Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar

Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar

Actionable Tips for Marketing Webinars

So you’ve arranged a deal with a new client. Now what?

Closing big deals is an important part of running a business. But it’s easier said than done. There are a lot of potential roadblocks that can get in the way. So you need to find ways to speed up the process wherever possible.

An upcoming webinar, sponsored by DocuSign, aims to help you do just that. Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections is scheduled for January 17. You can learn more about the event and how to sign up in the Featured Events Section.

And that’s just one of the upcoming webinars and events that could help your small business grow in 2018. Check out even more opportunities in the list below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up CollectionsMake it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections
January 17, 2018, Online

Would you like to bring revenue in the door faster? Do you want every edge possible to get paid fast? In this webinar, learn how other small businesses are eliminating their pain points in the contract and invoicing process, through use of electronic signature and invoicing apps. You’ll hear the results of exclusive DocuSign research about where other small businesses encounter the biggest challenges, and how to solve them. Today’s tools minimize manual steps and mistakes. Digital automation streamlines activities, tracks status and follows up for you — freeing up staff for other activities. Register today!

And most importantly, these tools get you paid faster, improving your cash flow.

At the end of this webinar, you’ll walk away with concrete tips for how to get contracts signed and invoices paid — much faster. Plus, you get access to DocuSign research and two concise whitepapers with insights and actionable ideas for how to improve YOUR company’s systems. So you get paid faster.

Sponsored by DocuSign.


WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018
January 24, 2018, Online

Customer habits and perceptions are rapidly evolving as new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things go mainstream. New opportunities are opening up – but at the same time businesses of all sizes are under intense pressure to meet changing customer expectations. In this webinar on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET, you will learn five key trends that will drive profitability and growth in 2018, if businesses quickly leverage them and adapt to them, including: The Automation Revolution, Rise of Amazon, Expectations, The Instant Customer Service Trend, The DIY Dichotomy, Always-On Operations. Get ahead of the curve and lead in your marketplace, by understanding how to use these trends for growth and profit. Register today!


LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018
February 27, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.

LEAP HR: Retail 2018 will once again dig deeper into the innovative people leaps helping digital-native and established retailers succeed in a rapidly transforming industry. With new speakers, fresh case studies, and a pre-conference ‘Boot Camp’ day dedicated to what the next-generation retail workforce really looks like, LEAP HR Retail 2018 remains the unique opportunity for senior people leaders in this industry to really challenge and get creative around how we do HR in retail.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo Via Shutterstock

This article, “Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Looking for a legitimate work from home sales job? Go to http://BeFound.marketing/jobs/. BeFound.marketing may be the perfect at home sales job opportunity for you. Watch through the video, comment, like, …

The post Work From Home Sales Jobs Opportunities appeared first on Newline Marketing.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

How Performance Management Can Turn Managers Into Leaders

Performance management is about a whole lot more than inspiring employees to improve and progress. While many articles on performance management focus on how to encourage higher performance among employees, effective performance management can also promote great leadership. In turn, this will have a beneficial impact on employee engagement, morale and retention.

Specifically, performance management can help to transform managers into leaders, which is something we should all want for our organizations. After all, real leaders are inspirational, they’re visionaries, they are willing to take risks, they know how to build relationships, and they’re aware of and willing to work on their weaknesses. Managers, on the other hand, are simply authoritarians who are one of the leading causes of voluntary employee turnover.

Below are just a few ways performance management can create motivational leaders.

1. Improving leadership communication

When an employee gets promoted to a managerial position, we can’t just assume they will have all the skills necessary to effectively communicate with and inspire their team. A carefully thought-out performance management system will have training in place to ensure managers deliver constructive feedback, engage in meaningful performance discussions, and ask the right questions at the right times.

Certain employee performance management tools, such as regular performance discussions, can go a long way in strengthening a manager’s communication skills. Frequent communication means managers become more familiar with their team and better able to detect behavioral changes that could affect performance. This increased trust between employee and manager can turn an average manager into a motivational leader. 

2. Increasing authenticity and transparency 

Is transparency a respected and encouraged quality in your organization? If you require honesty and authenticity from your employees, you need to return the favor and ensure your business is an open book. As Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says, all companies should be concerned with building “open and honest relationships with communication,” as increased transparency eliminates divisions in a company and improves collaboration.

If you’ve always operated under the belief that employees only need to know about issues that directly relate to them, it can be hard to get out of this mindset. However, certain performance management tools and processes can help you turn things around. 

Firstly, during your regular one-on-ones, be sure to give your employees context. Discuss the company’s direction, the struggles it is facing, and how each employee can help in their own way. This will empower your employees and give them the incentive to work harder.

Secondly, frequent performance discussions allow manager and employee to relax around each other and discuss performance issues in a more informal manner. Employees will get a deeper understanding of who their leader is and what they stand for. This will encourage feelings of respect and support, which will inspire an atmosphere of teamwork.

Finally, when creating SMART objectives, rather than using the old-fashioned performance management approach of cascading objectives downward, you should encourage employees to align their goals upward. This means they need to know all about the company’s goals so they can decide what they can do in their role to support these goals and set their own objectives accordingly. This transparency will give employees a greater understanding of their roles in the company.

3. Encouraging feedback

There is no space for fragile egos in business. If an employee feels that improvements can be made in an existing process or in the way a manager interacts with employees, they should feel comfortable giving this feedback. Just as importantly, managers should welcome and embrace this feedback. This is a quality that turns a manager into a leader.

In each performance management discussion, managers should make it a point to ask employees for feedback. This demonstrates to your workforce that their input is valued, and it will also vastly improve your business. The more open managers and employees are on the topic of feedback, the more it will become a part of your company culture. 

4. Fostering humility

One of the hallmarks of leadership is understanding that every member of your team is as valuable as the next – and that includes you. As a leader, you are no more important than the people you lead. With the right processes in place, managers can be encouraged to set aside their own pride while embracing team achievements. Everyone’s contributions matter to the bottom line, which is why employee recognition is so important. Consider setting up a recognition program to make sure employees feel appreciated for their efforts and achievements. 

