How to Effectively Market Your Small Business to Millennials Amanda Bowman | June 12th, 2017

What group in the US numbers more than 80 million, has an annual buying power of $200 billion, and makes up nearly half of the US workforce?

Millennials.

Sometimes called “Gen Y”, millennials are the much sought after generation born between 1980 and 2000.

This generation carries impressive buying power, so it’s no surprise that marketers are focusing on understanding and speaking to this lucrative demographic. Millennials are 1.75x more likely than baby boomers (born between 1946-1964) to say they’d like to be brand-loyal, so earning their trust is likely to yield a years-long relationship with your brand.

In fact, millennials will be the recipients of “the largest wealth transfer in history” as baby boomers transfer over 30 trillion dollars of their wealth to their children.

Every generation brings its own set of values, priorities, and cultural touchpoints, and millennials are no exception.

The West Midland Family Center recently created a generation comparison table highlighting the differences between four distinct demographic groups. Below is a sample of the information they compiled. To view the entire table check out the WMFC’s full report.

When you categorize a large group of people with a narrow set of descriptive labels, you risk homogenizing the messaging meant for them. Delivered poorly or without nuance, brand messages geared toward millennials will devolve into self-parody, or even worse, ham-fisted caricature. Forbes magazine expounds on this idea, writing:

This is the number one thing you need to know about millennials. They are not like other generations in that they are a simple demographic. You have to drill down deep into the millennial generation to come up with the right marketing campaign for you.

There are, however, some striking, fundamental similarities amongst millennials. Understanding and leveraging those similarities to reach millennials in meaningful, authentic ways is the first step to connect you to the Social Generation (as they’re sometimes called).

Since they represent an increasingly powerful group of consumers, nearly every business owner must figure out how to effectively market their business to millennials.
Read the rest of this post »

15 Must Watch YouTube Channels for Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners Arielle Kimbarovsky | June 9th, 2017

Video content is becoming more and more popular. Last year, video continued to skyrocket in popularity and represents 74% of all online traffic in 2017.

In fact, studies suggest that people prefer video content to written content, and are more likely to learn from it.

For entrepreneurs, this is important because they are constantly working on personal growth. All great entrepreneurs love learning, and video content on YouTube channels is another way that entrepreneurs can learn from other business leaders.

YouTube is a great resource with lots of information that can help entrepreneurs.

But with so many channels to choose from, it’s easy to get lost in the world of YouTube. We can probably all relate to finding ourselves on the “weird” side of YouTube watching obscure cat videos.

We’ve pulled together some of our favorite channels for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

1. TED Talks/TEDx

We’re starting out our list with one of the most popular YouTube channels for entrepreneurs, TED Talks (or TEDx, regional version of TED).

TED Talks curates talks from thought leaders around the world. The channel focuses on current and educational talks, spanning a wide variety of topics. It’s great for any entrepreneur and gives insight into many different issues around the world.

TED Talks’ counterpart, TEDx, feeds off of a similar idea but instead shows TED-style talks organized by different communities.

Here’s a good example – a talk by Julian Treasure on learning to speak to people so that people want to listen.

2. Entrepreneur

Entrepreneur focuses on big business ideas, trends, and advice targeted at entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Much of the content on their channel is similar to the content seen in Entrepreneur Magazine, which features business news and expert interviews across different industries.

Here’s a good example: lessons in business from Daymond John, Ice Cube, Nick Cannon and more.

3. Gary Vaynerchuk

Gary Vaynerchuk’s channel features the advice from CEO and founder Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia (digital agency).

Vaynerchuk offers years of experience in his videos, expanding on his advice featured in public speaking events and books. His channel is a favorite among not only entrepreneurs but also among business leaders.

Here’s a good example – the one word that built Gary’s success.

4. Content Marketing Institute

Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is a great resource for entrepreneurs looking to learn more about marketing. Through their videos, CMI focuses on the importance of storytelling and branding for businesses of all sizes and across all industries.

With short videos around 3 minutes long, CMI makes it easy for entrepreneurs to pick up quick marketing tips.

Here’s a good example – top 3 email marketing tips for 2017.

5. Startup Grind

Startup Grind is a startup community that connects and empowers entrepreneurs from all over the world.

Their videos feature talks and interviews with successful entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders- keeping the content about as long as an episode of a TV show.

Unlike other channels, Startup Grind is hyper focused on startups and entrepreneurs.

