Amazon’s Brick-and-Mortar Store and How It Will Impact Your Local Business

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 17:00

Many of you have probably already heard the announcement of Amazon’s first brick-and-mortar store, which is set to open in New York City just in time for this year’s holiday shopping season.

Amazon has been leading the way in online sales for years, so the arrival of a brick-and-mortar location makes perfect sense for the evolution of the company. However this brick-and-mortar store (and others that will presumably follow) will likely shake up local businesses, just as Amazon has done to online businesses in its decade-long history.

If you have a local brick-and-mortar store, you’re probably wondering how Amazon’s move will impact you.

This was the topic of discussion in Ramon Ray’s recent article for Endicia’s blog, The Savvy Shipper. According to Ramon, Amazon’s brick-and-mortar locations will impact local business because of:

  • The Push for Convenience
  • The Storefront-Online Combination

In the article, Ramon elaborates on these points, explaining how Amazon’s brick-and-mortar stores will change customer expectations about the shopping experience. To learn more about how Amazon’s decision will impact your local store, you can read the full article here.

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Categories: SMB

How Long-Tail Keywords Are Becoming Even More Important

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/30/2014 - 15:00

Have you noticed that Google is really pushing its smartphone app? This indicates how the online world is tilting heavily to mobile. You’ve probably been hearing a lot about this trend in recent months…and years.

Rather than get bored with all the talk about “going mobile,” the important thing is to ask the question: If users are becoming increasingly dependent on mobile computing, what should I do differently to position my business better?

We get some help in answering this question from the way Google is promoting its app. People are interfacing with Google more and more by talking rather than inputting via a keyboard (either real or virtual). This should cause you to take another – or perhaps your first – look at long-tail keywords.

Building Long-Tail Keywords

A quick definition is called for. “Pizza parlor” is a keyword. “Pizza parlor close to Six Flags” is a long-tail keyword. You’ve probably noticed that people speak differently than they write and that difference is amplified when compared to how people write in search boxes. People looking for your kind of business will be much more descriptive when they are verbally “asking” Google to find it for them. This gives you the opportunity to create some nicely targeted long-tail keywords on your website.

I also need to say that visitors who find your website by using long-tail keywords are much more likely to be high-value prospects. Just the fact that they have used a long-tail keyword means that they have pushed themselves further down your sales funnel. You may not see a big bump in overall traffic, but high quality traffic will increase.

The first step in finding your best long-tail keywords is to just talk about your business, thinking about all the phrases you might use to describe it or ask about it. Be sure to “ask” about your products or services as you do this. Make a list. Consider your keywords from different points of view. Don’t worry about editing now. You can separate the good, bad, and ugly later on.

Let me give you a quick example. A basic keyword would be “vintage clothing.” A brainstorming session would look like this (with the long-tail keywords in italics):

  • Is there a vintage clothing store near the JC?
  • Is there a vintage clothing store open at night?
  • Are there any vintage clothing stores that have children’s clothes?
  • Do any vintage clothing stores sell online?

Include Products and Services

If our example vintage clothing store had any specialty, such as jeans or hats, those terms would be excellent when constructing long-tail keywords. The same principles apply if you’re a service provider.

Adding your location is a standard way to form long-tail keywords. A writer friend did a lot of work for a construction company that wanted keywords such as “bathroom remodeler Dallas” in the copy. He wrote phrases such as, “When looking for a quality bathroom remodeler, Dallas area homeowners often turn to their neighbors for references.” You sometimes need to be a little clever.

Try to work your long-tail keywords into headlines and subheads and don’t overdo it. Above all, Google is sensitive to keyword stuffing, so don’t make that mistake. Keep your usage natural and authentic.

If you need a little help brainstorming, use Google’s AdWords keyword planner and Wordstream’s free (30 searches) keyword tool. Also, as you probably guessed, long-tail keywords will also boost your success in traditional searches.

Image: “Lemur catta 001” by Alex Dunkel (Maky) – Own work. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons.

Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. 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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Categories: SMB

Unraveling the Complexities of Small Business Legal Matters: Video from Wix Small Biz Breakfast

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 21:00

Small business owners usually begin their new ventures with a creative idea and a passionate desire to bring that idea to life. Of course these are essential ingredients to small business success, but you can be doomed for failure if you don’t consider those other nagging issues that may block your way – legal matters. Recently, Wix held a Small Biz Breakfast to help unravel the complexities of small business legal matters.

Smart entrepreneurs take the time to educate themselves in these legal issues before moving forward, often speaking to lawyers who deal specifically with business law. One such lawyer is Christine Wong, a New York City lawyer with over ten years of experience in commercial litigation, including working with small businesses and startups in areas such as contract negotiation, investor financing, and acquisitions.

Christine joined host Ramon Ray at a Wix Small Business Breakfast to discuss small business legal matters. The discussion included three main areas:

  • Partnerships
  • Return policies
  • Updated documents

There was also a question and answer session where audience members could get answers to their own legal questions regarding starting or running a small business.

This special Wix Small Business Breakfast session was recorded and is now available as a 46 minute YouTube video. Whether you currently run a small business, or are thinking of staring one, you’ll definitely find this discussion of legal matters helpful. Click the button below to watch the video, or view it directly on YouTube by going here.

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Categories: SMB

10 Tips to Making Dropbox a More Powerful Business Tool

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 10/29/2014 - 19:00

The cloud based data storage website Dropbox is a great way to manage your business information. Dropbox allows you to share large files with clients and employees without losing control of data, keep your team updated on what’s happening, track progress of assigned projects and tasks, auto-back up important files, encrypt information and much more, all without having to invest in an IT infrastructure. Best of all, Dropbox is affordable and easy to use.

Here are 10 tips for storing, organizing, sharing, and securing your business data with Dropbox.

1.  Additional free storage space – For every friend you refer to Dropbox, who joins and installs Dropbox on their computer, Dropbox gives you 500 MB of bonus space. Get up to 16 GB of free space by inviting friends and colleagues.

2. Remote file access – Forgot to save a file on your Dropbox account? Download Spotdox to remotely access files on your computer and save them to your Dropbox account.

3.  Save email attachments – Received your bank statement on email? To save the attachment to your Dropbox account, sign up at ‘Send to Dropbox’ and email the file to your personalized Dropbox email address. The emailed attachment is stored on your Dropbox account under folder Apps > Attachments

4. Jot down ideas on the go – Write and save your notes on the web based distraction-free text editor Writebox. Then sync the text files to your Dropbox account.

5. Save audio messages – iTunes app Dropvox allows you to record and save audio messages directly to your Dropbox. This app is designed for both iPhone and iPad and can be downloaded for $2.49

6. Send and receive faxes– Use HelloFax to receive and send online faxes using your Dropbox account. The app has a cool feature of creating your signature online and inserting it on documents faxed. The home office plan allows 300 faxes (for 5 users) at just $9.99/mo.

7. Sort data into foldersSortMyBox moves Dropbox files to folders based on rules defined by you. For example, move all files with extension jpg, png, gif to photos folder.

8. Encrypt files – Enjoy the benefits of Dropbox without compromising the safety of your business data. Two apps that you can use to encrypt files stored on Dropbox are and

9. Automate file saving – Use IFTT (the acronym stands for ‘If This, Then That’) to automate triggers for saving your data. You can choose from nearly a 1000 ‘recipes’ where each recipe connotes an action. Examples are – ‘Save my iOS photos to Dropbox; ‘Save email attachments to Dropbox or ‘Record and upload voicemail to Dropbox. Simply enable each recipe to get started.

10. Back up Dropbox files – Once your team starts collaborating with Dropbox, you will soon have a lot of business data stored there. Seamlessly back up your Dropbox data at Mover. Use Mover to add another layer of data storage, or free up space on Dropbox for collaborating with your team.

There you have it, my ten favorite tips to do more with your Dropbox account. Which are your favorite Dropbox features and apps?