Encouraging greater autonomy within your performance management system can also have a huge impact on leadership humility. It will demonstrate to managers that there is more than one right way to do things and that their way isn’t necessarily the best approach for everyone.

It can take a long time to develop great leaders, but it all starts with your performance management system. With enough effort, the results can be staggering, and you will be left with fully engaged, ambitious employees who remain loyal to your company for years to come.

 

A Guide to Foreign Business Entities and Their U.S. Tax Classification

For U.S. owners of foreign businesses, the choice of legal entity is an essential part of operating efficiently overseas. Most jurisdictions have a variety of entity options (for example, corporation, partnership, trust, etc.) that can offer business owners the desired combination of legal and economic attributes.

A U.S. owner of a foreign business, whether he or she lives within or outside of the United States, faces the additional challenge of properly applying the U.S. tax rules, both in terms of substance and in terms of compliance, to a non-U.S. entity.

A chief misconception in this regard is that the classification of a foreign business entity for U.S. tax purposes should follow the classification given under the legal or tax rules of the local jurisdiction. While this seems intuitive, and, in fact, does have some relevance in certain areas of U.S. tax law, the general rule is that the U.S. Internal Revenue Code and Treasury Regulations essentially ignore local law and apply a very specific set of rules to determine the entity’s classification for U.S. tax purposes.

The fallout from this discrepancy can be that a foreign company has one classification for foreign legal and tax purposes and a completely different classification for U.S. tax purposes.

The relevance of tax classification

A foreign entity on its own generally should not be impacted by the U.S. tax rules, except mainly in the following two cases:

  1. The foreign entity has U.S. concerns, such as certain U.S. source income or activities within the U.S. that rise to the level of a U.S. trade or business under the U.S. tax rules; or

  2. The foreign entity has a U.S. owner (or member or partner, depending on the type of entity) and such ownership triggers the application of the U.S. tax rules.

If either of these cases is true, then determining the U.S. tax classification of the foreign entity becomes essential in understanding how the U.S. tax rules should apply to the entity and/or its U.S. owners.

Practical ramifications

In more practical terms, the tax classification of the foreign entity can have a number of important ramifications, including, for example:

  1. The rate of taxation (which may be higher or lower depending on the company’s classification);

  2. The timing of taxation (a company, for example, treated as a partnership will see its income flow-through currently to its partners);

  3. The application of tax deferral regimes, such as controlled foreign corporation and a passive foreign investment company regimes (which can impose harsh rules in the case of foreign entities classified as corporation for U.S. tax purposes); and

  4. The extent and breadth of compliance or reporting obligations (additional forms may need to be filed with the IRS or the Treasury Department depending upon the foreign entity’s classification for U.S. tax purposes).

The tax ramifications of a foreign entity’s classification can be particularly tricky when, as described above, the entity has one classification for U.S. tax purposes and another for local foreign tax purposes. In the case of such a so-called “hybrid” entity, the U.S. and foreign tax rules need to be carefully navigated to prevent double taxation or other potentially tax adverse outcomes.

Starting point for tax classification

While the U.S. tax classification rules are best applied on a case-by-case basis, there are some general concepts that permeate throughout the more specific regulatory provisions. In order to determine a foreign entity’s foreign classification, one can follow this three-step process:

First, and most fundamentally, if your business venture involves a co-party, it should be determined whether or not the arrangement between you and the co-party rises to the level of a foreign “entity” (as opposed to just a contractual or co-ownership arrangement).

Second, assuming “entity” status, you should consider whether the foreign entity should be treated as a trust for tax purposes as opposed to a business entity. In very general terms, Treasury Regulation Section 301.7701-4 describes a trust as an entity the purpose of which generally is to vest in trustees the responsibility for the protection and conservation of property for beneficiaries.

Third, assuming “business entity” status, a final set of technical rules are employed to determine whether such entity has the status of a: (i) corporation, (ii) partnership, or (iii) a disregarded entity. While a corporation is generally subject to an additional layer of taxation (i.e., taxation at the entity and shareholder levels), the income of a partnership and disregarded entity generally “passes” or “flows” through currently to its partners or members for tax purposes (i.e., taxation only at the partner or member level).

The classification rules in a nutshell

The U.S. Treasury regulations contain a set of default classification rules for foreign business entities under Treasury Regulation Section 301.7701-3. A foreign business entity is classified as an association/corporation if all of its members have limited liability, and it is classified as a partnership if it has two or more members and at least one member does not have limited liability. If the foreign business entity has a single owner and that owner does not have limited liability with respect to the entity, then the entity is classified as a disregarded entity for U.S. tax purposes.

Under the classification regulations, a so-called “eligible entity” is allowed to elect its tax classification. This election, which is often referred to as “check the box” election (by virtue of checking the box next to the desired classification on the election Form 8832), cannot take effect more than 75 days before the date the election is filed with the IRS, nor can it take effect later than 12 months after the date of the filing. Non-eligible entities are those listed in the regulations that cannot elect out of corporation status.

The ability to choose the tax classification of a foreign business entity offers owners quite a bit of flexibility in terms of structuring foreign business operations in a tax efficient manner. It’s important to note, however, that if an election effective date is after the foreign entity’s incorporation or creation date, adverse U.S. tax implications may arise. In such case, a tax advisor should be consulted to understand the full tax ramifications of the election both currently and moving forward.

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How to Use Surveys and Interviews to Generate More Money for Your Business

Businesses are at the mercy of their customers.

The customer determines whether a company thrives, survives, or fails.

That’s why you’re spending so much time, effort, and money on various marketing campaigns.

Targeting new customers.

Trying to retain existing customers.

Figuring out how to squeeze some additional profits from your best customers.

It may be exhausting, but it’s absolutely necessary.

All of these efforts can be summarized with two questions:

  1. What does the customer want and need?
  2. How can I provide them with those wants and needs?

That’s what it all comes down to.

