Tips for Business Development for Small Businesses

By: Randi Cairns

Interested in new ways to approach business development as a small business? Some of the best advice has stood the test of time (for example, content is and always will remain king). Here are a few other thoughts and ideas to consider if you’re interested in shaking things up for your business.

Go live! We’re all living glued to our computers these days for everything from our kids’ classes to our work meetings. You’re probably an internet pro by now if you weren’t already. And with too many Zoom calls to count, you’re probably also a lot more comfortable looking at your own face on video, right?

Use that to your advantage and create and share videos that showcase your business, your products, and/or your team. People may shop at businesses or use services, but they connect with people. So put the people behind your business front and center. Have fun with this. It doesn’t need to be perfectly curated or filtered, and you shouldn’t take yourself too seriously (unless you run a funeral home, and then perhaps more decorum is in order).

When you’re excited and passionate about what you do, it shows, and it makes others excited about what you’re doing too. (And you can grab one of those kids to do the videotaping!)

Recycle creatively. You don’t need to start from scratch with every piece of content, marketing collateral, or social media post you use. Especially if you’ve got great stuff already that people have responded well to. And even the stuff that got less than a stellar response can be useful as a starting point for new materials (if you’ve paid attention to what might have been executed differently).

Recycling isn’t just good for the environment, it’s also great for a small business budget. Look at what you’ve already created and think about how you might repurpose or reuse it again. Some content will be evergreen and that’s perfect already. Other things you can transform into something new altogether—like changing a blog post into video content or a report into an infographic. In these times, you have an almost endless list of creative opportunities to showcase your work and, more importantly, the story of your business. So be creative! (more…)

2020-12-31T16:51:33+00:00December 31st, 2020|

Four Tips for Growing Your Nonprofit

By: Meghan Traynor

We understand that starting and maintaining a nonprofit can have its challenges. We’re here to help! Here are four ways you can grow your nonprofit into a successful organization.

 1. Build trust.

Building a strong community with your supporters is vital to your organization’s growth. Here are a few ways you can build trust and foster community with your fans:

  • Provide donors with firsthand experiences so they can see your organization in action. Even if they don’t all take you up on your offer, you are still opening the door of trust with them.
  • Provide relevant data about the need in your community and what your organization is doing to meet that need.
  • Be honest and transparent with donors, volunteers, staff, and followers for a meaningful and sustainable impact.
  • Express gratitude. Thank your donors for every gift. Personalize a thank-you letter for each donation and include how it will make an impact in and for your organization. You can even go the extra mile and send a follow-up thank-you note after the donor’s gift has been used that showcases the impact their donation made and, if possible, a testimonial from someone their donation helped.

The more often you communicate and build trust with donors and followers, the more inspired they will be to continue supporting your organizations mission. (more…)

2020-09-24T20:23:26+00:00September 24th, 2020|

Ways to Measure Your Professional and Business Growth

By: Randi Cairns

It is quite easy to convince yourself that you need to be fully engaged and involved on every social media platform. That you need to follow every marketing expert out there. That you need to measure All. The. Things. There are two problems with that strategy: First, you don’t have time to do all that AND successfully run your business. And second, not every tool, trick, and measurement are relevant to all businesses—or even to your business all the time.

Of course, you want to be able to measure your business growth. But how do you do that strategically and in a way that results in useful information?

Decide what you will measure. Your options may feel overwhelming. There are metrics for pretty much everything—engagement, performance, retention, traffic, reach—you name it. Is information power? Yes. Is it also potentially crippling when you’ve got a million data points and no idea what to do with them? Also, yes.

Start with your goals. What does success look like for you and your business? How can you know if you’re growing or stagnant? Sales? Revenue? New customers? Social media fans? Your answer won’t be the same as that of others in a different industry or at a different stage of their company’s existence.

What will your key performance indicators (KPIs) be? In other words, what will you measure that tells you how well you’re achieving your business objectives? If you’re unsure where to start, begin with revenue (what you’re bringing in after accounting for discounts and returned merchandise), customer acquisition cost (the amount you spent on marketing divided by how many customers that yielded), and marketing return on investment (divide your marketing spend by your revenue). These three metrics will show you if your marketing activities are impacting your bottom line or if you need to think about another approach. (more…)

2020-12-05T18:34:51+00:00July 6th, 2020|


3 Freelancer Survival Tips

By: Julie Kirchner

Monitor your time. Knowing how much time you spend on typical client deliverables is key to marketing your business successfully, managing your time, and giving you the confidence to say yes (or no) to additional projects at a given time.

Even for projects that bill by completed deliverable (versus hours), you’ll want to track the amount of time it takes you from start to finish, for your own knowledge. Are you charging the right rate, given the time it takes? Do you need to schedule some time to learn a new digital tool that can help you scale projects faster and cut down on wasted time?

