Get More Followers on Instagram

social media agency okc

For small business owners, a high Instagram follower count is much more than a mere status symbol. Having more followers leads to more people talking about — and purchasing — all the amazing things you’re sharing with the world.

Boost your following, boost your business

So, your business is all set up on Instagram. You’re posting great content regularly and getting a fair amount of likes. But, you know in your heart of hearts that you could be doing more to boost your Instagram following.

As a savvy Instagrammer, you know that more followers means more likes, and more likes means spreading more word-of-mouth about your business. You also know that spreading the word about your business, especially on Instagram, is a great way to get new customers in your door. But first, you have to boost your Instagram following.

Here are the tips you need to do just that In Go Daddy’s FREE eBook, you’ll learn how to:

• Make your Instagram bio stand out.
• Infuse your Instagram with personality.
• Add effective hashtags to attract new followers.
• Use Instagram Stories for digital storytelling.

Download the FREE ebook here.

11 Steps to Create a Marketing Plan for your Business

marketing plan 2020

Many entrepreneurs know they need to create a marketing plan, but they are either intimidated by the thought of it, or they don’t put the time into it soon enough.

You can hear the voices of protest (and excuses) now…

“But I’m not going to be doing any advertising anyway.”
“I just want to grow through word-of-mouth.”
“I’ve got to get my business up-and-running first and then I’ll figure out the marketing.”
“I’m not a marketing person!”

If you’ve secretly thought of any of these things, you’re not alone.

But the reality is that writing a good new business marketing plan is extremely important and not very difficult.

It’s just outlining decisions about what your business is, who your customers will be, and how you will reach them — and committing those ideas to paper in an orderly format.

A good marketing plan answers questions like “Who are our target buyers?” and “Where will we spend money to attract them?” With these kinds of questions resolved, you’ll be setting your business up for success right from the start.

So stop procrastinating and learn how to make a marketing plan.

 Where to begin?

Well, let’s start at the beginning.

What is a marketing plan?

A marketing plan is a document that outlines a brand’s plan to attract and retain customers and promote its brand, products, and services.

It includes research, information, and past marketing performance history, and it outlines a plan for creating future marketing and advertising strategies.

Marketing plans are often a section of a larger business plan. But they can also stand on their own.

Why do you need a marketing plan?

A marketing plan helps you put all of your research, ideas and plans in one place. When you go through the process, you can:

  • Define your core messaging and positioning to create a cohesive brand voice, vision, and style.
  • Set a budget that matches your goals and agenda.
  • Deliver a stronger return on investment as you will create tracking processes to measure and optimize campaigns.
  • Develop better future plans as you can clearly see what’s working and what’s not.
  • Organize and centralize your marketing plans so your entire team is on the same page.

Without an official marketing plan, it’s likely that your business will have a lot of ideas, opinions and plans floating around without much cohesion.

A marketing plan helps you get focused and organized so you can be more coordinated, productive and successful.

When’s the best time to make a marketing plan?

There’s no bad time to create a marketing plan. But the best time to make a marketing plan is:

  • At the beginning/end of the year so you can plan out plans for the year ahead.
  • When launching a new business so you have a new business marketing plan to help you grow and scale your business.
  • When launching a new product, service or category in your business so you know how to capture a new market.
  • The moment you realize you don’t have one because it’s never too late to start to reap the benefits of having an existing or new business marketing plan.

If your business fits into any of these scenarios, it’s time to create a marketing plan.

Before you begin

If you have an established business, but this is the first time you’re creating a marketing plan, start by reviewing your history.

You’ve probably had marketing plans in the past even if they weren’t laid out in a formal document. Reflect back on those campaigns and strategies to help create your new plan.

Open up a spreadsheet to start recording an inventory of everything you’ve tried so far to market your business. Note any action you’ve taken (cost, time investment, dates, duration), and categorize everything.

Think about each of these efforts.

Be honest about what did and didn’t work, and what is and isn’t working.

List it all out so you can use it to inform and guide your future marketing plans.

Now, let’s get into how to make a marketing plan for your new or existing business.

How to create a marketing plan in 11 steps

It can be easy to feel overwhelmed as you start to think about creating your marketing plan. But, all you really need to do is follow a simple outline and go through the following marketing plan steps.

  1. Define your offerings.
  2. Define your brand mission.
  3. Define your target audience.
  4. Conduct a market analysis.
  5. Conduct a competitor analysis.
  6. Define your brand positioning.
  7. Outline your goals.
  8. Outline your marketing strategy.
  9. Set a budget.
  10. Outline offers and marketing tactics.
  11. Define metrics and KPIs.

Let’s walk through each step.

1. Define your offerings

Before you can create a marketing plan, you need to be clear about what it is that you’re selling.

Create a list of your products and services and outline:

  • The features of each offer/product
  • How each feature benefits customers
  • What makes each offering different from other similar offerings
  • The price for each offering

Related: How to write a mission statement you’ll be proud to share

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2. Define your brand mission

Now that you know exactly what you’re selling, it’s time to explain why you’re selling it.

