Amazon is clearly the dominate force in the eCommerce space, with over $67.9 billion in online sales in 2013. But online retail is a BIG space and the question becomes, “if someone else can create the same experience as Amazon, can they take a portion of those sales?”
Walmart is testing that very question and recently updated their website in efforts to create a better online shopping experience for it’s visitors. Smallbiztechnology.com editor, Ramon Ray took a look at the new Walmart website and put it to a buying test against Amazon to compare the two. He writes about the experience and his evaluation of different aspects of each site in a blog for Endicia titled, “The Battle to Dominate the eCommerce Space: Amazon vs. Walmart“.
Read the full article on the Endicia’s Savvy Shipper blog page to see how the two sites compare and to see if Walmart made enough changes to win the battle!
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In baseball utility players are never the stars; they’re pretty good at everything, but don’t excel in anything.
In content marketing, the story is different. According to a study conducted by Aol Platform, when it comes to online sales, YouTube works best at the beginning of the sales cycle and also as the “closer.”
In product videos, YouTube is used 18 percent of the time at the top of the sales funnel and 14 percent of the time as the last step in the sales cycle. In addition, it’s used 14 percent of the time as the sole content vehicle for online sales. Not only should you have a YouTube channel, you should use it directly on your site.
Its nearest competitor is Facebook which is used 11 percent at the top of the funnel and 10 percent at the end.
Do you look at your analytics and wonder what you can do to lower your bounce rate and increase your engagement time? One word: video. A Comscore study said that last December the US watched 52.4 billion hours of online video with the average American logging more than 19 hours of web video.
Since those figures came from last December, another thought comes to mind: if you’re a retail business, perhaps video is your ticket to killer holiday sales this year. And with so much on the line, let’s look at how you should approach video content creation and share some tips.
Forget DIY Product Shoots
You may be fine at videoing your kid’s birthday party, but take it up a level when you want to portray your products or your company in an online video. If you’re editing together static shots from a variety of angles, you want a professional lighting setup. If things have to move and be demonstrated, you want a local pro behind the camera and in the editing room. When you plan your video, put yourself in the place of someone who knows nothing about your product. Don’t take things for granted.
If you’re selling a service – perhaps yourself – don’t stand in front of a white wall and just start talking. This is perhaps the most difficult video to create and I’ve seen so many professionals think they can just talk to the camera. Outline what you want to say and get a professional script written. The final video may be better as a montage of stills with limited video of you. In a world with services like Elance and others you can find a good voice-over person to do the narration without paying a fortune.
Get Your Customers/Users Involved
There are a variety of ways you can get users to upload videos of your product. If you have a WordPress site, there are plugins that get this done. Getting your fan base to upload video for you is a powerful means of social media marketing. Create a hashtag for this purpose. You can encourage fan videos by honoring the best each month with some kind of prize or notoriety. When your customers feature your business through their social media accounts you’re able to reach new prospects with very little investment.
Go Beyond Basic Product Videos
Use video to answer customer questions before they ask them. Maybe you sell a variety of related products or services. How do they compare to one another? Should a new customer buy the entry-level product, or go for all the bells and whistles? Don’t be afraid to honestly compare your product line. Customers want to know.
Make Buying Easy
Integrate videos into your purchasing pages. Don’t corral all your videos in a place on your website that requires additional clicks if customers what to push a “buy now” button. It doesn’t do any good to engage a customer with video and then have them drop out of the transaction trying to get to the purchase page. Also, make sure your videos aren’t too long and that they load quickly.
We shouldn’t be surprised by the power of video and YouTube. After all, the medium engages viewers through both hearing and seeing. The question now is if you’ve seen and heard enough to get truly serious about selling with video.
Image: Aro Video Sign Wellington, © 2009 Newsbie Pix, used under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike license.
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.
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Recently I parked my car in front of a Dunkin Donuts to use their WiFi while I waited for one of my children to finish taking some tests at a local high school.
I got hungry and was thinking about going into Dunkin Donuts to get something to eat. But I looked around and noticed a bakery, Domingo’s Bakery. I went inside as a I wanted a freshly made sandwich that’s similar to what I would make at home. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE D&D chicken sandwiches, donuts and other food. However, at that time, I wanted something different.
Walking into Domingo’s Bakery I was pleasantly surprised at how packed and full it was. In fact how full of life it was, with a flurry of activitie, kids running around and Spanish filling the air.
