March 23, 2019

Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate on a panel focused on the future of customer experience at Oracle’s MCX (Modern Customer Experience) event held in Vegas.  The panel was a lot of fun because I got to sit on the panel with a couple of old friends and CRM industry thought leaders — Beagle Research managing partner Denis Pombriant, and Ginger Conlon, US Editor of The Drum.

After the panel I spent some time with Ginger to discuss an intriguing question based on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the first digital display ads being run on websites — what has been the most significant moment in the 25 year history of digital marketing?

Ginger and I take a shot at answering that, but as you’ll see below it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to one moment or thing.  You can read our attempt at answering the question with the edited transcript below. To see the full conversation you can watch the video below or the play the embedded SoundCloud player.

Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?Small Business Trends:  I’m here, still at Oracle MCX, with Ginger Conlon, the U.S. editor for The Drum, and a longtime friend. I knew her before she was playing with drums. Thanks for joining me.

Ginger Conlon:  Thank you, Brent. I love the on-the-fly interview.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah.

Ginger Conlon:  Or conversation. Because I’m going to ask you questions, too.

Small Business Trends:  Oh, so you’re going to turn the tables, okay. But that’s okay.

Ginger Conlon:  It’s what I do.

Small Business Trends:  That’s exactly what you do. Matter of fact, I have a big question that you are asking a few people around a really interesting digital marketing topic, because it’s kind of what you do, right?

Ginger Conlon:  It’s what I do, but also this October is the 25th anniversary of digital marketing, and basically kicking off in mid-October with that 25th anniversary of the first banner ad. There is one banner ad that is known to be the first, but there were actually a handful of about 12 I think launched that same day.

Small Business Trends:  Wait a minute. There hadn’t been any banner ads before this one day, and then just on this one day, 12 from different areas, from different people all on the same day?

Ginger Conlon:  Kicked off.

Small Business Trends:  That’s kind of strange.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah. I’m not sure of the history of how it all worked, that’s one of the things I’m going to be looking further into this year, but we’re going to be carrying the theme throughout the year at The Drum, so you’ll see different articles; and so one of the questions I’m kicking off with is asking people from their point of view in the market, what do you think was the most significant moment in digital marketing over that past 25 years?

Small Business Trends:  So we’re going back to basically 1994? That was before Google too, right?

Ginger Conlon:  It was… The funny thing that the first banner ad is it says something like, “Click here, you may not yet, but you will.”

Small Business Trends:  Really? That’s kind of cool.

Ginger Conlon:  It was almost predictive.

Small Business Trends:  Way to work that in there. All right. I was thinking about a couple of things. I was thinking about the first email marketing campaign, and how that’s changed the world of marketing … and spam. Then, I mentioned Google, because I was thinking about search, and then I was thinking on top of search, there’s Google Ad Words, and that kind of changed everything too.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  If I were to pick one over the other, I would pick the … go off the board and go with the unsubscribe list. Only because all these other things have inundated us, and flooded us with ads, and emails, and spam, and from a consumer perspective I like having some choice and some power over the messaging that comes to me at this point.

But really, I’m going to go with actually I’m going to go with search.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  Because that … It changed so many things. It wasn’t even Google that started it, but it was Google that kind of perfected it and got our attention. Then on top of search, you do have Ad Words, and that really changed the game. So I’m going to have to say search.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah, well that’s interesting too, because they’re searching Google, but then if you think about how searches evolved even within sites, within Amazon, or Facebook, or Instagram, and people are searching for things that may wind up in a purchase, and not necessarily starting at Google. It really has changed the game, and then as we were talking about in our panel yesterday, you’re going to have more and more voice search. So that’s going to change the game again in the future.

Small Business Trends:  It’s like continually changing the game. Search started out as one thing, and then we get a mobile search, and now we’re going to voice search, and like you said, it’s not even just Google, because I think over half of the product searches are done on Amazon.

Ginger Conlon: Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  It just seems like it’s foundational. Although, email marketing, I mean it’s kind of hard to ignore that one, too.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  Although I try, because I get so many of those emails …

Ginger Conlon:  Email is a workhorse. It definitely has staying power. Yes, there are some companies that over email, but other companies that focus more on personalization and sending the right messages to the right people at hopefully more optimum times. Sometimes on their schedule, but at least with more relevancy. It can really get some terrific engagement, and conversions.

Small Business Trends:  And you mentioned yesterday you had an opportunity to talk to the folks over at Mack Truck, and you would think it’s 2019, businesses have been doing this forever, all businesses have been doing this stuff forever now, but that’s not really the case.

