Five Ways To Prepare Your Business For Small Business Saturday

young smiling customer looking excited and carrying many paper bags in clothes shopGetty

American Express’ Small Business Saturday has fast become an American tradition for the Saturday following Black Friday. Small businesses across the country will be celebrating the ninth year of this annual shopping event on Saturday, November 24. It can mean a big day of sales; in 2017 alone, consumers spent almost $13 million. Gear up your small businaess to make the most of profits this Small Business Saturday with these five tips.

1. Promote your participation as soon as possible.

American Express offers materials and resources you can use to promote your business and sales. You can create customizable online, in-store and social media marketing materials. This is a cost-effective way to promote your participation. Print signs and banners at a local printer to support another neighborhood business and get your materials sooner. 

2. Prepare digitally.

Online shopping is increasing every year. Make sure your website is up to date with available inventory, all promotional offers and holiday hours. In 2017, almost half of all online retail traffic during the holiday shopping season came from a smartphone, according to data from Adobe. You don’t want to miss out on that traffic, so be sure to check that your website is mobile-friendly for customers shopping on the go.

Schedule social media posts announcing your participation in Small Business Saturday and any sales in advance by spending an afternoon planning out your posts. Reach new customers by advertising with Google Adwords, Twitter and Facebook. You can provide consumers with a customized experience by launching geo-targeted ads to your desired audience.

3. Prepare your team.

The holiday season often requires more employees, but hiring seasonal help can be a challenging process. Get a head start by accepting applications in early November, and in order to get the best help, accept applications in person and online.

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Once your team is in place, training is imperative. Customer service should be your No. 1 priority on Small Business Saturday, and your employees need the necessary skills to help make that priority happen. Teach all your employees to help customers find the proper products, and explain which additional products would complement the rest of their order. Remember, this is the perfect opportunity to turn first-time visitors into life-long customers.

4. Prepare your inventory.

Your distributors may be flooded with other client orders before Small Business Saturday and the rest of the holiday season, so place your orders well in advance. It is essential to have enough inventory to last the weekend, but you should also be judicious in how much you order. You don’t want to run the risk of overstocking. Review your previous year’s performance to get an idea of how much you need to order. Even if you did not actively participate in Small Business Saturday last year, many consumers knowingly shopped at small businesses that weekend. That means previous years’ sales can provide you with a good starting point.

5. Prepare your financing.

Additional employees, marketing materials and inventory will require additional working capital. Finance your Small Business Saturday campaigns by finding the right financing fit to help. You can calculate how much you’ll need to finance your campaigns or secure more inventory by reviewing your previous budget and sales from the prior years.

Some business funding options include SBA loans, merchant cash advances, lines of credit, term loans and invoice factoring. Your financing needs and your business’s credit score will help determine which type of financing option is best. The length of time you can repay the amount you’re looking to borrow is also an important factor in your decision, and the age of your business can affect which products are available to you.

Preparation is key to a successful Small Business Saturday. Consumers will be inundated with messages about Black Friday and Cyber Monday. But with some careful planning, you can stand out from your competition, both big and small.

[“source=forbes]

Entering A New Industry? 8 Ways To Break In Successfully

It’s never easy to get your foot in the door of a new industry. Whether you’re looking to start a business venture or simply collaborate with a brand in that market, the process of breaking in is a tricky one that must be handled with care: You can’t expect to be welcomed with open arms without proving yourself to industry veterans.

We asked eight members of Young Entrepreneurs Council about what it takes to successfully enter an unfamiliar industry. From making the right connections to offering a prototype or free services, here’s what they had to say.

All images courtesy of YEC members.

Entrepreneurs share tips for entering a new industry.

