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Friday Small Business Roundup: Social Media Marketing and More

September 27th, 2013 ::

Should You Dump Your Brand’s Facebook Page For Google+? Get Monika Jansen’s take on the question.

Social media can do more than create fans–it can boost sales. Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post Study Shows Social Does Drive Sales to learn more.

Technology is powering today’s small business, but is your tech up-to-date? Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post Small Business Tech Spending: Do You Measure Up? to see if you’re keeping pace.

Marketing today requires keeping in touch with customers in real-time–not easy. Read Monika Jansen’s Real-Time Marketing: 5 Ways to Do It Right to get help.

Then read Rieva Lesonsky’s How to Attract New Customers With Public Speaking for a simple way to get more clients.

Are you marketing to Millennials, Baby Boomers or both? Get tips in Karen Axelton’s post How to Target 2 of Today’s Hottest Markets.

Friday Small Business Roundup: Ecommerce Boosters and More

August 9th, 2013 ::

Is Your Ecommerce Website Giving Mobile Shoppers What They Want? Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post to find out.

Specifically, target one of the hottest groups of online shoppers by learning How Millennials Shop Online in Rieva Lesonsky’s post.

It’s not too early to start planning for holiday 2013 retailing. Read Is Your Ecommerce Site Ready for Holiday 2013? by Rieva Lesonsky to make sure you’re on the right track.

Looking beyond the standard promotional items? Read 19 Awesome and Useful Swag Ideas by Monika Jansen.

Power up your restaurant profits. Read Karen Axelton’s post on the latest restaurant trends to boost your business.

Is Your Office a Creative Space? Check out Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post to learn how the new trend in office design could spark innovation in your team.

Friday Small Business Roundup: Who’s Spending What, and How?

August 2nd, 2013 ::

Can Eating the Frog Make You More Productive? And just what does it mean? Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post to find out.

It’s the little things that count. Read Monika Jansen’s post 19 Easy Ways to Improve Your Customer Service for great ideas you can put into practice right away.

You might be turning away money without even realizing it. Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post Are You a Payment Dinosaur? to learn why.

Are you missing out on the lucrative senior market? Read Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post Think Seniors Aren’t Online? Think Again to find out.

All kinds of consumers are getting primed to spend. Read more in Karen Axelton’s post Consumers Are Ready to Spend on Luxury Products and Services.

Learn the benefits of inbound marketing and how to use it in your business in Monika Jansen’s post The ROI of Inbound Marketing.


Friday Small Business Roundup: Millennials and More

July 26th, 2013 ::

Find out what social media maven Brian Solis has to say about the future of social media and business in The Future of Business According to Brian Solis, Part 1 and Part 2.

How Do Millennials Find Your Website? Discover how to lead these key customers to your site in Rieva Lesonsky’s post.

Are you tossing and turning all night long? Rieva Lesonsky’s post How to (Really) Get a Good Night’s Sleep can help.

Then read How Can You Make Your Employees More Productive? by Rieva Lesonsky to power up your team, too.

It’s not too early to think about back-to-school marketing. Get tips in Karen Axelton’s How to Grab Your Share of the Back-to-School Shopping Dollar.


Friday Small Business Roundup: Marketing With Google + and More

June 28th, 2013 ::

Are You Giving Online Shoppers the Customer Service Essentials They Expect? Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post to find out.

Are you making the most of Google+? Read Monika Jansen’s 5 Steps for a Successful Google+ Hangout.

How Can Home-Related Businesses Market to Millennials? Discover how this generation is different from any other in Karen Axelton’s post.

Trying to reach new B2B customers? Don’t miss Maria Valdez Haubrich’s post How Content Marketing Helps Make the B2B Sale.

Speaking of new customers, did you know This Hidden College Market Could Be a Gold Mine? Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post to find out what you could be missing out on.

Struggling to make your B2B marketing compelling? Read Monika Jansen’s 3 Examples of Engaging B2B Infographics From Non-Visual Companies.

You’re always trying to get new customers–but what about the ones you already have? Read Rieva Lesonsky’s post Customer Service Tips to Keep Your Most Valuable Customers Happy to keep them coming back.