Ginger Conlon:  Right. Mack Truck has really dived wholeheartedly into digital marketing really just the past year. I mean, they tested some things before but this past year they have done significantly more than they had in the past, and everything from social, they did influencer marketing. They gave trucks to two trucking influencers.

Small Business Trends:  They gave real Mack trucks to –

Ginger Conlon:  A Mack truck to each one of them, with a kit on how to do a diary of their journey of using this truck for a year. That’s been going really well, they have only a team of four in marketing, and one of them is a video expert, and they’ve done a whole series that they’re doing a second season of this coming year that’s been performing really well for them.

Small Business Trends:  Wow.

Ginger Conlon:  What the head of marketing there was saying is that he loves it because as much as he loves the traditional in print, and things like that, he can really see how digital goes right to the pipeline. He feels like he should be accountable for helping to sell Mack trucks by getting into the pipeline for them to give sales ready leads over to their dealers.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, well that’s really cool. But I gotta ask you now, because you asked me which one did I pick. What did you pick?

Ginger Conlon:  Oh, I haven’t picked one yet. Now the pressure’s on. That’s a good one. That’s a good one, because you know, I –

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, didn’t you come up with the question?

Ginger Conlon:  I did come up with the question. Yeah, you’re kind of spoiled for choice, because just the access to information that we have now, in real time has changed the game for business and put so much pressure on business as well, to keep up with consumer’s expectations. Again, from the panel yesterday, we were talking about there’s a book called The Entitled Consumer, and it talks about how so many of us, about three quarters, according to the study that’s the foundation of this book, feel some level of entitlement, which means that you expect special privileges.

Small Business Trends:  Right.

Ginger Conlon:  Part of that is because of this … the way digital marketing or digital in general has brought such a real-time nature to everything we do. I mean, if you want something you can probably find it and order it in seconds. If you … or maybe, you know, minutes, if you want information, if you want to teach yourself something you can find it and do it online. I actually fixed something in my car with an online video. It was a simple … It was a really not that mechanical of an issue. But still, I mean, it’s amazing what you can do today with the information, and because of that, the way marketers can reach out to you not just to sell, but also to help you.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah.

Ginger Conlon:  That’s really where it makes the difference.

Small Business Trends:  So you’re going over the whole 25 year mark, but I want to go look to the future. What do you see as a future game changer, whether it’s … You mentioned the word predictive, and one of the things that came out of the conference was around [Oracle’s new product] CX Unity, being able to take all this data, and aggregate it and then find insights, and do something with it. We just talked about video, mobile, augmented reality … I mean, there’s a ton of stuff that is out there, but which of any of those or maybe something else is going to be a big, big, big game changer over the next decade or 25 years or whatever.

Ginger Conlon:  I’m all about the data. I’m going to have to say machine learning/AI, right? Because what marketers can learn and predict using that technology, I mean it’s already established there are companies that use it and use it fairly well, but once more companies do more with it, especially as they weave it into their systems, I think what marketing will be capable of will be amazing on the one hand, and on the other hand marketers will really need to have policies in place to respect privacy and it’s going to be a situation of what you can do, versus what you should do, because of the amazing things that machine learning and AI can bring us.

Small Business Trends:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). You mentioned … I don’t know what the phrase was yesterday, but it was like creepiness to –

Ginger Conlon:  Oh, the cool creepy factor.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, that’s it. Yeah. It’s good to be cool, but you don’t want to cross the line and be creepy.

Ginger Conlon:  Yes.

Small Business Trends:  It seems like it’s so easy and it’s getting easier to cross that line.

Ginger Conlon:  It is. Absolutely.

This article, "Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 23, 2019

In The News: March Madness Distracts Workers, Raising Wages May Force You to Reduce Hours

Did it feel like everyone in your office this week was a little distracted?

Were you a little distracted?

There’s a reason for that. Monday was the first work day with the new NCAA March Madness bracket. That means workers everywhere — even in virtual offices these days — were really hard at work … picking random college basketball teams to win the big office pool.

That’s right. The most asked question around your office this week was probably: What’s a Wofford?

In new data from Monster this week, we learned that an incredible 31% of employees in American workplaces will spend half their time focused on March Madness. That’s watching games but also all the other hoopla.

If you have any questions about how organized your team is or if they’re working together, watch them put together a tournament pool. Presumably, a legal one, of course.

There were other headlines this week, of course. They’re included in our news roundup below.

Meanwhile, we’re watching VCU. We’ve got them going far.