My initial thought was, how does this bakery have a thriving breakfast service with Dunkin Donuts being right across the street?
It’s simple. This bakery is service a niche market.
1. Those who primarily speak Spanish.
2. Those who want more fresh or authentic food
3. Those who want a homey experience.
Also, as we learned from Dave Ramsey’s “Business Gets Personal” event with Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk, you don’t have to destroy your competition to win. Most markets are big enough that there’s room for many competitors to do quite well. You can leverage the power of your digital marketing to FIND customers and WOW them all day long.
Learn from the Cuban bakery. Don’t be afraid of your competition, in fact – embrace them and thrive.
Here’s the view that the local Dunkin Donuts store sees…every day…
Here’s the view Domingo’s Bakery sees every day…I bet this view inspires them to excellence and a deep focus on their customers. Go narrow, target small – get big profits.
The post Why This Cuban Bakery Beat Dunkin Donuts With Niche Marketing appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
With more and more consumers now turning to the internet for local searches, small businesses have more opportunities than ever to connect. With a few simple improvements to your online presence, you can make it easier for local customers to find your business easily.
I recently wrote an article for Well Fargo and their Wells Fargo Works for Small Business site providing tips on how retailers can improve their local marketing efforts. Reality is, that with just a few simple changes, most retailers can vastly improve how local customers are finding them.
With the holidays quickly approaching, now is the perfect time to revamp your local marketing efforts. Read the full article, Local Online Marketing: Help Customers Find Your Business on the Wells Fargo site and you’ll be on your way to more foot traffic and increased sales.
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Tired of Tweeting and having no results? Do you use great images on Facebook, but still can’t get the results you want? Join Ramon Ray on Monday, October 20th at 1pm EST for a special, online, live event, hosted by AT&T.
Ramon will share his BEST STRATEGIES for using social content to EDUCATE customers and prospects.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT THE DETAILS AND REGISTER
Social Marketing is all about content which educates (or entertains) the customer (or prospect), engages them and over time causes them to buy from YOU.
Social Content works and it is POWERFUL. If you are JUST starting out – it takes time. If you’ve been banging on the keyboard for months and seeing no results – join me (Ramon) next Monday (October 20th) and let’s see how I can help.
Ramon is a best selling author, journalist, entrepreneur, event producer and overall nut case addicted to small business success. He’s a student of Seth Godin’s belief in tribes and weirdness and a follower of Gary’s focus on being focused on your customer and jab, jab, jab, right hook.
CLICK HERE TO FIND OUT THE DETAILS AND REGISTER
The post Join Ramon and AT&T #BizCircleLive – Online Event: Social Content Is The New Way To Sell appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
October is Cyber Security Awareness month. To inform and educate small businesses, Staples and Norton are teaming up and have created the ‘Take the Pledge’ campaign. This month-long campaign will include educational content, twitter chats, survey reports and giveaways from Staples and Norton, including a grand prize package with a Dell Latitude 14” Laptop and Norton security software. Data breaches have become much too common. While most associate these cybercrimes with large retail organizations, that perception is actually skewed. While large businesses get mentioned on the nightly news when there is a data breach, the reality is that small businesses are just as vulnerable. Often more so. In fact, a recent survey by Staples found that over 1 in 4 small businesses do not have a plan in please to respond to any data breach, proving the lack of preparedness against cybercrimes amongst small businesses. A 2013 National Small Business Association technology survey revealed that 44 percent of the small businesses’ reported a cyber-attack. Of those reported, 59 percent suffered a service interruption and 35 percent reported information was falsely sent from their businesses’ domains or email addresses. The average cost associated with the cyber-attack was $8.699.48 per incident. This is a financial hit that most small businesses cannot readily absorb. Knowing how detrimental the effects of a cyber-attack can be on a small business, Staples and Norton want to go the extra step to help them understand the risks and how they can better protect themselves. Since 39 percent of small businesses in the 2013 National Small Business Association technology survey report handling security internally, either by themselves or with help of a staff member, and 1 out of 5 of those surveyed from the recent Staples small business survey admitting that they don’t understand how to protect their businesses from cyber criminals, there is definitely a need to share more information to help keep small businesses stay safe. You can follow the ‘Take the Pledge’ Twitter hashtag #CSPledge to get tips and information on how to keep your small business safe. You can also join the conversation with Melinda Emerson, producer of #SmallBizChat – a peer-to-peer Twitter live chat mentoring program designed to help entrepreneurs get answers to their small business question — on Wednesday, October 22, 2014 from 8pm to 9pm ET, as she chats with business expert Brian Moran. Brian and his team at Brian Moran & Associates are passionate about helping small business owners run better businesses and Brian has a wealth of information on cybersecurity that he’ll be sharing, including mobile security and cyber-security in the age of social media. He’ll also share options for protecting a business when owners are not comfortable managing cybersecurity in house. There is going to be A LOT of valuable information being shared. Follow along so you don’t miss a thing, while also enjoying a chance to win one of the great prizes being offered to help keep your business safe.
