10 Tips to Build an Effective Online Marketing Strategy

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There are so many different ways to market a business online these days. But luckily, you don’t need to try all of them in order to find out what works. Members of our small business community have already done some of the legwork for you. Here are some of their top tips for developing an effective online marketing strategy.

Increase Website Traffic and Get Better Leads

Getting traffic to your website only really helps your business if you’re able to convert some leads. But there are some simple methods you can use to increase your web traffic while also converting leads, as Christopher Uschan outlines in this Acumium blog post.

Create an Insta Worthy Account

Instagram is becoming an increasingly popular marketing tool for businesses. But you need to really focus on creating an account that’s worthy of the platform if you want to get good results. Here, Kayla Wilkinson shares some tips for using Instagram on the Inkhouse Inklings Blog.

Follow These Social Media Rules of Thumb

Social media marketing isn’t an exact science. But there are some general rules that you can follow to make your business accounts more effective. Here, Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media shares some social media rules of thumb. And the BizSugar community chimes in with some thoughts here.

Adopt These Digital Marketing Strategies From Pokemon Go

Chances are, you’ve played or are at least aware of the augmented reality game that’s taking the mobile world by storm — Pokemon Go. But aside from being a fun and successful app, Pokemon Go can actually provide some useful digital marketing lessons to other businesses, as Jilesh Varma shares in this Blurbpoint post.

Don’t Build Your Whole Content Strategy on Rental Property

Social media and blogging platforms can be great for sharing content. But if you only rely on those platforms without having an actual site that you own and control completely, you could find your business in trouble if those platforms decide to make changes. Frank Strong of Sword and the Script explains more here.

Amplify Your Marketing Productivity With These Tools

When managing your marketing efforts, you can use a number of different tools to improve your results and efficiency. In this Duct Tape Marketing post, Joanne Torres shares some top marketing productivity tools. And BizSugar members also comment on the post here.

Use These Quick SEO Hacks for Newbies

SEO can be a complicated concept if you’re just getting started. But there are some simple things you can do to make the whole process of optimizing for search engines a bit easier. Here are some SEO hacks from Stephan Spencer on the Search Engine Land blog.

Use Small Data to Help Increase Sales

You hear a lot about big data these days. But small data can actually be quite helpful for businesses too. In this post, Neil Patel explains how you can use small data in your business to increase sales.

Launch Your Startup With an Infographic

Infographics can help you get messages across to online consumers in an interesting visual format. Here, Nick Bowersox shares some tips for using infographics in marketing efforts on the crowdSPRING blog. You can also see input from members of the BizSugar community here.

Create a SaaS Knowledge Base Your Customers Will Love

Technology has created plenty of opportunities for businesses to really personalize experiences for their customers. SaaS knowledge bases provide some of those opportunities when used effectively. In this Process Street post, Robin Singh shares how you can create a knowledge base your customers will love.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:  sbtips@gmail.com

Online Marketing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Tips to Build an Effective Online Marketing Strategy” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/10-tips-to-build-effective-online.html

This Device Claims to Turn Your iPhone into a 360 Degree VR Camera

The Insta360 Nano Claims to Turn Your iPhone into a 360 Degree VR Camera

Expectations for virtual reality are obviously quite high. And those expectations among content creators have led companies to introduce products aimed at helping to create content in the new format. Creators of the Insta360 ha done this in a unique way.

While Arashi Vision, the company that makes the camera, has three different Insta360 versions, the one that’s been getting the most attention is the Insta360 Nano. The tiny 360 degree camera attached to your iPhone 6/6S and iPhone 6 Plus/6S Plus taking VR photos and videos through the phone.

A 360-degree camera is key to capturing and rendering realistic VR scenes, so manufacturers are introducing novel ways to record the video with many different types of cameras.

Insta360 Nano Details

Advertised as the first 360-degree spherical iPhone video camera, and the smallest spherical camera in the world, the Nano is pretty small at only 0.8 inches x 1.2 inches x 4.3 inches. This makes it very portable, which can be an important feature when you are already carrying your smartphone. However, it also works as a standalone camera too, so if you don’t have an iPhone you can still use it to take pictures or record videos.Insta360 Nano 360 Degree VR Camera

The image quality is good according to the specs and some of the content the company has provided on YouTube. The camera has a 3040 x 1520 resolution for still pictures and 3040 x 1520 at 30 fps for moving images through its 210-degree dual fisheye lenses. All of these images are captured in a TF card that holds up to 64 GB. If you run out of space, you can download or live-stream the video and pictures on Facebook and YouTube.

The Insta360 Nano comes with a micro USB cable that lets you connect it to other devices in addition to iPhones, and the box doubles as cardboard virtual reality glasses.

In a hands-on review for Mashable, Jason Cipriani said, “The Insta360 Nano’s photo and video quality is one of the best I’ve personally used on a 360-degree camera.” But he did have some complaints when it came to some software glitches that resulted in random prompts in Chinese, and he added it was not always user friendly.

