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Video: The advert McDonald's has banned after being accused of exploiting child bereavement

Topix - Wed, 2017-05-17 06:00

FAST food giant McDonald's has dropped a new advert from TV screens and apologised for any upset caused after it was accused of exploiting childhood bereavement. The campaign featured a child struggling to find something in common with his dead father until he ordered a Filet-o-Fish.

Categories: Today's Food News

Fast Food Book Giveaways - Canada's New Happy Meal Promotion Gives...

Topix - Wed, 2017-05-17 06:00

In Canada, McDonald's newest Happy Meal promotion seeks to engage children with more than just toys. Normally, Happy Meals accompany a toy of the child's choice - with various brands and companies partnering with McDonald's in order to promote their own services and products.

Categories: Today's Food News

Body found in La Jolla home, SWAT team called in

Topix - Wed, 2017-05-17 03:47

Family and friends of 29-year-old Jessica Foderingham on Tuesday came together to remember the mother of two, who was 32 weeks pregnant when she was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Mother's Day. Family and friends of 29-year-old Jessica Foderingham on Tuesday came together to remember the mother of two, who was 32 weeks pregnant when she was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Mother's Day.

Categories: Today's Food News

How Underappreciated Employees Impact Your Business

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 17:30

The modern employee demands more out of his job than ever before. He doesn’t just want a healthy paycheck and work-life balance. He wants to find meaning in his job and know that he’s appreciated for what he does. That begs the question: do your employees feel valued? If you don’t know the answer to this question, something needs to change.

The Majority of Employees Feel Underappreciated

A number of studies have been conducted over the years in regards to the business side benefits of making employees feel valued. But up until recently, the negative impact of feeling underappreciated wasn’t fully known.

According to a survey by Monster (involving 2,000 employees and 500 employers in the UK), 58 percent of workers don’t believe employees are appreciated enough in the workplace. Right around 54 percent of respondents said they personally feel underappreciated, with 41 percent saying they’re demotivated as a result.

From the employer side of things, 75 percent of those surveyed said they realize a failure to express gratitude has a negative impact on employee motivation. Despite this, 41 percent admitted they don’t thank their staff enough.

The Impact of Underappreciated Employees Can be Costly

What most employers don’t realize is that a lack of appreciation isn’t just arrogant or off-putting — it actually impacts the bottom line. This theory is justified by a study from noted MIT professor Daniel Ariely.

In the study, Ariely and his team gave participants a piece of paper filled with random letters. They were asked to find pairs of identical letters and then hand the sheet to the experimenter. Each round, the participants were offered less money than the previous round.

People in the first group wrote their names on the paper, handed their work in and were told “great” by the experimenter before the paper was placed in a pile. People in the second group didn’t write their names down and the experimenter put their work in a pile without looking at it. Those in the third group had their work immediately shredded after submitting it to the experimenter.

“The results: people whose work was shredded needed twice as much money as those whose work was acknowledged in order to keep doing the task,” human resources expert David Hassell notes. “People in the second group, whose work was saved but ignored, needed almost as much money as people whose work was shredded.”

While this is just one study, it proves a point that should seem pretty obvious to anyone who possesses workplace awareness. Appreciation is valued more than anything else — even money. Or as Ariely puts it himself, “Ignoring the performance of people is almost as bad as shredding their effort before their eyes.”

A lack of appreciation can take on many different forms. In his many years of experience working as a corporate executive, leadership consultant Glenn Llopis has found that leaders unknowingly undervalue their employees in six major ways. It’s not just failing to say thank you. It’s failing to embrace differences, not recognizing strengths, refusing to seek counsel, failing to invest in relationships, not providing feedback, and micromanaging every little task.

Entrepreneur Rotem Stark is a firm believer in the power of appreciation and how it directly influences motivation in employees. She’s worked a lot of different jobs over the years — including waitressing, event planning, makeup artistry, fashion editing and more — and she’s had jobs that she loved, as well as ones that she hated. While location, benefits and pay fluctuated from job to job, Stark confidently says “the jobs I was most confident in were the ones where I felt appreciated.”