The post Cyber Security Awareness Month: Staples and Norton Team Up for ‘Take the Pledge’ Campaign (#CSPledge) to Educate Small Businesses appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
I work with many partners in the production of SmallBizTechnology.com, Small Business Summit and Smart Hustle Magazine.
Some send me an invoice via PayPal, some send an invoice through Freshbooks and link to Zipmark, others send me an invoice and I send them a check.
What’s interesting is that those who make it EASY for me to pay them get paid first. One of my team members uses Zipmark – with about one click (and a second one to login) I can pay them directly from my bank account – nice.
Freshbooks announced earlier this month that they’re now integrating a payment solution into their offering.
Their press release reads -
FreshBooks uses the WePay payment processor, giving users a secure way to accept credit cards online with the added benefit of viewing payment status within their FreshBooks dashboard. Once a payment is made, the payment information is automatically updated across the FreshBooks account, marking invoices paid and inputting relevant expense information. FreshBooks also automatically records refunds and chargebacks.
FreshBooks improves the user experience by simplifying the sign-up process and helping small business owners get paid faster. During the beta program, FreshBooks customers experienced firsthand how easy and seamless it was to collect online payments. In fact, 52 percent of invoices issued with FreshBooks’ payments offering were paid within the same business day, and more than 70 percent had been paid within the first 48 hours.
The post Make Paying Invoices Easy and Get Paid Faster. Freshbooks Launches Payment Solution. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
On July 1st we approached the small business community with a call for nominations for the Small Business Influencer Awards – those people and companies that have significantly impacted the North American small business market. Your response was overwhelming as we saw nominations for the top news outlets, corporations, journalists, leaders, experts and apps pour into the system.
Today, we are happy to announce the winners– the top Small Business Influencers of 2014, nominated and chosen by small business owners just like you.
This years Growth Story Champion was Abe’s Market, an online marketplace for natural products. With the help of All Inclusive Marketing (AIM) they created a successful affiliate channel that experienced a whooping 4400% growth in less than one year.
The award for Marketing Campaign Champion went to CruiseOne, a home-based travel franchise. The company identified shopping cart abandonment as a major issue, and launched a follow-up email marketing program targeting potential customers that did not complete their purchase. The program has been wildly successful, producing triple-digit sales revenue and high click-through rates.
In addition to these two grand champions, the voting round also produced a list of the Top 100 Small Business Influencers. The list includes business experts, apps, cloud-based software solutions, small business media publications and more. You can view the entire list of 100 winners – along with 5 Honorable Mentions – here.
The Small Business Influencers were chosen by both community vote and the Judging Panel, so there is an additional list of winners for 2014 Community Choice Honorees. These are the top 5 vote-getters in each category, chosen 100% by small business owners like you. You can view the list of Community Choice Honorees here.
Up next on the agenda is the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala, where hundreds will gather to honor the winners. The Awards Gala is taking place in conjunction with the 9th Annual Small Business Summit.
The Summit is happening on October 22 from 8:00am to 5:30pm and will include a variety of small business sessions, giveaways and networking opportunities. It’s a must-attend event for all small business owners, so if you’re going to be in the Manhattan area on October 22, register now so you won’t miss the fun!
All attendees of the Small Business Summit also get a pass to the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala, which starts at 5:30 – so not only do you get a day full of education and networking, you then get to mingle and celebrate with the TOP influencers in the small business world!
Join us on October 22 for the Small Business Summit and the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala – you can register by clicking the Register icon below.
The post The Winners of the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards Are Chosen! appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Remember the early days of the cloud when it elicited dreams of self-service IT and streamlined support? Well, anyone who has done anything in the cloud will tell you (with a nervous smile) that vision turned out to be very far from the reality that they experienced. Yes, the cloud certainly does offer small businesses (companies […]
Wal Mart was a disruptor for local small businesses. Amazon.com was a disruptor for Wal Mart and of course ANY other retailer. With Amazon.com testing the waters of opening a local store, as reported by the WSJ, the differentiation you offer to your customers is even more important.