Employment

Increased Minimum Wages Require Hour Cuts to Compensate, Whole Foods Example Shows

Amazon recently began a $15 minimum wage for its employees at Whole Foods, but then the grocery store began cutting workers’ hours, according to the Guardian. The multinational e-commerce company enacted the increased wage in November for all U.S. workers, in response to public pressure and criticism over its pay for employees.

39% of Small Business Hires This Year Will Be Sales and Marketing Staff

The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees. This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do the heavy lifting.

Management

Survey Reveals 56% of Bloggers Get Better Results by Spending 6 Hours on a Post

Blogs have become one of the most effective ways of communicating with digital technology. And the maturation of the medium has resulted in bloggers spending more time to create high-quality posts which deliver better results. The latest blogger survey from Orbit Media has revealed 56% of bloggers who spend six-plus hours on a blog post get better results.

Retail Trends

Items Most Likely to be Returned to Your eCommerce Business

If you are in the business of selling a product, whether online or a physical store, customers will eventually return some of those items. A new infographic from Website Builder Expert has some interesting insights as to how this part of the retail industry affects the overall business.

Small Business Operations

The Next 4 Things You Should Do to Get your Business Ready for the Summer Slowdown

It’s that time of year again! Spring is around the corner. Following soon afterward that is summer, and summer (for some online businesses) is known for the summer slump. The summer slump is a when you may see a dip in website traffic and sales because people are out on vacation and enjoying the weather.

Startup

A Relentless Focus on the Customer Gives San Francisco’s 360 Payments a Winning Edge

Fintech sales can be tough, but Lisa Coyle of 360 Payments has found her stride. The aim of 360 Payments is to change the fabric of the payments industry by partnering with customers to provide honest and streamlined payment solutions. We chatted to Lisa Coyle, Co-CEO of 360 Payments, to find out how her customer-centric approach has helped to drive her success.

5 Life Lessons from “Wise Guy” Guy Kawasaki

In the entrepreneurship world, Guy Kawasaki is considered a motivational icon. There is a lot to learn from his new book which is appropriately named “Wise Guy”.

Technology Trends

Business Travelers Should Seek Rodeway Inn for Best Hotel WiFi, Research Says

The economically-priced hotel chain Rodeway Inn just won the title of the hotel with best WiFi in 2019. Research compiled by Highspeed Internet found Rodeway Inn possesses the fastest free WiFi speeds for guests at 7.66Mbps. This research used data from HotelWiFiTest.com to calculate average WiFi speeds for each hotel chain.

Only 3% of US Retail Sales Completed Via Mobile Wallet

A new infographic from Expert Market has mapped out mobile wallet usage in 36 countries around the world. In the US, only 3% of retail sales were completed through a mobile wallet. The global penetration rate of this technology is still very low topping at 6%, except for one country. The one outlier in this report is China, which has a staggering 36% of the population using mobile wallet.

Image: DepositPhotos.com

This article, "In The News: March Madness Distracts Workers, Raising Wages May Force You to Reduce Hours" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

In The News: March Madness Distracts Workers, Raising Wages May Force You to Reduce Hours

Did it feel like everyone in your office this week was a little distracted?

Were you a little distracted?

There’s a reason for that. Monday was the first work day with the new NCAA March Madness bracket. That means workers everywhere — even in virtual offices these days — were really hard at work … picking random college basketball teams to win the big office pool.

That’s right. The most asked question around your office this week was probably: What’s a Wofford?

In new data from Monster this week, we learned that an incredible 31% of employees in American workplaces will spend half their time focused on March Madness. That’s watching games but also all the other hoopla.

If you have any questions about how organized your team is or if they’re working together, watch them put together a tournament pool. Presumably, a legal one, of course.

There were other headlines this week, of course. They’re included in our news roundup below.

Meanwhile, we’re watching VCU. We’ve got them going far.

Employment

Increased Minimum Wages Require Hour Cuts to Compensate, Whole Foods Example Shows

Amazon recently began a $15 minimum wage for its employees at Whole Foods, but then the grocery store began cutting workers’ hours, according to the Guardian. The multinational e-commerce company enacted the increased wage in November for all U.S. workers, in response to public pressure and criticism over its pay for employees.

39% of Small Business Hires This Year Will Be Sales and Marketing Staff

The latest report from Clutch says 39% of small businesses will add sales and marketing employees. This data point underscores the importance of sales and marketing in today’s digital commerce. You must optimize websites, social media channels and eCommerce to make it happen. And you need sales and marketing employees to do the heavy lifting.