Become a brand customers love! Read Monika Jansen’s 9 Great Tips on Creating Lovable Marketing From Industry Experts.


“Buy American” Is Still a Selling Point—If You Know How to Sell It

April 11th, 2013 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

Are you hoping that the “Made in America” label will help your product sell better? Chances are you’re right. A recent Harris Interactive survey found support for buying American products across a wide swath of age groups, both genders and both political parties. However, it’s important to define what “American” means when it comes to a product.

Being made in America is the biggest deciding factor in whether an item is considered American. Three-fourths of respondents say a product has to be made in the U.S. for them to think of it as “American.” Being produced by a U.S. company or being made from parts manufactured in the U.S. was important to about half of consumers; being designed by an American was important to about one-fourth.

What type of people care about buying American? Just about everyone. However:

  • The older people are, the more importance they typically place on buying American. Respondents age 48 and up were most likely to say buying American is important; 18- to 35-year-olds were least likely.
  • Women were more likely than men to believe it’s important to buy American.
  • Republicans and Democrats, however, were equally likely to believe it’s important to buy American, and felt more strongly about it than did Independents.

What types of products are people most likely to want to buy American? Major appliances (75 percent), furniture (74 percent), clothing (72 percent), small appliances (71 percent) and automobiles (70 percent) were the categories for which respondents were most likely to say it was “very important” or “important” to buy American.

What are people trying to accomplish when they buy American? The most important reason for buying American was to “keep jobs in America,” which 66 percent of respondents rated “very important.” Next on the list was “supporting American companies” (cited as “very important” by 56 percent). Safety concerns about products made outside the U.S. were a very important reason for buying American for 49 percent of respondents.

Less important reasons for buying American were:

  • Quality concerns with products assembled/ produced outside of the U.S.
  • Patriotism
  • Human rights issues with products assembled/produced outside of the U.S.
  • Decreasing environmental impact since products don’t need to travel as far. However, even this factor—the lowest on the list–was rated “very important” by 32 percent.

Clearly, buying American is still a priority for many people. If you decide to use this as a selling point, be sure that you:

  • Are honest and accurate about exactly what “Made in America” means in terms of your product.
  • Emphasize the factors that matter to customers, such as keeping jobs in America or supporting U.S. companies, in your marketing.

To fine-tune your marketing message, drill down into more details about specific consumer groups’ opinions at Harris Interactive.

Image by Flickr user donkeyhotey (Creative Commons)

What the New American Household Means to Your Business

March 27th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

How are the demographics of U.S. households changing—and what does it mean to your small business? SmartBlog on Leadership recently rounded up some data from the U.S. Census that paints a picture of the new makeup of the “average” American household. Here’s some of what they found:

Husband and Wife on the Decline: The traditional, husband-and-wife household is on the decline. In 2000, 51.7% of households were husband and wife; that went down to 48.4% in 2010. While the percentage decreased, the sheer number increased: In 2000, there were 54.5 million husband/wife households and in 2010, there were 56.5 million. One area where husband/wife households tend to dominate is near military bases.

While the percentage of husband/wife households shrank, the percentage and number of unmarried, opposite-sex partners rose from 4.8 million (4.6 percent of all households) in 2000 to 7.7 million (5.9 percent of all households) in 2010.

Non-family Households on the Rise: Correspondingly, the number of non-family households (people living together who are not related and not married) increased. As of 2010, 33.6% of U.S. households were identified as non-family.

Solo Households Increase: Most non-family households are made up of people living alone. The percentage of single-person households rose from 25.8 percent (27.2 million people) in 2000 to 26.7 percent (31.2 million people) in 2010. One-person households exist in all parts of the country—not just in the urban areas that you might expect. There are two key demographic segments that make up a large percentage of the one-person households, and they’re pretty much polar opposites. The first is young, well-educated singles who are starting their professional careers; they tend to live in large urban areas. The second is older retirees, who are frequently living in rented apartments or subsidized housing.

Multi-generational Households Surge: The percentage of multi-generational households (defined has having three or more generations of relatives living together) has also grown, from 3.7% of households in 2000 to 4.4% in 2010. This is partly due to economic hard times and the difficulty of finding affordable housing, but also due to the growth of the immigrant population.  The Census Bureau says multi-generational households are most commonly found in areas with a lot of new immigrants or where a lot of children are born to single mothers. Hawaii, California and Texas have the highest percentage of multigenerational households, partly because these areas have a large immigrant and minority population.

