How to Run a Craft Business From Home

To be successful, you have to master marketing yourself too.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The 21st century is loudly being proclaimed the era of the digital entrepreneur, and it’s indisputable that it’s easier to run your business from home now than ever before. This has led to a huge surge in craft businesses being operated from the home, as many aspiring artists and clever entrepreneurs understand that they can make impressive livings for themselves by harnessing the power of the internet and modern shipping methods.

Related: What It Really Takes to Be a Successful Mom Entrepreneur

Here’s how you can run a craft business from your home with success, and the key missteps you should be aware of if you want to make it in the long-term.

It’s all about mastering your niche.

First and foremost, you need to understand what it takes to make money in the craft business. Regardless of how talented you are or how impressed some of your friends and family were with your early creations, you can only make it in this industry by finding your niche, honing your talent and marketing like crazy to a select number of consumers who are likely to scoop up your goods in droves. An easy way to get a jumpstart on this process is to start scoping out local craft shows, which provide you with opportunities to show off your goods, network with other creators and entrepreneurs, and even make a quick buck or two depending on how lucky you are.

People who attend craft shows are obviously more likely to scoop up your goodies and services more so than average members of the public, but that doesn’t mean you should only be marketing to these people when fairs are going on. At craft shows, be sure you’re handing out cards, creating an email list and distributing your website link to customers who display any sort of interest in your stall. If you read that last line and said “well, I don’t have a website,” then it’s time to move on to the next step — establishing a presence for yourself on the internet.

Related: 3 Essentials for Building a Loyal Customer Base

Running a craft business from home takes commitment, which means you should look into establishing an LLC, which will help you when it comes to paying taxes and give your craft business a formal flair that’s sure to lure in more customers. Furthermore, it’s easier for you to get a formal website up and running — and developing a popular fan base — if you have a legitimate brand to leverage in your favor.

Now that you’ve set up your own company officially, you’ll want an impressive webpage that details your products and helps consumers contact you should they have special request. Taking commissions can be a struggle, but it’s a surefire way to bolster your revenue stream while guaranteeing that a happy customer is likely to recommend you to a friend or return for more shopping in the future. As the U.S. Small Business Administration reminds the public, too, craft businesses that know their customers are those which succeed more than others.

Market yourself like crazy.

Once you have a website up and running, you may be tempted to take a break and think you’ve established yourself on the web, but in truth, you’re just getting started. After establishing your website, you’ll need a myriad of social media pages that can direct web traffic towards your website and orders page. Having an established presence on today’s leading social media platforms will help you advertise, especially when people share your page and creations and spread your image and name around for free on their own time.

Related: 4 Ways to Grow an Authentic Instagram Following in 2019

Websites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were all but purpose-built for craft businesses operated out of the home; they help you show off impressive images of your wares and help you build pages and groups of like-minded individuals online who likely share the same hobbies related to sewing and craft interests. The dizzying world of social media can be downright complex at times, however, and it’s understandable that some business owners don’t know where to begin when it comes to mastering the intricacies of the digital world.

You should take some time to read up on simplified social media marketing, as this is an area you really can’t afford to ignore if you want your craft business from home to be anything other than a part-time hobby. As costly as it may be, it’s likely even worth your while to hire a full time social media assistant once your business starts to take off, as they can generate an impressive amount of buzz surrounding your company and niche products. As your team grows, you may even find yourself leaving your home.

Running a craft business from home isn’t easy, but it has huge creative and profitable potential, and can be mastered with the right knowhow. Follow the above steps, and your craft business will soon be turning your living room into a veritable stock exchange, so high will your profits be soaring.

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This $49 Automation Tool Helps You Send Better Custom Emails

With Stackmails, you can send personalized messages to up to 2,000 recipients.


2 min read

Disclosure: Our goal is to feature products and services that we think you’ll find interesting and useful. If you purchase them, Entrepreneur may get a small share of the revenue from the sale from our commerce partners.


Emails are an essential part of every marketing strategy and a seemingly basic one. The technology is virtually ubiquitous, after all, and hasn’t evolved much in the few decades since AOL took the World Wide Web by storm. (Guess you could say we’ve still got mail.) 

