Mobile Pay for Your Small Business

Donna Vieira
Posted on in Inspiration

Nielsen Ratings’ 2014 Mobile Wallet Report states that 40 percent of those making payments with their smartphones prefer to use a mobile wallet such as PayPal or Google Wallet rather than their actual wallets.

Smartphone Payments Are the Future

A study conducted by the Federal Reserve Bank in 2014 found that smartphone payments at point of sales had increased by 11 percent from the previous year, with 17 percent of those polled having made use of such a payment option.

It is no longer a question of whether your business will need to accept mobile payments but rather when you will start to accept them.

The benefits to your business can be quite substantial – logistically, accepting mobile payment is not much different than accepting credit card payments – you just need to have the right app in place.

Capital One conducted a survey of businesses that had already started to accept mobile payments and the results were very positive. One out of 4 businesses made the switch in order to reduce need for a bulky point of sale system; 68 percent reported an increase in sales, 67 percent reported the system improved accounting processes and 63 percent reported that it improved ordering processes.

The benefit to the customer is also significant. They have no need to carry a number of different credit cards and will either be able to “swipe” their phone or tap to pay. For customers, this reduces the chances of card cloning and is a lot more convenient.

Many apps are free to download and can replace current point of sale programs. Sales are recorded in real time and sales reports can be downloaded with a few clicks. These apps make inventory control and tracking customer spending patterns a lot easier.

5 Mobile Payment Apps

Square: Square does not require any specialized equipment to work and can be downloaded for free. You do not pay any monthly fees, only a percentage of the sales amount.

PayPal Here: This allows clients to pay using their PayPal mobile accounts. They simply log in on their phones, check in with your business and transfer the funds through to your account.

Flint Mobile: The Flint app allows you to accept credit and debit card payments by scanning the card number (you do not need a point of sale device). This can be synced to a QuickBooks accounting system reducing the need to capture payments manually. You are charged a percentage of each purchase.

GoPayment by Intuit: This is one of the few apps that you pay a monthly subscription for, but the cost of the subscription includes the point of sale device needed to accept mobile payments. Your sales are automatically populated to your accounting software, reducing the need for manual input. You also pay a fee per transaction – a percentage of the amount.

Apple Pay: You do need hardware to make this work. Clients can pay using their Apple iPhone 6. All they have to do is to hold their phone over the point of sale hardware and authorize using their fingerprint.

More consumers are integrating mobile wallets into their lives, and businesses need a plan to capitalize on this trend while ensuring their customers’ safety. Smartphones have already changed the way that we conduct business. It makes sense that they will change the way that we pay for services as well. Businesses that avoid adopting mobile payment systems will find themselves missing out on a lucrative market.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Wasn’t All Wet for Marketing

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

Are you interested in utilizing digital marketing for your business but you’re not sure how to do it?

Experts agree that it’s easiest to copy the efforts of others in order to implement and take advantage of shortcuts than to try to reinvent the wheel.

Here’s what you can learn from last year’s ALS Ice Bucket Challenge….

How Did it Work?

At its core, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was simply a sponsored activity.

Participants signed up sponsors who agreed to donate a certain amount of money to the ALS foundation in return for the promise of the participant submitting themselves to having a bucket of ice water dumped on their head.

The same funding tactic has been used for years by runners who sign up sponsors who agree to donate a certain amount of money for every mile the runner completes.

Same Tactic, Different Results

Of course, the ALS Bucket Challenge took off like almost no other marketing campaign in history.

Over the course of it, the campaign generated over $50 million dollars. But why?

Are there any outstanding features of this campaign that you can mimic to generate similar results for your marketing campaign? Yes.

As the following article looks at, there are 18 reasons the ALS Bucket Challenge is your new standard in digital marketing. Here are eight of them:

1. It Worked

With more than $50 million dollars donated since its inception, there should be no doubt that sponsored campaigns can work.

2. It was Simple

If you want people to do something for something, you have to make it obvious. Give me money to have another person dump ice water over my head. What could be simpler than that?