At the Wix Small Business Breakfast earlier this week, this question was brought up – how can we compete with big retailers. Shopkeep is going to touch on this at the Small Business Summit.
It is TOUGH to compete with big retailers but it’s possible.
- Know your customers.
- Go narrow – don’t sell to everyone
- Leverage technology, such as CRM to get to know them better, anticipate their needs and overall follow the principles of Attract, Sell, Wow
- Know who your competition is and anticipate your customer’s like or dislike of what your competition is doing
- LOVE your customers. Wow them, delight them and create an emotional connection with them . Beyond the transaction.
Keep your head up, don’t fear and LOVE YOUR CUSTOMERS.
The post Amazon.com Opens NYC Store. How Is Your Local Store Different. 5 Tips. appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
We interrupt your workday to bring you some breaking news regarding the 2014 Small Business Summit! Brian Smith, the founder of Ugg Boots is coming!!
The Small Business Summit is the premier small business event taking place on October 22 in New York City. It’s a full-day event like no other – designed BY small business and FOR small business. If you want to learn the latest tips and tricks to grow your small business, you simply MUST attend!
We’ve been telling you about our outstanding list of speakers, and we’re proud to announce two more.
The 2014 Small Business Summit would like to welcome Brian Smith, founder of UGG Boots, to the list of renowned speakers. Small Biz Technology’s Ramon Ray recently spoke to him about his session on innovation “From Idea to Profits.” Here’s what he had to say.
Yes, that’s right – the founder of one of the biggest footwear brands loves to help small businesses and he can’t wait to share his tips for success with YOU at the Summit!
If that is not enough to get you to register now, we also want to welcome Sarah Endline, the founder of the activist candy company sweetriot. You’ll want to hear Sarah’s advice on publicity because she started out as a small business owner just like you – and now her products are sold in over 1,700 stores across the country including Whole Foods and Pier 1!
With the 2014 Small Business Summit only about two weeks ago, you can’t delay in registering any longer. Space is limited and predicted to fill up soon! But just for our Smallbiztechnology.com readers, we have a special code that will save you 25 percent off your ticket! To take advantage of this special offer, go here to register (or click on the register button below) and use code 25OFF to get your discount. But HURRY – this code is only valid through Friday, October 10.
Beyond the amazing educational and motivational sessions that will be featured at the Small Business Summit, you’ll also enjoy a full day of networking, fun and prizes – and immediately following the summit you’ll be treated to a free admission to the Small Business Influencer Awards Gala, an opportunity to celebrate and mingle with the top corporations, news outlets, journalists, apps, leaders, and experts in the small business circle.
The 2014 Small Business Summit is THE small business event that everyone will be talking about. Don’t miss out! Register today!
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Dear small business owner, you are HOT stuff and big companies are INVESTING a lot of money to sell you solutions that will help grow your company even more.
As a champion of small business success it’s really amazing the FIGHT that big companies are having over small businesses – whichever big company “wins or loses” – small businesses will win.
Here’s a quick and dirty run down of some recent big company – small business movements.
Yext manages local and other online marketing for small businesses. They’ve just hired a CFO show specializes in IPOs, reports Crain’s.
Square got $150 million to help it get more little white credit card swipes into the small business market (and more of course). Also reports Crain’s
Yesterday, Infusionsoft announced a $55 Million investment lead by Bain (we reported on this yesterday)
GoDaddy is acquiring businesses and building a solid foundation to build a suite of small business services and recently launched a new set of advertising.
PayPal is going to split from eBay and PayPal is VERY focused on the small business marketing – providing not just credit card transaction solutions but also lines of credit.
Alibaba is going to make huge waves to steal the eCommerce market from Amazon and others. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder says it in this Bloomberg video
Microsoft is betting a LOT on ensuring Office 365 is the platform of choice for small businesses and continues to strengthen it’s partner network.
Who else should I add to the list? Use the comments below…
The post Yext, Square, Infusionsoft and more…Big Companies Love Small Business appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
John “ColderIce” Lawson is a top eBay seller, guru of eCommerce and overall master of online marketing. His book “Kick Ass Social Commerce for Entrepreneurs” is a must read.