What do these trends mean to your business? If your products or services, or the way you market them, are tailored to traditional, two-parent households, it may be time to shake things up—or get left behind as America’s average household continues to change.

Image by Flickr user Images of Money (Creative Commons)


America’s Stressed Out. Here’s How You Can Help (and Profit)

March 18th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

When you think of “stressed-out” consumers, do you picture a frazzled CEO rushing from meeting to meeting while answering emails on one smartphone and holding a conversation on another? Well, you might need to refresh your visual to include a stressed-out teenager. That’s right: According to a new study from the American Psychological Association (APA), younger people are more likely than older ones to report high stress levels.

The study, Stress in America, found that while Americans of all ages report higher stress than they think is good for them, Millennials (ages 18 to 33) and Gen Xers (ages 34 to 47) reported the highest average stress levels.

On a 10-point scale where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” both Millennials and Gen Xers report an average stress level of 5.4. That’s much higher than Boomers’ (age 48 to 66) average stress level of 4.7 and Matures’ (age 67-plus) average stress level of 3.7.

Of course, you can’t avoid stress entirely, so the study asked respondents how much stress they felt was healthy, then measured the difference between what they saw as “healthy stress” and what they actually experienced. Younger generations had a bigger gap: The difference between Millennials’ stress levels and their perception of healthy stress was 1.4 points, compared with 1.6 points for Gen X, 1.3 points for Bommers and 0.7 points for Matures.

Stress is on the rise for everyone: Thirty-nine percent of Millennials say their stress has increased in the last year, as do 36 percent of Gen Xers, 33 percent of Boomers and 29 percent of Matures. But what’s stressing us out differs from generation to generation. Not surprisingly, work, money and job stability are the biggest sources of stress for Millennials and Gen Xers, while health issues affecting themselves and family members are the biggest stressors for Boomers and Matures.

In the past five years, a majority of all age groups have tried to reduce their stress, but while Boomers and Matures are succeeding fairly well at doing this, 25 percent of Millennials and Gen Xers admit they are falling short. They’re also more likely to use unhealthy behaviors, such as drinking, smoking or overeating, to manage stress. Interestingly for businesses, 19 percent of Millennials and 13 percent of Gen X said they shop to manage stress.

What does this trend mean to you?

  • A marketing message emphasizing how your product or service can lessen stress, help manage stress, or be a well-deserved reward for a stressful day will resonate with all age groups.
  • However, be aware of the different types of stress affecting different age groups. Work-related stress is a hot button for younger consumers, while health and wellness are trigger issues for older ones.
  • Make sure your customer service creates less, not more, stress for your clients. If buying from you is easy and pleasant, they’ll come back again and again.

Image by Flickr user BLW Photography  (Creative Commons)

How to Reach Niche Markets on Social Media

March 15th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

If your small business is targeting niche markets such as specific minority groups, age groups or other demographics, it’s important to know what social media tools these individuals are likely to use. New research from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project examined what social media networks are most popular with different user groups. Here’s what they found:

Overall, social media use is widespread. More than two-thirds (67 percent) of all Internet users use at least one social networking site. Those 18-29 are the most likely of any age group to do so (83 percent), but even among the 65-and-up age group, nearly one-third (32 percent) use social media. Women are more likely than men to use social media, and urban residents are more likely than rural Internet users to do so.

What sites are most popular? Pew took a look not only at the “biggies,” but also at some up-and-comers.

Facebook users

Facebook is still the most popular social networking platform, with two-thirds of online adults on the site.  Women are more likely than men to be Facebook users (72 percent vs. 62 percent), and the 18-29 age group is most likely to use it (86 percent).

Twitter users

Twitter is showing steady growth, with the percentage of Internet users who use this social media site doubling since November 2010, to 16 percent. People under 50, and especially those 18-29, are more likely to use Twitter. Urban residents are more likely than both suburban and rural residents to use Twitter. African-Americans are the most frequent users of Twitter, with 26 percent reporting they use it, compared to 14 percent of white Internet users and 19 percent of Hispanics.

