18 Nov

7 Tips to Make Small Business Saturday Work for You

Small Business Saturday is just around the corner…

In 2010, American Express started Small Business Saturday to encourage holiday shoppers to shop at their local small businesses.  Held on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, this year on November 29th, small businesses across the nation will be offering special deals for those who shop with them.

Let’s take a quick look at some of the things you can do to kickstart your own Small Business Saturday campaign: 

  1. See what American Express has to offer

American Express is giving small business owners a whole lot of perks – even logos and customizable graphics, post cards and window posters.

  1. Attract customers into your business with special offerings or events

Whether you own a brick-and-mortars business or an online business, you can benefit from hosting and event. Don’t wait too long, though. Planning and promoting does take a bit of time.

Attract new customers by offering them special pricing on your most popular products or services. Don’t forget your current customers – offer them something special as well.

How about holding a contest? People love the opportunity to win something. Keep it simple, though, and make sure you understand the guidelines of the social sites you’re using to promote the contest.

  1. Talk about your small business Saturday specials online

Because you have American Express helping you promote Small Business Saturday, it’s not difficult to become part of the conversation. Use #ShopSmall in your Facebook and Twitter status updates and tweets – and you’ll be part of the event! Don’t forget to use the free graphics that American Express has provided for you. Start Here – https://www.americanexpress.com/us/small-business/shop-

  1. Send Some Emails

Email marketing is still a necessary piece of your marketing toolbox.  Send emails to your customers encouraging them to shop small. Remember to give your subscribers VIP treatment – offer them something they can’t get elsewhere.  Also remember to invite them to your event or enter your contest.

  1. Buy something special from another small business

Be part of the shop small celebration. Support other small business owners.

  1. Partner with other small businesses

Do you think you’re the only small business owner who might be struggling? Like you, the may not have the resources to create their own Small Business Saturday event. Team up with each other. There is power in numbers – be smart and work together.

  1. Promote, promote, promote

Get the word out NOW. Of course, without over-selling yourself, let people know you’ve got something special for them – and that NOW is the time for them to get it. Between email marketing, blogging, social media, and on-site posters and flyers – share the news of Small Business Saturday.

What Will You Do? What ideas do you have for Small Business Saturday? Please share them with us by using the comment box below.


15 Nov

Facebook giving users an easy way to control what they see in their Newsfeed.

Have you ever thought about how nice it would be to mute some of your Facebook friends? Well, now Facebook is giving us some easy to use control tools so that we can easily remove certain friends and followers.

If you don’t want to see those obnoxious status updates from old Uncle Harry – simply tell click the Down Arrow to the right of his name and choose “Hide all from Harry”. Don’t worry, if Uncle Harry comes to his senses – you can bring him back to your feed by clicking the same arrow.

There’s more that you can do – check out the video from Greg at Facebook to learn more. Don’t worry,  It’s only 1 minute and 7 seconds long, but you’ll learn a lot.

More Ways to Control What You See in Your News Feed from Facebook on Vimeo.

11 Nov

Can Social Media and Technology Stress You Out?

Being in control of your life and having realistic expectations about your day-to-day challenges are the keys to stress management, which is perhaps the most important ingredient to living a happy, healthy and rewarding life. Marilu Henner

Tanya Brown…And that’s what Tanya Brown was talking about yesterday on her  30-minute tele-seminar, Mastering Health, Wellness & Success Series, Tanya’s Tools for Change. Tanya, author of, Finding Peace Amid the Chaos: My Escape From Depression and Suicide, and sister of Nicole Brown Simpson, is passionate about helping others living a life free from the chaos which causes stress, which in turn, can lead to depression.

Tanya’s number one tool for managing those stressful day-to-day challenges shouldn’t surprise you. If we all knew how to use this tool more effectively we’d all be living lives with less stress and regrets, and living lives drenched with happiness and more time for ourselves and those close to us. It’s all about time management. It’s all about knowing what you have to do, knowing when you need to do it….and whether or not you need to do it at all.

What I would like to talk about is the second piece of advice Tanya had for us in regards to…

Social Media! Curb your social media time!

What does social media have to do with stress?

Now you’re asking, “What does social media have to do with stress and managing your day-to-day challenges”?  Well – I think it has a lot to do with stress.