Insta360 Nano - Product Shot

At $219 on Amazon, the Insta360 Nano is competing with the likes of the Ricoh Theta S ($360), LG 360 Cam ($179) and Samsung Gear 360 ($373), so it is somewhere in the middle.

As VR adoption continues to grow, small businesses are finding innovative ways to use the technology and grow their business. Any company that uses regular videos to promote their business can use a 360-degree camera to let their customers experience that video from a new perspective.

Real estate companies, outdoor adventure guides, resorts and designers are just some of the industries that can use VR to increase their customer base.

Image: Insta360.com

This article, “This Device Claims to Turn Your iPhone into a 360 Degree VR Camera” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/this-device-claims-to-turn-your-iphone.html

“Engage with Honor” Takes Leadership Lessons from Unlikely Experience

Engage With Honor Book ReviewCould your leadership survive a crisis? If your company depended on one critical decision and only you could make it, would that decision be based on the bottom line or principle? These are questions that Lee Ellis, former Vietnam war fighter pilot and a five-year survivor of a prison war camp, struggled with on a daily basis. In his position, he grappled with and saw leadership at its best and its worst. That experience gave him a perspective that few people have survived to pass on.

What is Engage With Honor About?

Like Extreme Ownership, another book reviewed on Small Business Trends, Engage With Honor is about applying leadership lessons learned from the war, although from a slightly different perspective. Instead of focusing on what a leader does, this book focuses on who a leader is.

Ellis focuses on the need for a leader to consistently maintain his or her values as a daily practice to avoid going into a downward spiral of dishonor. Consistent practice of values by leaders is critical, because, as Ellis points out, anyone is capable of dishonorable behavior under the right conditions. Engage With Honor highlights several cases where this happens: Enron, government agencies like the EPA and IRS, the military, education and healthcare. The book sites cases of dishonor which were more than just sensational headlines on the late night news. They had real serious implications, costing taxpayers billions of dollars.

As a POW in Vietnam, Ellis came to the conclusion that good leadership is a consistent re-dedication to values no matter the circumstances. Some of his fellow co-prisoners abandoned the Military Code of Conduct under the crisis of being captured. Others like Vice Admiral Stockdale clung to the Military Code of Conduct even under the reality of torture and solitary confinement. Ellis argues that Vice Admiral Stockdale was able to maintain his beliefs because he was clear on his values and communicated those values in his own actions and words whether he was alone or with a group of prisoners. That tenacity to the “right thing to do no matter what” as a leader is what leaders need to say, do, and re-dedicate themselves to every day if they are leaders who make a difference.

Author Ellis is not only a former Air Force fighter pilot, flight commander and POW, but a recipient of numerous military awards including the Purple Heart and Legion of Meritand and is now a leadership consultant.

What Was Best About Engage With Honor?

Engage With Honor is a great leadership book because it strips leadership down to its barest essentials while also telling the haunting (and very real) tale of the author’s life in a Vietnam POW camp. The book doesn’t go into extreme detail, but Ellis provides enough substance to show readers that this was a truly hostile environment that could not break the spirit of someone dedicated to their values. Using the simple metaphor of this harrowing tale, Ellis demonstrates his model of leadership with clarity and simplicity.

What Could Have Been Done Differently

The focus of Engage With Honor is on fostering what Ellis calls “courageous accountability.” It points out the problems when people don’t engage in this kind of behavior (lying, cheating, stealing, etc.), but it doesn’t get bogged down into ethical dilemmas like whistleblowing. The book’s focus is on the principles that leaders (or really anyone) can follow, not the particular steps they should take

Why Read Engage With Honor?

If you are a business leader who was inspired by a book like “Extreme Ownership,” you will probably enjoy the insight and perspective of  Engage With Honor. It provides a different perspective, however. “Extreme Ownership” focuses on what leaders should do. “Engage with Honor” focuses on who they are.

In addition, if you are looking to develop or refresh your company’s leadership and ethics development, this book provides excellent and straightforward advice on what you might want to include in the program.

This article, ““Engage with Honor” Takes Leadership Lessons from Unlikely Experience” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/engage-with-honor-takes-leadership.html

Keep an Eye Out for This New Edible Food Packaging (Watch)

Food packaging is traditionally expensive, wasteful and bad for the environment. But what if there was a way to produce that packaging so that it’s actually cheaper, more sustainable and won’t lead to overflowing landfills?

The answer might be simpler than you’d think. Researchers are currently working to create packaging that consumers can just eat along with their food. The new edible packaging is made from milk proteins that have no taste. And if you don’t want to eat the packaging, it’s also biodegradable.

In addition, the U.S. already produces more milk than the population can consume. So this solution could actually solve multiple problems at once. And if those factors weren’t enough, it turns out that milk proteins actually keep out oxygen better than plastic packaging. So using it could mean that food would spoil slower than it does in the packaging we currently use.

