Paid Advertising Mistakes Small Businesses Should Avoid

Paying for advertising is one of the biggest investments small businesses make. Therefore, the money should be spent wisely. CBS-CBS.com consultants advise many clients on setting up small businesses budgets. One of the major issues we have seen is wasteful spending on digital marketing. Here is our advice for small businesses that want to avoid overspending on online ads. These are some mistakes to avoid:

Using an un-optimized landing page—The landing page is the primary reason your Google Adwords traffic becomes conversions. If the landing page is slow, boring, irrelevant, or not optimized in any meaningful manner, your site will not see increased sales. Therefore, make sure the landing page is tested to drive conversions.

Limiting promotions to only one paid advertiser—Paid advertising is a varied genre. Therefore, don’t limit your budget to just one, like Google Adwords. Make use of other paid channels such as Facebook, Twitter, and so on. Also, try to find niche paid advertising channels in which your target audience is most likely to engage. If your company is B2B, for example, then LinkedIn would be a better place to buy ads than Facebook.

Ignoring specialized publishers—When you buy an ad on Google or Facebook, you are advertising to a general audience. If you want to advertise to a very specific audience, then you need an ad publisher who can reach websites, blogs, and media companies that reach this audience. Therefore, do invest in publishers like BuySellAds and Blogads to reach niche audience with the likelihood of high conversion rates. You can contact a CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultant regarding reaching niche audiences through paid advertising.

Not using remarketing strategies—Remarketing and retargeting strategies aim to attract people who have already visited your website or followed a link. Visiting at least once indicates the interest of some sort. Therefore, paying for advertising to this audience is a great way to attract high-quality traffic. You can get more for your money considering that only users who were at least once interested in your products are returning.

Last but not least, your paid advertising strategy must match your budget and vice versa. If you are on a limited budget, redo the strategy to benefit from only the most lucrative channels, and not experimental ones. You should match the budget to strategy to avoid both overspending and underspending.

Hurricane Harvey Highlights the Importance of Small Business Disaster Preparedness

Hurricane Harvey has made landfall on the Texas Gulf Coast turning quiet streets into raging storm rivers. While the rescue operations are ongoing for regular folk, it’s important to pay attention to the hurricane’s impact on the small businesses in the area. The area Harvey is barreling through is a major hub of the state’s offshore oiling business. As a result, there are many small businesses operating in the region. Unlike the bigger companies, small businesses are hit hard during disasters like hurricanes.

As much as 40 percent of small businesses don’t survive disasters like Harvey, says a disaster specialist with Fox Business. Experienced Corporate Business Solutions have noted that many small businesses do not adequately prepare for natural disasters. It’s understandable that most people might be concerned about personal safety. But small businesses can lose a lot during disasters. The business can end up literally torn apart by a hurricane and lose inventory and property. Here are several suggestions from our consultants on how small businesses can prepare for disaster and minimize losses:

Have an Emergency Management Plan – All small businesses should have an emergency management plan at hand. Such a plan makes an early assessment of potential damages a small business could experience in case of a disaster. Also, such plans prepared in advance roles to take on for employees and managers in case a natural disaster strikes unexpectedly. In simple terms, this is basically a handbook on what to do in case of a flooding, hurricane, or a tornado. Your business absolutely needs to make this plan in advance, preferably with the help of experts like the ones you can find in CBS-CBS.com.

Take Necessary Steps to Physically Secure the Business—Small businesses should always have at hand the necessary tools to board up a store in case disaster strikes. Well prepared managers should call construction experts in advance to find out the best ways to secure the store so it can withstand most natural disasters.

Get Insurance Coverage – Business insurance coverage should include a provision for natural disaster emergency situations. Your company must be covered for the most common natural disasters the area you are located at faces. The FEMA website has some useful information for companies about getting disaster insurance.

Small businesses should also have a system in place to address local government emergency alerts for disasters. Set up a communication system so that all employees are informed of such alerts and evacuations when needed, are facilitated.

The Must-Know Laws of Writing Business Emails

Writing business emails are a fact of life for those who run a small business. But do you know how to write proper business emails? Here is a list of rules that all small business owners must follow when writing business-related emails:

Enter a Subject Line – Never send business emails without a subject line, warns Corporate Business Solutions, unless you want the emails to be ignored. Emails without subject lines would just end up in the trash or spam folder.

Add a Signature at the End – Gmail and other email services let users add an electronic signature to all emails sent. It’s highly advisable to use this feature when sending formal and semi-formal business emails. It’s just like adding your actual signature at the end of a memo or a business letter.

