5 Things Your Accountant Should be Doing

Is your accountant giving you more than just tax advice? If not, it may be time to find a new one.

Happy accountant

Your accountant should be helping you with these five important things:

1. Helping You Prepare for Tax Season – Well in Advance

Most business owners hire an accountant purely for tax purposes, although they can offer assistance in other ways as well.

Ideally, your accountant should be helping you prepare for taxes well in advance, so there are no last-minute surprises. He or she should be helping you understand:

  • Which credits to claim
  • Which deductions to claim
  • Tax laws that can maximize your write-offs

Tax opportunities, like the R&D credit, can help reduce your tax burden, and your accountant should know if you qualify for such opportunities.…



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Online matchmaking businesses in India have many ways to woo

Arranged by algorithm

“IT WAS 2012…I was number 37,” says Ashwini, referring to the badge that was pinned on her shirt pocket. Her task was to go onto the stage and introduce herself to around 70 eligible bachelors and their parents. Families then conferred and, provided caste and religious background proved no obstacle, would approach the event’s moderator asking to meet number 37. At midday girls would wait for prospects to swing by, again with parents on either side. A brief exchange might establish the potential bride’s cooking skills or her intention to work after marriage. If the two sides hit it off, they would exchange copies of their horoscopes. Nearly 50 men lined up to meet Ashwini that day, speed-dating style. No one made the cut. She later married a colleague.

Such gatherings form an important part of the wedding industry, worth around $50bn a year, in a country where arranged marriages continue to be the norm. India has 440m millennials—...



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Streaming has pushed Latin music into the mainstream

“MI GENTE” lures listeners with a mesmerising hook, a thumping beat and lyrics about breaking down barriers. A collaboration between J Balvin, a Colombian reggaeton star (pictured), and Willy William, a French producer, the latest product of this summer’s Latin craze is crooned almost entirely in Spanish. (The title means “My People”; reggaeton borrows from hip hop, reggae and rap.) The song topped the charts on Spotify, a streaming service, for weeks. “To be a crossover artist, you used to have to sing in English,” said John Reilly, Mr Balvin’s publicist. Now six of YouTube’s top ten music videos are predominantly in Spanish. In August the Billboard Hot 100, which tracks streams, sales and radio plays, sported seven Latin hits. Just five graced the chart in all of 2016.

Latin music is helping the music industry to arrest years of decline. Its growth is far outpacing that of other genres. Last year Latin America yielded just $598m out of total global recorded-music revenue of $16bn...



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Psychology beats business training when it comes to entrepreneurship

MANAGEMENT gurus have chewed over the topic endlessly: is a flair for entrepreneurship something that you are born with, or something that can be taught? In a break with those gurus’ traditions, a group of economists and researchers from the World Bank, the National University of Singapore and Leuphana University in Germany decided that rather than simply cook up a pet theory of their own, they would conduct a controlled experiment.

Moreover, instead of choosing subjects from the boardrooms of powerful corporations or among the latest crop of young entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley, Francisco Campos and his fellow researchers chose to monitor 1,500 people running small businesses in Togo in West Africa. These are not the sorts of business owners who give TED talks or negotiate billion-dollar mergers. The typical firm had three employees and profits of 94,512 CFA francs ($173) a month. Only about a third kept books, and less than one in 20 had a written budget.

...



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What if large tech firms were regulated like sewage companies?

THREE-QUARTERS of Americans admit that they search the web, send e-mails and check their social-media accounts in the bathroom. That is not the only connection between tech and plumbing. The water and sewage industry offers clues to the vexed question of how to regulate the Silicon Valley “platform” firms, such as Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. The implications are mildly terrifying for the companies, so any tech tycoons reading this column might want to secure a spare pair of trousers.

In America and in Europe a consensus is emerging that big tech firms must be tamed. Their dominance of services such as search and social media gives them huge economic and political clout. The $3trn total market value of America’s five biggest tech firms (Apple and Microsoft are the other two) suggests that investors believe they are among the most powerful firms in history, up there with the East India Company and Standard Oil.

Trustbusters in need of instant gratification want to...



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Big technology firms are newly in the hot seat at home

Jane Doe and friend

ANTITRUST, privacy, hate speech—whenever the European Union tries to rein in tech giants, Americans accuse it of protectionism. That argument has always been simplistic, but now it is harder to make; scarcely a week passes in Washington when companies like Apple and Google are not in politicians’ crosshairs.

The latest target is Facebook. Earlier this month the firm revealed that 470 accounts that appeared to be controlled from Russia had bought advertisements worth a total of $100,000 on the social network between June 2015 and May 2017. Alex Stamos, Facebook’s chief security officer, said they aimed at “amplifying divisive social and political messages”.

This was the first time Facebook had acknowledged that Russia may have used the social network, leading the team of Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible links between Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, to issue a...



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Boeing takes off on a flight of hypocrisy against Bombardier

“WE WON’T do business with a company that is busy trying to sue us.” So said an uncharacteristically stern Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, alongside his British counterpart, Theresa May, in Ottawa on September 18th. The two had teamed up to take on Boeing. The giant American aeroplane-maker is pressing Donald Trump’s administration to impose duties on commercial jets made by Canada’s Bombardier. Boeing says its smaller rival is using Canadian government subsidies to sell aircraft to Delta, an American carrier, at below cost price.

Few in either country question that Bombardier has had vital financial support from the Canadian and British governments since 2005 for its small jetliner, the C-Series. As the plane’s development costs soared, to $5.4bn, Bombardier struggled to find buyers for it; financial trouble followed. An estimated C$4bn ($3.4bn) in state support, including C$2.8bn in 2015, stopped a nosedive. It was not until 2016 that the aircraft’s future seemed assured...



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Ryanair cancels more than 2,000 flights over the next six weeks

Not his biggest cock-up said O’Leary

RYANAIR, an Irish airline, is known for three things: low fares, the brash way in which Michael O’Leary, its chief executive, advertises them, and its record for sticking to its flight schedules. The last of these is key to its appeal: many businessmen chose Ryanair more for its punctuality than its cheapness. And so the announcement on September 15th that it is cancelling over 2,000 flights between now and the end of October—around 2% of its capacity over the period—is more serious than it may at first seem. Ryanair’s share price fell by more than 5% in the aftermath.

The problems began in early September when Ryanair’s on-time record plunged, owing to a pilot shortage. To restore punctuality, it cancelled many flights at short notice; passengers were marooned around Europe. Up to 400,000 people booked on the 2,000 scrapped flights risk missing business trips and holidays.

Mr O’Leary says the problems...



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Behind the veil of Saudi Aramco

IF SAUDI ARAMCO is a state within a state in Saudi Arabia, then the blandly named Oil Supply Planning and Scheduling (OSPAS) is its deep state. To enter it, you pass tight security at Aramco’s suburban-style headquarters in Dhahran, in the east of the kingdom. The transition is eye-opening. Suddenly, English is the common tongue even among Saudi “Aramcons”, as its workers are known. Female employees, their faces uncovered, lead meetings of male colleagues. The crisp banter is common to engineers everywhere. A toilet break is called a “pressure-relief” exercise.

Deep within, OSPAS is even further removed from the kingdom outside. The few executives with clearance to enter call it the “nerve centre” of the world’s largest oil company. Using 100,000 sensors and data points on wells, pipelines, plants and terminals, it directs every drop of oil and cubic foot of gas that comes out of the kingdom (10% of the world’s oil supply), monitors it on giant screens as it heads to ports and power...



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Toys “R” Us files for bankruptcy

ASK young American parents about Toys “R” Us and they are likely to be able to sing a jingle from their childhood: “I don’t wanna grow up, ’cause maybe if I did, I couldn’t be a Toys “R” Us kid”. For children of the 1980s, Toys “R” Us was a mecca at the strip mall, an awe-inspiring array of dolls, trucks, board games, bikes, art supplies and much more. Many of them noticed when on September 18th, the chain filed for bankruptcy.

Dave Brandon, the company’s chief executive, emphasised that shops would carry on operating as usual and claimed that Toys “R” Us was at the start of a new, brighter era. “These are the right steps to ensure that the iconic Toys “R” Us and Babies “R” Us brands live on for many generations,” he declared. A Chapter 11 bankruptcy, many analysts agree, is a sensible way to deal with the chain’s $5bn of long-term debt. So Toys “R” Us is not dead. But its future is hardly certain.

The company’s tale in many ways typifies the ailments of...



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10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Sponsored Post

10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Winter might be synonymous with cold weather and sky-high energy bills, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

If you run a business and are determined to lower your bills this winter, take a look at the following 10 ways to winterize your business to help manage energy costs.

Seal Any Leaks, Drafts and Gaps Around the Workplace

As the Department of Energy notes, Americans spend on average $2,000 on energy each year, $200 to $400 of which could be going to waste through drafts and air leaks.

Before winter arrives, take the time to assess your premises for leaks and drafts. Gaps can tend to be present around doors and windows, so pay particularly close attention to these areas. Plugging these gaps in a building could help reduce consumption between 5 and 30 percent.

Make Sure Insulation is Adequate

Insulation is vital in helping to reduce the exchange of heat through a surface, such as a building’s walls and ceiling. If your building is well-insulated, less warm air will escape during the winter.

In order to winterize your business to control energy costs, have a professional insulation installer or builder evaluate the existing insulation in your building. If it’s not sufficient, now is the time to improve the insulation.

Have Your Heating System Checked and Maintained

Looking after your business’s boiler and heating system will ensure it works efficiently and effectively all year round. Before the cold weather arrives and the heating system is forced to go into overdrive, have it checked.

Problems, such as airlocks, thermostat issues, leakage, and dripping, may mean your business’s heating system is not running efficiently. An inefficient heating system could mean increased energy bills.

Having the system checked and regularly maintained will ensure it runs as efficiently as it should, all year round.

Get Smart About Lighting

As the Department of Energy highlights, lighting is responsible for almost 25 percent of commercial energy costs. In order to crack down on business energy costs, the winterization of your business should include replacing conventional, energy-zapping light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.

LED bulbs use around 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. These energy-saving bulbs also typically last 10-25 times longer than conventional bulbs.

Automate your Thermostat

Having a programmable thermostat installed in a building can reduce heating costs by as much as 30 percent. During low-occupancy hours, set the thermostat several degrees lower compared to peak times to make significant energy savings.

Prepare the Pipes

Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on piping since, when water freezes, the pressure builds up in the pipes and can cause them to burst.

When winterizing your business to control energy costs, don’t neglect the pipes. Ensure all exterior pipes and interior ones in unheated areas are sufficiently insulated. Flexible elastomeric insulation works well on exterior pipes to give them the insulation they will require in the winter to prevent the water inside from freezing, causing the pipes to burst.

Check Heating Ducts

If your business has heating ducts, check them to see if the insulation needs to be replaced. Inadequately insulated heating ducts will mean the heating system has to work harder to keep the building warm, resulting in higher energy bills.

Install Energy-Efficient Glazing on Windows and Doors

With a staggering 10-20 percent heat lost through windows and doors, it makes sense to have energy-efficient glazing in place.

Replacing existing glass with low-emissivity glass, designed to prevent heat escaping through windows and doors, could mean significant business energy savings this winter.

Alter the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Use of ceiling fans in your business might be more common in the summer months. But did you know by simply changing the direction of the fan so it rotates in a clockwise direction can circulate warm air instead of cool. According to the ENERGY STAR webpage, altering the direction of ceiling fans can reduce heating costs by forcing warm air near the ceiling down into occupied spaces.

Change Furnace Filters

Prior to the winter months setting in, it’s recommended that you clean or replace furnace filters. Clogged up, dirty filters can restrict airflow, resulting in increased energy demand.

Check with Constellation to learn more about reducing your small business’s energy consumption today.

Caulking Window Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs" was first published on Small Business Trends



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10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Sponsored Post

10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs

Winter might be synonymous with cold weather and sky-high energy bills, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

If you run a business and are determined to lower your bills this winter, take a look at the following 10 ways to winterize your business to help manage energy costs.

Seal Any Leaks, Drafts and Gaps Around the Workplace

As the Department of Energy notes, Americans spend on average $2,000 on energy each year, $200 to $400 of which could be going to waste through drafts and air leaks.

Before winter arrives, take the time to assess your premises for leaks and drafts. Gaps can tend to be present around doors and windows, so pay particularly close attention to these areas. Plugging these gaps in a building could help reduce consumption between 5 and 30 percent.

Make Sure Insulation is Adequate

Insulation is vital in helping to reduce the exchange of heat through a surface, such as a building’s walls and ceiling. If your building is well-insulated, less warm air will escape during the winter.

In order to winterize your business to control energy costs, have a professional insulation installer or builder evaluate the existing insulation in your building. If it’s not sufficient, now is the time to improve the insulation.

Have Your Heating System Checked and Maintained

Looking after your business’s boiler and heating system will ensure it works efficiently and effectively all year round. Before the cold weather arrives and the heating system is forced to go into overdrive, have it checked.

Problems, such as airlocks, thermostat issues, leakage, and dripping, may mean your business’s heating system is not running efficiently. An inefficient heating system could mean increased energy bills.

Having the system checked and regularly maintained will ensure it runs as efficiently as it should, all year round.

Get Smart About Lighting

As the Department of Energy highlights, lighting is responsible for almost 25 percent of commercial energy costs. In order to crack down on business energy costs, the winterization of your business should include replacing conventional, energy-zapping light bulbs with energy-efficient ones.

LED bulbs use around 75 percent less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs. These energy-saving bulbs also typically last 10-25 times longer than conventional bulbs.

Automate your Thermostat

Having a programmable thermostat installed in a building can reduce heating costs by as much as 30 percent. During low-occupancy hours, set the thermostat several degrees lower compared to peak times to make significant energy savings.

Prepare the Pipes

Freezing temperatures can wreak havoc on piping since, when water freezes, the pressure builds up in the pipes and can cause them to burst.

When winterizing your business to control energy costs, don’t neglect the pipes. Ensure all exterior pipes and interior ones in unheated areas are sufficiently insulated. Flexible elastomeric insulation works well on exterior pipes to give them the insulation they will require in the winter to prevent the water inside from freezing, causing the pipes to burst.

Check Heating Ducts

If your business has heating ducts, check them to see if the insulation needs to be replaced. Inadequately insulated heating ducts will mean the heating system has to work harder to keep the building warm, resulting in higher energy bills.

Install Energy-Efficient Glazing on Windows and Doors

With a staggering 10-20 percent heat lost through windows and doors, it makes sense to have energy-efficient glazing in place.

Replacing existing glass with low-emissivity glass, designed to prevent heat escaping through windows and doors, could mean significant business energy savings this winter.

Alter the Direction of Ceiling Fans

Use of ceiling fans in your business might be more common in the summer months. But did you know by simply changing the direction of the fan so it rotates in a clockwise direction can circulate warm air instead of cool. According to the ENERGY STAR webpage, altering the direction of ceiling fans can reduce heating costs by forcing warm air near the ceiling down into occupied spaces.

Change Furnace Filters

Prior to the winter months setting in, it’s recommended that you clean or replace furnace filters. Clogged up, dirty filters can restrict airflow, resulting in increased energy demand.

Check with Constellation to learn more about reducing your small business’s energy consumption today.

Caulking Window Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Ways to Winterize Your Business to Manage Energy Costs" was first published on Small Business Trends



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How to Keep Making Money When You are Injured at Work

Getting hurt on the job is a terrible way to find more time to spend at home. If an injury does occur, it is good to have a backup plan. Your financial responsibilities do not simply stop in life when you are injured, so you have to find another way to bring in money.

Injured employee on a crutch

Workers’ compensation will only pay so much of your life’s expenses. If the case gets complicated, you may even need to obtain a workers’ compensation lawyer. There is no guarantee of a speedy reimbursement, so here are a few ways to make some extra scratch from the comfort of home.…



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A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

There are 2 billion people connecting  on Facebook every month. What’s more, 800 million people like something on the social media site monthly. Those are two good reasons to adopt this 10 step Facebook marketing strategy. Remember, your Facebook Ads will be the cornerstone of your small business campaign.

Facebook Marketing Strategy

Decide on Your Goals

There are a lots of different tools to use when you’re setting up a Facebook marketing strategy.  You need to make sure you’ve got a good idea of what you want to accomplish. The SMART goal framework will give you an excellent framework to work from.

Find Your Target Market

The chances are as a small business you don’t want to reach out to billions of people.

Social media generally is a vast space to market in. Even more so with Facebook. There’s no shortage of metrics you can use to target the best prospects. Location and gender are just two of the ways you can narrow down your target market. Facebook also allows you to find the folks who didn’t like your page through Detailed Targeting. The choices are endless.

Pick a Budget and Schedule

You’ll need to decide how and when your Facebook ads run. Drop down menus make it easy to decide when they run and how much you’ll spend on each. Remember to leave enough time for your ads to be reviewed in advance. Keep in mind that while many small business owners use the boost post function, there are other methods that work well too.

Create Facebook Ads

Now that you’ve laid down  a foundation , it’s time to start building those Facebook Ads. Kane Jamison has some great tips on a blog he wrote on the subject. For example, it’s good to know that Facebook is very particular about how much text you can use.

Optimize Those Ads

Keeping mobile and desktop ads apart is a good way to optimize a small business campaign. Facebook supplies some great tools here to help you through this part of the process like Power Editor.  Taking advantage of these tools means getting the most for the smaller advertising dollar small businesses work with.

Don’t Forget a Call To Action

Facebook can help you build a great ad that gets your products noticed. Don’t forget to add some traditional marketing tools like a Call To Action. Using actionable language is important.

Use The Right Photos

There’s a few different lines of thought here. Some small business folks with limited budgets swear by free stock photo websites. However, if you’ve got a bigger budget, paying for those photos from places like Shutterstock will steer you clear of any copyright issues.

Another note on photos. It’s better if you can use the ones that show people using your product and not just it sitting by itself.

Use Video

Of course you cant ignore the power of video. One hundred million hours of video are watched everyday on Facebook. The in-feed video ads offered are a great way to grab people’s attention. If you’ve got a longer message, the carousel video ads all allow for up to 10 images or videos in one ad.

Test Your Ads Performance

Small business owners all love the fact their advertising dollars go a lot further online.  Still, you want to get the best ROI and that means testing your Facebook campaigns. Of course the best place to do that is with Facebook’s Ad manager. With real time reporting capabilities, you can see if your ads are working for you.

One of the other interesting things here is you have the ability to dice and slice the info into segments. That way you can see if your audience, budget or images need tweaking.

Always Be Thorough

Finally, always take the time to understand everything each step in a Facebook ad can do for you. If you don’t, you might miss something that can change your ROI.

For example, make sure you understand everything targeting by location can do. You might think typing Chicago into the corresponding box is good enough. If you look for the small drop down menu that says “everyone in this location,” you’ll see there are other options including people 100 miles away.

Facebook on Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Google Acquired a Team From HTC and It Surprised No One

Late last night -- at least, here on the East Coast -- a formal announcement was made that, if you're as obsessed with the business of mobile as we are, didn't exactly come as a surprise.

The word: Google had acquired a team from mobile electronics company HTC in a $1.1 billion deal.

When the Taiwan Stock Exchange opened at 9:00 AM local time, where HTC is headquartered, many suspected the announcement was coming. The company, which has been struggling with its valuation for quite a few years now, had already planned to freeze trading on Thursday, sparking rumors that some sort of major organizational move would take place.

Source: HTC

Finally, at 10:00 PM EDT, the announcement came on Google's blog: The search giant had signed an "agreement with HTC, continuing our big bet on hardware."

The announcement, penned by Google's SVP of Hardware Rick Osterloh, explained that the acquired team would be joining primarily to work on the company's Pixel devices. It's just one of many announcements, confirmed or not, leading up to the major October 4 event where several products, including the Pixel 2, are slated to be announced.

Google's relationship with HTC isn't new, nor is its move to acquire a mobile electronics manufacturer -- in 2012, it acquired Motorola, only to amass several financial losses and eventually sell the company to Lenovo for $9.6 billion less than it bought it for. As Osterloh said, representatives from both companies have been collaborating for 10 years, a partnership which in its earliest days resulted in the first-ever Android phone: the HTC Dream. While Google builds and owns the Android operating system technology, it's largely used by non-Google mobile manufacturers, like Samsung and LG, where the search giant has very little, if any, creative license over how those companies use it.

Which is part of what makes this deal so interesting.

It's been a long time since HTC was considered a leader in the world of mobile devices. It hit the market with flashy TV commercials and a "fresh face" in 2008, but since then has faced numerous operating losses resulting in budget cuts that caused a blow to its research and development. In 2016, it managed to catch up a bit in the VR market with its Vive headset, over which HTC will retain control even with the Google deal. 


All of that, to us, suggests two main implications from the deal. First, on the mobile device side, both Google and HTC stand to benefit. HTC will receive financial assets in the form of the deal's monetary value, while Google can boast the growing buildout its mobile hardware team. It also moves the spotlight back onto HTC's mobile innovation, especially at a time when Google is making headlines leading up to its October event. If Google is enlisting the help of HTC employees, one might say, then the latter must be doing something right.

It's an interesting move on the heels of Apple's many product announcements earlier this month, notably the launch of the latest generations of iPhones, including the iPhone X priced at $999. While the feedback on the first Pixel edition was largely positive, it hasn't exactly garnered quite as much buzz as Apple or Samsung devices since its release. That raises the stakes for Google -- will it be able to beat Apple's latest mobile photography, user recognition, and AR features, and at a more competitive price?

Aha -- note that last part about AR. Well, that's where things really get twisted.

Despite the fact that HTC will retain control of its Vive VR properties, keep in mind that, as per the deal's terms, Google will gain some non-exclusive licensing of HTC’s IP. It begs the question of whether this team acquisition will somehow play into Google's potential attempts to compete with Apple on the mobile VR/AR front.

Source: HTC

Google has already been manufacturing its own VR headsets for quite some time now, with products ranging from the extremely affordable Cardboard to the $79 Daydream View. In fact, on the morning leading up to the official HTC deal announcement, Google published a design-focused post on its blog regarding the "best practices [of] creating art assets for VR."

Source: Google

But both of these devices require VR-ready phones for a full experience -- compare that to the $599 Vive, which comes with built-in hardware. The whole thing leaves us wondering if Google will "pull an Apple," and create standalone AR experiences that don't require additional gear.

In the weeks following Google's October 4th event, we'll be heading to both Oculus Connect and the Samsung Developer Conference, where we predict there will be talk -- and perhaps even contention over -- various VR and AR platforms. Where Google's headsets and the Vive will specifically come into play is yet to be determined, and it will be nothing if not intriguing to hear developers' perspectives on the deal's implications and chain reaction.

Whatever they are -- we'll keep you posted.

Featured image source: Google



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A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy

There are 2 billion people connecting  on Facebook every month. What’s more, 800 million people like something on the social media site monthly. Those are two good reasons to adopt this 10 step Facebook marketing strategy. Remember, your Facebook Ads will be the cornerstone of your small business campaign.

Facebook Marketing Strategy

Decide on Your Goals

There are a lots of different tools to use when you’re setting up a Facebook marketing strategy.  You need to make sure you’ve got a good idea of what you want to accomplish. The SMART goal framework will give you an excellent framework to work from.

Find Your Target Market

The chances are as a small business you don’t want to reach out to billions of people.

Social media generally is a vast space to market in. Even more so with Facebook. There’s no shortage of metrics you can use to target the best prospects. Location and gender are just two of the ways you can narrow down your target market. Facebook also allows you to find the folks who didn’t like your page through Detailed Targeting. The choices are endless.

Pick a Budget and Schedule

You’ll need to decide how and when your Facebook ads run. Drop down menus make it easy to decide when they run and how much you’ll spend on each. Remember to leave enough time for your ads to be reviewed in advance. Keep in mind that while many small business owners use the boost post function, there are other methods that work well too.

Create Facebook Ads

Now that you’ve laid down  a foundation , it’s time to start building those Facebook Ads. Kane Jamison has some great tips on a blog he wrote on the subject. For example, it’s good to know that Facebook is very particular about how much text you can use.

Optimize Those Ads

Keeping mobile and desktop ads apart is a good way to optimize a small business campaign. Facebook supplies some great tools here to help you through this part of the process like Power Editor.  Taking advantage of these tools means getting the most for the smaller advertising dollar small businesses work with.

Don’t Forget a Call To Action

Facebook can help you build a great ad that gets your products noticed. Don’t forget to add some traditional marketing tools like a Call To Action. Using actionable language is important.

Use The Right Photos

There’s a few different lines of thought here. Some small business folks with limited budgets swear by free stock photo websites. However, if you’ve got a bigger budget, paying for those photos from places like Shutterstock will steer you clear of any copyright issues.

Another note on photos. It’s better if you can use the ones that show people using your product and not just it sitting by itself.

Use Video

Of course you cant ignore the power of video. One hundred million hours of video are watched everyday on Facebook. The in-feed video ads offered are a great way to grab people’s attention. If you’ve got a longer message, the carousel video ads all allow for up to 10 images or videos in one ad.

Test Your Ads Performance

Small business owners all love the fact their advertising dollars go a lot further online.  Still, you want to get the best ROI and that means testing your Facebook campaigns. Of course the best place to do that is with Facebook’s Ad manager. With real time reporting capabilities, you can see if your ads are working for you.

One of the other interesting things here is you have the ability to dice and slice the info into segments. That way you can see if your audience, budget or images need tweaking.

Always Be Thorough

Finally, always take the time to understand everything each step in a Facebook ad can do for you. If you don’t, you might miss something that can change your ROI.

For example, make sure you understand everything targeting by location can do. You might think typing Chicago into the corresponding box is good enough. If you look for the small drop down menu that says “everyone in this location,” you’ll see there are other options including people 100 miles away.

Facebook on Mobile Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "A 10 Step Facebook Marketing Strategy" was first published on Small Business Trends



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A Desert Island Paradise … and a Great Podcasting Course

On Monday, Stefanie Flaxman showed off an incredibly easy (no, really) way to boost the power of your content, make it more audience-friendly, and even enhance your SEO. On Tuesday, things got a little silly when we asked our editorial team what their “desert island” copywriting technique would be. Come check them out — with
Read More...

The post A Desert Island Paradise … and a Great Podcasting Course appeared first on Copyblogger.



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Salesforce Launches $50 Million Fund for AI Startups

Salesforce AI innovation fund - artificial intelligence solutions from AI startups

Salesforce announced a new $50 million venture fund for startups to innovate with AI technology.  The goal is to encourage AI startups to develop artificial intelligence solutions that work together with the Salesforce platform. The Salesforce AI Innovation Fund, part of Salesforce Ventures, has already made investments in three AI startups.

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) is placing big emphasis on AI and machine intelligence. One year ago the company launched Einstein, Salesforce’s artificial intelligence engine. Einstein provides predictive sales forecasting, and uses machine intelligence to score sales opportunities and gain insights from emails.

As Tony Rodoni, Executive Vice President for SMB sales at Salesforce, told us in an interview at Small Business Trends back in July, small businesses need AI.  “… AI is a necessity to growth. Behind every deal, every order and every opportunity is a customer. AI marries human interaction and machine intelligence in a way that enables companies to better connect with their customers.”

Industry analyst Brent Leary, partner with CRM Essentials, echoes the importance of AI. “Just like social media became an integral part of CRM, AI and CRM will become inseparable in due time. A huge amount of data is being created from every interaction between people, apps and devices, and the frequency of those interactions is growing exponentially. It will take AI technologies to automate the discovery and transmission of relevant insights needed to create the kind of experiences customers and prospects will gravitate towards as their needs change over time.”

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to make every company and employee smarter, faster, more efficient and more productive,” said John Somorjai, EVP at Salesforce Ventures.

Highspot is one of the first three companies receiving funding from the Salesforce AI Innovation Fund. Highspot’s sales enablement platform connects sales teams to relevant content for each situation. The Highspot website says it uses machine learning to “surface the most relevant and effective content for each sales opportunity and provide advanced analytics to optimize your sales cycle.”

Squirro is a Zurich-based startup that also received funding.  Squirro takes incomplete or inaccessible sales information and applies AI insights to it.  In doing so, it says it helps identify new sales opportunities and reduce data research time.

TalkIQ is a real-time voice analytics startup that also received funding. Instead of call shadowing your team, the company’s “proprietary AI technology can predict the outcomes of your calls and guide you towards achieving better sales, reduced churn, and higher customer satisfaction,” according to its website.

Salesforce Ventures also made an investment in All Turtles, an AI startup studio that partners together with startups developing artificial intelligence solutions.  Phil Libin, the CEO of All Turtles observes we’ve entered the era of AI innovation. He writes, “Once every decade or so, the tech world goes through a season of frantic reinvention when novel platforms enter the mainstream, placing previously intractable problems within reach. I started companies in each of the last three of these periods: the rise of the desktop internet in the mid-’90s, the big data movement at the turn of the century, and the explosion of mobile apps in 2008. Another reinvention, caused by the rapid advancement of practical AI, is happening right now.”

AI Image: Shutterstock

This article, "Salesforce Launches $50 Million Fund for AI Startups" was first published on Small Business Trends



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Salesforce Launches $50 Million Fund for AI Startups

Salesforce AI innovation fund - artificial intelligence solutions from AI startups

Salesforce announced a new $50 million venture fund for startups to innovate with AI technology.  The goal is to encourage AI startups to develop artificial intelligence solutions that work together with the Salesforce platform. The Salesforce AI Innovation Fund, part of Salesforce Ventures, has already made investments in three AI startups.

Salesforce (NYSE: CRM) is placing big emphasis on AI and machine intelligence. One year ago the company launched Einstein, Salesforce’s artificial intelligence engine. Einstein provides predictive sales forecasting, and uses machine intelligence to score sales opportunities and gain insights from emails.

As Tony Rodoni, Executive Vice President for SMB sales at Salesforce, told us in an interview at Small Business Trends back in July, small businesses need AI.  “… AI is a necessity to growth. Behind every deal, every order and every opportunity is a customer. AI marries human interaction and machine intelligence in a way that enables companies to better connect with their customers.”

Industry analyst Brent Leary, partner with CRM Essentials, echoes the importance of AI. “Just like social media became an integral part of CRM, AI and CRM will become inseparable in due time. A huge amount of data is being created from every interaction between people, apps and devices, and the frequency of those interactions is growing exponentially. It will take AI technologies to automate the discovery and transmission of relevant insights needed to create the kind of experiences customers and prospects will gravitate towards as their needs change over time.”

“Artificial intelligence has the potential to make every company and employee smarter, faster, more efficient and more productive,” said John Somorjai, EVP at Salesforce Ventures.

Highspot is one of the first three companies receiving funding from the Salesforce AI Innovation Fund. Highspot’s sales enablement platform connects sales teams to relevant content for each situation. The Highspot website says it uses machine learning to “surface the most relevant and effective content for each sales opportunity and provide advanced analytics to optimize your sales cycle.”

Squirro is a Zurich-based startup that also received funding.  Squirro takes incomplete or inaccessible sales information and applies AI insights to it.  In doing so, it says it helps identify new sales opportunities and reduce data research time.

TalkIQ is a real-time voice analytics startup that also received funding. Instead of call shadowing your team, the company’s “proprietary AI technology can predict the outcomes of your calls and guide you towards achieving better sales, reduced churn, and higher customer satisfaction,” according to its website.

Salesforce Ventures also made an investment in All Turtles, an AI startup studio that partners together with startups developing artificial intelligence solutions.  Phil Libin, the CEO of All Turtles observes we’ve entered the era of AI innovation. He writes, “Once every decade or so, the tech world goes through a season of frantic reinvention when novel platforms enter the mainstream, placing previously intractable problems within reach. I started companies in each of the last three of these periods: the rise of the desktop internet in the mid-’90s, the big data movement at the turn of the century, and the explosion of mobile apps in 2008. Another reinvention, caused by the rapid advancement of practical AI, is happening right now.”

AI Image: Shutterstock

This article, "Salesforce Launches $50 Million Fund for AI Startups" was first published on Small Business Trends



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