Stark expresses a sentiment that millions of other employees around the world agree with. There’s nothing more hurtful or demoralizing than a lack of appreciation and it’s time that employers get their act together.

4 Ways You Can Make Employees Feel Valued

As an employer, you may not always have a deep purse out of which you can pay large salaries. You may not have access to competitive benefits either. But you always have the ability to show employees that you appreciate them. Here are some simple ways you can do that:

1. Have Intentional Conversations

Sometimes bosses are too worried about maintaining the upper hand and putting off an aura of power to show any emotion or compassion. If this is you, it’s important that you get over this approach. You need to be having intentional conversations with your employees to let them know when you think they’re doing a great job (as well as when they’re doing something wrong).

Try to have at least one intentional conversation with an employee per day. It could be something as simple as saying, “Hey, I noticed how great you were with the client on that conference call this morning. I appreciate you being such a good representative of our company. I’m thinking about putting you on a call with our other big client next week. Keep up the great work!” The impact of a statement like this will be far more positive than a one-time monetary bonus.

2. Treat People With Dignity

As an employer, it can be frustrating when people mess up or fail to meet certain goals. But you aren’t doing your company any favors by constantly berating employees. People make mistakes and goals aren’t always met. While it’s fine to give your team a kick in the rear, always treat employees with respect and dignity. Those are two things that don’t cost a dime.

3. Recognize Individuals

“To boost team morale, it’s great to do something for your entire team — like catering lunch or bringing in donuts. But if you’re aiming to show your appreciation for an individual, it can easily get lost in these types of group celebrations,” says Avery Augustine, a manager at a growing tech company. “In one fell swoop, your top salesperson and newbie intern have just been rewarded with the same exact thing: a slice of pizza. Guess how valued your top employee is going to feel?”

There’s power in recognizing people on an individual basis. You don’t have to make it super formal or anything — a simple slap on the back in the hallway is often sufficient — but do make sure you’re taking the time to call people by their names and recognize individual efforts.

4. Ask for Feedback and Input

Healthy companies understand that there are no one-way streets when it comes to internal communication. While you should have a hierarchy in your organization, this shouldn’t totally dictate the conversation. Two-way communication is vitally important.

Think about it like this: If an employee never has any say in anything that the company does, and is constantly told what to do over and over again, does she feel appreciated or valued? No — she feels like a servant. On the other hand, if she’s asked for her opinions and feedback is encouraged, she feels like a valuable member of the team. Keep this in mind.

Show Your Employees You Value Them

Quite frankly, you can’t afford to underappreciate your employees any longer. It kills morale and hurts the bottom line. But the good news is that it’s easy to show appreciation. It doesn’t take much to show an employee that they’re a valued member of the team. In fact, it’s as simple as opening up your mouth to say thank you or writing a quick email to explain how much someone means to you.

That’s what you call a cost-effective investment in the future of your company.

Business Woman Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How Underappreciated Employees Impact Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Rebecca Minkoff Uses Connection with Customers to Drive Brand

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 15:30

Your business may understand the importance of clearly outlining your target customers. But do you really have a personal understanding of what those target customers want?

That’s what makes the case of Rebecca Minkoff so notable. Minkoff is a fashion designer whose brand targets for millennial women. And she also happens to fit into that group herself.

Not only does Minkoff relate to her target customers on a personal level, but she has also focused her marketing efforts on communicating with those customers directly. She’s also known for connected with fans and bloggers instead of relying on celebrities to spread the word about her products. Some of them feel so connected to her brand that they’ve dubbed themselves “Minkettes.” A look at Twitter gives a quick impression of the kind of engagement Minkoff gets from her fans.

