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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

Bad online reviews can cause potential customers to shop elsewhere, negatively impacting your business’ bottom line. If your business has received a bad online review, here are steps you can take to handle it and minimize the damage.

Respond to Customer Reviews

Ignoring a bad review won’t make it go away. On the other hand, responding to customer reviews can result in better ratings and improve your business’ online reputation.

The Harvard Business Review analyzed tens of thousands of hotel reviews and responses from TripAdvisor. The study found that around a third of reviews on TripAdvisor receive a response and almost a half of hotels respond to reviews. According to the study, hotels that respond to customer reviews receive 12 percent more reviews and their ratings increase by an average of 0.12 stars.

Yelp for Business Owners points out that responding to reviews is a great way to learn from your customers and build goodwill among your most vocal customers.  Read more...


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used with permission from SBA.gov., by Anita Campbell

When it comes to online advertising, there’s a powerful technique called “retargeting.” On Google Adwords the approach has another name. Google calls it “remarketing,” but no matter what you call this method, it can be a game changer.

Retargeting enables you to show your ad to someone who has visited your site or seen your product online, even after they have left your site.  You can also use this technique to turn an abandoned shopping cart into a sale. That’s because retargeting allows shoppers to see the product several times again in ads across the Web.

There are other marketing objectives you may want to consider, too. You can set retargeted ads to appear to users who visited your site, encouraging them to come back and register or sign up for your newsletter.

You are not limited to Google AdWords if you want to do retargeting.  Read more...


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used with permission from HP Tech@Work

8 business trends for 2018 – and beyond

As the calendar rolls over into 2018, we’re looking into the crystal ball at business trends that will shape the upcoming year – and years to come.

Community engagement over social media interaction

Despite the proliferation of smartphones and connected devices, companies are recognizing that social media and virtual connections cannot replace the value of live, in-person interaction with their customers, or the communities they’ve created.

Smart companies will recognize that social media and technology can enhance the value, and effectiveness, of face-to-face interactions, making them even more meaningful.

Generation Z making waves in the talent pool

Generation Z – those born after 1998 – reaching an age where they’re entering the workforce, and their influence on business is starting to be felt. Estimated at nearly 70 million strong, the upper reaches of this group are into college or joining the workforce, and will soon outnumber their Millennial predecessors.  Read more...


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used with permission from Microsoft US Small and Midsize Business Blog

A few years ago, a startup called Groove that makes helpdesk software found itself just months from running out of money. The founders did something unusual for businesspeople in that situation: They devoted themselves to rethinking their content marketing strategy. Then they took the radical step of telling the story of their company on their blog with complete transparency, including revealing their actual numbers. The result of this daring move? They now have more than 6,000 customers and annual recurring revenue of $10 million.

Interested? That’s because you’ve been hooked by a story.

  • Use the power of storytelling. Narrative is fundamental to the way the human mind works. It’s how we construct meaning and make sense of the world—just think of the power of myths in shaping societies and belief systems. We tell ourselves stories about our own lives to discover who we are.
  Read more...

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How do you sound to your customers and co-workers? First impressions are lasting impressions. That’s why every telephone conversation counts. The impression you make on your co-workers and customers is based on your tone of voice, energy and attitude.

Because so many workplace transactions are conducted solely by telephone, it is extremely important to have an awareness of how you sound during these conversations. This is just the first step in improving your telephone skills. When you know what to listen for, you can identify and correct verbal habits or mannerisms that may create barriers between you and your customers.

Here are 5 easy tips to improve your telephone voice:

  1. Smile! You will convey a pleasant and cooperative attitude. A smile communicates that you are approachable, professional, and that you genuinely care about your customers. If you don’t convey all three of these messages, why on Earth would anyone want to do business with you?
  Read more...

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used with permission from Microsoft For Your Business

Too many small-business owners think marketing is like a trip to the dentist—something you just have to do every six months or so.

When marketing is continuous and targeted, business gets easier. If prospects have a positive view of your products and reputation, you’re that much closer to getting a sale.

Here are 10 ideas for doing that—on the cheap.

1. Take steps to make customers feel special.

Customers respond to being recognized, especially in these rush-rush, get-the-lowest-price times. “Even with a web-based business, good customer service is possible,” says Denise McMillan, Co-owner of Plush Creations, an online retailer of handcrafted travel bags. McMillan encloses a small, rose-scented sachet in every jewelry and lingerie bag she sells and also sends a handwritten thank-you note. “The sachet and note cost pennies but add something special to the purchase,” she says.

2. Create business cards that prospects keep.  Read more...


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used with permission from SBA.gov
by Caron Beesley

social-media-for-business

Is your small business on social media? Is it working for you? Tried it but not convinced?

Social media is the top online activity in the U.S., according to Marketing TechBlog it also has a huge influence on consumer buying decisions. Forty-six percent of web users look towards social media when making a purchase, while 8 out of 10 SMBs report that they are using social media to drive growth.

Social media is clearly a proven channel for helping small business find and convert prospects – but it takes time and effort. Small businesses need to find ways to ways to connect, engage and drive actions.

If you’re looking for ideas to kick start or continue building your business using social media, here are six golden rules that can help.

Integrate your marketing channels

How do you get found on Twitter, Facebook or any social media platform?  Read more...


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Have you noticed how the face of business has turned online. In the past getting your name out as a business was straightforward, hire an ad agency, get a billboard, simple