When a PC manufacturer announces business laptops starting under $1,000 it will get the attention of small business owners. If the manufacturer is Lenovo and the laptop includes the ThinkPad line, their ear perks up even more.
Lenovo says the ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga have been updated to give small business a reliable and durable device which is also affordable. The update includes Intel’s latest Whiskey Lake 8th-gen processors, which will be a first for the ThinkPad L-series of laptops.
Starting at $659 for the L390, and $889 for the L390 Yoga, it is a price well within the budget of many small businesses. Moreover, this price comes for one of the better-known computing workhorses in the business sector, ThinkPad.
In the press release Lenovo said it made the updates in part to respond to the needs of IT and a workforce which needs to be more agile.
It goes on to say, “Workplace transformation initiatives are in full swing, responding to the desires of energized and dynamic end-users. New workspaces are all about collaboration areas and greater end-user mobility which promote interaction and productivity. Such spaces require technology that enables more flexibility and creativity.”
Features of the ThinkPad L390:
Features of the ThinkPad L390 Yoga:
Both laptops also share a 45Wh battery, up to Windows 10 Pro 64-bit operating system, and fingerprint reader, dTPM 2.0.
The Yoga has a full 360-degree hinge so you can use it as a laptop or tablet and the included Active Pen stylus is conveniently hidden within the chassis of the laptop so you always know where it is.
They Yoga also has a better camera system for Windows Hello and world-facing camera for quick log-ins.
You can order the ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga in black or silver now.
This article, "Lenovo Introduces ThinkPad L390 and L390 Yoga Laptops with Business Users in Mind" was first published on Small Business Trends
What’s going on in the world of SEO? Matter-of-fact? What exactly is SEO? Consider this – you want to generate leads online and get results from your actions. That’s SEO. When crafting online campaigns, everything boils down to how effective your SEO really is. This is how people find and follow you. The right tactics and SEO strategy can help get you right where you want to be.
With the year at an end, getting things in order for the New Year is befitting. One of the most recent and relatable SEO topics: Google.
Google has always been top-of-mind in the SEO space, with companies and brands understanding the power they hold. The annual list of top searches around the world has just been released, with information that can help strategize for the coming year to get impactful results. Searches are done in a variety of areas, including what’s done globally, country specific (U.S.), “how to” inquiries, top GIFs, and more.
In fact, the most searched GIFs included the Floss dance, Cardi B, Fortnight, Dilly Dilly and Fortnite. Capitalizing on this opportunity, if your company uses Instagram and other social media platforms correctly, you could easily use this meme to gain traction within certain audiences.
If your company has a more corporate brand identity, the Top Global News Searches could easily be turned into something that enhances your brand:
Knowing this information can help the marketing team create campaigns that will resonate with their audience, and use SEO to locate the customers that will be interested in what they have to offer. The right SEO company offers SEO services that will help the client communicate clearly through all channels on the back end, ensuring they achieve results.
Absolutely! From a local or global level, SEO services can work for you. What many people don’t realize is that SEO has a number of areas that can help create focus and intent. People search for random things that tend to go viral. The beauty of knowing this information is to help you learn your consumer, find out what they like and are interested in, and use that information to boost your brand. SEO helps put it all together in the background, helping increase rankings, build links, drive qualified traffic to your website, increase conversions, reduce your bounce rates, create content to engage customers, help your brand become recognized as an authority, and optimize the sites and other online activities that will make a difference.
Whether you are a small business or large enterprise, SEO services can help take things to the next level in promoting your business. For more information on finding the right SEO company and getting the SEO services you need, call an associate at a SEO Company for a free SEO audit and get the traction you want today!
Content marketing is overwhelming: There’s a ton of content to create and amplify, a lot of trends to keep in mind and a lot of tools to try.
Content marketing is one of the fastest moving industries.
These days a digital marketer has to balance social, content, email, and other inbound marketing tactics.
Here are 9 content tools to help.
CoSchedule is a platform I have been using for a long time, and I love it. It makes planning content and scheduling it on social media so much easier. It works as a WordPress plugin, creating a section in your dashboard where you can plan posts, assign tasks, give details, schedule posts to auto-publish, and update social media.