What’s the most inexpensive and reliable way to get inside the minds of your customers?

Just ask them.

That’s right.

Asking your customers for feedback directly can allow you to make the necessary adjustments to accommodate their requests.

As a result, you can make more money.

Surveys and interviews are the best tools to help you get accurate comments, concerns, praise, or criticism.

Plus, it shows your customers you care about their opinions.

image7 10

When customers don’t think you care about them, they’ll stop buying your products and services.

Based on the study above, we can see it’s by far the number one reason on that list.

Surveys and interviews are a great way to kill two birds with one stone.

You get valuable information that can make you more money, and it reinforces the message that you care about your customers.

It’s a win-win scenario, and everyone’s happy.

If you’ve never created a customer survey or conducted an interview with one of your clients, don’t be intimidated.

Believe it or not, it’s actually pretty simple.

I’ll tell you exactly what you need to know to get started.

How to create a customer survey

Before we go any further, let’s start with the basics.

You can’t distribute a survey until you create one first.

Once the survey gets built, you can distribute it on all of your marketing channels and communication networks.

But we’ll get to that soon.

For now, I’ll show you the best way to make a survey on a platform that is free and easy to use.

Building a survey with SurveyMonkey

SurveyMonkey is one of the most popular platforms to create a survey on the Internet.

The fact that they have a free option makes it easy to try it.

Step #1: Create a new survey

image1 10

The first thing you need to do is create an account.

It’s quick, and you can even sign in with your Facebook or Google profile to make it even easier.

After that, navigate to the “My Surveys” tab at the top of the screen.

Just type in the name of your survey, and click “Create Survey” to continue.

Step #2: Choose a template

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SurveyMonkey lets you build a template from scratch.

You can do it, but I think it’s way easier to just go with one of their existing templates.

In fact, it’s one of the reasons why their platform is my favorite choice.

For our purposes, we’ll navigate to the “Customer Feedback” templates.

I’ve selected the “Customer Satisfaction Survey Template” because it will work well for us.

Feel free to browse the other options to see which one fits best with the kind of information you’re trying to gather.

For example, if you’re looking for feedback about your website, there’s a separate template for that.

Step #3: Add questions

image4 10

Each template will come preset with a bunch of questions based on the category.

But you can change the order, modify the questions, or create custom ones by using the question bank.

Your questions should be simple and easy to understand.

The questions should also be related to one another.

Find out exactly what kind of results you want to get from this survey.

I’ll discuss that in greater detail shortly.

Step #4: Distribute the survey to your customers

image6 10

Now that the survey is created, you need to get it to your customers.

This is another reason why SurveyMonkey is a great option.

You have many different methods of distribution.

Sure, you can build a survey on Facebook and share it with your friends.

Or use your email marketing software to create a survey and send it to your subscribers.

But why do that when you can build one here, and it’s compatible with all your platforms?

This will save you a ton of time and make it way easier to analyze the results.

Step #5: Analyze the results

It’s not quite time to make any drastic changes to your business yet.

For now, you need to get organized.

Wait until you think there are enough responses before you do this.

Don’t try to figure out what your customers want if it’s been only 12 hours since you created the survey.

Give it some time.

While your company is obviously a top priority for you, taking this survey won’t be at the top of everyone’s to-do lists.

Give your customers an incentive to provide feedback

As I was just saying, this won’t be a priority for all your customers.

Can you blame them?

Sure, responding to a survey or interview may ultimately improve their experience, but not everyone will see it that way.

Some customers will see it as a demand on their valuable time that could be spent doing something else.

Sometimes, a little motivation can get them to respond.

Take a look at how Jack Spade does this with a survey distributed to their email subscribers:

image8 10

Getting a 20% discount for taking a survey is definitely more appealing to a customer than a solo plea “Please take our survey.”

Do you notice anything else about this pitch that’s appealing?

Quick.

As I said before, your customers don’t want to waste their time.

Acknowledge their time as valuable, and make sure the incentive is worth their trouble.

For example, offering a 10% discount for an interview that’s going to last hours and involve the customer testing out new products isn’t something you can reasonably ask.

On the other hand, giving out $100 gift cards for a quick survey that will take only two minutes to finish doesn’t make much sense either.

The key is finding that middle ground.

I’d say offer a minimum of a 20% discount for any survey the customer can take online in less than five minutes.

For in-depth interviews that happen in person or over the phone, offer an incentive that’s more valuable, like free products or gift cards.

It’s worth it to you to give stuff away to get more survey results.

Ensuring you get as many responses as possible will give you the most accurate results.

If only 20 people fill out your survey, they can’t speak for your entire customer base.

Set an objective, and stick to it

Let’s re-visit the point I was starting to make earlier when discussing the questions on your survey.

Your questions should be related to one another as well as your goal.

What is your survey or interview trying to accomplish?

Here’s an example from Barkbox:

image9 9

This survey is super specific.

It was only sent to customers who ordered the October box.

All the questions will be worded accordingly.

But what’s the objective?

Let’s say they want to improve the overall quality of future delivery items.

The questions would focus on which products the customer would like to see again and which products they could live without.

Another objective could be about ways to generate more money. The questions could be then about the order frequency.

Is the customer happy with getting a box delivered once per month?

Maybe they would prefer getting weekly deliveries.

Each box would have fewer items and cost less, but the company would make more money over time.

Or they could deliver boxes every three months for even more money and cut down on shipping costs.

Either way, the questions would still center around the specific objective.

If it’s a simple survey, you may not even need to send an external link to the customer.

You can embed the survey directly in the interactive email, just like Expedia does with this one-question survey:

image3 10

The primary objective for a goal like this could be PR.

They want to be able to say “X” number of customers or “X” percent of people had a good flight.

But at the same time, they’re still letting the customer know they value their feedback.

Establish a comfortable rapport with customers during an interview

Interviews can be tricky.