Tanya understands that many of us are using social media as a marketing tool. She uses social networks to help spread the word to people about overcoming depression. In today’s age of technology, social media is one of the best and quickest ways to connect and educate.

However; we all know that social media venues like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are talking over our lives.  And although I’m a social media consultant, I consider most social networks to be a black hole.  For many people it IS a time suck – leading to wasted and unproductive hours keeping us away from the things we really need, and want, to do. While you ARE connecting with other people – next door and even around the world – you’re losing the intimacy of actually BEING with a person face-to-face.

In addition, so many business owners know they should be using social media to help them gain more online visibility, but most really don’t know how to use it. The strain of not knowing and understanding, and the additional tension of not being able to keep up with the competition can be very stressful. This, along with the endless hours spent on social networks, can make you feel like you’re in a hamster wheel spinning a 100 miles and hour…but not getting anywhere.  Talk about stress!!

Read more about social media related stress.

Let’s look at some facts about social media:

Among American social network users:

  • 18-34-year-olds report spending 3.8 hours a day;
  • 35-49-year-olds report spending 3 hours per day; and
  • 50-64-year-olds report spending 2.4 hours per day.

That’s a lot of time spent using social media, don’t you agree?  We all complain about not having enough hours in the day to get through with our tasks and chores, yet we find time  to wile away the hours on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Then, at the end of the day we haven’t completed our to-do list. Again – more stress.

More than social media

And it’s not just social media – just the mere fact that our smartphones and tablets have made us a society of technology addicted human drones shows us that we’ve lost control of the truly important things in life.

When was the last time you went out for dinner and you DIDN’T see someone texting or using Facebook on their phone?  Instead of talking to the person they were with, they’re obsessed with people who weren’t even there.  Hmmmm, think deep, be honest; have you done that? Are you guilty of texting while out for a meal with a friend, your wife, your husband, your kids, your parents? Is that text conversation REALLY  more important than the person sitting right in front of you?

Schedule your time online

With all that said, how can you manage your social media time more effectively? Let’s explore some options:

  • Monitor your current online schedule. Keep a journal and write down the date, day, and times you’re online for one week. Include your mobile time as well. What were you doing? Was it productive? At the end of the week – review your notes. What have you learned? Where can you cut back? Were you surprised at the results?
  • Smartphone withdrawal. Make an effort NOT to use your smartphone or tablet when you’re out with family or friends. Very rarely do I post on Facebook, or other social sites, when I’m out with friends.  My gal-pals and I go out for “Girl’s Night Out” pretty regularly. We’ll take one or two selfies, post them on Facebook – then we pack our phones in our purses for the rest of the evening. Sure, we check our phones for emergency texts or phone calls from family, but for the most part, we leave the technology alone and enjoy each other’s company.
  • Practice not answering the phone just because it’s ringing. Don’t immediately answer e-mails just because they show up. Disconnect instant messaging. Don’t instantly give people your attention unless it’s absolutely crucial in your business to offer an immediate response. Instead, schedule a time to answer email and return phone calls. (Entrepreneur)
  • Use the Dr. Pepper Rule. When it comes to social media – follow the old Dr. Pepper rule… “Have a Pepper at 10, 2, and 4″. You’re probably not old enough to remember that tagline, but using that theory – schedule your social media. Allot yourself a certain amount of time three or four times during the day/night. Know ahead of time what you’re going to do and say. Post status updates, read your Timeline and comment to others, send out those all important birthday greetings (yes, they’re important), and share links and cute cat videos. Oh, and don’t forget to post on your business page, and check out what’s happening in some of the groups you belong to. Once you’ve done that – get offline! Live your life! Do some business! Get out and network!
    .
    As a business owner, I know it’s difficult to schedule your social media time. Just because you post something at 10:00am, doesn’t mean the whole world will see it right then and comment on it immediately.  My Facebook and Twitter are open in the background as I work. I actually monitor it most of the day – while I’m in my office. I go in for a quick glance, check my notifications, and get out before I’m pulled in for hours. But did you hear me say, “while I’m in my office”? True – 85% of the time, once I leave my office – I leave social media behind. Unless I have a solid reason to use Facebook or the other venues, I do my best to live my life.
  • Use Automation. If you’ve got more to say – then use tools like Hootsuite or Buffer to get your message out. Automation is good – if you don’t over use it. Better yet, hire someone to assist you in your social media efforts.  Two heads are always better than one anyway.
  • Schedule time for yourself. Tanya mentioned this golden nugget on her call. Unless you put yourself into your schedule – you’ll forget that you need time to unwind and get away from the stress.  So, go ahead…right now…schedule that mani/pedi – and by all means, leave your smartphone IN your purse, close your eyes, and allow the nail technician to pamper you.  And guys – there isn’t a reason on this planet why you shouldn’t treat yourself to a mani/pedi either.  Oh, and don’t forget to schedule your weekend (or even mid-week) getaways. Get refreshed and re-energized.