This has not only cut down on content marketing tasks for me, but it has made running a team easier, and editing tasks easier.
TextOptimizer is the tool that drives my whole content creation process: From ideation to search optimization.
It starts with “Topic ideas” providing you with the list of popular questions in your niche. Pick any and it will search for that question in Google and using semantic analysis return the list of:
Both subtopics and questions help me break content into sections for easier readability, and related terms drive my research as they show me what should be included in the content.
Once I have my content written, I run the tool again, now letting it compare my text to what Google returns for my core query. TextOptimizer will score my article and, if needed, show me where it can be improved.
Visme is my most productive image editing tools. I have a bunch of cool templates there for visual quotes, header images, etc., so I just go there to edit them with new text and backgrounds (Takes me seconds!).
Visme has very powerful templates for infographics and presentations which is why I have been using it.
Mailchimp is an email marketing platform which offers nice automation features to easier manage your lists.
Recently they have unveiled their automated marketing feature and landing pages (customized and optimized for your brand).
Add that to the fact that their email templates and scheduling systems are actually easy to use, and you have a definite winner. No more frustrating and overly complicated drip templates! You never have to create, delete and recreate email lists, only to find the initial settings were wrong and it won’t let you edit. The platform won’t suddenly go down and leave you stranded.
MavSocial is a social media management platform allowing to publish and schedule updates to multiple streams with one click of a mouse. They also have a solid support of visual sharing and recurring updates.
Not to mention it’s incredibly affordable. You just fill up you queue with posts, set times every day you want them sent out, organize them based on order, and it will do the rest.
Of course, you still need to make social media posts meant to engage, but this is a simple way to keep your profiles active.
It would be great if you could just post your content on social media, and everyone shares it out for you just because you have a call to action. But we all know that isn’t how it works. If you want to reach new audiences you need a more direct approach.
Viral Content Bee works by putting you in contact with other social media influencers of varying audience sizes. You and those others exchange content, with each posting on behalf of the other. This gives you access to a whole new viewer pool, who will become aware of your brand from another that they trust.
It is a convenient and effective tool, and can lead to long-term connections that can benefit yourself and the others you network with.
Reputation management requires you to keep up to date on all mentions of you and your industry. In the past I used Google Alerts and Hootsuite for that. Now I still use the first, but instead of the second I use BrandMentions.
It sends alerts and lets you reply in your dashboard. But it is a lot more straightforward and cleaner than other social media dashboards I have used.
What is your competition writing? What content is performing the best? Buzzsumo is a super awesome platform that works by taking information from across the web related to content, and offering it to you to use for targeting your own content campaigns.
Research content from any brand or competitor, see how it is performing, and find out how you match up. Buzzsumo is one of the greatest discovery tools on the web. They offer free searches and data, but it is worth paying for their pro services if you are really serious. Honestly, their agency package is probably the best deal, unless you are a really tiny brand or start up just beginning in the industry.
I love using their Author: search to find where my friends and influencers contribute and get some ideas as to who I need to invite for an expert interview or a guest post.
I have been a big believer in Cyfe from the beginning (Disclaimer: long before they became my content marketing client), and it still has no peers when it comes to sheer feature amount for the price. It is an all-in-one business platform that works by giving you all the power over the tool.
I use it to keep a lot of content marketing accounts, spreadsheets, stats and to-do lists handy.
You are only limited by your imagination. Best of all, the premium costs $19 per month for all of this, or $14 per month if you pay the annual fee. It is safe to say it is worth the cost.
Do you have a content marketing tool you think deserves to be on the list? Please share in the comments! I’d love to check that one out!
This article, "9 Tools for More Effective Content Marketing Campaigns in 2019" was first published on Small Business Trends
Starting your business is an exciting time, and it’s easy to get swept up in your vision and forget about the logistics. While passion is important, it cannot be your sole resource, or you’ll find yourself living your nightmare rather than your dream. Do all the fun things like choosing your colors and telling your friends about your new baby, but make sure you leave time to deal with the more grueling aspects of business ownership as well.