Management

Survey Reveals 56% of Bloggers Get Better Results by Spending 6 Hours on a Post

Blogs have become one of the most effective ways of communicating with digital technology. And the maturation of the medium has resulted in bloggers spending more time to create high-quality posts which deliver better results. The latest blogger survey from Orbit Media has revealed 56% of bloggers who spend six-plus hours on a blog post get better results.

Retail Trends

Items Most Likely to be Returned to Your eCommerce Business

If you are in the business of selling a product, whether online or a physical store, customers will eventually return some of those items. A new infographic from Website Builder Expert has some interesting insights as to how this part of the retail industry affects the overall business.

Small Business Operations

The Next 4 Things You Should Do to Get your Business Ready for the Summer Slowdown

It’s that time of year again! Spring is around the corner. Following soon afterward that is summer, and summer (for some online businesses) is known for the summer slump. The summer slump is a when you may see a dip in website traffic and sales because people are out on vacation and enjoying the weather.

Startup

A Relentless Focus on the Customer Gives San Francisco’s 360 Payments a Winning Edge

Fintech sales can be tough, but Lisa Coyle of 360 Payments has found her stride. The aim of 360 Payments is to change the fabric of the payments industry by partnering with customers to provide honest and streamlined payment solutions. We chatted to Lisa Coyle, Co-CEO of 360 Payments, to find out how her customer-centric approach has helped to drive her success.

5 Life Lessons from “Wise Guy” Guy Kawasaki

In the entrepreneurship world, Guy Kawasaki is considered a motivational icon. There is a lot to learn from his new book which is appropriately named “Wise Guy”.

Technology Trends

Business Travelers Should Seek Rodeway Inn for Best Hotel WiFi, Research Says

The economically-priced hotel chain Rodeway Inn just won the title of the hotel with best WiFi in 2019. Research compiled by Highspeed Internet found Rodeway Inn possesses the fastest free WiFi speeds for guests at 7.66Mbps. This research used data from HotelWiFiTest.com to calculate average WiFi speeds for each hotel chain.

Only 3% of US Retail Sales Completed Via Mobile Wallet

A new infographic from Expert Market has mapped out mobile wallet usage in 36 countries around the world. In the US, only 3% of retail sales were completed through a mobile wallet. The global penetration rate of this technology is still very low topping at 6%, except for one country. The one outlier in this report is China, which has a staggering 36% of the population using mobile wallet.

Image: DepositPhotos.com

This article, "In The News: March Madness Distracts Workers, Raising Wages May Force You to Reduce Hours" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate on a panel focused on the future of customer experience at Oracle’s MCX (Modern Customer Experience) event held in Vegas.  The panel was a lot of fun because I got to sit on the panel with a couple of old friends and CRM industry thought leaders — Beagle Research managing partner Denis Pombriant, and Ginger Conlon, US Editor of The Drum.

After the panel I spent some time with Ginger to discuss an intriguing question based on the upcoming 25th anniversary of the first digital display ads being run on websites — what has been the most significant moment in the 25 year history of digital marketing?

Ginger and I take a shot at answering that, but as you’ll see below it’s kind of hard to narrow it down to one moment or thing.  You can read our attempt at answering the question with the edited transcript below. To see the full conversation you can watch the video below or the play the embedded SoundCloud player.

Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?Small Business Trends:  I’m here, still at Oracle MCX, with Ginger Conlon, the U.S. editor for The Drum, and a longtime friend. I knew her before she was playing with drums. Thanks for joining me.

Ginger Conlon:  Thank you, Brent. I love the on-the-fly interview.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah.

Ginger Conlon:  Or conversation. Because I’m going to ask you questions, too.

Small Business Trends:  Oh, so you’re going to turn the tables, okay. But that’s okay.

Ginger Conlon:  It’s what I do.

Small Business Trends:  That’s exactly what you do. Matter of fact, I have a big question that you are asking a few people around a really interesting digital marketing topic, because it’s kind of what you do, right?

Ginger Conlon:  It’s what I do, but also this October is the 25th anniversary of digital marketing, and basically kicking off in mid-October with that 25th anniversary of the first banner ad. There is one banner ad that is known to be the first, but there were actually a handful of about 12 I think launched that same day.

Small Business Trends:  Wait a minute. There hadn’t been any banner ads before this one day, and then just on this one day, 12 from different areas, from different people all on the same day?

Ginger Conlon:  Kicked off.