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Categories: SMB

8 Ways Tech Employees Can Learn More About Tech Industry Trends

SmallBiz Technology - Tue, 10/28/2014 - 15:00
What is one awesome event or class tech employees should consider to stay on top of tech industry trends?

The Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most promising young entrepreneurs. In partnership with Citi, YEC recently launched StartupCollective, a free virtual mentorship program that helps millions of entrepreneurs start and grow businesses.

1. Flexible Meetup Events

I personally prefer meetup events that allow you to pick and choose depending on what you want to learn. Plus, most of the events are local, which provides great networking opportunities.

– Jyot SinghRTS Labs

2. Startup Grind

Startup Grind is one of the best events on the planet. You’ll meet entrepreneurs who are at the top of their game and can tell you exactly how they started their startup and what you can do to do the same. You’ll also meet other amazing entrepreneurs like yourself to help you improve!

– John RamptonHost

3. NYTM or Similar Meetups

For the New York startup scene, New York Tech Meetup has become an iconic representation of the community at large, but it also remains a great channel to see the latest and greatest in local innovation. Attending meetups like NYTM is a good way to get a sense for the broader market, based on attendees, presentations, etc.

– Carlo CiscoSELECT


SXSW is the largest annual tech event, where many companies showcase their new tech products. This event attracts a lot of great talent from the tech industry. Whether you’re looking for partners, employees, customers, or to learn about about new trends, SXSW is a great event.

– Randy RayessVenturePact

5. Code Academy and 99U Conference

Code Academy online is an outlet where you can learn to interactively code online for free. One event to look into is the 99U Conference.The conference brings together top visionaries and researchers, who share strategies and techniques on how to bring your ideas to life.

– Alexis LevineSavvy Media


I’ve often referred people to as a great network of online classes you can take to beef up your skills, but their Technical Writing and Editing course is top notch. It’s very basic and easy to follow — and it sets up a great foundation for understanding technology’s in’s and out’s so you can be writing an app in no time.

– Rob FultonExponential Black

7. Velocity

Velocity is a web performance and operations conference held yearly in several locations. The amount of talent that attends is amazing and the conference speakers are all in the trenches authoring or implementing new relevant technologies at scale. The focus is 90 percent technology and 10 percent sales, which is a great ratio.

– Phil ChenSystems Watch

8. The Intel Developer Forum

Most of the top tech minds from across the globe typically attend the Intel Developer Forum, and it usually features some of the most current trends and developments in the tech space, as well as new hardware and software designs.

– Andrew SchrageMoney Crashers Personal Finance

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Categories: SMB

The Rise of Small Business: How Technology is Finally Favoring Mom’n’Pops Over Walmart

SmallBiz Technology - Mon, 10/27/2014 - 15:00

If you’ve booked a flight, read a book, or listened to a song recently, you are a walking testimony to how new technology can change entire industries. However, the unwelcome truth behind most new innovations is that they are accessible, at least at first, only to the lucky – and wealthy – few.

Innovation can be an incredibly powerful force but, at the time of launch, it’s rarely a democratic one.

The thing is, when these innovations are luxury consumer products, that elitism is not really a cause for concern. However, when we’re talking about business tools, limitations on the widespread affordability and availability of this technology can have serious long-term economic repercussions.

It’s not for nothing that the prevailing narrative on any Main Street in America used to be one of seemingly inevitable decay, in which local mom-and-pop shops were destined for obliteration at the hands of monolithic big-box retailers and impersonal e-commerce players.

Big-box retailers and chain restaurants were able to dominate our business landscape by providing a consistency of customer experience; by constantly optimizing prices; and by maintaining a ruthless control on their operating costs. And you know how they did it? Technology. Technology for payments, inventory management, detailed data analytics, automated payroll, and a whole lot more.

The problem is, technology cost a small fortune. I started and spent many years running retail stores before I founded ShopKeep, and I remember my first point of sale systems costing well over $10,000.  And that was just for hardware. I had to pay for the software, and the security patches, and I could only access sales data in the basement of my store. The kicker? If anything went wrong, I had to pay for customer care, too! The prevailing business model of technology providers at the time was to secure as much money upfront as possible and then ‘cut and run’ by making you pay for customer care. Needless to say, this structure favored the larger companies, who could swallow these costs.