Outline your brand mission by answering questions like:

  • What is it that you would like your brand to accomplish?
  • Why do you want to help your customers?
  • Why are your products or services important?
  • Why should customers look to do business with you instead of your competitors?

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3. Define your target audience

Once you know what you’re selling and why you’re selling it, it’s time to outline who you will sell to.

Define your target audience by creating buyer personas that describe your ideal customers and audiences. Outline their:

  • Demographics (age, gender, income, education, location, etc.)
  • Professional details (industry, job title, company, etc.)
  • Psychographics (personality traits, beliefs, attitudes, etc.)
  • Goals (what they what to achieve)
  • Challenges (pain points, what they’re afraid of or in need of, etc.)
  • Influences (favorite media outlets, thought leaders, etc.)

Need help defining your target audience? Check out this guide on What information should you include in your buyer persona customer profile?

Related: Why a target audience matters (and how to find yours)

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4. Conduct a market analysisMan Reviewing Details For Market Analysis

A market analysis describes the total marketing environment in which your company competes.

When you create a marketing plan, this analysis is an essential section as it answers questions that help you navigate your competitive market’s landscape.

  • How many businesses offer similar offerings?
  • How many businesses will your brand be in direct competition with?
  • How large is the market?
  • What are the trends in the market (growing, decreasing, etc.)?
  • How much are customers already paying for similar offerings?
  • How much are customers willing to pay for similar offerings?
  • What does the sales cycle in your market look like?

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5. Conduct a competitor analysis

The market analysis should help you come up with the names of a few of your direct competitors.

Now, look closely at those competitors to see how you can differentiate your brand and drive customers to choose you over others.

  • Who are your competitors?
  • What is their market share?
  • What are their strengths, weaknesses and unique selling propositions?
  • How can you differentiate your brand from competitors?

Related: How to find inspiration from your competitors (without stealing their ideas)

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6. Define your brand positioning

By this step in the process to create a marketing plan, you’ve done a lot of research, and you’ve outlined what you know about your brand, market, and competitors.

Use this information to decide how you will position your brand in the market.

  • Outline your unique selling propositions.
  • Define what market differentiators you will highlight.
  • Specify what market segment you will target.
  • Define your brand voice and tone.

Related: A beginner’s guide to branding your business

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7. Outline your goals

The goals section is just that — defining your short- and long-term goals. Think about where you’re starting from, and where you want the business to be in three, five and 10 years.

Some examples of marketing goals might be to:

  • Attract customers
  • Retain customers
  • Increase website traffic
  • Increase social media following
  • Increase online sales
  • Increase in-store sales
  • Generate more leads
  • Improve online conversions

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8. Outline your marketing strategyCreate A Marketing Plan Woman Working On Laptop

Your marketing strategy should then outline your approach to reaching your goals.

Look at your goals and figure out what type of marketing tactics will help you get closer to your target objectives.

They might include (but aren’t limited to) the following.

  • Online advertising. Pay-per-click advertising, banner ads, text ads on partner sites.
  • Email marketing. Sending electronic newsletters, adding subscription tools to your site to grow your email list.
  • Print advertising. Newspaper or magazine ads, business cards, direct mail postcards, brochures or flyers.
  • Social networking. Maintaining your business profile and engaging with customers and prospects on platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
  • Blogging. Writing your own blog, responding to or submitting articles or features to other people’s blogs, RSS feeds, etc.
  • Online directories. Your business listing on both global (i.e. Google, Yelp and and local (i.e. Chamber of Commerce) listings sites.
  • Live networking. Handing out business cards, professional memberships, public speaking.
  • Search engine optimization (SEO). Tweaking website content to attract organic traffic.
  • Trade shows. Sending your team to attend or present at industry conferences and events.
  • Public relations. Getting mentions and features about your brand in the news.

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9. Set a budget

There are a lot of factors that go into setting a marketing budget. But at this point, you should have some good information to help direct your budgeting.

Ask yourself:

  • What is your current revenue?
  • What percent of your revenue have you allocated for marketing?
  • What set marketing costs do you have (for software, team members, etc.)?
  • How much money will you need to reach your goals?
  • What are your competitors are spending on their marketing?

Once you start running strategic and goal-focused marketing campaigns, it will become easier to set marketing budgets. You will be able to use past campaigns to measure costs and your return on investment (ROI) — such as cost per lead, cost per customer, etc.

But, in the beginning, you will need to try a few campaigns to see what works and delivers the best ROI.

Related: 5 ways to build a strong online presence on a shoestring budget

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10. Outline offers and marketing campaignsWoman Writing Outline In Journal

Now, it’s time to turn your ideas into concrete marketing promotions and campaigns.

Decide what type of offers you can make. What can you offer as a special or deal? A free consultation? Special pricing for new customers or for referrals? Rewards? Samples?

Whatever you do, be consistent with your goals.


It doesn’t make sense to offer early bird specials if your target audience is college students grabbing late-night burgers.