As a preview to John’s popular Ice Retailer Conference I’ve asked John for his tips on building a successful business. We can all use tips and success best practices.
If you are breathing and on the planet Earth you’ve either shopped online, know someone who has shopped online; sold something online or know someone who has sold something online. If you don’t fit into any of these categories than I greet you in your native alien tongue, “Nanu, Nanu.”
But seriously… From Walmart and Home Depot to Etsy and eBay, online sales are raking in billions of dollars for eCommerce giants, small businesses and solopreneurs around the world. This year alone, the top ten online stores had more than 588 million unique visitors with Amazon leading the way with 162 million and we’ve still got another quarter to go!
For small businesses as well as solo-prenuer operations, It’s easy to get lost in the mire of conflicting information out there; with each self-proclaimed “expert” telling you that they hold the “Holy Grail” to online success if you will buy their book, attend their class and do such and such.
But the fact is that most of those people who are telling you how to make millions on the internet have not only NOT made millions on the internet (or likely not anywhere else for that matter) but don’t even sell anything on the internet; except maybe their books and some crappy webinars.
So, why take my advice? Because I opened a little store on the internet ten years ago and within 2 years was able to make enough to quit my job. Over the last 10 years, my online enterprises have grossed nearly $30 million dollars. Then people started calling from all over the world wanting me to come talk at their conferences and then a publisher asked me to write a book which THEY published, “Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs” and now I do my own conferences and bootcamps world-wide from America to Africa.
So, I guess that makes me kind of an expert but not at telling you what to do to make a million dollars. I am very good at telling you what I did to make millions of dollars. But maybe you don’t want to be as big as Wal Mart. Maybe you just want to make more money than you’re making right now. I can guarantee if you implement the following 7 action steps, you will more than triple your online sales or income starting now Let’s get started:
Networking Can Take Your Business To New Heights.
All too often online sellers spend too much time in our own isolated world; working with our own teams and only getting feedback from those we see everyday. We forget that it’s important to get face time with others in our industry as well as intermingling with potential clients or referral resources. Both our reputation and our sales are created through the relationships that we have with others. It is important that we build and nurture quality connections that take us closer to our goals; ones where we can learn and grow.
Education is a Key to Success.
The best thing that you can do for your business growth is to attend industry conferences, trade shows, boot camps, seminars and networking events. Choosing the right event is important because you want to be where the trailblazers in online sales and marketing are gathered.
There you will find knowledge, insider tips and connect with those who have done what you are trying to do as well as meet with others who at where you’re at now and moving up the ladder. Not only can life long friendships be made but life long business relationships. People do business with people they know more often than they do business with or a total stranger.
Stay Ahead of the Technology Curve.
Commerce is changing from day-to-day as technology makes leaps and bounds into the future. By the time you hear the announcement for something new, it’s already old and you are behind the times.
The only way for you to stay ahead of the game is to be where the innovators and leaders are talking about the next big thing before it becomes the next big thing. You want to know RIGHT NOW what’s coming in technology, marketing, sourcing, SEO and other necessary disciplines you must know to be successful.
So, if you’re racking your brain trying to come up with ways to increase your cash flow, the internet is surely the place to go. And if you follow my three suggestions, I can almost guarantee that whatever venture you partake will be a success!
John Lawson is CEO of 3rd Power Outlet, an online urban accessories retailer and ColderICE Media Digital Marketing. He is author of, “Kick Ass Social Commerce for E-Preneurs” and founder of ICE Retailer Business Growth Summit, an annual conference held in Atlanta, GA and other major cities across the United States. For more information contact John at: http://johnlawsonhq.com/
The post Top eBay Seller and eCommerce Expert @ColderIce – 3 Steps To Triple Your Business Today appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Money management is one of the most important responsibilities small business owners must take care of.
Without the proper management of our money we won’t know what products are profitable, which customers owe us money and how much we owe the IRS – amongst other things.
The tool you use to manage your money is important. Pick the wrong tool and you’ll find a decrease in productivity and you won’t be able to manage your cash flow as well as you should. Pick the right tool and you’ll find that you can work better with your accountant, create intelligent reports to give you insight about your cash flow, manage your money from your mobile phone.
(Welcome to sponsored reviews by SmallBizTechnology and Small Business Trends)
Xero was created from the ground up for a mobile and cloud based world, it has no legacy as software installed on a computer. Today’s generation of existing business owners and future ones want solutions to power that business that are fast, light weight (yet feature rich), completely accessible on a mobile device and that are easy to use.