Product Innovation Must Benefit Consumers to Be Successful

That last point is important, because if the only benefits were to the environment but not to consumers, the idea might not take off. However, this solution seems to be one that benefits all sides. So it shows just what type of innovation can be possible with some creative thinking and a willingness to try something completely different.

The new packaging isn’t likely to actually hit shelves for at least another three years. But the possibility could lead to some big things for food producers in the future.

Image: Newsy via American Chemical Society

This article, “Keep an Eye Out for This New Edible Food Packaging (Watch)” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/keep-eye-out-for-this-new-edible-food.html

Top Stories: Pinterest, Kickstarter Reveal New Features

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Pinterest has been adding new features to help businesses reach their target audiences in the platform. One of the most recent updates is a promoted video feature. And Pinterest isn’t the only online platform making changes. Crowdfunding site Kickstarter also added a follow feature, making it more social.

These updates and more are included below in this week’s Small Business Trends news and information roundup.

Social Media

Pinterest Introduces Promoted Video, Three Other Platform Improvements

After testing with 12 early partners, including Lionsgate, bareMinerals and General Mills’ Old El Paso, Pinterest recently announced it is rolling out Promoted Videos (that is, video ads) in the U.S. and U.K., with featured Pins beneath.

Kickstarter Adds a Follow Feature, Makes the Funding Platform More Social

In news of interest to crowdfunding entrepreneurs, Kickstarter recently rolled out a new ‘Follow’ feature that allows users to follow creators directly and be first to find out when their next projects launch. Once you follow a Kickstarter creator, you’ll also be notified when they’ve backed a project that’s just getting off the ground, the crowdfunding company said.

How Snapchat’s New Acquisition Vurb Transforms Business Search

Snapchat is paying $110 million, with 75 percent in stock and 25 percent cash to acquire mobile contextual search engine Vurb. The deal also includes a $75 million retention bonus to keep Vurb founder and CEO Bobby Lo. Vurb touts itself as tool for helping consumers decide what to do and who they want to do it with.

Need to Share Some Content? Dlvr.it Provides Syndication Service

Dlvr.it provides brands, publishers and marketers with a way to syndicate content using their social media channels. Essentially, dlvr.it provides you with a simple way to curate content and automatically distribute it to preferred channels. The platform enables you to share content from RSS-enabled sites to social networks.

Management

Your Business Can Overcome Huge Obstacles – Just Like the Rio Olympics (Watch)

A few weeks ago, many experts expected the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio to be a disaster. Now that the games are over, it seems that those experts were mistaken. That’s not to say that there weren’t any issues. Aside from the green pool water and the now infamous Ryan Lochte incident, there were several smaller incidents that went mostly unnoticed.

Marketing Tips

Can Your Business Benefit from Influencer Marketing? Intellifluence Says Yes

Joe Sinkwitz left a comfortable, high-paying career as a marketing executive to found a startup, Intellifluence, a platform that helps brands partner with influencers. The reason: To give small businesses access to the same type of influencer marketing opportunities that were only available to large corporations.

What Sasquatch Can Teach You About Brand Excellence

ESPN The Magazine is essentially the print equivalent of a prime-time advertising slot for big brands. But in a publication driven predominantly by striking imagery and cool aesthetics, standing out from the crowd can be nigh unto impossible. That’s where it comes in handy to have constant access to an eight-foot, 374-pound model covered in hair.

Retail Trends

Shopkeep Boasts Simple, Inexpensive POS for Small Businesses

The Shopkeep app is an iPad point-of-sale (POS) system that claims to add simplicity and speed to sales functions SMBs need to effectively run and manage their operations. The company boasts a comprehensive iPad POS system for small business owners that seems to come fully loaded with all the big business features at a small business price.

Small Biz Spotlight

Spotlight: iMOBDEV Claims More Than 500 Customized Apps and Websites Worldwide

Mobile apps are becoming more and more popular for businesses in a variety of different industries. For those who want to look into getting their own mobile apps or even just building a more professional website, there’s iMOBDEV Technologies. The company prides itself on providing technologically advanced options for business websites and mobile apps.

Small Business Operations

Time Running Out to Take Advantage of Error in USPS Shipping Rates

The U.S. Postal Service is announcing yet another change in its shipping rates. This change affects companies that ship First-Class Mail Parcel Retail lightweight packages. These packages weigh between 1 and 3 ounces. The cost of shipping these packages beginning August 28 will be $2.62. That’s a 17-cent increase over the current rate of $2.45.

New Research Says Houseplants Can Make Businesses Safer (Watch)

Your business might soon be adding indoor plants to the list of necessary safety equipment needed around the office.

