The Super Bowl is about more than just the game, it’s a time to gather with friends and family to watch the game, fellowship, and mourn the end of the NFL season. It is also all about the commercials and the half-time show. Advertisers spend millions, and devote their most creative resources to coming up with the absolute perfect Super Bowl ad. The price tag on ads hit a new high this year, CBS charged between $3.8 million and $4 million for every spot shown during the game. Today, it is likely that more people will be discussing their favorite commercials than the outcome of the game. One example is YouTube prompting visitors to vote for their favorite.
Imagine going over to your local electronics store, purchasing a marketing GPS, plugging in your target audience and having it navigate your marketing so that every one of your efforts reached your ideal customer at the exact right time with a message that moved their wallets to open up to make an immediate purchase. That would be small business utopia wouldn’t it? Your bank account would be overflowing and you would be making expansion plans rather than scratching your head trying to figure out what to do next. Read more!
I am a vendor at the 2012 Dare 2 Aspire conference in March 2012. As a vendor I had the privilege of being a guest on MGN Radio a Blog Talk Radio show that airs on Friday nights at 9PM hosted by Tosi Ufodike Founder & CEO of My Good Nanny based in the Atlanta Metropolitan Area.
MGN Radio is your one stop to family information & entertainment. Their description touts that they are a fun, family oriented show and my experience proved that. I had a fabulous time talking to Tosi, and taking questions from the audience both via live calls and from the chat room. We talked me, Cassius Blue, and I shared lots of marketing tips to help the small business owners in the audience. With so much information to share I really could have gabbed all evening.
If you missed the interview you can listen to the recording below:
[vimeo width=”320″ height=”240″]http://vimeo.com/33468506[/vimeo]
During the show I also extended my December promotion to the audience.
- Save $50 on Strategic Marketing Planning: Take advantage of this blend of strategic marketing planning and consulting to transform your business and your profits.
- Save $50 on Website Evaluations: Receive an objective analysis regarding what changes you need to make TODAY to turn website visitors into paying clients, ways to integrate your website into your other marketing initiatives.
- Save $50 on the 30 – Day Jump Start Consulting Program: This program is ideal for launching a small project or product as well as overcoming challenges in order to move forward on a specific goal.
If you are interested in taking advantage of this offer give me a call at 678.590.5952, promotion expires December 31, 2011.
Did you enjoy the interview? Are there any questions that you have about marketing your business? Ask them here and I will answer in separate blogs and/or videos.
I read an article last week on the News Tribune’s website that talked about the rise and decline of coupon sensation, Groupon. The article begins:
Only a few months ago, Groupon was the Internet’s next great thing. Business media christened it the fastest growing company ever. Copycats proliferated. And investors salivated over the prospect of Groupon going public.
Today, the startup that pioneered online daily deals for coupons is an example of how fast an Internet darling can fall. Read Full Article
The article goes on to discuss how the company has been over reporting its revenue by almost half, and the fact that it is now questioning the viability of the business. There are many business lessons that can be learned from Groupon’s rise and steady decline. One in particular that I want to focus on is the importance of fully evaluating marketing opportunities as a potential fit for your business.
Groupon “was initially seen by small mom-and-pop shops as a way to drum up new business;” small businesses like yourself saw this as an opportunity to gain exposure and give prospective customers a “taste” of their product or service. However, Groupon is slowly loosing favor with this demographic. The article lists several challenges for participating businesses offering discounts through Groupon. Let’s evaluate these individually and what these lessons mean for your business.
- Challenge #1 – Capacity to Handle Increased Business:
The News Tribune shares the story of an Alexandria, VA woman who purchased a Groupon for a photo canvas. The merchant was not prepared to handle the influx of orders and consequently was delayed in completing the finished product creating a poor customer service experience for the customer and a bad reputation for the business.