3. It Made Use of Video

Video is the latest popular marketing tool. How could people prove they had ice water dumped over their head? A video.

4. No Tools Required

Dumping ice over a person’s head is way better than selling candy bars door to door. There is no stock to buy, no supplies to keep on hand. Open freezer, chill water, dump bucket. Done.

5. It was Unique

If someone had suggested dumping a bucket of ice over Marilyn Monroe’s head way back when, who knows? Maybe she would have gone for it, maybe not. But we can all agree it’s an interesting idea in any era.

6. It was Altruistic

Probably one of the most appealing aspects of the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was that no one benefits from it except the ALS Foundation. Celebrities weren’t paid, television studios didn’t make money off of air time, and no admin fees were paid. The only beneficiary was the foundation.

7. It wasn’t Geographically Specific

Since anyone could participate in any region of the world, people could participate when it was convenient for them. There were no crowds to gather, no permits to get, and no bleachers to set up. Participants could do it in their backyards in the middle of the night or the middle of the afternoon.

8. It was Social

Participants shared their ice bucket experiences on social media, and they had fun doing it. It was an emotionally charged experience that captured the attention of followers everywhere.

It was simple, unique, social and inspired.

These are the main qualities that got the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge to work, and they are the same qualities that can get your marketing campaign off the ground.

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

Why Videos are Key in the Sales Pitch

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

If you want to take your business to the next level, increase sales and make a solid impact on potential customers, it’s time to incorporate audio and visual aids into your presentations.

Of course, these must serve a purpose and shouldn’t just be added because you like them.

The bottom line is to get customers to purchase your service or product, and the proper use of videos in your presentations can majorly help with this.

Set the Scene

Imagine sitting down for a presentation from a local small business owner.

You have a hard time hearing the presenter, the visual effects look cheap and thrown together last minute and the presenter is constantly pausing to wait for the technology to load. Even if the presenter is highly educated and the company is successful, you won’t view it like that strictly because of the presentation.

More than likely, you will thank the presenter for their time but take your business elsewhere.

In order to have a strong impact on potential clients, your presentation must be top notch.

Reasons for Incorporating Videos into Presentations

Among the reasons video can work for you and your brand:

- It’s an emotional way to connect with the viewer – A video can tell a story and will evoke some sort of emotion from the viewer. Whether you want the viewer to feel excited about your business or feel like they must purchase your product today, a video will help get the response out of them that you’re hoping for. As the following article shows, if you’re a non-profit organization, check out Free Whiteboard Explainer Videos for Your Favorite Non-Profit.
- You’ll get a better response from the viewer – Customers react better to videos than they do to print presentations. A video helps establish your brand and draws the reader in, making it easier to make a sale than if you were to not include a video in your presentation;
- Your audience will be less likely to tune out – If someone’s giving a speech-only presentation, there’s a good chance audience members will tune out every now and then. By switching it up and incorporating videos into your presentation, you’ll capture the audience’s attention for a longer period of time. This, in turn, has a bigger impact on your audience and will lead to an increase in sales.

You can incorporate a video into your presentation on your own or you can hire someone to make one for you.

If you want your video to have a more professional feel to it, it’s probably a good idea to hire someone.

Videos that are put together well and relay the brand in a professional manner are most likely to be remembered and have the greatest impact.

While a video alone may not make or break a sale, a video paired with a stellar speech, clever graphics and a message that can’t be forgotten is certain to have a positive impact on your business.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on a variety of topics including small businesses, social media and personal finance.

Ways Your Franchise Marketing Stands Out

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

Stop for a moment and think about how hard you have worked to get your very first franchise.

From putting together a strategy for finding the necessary funding, taking over your initial franchise can be both a blessing and a nightmare.

Staying on the positive side of things, having a franchise allows you to be your own boss, something more and more people yearn for in today’s world. It also allows you opportunities for unprecedented growth.

On the other hand, running your own franchise can be fraught with many hours of work, having to come up with funds for this need and that need, and ultimately deciding whether or not you can continue to make a go of it when things get tough.