To start tracking your time on work projects, try using a time tracker tool such as Toggl, a free app that allows you to track your work hours for different projects and clients conveniently from your phone. You can add depth to the information you track (such as clients and project titles) and even run simple, visually appealing reports online at the end of the month that really showcase how you’re dividing your time. Over time, you’ll develop a keener sense of the time involved in each type of deliverable. This can also help you set more accurate rates when you’re asked for quotes in the future.


2020-03-25T19:24:10+00:00March 25th, 2020|

Five Tips to Host an “Influencer” Party

By: Karen Pinkston

Part of self-care as an entrepreneur is celebrating your success and having fun by engaging with your customers and fans. This new year, why not host a different sort of party, where your team can have a blast while also promoting your brand at the same time.

Influencer events, where you invite social media influencers to sample and preview your products, are becoming one of the biggest trends to grow your brand with like audiences. With more than one billion active users each month, your company has an opportunity to target niche audiences and build brand loyalty with Instagram influencers.

But to make your party successful, you’ll want to follow these top five tips.

#1 Pick the right influencers.

The first step is to find the micro-influencers, people with fewer than 20,000 followers, who really connect with your brand. They must have a genuine interest in your type of products and a history of showcasing similar content. One successful example is when a Canadian ski resort wanted to attract new visitors, they used a top adventure photographer to showcase their resort on Instagram and with short Facebook videos. His stunning photos showed an authentic “insider secret” to escape the crowds, reaching the resort’s target audience of travelers.

#2 Create an Instagrammable invite.

When you send your invitation, make it creative to get the influencer excited about coming. If it’s really good, then they might even post in advance about the event to get their followers amped. For example, when a new outside entertainment venue opened in Tampa, Florida, the developers sent influencers “invite packages” that included Polaroid cameras. Influencers used the old-fashioned cameras to take preview shots of the park, Sparkman Wharf, and post them.

[More tips on upping your “influencer” game here!]

#3 Location is everything.

When meeting with your team, think of the most visually interesting location to host your event. Is there a hip rooftop bar, a new, trendy hotel lounge, or even a cruise ship where you could host your party? Keep in mind that you’re trying to create the best photo shoot opportunities. Think about places with great lighting, and make sure there’s reliable Wi-Fi and outlets to keep your influencers connected and charged up. An example is Instagram’s own annual top influencer event, Instabeach on Malibu’s beautiful strip.

#4 Little details matter.

When you invite your influencers, make sure you clearly explain to them what they should do. Do you want them to make one post about the event and by what timeline? Choose a single, simple hashtag for your party and print it on as many outreach and promotional materials as possible. This will encourage others to use the hashtag and create an easy way for you to track your success.

#5 Have fun!

Think of creative games and contests to keep influencers engaged during your event. Plan to have great food and snacks as well. The key is to make sure that everyone has a good time so that your team feels good about the event and your influencers leave with a positive impression of you and your brand to share with the masses.

2020-01-14T18:40:36+00:00January 14th, 2020|


Three Ways to Keep You and Your Business Organized When You Work from Home

By: Rheanna Bernard

Trying to keep yourself organized, especially when you work from home, can be tricky. Distractions come easier with family, kids, or just the house in general being right there. It’s easy to say, “Oh hey, let me just do this cleaning,” or, “Maybe I’ll just take a second to organize this.” On top of distractions, you have the organization factor that is a little different when you operate your business outside of the traditional workspace. Working from home can give you so much freedom, but sometimes you have to work a little harder. Here are three ways you can look at to keep yourself organized and less stressed.

  1. Use a scheduling system.

Finding ways simply your life can help keep you organized. Using a scheduling system like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule out social media posts can allow you to plan out a week or two ahead, saving you time in the long run. Buffer and Hootsuite both offer free options so that you can test out which set up works best for you. Both enable you to post to Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook all in one place. Setting aside a specific day of your month for scheduling can free up your other days to focus on interacting with your followers without worrying about what you’re going to post that day.


2019-09-30T19:03:12+00:00September 30th, 2019|


Three Ways to Stay Creative on Social Media

By: Rheanna Bernard

With everyone posting all the time and social media changing almost daily, it’s hard to feel like you are keeping up with the Joneses. Staying creative when everyone is doing the same thing can make social media frustrating. When thinking of how to stay on top of things, it’s important to take into account your niche, your message, and your individual or company personality. Using those key elements, you can make your own social media unique and CREATIVE.