Solidify your Finances
Money is always at the front of any good business owner’s mind. Without proper funding nothing else can function, but cashflow should take particular precedence when you’re first starting out. In an ideal world, you would be able to cover all of your expenses out of your personal savings, but that isn’t the case for many new business owners. Rather than taking out a bank loan or dealing with high rate, high interest loan sharks, consider keeping your loan amount as low as possible and getting one of the many low interest money loans available through a microfinance company. Apart from offering more flexible terms, microfinance companies (as their name implies) tend to deal with lower amounts, and the less you owe, the better.
Build It and They Will Come, or Not
Acknowledge that your wonderful business idea doesn’t guarantee you immediate success. You need to be prepared to do it tough for a bit and your marketing plan is going to take some serious effort. The best product ever invented wouldn’t sell if no one knew it existed, so it stands to reason that investing in spreading the word about your new venture should be at the top of your to-do list. Ensure that you know who you are, what you have to offer and where you fit into the industry. From there, identify your objectives and create your marketing plan based on what will have the best long term return on investment. Focus on creating a reputation for your brand that aligns with your values, and the rest will fall into place over time.
Look After Number One
Owning and running a business is a rewarding experience, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Make sure you have a plan in place to protect your mental and physical well-being before entering into any new ventures. You don’t have to have a super strict exercise and self-care regime that you follow to the letter every day, but it is good practice to ensure that you have coping strategies readily available for if everything starts feeling like it’s a bit much.
Surround Yourself with Good People
Any whole is only as good as the sum of its parts. Ideally we would all be able to provide everything our business and customers’ needs and perform all necessary tasks within the company. It’s okay to admit that you need help, and bringing others in on your venture can really improve your results. Not only can you tailor each person’s role to their specific skill set, you can also focus on creating a team that will promote a positive culture. This will increase your productivity and foster a work environment that will continue to benefit all involved for the foreseeable future.
The future is never guaranteed but when you start your own business, you have far more control than you would in many other situations. If you devise a plan that works for you, actually stick to it, and give everything 110%, then the sky’s the limit.
The post Taking the Plunge – 4 Things to Consider Before Starting a Business appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
As a small business owner, it is likely you’ll have your hands full with everything it takes to operate your business and manage your staff. In order to keep your customers coming back and gain new clients to sustain your business, it’s essential that you have a focus on growth and generating new leads. Here are five easy ways to kick off this process and draw in a wider audience:
Your brand is more than just a logo – it’s your business’s entire appearance and should embody your values and ideals. A clear brand message makes it easier for customers to identify your business and for you to analyze and connect with your audience. If you’re not sure how to get started with branding, consult a professional brand design agency. They will help you create consistent a consistent brand image across your physical business or storefront, products, and online presence.
Social media is not just an option for your business, it’s very much a necessity. Facebook alone has over 2.27 billion users, simply creating a page increases your chances of exposure. Same goes for other sites like Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn. They’re free to sign up and have advertising tools you can use to analyze your audience and create more targeted content. Maintain your social presence with relevant posts, photos and videos to engage your audience and slowly but surely you’ll cultivate a community that will, in turn, increase your leads.
Marketers are increasingly saying that the future of media is video. According to research by Google, over 50% of internet users looked for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store. You don’t need the fanciest equipment or an award-winning cinematographer. To get started with simple online videos, a smartphone or digital camera will do the job. You can create product videos for your online shop pages, how-to videos and profile videos to engage your audience online or entice customers browsing your web or online shop.
Don’t underestimate the effects of direct marketing and being able to connect face-to-face with others in your industry, potential collaborators and customers. If opportunities arise, participate in trade shows, markets, industry conventions, industry events and networking events that relate to your niche.
This way, you can build more credibility, establish your business/brand and learn from others in your field. Don’t turn down the chance for collaboration or to speak or present at an event as this too will open you up to a broader audience that’s already interested in your niche.
A product, service or strategy that worked well five years ago may not today. Markets change, industries change, and people change, so in order to understand and serve your audience best and attract the right customers, your business needs to grow and adapt as they do.
Be sure to review your business plans and marketing strategies at least yearly. Customer surveys and reviews are an easy way to get direct feedback from your existing clientele. Including open-ended verbatim questions like ‘How can we improve our service’ or ‘Why/why not would you recommend our service’ is an easy way to identify gaps based on your clientele needs.