Mobile Technology

App or Credit? Why Cash May be Replaced by Mobile Payments

It is Monday morning in San Francisco, and you have just woken up late. To help in your rush to get to work on time, you use your favorite ride service app to pay for a driver to bring you to work. On the way to work, that pre-coffee, drowsy feeling starts to kick in, so you use your Starbucks app to order a coffee and a breakfast snack to get you through the morning.

Is Your Business App On Android? Here’s Why It Had Better Be

Planning a new app for your small business? Make sure you build it on Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android, since that’s where you’re most likely to find your customers. According to a new Gartner report, Android is dominating the smartphone marketplace with a whopping 86.2 percent share in the second quarter of 2016.

Technology Trends

Has Fitbit Been Stealing Trade Secrets? Judge Says No (Watch)

The competition between wearable device companies Fitbit and Jawbone is heating up. Jawbone recently accused Fitbit of violating patents and poaching its employees in an effort to steal trade secrets. But the U.S. International Trade Commission just ruled that Fitbit didn’t misappropriate anything. The ruling is obviously good news for Fitbit, although Jawbone wants to review the ruling.

Kobo Provides eBook Alternative to Amazon

When considering the platform on which to publish your next ebook or from which to purchase your next business ebook or online magazine, it may be helpful to consider that Amazon is not your only option. Kobo is a Toronto-based company that has been providing an open platform as well as it’s own eReader platform, since 2009.

The Robocall Strike Force Teaches How to Go the Extra Mile for Customers (Watch)

Chances are, you’ve received one of those unsolicited robocalls or automated text messages at some point. And you probably haven’t been too happy about it either. But a new task force made up of some of the biggest names in tech is trying to put a stop to those unwanted calls and texts. Google, Apple, Verizon, Microsoft and more are all part of the Robocall Strike Force.

Want to be Productive? New ZEEQ “Smart Pillow” Analyzes Sleep Patterns

Artificial light, and now information and communications technologies are some of the factors responsible for people sleeping less, so it is fitting ZEEQ is using the same technology claiming to offer better quality sleep.

What Uber’s Self-Driving Car Tests Can Teach You About Offering New Services (Watch)

Uber is starting to test out its self-driving car service in Pittsburgh. And it’s doing it with real passengers in the vehicles. There will still be a driver in the front seat of each self-driving car with hands on the wheel in case they need to take over at any point. And an engineer will also be in the passenger seat to take notes.

Kickstarter Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Top Stories: Pinterest, Kickstarter Reveal New Features” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/top-stories-pinterest-kickstarter.html

Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar: Customer Service Will Not Exist in 10 Years

At this year’s ExCom 2016 event, one of the most intriguing and thought-provoking sessions came from Esteban Kolsky, former Gartner analyst and one of the most respected thought leaders focusing on customer service. Kolsky, who also is the founder of ThinkJar Research, presented on why he feels the customer service function, as we know it today, will be gone in 10 years.  

Below is an edited transcript taken from his presentation. To see the entire presentation, click on the YouTube video below.  

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Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar: Customer Service Will Not Exist in 10 Years Thanks to Customer CommunityEsteban Kolsky: Customer service in 2025 is not going to exist. We’re not going to have customer service anymore in 10 years at the pace we’re going in. Customer service is going to be so bad that nobody’s going to want to do it. And the question that I have for you is are you ready for this. Is your company ready?

Small Business Trends: Why won’t customer service exist in 10 years?

Esteban Kolsky: We’re doing everything so wrong that we cannot continue because it’s not sustainable; and I’m very serious about that. First of all you can never make customers happy no matter what you try. It may make it happen one time or not the next time and the time after that. So aiming to make customers happy is the absolute worst thing that a business can do. It’s going to cost you money, time and resources that you don’t have to do something that you’re not going to achieve.

Small Business Trends: Why can’t we make customers happy?

Esteban Kolsky: The bottom line is most people cannot make customers happy because they’re not really trying to make them happy. You have to get to the point where you have balance. It’s got to be a win-win situation. Customer’s need to get what they want. But you also need to keep your business sustainable. And at some point that breaks down very quickly. It becomes too expensive to continue what we’re doing today for customer service. Customer service was never meant to exist. The only reason we have customer service today is because we moved from a production economy to a service economy. And when you do a service that is nothing tangible in it to offer something more we offer an exchange for money for service, is customer service. Ever since we started 40 years ago we’ve been doing a really bad and worse job every single time and have the numbers to prove this.

Small Business Trends: How is social impacting customer service?

Esteban Kolsky: Fifty-five percent of requests in social and social channels get ignored. Ignored! Imagine if you don’t pick up more than half the phone calls that you get are you doing more than half of the emails. What about half the people that come to your store. You ignore them. You don’t talk to them. You don’t ask them what they need.

Of those that do get addressed, eighty four percent get escalated to another channel. So why would you go on to Twitter, Facebook or Communities or anywhere if you end up on the phone? What’s the point of that? You as a company are spending money, time and resources on something that won’t give you any results. There’s a handful of people that have done great things and social service. For the most part every single company that started that is actually getting away from it. I do a survey every single year in year one for about five years ago.