Write things down

I’m sure there are a number of other ways to keep you on track and still have time to market your business online. The key here is to make sure you lead a balanced life, and the best way to do that is to schedule your time. It’s a great habit to get into. And, as Tanya mentioned on the call – it’s best to write down your schedule placing pen to paper rather than using your smartphone or even your Google calendar. Sure, put them there as well, but make sure you write things down. When you write things down, the information gets into your muscle, and you tend to remember things more clearly. I can actually visualize something I’ve written down opposed to something I typed into my iPhone or iPad calendar.

Is social media a stressful piece of your day? How do YOU handle your social media calendar?  Share your organizational tips with us, and share how you handle your day-to-day challenges.

Eydie 

Columnist PE.com
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11 Nov

What’s the Big Deal About Blogs?

Can a blog have an impact on your business? 

what's the big deal about blogsIf you’ve turned on the computer in the last three to five years, you know that blogs are online journals on topics from cookie recipes to money management. But how a blogging can affect your business may not be entirely clear to you. In reality, your blog has the potential to be the most powerful marketing tool you can use for branding your business, attracting targeted visitors, educating prospects on your products and services and much more.

WordPress for your blog

First, blogs are quick to start. I suggest using WordPress.org – which is easily installed via hosting companies such as BlueHost (my favorite) and HostGator. These hosting platforms allow you to get up and running in a matter of minutes, and WordPress is relatively easy to learn, easy to customize and a powerful way to create a dynamic online presence without having to know how to code.

Blogs are also a cost-effective way to get your business online.  Just pay for hosting, and as I’ve already mentioned, install WordPress – for FREE.

Benefits for your target audience

A blog gives your targeted audience, customers, potential partners, and even employees, easy access to news and information about your company, products and services. You can write about product information, new releases, share case studies, educate readers, and more. Add video, audio, and other custom elements to make your blog more interesting, and sincerely reflect your business’s brand. A blog can do what a newsletter or marketing email has done in the past, only better. Actually, your marketing email and your blog should work hand-in-hand.

One of the biggest benefits of blogging is that Google, and other search engines, love blogs. They love the frequently updated unique content, the links you add, reader comments, and repeat reader visits make for high search engine rankings. Google will index your blog posts almost immediately, which isn’t necessarily the case with a traditional, static website. Consistently posting valuable content to your blog will keep your website visitors returning more frequently and staying longer once they find your site.

Your blog can also help you build a relationship, or strengthen a relationship with your customers, prospects and website visitors through greater interactivity and two-way communication. Visitors to your blog will be able to quickly and easily share their comments and suggestions with you, which will help you better understand your customers and respond to their comments.

Sold on the idea of adding a blog to your marketing mix?

Then it’s time to select your hosting platform so you can get blogging!

In the comment box below – tell us a little bit about your blog? Sure, go ahead, share the link to your blog. Not blogging yet? Share why you’re not blogging. Don’t be shy – we won’t bite. Learn to Blog

04 Nov

Travel Insurance: Are you covered?

Are you advertising to thieves?

You’re going on vacation or a business trip and you want to share this adventure via pictures with your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram followers, right?  Don’t we all want to make our friends the tiniest bit envious of our good fortune?