1. Talk To Industry Veterans, Potential Customers And Advisors

When it comes to getting a firm grasp on a new industry, one of the best ways is to leverage the experience of the veteran entrepreneurs in your industry. If you meet with them and ask many questions, you can learn quickly what it took them years to learn. If you combine this with reading books, the effect compounds. The next step is to meet with customers in the industry to understand their pain points to determine how you can innovate and differentiate yourself in this new space. Write down notes and reflect on the stories you hear to put the pieces of the puzzle together. The last step is to find a problem to solve and make an assumption you can measurably test to validate your business idea and meet advisors who can guide you before you go fully commit yourself. – Dan San, Meural

2. Partner With An Industry Leader

In my career, I have had many opportunities to enter into a new industry I really knew nothing about. Then I developed a mentality I like to call, “don’t buy it, sell it.” Why purchase a product or service you know you can sell, with just a little more knowledge and understanding? If you partner up with the right person or company, not only do you gain access to an unlimited supply of whatever that product or service is, but you also gain access to knowledge that you cannot read in FAQ or terms and conditions. Sometimes, the best way to break into anything when it comes to “the unknown,” is to admit your own ignorance to yourself, bite the bullet, and ask for help or advice. And, anyone will let you sell their products or services in exchange for more information. – Jason Criddle, Jason Criddle and Associates

3. Offer Free Or Discounted Services At First

One awesome tactic to break into new territory is to offer to do the project for free, or at a reduced rate, in exchange for feedback. This allows you to work with a client who will help you understand the industry. You will be upfront that this is your first project for this industry, but you are applying the same knowledge from other industries so it should work out fine. The client is getting great work, but at a discounted rate. You are getting inside knowledge on how to build a better service or platform. If there are any mistakes, both you and the client know this is a first time and so expectations are not as high. It takes a good client to make this work, but can be a success for both parties. – Peter Boyd, PaperStreet Web Design

4. Network With Anyone You Can

The best strategy for breaking into a new industry is to meet people in that industry. Research industry organizations and get involved. Become a member, join a committee, go to the events. Meet your new peers, learn about their work, care about their work and then show them your struggle. People want to help. Obviously, you don’t want to reach out to a potential competitor. However, you can reach out to just about anyone else. The best referrals that I have ever received came from someone random. Not the “big fish” everyone is always trying to meet at networking events. Especially if you are among other business owners, we’ve all been there, ask for help. – Allyson Case, Integro Rehab LLC

5. Be Continually Curious

Who said curiosity killed the cat? Following your curiosity is the key to learning a new industry. We hold the library of Alexandria at our fingertips with the internet today. It has never been easier to become more intelligent than 99 percent of the population on a given subject. I start by going down the Google rabbit hole. I open 10-15 tabs, watch the top rated YouTube videos, add the expert’s names to an Evernote file and circle the subject like a shark. If the idea is to understand autonomous cars, Google the biggest companies, top YouTube videos, “why autonomous cars will change world,” and on you go. Once you start watching experts and realize you know what they are about to say, you’re an expert. – Codie Sanchez, Www.CodieSanchez.com

6. Create Prototypes To Showcase Your Industry Knowledge

I always believe in creating some prototype software to showcase my knowledge and understanding of an Industry. When I wanted to reach out to a transportation industry, I first talked to a few people and figure out the issues they are having. Then based upon the issues, I created a prototype and showcased to C-level executives. It takes around one month to build a prototype, efforts pay off as I can use it to earn business. Don’t be afraid of barging into new verticals, all that is needed is energy to learn and solve problems. There is always a beginning. – Piyush Jain, SIMpalm

7. Make A List Of Questions You Have, Then Find The Answers

When I want to dive into a new venture, I start going to the bookstore to learn everything and anything on the subject. Then I create a list of what I want to search online and the questions I have pertaining to the venture. Before you know it, I am looking into forums and connecting with people who have already succeeded in the particular venture. I want to be able to learn from them and areas of improvement as well. For example, I was looking to create a new travel app that made it easy for young women to coordinate their travels. I connected with travel agencies, started reading books about travel journeys to get inside the head of a traveler, and reaching out to a network of well-traveled young women. The community of women was how I was able to build traction for the app. – Sweta Patel, Silicon Valley Startup Marketing

8. Connect With Trusted Influencers And Get Their Endorsement

One of the best ways to make your brand or business well-known or respected in any space is to connect with a brand, website, or influencer who is already trusted and has a massive following. This is something we are commonly seeing in the world of social media, and specifically on Instagram, where visual content is king. No matter what it is you have to offer or sell, simple brand association can go a long way when trying to connect with a new audience. The important thing here to remember is that you don’t want to go in too strong and come off as just a paid placement or advertisement. Instead, it should be able to the value provided and blending in with the user experience that is expected from the people or brands they are already following. – Zac Johnson, Blogger

[“Source-forbes”]

10 Ways Blockchain Could Change The Marketing Industry This Year

Bitcoin. Cryptocurrency. Ethereum. These related buzzwords have been in just about every business publication lately, and it seems that everyone wants to learn more about blockchain, the decentralized ledger technology behind it all.