Then, consider your marketing strategy, goals, offers and budget to lay out a few concrete campaigns. Outline the cost, time and tactics for each campaign.

Examples of marketing campaigns

Increase awareness with business cards

  • Cost: Less than $20 to print custom business cards with a service like Vistaprint
  • Time: 10 minutes to two hours per week
  • Tactic: Carry business cards with you at all times. Share them with anyone you meet who shows an interest in your business, whether you’re at a client meeting, your Rotary Club, or a party where the topic of what you do for a living comes up in conversation. Give each person multiple cards, one for them and another one or two to share with someone they know who might also be interested in your services.

Drive traffic to your website with a banner ad

  • Cost: About $200/month (costs will vary from $0 to thousands, depending on where you choose to place your ad)
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Tactic: Banner ads are those rectangular ads you see in the margins of just about every website. When someone clicks on a banner ad, they’re typically taken to the advertiser’s website, where they can redeem the offer or shop for whatever is advertised in the banner.

Promote your business with email

  • Cost: Starting at about $10/month for an online email marketing tool
  • Time: One to five hours per month
  • Tactic: This assumes you have a list of email addresses to start with. If so, subscribe to an email builder and customize one of the email templates. Start by sending one information-filled email every 10 days to two weeks (“Check out our latest offerings.” “SAVE 10% now through Thursday!”, etc.). Track customer responses. Resend emails that work and stop sending those that don’t.

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11. Define metrics and KPIs

The final step as you create a marketing plan is to decide what metrics you will use to evaluate your campaigns.

Better-known measurement options like surveys can be useful, but you’ll also want to understand things like the cost of customer acquisition (for every new customer you get, how many marketing dollars do you have to spend?) or market share (out of the universe of your potential customers, what percentage do you have, and is that growing?).

Look at your marketing campaigns and decide what metrics will be best for showing results tied to your goals.

As mentioned earlier, having the right set of metrics will allow you to make more informed decisions about your budget as well as make adjustments to strategies as you go.

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Check your new business marketing plan, iterate and improve

Now, you know how to make a marketing plan, but your work doesn’t stop here.

Use the framework to go through the marketing plan steps and start writing your plan. Then, review your finished marketing plan with fresh eyes and make plans to continue to update and improve your outline.

1. Ask questions of others to check your thinking.

It’s easy to get in your own head and substitute your judgment for your customers’ because you’re passionate about your business.

You might think “I’d prefer receiving a coupon rather than a sample; a coupon would make me more likely to buy.” Run that by some people who fit the profile of your target market before you decide which way to go. You might be surprised.

2. Don’t try to think of everything yourself.

Look at your competitors and learn from what they do well. But don’t forget to look at other industries, too.

There’s no reason you can’t steal a trick from a different kind of company facing the same issue. It will save you time, in the long run, to test tried-and-true methods in addition to your own brilliant, unique ideas.

3. Stick to the plan — and keep changing it.

I know this sounds contradictory but do both. Being true to the decisions you’ve made in your marketing plan is key to remaining focused.

If your business is growing faster than expected, if your customers give you feedback you didn’t have before, if your competition changes, then these are all good reasons to make adjustments.

Don’t be afraid to tweak your marketing plan or even make substantial revisions.

Remember, you’re never really finished writing a marketing plan.


The document should evolve along with your business. Don’t just put your marketing plan in a filing cabinet never to see the light of day. Use it. Share it with your team.

A marketing plan, like any tool, is good only if it’s used. And when it is, it’s a powerful guide for running and growing your business, from startup to wherever you’re headed.

Bring your marketing plan to life

You now know what a marketing plan is, why you need one and how to create a marketing plan in 11 simple steps. You’re ready to start outlining the path you will take to launch, market and grow your business.

Go through the marketing plan steps outlined in this post and then, make it easy to execute your plan with GoDaddy’s Websites + Marketing service. It supports your plan by helping you build a professional website and market your business everywhere online.

This article includes content originally published on the GoDaddy blog by the following authors: Andrea Rowland and Jennifer Friedman.

Most recent article by Raubi Marie Perilli

Helping Your Business Survive 2020

If you are like most businesses, 2020 has turned your world upside down or at the very least sideways. You may find yourself having to change the way you do things to accommodate a slack in revenue such as your marketing strategies. 

Marketing During COVID-19

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed all of our lives including the way we do business. In order to adapt and keep our business thriving during these times, your best friend is a revised marketing strategy. Here are a few tips:

