adoption, or only proposed, all the regulations share certain commonalities that you should consider addressing as part of ongoing operations.

Accountability and governance

At the heart of data privacy requirements is the aim to have organizations develop a plan to self-manage data in a way that respects end users. To address accountability and governance requirements in your organization, consider, have you:

  • Reviewed the applicability and risk to the organization from data privacy issues, and considered alternatives, including insurance, in case you are fined?
  • Mandated that data privacy become part of the policy program, including staff training, measurement, and compliance reporting?
  • Clearly documented roles, responsibilities, and reporting lines to embed privacy compliance

Consent and processing

A fundamental privacy regulation concept is that end users are aware when and why their data is collected, and what happens to it once it’s given. To address these requirements, ask yourself whether you have:

  • Reviewed that the data being collected and used is necessary and for the benefit of completing a desired action by the user?
  • Identified sensitive data and ensured it is treated as such through the use of special encryption or by validating vendor storage practices for sensitive data, etc.?
  • Confirmed that user consent for data collection is clearly captured and documented, and that user data can be modified or erased?

Notifications and data rights

Gone are the days of legalese or simply taking data from users because we can. Data privacy regulations require transparency, user awareness, and forthright behavior by businesses. To ensure you get this right, ask yourself whether the organization has:

  • Written user notices clearly so they can be easily understood—properly targeted to children where relevant—and are reflective of specific data collection and usage purposes?
  • Updated the internal organization’s data privacy policy to clearly state the rights of prospects and customers regarding the collection and processing of their personal data?
  • Created and tested processes to correct and delete all user data if needed?
  • Developed a solution to give users their data in a portable electronic format?

Privacy design

Organizations that treat privacy as a core design principle will always be in alignment with data privacy regulations. In my consulting experience, I see many self-disciplined organizations that have historically had good privacy practices and have little to address with each new law. To get to that state, ask whether you have:

  • Created or updated the policy and associated process to embed privacy into all technology and digital projects, including those outsourced to vendors and partners?

Data breach notification

For many organizations, the question nowadays isn’t whether the organization will have a breach, but rather when will it happen and how will they respond. To address regulatory breach aspects, ask whether the organization has:

  • Created (or reviewed and updated an existing) data breach policy and response plan to reflect detection, notification, and the actions to mitigate loss?
  • Considered and obtained insurance for a possible data breach and regulatory penalties that the organization may face but not be able to handle on its own?
  • Incorporated data breach terms and requirements into all vendor and third-party contracts?

Data localization

New data privacy regulations state where data physically must be stored, and if transferred to another country, what are the requirements for doing so. Your organization will be well positioned to meet this requirement if it can answer:

  • Have we identified and updated all cross-border data flows from the country where the data is collected, and reviewed data export for on-premise and cloud solutions?

Children’s online privacy considerations

Data privacy regulations are concerned with end users, but  are even more strict about children and their online data protection and rights. It is best to get ahead of these issues by asking whether the organization has:

  • Defined what data it collects from children, whether as a business practice or through efforts like “take your child to work day”?
  • Are user notifications and online privacy statements written in a way that a child could understand them, and do they state that parental consent is required?

Contracting and procurement

Most businesses may struggle to understand exactly what personal user data is collected via websites, mobile applications, and other digital platforms, especially through third-party software solutions and vendors. To make sure that your organization isn’t caught out, ask whether you have:

  • Reviewed and ensured that all vendors, customers, and third-party agreements reflect data regulatory requirements?
  • Defined procurement processes such that privacy is integrated into all products and services the organization buys, including regarding data minimization, the visibility of onward data flows, and data ownership?

 

The One Form of Marketing That ALWAYS Works

By Ted Janusz

Can you relate to this?  John Wannamaker, the Philadelphia department store magnate, said “Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, I don’t know which half.”   But there is one form of marketing, that ALWAYS works … what is it?

WORD OF MOUTH!

Of course, now with the internet and social media, you could call it WORLD of mouth marketing.  People are six times more likely to rely on the word of other people when making a buying decision rather than advertising.

In fact, 80% of consumer buying decisions are based on personal recommendations.  Here’s why it works …

The average American adult knows 400 people … people you work with, went to school with, or people you know socially.  If you assume each of those 400 people know 400 others (of course, there will be some overlap – but let’s keep it simple), you now have an immediate network of 140,000 people.

And if you assume those 140,000 people know 400 others, you are up to one-third of the US population.  And what will people spread about your business, good news or bad? Right! Bad news!

Your average satisfied customer will tell 5 to 8 others. But your average upset customer (if you have any) will 10 to 16. In fact, one in five will tell 20 people how upset you have made them.

In their book Creating Customer Evangelists, authors Ben McConnell and Jackie Huba say, “Competition for entertainment dollars – where Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban says he competes – is fierce. To succeed, he must continually focus on increasing the average lifetime value of a Mavs season ticket holder. In 2002, that figure was $300,000, according to Cuban. “The Chicago Cubs, you’ve got to wait in line to get your season tickets,” he says. “That’s the goal … then I don’t have to spend lots of money on salespeople and all kinds of support efforts – I’ve just got to keep [customers] happy. It’s a lot easier to keep ‘em happy than to go out and get new ones to replace ‘em.”

Now the lifetime value of one of your customers may not be $300,000 like it is for the Dallas Mavericks. But once you determine what that value is for you, you’ll realize how important to keep those customers happy – since they, bar none, are your best source of marketing.

Ted Janusz, MBA, CSP is a Certified Speaking Professional who has delighted audiences for more than 5,000 hours, in 49 of the 50 United States, in Canada from Halifax to Vancouver, in Australia, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. Learn more at www.januspresentations.com.