However, “basic” isn’t a word most industry pros would use to describe email marketing. Almost a third of marketers surveyed by the consulting firm Liberty Interactive Marketing cited email as the most difficult tactic to execute in regard to generating leads. It requires thoughtful planning and a careful approach because even if you manage to amass a decent-sized list of subscribers, you’ve got to make sure they’re actually reading your content, not immediately dooming it to their trash folder based on the subject line alone.

Personalizing your emails can drastically improve your open and click-through rates, but good luck finding the time and bandwidth to message every single name on your contact list. Luckily, there’s always Stackmails, an email automation tool that just went on sale in the Entrepreneur Store.

Stackmails makes it easy to create and schedule personalized campaigns for customers and prospects alike, ensuring your content is always relevant to the reader. It automates sending custom emails and drip campaigns straight from your Gmail account(s), which you can tailor for up to 2,000 recipients using custom mail merge fields. Each recipient will then get certain follow-up messages based on whether they opened an email, replied to it, or otherwise.

Stackmails also features analytics and tracking tools that let you monitor delivery, open, click, reply, and bounce rates. Plus, you can integrate .csv or MySQL into your Stackmails campaign to bring over leads from your website or online store. 

Lifetime subscriptions to the Stackmails Email Automation Unlimited Plan normally cost more than $2,200, but our readers can sign up for just $49 — a savings of 97 percent.

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This Suggestive Super Bowl Commercial Takes ‘Food Porn’ to a New Level

With its first-ever ad for the Super Bowl, frozen food company Devour follows a man addicted to ‘frozen food porn’ and his frustrated wife.


2 min read


“My boyfriend is addicted to frozen food porn.” 

That’s the opening line of Devour‘s first-ever Super Bowl commercial — or, at least, the 60-second uncensored version. The comedic ad follows a couple’s strained relationship in the face of one man’s “food porn” addiction, which leads to trust issues, problems in the bedroom and even his girlfriend’s discovery of his “hidden stash” of sticky food magazines and used napkins. 

Devour, a Kraft Heinz brand launched in 2016, has tested limits in its marketing campaigns from the very start, with a “Food You Want to Fork” tagline and a commercial featuring a boss finding his employee “spanking” his office lunch with a fork. 

The company’s new ad proved too racy to air in its entirety during the Super Bowl, but Devour has reportedly worked with CBS to agree on a tamer 30-second version. It also launched an accompanying food-porn hotline in the name of satire. Upon dialing 1-83-FOODPORN, you’ll hear a sultry woman’s voice whisper, “Hey, Saucy … Are you ready for some oral pleasure?” Pressing different numbers will bring you you to dirty-sounding descriptions of the company’s different products, such as Buffalo Chicken Mac & Cheese.

The uncensored version ends with a dejected warning from the man’s girlfriend: “This addiction can happen to anyone. It’s hard to resist.” Devour follows that up with its new tagline: “Never just eat, Devour.” 

 

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What to Do When Your Client Is Just Not Referable

If you find yourself in this situation, make sure you are able to take feedback and adjust.


4 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


A friend of mine in BNI recently told me a story about her early days in the organization. Her name is Meaghan and when she joined the group, she had just come out of the construction management industry. Although she was now working as a business coach, she was still dressing to fit in at a construction site. Her entire wardrobe, according to her, was casual shirts and khaki pants which was well-dressed within the context of a construction site. One day, two of her fellow members conducted a little “intervention.” They sat down with her and said, “we want to help you because — right now, as a business coach — you’re just not referable! You don’t present a professional image.” They went on to say that they believed that she was really good at what she did because they have seen her in action. The problem was that she made a marginal first impression when she showed up at a potential client’s office.

Now whether we agree with this intervention or not, one thing is definitely true: People’s feelings are their reality and these individuals felt they couldn’t refer her to their business clients because of the first impression that Meaghan was giving them. When someone gives a referral, they give a little bit of their reputation away.  Meaghan’s potential referral partners understood that if they referred her and she didn’t look the part, she might not get the business, along with the likelihood the recommendation would potentially reflect poorly on her referrers.

Related: The Steps You Should Take If You Want to Build Business Off Referrals

Meaghan told me that she felt that her credibility as a coach came exclusively from what she knew and what she was talking about not other things like the way she dressed. Although she was really shocked by the statement, she took a moment and gave an absolutely brilliant response. She said, “Okay, so what are we going to do about it?” She went on to say that if they were going to drop this bomb on her, they couldn’t just turn and run for the hills. They had to help her out. 