  1. Your customers are your business’s #1 fans. Without them, you wouldn’t be the successful business you are today. In a time with so much uncertainty, you need to reassure your customers that you’re there for them and that your business isn’t going anywhere. So, how do you tie in reassuring your customers into your marketing tactics? So happy you asked! To inform your customers about how you’re responding to the coronavirus and let them know you’re there for them when they need you, you can:
  • Send out email updates
  • Post regularly on social media
  • Add information in customer accounts (e.g., on the dashboard)
  1. Be creative with your marketing tactics. When it comes to marketing your business during coronavirus, the more creative you are, the better. Having a unique way to market your products or services makes you stand out from your competition. Not to mention, spicing up your marketing can help draw in new customers and keep business booming during the coronavirus.  What are some creative ideas for marketing strategies?
  • Promote unique offerings like virtual options (e.g. online classes, meetings, and showcases).
  • Take your strategies to social. The truth is, this coronavirus age is prime time to promote your business offerings online. To market your business on social, be active, and present. 
  1. Building relationships virtually is one of those things that can be easier said than done, especially when you’re trying to build them online versus in-person.
  • Keep open, honest, and considerate communication going. If you currently don’t have a regular cadence of communication with your customers, now’s the time to start (think email marketing campaigns). 
  • When communicating and connecting with customers during the coronavirus, be empathic, genuine, and thoughtful. The more you connect with your customers and get a feel for who they are, the better you can market to them in the future. 
  1. A strong online presence can help you build your brand and gain credibility to attract new customers. Plus, it makes your business more readily accessible to customers so they can find out more information about what your business has to offer. 
  • Optimize your business website for mobile
  • Create valuable content
  • Do some SEO research
  • Incorporate keywords on your website pages
  • Engage in online communities and forums
  • Improve user experience


Your Business Can Weather the COVID-19 Storm

small business weathering covid-19

The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has impacted nearly every business with mandated shutdowns, quarantines and the often-resulting revenue losses. Customers and employees feel as though they’re in perpetual work-from-home mode, and all the uncertainty and inactivity can really take a toll. However, there is a silver lining: All this unexpected downtime can actually be viewed as an opportunity to delve into myriad activities business owners don’t routinely have time for.

Now is the time to rethink, revitalize and even reinvent your business to best position yourself for success when the COVID-19 dust settles. To that end, here are ten things companies can do to maximize slack periods and prime their businesses for better times.

1. Amp up (or enter) the email game

Email is one of the most cost effective marketing channels available and boasts a formidable 122% ROI (more than four times that of social media and direct mail). For businesses that haven’t had time to establish an email marketing program, now is an excellent time to learn how. Mailchimp is an excellent email marketing service. They are free if you are just starting out and your database is under 2,000 contacts.


Businesses that haven’t invested in email marketing can use the quarantine to:

  • Craft valuable email content that helps customers solve problems now, and post-quarantine
  • Develop lead magnets such as whitepapers, eBooks and reports that drive email subscriptions
  • Create strategic drip and lead nurturing email campaigns that foster trust, establish authority and ultimately lead to sales once the economy recovers

Companies that already invest in email marketing can use downtime to evaluate their strategies and identify opportunities for improvement, including:

  • Review open rates, clicks and conversions to gain a better understanding of what works and what doesn’t
  • Set up A/B split testing and compare results, which can maximize ROI
  • Segment email lists based on customer interests and behaviors for more efficient email marketing

The daily hustle and bustle often make it difficult for businesses to focus on long-term email strategy. Now, companies have time to not only develop winning email campaigns, but also to plan them out several months into the future, so you’re poised to capitalize on the economic rebound.

2. Develop a new product or service

Many businesses maintain lists of potential opportunities, including new products and services they’ve identified to fill unique niches, boost revenue and increase market share. That makes now the perfect time to develop a new product or service to hit the post-quarantine market, even if sales are currently slumping.

Businesses should ask themselves:

  • What opportunities have we identified but haven’t had time to implement?
  • What new products and services can we add to beat our competitors?
  • How can we improve existing products and services to better serve our customers?
  • Are there any product or service tiers we can add to upsell or cross-sell?
  • What will customers need once the quarantine has lifted? What problems will they have, and what problems are we uniquely positioned to solve?
  • What will it take to bring a new product or service to market? What are our costs, unique selling propositions, price points, marketing strategies and projected ROIs?
  • How can we prove business concepts before investing?

Whether a business is considering adding a service to keep up with competitors or inventing a new product that’s never hit the market, the quarantine could afford it the time it needs to develop a new, profitable revenue stream.

3. Improve business efficiency

Many businesses have been forced to take a deep dive into the numbers to maintain continuity and solvency. Unfortunately, that means businesses have also had to make tough decisions regarding employees, benefits and budgets – but it also presents an opportunity to improve business efficiency.

Businesses can take a hard look at the numbers to:

Financial efficiency isn’t the only thing businesses can tackle during slack periods. Opportunities also exist to:

  • Clean up to-do lists: From implementing a new POS system to investigating different accounting firms, now is the time to check off long overdue tasks
  • Organize everything: From reorganizing the floor plan to shaping up office files, businesses can prep for enhanced efficiency once the quarantine lifts
  • Revisit process efficiencies: Identify current operational inefficiencies and develop improvement plans; investigate software that can streamline accounting, employee management, invoicing, sales and other business processes

Businesses that take the time to improve efficiency now will be prepared to hit the ground running and enhance profitability when the market rebounds.

4. Evaluate marketing strategy

Under normal circumstances, businesses operate full speed ahead. Even though they recognize the value of marketing analytics, it can be difficult to find the time to take a deep dive into marketing strategy.

