Monday, May 21, 2018

The Cost of Returns

From eMarketer:
Even without an established try-before-you-buy model, retailers’ generous free return policies have led to consumers purchasing multiple items with the intent to send some back.

Retailers like Warby Parker and Amazon have popularized try-before-you-buy by letting consumers try on products at no upfront cost. The consumer is only charged for what they keep, and the remainder is returned.

As a result, a February 2018 study from Brightpearl, conducted by OnePoll, found that over 40% of US and UK retailers have seen a spike in intentional returns compared with a year ago. What's more, some 70% of retailers believe the try-before-you-buy model leads to more returns.

"[Try-before-you-buy] creates a tsunami of returns that could easily overwhelm retailers who do not have the processes or workflows in place to cope with that level of change," the study said.

And this may be why many are hesitant to try it out.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

The State Of Industry In 2018

From Thomasnet
Industry is no stranger to change, and today, several monumental shifts — in business, technology, and even politics — are changing it once again.

As a supplier, it's imperative for you to understand these shifts in order ensure your success today, and tomorrow.

Our eBook, The State Of Industry In 2018, can help you keep ahead of the latest trends. It explores:

Critical changes in the manufacturing workforce
The most in-demand products and services in 2018
The role that politics is playing within industry
And more!

Download your free copy now.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Is Social Media a Waste of Time for Free Traffic?


In 2014 I wrote an article titled “Why You Should Forget Facebook”

The main premise of the post was that Facebook was reducing its organic reach. In fact, the numbers showed it was trending to zero.

So…. we dived into why using Facebook for organic and free traffic was becoming a waste time and you maybe need to forget it for earned attention.

It was rapidly becoming a pay to play platform.

The big promise that drew me to social media was that you could reach the world without paying the gatekeepers or begging for attention.

They were the media moguls and book publishers to name just two.

So I was disturbed and annoyed by this trend.

So where are we today? We now have new gatekeepers.

Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Problem With Loyalty Programs

From eMarketer:

Consumers like loyalty programs, but they have complaints. A major one is the hassle of accessing rewards.

In a February 2018 survey from mobile coupon solution provider CodeBroker, some 54% of US loyalty program members said it’s frustrating when programs can’t be easily accessed on smartphones or when an app download is required.

More than five in 10 respondents agreed that without easily accessible programs, rewards often go unused or expire because members aren’t aware they’ve accrued.

Of those polled, 37% prefer accessing loyalty program information, such as balance or redemption details, via a periodic text message. Some 28% rely on a mobile app.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Business Branding Guide

From Bplans:

75 percent of buying decisions are based on emotion. The right brand captures the right emotions—and is one of the powerful tools for building a rock-solid business.

A professional brand does so many things for your business. It sets you apart from competitors. It builds trust with existing customers—and future ones. It extends your reach—online, on the street, in referral conversations. It brings the whole team together and gets your employees excited about coming to work. In short, branding is one of the best business investments you can make!

TOOL: Discover Your Brand in 12 Easy Steps!

PROJECT: Brand Yourself in 5 Days

BRANDING CHECKLIST: 10 Essentials Before Launch

RESOURCE: Tools to Help You Name Your Business

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

7 places to find cash after a disaster

From Bankrate:

When nature goes wild, it can be disastrous for your finances. According to the National Climatic Data Center, major weather disasters have caused more than $1.2 trillion worth of damage in the U.S. since 1980 — and that doesn’t include Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, Maria or Nate.

If you’re hit with an emergency and need to find cash fast, tap into the emergency reserves in your savings account. Then look to these resources.

Monday, May 14, 2018

How to Write a Company Overview

From bplans:

Your team matters just as much as your great business idea.

A company overview (also known as company information or a company summary) is an essential part of a business plan. It’s an overview of the most important points about your company—your history, management team, location, mission statement and legal structure. It usually appears after the executive summary in your business plan.

This is typically the shortest chapter of a business plan document, but that doesn’t reduce its importance. If you’re presenting this plan to people outside of your company, this is your opportunity to introduce yourself and your business, and you are going to want to put your best foot forward.