The sheer fact that she had the clarity of mind to not get defensive and listen to the feedback that was being given was an absolute testament to her “walking the talk” as a coach. This openness to feedback allowed her to address the matter effectively and gave permission to her two potential referral partners to genuinely help her. The two women that sat down with her then connected her with a cosmetic consultant and a hair stylist. One of the ladies even let Meaghan go shopping in her closet to find clothes that fit the role she now had as a professional business coach.

For your own situation, I would like you to think about, “how referable are you?” I certainly don’t know your situation, but I would suggest to you that unless you are getting more referrals than you can possibly handle, you may not know either. So here’s the scary part — go out and ask some people you know and trust if they would first, give you an honest answer to that question, and second, be willing to help you if they have suggestions.

Related: How to End a Conversation — Without Offending Anyone Around You

Meaghan likes to say, “With a great network, anything is possible. The big contact that you are looking for, the golden goose, the dream referral. All of it can happen, if you are open to feedback.” Meaghan was open to feedback and her life has changed because of it. She’s now a successful business person handling many complex project management assignments that impact hundreds of thousands of people. Based on results, that brief meeting had a life-long impact on her life. Meetings like this can do the same for you. So, spend a little time and find out just how referable you are.

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How AI Is Driving Marketing Automation

AI is consolidating the many tools we use to create and manage customer experiences.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Marketing automation is a rapidly growing industry set to expand by 8.55 percent this year, increasing market capitalization to $5.5 billion by 2019. Given the benefits, it’s not surprising that more than half of companies use some form of marketing automation already.

As the industry grows in the next year, we can expect to see some particular trends in how marketing automation utilizes artificial intelligence (AI) to better target customers. AI is already widely used in marketing automation, for some very compelling reasons. Here’s a look at the most popular use cases.

To reach more people.

AI allows marketers to engage new customers who match their existing customer profiles more efficiently. Customers’ interests, buying habits, and past interactions can be combined to give sales teams a vast pool of data to analyze and filter down to likely targets. This allows marketing to be more efficient and enables companies to build highly-targeted content.

Email marketing, ad content, social media marketing and search engine optimization all benefit from the intelligent analysis of customer data that would not be possible without the processing power of AI.

Customer retention

An even bigger challenge than finding customers is keeping them. Customer retention is the basis of every company’s success, so continuing to provide value and relevant content is key.

AI enables companies to remain up-to-date with minimal input, bringing customers tailored content, personalized recommendations, and providing one-on-one human-like assistance with chatbots and virtual assistants.

Related: 3 Pillars of Client Retention Every Brand Needs to Implement

Increasing efficiency

Chatbots are a vital tool in increasing efficiency while decreasing overhead costs. A chatbot can use personalized information for each customer it speaks to, allowing it to provide real-time, valuable assistance or service in a targeted and friendly manner.

AI allows this increase in efficiency while enhancing user experience through personalization and timeliness. The majority of consumers are now familiar and comfortable interacting with chatbots.

Related: 4 Uses for a Chatbot That Will Transform Your Business

Trends to watch in 2019

More and more companies are being drawn to marketing automation, and as they are, they help to define the important developments in the industry. 2019 promises to be an exciting year of growth for AI in marketing.

Trend 1: Voice and visual searches

Organic search opportunities continue to be very lucrative for companies. Slightly more than half of product searches currently originate on Amazon, but there is a growing trend in voice and visual searches using IoT devices.

More and more devices have smart speakers; 55.5 percent of customers owning such a device use it to search for products vocally, and 44.2 percent use it to purchase. Savvy marketers are now focusing on generating content to capture voice searches to unlock this expanding market.

Visual searches are also on the rise as the technology behind them improves. Facial recognition is at the tip of the iceberg. Reverse image lookup is another related and emerging technology that’s sure to grow rapidly in the next year.

Trend 2: Improved customer experience

Whether it’s through personalization, automation or chatbots, customers expect a very high level of service. Tailored content is now so widely available that it is becoming the norm, and companies not using ML and AI to deliver unique messaging to each consumer are suffering.

The good news is that using this technology is not limited to brands with a big budget. Any company can deploy automated marketing campaigns based on AI to enhance their customer’s experience.

Trend 3: Predictive lead scoring

Predictive lead scoring uses factors such as demographics, social information, online posts and behavioral data to analyze potential leads and assign them a score to predict whether the lead is qualified or not.