Here’s a discussion with Xero USA President Jamie Sutherland about the value of Xero, cloud computing fears and security nightmares. Watch it below or here.
Your Accountant and You
For growing businesses, your accountant and book keeper are important partners. Xero has a powerful set of features, enabling you and your accountant to work better together. For example, right from Xero, you can get help from your accountant. This is a simple feature that can make a big difference in getting you the right help you need, at the right time.
Visualize Your Money Flow
It can be hard to always understand the nuances of your money flow. Xero works hard to provide a simple dashboard to to give a you quick snap shot of what’s most important in regard to your money. How much money is coming in, how much money is going out and what money is in your accounts.
Bank Reconciliation Is No Longer A Pain
Do you enjoy reconciling your bank accounts? I sure don’t. Xero has invested a lot of time to understand the best way for you to reconcile your bank account. With one click you can easily reconcile your bank’s records and Xero’s records to ensure your accounts are always up to date. Xero makes it so easy to manage your bank reconciliation that some business owners manage their banking on their phone.
Powerful integration and growth
While Xero by itself is powerful awesome, what’s even more impressive is that it integrates with a growing list of over 350 other business apps like Square, ZenPayroll and Constant Contact, allowing for a seamless and customized business solution.
Furthermore, Xero does not limit the number of users that can use it. So as your company grows, Xero grows with you.
Is Xero Built To Last
It’s important to know if the company powering your business will be around for the long term. With over 340,000 paying customers, $200 Million in the bank and investments from the like of PayPal found Peter Thiel, Xero is a strong company. It’s not a very young company, still in a “garage”, but it’s a mature company with the breadth and scale of services to serve your small business.
Want to enjoy your accounting with a better solution? Check out Xero
The post Review: Why Xero Wants You To Ditch QuickBooks And Fall In Love With Managing Your Money appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
You’ve heard the talk about 3D Printing. Instead of shipping your product overseas and getting it manufactured in limited manufacturing run in the USA, you can use a 3D printer to quickly print a sample of your product and see how it works.
3D printing enables designers, inventors, manufacturers, retailers and any other business that needs a physical product to get one.
UPS is a cautious retailer and initially rolled our 3D printing in only a few stores – now they’ve expanded the program more nationally. What does this mean? This means UPS sees demand – real demand for 3D printing.
The UPS press release reads:
During the 2013 pilot program, the 3D print services were used by small businesses, startups, inventors, artists and a wide range of professionals to transform their ideas into reality. From inventors who patented innovative product designs to entrepreneurs who prototyped an idea and successfully delivered a retail-ready product to market, there were many success stories. Watch this 3D print video to meet a few of them.
“We are committed to offering small business owners, entrepreneurs and consumers high-tech solutions in order to assist with all of their business needs,” said Michelle Van Slyke, vice president of marketing and sales at The UPS Store. “We launched the pilot to evaluate if there was demand for 3D print and we’re excited to be announcing an expansion, giving even more small business owners access to high-quality, professional 3D printing. We look forward to being a part of the future of the 3D printing industry.”
The post UPS Brings Retail 3D Printing to Small Business Entrepreneurs – Big News appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Today Infusionsoft announced that it closed a $55 Million invested led by Bain Capital Ventures.
Infusionsoft is the leader in small business CRM solutions for small businesses.
This investment continues to validate:
- the strength of the overall small business market
- the potency of small business marketing solutions
- that great tech companies aren’t just in Silicon Valley and Silicoln Alley
“Small businesses are the lifeblood of the US and the global economy. Yet many small businesses lack an integrated sales and marketing system to help them to grow and succeed. Infusionsoft has been providing software, services, education and a community designed to enable small business success for the last 10 years,” said Clate Mask, co-founder and CEO of Infusionsoft. “Bain Capital Ventures shares our passion and our vision for building the essential small business success platform and brings unique experience with high-growth SaaS businesses to our team. We’re excited to have them as partners.”
Infusionsoft said that the new investment will be used primarily for further product development and commercial expansion. Learn more about the news on the Infusionsoft blog: http://insft.co/1rviSH0.
What does this mean for YOUR business?
- It means if you’re still just doing email marketing – it’s time to consider doing more
- It means if your social content is just Tweeting, you need to feed leads to a CRM system that can nurture the leads to a sale
- It means if you are not wowing your customers – it’s time to do so
- It means if you do not have marketing strategy in place – it’s time
Companies like Bain don’t invest money without serious thought. Should you invest serious thought into better marketing?