Imagine that the person reading your business plan document has never heard of you, and doesn’t know anything about your business.

What should be their takeaway? What do they need to remember about you and your company?

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Fluency Through Fonts

From Monotype:

The world isn’t literally getting smaller, but you’d be forgiven for feeling that way. Customers around the world expect a consistent, on-brand experience on any device and in any country or language, and brands must face the challenge of delivering on that expectation.

Our latest eBook, Fluency Through Fonts, shows how a smart font strategy can help break down language barriers and lead to a smoother, more effective workflow for brands with a global audience.

Read the free eBook to learn:

Why fonts are crucial to strong customer loyalty and brand perception around the world
How mobile has changed the way brands need to think about their global customers
What problems can arise when your font library isn’t developed in a strategic way

Friday, May 11, 2018

Franchising in America: Not Just Fast-Food Restaurant

From the Census Bureau

Mention franchises, and images of the thousands of fast-food restaurants that dot landscapes across urban and rural America immediately come to mind.

Franchises, however, go well beyond fast-food chains. They are important to many industries instrumental in providing other day-to-day services, from storage and warehousing to eyeglass stores and weight-loss centers.

Detailed data on franchises comes from the Economic Census, which is taken every five years, and covers employer businesses in the United States. The latest Economic Census will be conducted this year, and continue to offer detailed information only available through this program. Comprehensively collected for the first time for the 2007 Economic Census, the franchise question covers over 300 different types of businesses (industries) and measures the number of franchisee- and franchisor-owned businesses in each industry and their total employment, annual payroll and sales.

The question was added as part of a partnership that was established between the International Franchise Association (IFA) and the U.S. Census Bureau. This partnership has not only resulted in data that entrepreneurs can use but may also have helped improve the overall response rates that impact the general data quality for these industries. Businesses in these industries often rely on organizations like IFA for guidance and their role as a “trusted voice” of their industry can help promote response to our surveys.

The franchise data from the 2012 Economic Census revealed some information that few would find surprising. For example, the estimated 122,042 limited-service franchise restaurants (NAICS 722513) make up approximately 54 percent of all fast-food restaurants in the United States, nearly 70 percent of the sales of fast-food restaurants ($185.4 billion), and about 73 percent of the employment of fast-food restaurants (3.6 million).

However, the data did reveal the importance of franchise businesses in industries that many might not immediately associate with franchising.

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Web Browsers Reject About Two-Thirds of Cookies

From eMarketer:

It’s a hard knock life for tracking cookies these days.

Ad serving firm Flashtalking analyzed 20 advertisers worldwide throughout Q4 2017 and found that 64% of their tracking cookies were either blocked or deleted by web browsers. According to the research, rejection rates on mobile devices were particularly high—75% of mobile cookies were rejected, compared with 41% on desktop.

Tracking cookies have been a staple of digital advertising since its inception, and the de facto method that many marketers rely on to track and target users online. But the cookie is beginning to crumble as users shift their media consumption to mobile devices, and as browsers and regulators crack down on digital privacy.

Just a few years ago, people spent most of their time online on desktops and laptops.

Wednesday, May 09, 2018

Don’t quit your job yet: how to lay the foundation for a successful startup

From Medium:
Humans are wired to love a good before-and-after story.

We crave transformation, whether it’s fixing up an old house or turning a clever idea into a thriving business.

But pushing for that “after” state can lead us to overlook all the fun of getting started.

Sure, the early days of building a product or a business can be tough. There are late nights, financial struggles, mistakes, and self-doubt.

Yet, it’s also a great time to explore. You can experiment without millions of paying customers watching your every move.

And if you don’t have investors breathing down your neck, you can afford to play the long game... But, how do you get started, especially if you’re not ready to quit your job?

You can begin, right now, to build a foundation that will support your business for years. Even if you’re not a software engineer (or you don’t have an MBA), there are smart ways to get the ball rolling.

Today’s startup media often celebrate the blind leap, but I believe in scoping out the terrain before you jump.