This enormously enhances the efficiency of lead generation and allows marketers to create and deliver content targeted at exactly the right people. Lengthy efforts to identify and tier leads can now be completely automated.

Related: 5 Innovative Ways to Automate Your Sales Processes This Year

Trend 4: Enhanced integration

Many people now use a variety of devices throughout their day, and the lines between different types of marketing are beginning to blur.

To the customer, the distinctions are meaningless, but the key is integration. Companies need to offer a seamless experience between devices and across multiple channels so that their customers are well catered to and so that opportunities are not missed.

The big majority of retailers — 87 percent — state that having an omnichannel strategy is critical or very important to their success. AI is increasingly vital to this effort because it allows companies to utilize all of their customers’ data regardless of the source and to provide the same level of customization and service across all platforms their customers use. Without AI, the workload to achieve this is prohibitive.

The numerous possibilities that AI offers do not have to be overwhelming. As AI continues to develop and integrate into the world of marketing automation, marketers will find it increasingly easier to consolidate the many marketing tools they use to create and manage customer experiences.  

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5 Forbidden Phrases You Absolutely Must Avoid in Your Facebook Ad

All caps and too many exclamation points are just the beginning. Facebook is cracking down on ‘pain points’ content and get-rich-quick schemes.


7 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


If you haven’t heard or had this experience yet, Facebook is cracking down on ad copy from businesses around the world. Small businesses and entrepreneurs in particular now need to tread lightly with ads that may seem overly targeted or misleading in any way, as the platform has begun rejecting ads at a far greater rate than ever before.

Related: Here’s How to Master Facebook Advertising and Why You Must

In fact, ads getting rejected is one of the biggest challenges we see with our clients at the Facebook marketing agency I founded. The reasons why that happens apply widely — to relationship coaches, therapists, counselors, institutes and book promotion campaigns being disapproved by the site. Here’s an example of what a non-approval can look like:

Explanation: What happens if you see a message like this? You’ll get a flag in your account from Facebook and your ads will not be allowed to run until you fix them. Receive too many of these warnings and Facebook may shut down your advertising account altogether. (There are work-arounds in that case, but it’s best not to get into this situation in the first place.)

Avoiding these problems is often as simple as following the advice below. Just remember: The advice won’t apply equally to everyone. Some accounts — like those that have more of an advertising history — can get away with more. In fact, you’ll see plenty of them in your newsfeed. But many accounts are having an increasingly tough time getting their ads approved. The trouble usually comes down to one of these five forbidden phrases

1. “Are you a busy mom with no time to make healthy meals for your family?”

What FB doesn’t like: Ads that speak too directly to viewers or pain points. Facebook calls these Personal Attributes.

Just as the Google algorithm knows when you’re keyword-stuffing to push your page higher in the search results, the Facebook algorithm knows when you’re using too much “you” or “your” language to call out directly to viewers online. While a few instances of “you” or “your” are passable, we have emails from Facebook’s reps themselves saying that if your ads are struggling, it’s best to omit the “yous” and “yours.”

Related: What to Do If Your Facebook Ad Account Is Disabled

Remember: Facebook wants your ads to blend into the newsfeed and not look much different from a post you would see from a friend.

The solution: Use stories, testimonials, or your own personal experiences or results. To avoid seeing your ads disapproved, remove as many instances of “you” and “your” from your ad copy as possible. The ad above could benefit from an easy re-work on the copy: “Dinner is ready! Meal delivery for busy families on the go.”

2. “STOP WHAT YOU’RE DOING AND CLICK HERE!!!”

What Facebook doesn’t like: Too frequent a use of all capital letters or lots of exclamation marks!!!! (in fact, overuse of punctuation is sometimes flagged by Facebook under Grammar& Profanity.

Remember: You don’t want to “yell” at potential customers. That’s the impression all caps gives, producing the opposite reaction of what you hope to achieve.

The solution: Use caps sparingly and only to emphasize really important words, and avoid the rookie mistake of using to many exclamation points to get your point across. But what if you really want to emphasize your point? That’s easy. Play with emoji instead!

3. “Tired of diets that don’t work? Want to lose weight without counting calories?”

Facebook doesn’t like: Sensitive topics. Health, weight loss, beauty products, anti-aging, supplements … these all fall under “sensitive topics” that are closely monitored by Facebook. It addresses this problem under its Personal Attributes policy, Personal Health policy or Misleading or False Content policy.

