During the 1990s, before kids were playing Need for Speed and Call of Duty on their Playstations, there was the Super Soaker water gun. Super Soaker was a particularly epic invention for children everywhere that rendered traditional pistol water guns that piddled out a thin stream of water obsolete, has just earned it a place in the Toy Hall of Fame . Its creator, Lonnie Johnson, an African-American scientist and entrepreneur with a uniquely excellent knowledge of fluid dynamics, invented the trademark pressure pump that allowed Super Soakers to spray water dozens of feet at never-before-seen volumes. However, initially  Johnson had to fight a much bigger company in court to receive the money owed for his invention. Legal disputes between the giant toy maker Hasbro Inc. and Johnson’s company, Johnson Research and Development Co.,  at first kept him from being properly compensated. In a breach of contract lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Atlanta in February 2013, Johnson accused the multinational toy and board game company Hasbro of violating a 1996 agreement to pay him Super Soaker royalties of two percent for “three-dimensional products” based on the appearance of the toy, and one percent for “two-dimensional visual representations.” The suit claimed Hasbro sold water guns that were “visually similar and based upon the appearance of Super Soaker water guns that incorporate Johnson’s technology” without paying him. Johnson also wanted the court to force Hasbro, which has manufactured everything from Monopoly to Mr. Potato Head, to open its books to determine sales of Super Soaker products from 2006 to 2012. Toward the end of 2013 the dispute was resolved when Johnson finally received a settlement, highlighting the value of licencing and  filing for patent protection for your best products or service ideas. Hasbro Inc. awarded nearly $73 million in royalties to Johnson’s Atlanta-based company back then. “In the arbitration we got everything we asked for,” Johnson’s attorney, Leigh Baier told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution at the time. “The arbitrator ruled totally in Lonnie’s favor.” The attorney also reported Johnson was “very pleased” with the outcome. Johnson, a nuclear engineer, Tuskegee University Ph.D. and former NASA scientist, founded his company in 1989. That same year he licensed the Super Soaker to Larami Corp., which was later purchased by Hasbro. Larami’s aggressive advertising sold 27 million Super Soakers at $10 each in the first three years of production. In the years that followed, innovations such as lengthening the distance of the water stream, increasing water carrying capacity and altering water direction, increased the toy’s popularity. Larami Corporation and then Hasbro have since sold over 200 million Super Soakers in more than 175 variations, generating about $1 billion in sales for the companies. Johnson, a native of Alabama, moved to Atlanta in 1990 before his Super Soaker invention became a household name. Though known for his famous water weapon, his passion has more recently turned to batteries, Much of the money from his invention has been reinvested into his business which now researches revolutionary rechargeable batteries and thermodynamic technology that turns heat into electricity. Johnson’s story is an important one for small business owners and entrepreneurs. It reminds those who make a business from their ideas of the need to be vigilant. But it may also be a reminder of the importance of reinvesting in your business as you prepare for your next endeavor. Image: Hasbro/YouTube This article, ” Super Soaker Entrepreneur Fought for $72.9 Million in Hasbro Royalties ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Your customers are your most valuable source of information when it comes to product design and user experience. That’s why we asked members from Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) the following question: “What’s one method you use for getting high-quality customer feedback?” Here’s what YEC community members had to say: 1. Follow Up “Many, many more people are willing to give reviews than will actually bother to leave them. Asking nicely for them, usually in a follow-up email after service has been completed, works surprisingly well for generating reviews. No one is going to fault you for asking, and every new one is worth its weight in gold.” ~  Adam Steele ,  The Magistrate 2. Use a Net Promoter Score “Ask your customer the ultimate question: “From a scale of 0 to 10, How likely is it that you would recommend our company to a colleague or friend?” Followed by: “Why did you rate us that way?” It does not waste your or your customers’ time and it is measurable, actionable and allows you to compare how you do over time.” ~  David Henzel ,  MaxCDN 3. Ask Them Often “Ask often and in the right places. Remind customers about the ability to leave reviews across multiple platforms and at a variety of times during their client experience. For example, we send convenient email reminders for feedback after each tutoring session. ” ~ Chuck Cohn ,  Varsity Tutors 4. Send Emails “This is an obvious option, but it’s often overlooked in favor of more contemporary approaches such as social media. Since the customer is communicating one-on-one, they’re less likely to put on a show (as they would on social media) and are more likely to give quality feedback.” ~  Andrew Namminga ,  Andesign 5. Ask for the Good and the Bad “Every one of the 4,000-plus people who