Small Business Trends:  That’s kind of strange.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah. I’m not sure of the history of how it all worked, that’s one of the things I’m going to be looking further into this year, but we’re going to be carrying the theme throughout the year at The Drum, so you’ll see different articles; and so one of the questions I’m kicking off with is asking people from their point of view in the market, what do you think was the most significant moment in digital marketing over that past 25 years?

Small Business Trends:  So we’re going back to basically 1994? That was before Google too, right?

Ginger Conlon:  It was… The funny thing that the first banner ad is it says something like, “Click here, you may not yet, but you will.”

Small Business Trends:  Really? That’s kind of cool.

Ginger Conlon:  It was almost predictive.

Small Business Trends:  Way to work that in there. All right. I was thinking about a couple of things. I was thinking about the first email marketing campaign, and how that’s changed the world of marketing … and spam. Then, I mentioned Google, because I was thinking about search, and then I was thinking on top of search, there’s Google Ad Words, and that kind of changed everything too.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  If I were to pick one over the other, I would pick the … go off the board and go with the unsubscribe list. Only because all these other things have inundated us, and flooded us with ads, and emails, and spam, and from a consumer perspective I like having some choice and some power over the messaging that comes to me at this point.

But really, I’m going to go with actually I’m going to go with search.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  Because that … It changed so many things. It wasn’t even Google that started it, but it was Google that kind of perfected it and got our attention. Then on top of search, you do have Ad Words, and that really changed the game. So I’m going to have to say search.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah, well that’s interesting too, because they’re searching Google, but then if you think about how searches evolved even within sites, within Amazon, or Facebook, or Instagram, and people are searching for things that may wind up in a purchase, and not necessarily starting at Google. It really has changed the game, and then as we were talking about in our panel yesterday, you’re going to have more and more voice search. So that’s going to change the game again in the future.

Small Business Trends:  It’s like continually changing the game. Search started out as one thing, and then we get a mobile search, and now we’re going to voice search, and like you said, it’s not even just Google, because I think over half of the product searches are done on Amazon.

Ginger Conlon: Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  It just seems like it’s foundational. Although, email marketing, I mean it’s kind of hard to ignore that one, too.

Ginger Conlon:  Yeah.

Small Business Trends:  Although I try, because I get so many of those emails …

Ginger Conlon:  Email is a workhorse. It definitely has staying power. Yes, there are some companies that over email, but other companies that focus more on personalization and sending the right messages to the right people at hopefully more optimum times. Sometimes on their schedule, but at least with more relevancy. It can really get some terrific engagement, and conversions.

Small Business Trends:  And you mentioned yesterday you had an opportunity to talk to the folks over at Mack Truck, and you would think it’s 2019, businesses have been doing this forever, all businesses have been doing this stuff forever now, but that’s not really the case.

Ginger Conlon:  Right. Mack Truck has really dived wholeheartedly into digital marketing really just the past year. I mean, they tested some things before but this past year they have done significantly more than they had in the past, and everything from social, they did influencer marketing. They gave trucks to two trucking influencers.

Small Business Trends:  They gave real Mack trucks to –

Ginger Conlon:  A Mack truck to each one of them, with a kit on how to do a diary of their journey of using this truck for a year. That’s been going really well, they have only a team of four in marketing, and one of them is a video expert, and they’ve done a whole series that they’re doing a second season of this coming year that’s been performing really well for them.

Small Business Trends:  Wow.

Ginger Conlon:  What the head of marketing there was saying is that he loves it because as much as he loves the traditional in print, and things like that, he can really see how digital goes right to the pipeline. He feels like he should be accountable for helping to sell Mack trucks by getting into the pipeline for them to give sales ready leads over to their dealers.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, well that’s really cool. But I gotta ask you now, because you asked me which one did I pick. What did you pick?

Ginger Conlon:  Oh, I haven’t picked one yet. Now the pressure’s on. That’s a good one. That’s a good one, because you know, I –

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, didn’t you come up with the question?

Ginger Conlon:  I did come up with the question. Yeah, you’re kind of spoiled for choice, because just the access to information that we have now, in real time has changed the game for business and put so much pressure on business as well, to keep up with consumer’s expectations. Again, from the panel yesterday, we were talking about there’s a book called The Entitled Consumer, and it talks about how so many of us, about three quarters, according to the study that’s the foundation of this book, feel some level of entitlement, which means that you expect special privileges.

Small Business Trends:  Right.