Bf went to a Rebecca Minkoff sample sale for me ???? #bestBFever

— ?p (@xoxosweetp) May 13, 2017

SO MANY AMAZING BAGS!! Huge shoutout to Lauren & Aiza!!! @RebeccaMinkoff team made my day! ?#RMsf #rmsamplesale

— Miss Louie (@missejlouie) May 8, 2017

@RebeccaMinkoff NYC sample sale opens today at 11 at @260SAMPLESALE – I’ll be sharing a peek inside in my Insta stories ?#rmsamplesale

— Michelle Blashka (@LeHoarder) May 8, 2017

Some in the industry have advised Minkoff not to respond to customers on social media or elsewhere online directly. But since she feels she knows her target customers better than the so-called experts, she has taken the risk and it has paid off.

Connections with Customers Drives Brand Effectiveness

For small businesses, the lesson here is about really tapping into what your target audience wants rather than just going with conventional wisdom that might work for other types of businesses. Even if you don’t personally fit into your target audience, as Minkoff does, you can still learn from how she personally connects and learns from those who buy her products and spread the word about her brand.

Image: Rebecca Minkoff Twitter

This article, "Rebecca Minkoff Uses Connection with Customers to Drive Brand" was first published on Small Business Trends

QuickBooks Online Introduces Changes in Site Navigation

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 13:30

QuickBooks Online accounting software for small businesses recently announced it is rolling out some new navigation changes to improve productivity and online experience.

The company whose accounting software helps small businesses organize their finances and makes it easier to manage essential financial tasks like creating invoices, keeping track of sales and expenses, and producing reports, says its goal is to create a better experience for those small business customers. The company says  changes will ultimately allow small business owners and managers to get back to doing what they love — running their businesses.

“After all, we want you to spend your time in your business rather than on your business,” said Josh Fair, product manager, QuickBooks Online, in a post announcing the navigation changes on the official QuickBooks’ blog. If you use QuickBooks to run your small business, here are some things you may notice.

QuickBooks Online Navigation Changes

Highlights of the new navigation changes at QuickBooks Online include:

1. Home is Now Called Dashboard

The company says it’s renaming the homepage from “Home” to “Dashboard” to better reflect its purpose, but only the name is changing. All of your data will still be there.

2. Banking is Moving to the Top of your Navigation Bar, Bank Rules is Getting its own Tab

Now, you can go right to your bank transactions without having to hunt for them.

3. Everything Related to Sales has been Streamlined in One Place in the Navigation

You’ll now find everything related to sales — Customers, Invoices and Products and Services — in one place, and you’ll be able to track when your invoices are viewed, paid and overdue from your new “Invoices” tab.

4. Everything Related to Spending has been Placed in the Expenses Tab.

You can now handle everything related to spending, including Vendors, under the Expenses tab. No more jumping back and forth, says Intuit (NASDAQ: INTU) the company behind the QuickBooks accounting software brand.

5. Chart of Accounts and Reconcile are now Found Under the New Accounting Tab

This will allow you to quickly get to your “Registers” from the “Chart of Accounts” tab.

“We hope you enjoy your new navigation, driven by your suggestions,” said Fair in the blog post.

Image: Intuit

This article, "QuickBooks Online Introduces Changes in Site Navigation" was first published on Small Business Trends

How To Upload a Photo to Instagram

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 12:00

You may already be an expert at snapping photos at meetings, conferences or other events with your smartphone and posting them to Instagram. With the Instagram app installed on your phone, there’s nothing to it really.

But are you equally brilliant when trying to post older photos from your PC, logos from made on Photoshop or some other tool or product shots from your online store? Not so much.

With over 75 million daily active users and over 400 million active monthly users, Instagram is definitely a must use platform for businesses. The problem, however, is that Instagram was designed as a mobile app and thus it’s a bit trickier to upload photos from a PC.

How to Upload a Photo to Instagram How to Upload Photos from PC

Signing up and creating an account on a PC gives you access to the web version of the app.

While the web version is quite similar to the mobile version, one important function is missing – you can’t upload images. In fact, Instagram tells its users on the web pages to get the mobile version of the app for best results.

Third-party Apps

There are a couple of third-party apps that can help you to upload pictures to your Instagram. Among them is InstaPic, a Windows application that allows you to perform virtually the same actions on mobile devices like iPhone and Android as the official Instagram client.