have traveled with us received a survey at the end of their trip. It’s easy to fill out and explicitly asks them what was we did well, but also what we did not do well. Especially as a founder, it can be hard to ask people what they don’t like about your company. But you absolutely must, because you’ll learn the most from the tough love.” ~  Cedric Hodgeman ,  UBELONG 6. Get Feedback on Third Party Sites “We are an IT company and ask our clients to leave feedback on third party sites like Clutch.co, Greatagencies.com, Upwork.com, and Appfutura.com. These sites call or email clients and get a thorough feedback and publish it online. They ensure that feedback is authentic and high quality. Once published online, our prospective clients can read it. In addition, we get video testimonials.” ~ Piyush Jain ,  SIMpalm 7. Connect With Key Customers “Conduct both focus groups and one-on-one executive briefings for your key customers. We host ours over lunch so we can build enough trust and dialogue to cut through superficial feedback and really understand how to serve them better.” ~  Christopher Kelly ,  Convene 8. Use Anonymous Surveys “We tend to shy away from social media for user feedback. It doesn’t give us the metrics we’re desiring to improve our business operations, and it can be an easy outlet for customers whom are vocal, but not necessarily constructive or helpful. Using surveys to ask specific questions has greatly improved our feedback loop and allowed us to improve our customer experience with much greater accuracy.” ~  Blair Thomas ,  EMerchantBroker 9. Ask the Right Questions “It’s important to get honest and helpful feedback from customers, but you have to pose the right questions. It’s important to know what you’re doing right as well as what you could be doing better. You can ask pointed questions in emails, phone conversations and on social media. You may have to prompt customers. Ask what they do or don’t like about specific products/services.” ~  Shawn Porat ,  Fortune Cookie Advertising  10. Create a Public Slack Group “When I first started using Slack, I was impressed with such a useful product for team communication. However, I thought there would be more value in hacking the product to be an open forum for people outside the company. I asked my most active users to join the group to discuss topics related to the business in an open forum with custom integrations. I now have direct access to valuable feedback.” ~  Scott Weiner ,  ClosingBell 11 . Train Your Customer Service Team to Have an Open Dialogue “We train our customer service team to have an open dialogue on incoming calls with customers. This allows us to get raw, unfiltered feedback that helps us improve our product.” ~  Daniel Lambert ,  BoardVitals Comment Card Photo via Shutterstock This article, ” 11 Ways to Get High Quality Customer Feedback ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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YouTube has become one of the biggest money making platforms for video creators in existence. It has not only launched the careers of many users to the level of celebrity, but some literally make millions on the site. An entirely new era in entertainment has been sparked by this incredible website. So how easy is it to market YouTube videos effectively to build a popular YouTube channel? Not easy at all. It is a frustrating fact for many who have been posting videos on YouTube but see little to no outcome. Most users are getting a pretty solid viewership per video in the tens of thousands, but can’t seem to break through. Only a few users effortlessly get views. But they didn’t start out that way. They had to market YouTube videos in such as way so as to build a brand and dedicated audience that subscribe and regularly view their work. They never would have reached that point if they hadn’t broken their backs clawing for views when they were just starting out. While the actual content strategy plays the major role here, the marketing strategy is of high importance, too. Of course, you only have so many hours in a day. And you don’t want to get so bogged down in promotion that you lag on releasing videos, or impact their quality. But you need a solid YouTube marketing strategy behind your video creation process. What you need is to know how to market YouTube videos in a more effective way. How To Market YouTube Videos Learn from Successful YouTube Influencers I have mixed feelings about closely monitoring video creators and their tactics. After all, you want to stand out and it’s hard to come up with something truly unique after you see something done so freaking well. However, I’ve come to the conclusion that not paying attention to other niche players means missing out on some really effective marketing tactics you could adopt. Recently I’ve come across a really cool YouTube research solution that saves my time investigating YouTube channels. BirdSong Analytics YouTube feature is a great way to quickly identify best-working practices of any YouTube user. Here’s what their report provides. All you need is to provide any YouTube channel name: Their basic channel stats: Their channel age, video sharing frequency, total number of videos, total subscribers and views. Their video analysis: Video duration, average number of views, likes and comments, most used words in captions. Their video publishing analysis: Which time of the day and day of the week seem to work best for them. You can also export individual stats for all their videos