While surveys are often cut and dry with multiple choice responses or something of similar nature, interviews are typically in-depth.

It’s best to use interviews when you want to get a response that’s more thorough and open-ended.

A simple “satisfied” or “unsatisfied” survey response won’t do the trick here.

I recommend interviews for companies who have brick and mortar storefronts.

That way, you can see the customer in person.

It also increases the chances that the customer will be open to the interview.

In fact, a recent study by the Harvard Business Review suggests face-to-face inquiries are 34 times more likely to get a response than email questionnaires.

When a customer is in your store, politely ask them if they have five or ten minutes to get interviewed.

You want the customer to feel as comfortable as possible during the interview.

That way you’ll get accurate answers.

One of the main problems with face-to-face interviews is that you may need to take some of the responses with a grain of salt.

I’m referring to the psychological tendency that’s referred to as the social desirability bias.

image2 10

Here’s what I mean.

The customer you’re interviewing may not be thrilled about every single aspect of your business.

But they’re happy enough to continue shopping at your store.

When you ask them questions about their satisfaction, their response may not be 100% truthful.

They are more likely to tell you what you want to hear as opposed to how they really feel.

This customer knows they are going to keep seeing you, and they don’t want to make things awkward by saying they think a certain product is bad.

Instead, they could avoid confrontation and just focus on the aspects they’re happy with.

This is no good.

You need the interviewee to feel comfortable enough to tell you how they really feel.

That’s the only way you’ll be able to make the right improvements.

Let them know as soon as the interview starts that you value their opinion and want to hear criticism.

You won’t be offended or upset if you hear something negative.

If you can’t establish this rapport with your customers, the interview results may be skewed.

Conclusion

If you want to generate more money for your business, you need to figure out what the customers want.

How do you find that out?

It’s easy.

Just ask them.

Use tools like surveys and interviews to get constructive feedback from your customers.

You can find out what you’re doing well and what you need to improve.

Conducting surveys and interviews regularly will show your customers you care about them, increasing their loyalty to your brand.

To get as many responses as possible, offer your customers an incentive for taking the time out of their day to complete a survey.

Each survey and interview should focus on one particular objective centered around a specific goal for your company.

Any time you’re interviewing a customer in person, make them feel as comfortable as possible.

This will help you get the most accurate responses.

Combining these tactics will generate more money for your company.

Does your business prefer to use surveys or interviews to get valuable feedback from your customers?

Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]

Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar

Actionable Tips for Marketing Webinars

So you’ve arranged a deal with a new client. Now what?

Closing big deals is an important part of running a business. But it’s easier said than done. There are a lot of potential roadblocks that can get in the way. So you need to find ways to speed up the process wherever possible.

An upcoming webinar, sponsored by DocuSign, aims to help you do just that. Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections is scheduled for January 17. You can learn more about the event and how to sign up in the Featured Events Section.

And that’s just one of the upcoming webinars and events that could help your small business grow in 2018. Check out even more opportunities in the list below.

To see a full list or to submit your own event, contest or award listing, visit the Small Business Events Calendar.



Featured Events, Contests and Awards

Make it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up CollectionsMake it Rain Money: How to Close Deals Faster and Speed Up Collections
January 17, 2018, Online

Would you like to bring revenue in the door faster? Do you want every edge possible to get paid fast? In this webinar, learn how other small businesses are eliminating their pain points in the contract and invoicing process, through use of electronic signature and invoicing apps. You’ll hear the results of exclusive DocuSign research about where other small businesses encounter the biggest challenges, and how to solve them. Today’s tools minimize manual steps and mistakes. Digital automation streamlines activities, tracks status and follows up for you — freeing up staff for other activities. Register today!

And most importantly, these tools get you paid faster, improving your cash flow.

At the end of this webinar, you’ll walk away with concrete tips for how to get contracts signed and invoices paid — much faster. Plus, you get access to DocuSign research and two concise whitepapers with insights and actionable ideas for how to improve YOUR company’s systems. So you get paid faster.

Sponsored by DocuSign.


WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018WEBINAR: 5 Trends that Will Drive Your Profitability and Growth in 2018
January 24, 2018, Online

Customer habits and perceptions are rapidly evolving as new technologies such as artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things go mainstream. New opportunities are opening up – but at the same time businesses of all sizes are under intense pressure to meet changing customer expectations. In this webinar on Wednesday, January 24, 2018 at 2:00 pm ET, you will learn five key trends that will drive profitability and growth in 2018, if businesses quickly leverage them and adapt to them, including: The Automation Revolution, Rise of Amazon, Expectations, The Instant Customer Service Trend, The DIY Dichotomy, Always-On Operations. Get ahead of the curve and lead in your marketplace, by understanding how to use these trends for growth and profit. Register today!


LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018LEAP HR: Retail Conference, Nashville 2018
February 27, 2018, Nashville, Tenn.

LEAP HR: Retail 2018 will once again dig deeper into the innovative people leaps helping digital-native and established retailers succeed in a rapidly transforming industry. With new speakers, fresh case studies, and a pre-conference ‘Boot Camp’ day dedicated to what the next-generation retail workforce really looks like, LEAP HR Retail 2018 remains the unique opportunity for senior people leaders in this industry to really challenge and get creative around how we do HR in retail.


More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends and SmallBizTechnology.

Photo Via Shutterstock

This article, “Learn How to Close Deals Faster at This Upcoming Webinar” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Sean Astin says if his mother, Patty Duke, have been nonetheless alive as we speak … she’d be marching on Capitol Hill to demand solutions why her identify was fraudulently …

The post Sean Astin Responds to FCC's Fake Comments by His Mother, Patty Duke, Against Net Neutrality appeared first on Newline Marketing.

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fHOQ6mho2io&w=640&h=360]

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Did You Give Up?? 😐😐

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QJPTX8rAVps&w=640&h=360]

How to Start a Blog for Your Business That Actually Makes Money

So you’ve decided that starting a blog is the best way to market your business moving forward. When we first started HighSpark and our blog on presenting and design, we quickly realized that it was not as easy as most make it seem. Over a few years, we’ve managed to grow our email list to about 11,000 people by being deliberate with how we run our blog.