Avoid the “Hi”—Instead of starting the email with a “hey” or a “hi,” try using a professional salutation like Ms (name). Hello is more acceptable than hi, and you can start emails with Hello (name of recipient). Decide which is more suitable depending on the nature of the correspondence.

Read it Once Over – Don’t send the business email without reading it at least once. Avoiding embarrassing spelling mistakes might help you land a deal. Even a silly error could be interpreted by the recipient as you being sloppy and not serious, which is bad for business.

Let the Recipient Know What You are Talking about – Keep in mind that the recipient might not always know what you are talking about, especially if you are responding to a chain email. To employ the use of “one-liners” to refer to the subject matter. For example, write “with regards to (subject)” first and then continue the email.

Avoid Trying to be Funny – Don’t assume that jokes translate well in emailed text as in real-time conversations. Even an innocent joke could be misinterpreted by the person on the other end. So, don’t try to be funny and instead be formal when sending any business email.

Do Reply—Reply in a timely manner to all responses you get to business emails. If you don’t have time to write a lengthy message, do address that and at least say you will get back later with a better response.

Master the above email etiquette to improve your professionalism as a small business owner. Get more advice at CBS-CBS.com.

That Google Memo and Company Culture

If you are an avid consumer of business news, you must have already read about the 3,000-word Google memo by an unnamed employee that has gone viral. The memo details an employee’s dissatisfaction regarding Google’s new efforts to recruit more women and minorities. The author of the memo is rather offended by the tech giant’s push to hire more women engineers and cites “biological differences” between the sexes for underrepresentation of women in tech. Regardless of what you think about women or diversity, the memo raises an important question about company culture.

Small business owners often need to take decisions about hiring new employees that may not always be to the satisfaction of already existing employees. In local small businesses, for example, employees that have stuck out with the business for a while may not like it when the company wants to hire senior personnel to expand. Regardless of what hiring quotas end up being, business owners and managers must always maintain a strong company culture as well. The culture could be more diverse, or rather closed. However, all employees must ultimately have close working relationships that further the goals of the business. It’s never good for business when employees don’t get along well.

Here are several suggestions to small business owners from Corporate Business Solutions consultants about maintaining employee cohesion and building a strong company culture:

Listen to Complaints – There should be an effective method for employees to voice their complaints about the workplace environment. Some of these complaints will have merit, and most might not. Regardless, it’s important that all employees understand that the boss listens to them.

Let Them Know Empathy Matters – Don’t expect all your employees to get along like BFFs. Some will be close friends, others will not. The managers must ensure that employees have good working relationships with one another regardless of personal feelings. Some of these feelings may be sexist or racist, as in the case of the Google memo author. Don’t ever let your small business be embroiled in a racism or sexism scandal. It will ruin your business and expansion efforts for years to come. The company cannot change personal beliefs of workers either. What the small business owners can do is build an empathizing company culture where all employees respect one another.

Keep Goals in Mind—Make sure all employees share your vision for the company’s future. This matters more so than almost everything else when it comes to succeeding as a business.

If your small business needs to make the workforce more efficient and solve company culture issues, you can seek help at CBS-CBS.com.

How Small Businesses Should Protect Intellectual Property

Intellectual property is as valuable as cash assets to small businesses. Most companies, especially big ones like Google and Pepsi, spend millions each year protecting intellectual property assets. That’s because IP infringements are all too common. A company’s IP can be breached even via mundane things like signing a new contract with a partner or proposing a new design with a contractor. Losing the IP value of anything means that a small business loses an asset. Considering that, here are several methods recommended by Corporate Business Solutions to protect your company’s IP:

Sign NDAs with Everyone: It’s very important to include an IP clause in nondisclosure agreements that the company signs with clients, partners, contractors, freelancers, or anyone else. This indicates to the third-party that your business fully owns the copyright of a certain asset, and thus discourages infringement. If a breach does happen, your company will have the legal advantage to take the matter to the courts.

Be Careful of Disclosures Made to Freelancers: More and more companies are now getting business done via third-party freelancers or self-employed agents. If these non-employed workers get involved in the development of something, they can later make a claim on the IP. To prevent this, sign an NDA with an IP clause as mentioned above. Also, be careful of the sensitive disclosures you make to freelancers who might be able to use the knowledge to turn a copyright claim to their advantage.

Beware of International IP Rights: Small businesses themselves can be perpetrators of IP violations, sometimes unknowingly. This is quite true with regards to companies that sell internationally. Always make sure that patents, trademarks, or copyright claims of your company cannot be contested internationally. You will have to check international patents and IP registration to be sure.