to play with it using Excel. Re-Package Video Content A video doesn’t have to be marketed as a video only. In fact, after putting so much effort into creating a great video, there’s no excuse for not trying to market it further as more content assets. Make It Short, Share As a GIF One of my favorite methods to market YouTube videos is by using GIFS. A an animated GIF shows a single part of a scene that viewers might find interesting or funny. You can add captions in order to convey the message more clearly. Another benefit is that it makes it easier to market YouTube videos and spread them across other networks. LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, Pinterest … just link to the video in your description. The best use of GIFs is on Tumblr, where the unique format will allow you to post several GIFs in the same post, where they can be read and reblogged in sequence. Market Your Video as a Podcast In many cases, it’s possible to extract a voice-over from your video and turn it into a podcast. It always makes sense for interviews, for example (not so much for video reviews though). Podcasts open up a few highly effective marketing channels including iTunes and SoundCloud. This is exactly what we did with our #JimAndAnn show: We published a video and a few days later followed up with a new iTunes episode to give our audience more venues to subscribe to. To take this idea even further, you can collect those episodes and then publish them later as one audio-book. Audio books make so much sense these days when commuting to work may take an hour or more. Plus, an audio book is a good way to generate some extra leads if you give away your consolidated podcast collection in exchange for email subscription. Create Short Video Teasers One great way to market YouTube videos, is by creating short versions of your video that plays for about 10 seconds (and then loops). This is a great idea for when you start to build a dedicated audience and want to build hype for new videos. You can release little trailers or teasers that can be promoted through mini-video sharing sites like Twitter video, Vine, and Instagram. You have to be careful with this one. If you aren’t using teasers properly, they can just add an additional step that takes energy from more effective methods of promotion … or cut into your creative time. But with some trial and error you may be able to find what works for you. More Video Re-packaging Ideas Consolidate Your YouTube Marketing Efforts Using Your Website I’ve seen so many genius video campaigns scattered around the Web with no single point of contact. Video marketing is also about branding: Take your brand off YouTube and other social media channels and consolidate it using your own site. This can be done in various ways: You can write a dedicated blog post each time you are releasing a video (You may use the video transcript as the original content to go with the video). That’s what MOZ is doing with their Whiteboard Fridays content ( example ). You can create a separate video directory (And pull new videos to your site automatically). Here are some WordPress themes that will let you build it easily. You can use various YouTube widgets that pull recent videos to your blog sidebar. You can do all of the above. Use Other Video Sharing Sites Other video sharing sites are going to get you less views than you would probably get on YouTube. However, they are going to help you market YouTube videos by spreading your audience, and in a less crowded pool. The two obvious video sharing sites that can boost your video strategy are: Vimeo Facebook It also may protect your content if your YouTube channel is in trouble . Hopefully this won’t happen, but you can never be sure, since you cannot control YouTube actions. YouTube channels can be blocked, closed and penalized. It’s never a smart idea to put all eggs into one basket. On that note, it’s a good idea to archive ALL the videos you produce. While hosting them on your site may be too expensive, there are some good cloud options that may work. Create an organized video archive using Dropbox, Flickr, Amazon, etc. cloud hosting solutions. According to SiteGeek , the cheapest, yet most reliable cloud hosting options are Hivelocity and Siteground while PCMag recommends Microsoft Azure, Rackspace and Amazon. You just want to cover your bases. Monitor Your YouTue Success to Boost It One of my most essential and money-saving social media advertising rules is: don’t invest in the ads unless you see some organic traction first. Don’t promote each of your videos, especially if you produce many. Instead, monitor your channel stats and quickly react by helping the organic boost with some ads. I usually try Facebook ads and StumbleUpon promotion. Those two produce most significant results on a budget. Cyfe is one way to monitor multiple video channels through one dashboard. It supports YouTube, Vimeo, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and many other social media channels where you can host a video. Plus, you can add any other platform using their custom widget feature . Set up your YouTube dashboard to monitor daily stats. If you invest in ads for any individual videos, set up a separate widget to monitor that videos progress more closely. Do you have any tips on how to market YouTube videos? Image: PewDiePie/YouTube This article, ” How To Market YouTube Videos More Effectively ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Almost every business owner has to make purchases for their