When evaluating a marketing opportunity it is imperative that you take into consideration how much business the tactic could generate and evaluate your ability to handle the volume. If the tactic is wildly successful, beyond your normal capacity how will service your customers while still creating a positive customer experience? Do you have the time and or resources to handle instant exponential growth? Advice: Always have a backup plan, you never know when a marketing tactic will be wildly successful or when your business could experience “The Oprah Effect” so you have to be ready. Whether this means having vetted a resource who can handle some of the workload during peak times, or simply having the appropriate service level agreement (SLA) terms in place. Having a plan for a drastic increase in business is the key differentiators between overnight success and a customer service #fail.
- Challenge #2 – Failure to do the Math:
A consistently packed restaurant is normally a dream come true for a restaurant owner; but not when those customers are all losing them money. “Restaurants offering $50 of food [via Groupon] for just $25 only collect $12.50 – not even enough to cover the cost of the food.” And according to Paul Evans, a Kansas City marketing executive who advises clients against using Groupon. “Your restaurants are full packed with people who aren’t making you any money.”
Would I advise all clients to avoid Groupon and similar services? No, not at all. I believe that discounted services (even deeply discounted) can have a tremendously positive impact for small and large businesses alike. The key here is to DO THE MATH! The viability of any business opportunity or marketing tactic comes down to the numbers. Advice: When discounting your product or service the key is to get the customer to purchase enough to offset the discounted rate, or to become a repeat customer. How to do the calculation will vary from one business to the next but using the restaurant example, if the average patron only spends $50 or less in a single visit to the restaurant then they are likely to purchase as close to $50 as possible as to not have to pay extra; leaving the restaurant with only $12.50 in revenue (and the server likely with a poor tip). However, if the restaurant instead offered $25 worth of food for $12.50 they would make only $6.25 from the sale of the Groupon but because average tab at the restaurant is $50 the patron is likely to spend the other $25 out of pocket totaling $31.25. This amount is far more likely to at least cover the restaurants expenses than the original $12.50 received. The bottom line, offer discounts where appropriate but make sure they are beneficial for both your business and your customer.
The key take away from Groupon isn’t that offering products or services through deals sites is bad; rather it stresses the importance of evaluating the companies you do business with and the marketing tactics that you choose to deploy. It is essential that you do the math to determine the viability of the opportunity and to be prepared for the success of your marketing campaign.
Have you tried any marketing tactics that have been either wildly successful or disasters? Or have you offered a deal through Groupon or similar services? Share your experiences!
This post might step on a few toes of those who have labeled themselves experts or gurus, but is important for small business owners like yourself to understand as many of you are new to entrepreneurship and frankly don’t know what you don’t know. In today’s business environment statements like ‘knowledge is power’ and ‘content is king’ hold true. The sale of information is big business, but not all that is for sale is worth buying (even when it is cheap). The same holds true for other business services.
As a consumer you need to know what you are paying for and that the information or service comes from a credible source. Taking the advice of someone who is either in ‘it’ for the money or trying to ‘wing it’ can be detrimental for your business and costly. Everyone likely knows SOMETHING about accounting, marketing, legal, finances, credit, social media, web design and tons of other services but do they know ENOUGH to advise you?
During a period of unemployment I did some graphic & web design work to make ends meet. Although I’m a capable designer it’s not my passion and I therefore have never marketed that service. During that period almost all of the client’s sites or logos I designed were referred to me because they had gone to someone else who had either taken their money and not delivered as expected or hadn’t delivered at all. I started calling myself ‘the Janitor’ because I sustained myself on income made from cleaning up the graphics messes made by other designers. Likewise, I had customers come to me for marketing and branding and later chosen to try a cheaper solution only to come back because others couldn’t quite get it right. Not just tooting my own horn (toot toot) but I’ve talked to other service professionals (accountants, event planners, tax professionals, attorney’s, etc) who also have ‘janitor’ in their title because as true professionals they are having to clean up the messes of other to provide for their clients.