Download and install the app on your PC.

When the app launches, you will have to create a new account and link it up with your Instagram account. This then allows you to upload images directly from the InstaPic app.

Another method would be to use the cloud storage service Dropbox.

You will first have to create a Dropbox account and then download and install the Dropbox client software for macOS or Windows. Install the Dropbox app for iOS or Android on your smartphone and log in.

Drag and drop a photo from your Mac or PC into Dropbox and it will automatically sync with your mobile app.

Go to your phone, open the Dropbox app and tap on your photo to select and then select ‘Export” and choose your Instagram app.

You Instagram app will open normally on your phone and you can then apply filters and share your images as usual.

Seeking better quality Instagram pics and videos? Here are a few apps to help you out.

Have we missed anything? If you know of any other methods of posting older photos from your PC or other sources to Instagram, please let us know in the comments.

Instagram Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "How To Upload a Photo to Instagram" was first published on Small Business Trends

20 Tips to Lower Utility Bills in Your Business

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 10:30
Sponsored Post

From marketing to payroll, inventory and taxes, there are many ongoing costs associated with running your small business. However, there’s one cost that many small business owners overlook: utilities.

Ironically, your utility bill is one area with the most potential for cutting costs. How? By following the 20 tips to lower your utility bills below.

Getting Started

Before you tackle the rest of the tips on this list, you need to put a stake in the ground to establish a starting point. The important word here is ‘audit’ and you should run two types.

1. Do Energy Audit

An energy audit is a professional assessment of your current energy use and, ultimately, how you can use energy more efficiently and therefore potentially save money.

At the end of the audit, you’ll have a good sense of where you stand in regards to efficiency and what actions you can take to begin lowering your utility costs.

2. Do Nighttime Audit

This self-run audit aims to discover ways you might be able to reduce your utility bills by decreasing energy usage at night.

Secretly choose a night to run the audit and, after all your employees have left, wait an hour or two to allow any self-managed devices to shut down (a good time for dinner, perhaps?).

Then, walk the office to see if any of the running machines and lights are needed overnight. If not, there are some energy-saving tips below to ensure that they get turned off every evening.

Quick Tips

Once you’ve run the audits above, you’ll have some idea of where to take action. However, there are a number of quick and easy-to-implement tips that can really make a difference.

3. Use Power Save

Whenever possible, use the power save mode on your computers, monitors and other electronic devices to shut off the power and put the equipment to sleep when not being used.

In addition, remind your employees to turn off all electronics before leaving on vacation or holiday.

4. Use Natural Daylight

Whenever possible, encourage employees to use natural daylight instead of powered lighting.

5. Take Stairs

Taking the stairs instead of using the elevator both saves energy and increases you and your employees’ health.

6. Clear Vents

When paper or furniture covers your office’s air uptake vents, it takes a lot more power to move the hot or cold air through your space.

Keep the spaces in front of your vents clear and run regular inspections to ensure they stay that way.

7. Fix Air Leaks

One sure way to decrease your utility bill is to fix air leaks around your office’s doors and windows. There are a number of hacks for detecting air leaks, and once you find one, close it up.

8. Close Outside Doors

Believe it or not, a lot of money flows out the open doors at the front or back of small businesses. When one of your outside doors, or windows, is left open, you’re stuck with the cost of trying to heat or cool the entire outdoors.

When heating or cooling your office, make sure those spots are shut tightly.

9. Use Power Strips

Power strip technology has come a long way and the latest versions have ‘always on’ outlets that ensure key devices are up and running.

The other outlets manage your electronics much the same way as power save mode: when the device is not in use, it’s shut down or put to sleep until needed.

Medium-Term Tips

While these tips are straightforward, they may take a bit more time, or cost a bit more money, than the ones above.

10. Use Programmable Thermostat

If your current thermostat only allows you to set a temperature and leave it there, it’s time to give it the old ‘heave-ho’.

A programmable thermostat enables you to set different temperatures for evenings and weekends, both of which may help reduce your utility bill.