Afforded that time, businesses should:

  • Evaluate marketing metrics and identify what’s working and what isn’t
  • Consider how marketing strategies will change post-quarantine
  • Investigate new marketing channels that could yield significant sales: email, social media, on-site content, direct-mail and more
  • Develop lead generation and nurturing campaigns designed to establish authority, foster trust and inspire customer confidence
  • Audit websites and identify opportunities for improvement: strategic calls to action, email subscription forms, overall design and presentation, search engine optimization, mobile responsiveness and more
  • Plan, develop and schedule social media posts for now and after the quarantine is lifted
  • Examine online sales funnels to identify bottlenecks and inefficiencies; in other words, discover where leads are dropping out of the funnel and craft strategies to recapture them
  • Explore alternative benefits, audience segments and unique selling propositions to tailor messaging to a post-pandemic customer base

It’s important to consider not only how a shift in marketing strategy can benefit businesses today, but also how businesses can cater to customers once the pandemic ends.

5. Communicate with customers

Marketing isn’t the only type of communication businesses should focus on. Downtime presents an opportunity to participate in customer communities, ingrain companies in the conversation, and build relationships that will benefit businesses once things turn around.

Businesses can:

  • Join Facebook and other social media groups customers frequent
  • Post on relevant forums and help customers solve problems (minus the marketing pitch)
  • Reach out to current customers via personalized emails and phone calls to check on their well being and see if there is anything the business can do to help

It’s well established that outstanding customer service and helpful, customer-centric communications lead to word-of-mouth marketing; however, businesses do not always have the time and resources to commit to audience-driven communities and personalized communication. Slack periods grant businesses an opportunity to show customers how much they care. The effort will be appreciated and could pay huge dividends once the market normalizes.

6. Create content

Content marketing is one of the most powerful strategies for long-term success, yet many businesses struggle to find the time to craft invigorating, valuable content that inspires customers to act. Now, companies can get ahead by planning, developing and scheduling content for the post-quarantine months.

Businesses can:

  • Develop unique, insightful and optimized blog posts packed with information their customers yearn for and that help boost search rankings
  • Create social media posts, photos and videos designed to earn likes, follows and messages
  • Host online workshops that help customers solve their most pressing problems, participate in their favorite hobbies or learn new skills
  • Generate lead magnets such as whitepapers, infographics, reports and eBooks that boost email subscriptions; then, follow up with lead nurturing email content

In addition to creating new content, businesses can work on optimizing their existing content. For example, they can:

  • Identify opportunities to implement calls to action, lead magnets and email subscription forms in top performing blog posts
  • Optimize blog posts that reside just off the first page of search results to help them make the leap to page one
  • Consider ways to enhance existing content with updated information, quality resources, videos and other elements that add value and increase engagement

Content is king, and the current downtime presents an excellent opportunity for businesses to improve, enhance and optimize content for better long-term ROI.

 7. Seek partnerships

Partnerships can be powerful business building tools. They introduce companies to new audiences, foster sales via trusted recommendations and boost revenues through special multi-product or service discounts.

Businesses that have downtime would be wise to investigate partnership opportunities, including:

  • Joint venture discounts (for example, a florist could partner with a confectioner)
  • Referral commission programs (for example, a siding company could get a referral fee if it refers customers to a trusted roofing company)
  • Affiliate programs (for example, a blogger could get a commission if readers purchase a product they review)
  • Influencer partnerships (for example, a company could compensate an influencer for mentioning their products)

Before committing to a partnership, businesses should take measures to ensure they:

  • Partner with noncompeting companies that share the same audiences
  • Thoroughly vet potential partners and their reputations
  • Construct fair arrangements that benefit all partners as well as customers

A good partnership can rapidly introduce businesses to new audiences, establish instant credibility and increase sales – and slack periods present excellent opportunities to explore potential partnerships that can yield dividends once the quarantine is lifted.

8. Review documents

Businesses deal with a lot of documents, from employment applications and employee handbooks to legal documents such as contracts and insurance policies. Now is a good time to review documents for accuracy and to identify improvements.

Business can review:

  • Employment applications to make sure they’re asking the most pertinent questions and collecting information needed to comply with regulations
  • Employee handbooks to ensure all policies are up to date (and avoid common HR mistakes)
  • Customer, contractor and employee contracts to ensure the terms are appropriate, acceptable and fall within company guidelines
  • Tax documents to ensure proper business organization, filing procedures and accuracy
  • Insurance documents to make sure policy changes haven’t left the business exposed to liabilities or unexpected costs
  • Mandated documentation, such as labor law compliance posters, to satisfy legal obligations

It’s a good idea for businesses to consult experts when reviewing some documents. For example, contract reviews require the help of an attorney and an accountant can be invaluable for tax document reviews.

9. Audit providers

Now is also a good time for businesses to audit their providers to make sure they’re getting what they’re paying for as well as getting the best deal. Doing so can help companies shave unnecessary costs, enhance business efficiency and ultimately maximize ROI – especially if there are lingering issues with any providers.