Remember: Avoid using pain points or “negative” words like diet, weight loss, fat, depression, anxiety, stress, fear, overwhelm, terrified, etc…

The solution: Use positive language instead. Focus on how you want people to feel after using the product. For example, instead of “Lose 10 pounds this summer!” try, Feel balanced, fit and this summer. Join my free Fitness Challenge!”

4. “Generate $5,000 in the next 30 days! Join my free webinar to find out how.”

Facebook doesn’t like: Get rich quick and “make money” schemes, work-from-home opportunities, and big –or even small– claims that might not be possible for everyone to achieve. Facebook addresses this under its Personal Attributes policy. its Multilevel Marketing policy, its Prohibited Financial Services policy and its Misleading or False Content Policy.

Remember: If a message sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Likewise, if it’s so specific that not everyone will achieve the outcome promised, that’s a problem, too.

The solution: Be very careful using any language around making money, work-from-home opportunities or readers quitting their jobs. That’s an easy way to get your ads flagged or your account shut down. Instead, reframe true income opportunities or business trainings to focus on the benefits of what you’re offering. 

So: “Make 6-figures and fire your employer with this groundbreaking opportunity” isn’t going to go over well. Instead: “Learn the 5 most important habits that every successful entrepreneur needs to master their first year in business (even if they’ve held previous leadership positions and have a strong business background)” not only sounds less scammy but will also very likely play nicely with the algorithm.

5. “&%#%^@%” (i.e., trying to add curse words to your ads)

What Facebook doesn’t like: Profanity. Not even a little. Facebook addresses this under its Grammar & Profanity policy.

Remember: Facebook is always protecting its family-friendly environment. The last thing the platform wants is parents scrolling through content, a child by their side, only to encounter a four-letter curse word on a sponsored post. Along those same lines, a particularly sexy image and overt language around intimacy are nonstarters, as well.

The solution: Keep your ads clean and child-friendly. And as often as we’ve seen people try to get around these rules, remember that Facebook can read between the lines of a bunch of “&%#%^@%#%$&” characters to figure out that you’re trying to swear. They know all the sneaky tricks, and that stuff gets shut down too.

A few more things to understand about Facebook ads

If we’ve learned anything by consulting with hundreds of small business owners on how to fix their ads, it’s that the five simple solutions described here will solve 99 percent of your problems with Facebook.

Just remember, Facebook not only audits your ads but also your landing page (and your  URL for that matter, so your “getrichovernight.com” URL is not going to fly). You may need to do some clean-up work there as well if you’re promoting something a little more sensitive.

And if even after scrubbing your ads and web page of these forbidden phrases leaves you still scratching your head, wondering why your ads draw a “Not Approved” verdict, remember that you can always reach out to your assigned rep (if you have one — most are randomly assigned and not all accounts get a rep).

Alternately, you can find an expert who’ll dive in deep with you to figure out exactly which phrase or word is causing the headache. It’s usually something subtle, so don’t be discouraged if you’re unable to see it yourself.

Related: As Facebook Clamps Down on Advertisers, Email Becomes an Attractive Alternative

Finally, never forget that Facebook is still an incredible lead-generation tool despite these recent changes. Getting the most out of Facebook just requires learning the rules of engagement and playing nice with the system. If you do that, you’ll be very happy with your results advertising on the platform.

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Why the CMO — Not CEO — Should Create the Company Mission

Look to this member of your team to set the company’s direction.


2 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


In this video with Entrepreneur Network partner Business Rockstars, CMO Melinda Moore speaks about how one of the main parts of her job as chief marketing officer entails creating the company’s mission. 

Moore talks about how, as an entrepreneur, you are essentially beginning with a blank slate and creating something completely original. Significantly, Moore stresses the importance of looking at data and adjusting one factor at a time to see a marked difference. From there, you can see what changes are bringing about real results. 

Click the video to hear more.

Related: You Don’t Have a Stable Business Until You Can Do This

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EN is partnered with hundreds of top YouTube channels in the business vertical. Watch video from our network partners on demand on RokuApple TV and the Entrepreneur App available on iOS and Android devices.

Click here to become a part of this growing video network.

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5 Simple Ways to Use Webinars to Close More Prospective Coaching Clients

Showcase your energy and personality to potential customers using video, one of the leading technologies today.