The post Bain Leads $55 Million Investment In Infusionsoft. Small Business CRM Gets Validated…Again appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Running a food truck is not easy – the permits, the staffing, the regulations and so many other things are challenges. However, if you like to get up close and personal to your customers and enjoy the mobility of running a business – a food truck could be a great option for you.
NCR Silver spent some time with Happy Belly, a food truck in Atlanta and documented their day in this video.
Here’s a few tips from NCR in running a successful food truck business:
Know your regulations
Many local governments want to see food trucks succeed. But it takes time for laws that were written decades ago for brick-and-mortar restaurants to catch up.
Adjacent cities and counties can sometimes have different rules on safety, parking and more. Fees can also vary widely.
“Be sure to know each city’s and county’s rules first,” said Justin Hotard, president of NCR Small Business. “Compliance can sometimes be so time-consuming that it may be best to dedicate one person full-time to handle licensing, permitting and other regulatory requirements during the initial few months.”
Get creative with parking
With a mobile business, location is everything. To combat parking restrictions in certain communities, many food truck vendors are generating additional income by offering catering services.
The industry also is seeing an increase in free market options, such as “pods” in San Francisco, where trucks can park in public spaces and not worry about breaking local rules.
Bottom line, know the market options in the communities you serve – some are better than others – to minimize parking hassles and maximize customer reach.
Build – and maintain – your brand
The most successful food trucks have unique brands, which include everything from the menu and logo to truck design. Given the mobile nature of food trucks, letting fans know where you’re going each day is crucial. Social media is a prime vehicle for this, as well as overall customer engagement.
Loyalty programs also help. It’s beneficial for a loyalty program to work seamlessly with the checkout process – automatically tracking rewards with each sale, so customers see what they’ve earned, and have added incentive to come back. Loyalty integration eliminates punch cards and disparate programs.
“You need several ingredients to run a successful food truck – good service, amazing food and passion,” Hotard said. “The element tying all of this together is your brand. Staying consistent with your brand and continually engaging customers increases your likelihood of long-term success.”
For more industry stats and insider views, check out “#GetRolling America: 2014 Food Truck Facts” infographic and “Rolling with Happy Belly Curbside Kitchen: A Day in the Life of a Food Truck” video.
The post Food Trucks Are Small Businesses. What’s Their 3 Secret Weapons of Success? appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
How many new leads did your website bring you last week? If you cringed a little while considering your response, it’s time to rethink your landing pages.
What are Landing Pages?
Look online and you’ll find a variety of definitions for landing pages. For the purpose of marketing, it is important to differentiate a landing page from any webpage a person lands on. It’s much more advanced than that.
A landing page in the marketing sense of the word is a page that has a specific offer and an end goal of capturing visitors’ information. It’s a lead generation tool that, when used effectively, can bring high-quality new leads to your sales team.
With so much confusion about landing pages, many marketers are missing opportunities. To help you get more out of your online campaigns, here are five ways you can make your landing pages a little bit lovelier (and bring in massive amounts of new leads).
- Rewrite Your Headline
The first thing your visitor sees is your headline. When writing the headline for your landing page, be specific. The less your visitor has to guess, the more likely he is to explore your offer in more detail. In many cases, you should also add emotional elements. This will trigger an emotional response and immediately engage your visitor on a deeper level.
Smart marketers test headlines regularly to discover what resonates and what falls flat. Doing a basic A/B test of various messages will show you which headlines generate the most leads.
- Use Smart Buttons
The buttons on your landing page are what your visitor clicks on to take action and hand over his personal information. The placement of the button, the text used on the button, and the color all play an important role in whether or not the person clicks.
When designing your landing page, make sure the buttons are above the fold. Use bright colors to draw attention the buttons and encourage more clicks. Just like your headline, you will also want to test the copy on the buttons to see what inspires people to click and what falls flat. Simple changes, like using “I” instead of “you” can make a big difference.
- Eliminate Distractions
Giving your website visitor too many options is a huge mistake. Each landing page should have one purpose only. Eliminate distractions to prevent your leads from leaving before handing over their information.
Remove the navigation bar from the top of the page. Instead, focus your visitor on one specific task; to click a button and fill out a form with his details.
- Be Smart With Your Requests
The goal of your landing page is to generate leads. The more information your visitor has to hand over, the less likely he will be to finish filling out your request form.