11. Replace Light Bulbs

If you’re using the same types of lightbulbs you used 10 years ago, you should replace them with energy-efficient ones. There are many options available and, despite the upfront costs, this change can have a big impact.

12. Use Motion Detectors

Motion detectors can be used to turn lights on and off when people enter or leave an area. By shutting down lights when there’s no need for them to be on, you’re cutting down on energy use.

13. Wear Shades

When your office windows have shades, you can close them to block the cold in the winter and open them to let the heat in during the summer.

14. Seek Equipment Discounts

If you have newer office equipment, it’s likely it is energy efficient. A simple inquiry to your energy provider and/or utility may help you lower your bill if they offer discounts for efficient equipment use.

Longer-Term Tips

While these tips may help you gain control of your bill, they may also be costly to implement. A long-term approach works best in this case, as it spreads the expense over time.

15. Use Laptops

Laptop computers use less energy than desktops, which means they’re cheaper to use. If you can’t afford to replace all your computers at once, do it one-by-one as you retire each machine.

16. Use Cloud Computing

A computer room is expensive. Not only do you have to power the servers, the room needs to be kept cool as well.

Moving your operations to the cloud eliminates these overhead costs while also freeing you from having to hire on-site IT staff or consultants.

17. Upgrade Devices

Every time you retire an electronic device, you should replace it with a more energy-efficient option. Not only will this save energy, it may also make you eligible for discounts.

Ongoing Tips

These last three tips address actions you can take on an ongoing basis to reduce your energy usage.

18. Maintain Equipment

Schedule regular maintenance for your heating and cooling equipment to ensure they run at maximum efficiency.

19. Change Filters

If your heating or cooling equipment uses air filters, change them regularly to prevent blockages that can lead to higher energy use.

20. Change Thermostat

As the seasons change, adjust the programming on your thermostat to manage times when it’s hotter or colder outside.

Utility Bill Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "20 Tips to Lower Utility Bills in Your Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

Is Snapchat Really Right For Your Small Business?

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 09:30

Is Snapchat really the way to go for your small business? Low growth numbers in Q1 2017 and stiff competition from the likes of Facebook and Instagram Stories have business owners wondering if this video app might self destruct just like the videos and pictures sent on the network eventually do.

However, if you think about best practices when using the app, Snapchat can still be a decent arrow in your marketing quiver.  Here’s how.

Is Snapchat Good for Business? On the Downside

Even the decent growth rate of the company’s wearable devices known as Spectacles couldn’t boost the sagging numbers — only 5 percent growth in Q1 2017. It’s a slight bump from the 3.2 percent in Q4/2016 but a noticeable drop from Q3/2016 stats of 7 percent. What seems to make matters more disturbing is the fact this is the first quarter since the mobile app went public.

Translation? There’s a big concern the mobile app might be sputtering out and not just a little hesitant coming out of the IPO gate.

On the Upside

There were 166 million users in Q1 and the app is growing. Combine that with the fact that most of the users are under 34 and the number of American 18-34 year olds with a Snapchat account is 32.9 percent . That means there are established markets here that are solid even in the wake of the disappointing Q1 numbers.

Translation?  There are a few features here you can use to market when you already know who you’re trying to impress and they fall into the above mentioned category. Coupons, giveaways and interesting video snippets from your business offer the personal touch to any well defined market segment, and Snapchat has a few including college students.

Snapchat Stories is almost enough to offset the disappointing numbers by itself. You can use stickers and text captions to post a series of images and videos in a sequence to tell the story of your brand. Of course, now competitor Instagram has a stories feature too.

Final Word

There’s a place for everything and everything has a place. You might not be able to cast your marketing net as wide with Snapchat as with, say, Facebook or Instagram. However, creative minds can use the app as part of an integrated marketing campaign to link social media and live events.

Snap Inc. Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Is Snapchat Really Right For Your Small Business?" was first published on Small Business Trends

Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records, Let Passion Guide His Business

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 08:30

Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records and founder of Phat Farm, doesn’t have formal training or background in running a business. Yet he’s one of the most celebrated names in the music business.