business at some point. So why not take advantage of savings programs and services aimed specifically at business shoppers like you? Sam’s Club and Costco have been known for their business programs for years. But now, even more stores are catching onto this trend and offering programs aimed specifically at business shoppers. Below are some brands and stores that you may not have realized had business programs. Retail Business Programs Amazon Business Amazon’s business program allows you to create an account and even manage multiple users in different departments and manage their spending and purchases. You can access exclusive discounts and items ranging from office supplies to electronics. Wayfair Business If you’re looking for any furniture or home items for your business, you can sign up for a business account with Wayfair . Offices, hospitality businesses, property management firms and more can benefit. Home Depot Professional and Contractor Services Contractors and other home improvement professionals, you can sign up for a business account with Home Depot to get access to commercial credit solutions, support, faster pickup and other services and benefits. Staples Business Advantage From technology to furniture, you can use a Staples Advantage account to organize and consolidate your office purchases. Best Buy for Business Best Buy offers technology products specifically aimed at business customers through its business program. You can even find different payment and volume purchasing options. Hayneedle Business Sales Hayneedle’s business program is personalized to each business. The team works with you to pick out the furniture or décor items to suit your business. And you can get volume pricing as well. Ikea Business Ikea offers furniture products and services aimed at office, retail and hospitality businesses. You can even use planning tools to help put together your space. NewEgg Business For computers, parts and other technology, you can sign up for an account with NewEgg Business for savings and access to commercial grade products. Bed Bath & Beyond Business Direct Bed Bath & Beyond offers an assortment of office and home type products that could be relevant to different businesses. And with a business account, you can receive volume discounts and personalized service for your orders. Sears Commercial You can purchase appliances, tools and more for your business from Sears Commercial . You’ll also receive competitive pricing and customized service with an account. Lowe’s for Pros Whether you need building tools or appliances, you can use a Lowe’s business account to make your purchases. You can also save five percent on every purchase with a Lowe’s Business Credit account. Apple for Business Whether you want a new computer for your own business tasks or you want to supply iPhones or Apple Watches for your team, you can purchase through Apple for Business . Auto Zone Pro Automotive professionals, you can get parts and savings, along with service programs and features like electronic ordering through Auto Zone Pro. Walmart Corporate Accounts When you purchase through a Walmart corporate account , you can easily track and access your order history, manage payments and get gift cards for your employees to use or give as gifts. Dollar General Organizational Accounts Dollar General offers a program for organizations to set up accounts to keep expenses organized and save money. Organizational accounts are mostly set aside for non-profits, educational institutions and governmental agencies. But there are some opportunities for businesses like restaurants or manufacturers to save too. Meijer Business to Business Meijer offers savings to fellow businesses through a gift card program. You can purchase them as gifts or to give to employees to spend on supplies for their departments. You can even have them co-branded with your own company logo. BJ’s Business Membership You can join BJ’s Wholesale Club as a business member for $50. And with that, you receive access to high volume purchasing, coupons and other savings on products ranging from office supplies to grocery items. AT&T Business AT&T has business offerings for businesses of all sizes. Small businesses can get savings on phone and Internet bundles. Or you can sign up and purchase smartphones for you and/or your employees. Verizon Business Verizon also offers business plans for phone, Internet and various bundles of services. These may be helpful particularly for your communications needs. Starbucks Office Coffee If you want to keep your employees wide-eyed throughout the work day, you can provide them with various Starbucks coffee and tea products right in your office through the Starbucks Office Coffee program. Dollar Tree Direct to Business Dollar Tree offers savings to businesses including restaurants, event planners, cleaning services and even non-profits. You can sign up for an account online and compare prices to get the best deals. Sherwin-Williams Pro For contractors, Sherwin-Williams offers a pro account so that you can access savings and easily track your purchases. Dick’s Sporting Goods Team and Corporate Sales Whether your business sponsors a local sports team or you just want some apparel with your logo embroidered on it, you can get volume discounts through Dick’s business program . Office Depot Business Solutions Division Office Depot’s business program offers solutions for a variety of different industries. Along with products, you can even get access to services and support for your