Tuesday, May 08, 2018

How to Use Data to Reveal Your Brightest Star Customers

Obtained From: Marketing Profs

Just as the universe comprises a wide variety of types of stars, so does your customer base. And like the universe, where some stars shine brighter, some of your customers are better than others.
Now imagine the power of being able to separate your worst customers from your brightest star customers—and find more like your brightest ones!
Doing so entails evaluating and understanding what it takes to attract, acquire, keep, and grow your new and existing customers' value. And to find, keep, and grow the value of your customers requires a customer-centric culture and approach in your marketing.
Dr. Peter Fader, author of Customer Centricity, defines customer-centric marketing as looking at a customer's lifetime value and focusing your marketing efforts on the high-value customer segment in order to drive profits. The suggestion here is that by understanding who your current high value customers are, you are better positioned to acquire more customers like them.
That idea of customer-centric marketing entails placing the customer at the center of your marketing strategy so you can create and extract customer value. Gautam Mahajan, president of the Customer Value Foundation, defines customer value as "the perception of what a product or service is worth to a Customer versus the possible alternatives. Worth means whether the Customer feels s/ benefits and services over what s/he paid."

Monday, May 07, 2018

3 Tips to Maintain the Effectiveness of Email Marketing

Email, Newsletter, Marketing, Design, Business
From Camille at

Email marketing is one of the oldest strategies for marketing on the internet. This leads some to wonder whether it’s still worth spending all the time and effort required to run campaigns.

The truth is that while email may not be the newest or most exciting tool in digital marketing, it still has the potential to be one of the most effective. In 2018, nearly 90% of marketers list email as one of their top three priorities, with 45% saying it is their top concern. Furthermore, it still offers of the best returns on investment when compared to other marketing channels.

Numbers like this make it easy to see that email marketing is not going away anytime soon. However, if you want to produce competitive email marketing campaigns, you have to make an effort to develop a strategy that can meet the demands of the modern market and use tools like an email verifier to ensure the highest possible deliverability and conversion rate. If your tactics are old and outdated, your campaigns will not be able to achieve their full potential.

Here are three tips for email marketers looking to maintain the effectiveness of their campaigns.

Personalize Email

The internet is an attention economy, and inboxes are full of competition. If you want your email campaigns to succeed, you need to take steps to ensure your emails stand out and connect with consumers.

Through email personalization, you can achieve both of these goals and increase the ROI of your email marketing. Individualized emails have been shown to increase click through and conversion rates. If you’re not already taking steps to personalize your marketing emails, it’s time to start.

Email personalization should include simple steps like unique subject lines and emails that address the recipient by name. Additionally, marketers can have great success when emails include personalized offers and recommendations.

List Management

One common misconception is that having a bigger subscriber list is always better. While it is good to reach as many people as possible, there can be some cases where you may want to remove people from your subscriber list.

If you have a lot of subscribers that never open your emails or addresses on your list that always lead to a bounce, this can put a blemish on your sender reputation. If you want to maintain your sender reputation and improve your engagement rates, you need to clean your list.

Start by removing all of the addresses that are always a hard bounce. Next, you want to identify the recipients that never open your emails. See if you can develop a strategy to re-engage these recipients. If not, remove them from your list as well.

Finally, look for the addresses with inconsistent engagement. Identify the types of content these recipients engage with, and see if you can develop a segmentation plan to deliver the most relevant content to these individuals.

Adapt for Mobile

Email marketing has reached a stage where mobile has to take priority over desktop. Mobile devices now account for more than half of all email opens, a trend that is very unlikely to reverse. If you want to be able to reach customers no matter where they are, you must adapt your campaigns for mobile devices.

For your emails to work well on mobile, you need to develop mobile-friendly email templates that will display well on the smaller screen. Additionally, you will need to write shorter subject lines, select images that work well with mobile email servers, and take steps to develop content that is easier to consume on the small screen.

Friday, May 04, 2018

Grief At Work: A Guide For Employees and Managers

From the American Hospice Foundation:

Although we try to establish healthy boundaries between our work and personal lives, we know the importance of jobs and co-workers. For many, work provides a sense of community. For some, it even feels like family. Employees often derive their sense of well-being from their work.