The Good News?  Times Have Changed.

The advent of cloud-based technology has dramatically lowered upfront hardware and software costs and made data more available than ever before.  What’s more, it now seems like a new start-up pops up every day with technology targeted at small business owners. Innovation has been ceaseless, competition has grown, and the price point has been driven downwards.

Now, a new local entrepreneur can access a whole range of services and tools that would have previously cost tens of thousands of dollars on day one.  Services like point of sale systems, scheduling and payroll, gift cards and loyalty services, accounting and bookkeeping, and billing and invoicing are now available for less than the price of a good meal.  If you’re just starting out, we’ve put together a guide to the best technologies for small business owners to help get you get up to speed.

The Results are Clear

According to the Census Bureau, there are currently 23 million small businesses across America, which account for 54% of U.S. annual sales and have contributed 65% of all net new jobs since 1995.  In short, small businesses are making up an increasingly big part of our national economy and forming the lifeblood of our local communities.

Tech-savvy small business owners are now running their affairs in a lean, data-led way; embracing the web to reach, engage, and retain customers; using technology to run efficient operations and optimize profits; and placing innovation at the heart of how they run their businesses.

For those of us who love diversity and originality – and who recognize the value of local entrepreneurship to the economy – the fact that we can bring some of this efficiency and advanced analytics to the small business community is a huge opportunity.  And for the aspiring local entrepreneur, there has never been a better time to get started.

The technology that big businesses have had at their disposal for thirty years is now in the hands of the guy running your local bodega, the mom-and-pop behind your neighborhood wine store, and the young entrepreneur starting a new food truck.

Innovation is a powerful force. I’m excited to see what can happen now that this is finally in the right hands. Watch out atWalmart and Amazon!

For anyone interested in opening a store or restaurant in their neighborhood, we’ve written a Small Business 101 guide to help you get started and grow your business.

Jason Richelson is the co-CEO and Founder of ShopKeep POS, a provider of cloud-based point of sale software for managing retail shops and restaurants. A former technology consultant and trader, Jason opened a specialty food and wine store in 2004, which he grew to employ more than 70 people in the Brooklyn and lower Manhattan branches. As a retailer, Jason had many problems with his PC-based POS system and while on vacation his store servers crashed, essentially crippling the business. This was the turning point for Jason, inspiring him to build a more reliable, cloud-based point of sale system for small businesses just like him…

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Categories: SMB

Is Your Tech Making You Productive Or Inefficient? Work With Purpose To Get More Done.

SmallBiz Technology - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 18:00

A person can’t be 100% productive all day. As much as you want to make the most of every minute, to get shit done, to hustle, it’s just not humanly possible. Concentration is like a muscle, it needs to rest to be able to function, and it shouldn’t be overworked, otherwise it’ll simply burn out and take longer to get back into the swing of things. For this reason even an employee working an 8 hour workday need to take breaks to stay productive.

I’ve asked Julie Gifford with Desk Time to give us more insight into the important issue of work, productivity, and time!

There’s been much controversy over the nature of workplace productivity. While many employers associate an employee’s physical attendance in the office with productivity, the more modern school of thought practiced by people like Jason Fried of Basecamp (as he describes in his book Remote: Office Not Required), has a focus on work done rather than hours put in.

Regardless of what employers view as productive, we’ve been able to pinpoint the working flow that produces the most productive work, and it turns out that the key to workplace productivity is all about effective breaking. From attention span, to physical well-being, breaks have meaning to our productivity. It’s what the 10% most productive people have in common. This is what we found from our research:

The most productive people work for 52 minutes, then break for 17 minutes.

The employees with the highest productivity ratings in fact for the most part don’t even work 8 hour days. Turns out the secret to retaining the highest level of productivity over the span of a work day, is not working longer, but working smarter with frequent breaks.

In this article we’ll take a look at the statistics gathered from the top 10% most productive employees, as well as the theory of what makes it productive, and tips on how you can implement this in your own life.