Businesses can audit providers to identify whether they’re getting the best:

  • Service and quality
  • Price points and deals
  • Delivery fees and schedules
  • Accuracy and compliance
  • Customer service and experience
  • Technology capabilities
  • ROI
  • Options for their needs

Focus areas include:

  • Product vendors and suppliers
  • Business and liability insurers
  • Health insurance and benefits providers
  • Attorneys and business consultants
  • Accounting, payroll and HR management vendors
  • Marketing and advertising partners
  • Logistics partners (fulfillment, warehousing and shipping)
  • IT service providers
  • Ecommerce providers
  • Receivables management, remote deposit capture and bill pay vendors

The goal is to determine whether business needs are being met or if better alternatives exist, then to see if favorable terms and pricing can be negotiated. Businesses that take the time to audit providers can identify overspends and inefficiencies as well as discover new options that can help them achieve greater success and boost ROI once the market rebounds.

10. Rebrand

This could be the right time to evolve for businesses that have been putting off a rebrand. Extra downtime allows businesses to devote resources to rebranding efforts, and it could also allow them to supply remote employees with productive work. Rebranding can take many shapes, from a complete top-to-bottom makeover to a packaging redesign for an under performing product.

Refresh and rebrand ideas include:

  • Logo design
  • Brand colors
  • Retail packaging
  • Website design
  • App design
  • Promotional products
  • Unique selling proposition
  • Customer focus
  • Branded marketing collateral
  • Mission statement and company values

A strategic rebrand can help companies reconnect with customers and reach new audience segments that bolster profitability. Rebranding at this time carries additional meaning, too, since it can coincide with the sense of rebirth many will feel post-pandemic.

Downtime doesn’t have to be dead time: Savvy businesses will identify ways to make the quarantine work to their advantage. Now is the time for businesses to rethink, revitalize and reinvent themselves so they’re positioned for success on the other side of the coronavirus pandemic.


Video Conferencing During Quarantine

best videoconferencing app

Video Conferencing During Quarantine

None of us could have anticipated the radical unsettling and uncertain impacts of COVID-19. Business needs are shifting rapidly. Over the coming weeks, there will be challenges to businesses of all sizes, to the economy, and to our lives. For those needing to stay connected with colleagues during these challenging times, UberConference stepped up to help.

Effective immediately, and for the next two months, Dialpad Talk and UberConference are available FREE to any new individual, business or community that needs a better way to stay connected. You can literally have your business phone system, conferencing, and even your contact center up and running from anywhere in minutes. If you continue to use us after this crisis, that’s great. If not, that’s great too. There’s no obligation to continue, and they are happy knowing they could help you continue to be productive from anywhere during this COVID-19 outbreak.

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Social Media Netiquette


The way you conduct yourself through your social media accounts is a direct reflection on your business. If you are a consultant and you are your business, it’s so critical to follow social media netiquette (internet etiquette). Here are 9 golden social media communication rules.

  1. Always proofread, check for grammar, misspellings and use proper punctuation.
  2. DON’T USE ALL CAPS or multiple exclamation points. This is construed as yelling.
  3. Avoid abbreviations unless you @ hyperlink them so everyone knows what you mean.
  4. Avoid sarcasm. This can lead to misinterpretation and come off as non-professional.
  5. Be courteous and generate a polite tone.
  6. Check your words carefully. Like any written message on an online platform, your words are not private. If you aren’t alright with everyone seeing it, you shouldn’t post it.
  7. Don’t get into arguments. Social media is a great source not only for news, but also exchanging views. Even if you don’t agree with others, don’t let it turn into a nasty argument.
  8. Interact with people. If someone replies to your, say thanks or start a conversation. Social media, like the name suggests, is a social activity and no one likes to be ignored.
  9. Credit your sources. It’s proper to credit the original source by linking the news, photo, video, article or joke to the original source.

Most of this is common sense, but you would be surprised how many people representing their brand fail at following these simple guidelines. One thing I always suggest to clients is that before sending or posting any communication, read over it multiple times, especially if you are communicating out of anger. Your final version, once you’ve had an opportunity to forge your words better, will represent you and your business in a more professional and positive light. Trust me.

Protect Yourself Against Cybercrime

cyber security

Cybercrime is an ongoing threat.

You might think that the only form of cybercrime to worry about is cybercriminals stealing your financial information. But it may not be so simple. There are far more concerns than just basic financial ones. Cybercrime continues to evolve, with new threats surfacing.

My niece works for a large firm in Atlanta whose employer was victim to a cybercrime where they hijacked all of their computer data demanding a ransom. It virtually shut their business down. They could not access any of their data. This went on for weeks as the authorities got involved. It had a happy ending, but it crippled their production.

Stories like this may make people and businesses leery of using the Internet. Instead of letting the cybercriminal deter your ability to operate, it’s a better idea to know how to recognize cyberthreats in the first place. This is the first step to helping protect yourself and your data. Taking some basic precautions and knowing who to contact when you see others engaged in criminal activities online are also important steps.