Pinterest users

Overall, 15 percent of Internet users use Pinterest, but this site is especially  popular with the youngest cohort (18 to 29), those with higher educational attainment, and upper income consumers. Nearly a quarter (23 percent) of Internet users with household incomes between $50,000 and $74,999 use Pinterest; so do 18 percent of people with incomes of $75,000 or above. Women are five times as likely to use Pinterest as men (25 percent vs. 5 percent).

Instagram users

Photo-sharing site Instagram is popular with 13 percent of Internet users overall. Women and younger users (under 50) are the most likely to use it; so are urban dwellers, African-Americans and Hispanics.

Tumblr users

While Tumblr is still the least popular social networking site users were asked about—used by just 6 percent of Internet users—keep in mind that just a few years ago, Twitter had similar numbers. In addition, Tumblr is far more popular among younger users, with 13 percent of 18-to-29-year olds blogging on the site. However, Instagram, which offers similar photo-oriented functionality, has become twice as popular overall in a shorter period of time.

What do these stats mean for your business?

  • If you’re targeting younger customers, you definitely need to be on social media—and you need to be checking out the newest up-and-coming sites. Whether that’s Instagram, Tumblr or something even newer, take the time to explore it and see if your target customers are there.
  • No matter who you’re targeting, you probably need to be on Facebook. With even the 65-plus-crowd hanging out here, Facebook is a smart marketing tool for just about every consumer-oriented small business.
  • Trying to reach women or high-income customers? Get familiar with Pinterest, since a high proportion of those customers spend time there.

Image by Flickr user eldh (Creative Commons)

What You Must Know About Marketing to Baby Boomers

March 13th, 2013 ::

By Rieva Lesonsky

As they enter their senior years, Baby Boomers are still one of the most powerful consumer demographics in the U.S. What do you need to know to target Boomers today? MediaPost recently spotlighted some research from Navigate Boomer Media on what Boomers are doing, buying and interested in. Here’s where the opportunities are:

Online Marketing

If you’re only marketing to Boomers in the newspaper or print media, you’re missing the boat. You might be surprised to learn that the average Boomer spends more time online than the average teenager (15 hours per week vs. 13 hours). Put your money into online advertising to reach this market.

Transition Time

Baby Boomers are currently experiencing huge life transitions as they enter their 50s and 60s. If you want to capture their emotions during these times, Navigate Boomer Media advises your marketing should include one or more of these three messages:

  1. We understand you.
  2. We make your life easier.
  3. We make your life better.

Wealth Transfer

Baby Boomers will be inheriting money from their parents and will spend it on luxuries including physical rejuvenation and health-related costs such as home gyms, trainers and spa visits; luxury travel; luxury cars (including Porsche, Mercedes and Corvette) and second homes.

Empty Nesters

As their children move out, Boomers will take advantage of the empty nest to pursue their passions, including traveling, pursuing education and volunteer opportunities, starting a business, and remodeling or redecorating the home, often including a home office. Many will also turn to pets (especially dogs) for companionship.

Boomers as Caregivers

With their parents living longer, many Boomers will find themselves in the unusual situation of caring for aging parents long past the time when prior generations were doing so. This creates opportunities for businesses that provide them with support, time off, or pampering to rejuvenate them to face the challenges of caregiving.

Divorce Means Change

For Boomers whose transition includes divorce, demands will include products and services to help them downsize their households and adapt to single life. Sales of condominiums and active adult communities will grow. Wealth management services will be in demand. Travel is popular with this group, with “girlfriend getaways” a hot commodity.

The Grandparent Life

Many Boomers are grandparents, and they’re ready to spend on travel with the grandkids (adventure or education-themed trips and cruises are popular). They also buy books and toys for their grandkids and start savings or college accounts for them.

Menopause and More

Menopausal Boomer women will seek products and services to help them learn about menopause, be comfortable and continue an active lifestyle. Information and education about menopause and solutions for its challenges will be a hot commodity.

How can your business market to Baby Boomers?

Image by Flickr user dannybirchall (Creative Commons)