Well, David Walsh, chief executive of Netwatch, a security monitoring service, issued a warning to property owners, saying that there had been a growing number of offline incidents resulting from information shared online. “Social networks have become part of our daily lives, but people need to consider the risks of posting their location on these sites. Facebook burglaries are real and growing in popularity. You may think that checking in at the airport is a nice way to let your friends and family know that you’re going on holiday, but in reality you are also letting people know that your home is empty and an easy target,” he added. “If you want to share your holiday plans, don’t do it in real time, wait until you are safely home.”

Did you know that you can insure your home while you’re away? According to InsureMe.com, “Never leave home on your summer vacation without making sure you have adequate home insurance protection for your house and belongings”.

There is, however, another type of insurance you should look into when planning your next vacation or business trip…. travel insurance!  This week’s guest blogger is Loreene Orgoralini, Owner of Can I Go Too?.  She knows all about how to make our vacations and business trips less costly, and is an avid supporter of having travel insurance.

Let’s take a look at what she has to share….

Travel Insurance – Take Cover

Are you covered or just hanging out? 

Loreene, Can I Go Too?

How do you know if you are covered? Have you checked?

When you take off on that business trip, did you remember to purchase travel insurance?

Travel insurance sounds so boring but it is one of most overlooked yet important things to remember before you take that trip.  Ask anyone who has made an insurance claim that they never thought they would have to make.

What would happen if….. 

Most people think travel insurance is good in case you change your mind about traveling, but its way more than that.  What if you catch your plane but miss a connection?  What if you lose your bag (I should say what if the Airline loses your bag)? What if that bag is only delayed? (12 hours or more) What if your trip is interrupted – you got called home for an emergency? What if you have an accident/sickness/ or any medical emergency?  Or the unimaginable – you have a fatal accident!

Some of my clients -and myself- have experienced these moments.  Things happen when you least expect them.

You know you should leave your valuables at home, but you just couldn’t resist taking that gorgeous jewelry that would go so well with that outfit.  Someone else thought it was gorgeous, too, and now it’s gone.

Everything was fine at home when you left, but that message on your phone says it’s not.  You have to get home immediately because your family member is in the hospital.

You booked that flight on the internet along with that fabulous looking hotel and now you find out the airline just went bankrupt.  Other airlines might try to find you something (at a cost), but what if they can’t.

You booked your trip and now your fiancé gets called for active duty in the Army?

Terrorism is on the move, you never know when they will turn up and your trip is affected?

You were having a wonderful time on your vacation and suddenly there is a volcano eruption in Iceland?  (Remember that one?)  Or a hurricane in Cabo San Lucas!  Will you make it home?

You rented a motor scooter in Aruba for a fun time but it turned into a nightmare.  You had an accident and the first thing they asked you when someone finally arrived to help was “Do you have any insurance?”  You are now calling all your family/friends to try to get some $$ wired to you so you can get some “local” help – how scary is that!

You were taking some awesome photos on a shore excursion but you left the camera in the cab!!

You woke up this morning and your hair was a mess! You couldn’t possibly go on that cruise looking like this!  Yes, they have insurance to cover ANY REASON.

What happens now…

Now you are wondering “How much is this going to cost?”  Well, the good news is that it is less expensive than you think…and for sure less than the cost of NOT having travel insurance.

The price of most travel insurance is based on what your trip cost is and your age at the time of travel.  As you can see that can vary from trip to trip. More good news…. If you are traveling for business you might be able to deduct some of the cost.

There are some instances where you can deduct a portion of your travel insurance premiums from your payable tax amount.

Here is a quote from Insuranceqna.com:  “If you are employed, you may use a portion of the premium that is used to pay for emergency medical coverage.  If you are self-employed, you may use a part of the travel health insurance as a tax deduction. The trip, however, should be for business purposes only, that is, it is related to your work as a self-employed business person.” Read More

So, what do you think? Will you be purchasing travel insurance for your next get-away? Do you have any stories you’d like to share about either how travel insurance saved the day – or that you wished you had purchased insurance? Leave your comments in the comment box below.

Loreene

Loreene Orgoralini is the owner of Can I Go, Too? a boutique travel agency bringing extraordinary experiences to extraordinary clients for 12 years.

If you need some advice trying to figure out “How to get Covered”, let Loreene help you with the blanket.  Just give her a call at 949-350-3568 or check out Travel Insurance on her  Resources page.

 

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