Every workplace must deal with complex emotional issues. The more difficult emotions, like grief, can disturb workers and diminish the work environment. Colleagues want to do the right thing, but don't know how to do it. Meanwhile, managers and employees may feel pressured and anxious, knowing the work still must get done. It's no wonder we need helping in working through grief.

Thursday, May 03, 2018

How Marketers Can Be Effective Business Storytellers

Obtained From: MarketingProfs

Want to know a secret? A lot of business success can be attributed to the unwitting storytellers among us: leaders who passionately narrate their visions to inspire change; account reps who conceptualize products or services through real-life examples; trainers who design engaging, scenario-based learning...
A simple example of the power of story: I was recently cruising along an empty Texas road, singing along to the song on the radio, when the song ended and an announcer said, "Buying a house is exciting, and by 'exciting' I mean 'terrifying.'" Anyone who's traveled the road to home ownership could instantly feel those words—because it is a little terrifying to buy a house. The announcer's narration evoking the buyer's perspective had me tuned in and wanting more.
That's the secret to storytelling success: the ability to convey personalized nuggets up front to gain someone's attention, followed by a well-designed narrative that drives action. A good story makes us feel something, and in business that can be transformative.
Stories that allow us to relate to each other and share common experiences are the most influential because we, the audience, can see ourselves in those stories. And those relatable nuggets can come from anywhere.

Wednesday, May 02, 2018

Small Business Success Story - Oasis Ponds & Patios

Each year the New York Small Business Development Center recognizes outstanding small businesses in a variety of ways.  This Success Story from the Corning SBDC appears in our 2016 Annual Report

David VanLoon 
Oasis Ponds & Patios
Corning SBDC

David VanLoon, a 14-year military veteran who served tours in Irag and Afghanistan, began Oasis Ponds & Patios in April 2016. Oasis Ponds, a full-service landscape company, is a certified Aquascape contractor that provides waterscape designs and installation. The company installs fountains, waterfalls and ponds, maintains water features and also performs seasonal care for their installations. Oasis Ponds also installs firepits, retaining walls, patios and walkways, landscape lighting, plant and tree installation. They also provide weekly lawn services, as well as spring and fall clean up.

David worked with SBDC Advisor Susan Buchanan to develop a business plan to accompany a funding request for his startup. David secured a $57,000 term loan from Community Bank, a $20,000 line of credit, and contributed $10,000 of his own equity. Oasis Ponds is a true family business. David serves as the General Manager and is responsible for all estimates, the generation of new business and landscape designs. His wife Jenna serves as Office Manager and is responsible for marketing and networking, scheduling and ordering inventory. 

Near the end of July 2016, David approached the SBDC for assistance in securing a small loan. With SBDC’s help, Oasis Ponds received a $30,000 loan from REDEC to purchase additional equipment and supplies in preparation for the upcoming winter months. With the money provided, they were able to purchase snow plows, a salt spreader and a snow blower, which will enable them to take care of customers’ needs throughout the winter months. 

Tuesday, May 01, 2018

Are You an Empowered Marketer? Here's How You Can Be

Obtained From: Marketing Profs
What does it mean to be an empowered marketer?
Let's start with the definition of empowerment. The Oxford English Dictionary tells us it is "The process of becoming stronger and more confident, especially in controlling one's life and claiming one's rights."
So what does the word mean when applied to B2C marketers?
Marketers today have a million demands on their time. During a typical day, you might send out a few personalized emails, run A/B tests to drive conversions on your e-commerce website, publish some beautiful targeted ads on Instagram, and then analyze the ROI across all your marketing campaigns.
And that's just in one day! It's no wonder B2C marketers are feeling the pressure to continually perform.
Sound fantastic? It is.That is exactly why marketers need to become empowered—so they can access customer data directly, easily execute complex marketing campaigns, and dive into detailed analytics to prove the value of their work. Empowered marketers work independently and efficiently, and still have enough time to spend on creative endeavors.