So, ready to own your own franchise?

Strategy is Key

When you own your own franchise, whether you found it via Franchise Expo or another such provider, you can’t overlook the importance of having a sound marketing strategy to promote your passion and livelihood.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a good marketing strategy, take these factors to heart:

- Mission – What is the mission of your marketing ambitions? Are you going to market locally, nationally or perhaps even globally? Let’s say your plan is to only market to locals, with the idea of expanding that down the road. It is a good idea to have a grip on the local economy. Who locally is most apt to respond in a positive manner to your marketing efforts? Who would for lack of a better term be a waste of time marketing to locally? Know the demographics so you can zero in on those most likely to do business with you;
- Message – What exactly will your message be? Don’t just put a message out there that you’re better than the competition and expect folks to rush right on over. Why are you better than the competition? What sets your franchise apart from others? Just as an opposing candidate for political office is better served saying what they would do if in office and not just attacking the incumbent, you and your franchise are better served by saying what makes you the best;
- Means – Finally, what means will you use to market your franchise? While traditional marketing along the lines of newspapers, magazines, radio, email etc. are still good in many instances, social media and mobile marketing continue to be very viable alternatives, especially the last one. With mobile marketing, you can tap directly into a consumer’s mobile device. Most indicators are that mobile marketing will only continue to bloom this year and beyond, so make sure you’re a part of it.

Owning a franchise can be a wonderful experience in so many ways, especially when it comes to being financially rewarding.

When you know how best to market your franchise, your odds of being successful suddenly go up.

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes for a variety of websites on topics such as marketing and small business.

Are Mobile Coupons On Your Radar?

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

When over 55% of online users will redeem a digital coupon at least once a year, retailers can’t afford to miss the opportunity to connect with consumers on the mobile front.

Are mobile coupons on your marketing radar?

As the following article notes, is your business getting the most out of mobile coupons?

Here are some ideas for businesses to get engaged with the mobile coupon market in 2015….

Time Your Delivery

Timing is everything, especially in the mobile coupon business.

If you want to really reach out and touch your customers where they live, time your mobile coupon delivery so it corresponds with their lives.

For example, if you run a pizza business send out those coupons so they reach mobile device users between the time they leave the office and 7 p.m., when everyone will be wondering what’s for dinner.

Tweet Them Out

Did you know a whopping 94% of people follow brands on Twitter just so they can get digital coupons?

Reward their loyalty with daily or weekly coupons delivered right where they can use them most – on their cell phones and tablets.

Make Them Feel Special

When customers have to opt in to receive your mobile coupons, they feel special. Don’t pass coupons out like candy. That method devalues the value of your coupon, which is the opposite of what you want.

Instead, ensure customers sign up and then confirm their email address before sending discounts to their mobile devices.

Wield Your Power

Use the power of opt-ins to track consumers’ use of your mobile coupons.

Assign coupon codes that will allow you to anonymously monitor whether the consumer actually used the coupon. Once you measure the results of your marketing campaign, you can tweak it as necessary to fulfill your marketing ambitions.

Toot Your Horn

There’s nothing wrong with stating the obvious when it makes you look good. Mobile coupons are green.

When you change up your print campaign to go green, shout it out. This is a good reason to Tweet.

Even though lots of other companies are following suit, your company’s followers will appreciate your recognition of the importance of going green.

Use Powerful Nomenclature

Your mobile coupon subject line can carry a powerful message that either entices your target customer to open it up and use the coupon, or to ignore it because it’s passé and boring.

Tired phrases like BOGO are run of the mill. Why not excite your customers with more meaningful subject lines like, “Last chance,” “Selection not guaranteed,” or “Crazy Deal.”

Make it Worth Their While

Don’t cheap out on giving your customers a bargain.

Either give them something worthwhile or don’t waste their time. Tiny percentages like 10% off are barely worth the effort it takes to open a text message.

Give your customers something to look forward to, and they’ll give you something to antiquate – increased profits due to increased mobile coupon use.

About the Author: Kate Supino writes extensively about best business practices.