  1. Publish Instagram Stories. Instagram Stories are the easiest way to show your creativity. Getting out there and showing your face to your followers are the best ways to connect with them. Show who you (and/or your company) really is by talking about your goals, your mission, and your everyday life. Make your Stories eye-catching by utilizing GIFs and stickers. Include hashtags and geotags to draw in a new audience.
  2. Consider using Facebook or Instagram LIVE. Creating videos is a great way to include more creative content on your social media. If you provide a service or sell a product, create a LIVE experience for potential or current customers by showcasing how your product works or a providing a review of your product by an actual user. Another way to get creative with your video is to talk about a subject your clients might also be interested but that might be different than what you are offering. This is a great way to bring in new customers who might not already know about you. One of my favorite examples of this is the company Once a Month Meals. They offer a service of monthly freezer meal recipes and shopping lists to their customers. Several times a month, they put discussions of aspects related to cooking on a budget, cooking for families, and cooking freezer meals on Facebook LIVE. While these videos aren’t directly selling their product, they are offering helpful tips and advice to potential customers while also helping their existing clientele.


2019-06-30T21:09:25+00:00June 30th, 2019|

Five Hacks to Improve Your Social Media Strategy

By: Karen Pinkston

Have you ever felt the pressure for your brand to be on all the popular social media channels? You are not alone. The good news is you don’t have to go down that path. Be strategic, and don’t try to be everywhere. Focus on the networks that are most relevant to your brand, and make your content awesome. Here are five tips to help you get started.

#1 Define your audience.

Take a moment to clearly define whom you’re trying to reach. Think of your ideal candidate or customer. Put yourself in their shoes. What age are they? What interests them? What do they value? Where are they living?

Answering these questions will tell you what social media platforms to target. If you’re trying to reach teens ages 13 to 17, YouTube is the most popular social media channel, with 85% of them using it. Or you might consider Instagram and Snapchat, as about 70% of teens are actively engaging on those platforms, according to the 2018 study “Teens, Social Media, and Technology” completed by the Pew Research Center.

#2 Know what works.

Part of knowing your audience is knowing what resonates with them. A great way to do this is to look at your competitors or at other successful similar campaigns. Analyze which ones had the most engagement and why.

When I was the communications director for a sheriff’s office, we found that humorous recruitment videos had more views and shares than serious ones. That data drove our decision to create a video with a sense of humor. But most of all, figure out the key factor that will set your brand apart. How can you be better than the rest and stand out?


2019-04-16T00:08:03+00:00April 15th, 2019|

Five Things Your Company Needs to Do on Social Media in 2019

By: Jan Wesner Childs

Whether you are just getting started online or already have a robust social media following in place, a new year is the ultimate time to evaluate your strategy. Users want more engagement from brands with a focus on personalization. After all, whom are you more likely to follow or purchase from? Someone you feel a connection to.

Check out these five tricks for getting more personal with your audience.

Connect. Making connections is the whole reason social media exists. Yet many social media managers make the mistake of posting something and then promptly moving on to the next message. Savvy marketers know that personalizing your brand and starting conversations with your followers are the keys to increased engagement. Share user-generated content. Respond to every comment, retweet, and mention. Ideally, you should put as much thought into the message in those replies as you do to each individual post, but even a simple “Thank you!” is better than nothing. Followers want to know you are listening to them and appreciate them.

Create. Post selfies, photos of your employees at work, or behind-the-scenes shots of your company. Better yet, do those things with video, preferably in 30- to 60-second clips. More than 500 million people view videos on Facebook EVERY DAY, according to an article in Forbes magazine, and posting more video should be a top priority for every company. IGTV, YouTube, Twitter, and your company website are all great platforms for video. Remember to keep it engaging and interesting. Try apps like Adobe Spark, Boomerang, and InShot.


2019-02-23T19:17:18+00:00February 23rd, 2019|

How to Create Buzz for Your Event

By: Kylie Hastings

The key to a successful event is to get people talking about it before it even happens. Orchestrating a good buzz for the venue, conference, gala, or whatever type of event you are hosting will increase ticket sales and attendance while also helping you anticipate the success. But where do you start?

Here are five steps for making your event the talk of the town—or the internet:

Put a hashtag on it.

 Social media is your first stop when it comes to getting people to talk about your event. Create an event page on Facebook and LinkedIn, then promote on your own Instagram and Twitter accounts. You will also want to create an event-specific hashtag and include it on any social media promotion, including graphics.

This is where your team will come in handy, too. Assign specific tasks to your marketing team so that a strategy can be implemented. For example, acknowledge any posts or comments that are made in relation to the event. Someone should be responsible for monitoring feedback and questions. The better customer service you display on social media, the more interested those who see it will be in attending your event.


2018-10-25T13:47:06+00:00October 25th, 2018|