When requesting information, only ask for what you need. In many cases, this will only be a name and email address. You can follow up later to qualify the lead, but the goal now is to capture visitor information.
Use a form, such as the Insightly Web to Contact form to automatically send your leads into your sales funnel and online CRM. This makes your landing page work harder for you, eliminating unnecessary work.
Let your sales team do what they do best – sell! With a well-designed landing page, simple form and automatic CRM integration, you’ll spoon-feed high quality leads to your team so that they can close more deals faster.
Kimberly Crossland is a copywriter. She helps clients develop landing pages that bring in quality leads. Follow her on Facebook to get more copywriting and online marketing tips.
The post Lovely Landing Pages for Lots o’ Lead Generation appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
According to statistics from the American Community Survey, telecommuting has risen 79 percent between 2005 and 2012, with approximately 3.2 million workers doing their thing from home. This number only includes full-time employees who work from home for someone other than themselves at least half the time. Now let’s add in self-employed consultants and virtual freelancers and that number skyrockets and enforces a trend in the workplace and mindset that will not soon be going away, but continually increasing.
(Welcome to sponsored reviews – from SmallBizTechnology and Small Business Trends)
With this new way of working comes the need for better communication and collaboration tools. In response to this, Citrix, a leader in mobile workspaces providing virtualization, mobility management, networking and cloud services to enable new ways to work better, has introduced a new version of GoToMeeting Free. An extension of its popular online meeting tool, this latest version is answering the call from virtual workers who wanted a more simple collaboration tool that offered the features they need to get things done.
As a guy who is constantly on the ‘go’ and who works with a virtual team who helps me keep things moving in my many projects (Smallbiztechnology, Smart Hustle Magazine, Small Business Summit), I too am always looking for better tools that allow me to get more done faster. So I was pretty thrilled when I saw this new product and the features it offered. Here’s four reasons it’s a winner in my book:
- It’s Instant. When I say instant…I mean instant. I send my custom URL (oh yeah…you get to claim a custom URL so that you can easily remember your personal ‘online meeting room’) to whomever I want to meet with – they click, I click and we are meeting. That’s it…we’re meeting! No phone numbers or access codes to remember, no trying to figure out how to get the ‘hang-out’ connected…just click, connect and meet!
- Meet and Share Content. Have you ever had that endless email exchange with someone trying to collaborate on something and you just wished you could both be looking at the same thing at the same time so you could get it done and move on? Well, GoToMeeting Free has you covered here as well. Simply go from video to screen sharing – from either side – during your meeting or quickly share documents by dragging and dropping them onto the screen. Simple.
- It’s Mobile. Because I’m always on the go, mobile is a big deal for me. GoToMeeting Free works on Google Chrome and Firefox browsers and on Android mobile devices. So while I’m on the train with my Galaxy S4 phone, I can have a quick meeting with my director of operations whose back in her office. And if we need to, we can circle in our director of marketing, because GoToMeeting Free allows up to three participants.
- It’s Free. Everyone loves free, but most of us expect that with free comes some caveat – unwanted ads, limited connection, etc. Nope – not with GoToMeeting Free. Free is simply free.
If you’re looking for a better way to meet and collaborate with your virtual team, head over to free.gotomeeting.com and click start a meeting. Share that URL with your team members and you’ll be on your way! Simple.
The post GoToMeeting Free: The Smart, Simple and FREE Collaboration Tool for Workgroups appeared first on SmallBizTechnology.
Click Above For Full Infographic
While social media has been around since the early days of the internet, it isn't until recently that advertisers and marketers are beginning to realize its widespread influence. People of all ages are now using at least one of these platforms to connect with their peers and companies. In fact, more consumers are shunning traditional advertisements in favor of social media and customer reviews to make informed purchasing decisions. Luckily for companies, the same principles of engaging customers in a marketing funnel still apply in today's digital world: create brand awareness through incremental exposure.
In a way, the dominance of networks like Facebook and Twitter has made it much easier to increase brand awareness quickly and cheaply. However, with so many other businesses competing for consumers' attention and money, it can also be much more difficult to get in front of your target audience and even get them started in your marketing funnel. In order to pique the interests and desires of your market, you must take a more relationship-oriented approach to your social profiles. If you're stuck on how to foster a community and convert them into paying customers, the infographic below will provide you with some useful tips and ideas.
Nobeysco Web Conferencing