Year one, 83 percent of people would try customer service through social; Facebook and Twitter. Year 2, 90 percent tried. Year three, 70 percent. Last year 60 percent. I do it again this year and I expect to get 40 percent based on conversations because it really doesn’t work; it doesn’t offer the benefits. So you can actually grease the squeaky wheel and go and talk to the person that is actually complaining on Twitter but there’s no value to that. You much rather generate a good customer service solution through the phone, email, chat, community, online through self-service and then direct people to get the answer.

Customers don’t want to complain, they want answers. That’s the bottom line of customer service, they want an answer. If you create a good system that gives the answer than people will not come to you.

Thirteen percent of companies say that 25 percent of interactions that they have for customer service is started on a social channel. 72 percent of customer service interactions via Facebook are never completed anywhere period. You go to Facebook and you talk to a brand and say I am having a problem. three out of four won’t get an answer. And remember customers are looking for answers. And finally you know 67 percent of social interactions that start customer service go back to the channel of origin, which is usually the phone, self-service, e-mail or something else. There’s no value to doing customer service the way we’re doing it. There’s value to do it right but we’re not doing it right. And that’s the big difference. Every single channel has a specific purpose, every single channel that you use has as a way of working. And if you don’t use it for that then you’re wasting time and money. And that’s what we’re doing today with Twitter and Facebook.

Small Business Trends: Where do communities fit in?

Esteban Kolsky: Everybody is talking about communities. That’s the way of the future; it is to some extent. Let me ask a question. When you have a customer service question today where do you go first? First place that you go is Google.

You get an answer and usually get directed to a community. That’s the way the customer service is done for the most part today. But 36 percent of companies have deployed communities in the last 12 months. Again this is coming from the research that I do. 84 percent report a savings in cost of transactions when completing communities. Of course there is a savings because you as a company have very little to do in communities. You have to make sure that the communities have the right information but the community takes care of everything. The whole idea of customer service via communities is that there’s a place people can go, get an answer, talk with smart people and then go from there. And that’s what a community is the people that have the answers. We start in one place you can find them there you get everybody who knows anything about it what do you need. And they give you an answer. There’s a lot of value in community. Community is the ultimate version of customer service. You probably heard this before. The best customer service is no service at all right. Nobody needs customer service. The only way that you do “no service” is through community because your customers will serve your other customers.

Small Business Trends: How about omnichannel support?

Esteban Kolsky: Less than 1 percent of people are actually doing omnichannel, although 97 percent are invested in omnichannel service because it’s hard. It doesn’t work because we don’t have the technology to make it work. The key to making omnichannel work is to be able to actually keep track of cross-channel interactions. If I start talking to Brent here in person and then I go on line and I look at his blog and then I go and buy something from an e-commerce site or has his name that should be all the same interaction. Keeping track of those three pieces of data in one central location today cannot be done. We don’t have the technology to do that. So what people invest in, less than 1 percent of companies are actually doing something with omnichannel. And from those 1 percent, only 23 percent are doing it well.

But the second one is the one that is really killing me. Cross-channel tracking of data; only 2 percent of companies are doing that today. Without tracking data across all the different channels, You cannot do omnichannel. So we don’t have the culture or we don’t have the understanding, and don’t have the technology to do this. So it really is not going to work.

Small Business Trends: Where does customer journey mapping fit in?

Esteban Kolsky: 34 percent of companies have undertaken some form of customer journey mapping less than 2 percent actually reported success. Everybody knows what more journey mapping is. It’s basically when I tell you what you are supposed to do if you want to talk to me. I try that with my kids. It doesn’t work. I promise you won’t work with your customers either. You can’t tell your customers how they need to interact with you. You need to build that infrastructure that ask your customers to do whatever they want to do. That’s the difference. I mean you can say yeah but 90 percent of my clients you know like to come to me with the fonts are going to be a great phone system. Fantastic. What about the other 10 percent? Well you know it can’t be that hard.

Guess what? Your best customer is in that 10 percent. So what are you going to do now. You build that journey that your best customers cannot utilize or you build only for your best customer. You know that 90 percent you cannot assume that the customers will always do the same thing.

Small Business Trends: What’s the value of customer engagement and how does that impact support?

Esteban Kolsky: Basically the bottom line is if you have good interactions with customers over time you form a relationship. If you have a relationship with customers over time and it generates trust, then that turns into engagement. Engagement is an outcome it’s not a metric. There’s no way you can measure it. So don’t try. If I know you well enough and I generate enough trust, and you know me well enough and generate enough trust, over time that turns into engagement. That’s what I can do about engagement.