Experts predict that 2018 will be a huge year for blockchain, noting that the technology is poised to dramatically change a wide range of existing industries. What does the rise of blockchain mean for digital marketing? We asked members of the Forbes AgencyCouncil to share their thoughts.

Images courtesy of FAC members.

FAC members weigh in on the blockchain.

1. Brands Will Be Able To Better Target Consumers

Like many emerging technologies, it is very early to truly understand how blockchain will impact marketing. It has the ability to remove the middleman in digital advertising. However, that may take years to displace Google and Facebook, if ever. Because of blockchain’s transparency, it will initially help brands build trust with consumers. – Lisa Allocca, Red Javelin Communications

2. Malicious Ads Will Grow

JavaScript-based cryptocurrency miners have already been found in the wild, wasting visitors’ CPU power to send “coins” back to website owners. 2018 will see an explosion of this type of shady ad to top-tier sites, especially as “on by default” ad blockers become more popular. Website owners will be searching for new ways to monetize but must balance the ethical use of their visitors’ resources. – Marc Hardgrove, The HOTH

3. Privacy Concerns Will Be Resolved And Advertiser Trust Will Increase

Giving users control over the amount of personal information they reveal appeases privacy concerns from the user perspective and promotes social responsibility from the advertiser’s side. Studies routinely show that if you ask permission first, users are more than willing to give you personal information if there’s a reward in turn. That reward is paying users directly to view ads. – Kristopher Jones, LSEO.com

4. Decentralization Will Remove The Media Middlemen

Marketing and advertising startups in the blockchain space are already popping up. These aim to tokenize user behavior and offer a sort of credit system between advertisers and the consumer, which completely removes the massive middlemen managing big media. As we continue to decentralize our world, this is inevitable. Be smart. Move away from being a middleman. Be the source. – Trevor Chapman, Trevor Chapman Group

5. The Fraud Verification Industry Will Grow

Advertising online is complex when it comes to ensuring media is bought and delivered as intended. Blockchain will make this more transparent. I predict that fraud verification companies will, or have already begun, the blockchain process to evaluate how we can stop bots and fraudsters from stealing ad dollars from brands. Blockchain will allow us to verify who, how and where ads run. – Ashley Walters, Empower MediaMarketing

6. Delivery And Reporting Will Transform

The first marketing area affected last year by blockchain, even on a small scale, was video content delivery. That will extend beyond video to more content producers this year. They will love how they can control how their assets are delivered and ensure it’s properly tracked. Then, once advertisers experience verified delivery and reporting, it will be required. – Todd Earwood, MoneyPath Marketing

7. Advertising Will Become More Transparent

Marketers love to publish case studies of their outliers that are getting amazing results. The gradual implementation of blockchain will provide transparency on marketing claims by every journey having the ability to be analyzed and validated. This will even lead to the ability to also negotiate contracts and accept terms based on those results. – Douglas Karr, DK New Media

8. Influencers Will Become Fewer In Number But Better In Quality

Influencer marketing campaigns are going to change dramatically. With blockchain, marketers will be able to see if the influencer’s followers are true people or simply bots. Essentially, it will reduce the number of influencers but leave the top influencers at the top. – Loren Baker, Foundation Digital

9. Publishers Will Become More Accountable

Technologies like Ethereum make publishers more accountable as transactions become more transparent. Advertisers can see exactly where their traffic is going. Ad data is paramount — it’s shocking how much information we don’t have. Measuring impressions doesn’t cut it. Blockchain technology will unveil everything, decreasing fraud and increasing attribution. – Michael Weinhouse, Logical Position

10. It Will Solve Numerous Industry Issues

There are blockchain projects being created that might provide solutions around payment processing or fraud prevention within the ad exchange environment. Other areas of interest blockchain technology could solve for are measurement, invoice reconciliation and publisher/advertiser transactions. – Chad Recchia, Awlogy

[“Source-forbes”]