If you’re new to the publishing space and want to get started on the right foot, here are some easy steps to ensure you build your blog properly from the beginning.

1. Identify why you’re starting the blog.

The ‘why’ I’m referring to here is tied more closely to your business goals. If you’re looking to get immediate sales through a blog from the get-go, look elsewhere. Blogging and content marketing, in general, is a long-term commitment. It can be powerful, but only if you commit to it consistently.

Be clear on which of these you’re starting a blog to do:

a) Build credibility as a subject matter expert

b) Engage with your audience to drive traffic

c) Boost your search profile on engines like Google

d) Garner sales for your company

e) Monetize viewership from ads or sponsors

f) Build a list

g) All of the above

What you decide on will affect the content you put out and how you decide to run it. For B2B companies, their blog typically sits at the top of their marketing funnel to drive qualified traffic to their website and build credibility for their company and offerings. It’s hardly ever a ‘build a blog and make money’ scenario.

Writing a blog without an intentional bottom line can be disastrous in the long term because of the time invested without a return. In our case, our blog is an avenue to build expert authority for our brand, collect information of prospects and boost our search profile on Google. We have managed the content we publish as such.

2. Select your niche.

Before you even register your domain name or host your blog, it’s critical to know exactly who you’re serving. Typically, your niche will be tied closely to your business and expertise. For our company, we write mainly to executives who want to develop better presentations in a different way. This profile has shaped the kind of content we create and how we reach out to our clients.

The type of audience you want and what you’d like them to do will affect the language you use, and these metrics help you as the webmaster to craft content that resonates with them.

An easy way to do this for your blog is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the hopes and dreams of my readers?

  • How can I help them achieve those dreams with content?

  • Does the content I put out help to build my blog’s brand as trustworthy to these readers?

  • What is the follow-up action I’d like them to take after reading my blog?

3. Decide on your domain name and hosting provider.

Selecting a domain name

Getting bogged down by this decision is the worst, but it’s not something to take lightly. Here are some tips:

  • Try to have a short domain name. Shorter URLs are easier to remember and type.

  • Use words that are easy to spell. This makes sharing your posts much easier.

  • Choose a name that implies the niche of your blog. This way, your readers can immediately guess what your blog is about, even if they’ve never heard of it before.

  • Don’t box yourself too much into one niche. If your domain name is too specific, this can stop you from expanding your niche later on.

Selecting a host

If you’re just starting out, there is no hard-and-fast rule or recommendation for picking a web host. Generally, there are some affordable options that work great for new blog owners, and more specialized and optimized options for blogs with more traffic.

Here are some key things to note:

  • If you intend to host your website on the WordPress CMS, ensure that your web host has a cPanel dashboard that lets you install WordPress in a single click.

  • Test the host’s support staff to ensure you can get help when you need it. There will be instances when you need technical help, so try speaking to the support staff to gauge responsiveness and competency before signing up.

  • Hosting that is cheap upfront tends to have more expensive renewal rates, so ensure that you keep tabs on how much you’re paying.

  • Try to get web hosts that also provide a free domain upfront when you first sign up so that you can save some money.

5. Set up a theme for your website.

WordPress offers thousands of free theme options by default that allow you to customize the visual design of your blog. For our website, we use the Divi theme from Elegant Themes – a drag-and-drop builder that allows non-programmers like us to make design changes really easily.

Starting a blog can potentially boost your business by helping you reach out to more potential customers and build authority. Don’t let the inertia of starting stop you – it’s a lot easier to get started than you think. Good luck!

 

How to Start a Blog for Your Business That Actually Makes Money

So you’ve decided that starting a blog is the best way to market your business moving forward. When we first started HighSpark and our blog on presenting and design, we quickly realized that it was not as easy as most make it seem. Over a few years, we’ve managed to grow our email list to about 11,000 people by being deliberate with how we run our blog.

If you’re new to the publishing space and want to get started on the right foot, here are some easy steps to ensure you build your blog properly from the beginning.

1. Identify why you’re starting the blog.

The ‘why’ I’m referring to here is tied more closely to your business goals. If you’re looking to get immediate sales through a blog from the get-go, look elsewhere. Blogging and content marketing, in general, is a long-term commitment. It can be powerful, but only if you commit to it consistently.

Be clear on which of these you’re starting a blog to do:

a) Build credibility as a subject matter expert

b) Engage with your audience to drive traffic

c) Boost your search profile on engines like Google

d) Garner sales for your company

e) Monetize viewership from ads or sponsors

f) Build a list

g) All of the above

What you decide on will affect the content you put out and how you decide to run it. For B2B companies, their blog typically sits at the top of their marketing funnel to drive qualified traffic to their website and build credibility for their company and offerings. It’s hardly ever a ‘build a blog and make money’ scenario.

Writing a blog without an intentional bottom line can be disastrous in the long term because of the time invested without a return. In our case, our blog is an avenue to build expert authority for our brand, collect information of prospects and boost our search profile on Google. We have managed the content we publish as such.

2. Select your niche.

Before you even register your domain name or host your blog, it’s critical to know exactly who you’re serving. Typically, your niche will be tied closely to your business and expertise. For our company, we write mainly to executives who want to develop better presentations in a different way. This profile has shaped the kind of content we create and how we reach out to our clients.

The type of audience you want and what you’d like them to do will affect the language you use, and these metrics help you as the webmaster to craft content that resonates with them.

An easy way to do this for your blog is to ask yourself these questions:

  • What are the hopes and dreams of my readers?

  • How can I help them achieve those dreams with content?

  • Does the content I put out help to build my blog’s brand as trustworthy to these readers?

  • What is the follow-up action I’d like them to take after reading my blog?