Negotiate with IP Violators First: IP claim lawsuits are typically costly and prolonged for both parties. Therefore, it’s best to open dialogue with a potential violator before going to court. If you think an entity is infringing on your company’s IP, you can send a legal letter notifying them of the infringement, and send a cease and desist letter. You can hire mediation services to come to an agreement with the violator before getting into a lengthy court battle.

Always think of IP as assets. Things like patents add wealth to your small business. If you want to conduct a company review of business operations, including your risk for unregistered IP, contact us at CBS-CBS.com to find a consultant.

Microchipping Employees and Other Workplace Privacy Concerns

A company in Wisconsin will soon have approval to microchip its employees. Whether this indicates the business has reached an Orwellian age or is simply moving forward with technology will depend on whom you ask.

Of course, having microchips physically inserted into employees should unsettle even the most rationally pragmatic executive. In this case, the company will need an employee’s consent to insert a small “rice grain” sized chip between the thumb and the pointy finger of the hand. Participation is mandatory. More importantly, this chip is not a GPS tracker and will not be internet connected, so no one can hack into it. The only way to compromise the microchip, according to one employee at the company, is to have the employee’s hand literary chopped off.

As fascinating as micro chipping is, the story raises important questions about company goals and employee privacy. Small businesses, regardless of the sector, routinely collect very sensitive information about employees. For example, a typical small business would have access to an employee’s personal information, social security information, addresses, phone numbers, and other similar data that could wreak havoc in the wrong hands, Corporate Business Solutions consultants point out. So what exactly are the responsibilities of modern day companies to protect employee’s privacy and information?

First of all, as our consultants point out, all small businesses must have an employee guidebook that explains what data a small business might collect about them, how this data would be stored, and how the sensitive information would be protected from malicious entities like data thieves. It’s the responsibility of the business to be fully transparent with the employees regarding what type of information the business collects.

Small businesses should also ensure that the collected data is kept secure. This means investing in cyber security infrastructures such as safer networks, malicious software removal tools, and employee awareness training programs that teach good internet habits. Like the Wisconsin microchip company did, it would be wise to keep sensitive data disconnected from the web-connected company network.

To make sure your business is fully capable of ensuring employee privacy rights while keeping business secrets secure, get one of our Corporate Business Solutions Reviews.

Why Small Businesses Need to Keep Corporate Business Records

Most small business owners believe corporate business record keeping is just for big corporations. In our experience as Corporate Business Solutions consultants, most small business managers and executives consider record keeping to be just another administrative hassle that their work schedules can do without. But we strongly advise all small businesses to do better to keep corporate business records for a number of reasons.

If your small business is legally considered an S corporation, an LLC, or a C corporation, it is a must. Even small businesses that are not registered in this manner can benefit from keeping corporate-style business records.

Business Records Offer Legal Protection – The main reason corporations go to painstaking lengths to keep business records is for legal protection. Lawyers call this the “corporate veil” of protection in court. If your business is sued by anyone, including creditors, these business records will play an important role in showing that your company followed proper procedures and maintained legally required standards.

Safeguard Limited Liability – If a company is an LLC, corporate records are necessary to protect the “limited liability” function in the record. A potential lawsuit could demand personal assets in a settlement, all the while questioning the LLC’s compliance. Corporate records will safeguard your business’s LLC status.

For IRS Purposes – Corporate records can be requested by the IRS. If that happens, your business will need to provide it. IRS can demand documents like business meeting minutes under certain circumstances. Therefore, for tax purposes, these records are important.

In Case of a Sale – If the small business needs to go up for sale, a potential buyer would want to look at corporate business records to see how the business has performed. Also, they might want to make sure the company kept clean records and there’s nothing shady underneath.

For the above reasons and then some, CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants recommend small businesses keep records of events like business meetings, annual reports, shareholder decision-making documentation, among others.

How to Encourage Employees to Meet Deadlines

Not being able to meet project deadlines is one of the most persistent issues small businesses face. There could be a variety of reasons for this issue. However, to keep up the levels of productivity at the workplace, meeting deadlines on time is a must. If the project teams at your company sometimes fail to meet essential deadlines, here are several suggestions from Corporate Business Solutions that might help:

Assign a Clear Team Leader: Teams work efficiently only with the presence of an undisputed leader. Rudderless teams are more likely to miss deadlines and be disorganized because no one is sure what to do. It’s common for some managers to put together a team without a clear hierarchy of authority. This can reduce tension at the office, but overall it leads to more disarray. When a team has a leader, that leader will ensure everyone does what they are supposed to on time. This structure is essential to almost every project.