Growing a small business can seem increasingly tricky, but by establishing your brand and following through on these five strategies, you’ll be able to increase your sales leads and gain your ideal customers in no time.
The post On Target – 5 Ways to Attract the Right Audience for Your Small Business appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
Photo by Jonathan Cho on Unsplash
When you run a small-medium enterprise, it is crucial that you review and upgrade your operations in order to keep business steady and profitable. A business simply doesn’t stand a chance at making it long-term if they don’t make an effort to improve over time. Customers quickly catch on to new developments, or lack thereof, and will move on to competitors who are more future-focused. Here are five essential things you should be looking to implement in your business today.
Your millennial employees who manage your social media are not going to be able to help you rectify technical issues regarding internet security, repairs, power outages, printer problems and errors of your business systems. Losing your databases, resources, payment and accounting software will not only slow you down when it happens but can cost you from getting future business. Investing in a small business IT support service who can provide you with ongoing technological maintenance and repairs is the best preventative measure you can take.
This doesn’t mean hiring a large team of HR managers and advisers, but you should be focused on having solid HR practices in place; whether it’s by outsourcing to an HR agency, hiring one in-house HR representative or allocating the position to an existing staff member. By having good HR in the workplace, you will minimize potential time and financial loss due to recruiting unsuitable job candidates, keep a decent turn-over of staff, and ensure your team is trained, positive and up-to-date with your business processes.
Branding is more important than ever in attracting the best audience. It is essential that your business always maintains a professional appearance that is accentuated by your branding, both in-store and online. This means consistency and ensuring items like your business vehicles, offices, warehouse, product packaging, websites, social media, people, uniforms, stationary are in line with your branding.
Not having a social media presence in 2018 does a business, no matter what industry, a major disservice. It’s not enough to simply have a social media page. Your customers need to be able to access up-to-date information and ideally, get answers to their questions via social media, so if you don’t have the time you may want to employ a Community Manager or a freelancer for the upkeep. Advertising on social media can be an invaluable asset to any business, so digital marketing services specializing in social media are worth considering also.
This may seem obvious but a lot of people get so caught up in the day to day management of their business that they fail to realize they’re working from an outdated computer nearing the end of its lifespan. When reviewing your business, you need to consider that there may be some things that need to be replaced or upgraded. So, make sure to take the time to assess your technology, computer software, payment systems, and even your furniture to ensure everything is fully functional and not creating you more problems than profits.
It can be challenging to delegate what parts of your business need correcting, but at the end of the day it’s an important call to make; reinvesting and putting more value into your business can increase your leads and in turn your sales. So, how many of these things have you reviewed recently?
The post Smart Money – 5 Things That Are Worth Splurging on in Business appeared first on MyVenturePad.com.
A good marketing brief is supposed to help in keeping the sales pipeline full. It lays the basis for planning and is the one that dictates the operations that a company undertakes. If you are tasked with creating a brief, you should take some time to understand the information that you have to include. If you look at various briefs submitted to companies, you will see that there are some which are great, but others are wanting. Regardless of the type of business that you are engaged in, there are vital factors that you cannot ignore. Try to include the following elements.
The brief should demonstrate that you have researched the markets, and you understand the current situations. You need to show that you know the latest trends because markets change all the time. Proper research will help you to understand how to create a strategy that beats competition. In addition to that, it will go a long way to take your business into the future because you can easily predict the market based on research.
Carrying out market research should not be a difficult task especially when you have digital tools at your disposal. Traditionally, you would have had to create questionnaires and move around asking people to fill them before you analyze the information. However, technology has made things easy and so; you can survey them through the internet. Social media, for example, provides the perfect place to survey your market without having to spend too much money. You can also survey them through your website, forums, and many other online platforms.
In your marketing brief, you should clearly profile your competitors. You need to know who they are and what they do. Go further to find out who their customers are, their sales volumes, their strategy, and everything else. If they are doing better than your company, find out why customers prefer them. Use every opportunity to find out what their expansion plan is and what they want to deviate from. When you do this, you will know what makes them different from you and what you can do to ensure that they do not beat you.