Behind his phenomenal success is his undying passion for work and entrepreneurship.

Born in Queens in 1957, Simmons graduated from August Martin High School.

He was married to model Kimora Lee and has two daughters from the marriage. According to CNN, his net worth in 2011 was $340 million.

First Steps in the Hip Hop Business

In 1978, Simmons started promoting rap acts and managing Curtis Walker aka Kurtis Blow. The following year, he launched Rush Productions, which became one of the largest African American owned media firms in the U.S.

A big milestone in Simmons’ career was the release of the Run–D.M.C. single “It’s Like That” in 1983. Soon after, he created the Def Jam record company, which is the largest rap label in history.

Man of Many Talents

Simmons is not just a hip-hop mogul. He created immensely successful clothing lines such as Phat Farm, Tantris and Argyleculture.

Over the years, he has ventured into wireless phone, debit cards, online media and television.

What’s remarkable about Simmons is his passion to pursue new ideas. He once told, “I think the world is a white space. You just have to pay attention to what people need and what has not been done.”

Follow Your Passion: An Inspiration for Small Businesses

By challenging conventions, Simmons has set a great example for small businesses.

He advises businesses to sell what they really believe in and feel passionate about. As he told CNBC, “You love something, you go to work, you try to give what you love to other people.’

“You sell what you love to other people.”

Image: Small Business Trends

This article, "Russell Simmons, co-founder of Def Jam Records, Let Passion Guide His Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Tips to Find the Right Influence Marketer for Your Brand

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 07:30

The right influence marketer, an individual who is regarded as a thought leader and a trusted source in a particular industry or niche, can do wonders for a brand. Whatever industry you operate in and services or products you sell, a single positive recommendation from an influential, trusted source, can be all it takes to build brand awareness and take your business to greater heights.

The trick is to find the right influence marketer for your specific brand and niche. Easier said than done! To give your business a push in the right direction when it comes finding the right thought leader, Small Business Trends caught up with Brandon Brown, CEO and co-founder of the influencer marketing platform, Grin, and asked him to share with us his 10 tips on how to find influencers for your brand.

How to Find Influencers for Your Brand Understand Your Target Networks

When looking for the right influencer, it’s important to understand your target networks, says Brandon Brown. For example, which networks are most effective for your target audience? When you have an understanding of your target networks, you can identify an influence marketer which has a strong following and presence on such networks and will likely to effectively promote your brand on the specific target networks.

Focus on Brand Fit First

Is your brand fit for purpose? Prior to searching for the right influence marketer, ensure you have a defined and clear brand purpose first to ensure your brand is identifiable to your audience.

Analyze the Influencer’s Audience

When searching for the perfect influence marketer for your brand, Brandon Brown advises you should analyze your influencer’s audience. Does the influencer’s audience and following correspond with your own target audience and following? If not, that particular influencer might not be the right one to help your brand reach its target audience.

Vet Influencers Based on Engagement

Which influencers generate the most engagement on social media platforms? Which have the most active social presence, the highest number of followers and deliver content that gets engaged with the most? Prior to choosing an influencer, vet their social media channels and opt for ones which generate maximum engagement.

Give Influencers a Framework for Your Message

To generate maximum effectiveness from having an influencer sponsor your brand, be sure to present the influence marketer with a framework for your message, which highlights the key aims and objectives of the campaign. This will give both yourself and the influencer greater understanding of whether they are up to the job.

Don’t Stifle Influencer Creativity

That said, don’t bombard the influencer with so much information, strategies, objectives and demands that their creativity is stifled. Ensure you give the influencer enough room to let their creativity and knowledge benefit your business to the maximum.

As Brandon Brown says:

“Don’t stifle influencer creativity.”

Use Research Tools

Using influencer marketing research tools like Grin, which intelligently segments influencers across thousands of interests to deliver highly contextual search results, is an effective and efficient way to identity and locate the right influence marketer for your industry and your specific business.

Such advanced tools also help small business owners stay organized with their influencer research and export influencer data with ease.