3. Decide on your domain name and hosting provider.

Selecting a domain name

Getting bogged down by this decision is the worst, but it’s not something to take lightly. Here are some tips:

  • Try to have a short domain name. Shorter URLs are easier to remember and type.

  • Use words that are easy to spell. This makes sharing your posts much easier.

  • Choose a name that implies the niche of your blog. This way, your readers can immediately guess what your blog is about, even if they’ve never heard of it before.

  • Don’t box yourself too much into one niche. If your domain name is too specific, this can stop you from expanding your niche later on.

Selecting a host

If you’re just starting out, there is no hard-and-fast rule or recommendation for picking a web host. Generally, there are some affordable options that work great for new blog owners, and more specialized and optimized options for blogs with more traffic.

Here are some key things to note:

  • If you intend to host your website on the WordPress CMS, ensure that your web host has a cPanel dashboard that lets you install WordPress in a single click.

  • Test the host’s support staff to ensure you can get help when you need it. There will be instances when you need technical help, so try speaking to the support staff to gauge responsiveness and competency before signing up.

  • Hosting that is cheap upfront tends to have more expensive renewal rates, so ensure that you keep tabs on how much you’re paying.

  • Try to get web hosts that also provide a free domain upfront when you first sign up so that you can save some money.

5. Set up a theme for your website.

WordPress offers thousands of free theme options by default that allow you to customize the visual design of your blog. For our website, we use the Divi theme from Elegant Themes – a drag-and-drop builder that allows non-programmers like us to make design changes really easily.

Starting a blog can potentially boost your business by helping you reach out to more potential customers and build authority. Don’t let the inertia of starting stop you – it’s a lot easier to get started than you think. Good luck!

 

Marcus Lemonis: The Profit Isn’t About Small Business, It’s About How People Are Transformed By Opportunity

One of the highlights of last week’s Xerocon event, put on by cloud accounting platform Xero, was meeting Marcus Lemonis – businessman, investor and star of CNBC’s The Profit. And before he took the stage for his conference ending keynote, I had the pleasure of sitting down with him for a great conversation. Marcus shares how the impetus for the show was more social experiment than small business, how vulnerability is key to business success and fixing people, and how he won’t do business with someone, even as a customer, unless he knows that they understand their business.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. To hear the full interview click on the video or embedded SoundCloud player below.

* * * * *

Brent Leary talks with the star of The Profit on CNBC, Marcus Lemonis, on how vulnerability is key to business success and making the most of opportunity.Small Business Trends: I know there’s probably a lot of people out there who already know who you are, but maybe we can get just an overview of your personal background.

Marcus Lemonis: Well, just kind of going with that question or that comment alone, I always tell people in business that even if you think that people know who you are, it’s always good to introduce yourself again. Because there’s new players and so if you think about yourself as a business owner, you want to always be reintroducing yourself to somebody that may have forgotten, that may have been mad at you.

So I’m Marcus Lemonis and I am a … I don’t even know how I would describe myself. I would say I’m just a normal guy like everybody else that decided that small business was the most important thing in my life. And when we’re all growing up, our mothers will ask us, “What are you going to make of yourself? What are you going to do with yourself?” And I struggled for years to answer that question. And as I got a little bit older and I started to understand who I was, I realized that my purpose in life was to stick up for the little guy, and that was sort of me when I was younger.

I spend really the bulk of my time investing in small business. It is my hobby, it is my passion, it is the thing I love to do more than anything else. Yeah.

Small Business Trends: When did you decide that you wanted to go into the small business and help them out?

Marcus Lemonis: You know what? It really came right outside of the 2008, 2009 market collapse. We were all watching the news and it was … Fortune 100 companies and their stock is down, and the banks are closing. And I felt the news was very one-sided as it related to big business. And then nobody was talking about mainstream, and nobody was talking about small town businesses. And over 90% of this country is involved in small business, one way or the other, and I didn’t think anybody was talking about it. And I think it was in that moment where I said, “Somebody’s got to actually be a champion for this in a different way.”

The secret behind what I do today, and it’s something that I don’t talk about a lot, is that the reason I decided to do the show was one giant social experiment. It really isn’t about small business, it is about people and how business can transform, good or bad, people. And the social experiment … And I said when I got to 100 episodes I would talk about it a little more, I’m at 78. The social experiment really is how do people deal with opportunity. And how do they deal with their past and how does opportunity and their past sort of intersect.

You go into businesses today and they’ll all tell you, “I can’t get a loan and I can’t do this, and I can’t do that.” And it’s a little bit of … I don’t want to call it a sob story but I’ll call it a excuse. Right? And I buy off on these excuses because I make them the same way. And so what I wanted to do is really understand how people function. And if you’ve ever seen the show “The Profit”, it really is about people more than it’s about business.

Small Business Trends: Some of the really interesting episodes always have the family dynamic. So when you have business … It’s tough enough when you try to go into business, stay in a business, but how does the family dynamic play a role in the success? And how difficult is it to get the family dynamic back on track once it’s kind of gotten off track?

Marcus Lemonis: I’ve long told people that the reason that small businesses are largely family businesses, because there’s this weird kind of combination, is that when you and I or anybody else starts a small business, we don’t have any money. We can’t hire any employees so we’re asking our mom, our dad, our aunt, our uncle, our sister, our kids, “Hey. I need you to pitch in. You handle marketing. Your handle the inventory.” And by definition, it sort of becomes a family business, even if it’s a part-time job for most of the people that work there. And I think what ends up happening is … Families are interesting because whether anybody wants to admit it or not, there is still a pecking order in a family. Right? At least in my family, my mom’s in charge, there’s no question about it. There’s not any confusion about it-

Small Business Trends: Not up for debate or anything.

Marcus Lemonis: … But then you start getting brother-in-laws, sister-in-laws, kids, son, and you have your life on the line on this business and not everybody’s necessarily performing. It’s very difficult to tell your son, your daughter or your wife, or your husband, “Hey. I think you need to go.”

Small Business Trends: But that’s the job that you kind of help them do.