You probably are wondering how you can collect all that information especially when the competitors will do everything to conceal it from you. Again, technology is your hope here. Analytics tools are likely to help you collect this information without a sweat. With social media analytics tools and these that work across all websites, you can collect information whenever your competitors are mentioned and so, you will have a list of their most regular customers. You can also use services like SketchCorp.
In your marketing brief, show the strategy that you are going to use to get to your targeted goals. It would be useless to give someone a blueprint without showing them how they can use it. The strategy should have actionable plans so that people can see what they will start with and how they will progress. A strategy can be complex or simple based on the challenges that your company has to overcome. The good thing is that as long as you know the problem and you know where you want to go, formulating a strategy should not be difficult at all.
When creating a strategy, make sure that it is practical. Think about what your company is capable of and give them a strategy based on those levels. If you ask too much of them, you will only be setting them up for failure, and this is not something that anyone would want to experience. However, you should not make it so simple because you will be lowering your standards and under-utilizing your capabilities.
Anything that you do should have a budget. Budgeting is an important part of every business because it is the only way you can know how your funds were spent. When you create marketing brief, be sure to show the amount of money that will go into everything. Failure to budget means that you are leaving the company in a dilemma. In addition to hat, a budget means that they will have time to raise the funds needed to implement your brief. When budgeting, pay attention to the items whose prices change often.
Budgeting will be much easier if you have a marketing app. You need software that will show you the figures related to every aspect of a marketing campaign. Nowadays, you do not have to keep huge files just to show how much money you spent. Instead of that, you can use application to securely create and store budget thus making your work easier than you can think.
Ask yourself about the perception of your brand in the local markets. You will want to know what customers think about your company. When you know this information, it will be much easier to adjust your services in your new plan and therefore, you will be setting yourself up for success. It is difficult to know your positioning when you do not interact with your customers. You will be surprised to know that there are companies that have the wrong impression of their market positioning.
If you can engage your customers on social media, in physical marketing campaigns, email marketing, and local events, you will get a clear view of what your brand stands for. You also will understand why they buy your products or why they prefer the competitors. This understanding will help you to create a brief that is all inclusive and which can propel your company to success.
To wrap it up, a good marketing brief should have all the details that your company needs. It should be based on the latest market information and contain a plan that clearly shows the way forward. If you look at the best performing companies in your niche, you will notice that they have aligned their services based on a strategy that was developed after thorough market research. You too can be like them or even better.
The holiday shopping season is in our rear-view mirror—and there’s reason for retailers to celebrate. Consumer spending for holiday 2018 hit a six-year high of $850 billion according to the Mastercard SpendingPulse report. Online shopping grew 19.1% year over year. Overall, retail spending growth was propelled by strong sales of apparel (up 7.9% from 2017) and home improvement (up 9%).
What can retailers take away from this year? Here are 5 things we learned in 2018.
1. Smart retailers incorporate bricks and clicks
Brick-and-mortar retailing is far from dead. In fact, the most successful retailers incorporate both online and offline sales channels. Mastercard’s report concludes that consumers have reached a “tipping point” where they’re equally comfortable shopping online or off, on mobile or on desktop. Shoppers don’t care how they get what they want—as long as they get it.
Lesson: If you don’t offer both e-commerce and a physical store, this is the year to start. Amazon had a record-breaking holiday season and selling on Amazon offers brick-and-mortar retailers an easy way to get online.
2. Thanksgiving shopping has gone digital
The hue and cry over retailers opening on Thanksgiving has faded—mostly because retailers are realizing they don’t need to open their stores on Turkey Day to make sales. Consumers use Thanksgiving to browse and buy on mobile devices in between eating. Thanksgiving sales soared by 28% compared to last year and more than $1 billion of those purchases were made on mobile devices.
Lesson: Close the store, enjoy Thanksgiving dinner and watch sales ring up on your website.
3. Last-minute shoppers are a big deal
Last year’s holiday shopping season was hampered by shipping delays as bad weather and understaffing on the part of shipping companies created a perfect storm. This year, both retailers and shipping services were better prepared. To avoid disappointing shoppers, one-third of retailers didn’t promise customers a cutoff shipping date (i.e., “Order by Dec. 21 and we guarantee delivery by Christmas”). Instead, they focused on “buy online, pick up in store” options (BOPIS) to attract shoppers seeking last-minute gifts. Retailers including Kohl’s, Best Buy and Home Depot offered BOPIS options late on Christmas Eve, while Amazon delivered until midnight that day. According to ShopperTrak, two of the 10 busiest shopping days of 2018 were December 22 and December 23.