Will Your Social Media Actions Spell Disaster?

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

Whether you’re a homeowner/renter, job applicant or business owner, using social media can be a boon for you in a number of ways.

But what about when you incorrectly use social networking?

From home break-ins to lost job opportunities to angry customers, misusing social media can have a negative impact on a number of fronts.

Know the Ropes with Social Media

In order to lessen the chances that you will use social media incorrectly in 2015 and beyond, keep these tips in mind:

Don’t Be Too Public – For homeowners and renters, being too public with their Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and other such profiles can be an open invitation to trouble. Whether you have http://homesecurity911.com/adt/california/ or another such security system in your residence, telling people via social media that you will be out of town, etc., is a recipe for disaster. Make such announcements only in a private setting if you want, meaning only those you trust as friends and followers will know such information. Criminals have become very educated and brazen when it comes to tracking social media information, allowing them to search for their next target;

Clean Up Your Online Profile – With millions of people still out there looking for work, finding the right job oftentimes means competing with several dozen and even hundreds of people. Given the competition, you want your social media profile to be clear of questionable comments regarding past employers and/or co-workers, religious and other groups, immature photos and more. Given that more companies are viewing social media profiles before candidates even set foot in the door for an interview, make sure your profile is clean as can be;

Don’t Go Public with Customer Disputes – Back in the “old days” of doing business, most companies did not have to worry too much about customer disputes getting out in the public eye. Sure, some angry customers would tell their friends and family not to do business with a company that they felt gave them bad service and/or bad products. Today, however, such feelings can spread virally in a short period of time. If a customer takes issue with a business, they can quickly talk about it on any number of social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Google+ etc.). In turn, the business in question is left with the decision of responding publically or privately to the issue or ignoring it altogether. Doing the latter never seems to do any good; so many businesses will try and resolve the matter as quickly as possible. What business owners need to be careful of is responding in a way that comes across as insulting to the customer. Best to deal with the issue publically in a professional manner so that viewers see you addressed the matter; take it private if you want to have a bit more of a discussion without it turning nasty.

With all social media has to offer, you can see why so many individuals and businesses are apt to use it.

Using it correctly, however, is and always will be the most important matter at hand.

About the Author: Dave Thomas writes for a variety of websites on topics such as small business and crime.

Take a Tip from Starbucks and Others

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

What is it that makes certain companies rock social media and utilize all of its benefits whereas other companies just can’t seem to get it right?

By building a successful social media marketing campaign, businesses can grow their company, gain more customers, and hire more employees and more all by having a solid online presence.

How big brands are using social media

Being on social media is no longer an option, but a must for both large and small businesses. Without an online following, your business can only go so far.

Let’s take a look at some bigger brands and what they’re doing to successfully build a social media marketing campaign:

Target – This well-known retailer focuses on engaging customers rather than selling them. They do this by using Pinterest to share images and interact with its customer base. Target also knows that discounts and promotions are a driving factor in getting more people into their stores, so they aren’t afraid to offer them via their social media channels.

Subway - The sandwich shop has an incredibly large social media following, specifically on Facebook and Twitter. The main reason for their success is attributed to their engagement with their followers. Social media users don’t just want to be sold a product, they want to interact with the company. Clearly, Subway has successfully done just that.

Red Bull – Red Bull found a way to relate to their target audience on social media by showcasing athletes, thrill seekers, race car drivers and more. Red Bull interacted with followers by showcasing interactive games on Facebook and holding a ‘photo of the week’ contest on Twitter. This got people interested, it got people talking and sharing, and it ultimately got the brand selling more and more cans of Red Bull to their target audience.

Starbucks - There’s no doubt about it – Starbucks is definitely doing something right. As the leading retailer in coffee, they are a brand to be admired. Their number one focus is, of course, the people. The article “Social recruitment strategies to learn from: Starbucks” states that Starbucks has built an all-encompassing social media marketing strategy that includes an information-rich career page, a massive Twitter following that allows potential candidates to find jobs and an Instagram page that showcases the day-to-day life of Starbucks employees and customers.