6 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Coaching, whether it’s aimed at helping a business improve sales or helping someone lose weight, is largely dependent on personal relationships. As such, forming strong personal connections during the sales process is essential if you hope to land new clients.

Related: 12 Steps for Creating the Perfect Webinar

In a time when technology enables coaches in a wide variety of industries to reach clients around the world, using that technology to form meaningful connections can help generate leads and close prospective sales.

A webinar is a great example: With a webinar, you have a way to put your face in front of prospective coaching clients, no matter where they live. And, from what I’ve seen in my career, it’s also a great way to achieve a more personal connection, even when you aren’t communicating one-on-one, in person.

In fact, webinars may ultimately prove to be one of your most effective closing tools. Here’s how they can help:

1. You can showcase your personality and energy.

A successful coaching relationship often comes down to the right personality match. If prospective clients have communicated with you largely via phone or email, a live webinar is a great way to better highlight your unique personality and enthusiasm for what you do.

Don’t get intimidated by the fact that you’re transmitting a live video on the internet. Be confident. Stand up and speak clearly, as if you’re communicating with a coaching client in person. This will help your communication style shine through and help prospective clients know if you will be a good match.

Related: How to Create Webinars That Close More Business

Just how important is your energy? A survey by Redback Conferencing found that 48 percent of attendees polled felt that “a poor presenter” makes a webinar completely unenjoyable. In contrast, a “passionate and energetic” host is the top engagement factor for nearly one-third of webinar attendees.

2. You can take time to address questions and concerns.

Business coach and author Lewis Howes wrote for Copyblogger that question-and-answer sessions are one of the best ways to use webinars, in large part because they allow coaches to “give back” to a market while also gaining valuable intelligence. “You can usually bet that the questions you get in your Q&A sessions are ones that lots of other customers have as well,” Howes wrote. “When you solve real customer problems, you put yourself at the head of the pack in your niche.”

Not everyone who attends your webinars will submit a question, but there’s a good chance many of your prospective coaching clients qill share the same questions and concerns. Providing them direct answers will alleviate their doubts and showcase your transparency. Better yet, these sessions will help you identify new topics to address in the future as you reach out to other prospective clients.

3. You can upsell and cross-sell.

From what I’ve seen, not everyone who attends webinars is a prospective client — and that’s okay. In many cases, your webinar attendees will include those already using your coaching services. You aren’t done selling to these individuals.

Chances are, you have related products and services that they can benefit from as well — and a webinar is the ideal platform to highlight those offerings. In an article on the ClickMeeting blog, content marketing specialist Jakub Zielinski explained that the visual presentation of the product or service is key regardless of whether you are upselling or cross-selling.

During the presentation, or afterward, in an extra video, coaches can use screen share to demonstrate the product or service, Zielinski suggested, noting: “Seeing the product in action is helpful because prospects can get the ‘try before you buy’ experience or at least get a stronger image of what they’d actually do with this service.

“This is especially helpful for products with complicated features.”

4. You can extend special offers to webinar attendees.

Few tactics will boost webinar attendance and increase your potential for sales after the event like exclusive offers for attendees. People like a good deal! Whether you’re offering a free item giveaway or a special discount on a coaching session, these extra incentives can go a long way in helping you land new coaching clients.

For best results, tap into the power of scarcity: Webinar attendees can qualify for a special promotion only if they sign up within a limited time frame after the event. Time-dependent limitations drive home the “FOMO” fear of missing out, increasing urgency and driving potential clients to act now, rather than wait to make a decision.

A success story from Jenna Soard and Mariah Coz is illustrates this principle in action. As Coz, who sells online courses and webinars, explained on her site, “The offer for this webinar was a bundle of our two products … The offer was available for 24 hours, we added in exclusive bonuses, and the price was $997. Most likely, a purchase of that size will need a few hours or a day [for buyers] to think about. So for [branding expert] Jenna, most of her sales come from the tail end of her promo period — toward the last few hours of the offer before it expires.”

The result was $5,000 in revenue from a webinar attended by only 30 attendees.

5. You can get to better know your attendees.

Even though you will mostly be communicating with a group, there are still opportunities for one-on-one interactions in a webinar setting. As real estate investor, Brandon Turner explained in an article for Entrepreneur, “I like to log in to my webinars a few minutes early to chat with the audience and get to know them … The more I can get to know my audience, the more comfortable I feel giving them all of my energy and enthusiasm. After all, why should I expect them to get excited about what I’m talking about if I’m not excited?”