Ginger Conlon:  Part of that is because of this … the way digital marketing or digital in general has brought such a real-time nature to everything we do. I mean, if you want something you can probably find it and order it in seconds. If you … or maybe, you know, minutes, if you want information, if you want to teach yourself something you can find it and do it online. I actually fixed something in my car with an online video. It was a simple … It was a really not that mechanical of an issue. But still, I mean, it’s amazing what you can do today with the information, and because of that, the way marketers can reach out to you not just to sell, but also to help you.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah.

Ginger Conlon:  That’s really where it makes the difference.

Small Business Trends:  So you’re going over the whole 25 year mark, but I want to go look to the future. What do you see as a future game changer, whether it’s … You mentioned the word predictive, and one of the things that came out of the conference was around [Oracle’s new product] CX Unity, being able to take all this data, and aggregate it and then find insights, and do something with it. We just talked about video, mobile, augmented reality … I mean, there’s a ton of stuff that is out there, but which of any of those or maybe something else is going to be a big, big, big game changer over the next decade or 25 years or whatever.

Ginger Conlon:  I’m all about the data. I’m going to have to say machine learning/AI, right? Because what marketers can learn and predict using that technology, I mean it’s already established there are companies that use it and use it fairly well, but once more companies do more with it, especially as they weave it into their systems, I think what marketing will be capable of will be amazing on the one hand, and on the other hand marketers will really need to have policies in place to respect privacy and it’s going to be a situation of what you can do, versus what you should do, because of the amazing things that machine learning and AI can bring us.

Small Business Trends:  Mm-hmm (affirmative). You mentioned … I don’t know what the phrase was yesterday, but it was like creepiness to –

Ginger Conlon:  Oh, the cool creepy factor.

Small Business Trends:  Yeah, that’s it. Yeah. It’s good to be cool, but you don’t want to cross the line and be creepy.

Ginger Conlon:  Yes.

Small Business Trends:  It seems like it’s so easy and it’s getting easier to cross that line.

Ginger Conlon:  It is. Absolutely.

This article, "Ginger Conlon of The Drum: What is the Most Significant Moment in the 25 Year History of Digital Marketing?" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

They’ll Have to Scramble to Find a Replacement

OK, this is a fairly standard gag. You take a familiar phrase, illustrate it literally instead of figuratively, and you’re good. Except that eggs are terrible to draw.

Seriously, try drawing one now. It’s not a circle, it’s not an oval, it’s this sort of oblong teardrop but not quite.

You know when it’s right, but it might take you 2 or 3 or 12 times to get that line to curve juuuuust right.

I guess that’s what you get when the gag comes easy.

This article, "They’ll Have to Scramble to Find a Replacement" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

SBA STEP Program Helps Small Businesses with Exporting

Improving the SBA STEP Program

Small businesses earn trillions for the U.S. economy. And they employee tens of millions of people too. But when it comes to exports they face an uphill climb.

Luckily a government program seeks to help small businesses. The State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) offers money and assistance to help small businesses become exporters.

Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer from Iowa held a recent hearing to try to tweak the program. Finkenauer now serves as Chairwoman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship.

Congress launched STEP after the global financial crisis.

Congress Seeks to Help Small Business Exporting

The hearing looked at the tough times small businesses face in the export market. It also focused on businesses in rural areas.

In a press release, Finkenauer said, “I … know that it is incredibly difficult for the small business in a town like Maquoketa in my district whose owner may want to do business overseas but lacks the staff capacity or doesn’t know where to start. Today’s hearing was a chance to hear how we as lawmakers can ensure our small businesses have these opportunities.”

The hearing looked at problems the program already faces. But officials also tried to seek ways to improve it. The Small Business Administration Inspector General made some suggestions for improvements. And the Government Accountability Office made suggestions too.

Recommendations from Kimberly Gianopoulos, Director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office include some of the following.

Gianopoulos urged the SBA to assess the risk to achieving program goals posed by some states’ low grant fund use rates.

And she recommended examining the challenges that states reported related to the program’s application, award processes, administrative burden, and communication.

Finally, Gianopoulos suggested the SBA enhance collection and sharing of best practices among states that receive STEP grant funds.

The SBA STEP Program

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 created STEP.  It began with a three-year pilot program. The success of the program led Congress to move forward. And the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act made STEP permanent in 2015.

Congress also authorized $30 million in funding through the Fiscal Year 2020. To date, the SBA has awarded around $139 million in funding to almost every state in the country.

STEP aims to increase the number of small businesses that export and the value of exports by the small business sector.