Tony Restell, Social-Hire.com’s CEO, sums up the value of social media perfectly. “Historically, businesses have had to advertise in order to reach the candidates with their business needs. When the advertising spend dries up, so too does the candidate’s interest in their business. Social media has completely changed this dynamic. Companies can now build their own audience or readership by adopting the right social media strategy – and therefore generate candidate interest in their business without the same reliance on paying to advertise to other people’s readerships,” he states.

This is good news for businesses everywhere.

Whether you are looking to grow your customer base, find the most qualified candidates to hire or make a difference in the world through your business and brand, social media is the answer.

There’s no better time than now to start implementing some of the strategies from the companies listed above who clearly understand the ins and outs of social media.

Learn from the best, adapt the strategies to fit your own business model and watch the difference it will make on your company.

About the Author: Sarah Brooks is a freelance writer living in Charlotte, NC. She writes on a variety of topics including social media, small businesses and personal finance.

Embrace Publishing Like These Successful Brands in 2015

John Foley, Jr.
Posted on in Inspiration

Content marketing has continued to pick up steam, and most businesses are on board with the strategy at least in one way or another. According to HubSpot, over 70 percent of marketers are being given more funds for their content marketing efforts. As this method surges forward, brands are becoming publishers in their own right. So, if you need some inspiration for your brand’s content, here’s a look at three companies who have mastered the art of content publishing:

Barneys

Barneys New York is a fashion titan. Known as a premiere, luxury department store, the company regularly draws in buyers with some serious money to spend. Beyond maintaining its social media channels, Barneys created a website that educates customers and ultimately incites them to buy. Barneys’ site is called The Window, and its tagline boasts, “insider fashion access” as a way to lure in those who consider themselves fashion-forward and sophisticated.

The well-designed site offers a look at current clothing as well as a section reserved for style bloggers and influencers so that the apparel-obsessed can get the inside scoop on upcoming trends. And, by posting regular pieces that put together sample outfits (from Barneys of course) and providing tips for everything from mastering the holiday dress code to choosing the perfect presents, Barneys keeps its information up to date and enticing.

DriveTime

DriveTime is a company that helps people find and finance the used car of their dreams. When it comes to content, it’s another example of a business doing things right. DriveTime relies upon its Twitter page to give advice, answer frequently asked questions and direct prospects to information that they’re likely to be seeking when buying a car. They frequently publish content that is high quality and stands out. If you want to give customers a reason to call on you as an expert in your field, give them rich content on a reliable schedule.

Red Bull

One more company that handles content publishing with finesse is the energy drink giant, Red Bull. The company launched a website called Red Bulletin that has become somewhat of a lifestyle magazine. Customers get a lot more than sales pitches at this site because it provides visitors with pop culture highlights, extreme sports commentary and Q&As with famous people. This means that when people become fans of the content you offer, you are a successful brand publisher.

DIY

If you’re looking to get on board with content marketing this year, get ready to become a publisher. To be the most effective, first decide which forums you’re going to distribute your content through such as a blog, a landing page or specific social media platforms. The next step is to create an editorial calendar that consists of topics your buyers are interested in as well as any seasonal events or holidays. Finally, it’s time to write and publish.

Overall, 2015 can be your best year for marketing yet, and your publishing efforts can get you a whole lot of customer love to boot.

Are SMS Surveys a Part of Your Marketing Plan?

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

Businesses have utilized the survey for many years to garner valuable information about customers and their shopping habits.

They began with in-person surveys as well as telephone and mail surveys. The information gleaned from the answers to the questions that helped businesses make decisions about what products or services to offer and how to market them.

Fast forward to today when people are busier than ever and don’t have a lot of time to sit down at the computer or read their mail to answer a survey.

And yet, since they carry mobile devices everywhere, businesses have another option to get the answers they need to improve marketing.

Most people have notifications set to alert them when a text message comes in.

They check it immediately no matter what they are doing. This gives businesses the prime opportunity to get in front of customers in a whole new way.