These insights may provide you an opportunity to make subtle adaptations to your prepared materials. Understanding what someone is hoping to learn from your webinar or why he or she is interested in your coaching services will help you directly address these concerns in your presentation. Speaking to “the one” will make that person feel valued and increase your odds of closing the sale.

Related: Automated Webinars May Be the Tool You Need to Scale Your Marketing Efforts

When done right, live video can be a powerful tool that helps you connect with prospective coaching clients. Personally, I’ve seen it time and time again. By leveraging the best video-streaming tools available and producing high-quality content to deliver a memorable webinar experience, you will get the conversions you’re looking for.

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What Small Businesses Need to Know About Nexus and Sales Tax Rules

ecommerce businesses sales tax nexus

For years, “tax-free” online shopping brought customers to the web in droves. States lacked the authority to impose a sales tax collection obligation on out-of-state businesses with no physical presence in the state.

But that changed on June 21, 2018, when the Supreme Court of the United States overruled the physical presence rule in its ruling on South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. States can now impose sales tax on remote sellers based on economic nexus (the volume or dollar value of sales into a state) as well as physical presence.

In this new sales tax reality, there are three things every small business or startup should do:

1. Reassess nexus: Where are you and your current (and future) customers?

Why it’s time: Now that the Supreme Court has paved the way for South Dakota to impose a sales tax collection obligation on remote sellers with more than $100,000 in sales or at least 200 transactions in the state, other states are following suit. If you plan to start an online business or already sell across state lines, you should watch for new laws.

Already, more than 30 states have economic nexus laws in place or pending. If you sell in volume (as little as $100,000 or 100 transactions) into one or more of those states, you’ll likely need to register, collect, and remit sales tax to the proper taxing authorities even if you lack a physical presence.

Remember that, depending on the state, a sales tax collection obligation can be triggered in many ways. These include but aren’t limited to physical presence in a state, affiliate ties to in-state businesses, and sending employees into a state.

The bottom line: If you’re just starting your business or expanding into new states, it’s a good idea to do some research. Sales tax obligations for businesses aren’t as simple as they used to be. If you’re not sure what exactly nexus means for your specific business, it might be time to consult with a tax advisor.

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2. Revisit registration: Do you need to collect and remit sales tax in more states?

Why it’s time: You probably know you need to register for sales tax collection in your home state if you make retail sales. If you make interstate sales, you may also have to register in one or more other states.  The first step is to determine where you have sales tax responsibilities. The next is to get a handle on how and when you need to file returns and remit sales tax. These requirements generally differ from state to state.

The bottom line: Having a third party handle registration and returns for you can be more cost-efficient and accurate than handling it in-house. Without a full suite of technology solutions that addresses every stage of sales tax compliance—from real-time rate calculation to on-time returns filing to business license and tax registration services—you may expose your business to risk.

3. Rethink compliance: Is there a better way?

Why it’s time: Managing sales and use tax manually is always challenging, especially for new and growing businesses. And with more than 30 states imposing sales tax collection obligations on remote sellers in the wake of the Wayfair ruling, it can be downright overwhelming.

If your new company is growing or planning to grow, your sales tax obligations will likely grow too. Just like your other business functions, sales tax compliance needs a strategy.

The bottom line: Having a reliable sales tax solution in place today better prepares you to deal with future sales tax obligations. You need a solution that can grow with your business, starting with affordable pricing for low volume companies and ending with a robust enterprise-level platform as you grow into more states.

Sales tax compliance is complicated, and it’s not likely to get easier anytime soon. But that doesn’t mean it has to eat up resources and be a burden on your business. Do your research, and don’t be afraid to reach out to seek expert help for sales tax calculations, state registrations, and returns filing.

Some businesses need an automated sales tax solution to stay above water, while some can be managed in-house; however, all businesses can benefit from consulting with an expert to determine a strategy that works for them.

If you’re looking for more resources to keep your small business legal and running smoothly, check out the latest on law and taxes on Bplans.

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Gail Cole
Gail Cole

Gail Cole began researching and writing about sales tax for Avalara in 2012 and has been fascinated with it ever since. She has a penchant for uncovering unusual tax facts, and endeavors to make complex sales tax laws more digestible for both experts and laypeople.