Fifty-eight percent are doing customer engagement. You’ve seen all sorts of definitions for engagement but only less than 1 percent of companies say that they can measure customer engagement. And what they actually measure is how the outcome of engagement affects the rest of the interactions. 91 percent of non-engaged customers will leave when dissatisfied. So you have to engage your customers somehow.

If you know who your customers are and what they want, 65 percent of the time you can up-sell or cross-sell something. If you don’t know, only 12 percent of the time you will do that. So there’s money in actually getting engaged with your customers.

This article, “Esteban Kolsky of ThinkJar: Customer Service Will Not Exist in 10 Years” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/esteban-kolsky-of-thinkjar-customer.html

58 Percent of Small Businesses Already Have International Customers, Survey Finds

Small Businesses Going Global - 58 Percent of Small Businesses Already Have International Customers, Survey Finds

Small businesses are breaking barriers and going international, a new study by foreign exchange company USForex has found.

The survey shows 58 percent of small businesses already have international customers, while 72 percent plan to grow their international customer base by 2017. About 96 percent of these small businesses, in fact, are confident about conducting business abroad.

Going global is no longer an option for successful small- and medium-sized businesses — it’s a strategic imperative,” said Karin Visnick, head of North America, USForex.

Why are Small Businesses Going Global?

According to the survey, factors such as access to higher quality suppliers or vendors (43 percent) and higher quality talent (42 percent) are encouraging businesses to expand across borders. Cheaper access to suppliers or vendors (41 percent) and cheaper talent (28 percent) are other prominent factors driving this trend.

Karin Visnick explained, “Facing domestic uncertainty — political and economic — SMBs are feeling the pinch here at home. New technology and tools are putting global talent, suppliers and markets within reach of businesses that just a few years ago would have never thought to look beyond U.S. borders.”

Challenges Facing Businesses

Although businesses are tempted to expand their global presence, there are challenges that dissuade some companies from going global.

According to the survey, small businesses feel the U.S. presidential election and global terrorism are the biggest factors that may impact their international business. Respondents also feel international market conditions, lack of understanding of local best practices and fees charged to sell overseas are key concerns.

“It’s clear that SMBs are optimistic and eager to expand their business across U.S. borders, though slightly cautious about local business conditions and the impact of major global events,” noted David Nicholls, head of payment solutions, USForex.

“Among our own customers we’re experiencing an increasing number of businesses that are seeking out the proper tools and guidance they need to navigate the changing global business landscape, and ultimately make their international expansion a successful one.”

About the USForex Survey

For the study, USForex partnered with Researchscape and surveyed more than 300 U.S. small-to-medium sized businesses over the course of two weeks.

USForex is a provider of online alternatives to existing currency exchange services.

Flags Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “58 Percent of Small Businesses Already Have International Customers, Survey Finds” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/58-percent-of-small-businesses-already.html

This Suitcase Will Follow You Around on Your Next Business Trip – Literally

The Cowarobot Suitcase Will Follow You Around on Your Next Business Trip - Literally

When you’re trying to navigate a twisting airport terminal at breakneck speed, suitcases tend to be a bit of a liability. The handles are never quite long enough, the wheels are always getting caught on something and they take away a free hand that could be better served holding a grande skinny latte.

Well, now you can have your cake and eat it, too.

Introducing The Cowarobot Suitcase

Earlier this summer, news of the Modobag arrived — the world’s first motorized suitcase that weary travelers could ride around from terminal to terminal like a go-kart. But now, Shanghai-based robotics company Cowarobot has taken luggage innovation to a whole new level by creating a bag that actually follows you around like a faithful puppy.

At first glance, the Cowarobot R1 looks like a pretty standard suitcase. It’s 20 inches tall, has a capacity of 33 liters and comes in a decent range of colors. It’s got a handsome aluminum frame and boasts a 100 percent polycarbonate exterior. Yet unlike your standard travel case, the R1 is also fitted with some pretty advanced computer technology.

The suitcase boasts a range of hi-tech sensors, including sonar, depth-sensing cameras, light sensors and a GPS chip in order to autonomously navigate various terrains. And with the help of an accompanying wristband, the R1 utilizes those sensors to keep pace with its owners while simultaneously working to avoid potential road blocks and collisions.

The R1’s wristband is fitted with a wide band radio module that enables the suitcase to track its owner and roll along at speeds of up to 4.5 miles per hour relative to that person’s movements. The wristband also acts as a key to the suitcase’s smart lock, and will vibrate if you accidentally leave it behind.

But even if you do leave your R1 behind, it can easily find its way home again.

Cowarobot is already set to roll out a companion app for Android and iOS devices that will allow users to track and summon their suitcases with the mere swipe of a finger. With the power of GPS, the R1 can then roll along on its own accord in order to link back up with its owner. It’s also worth mentioning the suitcase can travel up to 12.5 miles on its own on a single charge, and so it can quite literally travel across town to find you.