In business there are already so many things that can go wrong, why not avoid the ‘messes’ that you can? Before spending your money on a coach, consultant, webcast, eBook, or service professional take some time to vet them (beyond their winning personality) to be sure they can truly back up the fancy title they’ve imprinted on their business cards or website. Here are 5 simple steps to take before you spend your money:
- Check Credentials. What credentials do they have relevant to the services they provide? Do they have formal education? Specialized training? Industry certifications? Many industries require specific training or certifications if there’s does check for these. Any other service professional who is at an expert or advanced level will have some form of formal education.
- Evaluate Experience. What experience do they have in their area of expertise? Look beyond how long they have been in business, a newly formed business can have more expertise than one that has been formalized decades ago. Are they active in professional organizations? Have they been in the field greater than 5 years?
- Ask Tough Questions. Don’t be afraid to ask the tough questions at the beginning. The easy questions are just that, easy. Imagine giving your business to an accountant only to be audited in a few years and they not know how to handle it? You need to know up front that when they tough questions or situations arise you aren’t going to be on the hunt for a new provider.
- Check References. Ask for references as well as read testimonials and reviews. If making a major investment don’t hesitate to ask to speak to someone they have worked with previously. A professional has references!
- Shop Around. Before spending your money comparison shop, most consumers naturally shop around for products but often don’t for services. When selecting a service provider for your business price isn’t always the driving factor, consult with several sources to compare services, experience, and ensure the best fit for your money.
There are many great service professionals out there that provide services that far exceed the monetary investment and others that fall short. Don’t take the risk of putting your business in unqualified hands just because their title says ‘expert’, ‘guru’, or other boisterous terms.
Share Your Experience: Have you been burned by an untrained/skilled provider? Have you been the ‘janitor’ to clean up the mess others have made? Do you have other tips for hiring professionals? Comment below, let’s discuss.
Non-profit organizations is among the small businesses that Cassius Blue Consulting services. Often clients and prospects have questions about the process of incorporating and filing for the 501(c)(3) status. Vanessa Parker, owner of Pink Boss, Inc. has been kind enough to shed some light on the process. Thank you Vanessa for guest blogging!
Many individuals are joining the nonprofit industry to solve a problem or bring awareness to an issue within their community. One of the major differences for nonprofits is the process of applying for 501(c)(3) tax exemption status with the IRS.
The process of obtaining 501(c)(3) tax exemption can be a little overwhelming but proper planning and understanding of the required documents can help you throughout the process. The filing fee depends on the size of the organizations budget. If the organization plans to have less than $40,000 in gross receipts over the next four years (An average of $10,000 a year) the fee is $400. If the organization plans to have more than $40,000 in gross receipts over the next four years the filing fee to the IRS is $850.
Steps to Obtaining Tax Exemption for Nonprofits
- Incorporate. All nonprofits must first incorporate within their state to receive 501(c)(3) tax exemption status. You will be required to include your Articles of Incorporation with your application. Remember to include your mission statement within your Articles, this will aid with your approval and grant eligibility in the future.
- Obtain Your Employer Identification Number (EIN). Your EIN is an identification number issued by the IRS used to identify a business entity. You can obtain your EIN by completing the SS-4 form or on the IRS website. (http://www.IRS.gov)
- Bylaws and Conflict of Interest Policy. Every nonprofit organization needs to have Bylaws and a Conflict of Interest Policy in place. Bylaws are the rules adopted by the board to govern the management of the board and its members. The Conflict of Interest Policy helps to protect the organization by managing any conflicts that may arise.
- Complete Form 1023. The form 1023 is a 28 page Application for Recognition of Exemption from the IRS. The application will ask questions about the programs and services the organizations plans to provide as well as financial data and projections. The IRS has provided Publication 557 as an instructional manual for completing the form on their website.
- Await Approval. The IRS estimates the approval time to range from 3-6 months depending on any additional inquiries that the organization may receive. Once approved the IRS will send the organization a determination letter. This determination letter is very important and will be requested from donors and grant makers to prove tax exemption status.