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Maximizing the Value of Experience Data

Think mobile first.


5 min read

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


The biggest acquisition in martech this year highlights the coming of age of experience data. In November, SAP announced plans to acquire Qualtrics for $8 billion — a mega-deal that would make it the second biggest acquisition for any SaaS company.

This news put the spotlight on experience data, but the reality is, this is not a new idea. The most successful companies have known for a long time that they need to understand the sentiments, attitudes and emotions of their customers in order to succeed. The existence of the market research industry rests on the fact that companies need ongoing feedback from their customers to make the right decisions.

Related: Forget Product-Market Fit. Find Your Market, Then Build Your Product.

But what makes the SAP move notable is that it acknowledges in a significant way that operational data alone isn’t enough. The stunning price tag of the acquisition validates experience data as a valuable source of insight — perhaps more valuable than people thought before.

This high-profile acquisition should encourage more forward-looking CMOs to invest in experience data in the new year. Marketing has never been more difficult. Attention spans are short, there’s more competition, and there’s a lot of noise. The companies that will win are those that can connect emotionally with their customers — and this is insight that can come from experience data.

There are countless martech tools that uncover transactional data, and market research platforms have historically taken a very small percentage of the marketing budget. With experience data getting more attention, it’s a good bet this will change in 2019.

If you’re investing more in experience data in the new year, here are some things to keep in mind.

1. Put the user experience above all else.

One of the most common ways companies get experience data at scale is through customer surveys. But the survey experience today is, for the most part, broken. Long surveys, clunky UI (especially on mobile) and stodgy language are all contributing to decreasing response rates.

Whether you like it or not, your customer surveys are an extension of your brand. A subpar survey experience not only reflects badly on your company — it also leads to inaccurate data. That’s why surveys need to provide a much better respondent experience than they do now. If the industry doesn’t improve how it engages with customers, people will refuse to participate in research, which will in turn impact the quality of your data.

Related: Your Customers Are Using Multiple Devices. You Should Be, Too, With Omni-Channel Marketing.

It’s time for both insights and marketing professionals to rethink research and how they get experience data. To get honest insights and feedback, the experience for respondents needs to more closely resemble how people talk to each other. Surveys need to feel less like surveys and should feel more like conversations. Use tools that deliver shorter and more fun experiences to improve the quality of experience data you get from your customers.

2. Engage your customers where they are.

A great majority of surveys today are sent via email. This long-standing approach in research is problematic, and it’s an issue that the insights industry needs to talk about more.

Email is becoming an antiquated way of talking to customers. Almost 300 billion emails are sent everyday. But across all industries, less than 25 percent of emails coming from businesses are opened. Email overload is a real problem

Outside of work, people are rarely on emails. Among Gen Z and younger millennials, this situation is even worse. Many young consumers only use emails to register for accounts on social networks and apps, but don’t open their inbox on a regular basis.

The industry’s over-reliance on email demonstrates the widening gap between how people live their digital lives and how companies conduct research. To get quality insight and hear from a significant number of your customers, you need to reach them where they hang out. Increasingly, people are communicating via social media, texts and messaging apps. These channels are all mobile-first, so your tools and approach should be as well.

3. Commit to ongoing conversations. 

To make the most out of experience data, you need to continuously talk to your customers. An ad hoc approach will give you only a snapshot in time of how your customers feel and think. So in the same way that you would continuously use operational data to make decisions, your approach to capturing experience data needs to be ongoing and iterative as well.

Again, the key here is to recalibrate your approach to market research. Rather than thinking of it as surveying your customers, think of it as having ongoing conversations with them.

Related: 5 Ways to Turn Your LinkedIn Connections Into Paying Clients in 2019

Using tools that enable you to do iterative research not only deepens your understanding of your customers, it also ensures that the experience data you get is both relevant and timely. Most crucially, ongoing conversations improves your relationships with your customers. And in the end, isn’t that the point of marketing? To improve your relationships with customers?

Conclusion.

For many companies, adding research tools in your martech stack can bring enormous insights, not just for your marketing team, but to any department that needs customer feedback and experience data. But to get the most out of this investment, it’s important to be aware of the drawbacks and challenges. Prioritizing the experience of today’s mobile-first consumers is imperative to getting more out of this powerful type of data.

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