purchases. Tractor Supply Co. Volume Discounts While not completely exclusive to business customers, Tractor Supply Co. does offer volume discounts on things like agricultural and maintenance supplies that could be relevant to business customers. Williams-Sonoma Business Sales If you’re looking for high-end business gifts or gift cards for culinary items, Williams-Sonoma offers some savings for business customers, especially on large purchases. Advance Auto Parts Professional If you run an automotive business, you can save on select parts and rack up rewards by signing up for a professional account with Advance Auto Parts. Image: Home Depot This article, ” Retail Sites You Didn’t Realize Had Business Programs ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Richard Haasnoot presents another in a series of articles about how you can consistently generate at least 12 X more ideas than brainstorming Continue reading →

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Are your friends and family members loving something you make so much that they are encouraging you to think about starting a handmade business to sell it? If so, a handmade business could be for you. Or it could not be. It depends on a lot of things. Selling what you make can be a great way to get your entrepreneurial feet wet. You’d be in really good company , and there is no shortage of places to sell your handmade goods online . You can even secure your own branded website for as little as $20 to get started. On top of that, even the smallest cities and towns are home to local fairs and shows that are perfect for your handmade wares. On the other hand, many handmade entrepreneurs are gob smacked when they discover what it really takes to serve as maker and seller at the same time. Before diving in and starting a handmade business, you might want to ask yourself these questions to see if becoming a handmade entrepreneur may be right for you. Starting a Handmade Business? Ask Yourself … 1. Do I Want to Make the Same Things Over and Over Again? When starting a handmade business, everything is fresh and new. Your stress level is fairly low because there are no customer service issues and no broken website links to fix. You can make what you love to your heart’s content. But after the orders start rolling in, and you have to continue making the exact same thing, the exact same way, over and over again, boredom and monotony can creep in. While customers generally like to see new things introduced from time to time, most fall in love with a few things that they want to purchase over and over again — which means you have to make them over and over again. This is especially the case if you decide to wholesale your products. Consider this your warning, and if you are easily bored by nature, consider hiring someone to make products for or with you so you are not stuck with the monotony by yourself. 2. Do I Have Enough Money? It is less expensive than ever to start a business today because the Internet and new technologies have lowered the barriers to entry. It is also more expensive to start a business today because you now have to stand out in a crowded market place full of people who can start a business because of that decreased cost. A decade ago, handmade products were not available everywhere. That is no longer the case. While the pie of buyers is huge and there is plenty to go around, you still have to invest financially in your brand in order to make it stand out. Before starting a handmade business, do some research on prices for things like product photography, logo and graphic design, label printing services, booth design (if you will be doing shows), website design services and ingredients and product components. How much money you’ll need to start will vary depending on the business, but I would caution against starting any business without a minimum of $5,000 (that’s a low ball) to invest on these and other expenses. If you don’t have that much, consider saving it up before you start, or launch with an itty-bitty product line that won’t eat through your cash early on. 3. Am I Willing to be Patient? Once you launch your business, you will no doubt continue to hear the voices of your friends and family members singing your praises and telling you that your products are the best they have ever tried. After a few weeks, you’ll realize that you cannot live on their praises or their purchases, but will need to influence complete strangers to come to your booth or website and part with their hard earned cash. It is a slow and steady climb. You’ll need to do the same right things over and over again when no one is paying attention, and you’ll need to recover from some pretty big mistakes. You can do it, but it does not happen quickly. Expecting it to will make you depressed and demoralized. Be prepared for no one to care for several months before you start to see sales begin to come in on a fairly regular basis. 