Check in on Long Projects: If there’s a project that takes months to complete, a manager or an executive at the company should occasionally check in on progress. It’s possible that with other daily duties, employees might neglect long-terms goals. Executive supervision prompts employees to get things going. Also, for long projects, it’s best to schedule monthly or bi-monthly progress reports to remind everyone that the project needs to proceed.

Break Down Complex Projects: Sometimes employees are just too overwhelmed to meet deadlines. Therefore, managers or others in charge should take care to break down complex projects into small, doable portions. Do not dump a massive project on a handful of employees and give them a deadline they might not be able to meet. The responsibility also falls on the management side to be realistic about what to expect from employees.

Tell Employees to Write Down a Timetable: Employees must have a written record of schedules or timetables related to the project. The purpose here is to provide a task map that everyone can follow. Don’t let employees take mental notes of what to do and when. There should be a written record for all team members to refer.

If a team does miss a deadline, there should be a really good reason for it. Otherwise, your company might be lacking in productivity in general. You can get one of Corporate Business Solutions Reviews to see if your company is up to industry standards when it comes to productivity.

Some Tips for Generating Customer Referrals

The best way to influence a customer is through a recommendation from a friend, so said Mark Zuckerberg once. The customer referral, or word-of-mouth marketing, is still the best way to attract new customers to your brand. Potential customers naturally trust their friends or family over company-made ads. Therefore, a recommendation from a peer has a much stronger influence than the slickest marketing trick your business can afford.

While word-of-mouth marketing is indeed understood to be powerful, it’s very difficult to master. It’s not like your business can visit the Facebook pages of all customers and convince their friends to recommend your brand. But there are effective methods to promote word-of-mouth, as illustrated by the successes of companies like Uber and Dropbox. Here are several tips for creating customer referral programs as recommended by our Corporate Business Solutions consultants:

Come up with Great Incentives—Obviously, what really drives a customer to make a reference to someone else is getting something in return from the brand. If a customer really likes your business, he or she may make a recommendation to a friend. But your brand can definitely change the ‘may’ to a ‘will’ with an incentive. The incentives to offer will depend on your business. You can offer discounts, free items, or free upgrades. Dropbox, for example, offered customers an additional 500 MB of storage space for inviting a friend to join. Find out what your customers really desire, and base referral incentives on that.

Aim for High-Quality Referrals—It’s not simply enough for a customer to mention your brand name in a Facebook post. The referral must result in a lead. That is to say that the customer making the referral actually facilitates a purchase, a subscription, or a meeting. It could be done via social media, email, or in person. So, when offering incentives, make sure it leads to a referral that facilitates a purchase. Offering gifts in return for Facebook mentions or social media shares thus may not result in generating new leads.

Choose the Right Time: Don’t ask customers to make referrals during the wrong time. You risk requests being ignored. Ask for referrals when the customers are most engaged with your product or service. This is the only time incentives actually work. Timing is key to making referral programs work.

Want to know more about how to create a customer referral program with a huge turnout? Then contact one of our CBS Corporate Business Solutions consultants.

An Employee Wants to Change Teams. What Should You Do?

Most companies carefully assemble teams to work on projects. Bringing the right talent together is crucial for achieving sales goals, as our Corporate Business Solutions consultants often recommend. Ideally, the teams you assemble together should work well. But in real life, this is often not the case. Conflicts between teams can occur, even though it shouldn’t commonly occur. If a team member asks to switch teams, as a manager or the owner, you must give careful consideration to the request (even if you really don’t want to). Here are several things to do when an employee wants to change teams:

Ask for Specifics: Some employees are forthcoming, some are not. As the boss, you should ask for specifics why the employee wants to switch. It could be because the employee feels as if he or she is not up to the task assigned. It could be some other malicious reason as well, such as harassment. Small business owners must be very careful regarding keeping the company culture civil. If one employee feels uncomfortable due to a toxic workplace, then others might be too. Therefore, it’s important to get to the bottom of why an employee wants to leave the team.

Interview Team Members: Stories are never one sided. You should interview the other members of the team, especially the team leader, as to why the employee might want to switch. This should be approached carefully. You don’t want to sow discontent between your employees. Asking some general questions may help. Later, if you suspect bad behavior, you can ask more probing questions.

Talk to Other Managers: It is important to also get the input of other managers or executives on the situation as well. If the need to switch is caused by skills deficiency or misplaced skills, then the managers or HR should evaluate how the employee might have been misplaced on the team.

It’s not always easy to put together the perfect team. Company culture, HR evaluations, and overall management all play a role. Are all these aspects working well together at your small business? To find out, contact us at CBS-CBS.com.