Marcus Lemonis: That’s why I think people call me. I was laughing the other day, I said, “Do people call me because they want me to do the dirty work?” It’s like, “I really want my wife to be fired but I don’t want to do it, so you do it.” It’s like, “No. I’m not doing it.”

Small Business Trends: Well think about the joy of having them succeed after all the things they go through? How does that make you feel? I know it’s got to make them feel good, but how does it help make you feel?

Marcus Lemonis: Success for me in my journey is really about people’s personal transformation. And if they have personal transformation, the business usually will succeed. Most people, when they watch a television show about business investing, it’s like, “Okay. How much did you invest? How much money did we make? What was the return? What are the percentages?” And yeah, there’s a moment where that’s relevant, but the real moment is how do you take somebody who doesn’t have confidence in themselves, who doesn’t have a process in place, who doesn’t clearly see where they want to go but they have good ideas and get them to just discover themselves. In more cases than not, I’m not telling people what to do, I’m telling them how I want them to think differently. And then what they do with that is up to them, but it’s satisfying for me.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=L9pz-W6rkOE?rel=0]

Small Business Trends: Are you surprised when you … They know your track record, they know you have this level of success. When you suggest things and recommend things and then they kind of fight you?

Marcus Lemonis: I’m not surprised and I’ll tell you why. If any of us had some guy come into their business after we’ve been in business for 15 years and tell us how wrong we were, that we’re doing something wrong, we wouldn’t be that crazy about it either, right? And so it’s very easy for all of us to sit and watch people who have taken a huge risk by making themselves vulnerable, putting themselves on television, having the error of their ways or the error of their character be exposed. And that’s why I’m usually a lot nicer about it, at least early on. Because I think to myself, if that was me I wouldn’t want somebody telling me how dumb I was.

And it’s funny because I love to compare our show to other shows where people invest in small businesses, and point out that you don’t have to tell somebody how dumb they are to get the point across. You don’t have to tell somebody that it’s the stupidest idea you’ve ever seen. You’re better off telling people, “Okay. Why did you have this idea? And why’d you think it was going to work? Ma’am I just have to tell you they’re not going to work. But I understand. But tell me why you did it?” And you’ve got to get inside their head to understand what their logic was. “Well, I really like music.” Okay, let’s keep going. And so for me, I think the key is how do you get people to actually think differently. That’s the key for me.

Small Business Trends: Let’s talk a little bit about technology and businesses, particularly small business. We’re at a small business technology conference. Do you see small businesses leveraging technology as well as they can?

Marcus Lemonis: I think that … I’ll include myself in this answer. I think that technology is an intimidating thing, and I think that in order for companies to be successful in selling their technology, they have to make the user friendliness of it and the humanity of it seem real.

We just had a brief conversation about this [Mevo] camera. I’m fascinated by it, I’m intimidated by it. I think when you’re talking about systems, and process, and technology, and accounting, you have to really make it seem simpler than it is. And more importantly, more affordable. So most small businesses do not venture into technology because they think I either A, can’t afford the initial investment or B, I can’t afford the recurring investment. And I think as entrepreneurs, all of us included, we have to make the technology, and the process of accounting, and systems seem manageable and affordable. And I think that’s why conferences like this do that is they’re trying to communicate to people that isn’t have to be … It isn’t all Dell, it isn’t all Oracle and it isn’t all Salesforce, which all usually equate to big capital expenditures, big monthly fees. There are systems and solutions for small businesses and if they want to become a big business, they better get after it.

Small Business Trends: You’re about to go on stage and speak to hundreds of small business advisors, accounting advisors, what do you plan to tell these folks?

Marcus Lemonis: Well I think the biggest advice that I would give small business advisors and accounting advisors is understand their audience, and get to know their clients better, and understand why their clients do what they do, and build a relationship with them. And we’ll talk about it during my presentation, but vulnerability for me is the absolute Holy Grail, key to fixing people. And if you’re selling a product or service and you’re really just selling the product or service, then I think your penetration success is going to be low. But if we can connect on a human level about our lives, about our hardships, about things that have happened to us … Just about anything.

What you’re essentially building is you’re building trust. And then once you build that trust, you’re saying, “Look man. I’m sorry to have to tell you this but you kind of don’t know your numbers, and there’s no system in place, and you have no strategy. And I really want you to be successful and I’m in this weird spot because we have a relationship and I have this product. So you tell me how you want this relationship to go. If you want me to just be your friend and that’s it, I’m open to that. If you want me to try to help you improve your business as your friend, I’m open to that as well.” And I think that that vulnerability, and that full disclosure, and that transparency would make me open up.

If you said to me, “I can help make your businesses better.” I’d be like, “All right. I don’t know everything.”

I think the last piece of advice that I would give people is small business owners don’t want to feel like they’re dumb, and they don’t want to feel insecure, and they don’t want to feel like they’ve made a bunch of mistakes. And so you have to go on this journey with them where they understand that every decision they made had a plus and a minus, and we’re going to celebrate the pluses and we’re going to learn from the minuses, and we’re not going to point out your frailties. If you can get on the level with them, then it changes. If you go in there like, “You don’t know what you’re doing. You don’t have this right and you don’t have that right.” It’s like, “Look. I don’t need to know that I’m in trouble, I knew I was in trouble before you came.” And so that’s I think the key. And that’s what I would tell anybody.

Small Business Trends: So what big companies that are doing things successfully in your mind are companies that small businesses should really look at, emulate and take lessons from?

Marcus Lemonis: Rather than picking a specific business, I’ll pick companies that understand two fundamental things. One, the importance of customer data, and how to accumulate it, and how to mine it, and how to use it, and how to understand it to improve your ROI on marketing, to improve the retention of those customers. But before any of that happens, you have to understand your business.