You might want to learn how to prevent cyberthreats, but here’s the thing: You can’t. You can, however, take precautions to help protect against it.

What is cybercrime?

Cybercrime is any crime that takes place online or primarily online. Cybercriminals often commit crimes by targeting computer networks or devices. Cybercrime can range from security breaches to personal information theft.

Other cybercrimes include things like “revenge porn,” cyber-stalking, harassment, bullying, and child sexual exploitation. Terrorists can also collaborate on the internet, moving terrorist activities and crimes into cyberspace.

How to protect yourself against cyberthreats.

Anyone using the internet should exercise some basic precautions. Here are 8 tips you can use to help protect yourself against cyberthreats out there.

1. Use a full-service internet security suite
For instance, Norton Security provides real-time protection against existing and emerging malware including ransomware and viruses, and helps protect your private and financial information when you go online.

2. Use strong passwords
Don’t repeat your passwords on different sites and change your passwords regularly and always create strong passwords using a combination of at least 10 letters, numbers, and symbols.

3. Keep your software updated
This is especially important with your operating systems and internet security software. Cybercriminals frequently use known exploits, or flaws, in your software to gain access to your system. Patching those exploits and flaws can make it less likely that you’ll become a cyberthreat target.

4. Manage your social media settings
Keep your personal and private information secure on social media. Cybercriminals can often get your personal information with just a few data points, so the less you share publicly, the better. For instance, if you post your pet’s name or reveal your mother’s maiden name, you might expose the answers to two common security questions.

5. Strengthen your security on Wi-Fi
It’s a good idea to start with a strong encryption password as well as a virtual private network when using public Wi-Fi. A VPN (short for virtual private network) will encrypt all traffic leaving your devices until it arrives at its destination. If cybercriminals do manage to hack your communication line, they won’t intercept anything but encrypted data. It’s a good idea to use a VPN whenever you a public Wi-Fi network, whether it’s in a library, café, hotel, or airport.

6. Have ongoing dialogue with your children
You can teach your kids about acceptable use of the internet without shutting down communication channels. Make sure they know that they can come to you if they’re experiencing any kind of online harassment, stalking, or bullying.

7. Keep up to date on major security breaches
If you do business with an online retailer or have an account on a website that’s been impacted by a security breach, find out what information the cybercriminals accessed and change your password immediately.

8. Take measures to help protect yourself against personal information theft
Personal information theft can occur when someone wrongfully obtains your personal data in a way that involves fraud or deception, typically for economic gain. How? You might be tricked into giving personal information over the internet, for instance, or a cybercriminal might steal your post to access account information mailed to you. That’s why it’s important to guard your personal data by using a reputable security suite to help protect your sensitive information

In a way, fighting cybercrime is everybody’s business. Think of it as an obligation to do your part in the fight against cybercrime. For most people, that means following a few simple, common-sense steps to help keep yourself and your family safer. Be aware and be vigilant.

How To Effectively Use Hashtags

effective hashtag use

Watch your Facebook hashtags.

If you choose irrelevant hashtags or add too many hashtags, it can distract your audience and disrupt your messaging.

I warn clients all of the time that on Facebook posts specifically, adding more than three hashtags is actually hurting the visibility of that post. They are creating a traffic jam of sorts if you will. And it’s surprising how many big marketing agencies do not know this.


“From a user standpoint, hashtags are used to categorize content, making the discovery of new or related articles and insights easy to do […] When hashtags are used incorrectly, people looking for new content have to dig through irrelevant, miscategorized content in order to get to what they’re actually looking for.” –Sprout Social


Amen to Sprout Social on that observation!


Now then, let’s talk about using hashtags on other social media outlets because the use is a bit different on say Instagram and Twitter.


Q: Should you use hashtags in your social media content?
A: Yes. Using hashtags is an effective way to enter new conversations and get your content in front of new eyes.


Q: Are there certain platforms where I should use hashtags?
A: Yes. Consumers tend to use hashtags more on Twitter and Instagram.


Q: Do social media users actually use hashtags?
A: Yes. When users are looking at social media, they click on hashtags to discover more relevant content and learn more about topics that relate to what they just looked at or read about.


Q: Are hashtags really an effective way to increase reach and engagement?
A: Yes. Think about it: if you post a photo on Instagram or Twitter without any hashtags, only your current followers will see it. However, if you post a photo on Instagram or Twitter and use effective hashtags, you have the potential to reach thousands of new potential followers and customers with that post.


Thanks for hashing out hashtags with us. Now that we’re all on the same page, we’d like to dive into the best ways to use hashtags in your content to bring potential new fans and followers to your social pages, and ultimately, your business. Go Daddy Social did some very cool research on the effective use of hashtags on Instagram and Twitter that we love. Click here to read on!

Small Business Marketing Tips

Have you noticed that your marketing efforts have plateaued and growth hasn’t been where you hoped? It’s not that you’re doing anything wrong. It’s just that tactics you’ve relied on may no longer resonate with your audience. So why not spice it up a bit? Here are eight fresh and exciting marketing tactics perfect for small businesses.