Being fitted with all of that fancy-sounding technology, you’d think the R1 would end up more robot than suitcase — but all of the electronics only account for around four percent of its overall volume. Cowarobot’s designers have also given a bit of thought to security checkpoints by ensuring the case’s USB battery is easily removable.

Just like its pseudo-competitor Modobag, the Cowarobot R1 is currently available for purchase on Indiegogo. But at an introductory offer of just $499, the R1 is currently only about half the price of Modobag. Cowarobot is offering a one-year product warranty for the suitcase, and plans to start shipping by November 2016.

Image: Cowa Robot

This article, “This Suitcase Will Follow You Around on Your Next Business Trip – Literally” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/this-suitcase-will-follow-you-around-on.html

Real Life Social Marketing Examples

Real Life Social Marketing Examples

One of the most important attributes of successful small business owners is the ability to learn, and learn often.

That’s right, every day brings new advances in business technology, approaches for running your business, and new ways to market your products and services.

Sometimes it seems like that last one hits business owners the hardest. After all, no one wants his or her business to be left behind, right? To prevent that you need to at least learn about, and evaluate, each new marketing channel.

And that brings up the subject of social media. Talk about an ever-changing playing field — it seems like new sites are launched every day while others disappear. Sure, there are the big players, but even they seem to change on a regular basis.

Blab anyone? How about MySpace and Friendster?

While the social media landscape is changeable, small business owners still need to, on top of everything else, stay up on the latest changes. Wouldn’t it be great if there were a shortcut, some way to figure out how to best use a social media site for your business?

Well there is and whether you call them case studies or success stories, these real life social marketing examples are your fast track ticket to learning how to get the most out of a social media network.

Small Business Trends, has been telling these stories for a long time so here from the archives are some of the best social media examples all in one place.

Put on your learning caps and prepare yourself for insights galore!

General Social Marketing Examples

These first two links lead to lessons on general social media marketing. They don’t pertain to any particular site and in fact, can be used for all.

Learning from the Best: Social Marketing Habits of 6 Power Users

Reading this post is like getting a lecture on how to do social media from the folks who do it best, the power users who’ve been super successful at social marketing.

4 Social Media Lessons SMBs Can Learn From IBM

While you may not connect IBM with social media success right away, these social marketing lessons show that the giant gets social media in all the ways it counts.

Cross Platform Social Marketing Examples

The next set of social media marketing examples consists of articles that focus on multiple networks, not one specific one. These stories cross platforms like the chicken on that road, but the lessons are pure gold.

30 Businesses that Are Rocking Social Media

This is probably one of the most inspirational social media marketing posts on Small Business Trends. These 30 businesses have learned how to get the most out of social marketing and it’s all waiting for you to discover.

7 Awesome Social Media Content Greats To Emulate

This post takes a look at both individuals who, and brands that, have learned to use social media to engage their audience.

GoPro’s Andrew Shipp: Create Amazing Social Media Content — Now

This interview with Andrew Shipp covers a lot of ground including many examples of brands that are crushing it on social media.

This Guy Promotes an Entire Town Online

If you’re looking for inspiration, then this is the post to read. It’s the story of how one man’s efforts to promote his town on social media started to yield amazing results.

Real Life Social Marketing Examples - This Guy Promotes an Entire Town Online

Lesson from Reddit Fiasco: Keep Community Under Control

The final post in this section highlights what can happen when social media goes bad. Even if you’re not in charge of the social media network as Reddit was, the lessons on managing your online community are super-relevant.

Facebook Social Marketing Examples

There’s no doubt that Facebook is the 800 lb. gorilla of social media. Despite its popularity however, many small business folks find it intimidating. Here are some social marketing lessons to help you get up and running.

How 5 Small Businesses Are Using Facebook to Reach Customers

These five small businesses have learned how to use Facebook successfully to grow. Now you can learn from them.

46 Small Business Facebook Pages to Follow

This post is pure inspiration. If you want examples of how other small businesses are using Facebook, then start here.

This Entrepreneur Built a Business on Facebook Exclusively

Here’s a close look at one specific example of Facebook social marketing success.

The 5 Biggest Brands on Facebook And How They Do It

There’s a lot that small businesses can learn from bigger ones and this post passes on those lessons.

Travel Club Startup Began with a Facebook Invite

One of the best aspects of social media is the good results that crop up unexpectedly. This is a story of one of those times.

Hillary Clinton’s Social Media Lesson for all Entrepreneurs

What can Hillary Clinton teach you about social marketing? Find out by reading this post.

Staples Introduces Facebook Messenger Chat Feature

The office giant has teamed up with Facebook to integrate Messenger with its website. Discover the underlying marketing drivers for that decision.

Real Life Social Marketing Examples - Staples Introduces Facebook Messenger Chat Feature

Adrian  McDermott of Zendesk: Using Facebook Messenger as a Customer Support Channel

Finally, learn why Zendesk began using Facebook Messenger to support customers.