Lesson: Online gift-giving guides or in-store assistance can help customers find what they need at the last minute. In 2019, aim to improve your inventory management so you can tell customers with confidence you’ve got what they’re looking for.
4. Gift cards drive sales
The average consumer bought four gift cards this holiday season, making gift cards the second most popular gift, Supply Chain Dive reports. December 26 and December 29 also made ShopperTrak’s list of the top 10 busiest shopping days, largely thanks to people using those gift cards to search for post-holiday deals.
Lesson: Make it as easy as you can for customers to buy gift cards for your store—including on their mobile devices. A desperate last-minute shopper will turn to their phone to find gift ideas, and an e-gift card could be just what they’re looking for.
5. The shopping season starts earlier than ever
Consumer confidence soared in October—the same month many Americans started their holiday shopping. That confidence continued through the holiday season. Fewer Americans shopped either online or offline from Thanksgiving Day through Cyber Monday in 2018 than in 2017, according to the National Retail Federation. But overall holiday season spending rose, because holiday deals now start so early that many people power through at least part of their gift list before Thanksgiving rolls around.
Lesson: Don’t offend customers by putting out the Christmas decorations in October—but do start a marketing push to discreetly promote deals on popular gift items.
Think of cash flow as the blood running through the arteries of your small business. You use it to do those important things that keeps everything moving like buying stock, covering expenses and paying staff.
Small Business Trends contacted several experts to get a complete overview of what cash flow is and why it’s so important to your enterprise.
Basically, this is one of the best bellwethers for your small business. It shows the money that your small business has in the pot after paying out all the different debts and draws on your money. Cash flow gives you a good idea if you’re in a position to expand.
Stefanie Ricchio, a CPA/CGA, Author and Professor, further defined cash flow and some of the economic rough patches that make paying attention to it so critical.
“Cash Flow or what is commonly referred to as Working Capital is the heart of any business,” she writes. “Without it a business cannot survive. Many small business owners make the mistake of spending without consideration for the future. For example, buying excess inventory that ties up cash in inventory versus having it readily available to meet short and long term obligations of the business.”
She also notes that cash management is even more important when you consider how tight the banks are with small business loans and other money vehicles that can be used when cash runs short.
“Additionally, smaller businesses run the risk of losing employees, suppliers and facing interest and penalties as a result of poor cash management,” she writes adding that staying current on cash needs means balancing some of the other aspects of your business like tax payments, accounts receivable and inventory. That’s the best way to understand how much money you need in the system for each period.
“This must then be compared to the estimated cash receipts for the same period to determine whether or not the cash flow will be sufficient.”
Think of it as a balancing act of sorts.
Of course, most small business owners want to know how to improve their cash flow and keep their business healthy. There’s a few good suggestions including leasing rather than buying equipment and even real estate. This is one of the best ways to make sure that you’ve got money for day-to-day operations because leasing allows you to pay in smaller chunks which boosts your cash flow.
If your customers pay in cash you can bypass this step. Otherwise it’s a good idea to do credit checks on all the clients who want credit to purchase your goods and services. Every small business hankers to make that extra sale, but late payments always take a dent out of your cash flow in the end.
Charlie Whyman is a Business Development Strategist and Marketing Trainer. She added that staying on top of things was also critical by “ maintaining control on your payment terms and be clear with your customers what they are before they purchase.”
She also says that asking for a down payment or a deposit on certain kinds of capital purchases is a good idea. That way you are not fronting the cost yourself. She also says that small businesses need to include all the necessary tax payments in their cash flows.
She also suggests bookkeeping remain simple.
“You can easily manage your cash flow using an excel spreadsheet, you don’t need fancy software to do it unless you have a lot of cash coming in and going out of the business,” she writes. “The more control over the numbers in your business, the better you will be set up for growth”.
This article, "What is Cash Flow and Why is it Important for Small Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends