How to Give Your Business a Facelift

Businesses need to evolve periodically. Whether you like it or not, you have to look at the trends going on around us and make decisions accordingly. These decisions may involve reaching out to a new demographic, offering new services or products, or changing the way you do things like tailoring your marketing writing to Google’s ever-changing rules.If it’s been a while since you’ve innovated in your business, now might be the time to consider a facelift.

Many business owners embrace tradition and refuse to yield. That worked for Blockbuster, too. But seriously, no one stopped watching movies. They just changed the way they did it. The same may be true of your business. To keep from closing your doors, you need to watch for trends. Here are a few that may influence how you think about your business.
Three Not-So-New Trends That Are Shaping Today’s Businesses
When you talk innovation, very few people have the intestinal fortitude to be on the bleeding edge of adopting completely new approaches. That’s why this article features trends that aren’t so new that they haven’t been tested but are still new enough that they may give you some exciting ideas.
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6 Reasons Why a Facebook Group Can’t Replace Chamber Membership

Some people think a chamber membership is all about networking and because of that they see it as obsolete. After all, you can just meet other business people online, right? Search on Facebook and a number of business groups will come up, many geared to a certain profession or business size.Some of these groups are private so you have to apply to get in. A few even require you to answer questions and promise to play nicely with others. Upon acceptance, you can spend all day chatting it up with other like-minded business owners (for free!).
No need to join the chamber, right?
Wrong.
Saying that joining a Facebook group for business replaces the need for a chamber membership is like placing a nickel in your piggy bank and claiming to have a retirement account. Sure, the two are kind of similar but you’ll never get the same amount of return from that group as you will from a chamber membership. Here’s why.
With a chamber membership you get the following things you won’t get from a Facebook group:
1.A Connection with the Community and a Marketable Designation
The chamber is a well-respected community organization. Many people see it as similar to the Better Business Bureau. Your membership plaque or window cling tells customers that you are intending to be part of the community for a long time. Being a member of an online group is not a reputation builder.
2.Knowledgeable Help
With an online Facebook group, someone will ask a question, others will give their advice. This can be a wonderful experiment in crowd-sourced learning. However, it can also have its downside. While the group administrator may have asked a few questions when someone entered, most groups do not vet members. Anyone can offer advice, skilled/experienced or not. It’s difficult to tell the good from the bad.
Facebook also allows frequent contributors in the group to receive a designation next to their names. Be aware this just means they answer questions often. This does not indicate expertise of any kind just a willingness to jump into conversations and post.
3.Hands-on Learning Opportunities
The chamber offers hands-on learning opportunities as well as lunch and learns. For many people, it’s hard to learn by being told what to do. But seeing it or working on it on their own through the instruction of others, can help improve the learning experience. That’s why some chambers have created learning opportunities that include things like social media help and in-person website attention. Check with your local chamber to find out what sort of learning sessions it offers.
With Facebook groups, there’s a limit to the amount of information must people are willing to share. In depth learning will likely occur elsewhere.
4.Ribbon Cuttings
When you open a new location for your business, hit a milestone anniversary or some other accomplishment, your Facebook group might send you some emoji balloons but the chamber will be there with a social media mention, perhaps an article, help on a press release, and/or a ribbon-cutting event to celebrate your time in business.
5.Advocacy
Your Facebook group may be exceptionally supportive and you may even feel like you have a group of online friends, but it’s likely that as supportive as these friends are, they are not lobbying on behalf of your community and business on a local, state, and national level. Your chamber is. Many businesses forget this valuable part of chamber work. While most businesses can’t afford their own lobbyist, they can afford chamber membership.
6.Trust
I’ve known a lot of people to get “burned” by something they shared on social media. If you need help on a delicate matter within your business, it’s likely you don’t want to splash it across a public forum, even if that forum is a “private group.” If you’re dealing with something sensitive and you need advice on next steps (like in the case of a termination, business bankruptcy or going-out-of-business situation) you don’t want to share that with the world. At the chamber, you can get the help you need or a reference to someone who can assist you without sharing it with the world. Chambers handle delicate situations all the time and they do so with discretion.
There’s nothing wrong with joining Facebook groups. They can be extremely helpful in hearing advice from people who may have gone through similar situations. But these memberships will never cover everything your chamber can do for your business. Still, there’s no reason to choose between one or the other. When it comes to business growth, multiple tools and investments are required, and chamber membership is an excellent one.
 
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Writer’s Weekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
 

8 Things to Do to Make Your Business Life Easier

Efficiency is key these days as we’re pulled in hundreds of different directions. If running your business seems like a struggle, it’s time to make things easier. Some businesses choose to do that by hiring additional people, but if you don’t have the budget for that right now, there are other things that can be done to help you make the most of the hours in your day.Outsource. It costs less than adding new positions at your business and you can adjust “headcount” as needed in slow or busy times. If you work with a great virtual assistant or delegate to some other freelancer or contractor, you may be able to hire them later if you decide to add to your staff. And best of all, you already know how they work.
Employ technology. Ford changed the automaking industry (and others like it) forever when he compartmentalized the work moving away from one person doing all of it from beginning to end and giving people specific roles to perform over and over. He didn’t invent the assembly line but he popularized it. Just like the assembly line, if there is technology or a way to streamline work, consider adopting it. That may take the form of a chatbot (easily implemented through Facebook Messenger) to answer basic questions and take the burden off of employees or a content management system or email marketing software to streamline customer communications. 
Have (and use) goals. This sounds a little remedial. All businesses have goals, right? But you need to make sure all employees know your business goals. This not only gives them something to shoot for, it also provides a framework for decision making. Every decision can be weighed by asking if this moves your business closer to the goal(s) or not.
Launch one new thing at a time. When it comes to business, there are hills and valleys of creativity. Occasionally, you’re filled with all sorts of ideas on how to grow and improve, to meet more customer needs, to expand markets or offerings. It’s often difficult to select the one to focus on but it’s imperative you do. Don’t launch multiple big projects at once. You’ll spend a lot more time getting them off the ground because your attention and focus will be diluted.
Go to the cloud. Years ago, if you left a file at the office, you were out of luck unless you went back in. Today, you can access all of your files, photos, videos, and projects from the cloud. There are free options like Google Drive and DropBox as well as paid options if you need more storage.
Not only is cloud hosting more efficient, it does provide some peace of mind. While moving to the cloud doesn’t save you from hackers (you still need to worry about security), it does ensure that if a physical disaster affects your office or business, your files and important information will remain intact.
Take security seriously. Many small businesses think that cybercriminals are not interested in them because their operations are too small. However, if you have data that is important to you and involves private customer information (like credit card numbers or social security numbers), you can be assured you are a target. You are even more of a target than a large company because hackers assume you won’t have the security protocols that larger organizations have. Make sure your data is safe. It’s one of the most important things you can do for your business.
Learn when “done” is better than “perfect.” Some tasks require exacting specifics and it’s important to get it right, like launching a space shuttle, doing your taxes, or building a bridge. While with other tasks it’s better to have them complete than done over and over trying to get it perfect, like stocking shelves, for instance. Recognizing what has to be perfect, and what’s better just getting it finished is an important step to better efficiency and an easier business life. And once those things are complete, let them go. 
Join your chamber. Most people don’t understand the immense help a chamber of commerce can be. Not only can it put you in touch with more potential customers, it can also be a place of learning about business tips and trends, and a group that can help connect you with like-minded business owners. Unlike a lawyer, you’re not paying per hour for this advice. You’re getting it for the cost of membership.
There’s no reason to make your business life any harder than your job requires. Look for ways to streamline your operations and you’ll have more time on your hands and less stress.
 
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Writer’s Weekly. She blogs regularly at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  
 
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.
 

10 Examples of Business Videos You Should Be Making

Ask someone a question they don’t know the answer to and they’ll often “Google” it or they’ll ask an AI like Siri or Alexa for help. Ask someone how to do something they’re unfamiliar with and they’ll probably turn to YouTube for instruction.In a recent article in HubSpot, the author Amanda Zantal-Wiener wrote about a study by Market Intelligence Central that listed the highest visited websites in the US as Google, Facebook, and YouTube, in that order.
Yet, things may be changing.
Under a lot of negative scrutiny about privacy, Facebook is losing some of the market share (roughly 2.8 billion visits each month over the past two years) while YouTube is gaining.
At the same time in an article on Market Insider, a new survey from Slidely revealed more people claim to watch videos predominantly on Facebook (47%) than YouTube (41%).
So which is true and what does it mean for your business?
The issue at stake is really not which site is more popular. Those kinds of things fluctuate and while you should pay attention so that you are participating on the platforms where your audience gathers, it’s important to note the bigger, uniting issue in both of these articles.
Video is the new black.
More than ever before, people are turning to video to learn how to do things from solving complex math equations to playing video games. In order to capture a portion of the video-viewing audience, you need to think about different ways in which you can start using video for your own business.
Today’s Video Is More Than Just Commercials
Only a few years ago, when video marketing first started taking off, video was largely promotional. Commercials, tours of your company, services you provided, and other promotional ideas were all the rage only a short time ago.
Today’s business video has evolved. What audiences are looking for now is entertainment, education, and inspiration. If you’re not providing that in video form, they’re likely ignoring you.
Modern Video Ideas for Your Business
YouTube is the second largest search engine outside of Google. It’s bigger than Yahoo, Bing, and AOL combined as it processes over 3 billion searches a month.
A key to getting found is the content of your videos (and how they’re tagged). Today’s video viewers are looking to learn something, be entertained, or walk away feeling a need to take action. Here are a few ideas on how you can do that with your business video.
Information/Education
As mentioned earlier, a large number of people are performing searches on YouTube to find out targeted information. They have a need or a question, and YouTube videos provide their answers. Keep this in mind when creating videos for your business.
Video content ideas include:
How to use your product or answering popular questions about it
How to succeed in your industry
How to create something with your product (Sharpie markers has a slew of user-made videos you can reference.)
TedX-type discovery videos
Entertainment
Entertaining your audience is another great way to get shares and engagement with your videos. Some businesses create entertaining videos that have very little to do directly with their product or service.
Entertaining video is probably the most popular type of video on Facebook. Queue the cat reel. Keep in mind, fewer people would search for how-to videos on Facebook than they would on YouTube.
Video content ideas for entertainment include:
Telling your ideal audience’s stories. Check out Converse’s All the Stories Are True videos.
Video challenges. There are tons of them out there but two of the most famous are the Ice Bucket Challenge and Police Lip Sync Challenge.
New uses for your product or service no one thought about (try a little humor).
Inspiration
Inspirational video is the type of thing that evokes emotion and a desire for action. There are millions of them on Facebook and YouTube.
Video content ideas that inspire include:
Sharing your favorite cause with the community.
Telling your career story. What made you want to go into the business you chose? Or share a struggle you encountered along the way.
Sharing your 10 greatest customer moments.
These are just a few ideas to get you started on different ways of looking at video for your business. Viewer habits are moving away from heavy commercial type videos. They’re looking for something to inspire, entertain, or educate them. Your audience is searching for video that will help them solve a problem or teach them a way to do something.
This type of search is very much ingrained in the younger generation. They think to go to YouTube first when learning a new skill, sometimes even before “Googling” it.
Are you prepared to meet this growing demand for video?
 
Christina R. Green teaches small businesses, chambers, and associations how to connect through content. Her articles have appeared in the Midwest Society of Association Executives’ Magazine, NTEN.org, AssociationTech, and Writer’s Weekly. She is a regular blogger at Frankjkenny.com and the Event Manager Blog.  
She’s a bookish writer on a quest to bring great storytelling to organizations everywhere.