4. Do I Know (or Am I Willing to Learn) the Applicable Rules and Regulations? All industries, consumer products in particular, have rules and regulations participants of that industry are expected to follow. While there may be some exemptions for handmade or small producers grossing under a certain amount in sales each year, many regulations apply equally to all industry participants. You do not get a pass just because you are small. If you are exempt from any regulations, you can bet that the exceptions are specific and narrowly defined. Consumer protection agencies at the state and federal level have a keen interest in protecting consumers from unsafe products, so if boning up on the laws that apply to your industry is not on your to do list, keep your day job. 5. Am I Willing to Embrace Technology? One of the things I hear handmade entrepreneurs say about themselves time and time again is that they are not technologically savvy. This kind of attitude will kill your business before it even starts. While you don’t need to be the Steve Jobs of the handmade world, you do need to embrace technology in ways that will help your business grow. At a minimum , you need to learn how to blog, how to manage an email newsletter, how to maintain shopping carts, how to adjust the size and Web-friendliness of images and photographs, and how to use at least three social media outlets. If you cannot do all of those things, or are not willing to learn quickly, you will need to hire someone to do them for you or your business will fail. For the record — that is not an understatement. 6. Will I Put Myself Out There Personally? No matter what you make and sell, you are not the only one making and selling it. That’s why you will need to leverage your self in order to sell your products. Anyone can copy your products, but no one can copy you. If your plan is to stand on the greatness of your products alone, your plan is not a good one. Include yourself in the marketing mix by using services like Periscope and YouTube to tell the story of your brand. Put pictures of yourself on your About Page and in your newsletter and blog, and smile regularly for the camera via Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. People love to see a bit of the behind the scenes of your business. Invite them into your world and they will be more likely to stay a while and see what you have to offer. 7. Do I Have Thick Skin? If a customer does not like your product, they will tell you so … and not always in the nicest way. If you ask some of your business peers to provide feedback on your new logo or website, get ready for some serious honesty. If you cannot take this kind of heat now, get ready to be roasted when you start your business. When you are dealing with the public, you never know what is coming. People can be rude and disagreeable. They will tell you that your products are too expensive and that they can make them themselves. They will buy your products and tell you that they stink and they want their money back. You will ultimately have to deal with all of this with a smile. Be prepared to put your hurt feelings aside and just push through. If you don’t, the weight of your feelings will eventually crush you … and your business. Asking (and honestly answering) these questions in advance will save you tons of heartache, time and money, and you will be better prepared to lead your business over the long term. What did I miss? What other questions do handmade entrepreneurs need to ask themselves before starting a handmade business? Soap Image via Shutterstock This article, ” Is a Handmade Business Right For You? ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Content marketing isn’t producing the results it once did. Brands are producing more content on more channels but are seeing fewer results for their efforts, says a new report from competitive analytics company TrackMaven. Entitled “The Content Marketing Paradox Revisited,” the report examines at content marketing across multiple industries. Using its proprietary software, TrackMaven tracked 50 million pieces of content from nearly 23,000 brands and found that, even though output increased by 35 percent, engagement fell by 17 percent over 2015. It’s what the company calls the “content marketer’s paradox” — creating more content with less return. More specifically, brands increased year over year output on Twitter and Facebook by 60 percent and 31 percent respectively. However, branded content on blogs decreased by 12 percent over the same period. Despite the fact that engagement continues to fall, brands are unwilling to let up on content production, particularly where Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are concerned, the report concludes One explanation for this paradox is that it is getting more and more difficult for brands to get their voices heard amidst the noise. People are reaching a saturation point where only so much content can be consumed, liked, or shared. At the same time, turning up the volume by increasing content production does not seem to be the answer, according to the report. Adding to the conundrum is the fact that effective engagement on social networks mandates the use of paid advertising. “Think of it as the checks and balances of the Internet,” the report explains. “Social networks create a paywall between brands and audiences, thus putting the onus on marketers to create content worth the investment of paid promotion.” However, brands continue to decrease output of marketing content on their blogs even though this content does not have the same paywall between brand and audience. The report also surmises that the rise in mobile-device usage has led brands to create richer in-platform content, such as videos, photos, gifs, and link posts, that can be accessed easily and consumed quickly. TrackMaven concludes the report by advising brands to track engagement and referral traffic in order to understand which channels and content performs work best over time. The report also concludes that paid content promotion on social networks is a fact of life, and that brands