The Federal and state partnership competitively awards grants to the 50 states. Grants also go to the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

In addition to financial contribution, the program also supports small businesses with trade goals outside of the US. These include trade missions and market sales trips. But they also include export trade show exhibits, training and subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce.

The Federal government provides 75% of the funding for the total project. And states provide 25% of the cost for operating.

Image: Small Business Subcommittee

This article, "SBA STEP Program Helps Small Businesses with Exporting" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

SBA STEP Program Helps Small Businesses with Exporting

Improving the SBA STEP Program

Small businesses earn trillions for the U.S. economy. And they employee tens of millions of people too. But when it comes to exports they face an uphill climb.

Luckily a government program seeks to help small businesses. The State Trade and Expansion Program (STEP) offers money and assistance to help small businesses become exporters.

Democratic Rep. Abby Finkenauer from Iowa held a recent hearing to try to tweak the program. Finkenauer now serves as Chairwoman of the Small Business Subcommittee on Rural Development, Agriculture, Trade, and Entrepreneurship.

Congress launched STEP after the global financial crisis.

Congress Seeks to Help Small Business Exporting

The hearing looked at the tough times small businesses face in the export market. It also focused on businesses in rural areas.

In a press release, Finkenauer said, “I … know that it is incredibly difficult for the small business in a town like Maquoketa in my district whose owner may want to do business overseas but lacks the staff capacity or doesn’t know where to start. Today’s hearing was a chance to hear how we as lawmakers can ensure our small businesses have these opportunities.”

The hearing looked at problems the program already faces. But officials also tried to seek ways to improve it. The Small Business Administration Inspector General made some suggestions for improvements. And the Government Accountability Office made suggestions too.

Recommendations from Kimberly Gianopoulos, Director of International Affairs and Trade for the Government Accountability Office include some of the following.

Gianopoulos urged the SBA to assess the risk to achieving program goals posed by some states’ low grant fund use rates.

And she recommended examining the challenges that states reported related to the program’s application, award processes, administrative burden, and communication.

Finally, Gianopoulos suggested the SBA enhance collection and sharing of best practices among states that receive STEP grant funds.

The SBA STEP Program

The Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 created STEP.  It began with a three-year pilot program. The success of the program led Congress to move forward. And the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act made STEP permanent in 2015.

Congress also authorized $30 million in funding through the Fiscal Year 2020. To date, the SBA has awarded around $139 million in funding to almost every state in the country.

STEP aims to increase the number of small businesses that export and the value of exports by the small business sector.

The Federal and state partnership competitively awards grants to the 50 states. Grants also go to the District of Columbia, Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, Guam, and American Samoa.

In addition to financial contribution, the program also supports small businesses with trade goals outside of the US. These include trade missions and market sales trips. But they also include export trade show exhibits, training and subscription to services provided by the Department of Commerce.

The Federal government provides 75% of the funding for the total project. And states provide 25% of the cost for operating.

Image: Small Business Subcommittee

This article, "SBA STEP Program Helps Small Businesses with Exporting" was first published on Small Business Trends

March 22, 2019

Telehealth or Telemedicine: Advice on why they are Important to Our Health Care System

Technology is changing the way our society works, and the medical industry is certainly not immune to these changes. Telehealth and Telemedicine services are just one way in which the connections of technology and medicine are helping to improve the health services offered to patients while also helping to improve the efficiency of health care providers around the world. Knowing the benefits and advantages that come with telehealth or telemedicine services can help health care professionals make educated decisions on how to best implement these services in their own line of work.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Increase Access to Health Care

According to the World Bank and the World Health Organization, half the population of our world lacks access to basic health care services. Due to poverty, geographical constraints, or simply inefficient health care solutions, billions of people are faced with a lack of access to essential health care needs.

Telehealth and telemedicine services can help to increase access to health care by creating connections with people who live in remote areas. Over two-thirds of our global population has access to a cellphone and over 3.8 billion people, more than half the world´s population has access to an internet connection. This connectivity can allow people in remote, rural areas to apply for and obtain clinical services.

Companies like BetterHelp are on example of health care providers that provide online therapy sessions for people looking for mental health care but who cannot afford to travel long distances into a clinical setting.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Improve Health Care Outcomes

Another benefit of telehealth and telemedicine services is that they can improve overall health outcomes. Through increasing access to basic health care services, telehealth and telemedicine can help people receive a quicker diagnose which in turn can lead to earlier treatment. Waiting until a certain medical condition has dangerously progressed can increase treatment expenses, but early diagnosis with the help of telehealth services can often help to decrease costs, reduce potential disease complications, and even reduce mortality rates.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Can Reduce Health Care Costs

The same World Bank and WHO Study mentioned above also relate that over 800 million people around the world spend at least 10 percent of their household budgets on health expenses for themselves, and over 100 million people are pushed into poverty due to unexpected health care expenses.