How we got the stats      

As a time-tracking, productivity app, DeskTime collects substantial amounts of daily computer-using behaviour (5.5 million logged records per day) . This gives us a ton of information that we can use to analyse the computer-use behaviour, through the spectrum of what the users themselves consider to be productive.

What we’ve done is isolated the top 10% most productive employees, and analysed their computer-use behaviour during one workday. The way we decided the most productive, is by taking the people who had the 10% highest ratio of use of “productive” applications for their line of work (each individual can have different apps they consider productive, ex. a marketer would indicate social platforms like Facebook as “productive”.)

The theory of productive working

The notion of productivity is the ability to be able to do more in a smaller amount of time.

The reason the 10% most productive employees are able to get the most done during the comparatively short periods of working time is that they’re treated as sprints, for which they’re well-rested. They make the most of the 52 working minutes, in other words, they work with purpose.

Working with purpose can also be called the 100% dedication theory. The notion that whatever you do, you do it full-out. Therefore, during the 52 minutes of work, you’re dedicated to accomplishing tasks, getting things done, making progress. Whereas during the 17 minutes of break, you’re completely removed from the work you’re doing – you’re entirely resting.

Purposeful working, rather than working 8hrs/day - 100% dedication theory

Making the most of your 52 working minutes

Lately the meaning of breaks towards the mental and physical productivity of an individual has been valued as incredibly important. Since concentration is like a muscle – it shouldn’t be overworked – then it only makes sense that a fully productive employee

Though by following this set pattern, you’re physically working less time, what you should be doing is entirely devoting yourself to working to your best capability during this time. This is called the 100% method. Whatever you do, dedicate yourself 100%. If you’re working, then work 100%. If you’re relaxing, relax 100% – none of this checking email every few minutes while you’re on break, and none of this “I’ll just quickly check Facebook” while you’re working. Others call this “purposeful” working.

Purposeful working isn’t a new notion – a similar and popular technique is The Pomodoro technique, created by an Italian philosopher who used a strict working/resting time to achieve more. They use the same strategy of working hard for 25 minutes, then breaking for 5. It’s a rigorous schedule, which is geared towards driving attention to short, deliverable tasks within 25 minutes, without succumbing to distractions, either coming from the outside, or self-inflicted.

The science behind breaks

The break of 17 minutes lets your mind, your attention span and your body rest so that when the 52 minutes of work begin, you’re entirely ready to knock off the tasks to be done.

This amount may seem high, but if you take a look at world class violinists, they become great by practicing in similar increments of time, because of the notion of deliberate practice.

Mind – Working for long periods of time can be detrimental to your level of engagement with the certain task or company in general. Repeating tasks lead to cognitive boredom, which in turn halts your ability to thrive at the task at hand.

Attention span – The human brain isn’t able to focus for 8 hours at a time. The best way to refresh attention span is to take a break, let your mind wander wherever it wants to, and allows you to return to a task and be able to be fully dedicated to it.

Body – The human body has never been made to sit for 8 hours straight, as many knowledge workers to these days. Research has shown that breaking up the all-day sit-a-thon can improves productivity – even if it’ simply by working standing.

There are numerous benefits to breaks with physical activity throughout the day. It impacts your eyesight, back pain, arthritis, stress levels, and even heart disease. Not to mention, getting up helps circulate blood, which gets more oxygen all around. Specifically your brain will thank you by waking up and being able to perform more competently.

What to do while you’re on break

You’ve got 17 minutes to take yourself out of the working zone. Coincidentally (or not..), if you look at the world’s professional musicians, they also take 15-20 minute breaks. Really, we’re reaching the level of the greats. We’re talking completely dedicating yourself to not working.

  • Some exercises - there are plenty of exercises you can do in the confines of an office. There are plenty apps available for this, one I’ve successfully used is called Fitster, it senses when you’ve been at the computer for a while and launches a desktop workout.
  • Take a walk - better yet, go outside. Not only will it clear your mind, you’ll get fresh air which means yay, oxygen to make your brain work better, plus you might catch some rays. Vitamin D makes for a better mood, which will only further stimulate your ability to concentrate.
  • Grab something to eat - replenish those energy levels. The best foods to eat to replenish glucose (good energy) are nuts, apples, pears, blueberries, cheese, fish meat, etc.
  • Talk to colleagues – research shows that employees who socialize are both happier at work, and are able to do as much as their non-socializing coworkers, who as a result spend more time working.
  • Surf social networks - because this is your time to do what you want. Make sure to take a moment to look away from the computer and gaze in the distance, to relieve your near-focused eyes.
  • Watch funny cat videos  - it’s proven that looking at cute pictures of cats and dogs, you become more productive.

Conclusion – Making time for breaks will help you get more done

By taking the time to rest your brain and concentration muscle, stretching your legs, relieving your eyes, you’ll be doing not only your body and overall well-being a favour, but you’ll be in a position to create the best possible work. If your boss doesn’t agree, send them this link

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Categories: SMB

15 Key Strategies for Marketing to Different Generations

SmallBiz Technology - Fri, 10/24/2014 - 15:06

The most effective way to market your growing business is to customize the marketing strategy to your target customer demographics. Until a few years ago, you would have been right in thinking that differentiated marketing is for the big players with big budgets. However, that is no longer true. The internet has become the great marketing leveler, allowing growing businesses to effectively customize their approach to marketing to different generations at affordable costs.

Apart from your product itself, demographics are a major influence in buying behavior. Individuals born at different points of time have distinct preferences in what they value, how they spend their money, and what advertising channels they use. Recognizing these behavioral differences in your customers is essential for maximizing gains from your marketing spends.

There are four distinct American customer demographics.

Millennials (Born between 1981 and 1995)

According to the 2013 report ‘Across the Ages: Generational Impact on Spending’, there are more than 80 million millennials. This young generation that has grown up on technology will soon surpass baby boomers as the largest age group. Millennials are more educated and have more choices than any other generation before them. They are unpredictable, not always brand loyal, and are just as comfortable buying online as they are buying off the rack. If you are targeting this group -

  • Have a strong online presence, including blogs and social media
  • Adopt the latest technology trends to market to this generation
  • Ensure that the promotional e-mailers are compatible for mobile viewing
  • Benefit from their impulsiveness by offering additional items for purchase at the checkout point.
Generation X (Born between 1965 and 1980)

The Gen X demographic covers some 65 million Americans. This generation is an important target market because these individuals are at the peak of their earning and spending years. While they weren’t born in the internet era, majority use smart phones and regularly access social media. This generation does not want to just follow trends/ styles and is not easily convinced. When marketing to this demographic -

  • Avoid hard core sales tactics
  • Convince them of your business claims with research and customer testimonials
  • Combine traditional marketing efforts with digital promotional tools such as Facebook,   email marketing, and online adverts.
Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)

Comprising 76 million consumers, this demographic represents individuals who focused on hard work, individualism, and social activism. They value trust, loyalty, and sense of community. Many baby boomers are retired or will be retiring soon. According to the Across the Ages report, Boomers are the most likely to be bargain hunting; nearly 28.9 percent Boomers say they only buy clothing when it’s on sale, a larger share than any other group. Here is what you need to know about this group -

  • They will search for product information online, and through calls and emails.
  • However, they place higher faith in face-to-face communication.
  • They would be interested in knowing what your business stands for
  • Discounts and bargain deals will appeal more to this demographic than any other
The Silent Generation (born between the mid-1920s and 1945)

Also known as “Traditionalists,” this category has 50 million consumers. This generation displayed tremendous resolve to overcome the impact of the Great Depression and World War II.  They seek value for money, comfort, and a sense of belonging. Many of them are active seniors and do not like to be regarded as ‘old or dependent’.

  • They are the least likely to make an impulsive purchase
  • Target them with traditional marketing tools such as flyers, newsletters and postcards, although keep in mind that some of them will use the internet to search for information.
  • The promotional material should be in larger font for ease of reading
  • Use grammar and language that they will appreciate
  • Use a single image (one that conveys emotions) rather than a collage

Customizing marketing campaigns as per customer demographics is one way to appeal to your customers. As a smaller business, every customer contact offers you the unique opportunity to ask valuable customer research questions like “Have you tried this product before?”, “Did you like the product?” and “When do you use this product the most?” Knowing more about your customers will help you design products /services attuned to their needs and lifestyle choices.

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Categories: SMB

Walmart Updates Website to Compete with Amazon in a Battle of the Ecommerce Space

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:32

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. 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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Categories: SMB

How to Use the Most Powerful Sales Tool: YouTube

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/23/2014 - 16:01

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 She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. 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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Categories: SMB

Why This Cuban Bakery Beat Dunkin Donuts With Niche Marketing

SmallBiz Technology - Sat, 10/18/2014 - 16:34

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.

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Categories: SMB

Reclaim Your Passion with Content: RebelMouse Founder Gives Preview to Small Business Summit Talk

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 15:00

Take a moment to think back to the first time you got the idea for your business. Recall that ‘aha!’ moment, and trace it forward, remembering the feelings of excitement and intensity that motivated you despite the difficulties. Do you want to recapture and reclaim that passion so it can push you forward once more?

Then it’s time to register for the 9th Annual Small Business Summit! At the Summit, which takes place on October 22 in New York City, you’ll be surrounded by small business owners who are doing the same – reclaiming the spirit that drove them to start a business in the first place.


In addition to networking with like-minded individuals, you’ll also get tips from business experts, like Paul Berry, the CEO and founder of Rebel Mouse. Rebel Mouse is a social publishing platform that pulls your social content together and helps you amplify it in an efficient and effective way. Rebel Mouse is all about engagement, and at the Summit, Paul will be talking about why education beats sales in content marketing.

Ramon Ray had a chance to chat with Paul Berry about what we can expect from his Small Business Summit session. Hear what he’s got to say by clicking the video below or going here.

Day-to-day business operations can get the best of all of us, increasing stress and draining us of our initial enthusiasm. On October 22 set it all aside and join us at the 9th Annual Small Business Summit – a time to reclaim your passion and push your business to the next level.

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Categories: SMB

Boost Your Local Online Marketing and Help Customers Find You

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/16/2014 - 09:41

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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Categories: SMB

Join Ramon and AT&T #BizCircleLive – Online Event: Social Content Is The New Way To Sell

SmallBiz Technology - Wed, 10/15/2014 - 19:20

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.


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.



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Categories: SMB

Cyber Security Awareness Month: Staples and Norton Team Up for ‘Take the Pledge’ Campaign (#CSPledge) to Educate Small Businesses

SmallBiz Technology - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 19:49

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.

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Categories: SMB

Make Paying Invoices Easy and Get Paid Faster. Freshbooks Launches Payment Solution.

SmallBiz Technology - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 18:00

I work with many partners in the production of, 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.

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Categories: SMB

The Winners of the 2014 Small Business Influencer Awards Are Chosen!

SmallBiz Technology - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 15:00

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.

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Categories: SMB

Is your Small Business Thinking About the Cloud? Well, Don’t Forget the Support! 

AMI Partners - Fri, 10/10/2014 - 05:38
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 […]
Categories: SMB Opens NYC Store. How Is Your Local Store Different. 5 Tips.

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 21:16

Wal Mart was a disruptor for local small businesses. was a disruptor for Wal Mart and of course ANY other retailer. With 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.

  1. Know your customers.
  2. Go narrow – don’t sell to everyone
  3. Leverage technology, such as CRM to get to know them better, anticipate their needs and overall follow the principles of Attract, Sell, Wow
  4. Know who your competition is and anticipate your customer’s like or dislike of what your competition is doing
  5. 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.


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Categories: SMB

Founder of UGG Boots to Share Small Business Advice at Small Business Summit 2014

SmallBiz Technology - Thu, 10/09/2014 - 20:38

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 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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Categories: SMB
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