YouTube Social Marketing Examples

YouTube has the potential to be incredibly engaging and a powerful social marketing tool. Here’s some inspiration, as well as real life examples, of how folks are using this channel.

Twitter, Pinterest, Vine and Instagram Social Marketing Examples

Tweeter in Chief: Obama Twitter Account Gets Heavy Engagement

What lessons can small businesses draw from Barrack Obama’s success on Twitter? Click here to find out!

20 Killer Brand Strategies On Pinterest

You’ll find a great overview of how 20 brands are using Pinterest effectively in this post.

20 Brands Killing It With Vine Marketing

Vine’s short videos can attract and engage a broad range of audiences. Here are some examples of how Vine is being used for social marketing.

Top 25 Brands You Should Follow on Instagram

These brands are doing Instagram right so head on over and see what you can learn.

Kiel James Patrick Instagram Campaign

This previous nominee in the Small Business Influencer Awards demonstrates a social marketing approach that is unique and takes advantage of what the Instagram network offers perfectly.

Livestreaming and Periscope Social Marketing Examples

Streaming video live via social media channels such as Periscope is still fairly new, but a quickly growing, trend. Here are some real life examples of how folks have used this medium to market their business.

Viral Marketing Examples

Going viral is the dream of all social marketers. In this final section, you’ll find some real life examples of campaigns that did just that.

Smartphone Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Real Life Social Marketing Examples” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/real-life-social-marketing-examples.html

10 Businesses You Can Start to Target the Hipster Crowd

10 Hipster Business Ideas You Can Start to Target the In Crowd

Looking for a fun group of young consumers to target for your business? You might be interested in starting a business aimed at the hipster crowd. To do that, you’ll need a trendy idea and some unique products or offerings. Here are some business ideas that you might consider if you want to target the hipster crowd.

Hipster Business Ideas

Start a Coffee Shop

Coffee is popular among a huge variety of consumers. If you want to start a coffee shop aimed specifically at the hipster crowd, you can offer some specialty flavors or blends that appeal to younger consumers, like cold brew or drip coffee. Or you could even focus on creating a unique environment for your coffee shop, potentially incorporating some art from local artists or hosting events like open mic nights or live bands. Why not take a look at coffee shops around the world for inspiration.

Establish a Used Book Store

Online booksellers like Amazon have put plenty of brick and mortar bookstores out of business. But some people, including many in the hipster crowd, still appreciate the experience and feel of buying books in person. And you can start a used bookstore without having to invest a huge amount of time or money.

Launch a Vintage Record Store

Old school record stores like Stormy Records have also experienced a bit of a resurgence in recent years, due in no small part to young consumers. If you’re a fan of music and have the ability to grow a collection of old records to sell, starting a vintage record store can be a fairly attainable goal.

Found an Old Fashioned Paper Goods Store

Like the idea of selling handmade or well-designed products to consumers in person? Old fashioned paper goods like cards or letterpress prints are gaining popularity among hip consumers. So you can open your own store to peddle those products and highlight the work of some talented designers and artisans.

Create an Artisan Donut Shop

Everyone loves a good donut. But if you want to target a hipster crowd, you’ll probably need some more exciting dessert offerings. Donuts are still popular. But you can make your donut shop stand out by offering some artisan varieties and interesting flavors. Luckily, there are already plenty of great independent donut shops out there that you can draw inspiration from.

Open a Tattoo Business

Tattoos are also fairly popular among the hipster crowd. You’ll need some licenses and permits in order to get started. But if you can create a cool environment and offer quality service, you could very well attract a large enough group of young consumers to run a profitable tattoo business.

Operate a Second Hand Shop

If you love hunting for unique and quality vintage or second hand items, you could open your very own second hand store. If you fill your shop with carefully curated and unique items, you could build a shop that really appeals to a young, hip crowd.

Roll Out a Food Truck

Opening a full-service restaurant is expensive, risky and old-fashioned. If you want to start a food business that appeals to young, hip consumers, you need to start a food truck. You’ll still have to get some of the permits and inspections that you’d need for a restaurant business, but the other expenses can be greatly reduced.

Look Into a Foodie Franchise

If you’re more interested in starting an actual restaurant, there are still some trendy options out there. Going the franchise route can make starting a restaurant even easier. And there are plenty of franchise opportunities out there that appeal to foodies and hip consumers.

Go Into the Vintage Sign Business

Businesses trying to appeal to hipsters and millennials may need special signage for their establishments. Older looking signs, repurposed vintage letters or even light-up signs can really appeal to those businesses and consumers.

* * *

Are there any businesses not on the list. Leave suggestions in the comments below.

Young People Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “10 Businesses You Can Start to Target the Hipster Crowd” was first published on Small Business Trends

from Brent Lecompte Blog http://brentlecompte.blogspot.com/2016/08/10-businesses-you-can-start-to-target.html