Here's how you can strive to become a truly empowered marketer.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Five Reasons B2B Marketers Who Don't 'Do Video' Are Getting Left Behind

Obtained From: MarketingProfs

For a long time, B2C marketers have dominated video advertising. But the evolving landscape of video advertising has opened up opportunities for B2B marketers, too, driven in large part by a changing demographic of B2B buyers and their video-consumption behaviors. According to a recent Google study, 70% of B2B buyers watch videos along their path to purchase—a whopping 52% jump in just two years.

Are you still on the fence about whether to take advantage of video in your marketing program? Consider these five reasons to take the plunge.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Economic Census Response

Obtained From: US Economic Census

Response for the Economic Census begins on   May 1, 2018 and is available for the following month, up until June 12, 2018. The data businesses provide is compiled into official statistics that are available for companies to use for planning and decision making.

The Economic Census asks for the following information by location:
     1. Employer Identification Number
     2. Physical Location
     3. Primary Business Activity
     4. Sales, receipts, or revenue
     5. Employment and payroll
     6. Industry-specific questions

Here is some information to help businesses navigate the Census:

How do I get started? 
To begin, link yourself to your survey. You link your account to your survey by an authentication code sent to you from the Census Bureau. Once you have this code, click on the “Add Authentication Code” button under “My Surveys.” Enter and submit your unique 12-digit code.

After submitting your authentication code, a survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.” This “card” will contain the following:
     •Name of the survey
     •Due date (or extended date if a time extension was granted)
     •Company name
     •Company ID “Report Now” (used to start reporting or access a printable PDF worksheet)
     •“Options” (used to request time extensions, if available; check filing status; access survey FAQs; find contact information)
     •“i” (used to learn more about the survey)

Each unique authentication code can only be used one time. If others in your company need access to your survey, please refer to the “How Do I Share Survey Access?” section.

The Census Bureau will mail separate, unique authentication codes for different surveys. Each code can be entered and a separate survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.”

How do I add an authentication code?
Under “My Surveys” click on the “Add Authentication Code” button. Enter and submit your unique 12-digit code.

 Each unique authentication code can only be used one time. If others in your company need access to your survey, please refer to the “How Do I Share Survey Access?” section.

How do I start reporting? 
If you have not done so already, link yourself to your survey. You link your account to your survey by an authentication code sent to you from the Census Bureau. Once you have this code, click on the “Add Authentication Code” button under “My Surveys.”

 When you have linked your account using an authentication code the survey “card” will appear under “My Surveys.” You can click on “Report Now” to access your electronic reporting instrument where you can begin entering data, or print the questions/instructions (PDF document) found on the main menu that can be used as a guide prior to reporting.

How do I learn more about my survey?
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Select “Survey FAQs” to view commonly requested information.
     •Click the “i" symbol on your survey card.
     •View a short description of the survey.
     •Click the “MORE INFORMATION” link at the bottom of the text.
     •View survey information found on the main website.

How do I update my email address, name, and/or phone number associated with this account? You cannot update your email address, but you can update your name and/or phone number by following these steps:
     •Select “Manage Account”
     •Select “Update Account Info”
     •Enter the email address associated with the account & submit
     •Enter your account password & submit
     •Make changes to first name, last name, and/or phone number
     •Click “Submit”
     •Click “Return to Respondent Portal”

How do I contact the Census Bureau?
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Select “Send Message” to email the Census Bureau.
     •Click “Options” on your survey card.
     •Call the Census Bureau at the telephone number listed.
     •Refer to your letter for the appropriate telephone number to call.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

The Brand-Content Preferences of Different Age Groups

Obtained from: MarketingProfs

Which types of content do consumers of various ages want to see more of from brands? Do some content formats resonate more with certain age groups?
To find out, HubSpot surveyed 3,010 consumers age 18 and older in Colombia, Germany, Mexico, and the United States.
More than half of surveyed consumers age 54 and younger want to see more videos from brands they support. Some 47% of consumers age 55+ also want to see more videos from brands they support.
There are significant differences in the preferences of various age groups for other content types. Only 22% of consumers age 18-24 value emails from brands they support, compared with 68% of consumers age 55+.