Telehealth and telemedicine services can help to reduce the costs of expensive health care interventions through home monitoring programs that detect potential health problems while they are still manageable. This can prevent the onset of chronic diseases which are a major financial burden for families.

Also, through reducing the probability of long-term hospital stays, telehealth and telemedicine services can also help to lower costs for both private and public health care providers.

Telehealth and Telemedicine Can Support Clinical Education Programs

Preventative health care services are an extremely important component of public health. Telehealth and telemedicine services can be a major component of a holistic prevention program. Rural clinicians and health care promoters can use telehealth to continue their education and consult with specialists. Furthermore, health prevention programs can be offered to communities and individuals through the tech platforms that telemedicine and telehealth provide.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, telehealth and telemedicine services can help to empower patients to play an active role in their health care. People who actively seek out information related to their specific health conditions and vulnerabilities are better prepared to maintain their own long-term health.

While centralized clinics and large hospitals obviously have an important role to play in the overall health care industry, decentralized solutions are also important. Telehealth and telemedicine services can bring a number of important benefits both to health care providers and to communities and individuals. From increasing access to health care, improving health care outcomes, reducing health care costs, and supporting clinical education programs, telehealth and telemedicine should continue to grow in the coming years as an important and essential part of a holistic health care strategy.

The post Telehealth or Telemedicine: Advice on why they are Important to Our Health Care System appeared first on Blogtrepreneur.

March 22, 2019

How to Turn Your Local Marketing from Blah into Fantastic

Optimize your Local Marketing

Marketing is a big, vague word that that can either make your head spin or give you heart emoji eyes. Every business has a different relationship with marketing –and that’s totally ok! Whether or not you enjoy working on and delegating marketing tasks, you should consider leveraging your local marketing channels. Local marketing creates a strong foundation so that your local prospects can easily find you. Also, local marketing is fun! It’s a way to connect with your neighboring communities and meet other local businesses and potential new customers.

Local Marketing – Online

Even though the internet is a vast, big place, local marketing still has its own little corner! A great place to start is creating a Google My Business profile (GMB) for your business. This profile is a free, (whoot!) and it allows you to provide all your business info — think name, address, phone number, hours, website, business description — as well as images. Your customers can also leave reviews, which is a great way to show prospects that you are well liked!

Reimagine your digital presence. – business.com

Geo-targeting, also known as local targeting, is an online tool that lets you target specific people based on their online location. If you want to find potential customers in a specific location, (ie – your local area) you can add this tool to your social media plan!

When using Facebook or Twitter, organic posts and paid ads can be targeted to your audience by:

  • IP Address
  • Recorded Address

You can also get more granular by adding in more details, such as:

  • Country
  • State/Province
  • City
  • ZIP Code

The best part about geo targeting is that it’s super easy to implement and you don’t have to be an expert to use this tool.

Another online marketing tool great for local businesses are directory listings. Sites like Yelp, YP, Yahoo Local, and Bing allow businesses to provide local-specific messages. Offering information that’s specific to a local search allows businesses to target the right audience.

At the bottom of the funnel, listings with rich local content like pictures, offers or biographies drive more than three times the traffic as those that just contain the bare geodata. – adage.com

Local Marketing – Community Events / Outlets

One of the best ways to find your local audience is at community events that allow businesses to have a table. There are tons of options throughout the year in many communities, including:

  • Street Fairs
  • Health/Wellness/Fitness events
  • Shop Local days
  • Charity Events

You can also donate some items or services to contribute to an event as a way to give the attendees a free look into your business!

A really nice way to combine your online and offline efforts is through local influencers and magazines. These outlets are geared specifically to certain local communities. Many magazines have online and offline content available, and influencers regularly partner with businesses to promote goods and services they trust and enjoy.

Local Marketing – Bring a Friend

It’s always better, together! Give your customers a reason to bring a friend next time they come in to visit. You can offer discounts such as buy-1-get-1 offers. Many businesses incentivize their customers to bring more people by offering them discounts on products or services they are already spending money on. Plus, bringing a friend is fun! People love sharing their favorite spots and being able to get offers and discounts from doing so.

Image: Depositphotos.com

This article, "How to Turn Your Local Marketing from Blah into Fantastic" was first published on Small Business Trends

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