Approach Content Collaboratively

As their roles develop and grow, influencers are seeking greater authenticity and collaboration with brands and businesses. Content should be approached collaboratively between your brand and your influencer to maximize the effectiveness of the collaboration and reach out to and engage with a broader audience.

Boost Content via Paid Afterwards

When you have identified the most qualified influence marketer for your brand and have a fresh supply of engaging content being spawned out to a wide spectrum of followers, Grin’s CEO and co-founder suggests boosting the content further via paid methods and optimizing its reach.

Be Authentic

Finally, Brandon Brown says when looking for the right influencer for your brand, always go for authenticity. Keeping content authentic and avoiding just plying the social channels with content for the sake of it, will maximize the appeal of your brand on social domains and help you get the most out of your chosen influence marketer.

Get your choice of influence marketer right and your small business may soon be on the road to bigger things.

Choosing Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Tips to Find the Right Influence Marketer for Your Brand" was first published on Small Business Trends

7 Ways to Use Digital Coupons to Grow Your Retail Sales

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 06:30

Do you use coupons to attract customers to your retail store? Today’s deal-hungry consumers have come to expect coupons as a part of doing business, and if you want to keep up with your competitors, you’d better be offering deals on a regular basis.

Digital coupons are becoming a popular marketing tactic—especially for smaller stores. In fact, according to a recent report, 2017 State of Mobile Offers, smaller stores now surpass larger retailers in the speed with which they are adopting digital and mobile couponing.

How to Use Digital Coupons Paper or Digital?

The use of mobile coupons is on the rise overall, increasing 42 percent from last year, another study by Valassis reports. But while digital coupon use is growing, paper coupons are far from obsolete. Some 88 percent of all consumers and 91 percent of millennials use paper coupons, Valassis found.

Forty-three percent of shoppers in the Valassis study say they “always” or “very often” use coupons. In fact, the number that always use coupons rose substantially, from 10 percent last year to 15 percent in 2017.

Millennials, in particular, are increasing their use of both paper and digital coupons. Some 90 percent of millennial shoppers actively search for mobile coupons and offers when they’re shopping.

When making decisions about where to shop, parents are more likely than the average consumer to be influenced by coupons and deals. Forty-seven percent of parents say they have shopped at retailers other than their normal stores because they saw better advertised deals.

Go Mobile

You’re probably already offering paper coupons, but if you haven’t yet incorporated mobile coupons into your mix, what are you waiting for? Mobile coupons have the potential to drive customers to your store. Consider:

  • More than two-thirds of consumers in the Valassis survey say the discounts they receive on their mobile devices influence where they shop.
  • 58 percent of customers say they visit a store after receiving a mobile offer.
  • More than 40 percent of employed survey respondents say they would shop close to their workplaces more often if nearby retailers sent them coupons.

Once consumers are in your store, the effect of mobile coupons is still strong:

  • More than half (55 percent) of shoppers report using their smartphones to look for mobile coupons while in-store.
  • 51 percent of shoppers will make a purchase based on receiving a mobile notification while in-store.
  • 77 percent of consumers spend more in-store when they are using a mobile coupon.
Make Them an Offer

While mail is still the preferred way to receive coupons, interest in digital offers is growing rapidly. How can you share digital offers? Here’s how to use digital coupons to grow your retail business.

  1. Combine print and digital couponing for best results. “Shoppers value savings whether in print or digital formats,” the Valassis report concludes.
  2. Use mobile marketing to reach existing customers who agree to accept marketing texts from you. You can target customers based on factors such as where they live and their current location.
  3. Post coupons on your business website.
  4. Share discount offer codes on couponing or discount sites.
  5. Post discount offer codes on social media, and encourage followers to share your offers to spread the word about your store.
  6. Encourage your customers to share the deals they got at your store on social media. Parents and Hispanic consumers, particularly like to let friends and family know when they have gotten a deal: 79 percent of parents and 80 percent of Hispanic consumers tell others about their savings.
  7. Advertise offers on websites or blogs about couponing or frugal living, or provide content for these blogs and link to your offers.