Why SMS Surveys are Beneficial

As the following article shows, businesses can use SMS surveys to satisfy customers and provide a better shopping experience.

They provide a higher rate of response, especially if they are kept simple. They also give businesses information quickly from larger numbers that may be more accurate.

Another reason businesses may want to utilize this option is that it is a cost-effective way of gaining the information they need to improve customer service and increase profits. It is less expensive than other survey options and provides data in a shorter amount of time.

Surveys in general make the customers feel like they are important and that their opinions matter. Text or SMS surveys add a convenience factor that lets them know you respect their busy schedules.

Creating an Effective SMS Survey

The survey must be designed with the customer in mind.

First, you must receive permission to send text messages to any customers to abide by regulations.

Once you have that, you have to tailor the survey to fit the concept of the text message. You can find companies that will create and send messages for you, but you must design the basics and choose your questions.

An optimal survey will include only a few short questions. No more than five or even fewer is ideal.

These questions should be yes/no, multiple choice or true/false. That way, it only takes a minute for the person to respond and no typing is required.

By making it simple and easy, you are more likely to get a higher response rate.

Determine what information and results you want to get out of the survey and tailor your questions to that goal.

Make the questions clear and easy to understand. Remember that you may be connecting with people who are busy and involved in other activities at the moment they are reading your message.

Above all, make sure that you use the information to make changes or improvements.

Let your customers know how their opinions impacted these changes, and they will be more likely to respond in the future.

About the Author: Joyce Morse is an author who writes on a variety of topics, including business and marketing.

Make Text Messaging a Priority in 2015

guestposter
Posted on in Inspiration

By now, your business marketing budget has areas for branding efforts, social media development, content marketing, web site development and management.

It probably also has provisions for traditional marketing methods like sponsorships, community outreach, and so on.

But you may be missing one key ingredient in your marketing plan.

This one ingredient can help bring your business services to the forefront in a fairly new arena. This newer arena hasn’t yet been exploited by so many businesses as to make your marketing efforts redundant.

That arena is text messaging, sometimes called SMS, or text marketing.

As the following article shows, here are 7 clear advantages of text marketing and why you should make text messaging a priority in 2015.

1. You’ll reach people where they live

Almost everyone has a smart phone. And nearly everyone is highly responsive to their smart phones, because that’s their connection to their friends, their employers, and more. So when that smart phone buzzes or rings to notify them that they have an email, a call or a text, you know they’ll be reaching immediately into their purses or back pocket to find out what the message is.

2. Its ROI is off the charts

The investment that you need to make into text messaging is nominal. Your highest costs might be associated with hiring a marketing writer to come up with some persuasive copy for the text messages you send out. After that, you might pay a nominal fee to automate the text messages. Your potential return on investment for text marketing compared to any other marketing method is sky high.

3. It is easily scalable

Since you’ll be managing a body of text messages to be sent out, you can quickly and easily scale your marketing campaign almost immediately after you secure new leads. Just add the new mobile number into your database of recipients and you’re done. Your database can grow exponentially with very little effort on your part.

4. You can integrate it into your existing campaign

If you subscribe to the “touch each customer six times” marketing theory, you’ll love how easy it will be to make text messaging one of those “touches.” Conceivably, you could even remove one of your other marketing funnel elements and replace it with this less costly option.

5. It is environmentally friendly

Rather than send out paper mailers, coupons or other marketing “junk mail,” you can use text messaging to cut down on the trillions of tons of paper waste that occurs just in this country alone.

6. You’ll reach a broader demographic

Even preteens and grandparents have smart phones now. When you make text messaging part of your marketing strategy in 2015, you’ll be able to reach a much broader demographic than ever before, with little or no additional cost.

7. Your recipients want your message

Text messaging is opt-in. That means the people have reached out and asked you to contact you with your business message. That’s a powerful incentive for them to respond to your marketing texts.

Effective marketing has always been about reaching as many people as possible with the message you want them to act on. There’s no easier way to accomplish that in 2015 than with text messaging.

About the Author: Kate Supino is a business and marketing guru who writes extensively about best business practices.