need to adjust their budgets to accommodate that reality. However, the report also encourages brands to take more advantage of blogs. These channels don’t require paid content to reach an audience and can be a way to fuel a content distribution strategy, coupled with social networks as a feedback loop. TrackMaven is a competitive digital analytics company monitoring content performance and engagement for brands and measuring it against their competitors. The company says  it provides insights to help brands identify ideal channels, posting schedules and target audiences. Image: TrackMaven This article, ” Brands Doing More Content Marketing with Less Return, TrackMaven Says ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Are you confused about what innovation really is? If so, it’s probably not surprising. So in an attempt to get a few things off my chest…… Continue reading →

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Constant Contact, a company known for providing email marketing services for small businesses, has just been acquired by one of the largest providers of hosting and other online business services. The acquisition was valued at $1.1 billion. Endurance International is announcing the completion of the acquisition of Constant Contact first announced in November 2015 . Both are based in Massachusetts and have deep connections with the small business community. Gail Goodman, CEO of Constant Contact, said in an interview with Small Business Trends, “Our roots go way back. As early as 1999, when Endurance International was still called BizLand, we were part of a CEO breakfast group.” Constant Contact was founded in 1995 as Roving Software. Back then, email was just a way to communicate with friends, but the company foresaw that email could be a useful tool in marketing. The company saw rapid growth and added new products such as Event Marketing and Social Campaigns. Constant Contact also eventually opened offices in San Francisco and the U.K. Goodman says that by combining the two companies, there is potential to help small businesses build a contact list from day one. Hari Ravichandran, president and chief executive officer of Endurance, agrees. He adds, “We know that once small businesses have a Web presence, they look for other products and services that will help them to grow their business. We see an opportunity to help our growing subscriber base meet their goals through an integrated suite of solutions, and we are excited to add this talented team to our roster.” Endurance International, founded in 1997 as BizLand, began a Web hosting business. The company grew over the years by acquiring others, such as Accel-KKR and GS Capitals. The company’s stable of brands now includes HostGator, BlueHost, Typepad, Mojo Marketplace, SEO Gears, iPage and more. Acquired companies have been kept operating under their original brands, as is intended to be the case with Constant Contact. In an email to friends and  supporters following the announcement, Goodman announced her attention to leave  the company to do some consulting and reconnect with the Boston startup community. Image: Endurance International Group This article, ” Endurance International Completes Constant Contact Acquisition ” was first published on Small Business Trends

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Multi-task much? A recent study conducted by Microsoft Corporation found that the average human now has a shorter attention span than a goldfish. A goldfish can focus for nine seconds. People are down to a mere eight seconds. With so much information coming at us from screens of all sizes, this news shouldn’t surprise us. So, what exactly does this mean for marketers? One thing it means is that brands must strive to fully understand their readers when creating and/or sharing content. If not, their readers will quickly seek out — and find — other brands that offer them the content they prefer. Column Five’s infographic for Marketo , explains why publishing “snackable,” bite size  content is a popular (and effective) content marketing strategy. Bite Size Content: The Benefits What are the main benefits for brands that create and publish bite size content for on-the-go consumption? In a nutshell, their readers can see it, scan it, and quickly share it. More people are consuming content on their mobile devices, and they spend 60 percent of their time on social media. As screens become smaller and attention spans get shorter, brands must focus on feeding their audience the bite-sized content they crave. Consider adding the following bite-sized content ideas to boost your brand’s content and social media marketing: Regram/Retweet/Repost snackable content to save time and promote engagement. Keep content fresh by using content surrounding current events, national holidays, and major sports events. Use bite-sized content as a way to promote larger campaigns, giveaways, online events, etc. When appropriate, serve “extra light” bites to your audience, such as GIFs, memes, and inspirational quotes. Without a doubt, providing bite size content can satisfy your readers’ cravings and keep them coming back for more. Check out this infographic to learn more about successfully creating content for mobile audiences. Republished by permission. Original here . Image: Column Five This article, ” Bite Size Content is Fun and Easy to Digest for Readers ” was first published on Small Business Trends

[via Small Business Trends]

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