So many businesses fail to put their numbers, and their cash flow, and their balance sheet into systems where they truly have this dashboard. For me, financial statements are a necessary evil. You don’t go to the doctor without all sorts of information, and your doctor doesn’t give you a diagnosis without running a bunch of tests. And he doesn’t’ give you a new diet or a new regiment without having all the information. And I apply that to business. You can’t understand where to go in your business, who to hire, who to fire, what to do, how to change things, what to improve, how to change your prices, what products to drop, what products to launch. You don’t understand any of that if you don’t have the footprint of what your business is live. And so, I know people hate accounting, I really do. I know they hate it, but then you shouldn’t be in business. It really is one of those things where you’re just like, “I don’t like broccoli, but my mummy is making me eat it.” It’ll make you smarter. And if you own your company 100%, you’re obligated to yourself. If you have other investors, it’s a mandate. I won’t do business with people, not even as a customer. If I have a big retail business and there’s small businesses that sell products. Unless I know that they understand their business and they have the accounting systems in place. Because if I start doing business with you and I buy your product and I put it on my shelves, and then all of a sudden, you don’t have your act together and you go out of business, I’m in trouble.

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This article, “Marcus Lemonis: The Profit Isn’t About Small Business, It’s About How People Are Transformed By Opportunity” was first published on Small Business Trends

5 Overlooked Real Estate Marketing Techniques in 2017

Is your real estate marketing delivering results? Have you revised your marketing plan to keep pace with the rapidly changing face of the real estate industry? Perhaps you’re using the tried, tested and trusted approach to engage prospective homeowners, but still not getting the success you hoped for. Ever wonder why?

Simply put, even if you’re on the right track, you can’t just rely on the same old tricks anymore. Chances are you’re failing to implement the latest techniques and wondering what really works right now.

Given the incredible amount of competition in today’s real estate marketing world, only those willing to improvise, follow the latest trends and think out of the box succeed.

Plenty of current marketing techniques are simply useless. The faster you understand this, the more chances you’ll stand to thrive beyond your wildest dreams. If you simply hate wasting money and time experimenting with different campaigns and combinations of modern marketing techniques with little success, following certain lesser-known but proven marketing techniques seems to be the only way to make it in the real estate industry.

Real estate marketing is neither a rocket science nor a novelty. However, the following marketing techniques are known for being overlooked by even the smartest of marketers.

1. Real estate microtargeting

Today’s marketers rely heavily on microtargeting techniques to effectively handpick potential customers. For instance, you can target certain behavioral patterns through online classified ads, such as the individuals who’ve recently searched for property on sale in a specific location or used a mortgage calculator. 

That’s where microtargeting comes into play, as advertisers can then target a specific list of people: customers, former customers, friends and relatives, neighbors, and more. You can microtarget almost anyone if you’ve got the right contact details.

Here’s how you can put microtargeting to use for your real estate marketing vision:

  • Sponsor local shows and events.
  • Take advantage of press releases and other PR tools.
  • Invite follow-ups from your contacts.
  • Make the most of your referral network.
  • Remember vendor targeting holds the aces.

2. Architectural photos

While spending on a professional photographer might not seem like the right measure when it comes to low-cost listings, getting assistance from a professional architectural photographer actually can bring you plenty of benefits.  

First, your listing sketches or pictures are meant to induce what we call the first impression. An architectural photographer can easily make smaller spaces appear bigger and capture the house in a way that shows its most favorable (USP) features.

No matter how trends are changing, a picture will always paint a thousand words. By using high-definition stills of the property, you are certain to cast a spell on your potential customers. Prospects also tend to do a heavy load of comparisons. Professional, high-quality pictures will make a win-loss difference when compared to what other realtors have to offer.

Comprehensive research carried out by Point2 Homes to see how online prospects search for listings across websites syndicated or hosted by Point2 revealed that, to achieve the most favorable outcomes from your digital marketing efforts, you must post at least 20 pictures.

Not many real estate agents take the time or money to make this happen, so to reap the most from your marketing efforts, consider showing the best face of what you have.

3. Automation marketing

Shouting your message far and wide won’t necessarily bring you online success. Rather than that, outstanding results will come to life when you complement your strategic and smart decision-making with the right automation tools.  

For example, you can use an IDX landing-page builder for creating squeeze pages to capture leads through Facebook ads. Also, a drip automated messaging system can facilitate behavioral automation for sending emails, initiating phone calls and setting up different tasks in relation to lead behavior.

4. Know what works and what doesn’t

Placing a consistent and ingenious marketing campaign for all the listings is a failsafe way for a real estate marketer to generate new listings, along with advertising and selling the property they have been hired to sell. 

According to a recent economic review of real estate trends in Montreal, which includes the latest Q3 report released by the Quebec Federation of Real Estate Boards, there’s a significant surge in transactions at the real estate’s higher end: a hike of over 30 percent for properties pegged at over $500,000 and a 40 percent surge in properties worth over $700,000.

Marketing each property with the same insightfulness, regardless of its cost, is an essential part of the modern real estate marketing world. It also has more than one benefit:

  • It will inspire other agents to showcase the property to their customers.
  • It will engage more customers to your property.
  • The quality of advertising and marketing showcased will inspire potential customers to hire a realtor.

Knowing what works always comes handy. At the same time, you must be careful and identify practices that tend to fail in today’s real estate market.

What works

  • Professional rendering and property sketches in newspapers
  • Professional photography 
  • Property-specific websites
  • Print marketing
  • A greater focus on your existing clients than the leads you want
  • Internet marketing

What to avoid

  • Trying to cash in on the family of recently deceased people
  • Reaching out to canceled or expired listings prematurely
  • Disaster marketing, such as trying to prospect business in the event of a tornado, wildfire or hurricane

5. Feeding your prospects

A little pampering never goes unnoticed. Organize a small get-together, such as a Halloween bash, or take your prospects out for dinner to get to know them better and build organic relationships with them. Remember, sweet words go a long way, and it can turn out to be a cost-efficient form of marketing.

Whether you are at a conventional open house or a private one where you can invite the friends of your sellers, you can indulge in serving fine beverages and food. It will surely increase the odds of a great number of heads turning up.