1. Offer rewards for referrals. 

Did you know that 82 percent of Americans seek recommendations from friends and family before making a purchase? For those between the ages of 18 and 34, that figure jumps to 92 percent 

Simply put, word-of-mouth recommendations can greatly influence purchases. But how can you encourage referrals and recommendations? 

One of the easiest ways is to simply offer discounts and deals to current customers who refer your business to friends and family.   

2. Experiment with different social channels.

Chances are you’re at least using Facebook, but why not experiment with some other social channels like LinkedIn and Twitter? Instagram and Pinterest are ideal for sharing visual content. This may not work for every business, but they could be used to share images of your products, behind-the-scenes pictures, or even for user-generated content where you ask your audience to share pics of them enjoying your product or service.  And there’s Snapchat. It’s extremely popular with millennials, and brands like Taco Bell have figured out how to tap into that popularity. 

There’s also the microblogging platform Tumblr that comes with multimedia functionality. Want to learn more about how Tumblr can help your business? 

Before committing to a new social channel, weigh the pros and cons to make sure it’s a good fit with your business and audience.  I’ve found that most clients do best with one or a combination of social channels. You just need to figure out what works best for your company.  

3. Combine email and social.

Email marketing remains your most powerful tool for gaining and retaining customers. Because social media platforms make algorithm tweaks that can limit the visibility of your content, email marketing gives you the chance to reach your customers directly. 

Combining your email marketing and social media activities using simple social sharing tools can help you find new customers as you reach out to existing ones. 

For starters, you can include a simple “share” button in your email content so your subscribers can post your message on social media. You can also convert your social media followers into email subscribers just by sharing a link to your email signup form on your various social media channels.  

And thanks to Facebook’s Custom Audience, you can target customers via their email addresses. This allows you to stay engaged with customers who have abandoned old email addresses. For example, you can retarget customers with ads for the products that they either viewed on your site or left in their shopping cart.  

4. Interact with other businesses online or build friendly rivalries. 

This can get tricky, but when done correctly, it’s definitely a unique and effective marketing idea. For instance Old Spice. The brand’s sassy tweets have engaged brands like Oreo. It’s not vicious, nor does it cross any lines. It’s lighthearted and amusing banter that keeps their audiences engaged. 

For small businesses, engaging in friendly rivalry may not work in close-knit communities. But giving them a shout-out on social media or linking their pages is an excellent way to build a mutual and beneficial online relationship. Eventually, you may even decide to team up together for contests and deals.  

5. Run contests.

Contests are an easy way to encourage your audience to engage with your brand. 

For example, you could organize a photo contest or raffle for which customers could win a prize. Just make sure the prize is something your audience actually cares about or is somewhat relevant to your brand. 

Remember, too, that you’ll need to have a clearly defined goal that benefits your business on top of that awesome prize you’ve put up for grabs. This goal could be anything from getting more visitors to your websites to building your email list or increasing your social media followers. 

And don’t forget to announce your contest or raffle on your social media channels and send out an email blast as well.  

6. Participate in small business sites and forums.

Participating in small business sites is a learning experience, as well as a viable marketing strategy. Sites like Startup Nation and /r/Entrepreneur subs can be used for business owners and marketers to discuss and exchange ideas on marketing strategies and campaigns. 

For instance, you can create a case study for one of your business projects or marketing campaigns. Because entrepreneurs are constantly on the lookout for tips and tactics they can use for their business, it’s an easy way to generate some buzz for your business. 

As an added bonus, you can include some links to previous blog or social posts that are relevant to the discussion to gain some traffic back to your site. That will probably help optimize your site for SEO too.  

7. Publish other content besides blog posts.

Publishing blog posts that contain valuable content for your audience is always a smart move — as long as it’s consistent and provides your audience with value.  

However, you can’t just rely on blog posts.  

Most of us are visual learners. That’s why content like inspiring pictures, infographics, or videos are so effective. They’re easy to digest and can be shared online with just a click of a button. Other content, such as case studies or white papers, prove that you’re an authority figure, while podcasts and webinars give your audience a chance to become part of the discussion.  

8. Share your community and social efforts. 

Customers are now paying attention to the social, economic, and environmental impact that businesses have. And it’s a prevalent mindset among the largest age demographic: millennials.  

One study found that “81% of millennials expect companies to make a public commitment to good corporate citizenship.” Another discovered that “more than nine in 10 millennials would switch brands to one associated with a cause (91% vs. 85% U.S. average).” 

But don’t give back just for a photo op. Giving back needs to be integrated into your brand’s identity.  

You can give back to your community by: 

  • Leading a fundraising mission for a local nonprofit. 
  • Hosting a community volunteer day. 
  • Sponsoring a Little League or high school sports program. 
  • Donating unsold items. For example, if you run a bakery, you could give food products to a local food bank. 
  • Hosting an informational service around your products or services. For instance, if you were an accountant, you could provide free tax preparation for seniors or your fellow small business owners.