Digital Coupon Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "7 Ways to Use Digital Coupons to Grow Your Retail Sales" was first published on Small Business Trends

Tips for Social Listening for Your Small Business

Small Business Trends - Tue, 2017-05-16 05:00

Since its early development, social media has become an increasingly important and constantly evolving component of online behavior. What used to be platforms for connecting with friends have expanded to include features that integrate everything users need and do online. That overlap includes everything from reporting features and live video sharing to news publications and e-commerce transactions, all streamlined in a way that makes social media platforms the watering hole for modern users. Users now turn to social media platforms to stay informed, post reviews, buy things, and more, and the data that shows just how many users do that is staggering:

  • 81 percent of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
  • More than 56 percent of online adults use more than one social media platform
  • 79 percent of American internet users are on Facebook
  • 93 percent of Pinterest users use the platform to plan or make purchases

This is exactly why brands have a vested interest in not just securing their presence on different social media platforms, but in using the prevalence of it to track their brand. To miss out on what’s being said about a brand or industry online is to willfully bypass an opportunity for business growth and improvement. This is where social listening comes in.

Social Listening is when brands monitor what’s being said about them or their industry in conversations online. Whether a brand follows a set of keywords relevant to their industry or their specific brand name, monitoring what’s being mentioned about them can provide useful information that can provide huge insights. For example, if a brand using social listening began observing several mentions about one of their product’s shortcomings, they could take how their audience is responding to it and use it to address problems. Or if an industry’s customers are buzzing over a specific trend or topic, brands would know what to weigh in on and how to engage their audience.

The idea behind social listening is for brands to keep a finger on the pulse of their own business and industry so they can perform better, and it’s not hard to do. Here’s how you can get started.

Tips for Social Listening Tools for Social Listening

First, you’ll need to use a tool that helps you track the brand name or industry keywords you want to monitor. One of the best tools for this is Google Alerts, because it’s free and is convenient if you’re already using Google Analytics. Other options for social listening tools are Mention, Social Mention, Brand Watch, or Who’s Talkin.

For these tools, all you have to do is input the brands, phrases, or keywords you want to monitor. The tools will return the queries and mentions of them online, and from there you can decide how you want to use them.

How to Use Social Listening for Your Brand

You can use the information you gather from social listening however you see fit for you brand, but here are some ideas on how to get started.

1. Get Content Inspiration

Anyone with a blog knows that constantly coming up with fresh content ideas can be challenging, and social listening can help with that. By reading the mentions and conversations happening around keywords pertaining to your industry, you can see what questions people are asking or what they’re excited and/or talking about to generate ideas for your website or blog. Or, at the very least, you can see what your audience is talking about so your brand can better participate in conversations and engage in relevant discussion.

2. Identify Problems

If you’re monitoring a specific product, topic, service, or otherwise, you can use social listening to potentially identify problems that need addressing. Maybe there’s a glitch in a product that people are talking about or a snag in an online service. By finding the problems through your social listening tools and seeing what people have to say about it, you can use that information to identify and correct problems related to your brand.

3. Reputation Management
Similarly to how social listening can be used to identify problems, it can also be used to manage brand reputations. Monitoring what’s being said about your brand can reveal damaging mentions or reviews that could contribute to a negative image. By having a tool and process in place for tracking those kinds of mentions, your brand can stay on top of its reputation and know what’s being said online.

4. Crowdsourced Campaign Ideas

A lot of research goes into social media or marketing campaigns, and social listening is a great way to enhance that research. Brands can review mentions to get ideas on what type of campaign/content will be successful with their audience, see what the brand is doing that users like or dislike, and use those brand mentions to crowdsource marketing ideas.
5. Find Influencers

Influencer marketing has become one of the most effective ways for brands to communicate with their audience, but sometimes finding the right influencers can be difficult. With social listening, brands can potentially find users that are saying a lot about their products or services online and recruit them to advocate on behalf of the brand.

Social Media Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Tips for Social Listening for Your Small Business" was first published on Small Business Trends

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