Here’s a good example – an interview with Patrick Collison of Stripe.

6. Behind The Brand

Behind The Brand calls itself a “backstage pass” to the minds behind some of the biggest and most popular brands. For entrepreneurs, this inside look is especially important as it spans industries beyond tech. This channel often combines advice from many other great channels for entrepreneurs, like when it featured Gary Vaynerchuk in a video.

Here’s a good example – morning routine life hacks.

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Fresh from the SPRING:
 BesPAP Audree | June 8th, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize a gem submitted in this book cover project:

 

The challenge of this project was to create a book cover for a realistic fiction novel about two high school seniors who come together while having a very tough school year.

Let us start the slow clap for BesPAP. Check out more great work on BesPAP’s profile page.

Nicely done, BesPAP, nicely done!

7 Marketing Psychology Tips to Improve Your Business Marketing Katie Lundin | June 8th, 2017

Marketing is the bridge between your product or service and your consumers.

Without marketing, products and services exist in a vacuum. According to Eric Samson, a marketer’s success is:

contingent on their ability to influence customer behaviors which makes doing marketing an exercise in consumer psychology.

Considering how important marketing is, businesses should be doing everything they can to improve their marketing strategy and techniques.

But where should you start?

Here are 7 fundamentals of marketing psychology that you can implement today to help your business succeed.

 

1. Emotion Trumps Intellect

One of the most valuable rules consumer behavior has taught us is that people respond better to emotional appeals than intellectual ones. Roger Dooley’s article “Emotional Ads Work Better” reveals that emotional ad campaigns perform nearly twice as well as ads with a rational focus.

It’s more persuasive to show consumers how a product or service can benefit their life in a meaningful way rather than showing them a list of features. Neuroanatomist, author, and public speaker Jill Bolte Taylor reflects,

We live in a world where we are taught from the start that we are thinking creatures that feel. The truth is, we are feeling creatures that think.

So, according to Jill Taylor, humans are feeling creatures first. But, why does how we feel impact marketing, sales and profit?

Antonio D’Amasio, professor of neuroscience at the University of Southern California, asserts that emotion is an integral element of the decision-making process:

…emotion is a necessary ingredient to almost all decisions. When we are confronted with a decision, emotions from previous, related experiences affix values to the options we are considering. These emotions create preferences which lead to our decision.

When we understand that emotions inform our decisions through their linked associations, it becomes easier to see how you can use this information when planning your marketing strategy. While every consumer is unique and each has a unique set of emotional associations, we can nonetheless make certain generalizations.

For example, most people like to feel positive emotions like happiness, connection, and pride. Most people dislike sadness, loss, fear or regret. So, linking your product with positive feelings or showing how it can eliminate negative emotions is a compelling sales tool.

One good example is when companies use taglines or slogans. Positive taglines tend to perform better than negative ones.

Pro Tip

Start by doing your research. What associations will create positive emotions for your demographic audience? Conversely, what do they dislike or fear?

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Building a Great Brand For Your Brick-and-Mortar Business Ross Kimbarovsky | June 6th, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to talk with Kevin Price, host of the Price of Business radio show.

Over the past nine years, crowdSPRING creatives have helped startups, businesses, agencies and non-profits around the world with professional logo design, web design, print design and company naming.

Kevin and I discussed crowdSPRING and ways that brick-and-mortar businesses (as well as online companies) can build successful brands by leveraging crowdsourcing.

Here’s the link to the audio interview (it’s a little over 16 minutes):

Why Good Design is More Important Than Ever for Your Business Amanda Bowman | June 5th, 2017

As we enter into a new golden age of design, good design has never been more important to the success of a business. Consumer awareness of good design is at an all-time high, thanks to companies like Apple, Target, and Starbucks, who make design a top priority.

The most successful companies know there are compelling reasons to prioritize design to improve the odds of success. Good design creates meaningful first impressions, helps you differentiate yourself from your competitors, can solve problems, and boosts brand awareness and the bottom line.

Why should your startup or small business invest in quality design? Let us count the ways…

A Missouri University of Science and Technology study used eye-tracking to determine that website visitors needed a mere 180 ms to form a first impression.

First impressions matter

People have a very short attention span. In fact, according to a Princeton University study, snap judgments count. The study found after seeing a face for only 1/10th of a second people formed opinions about that person. Judgments were made on attractiveness, likeability, and trustworthiness, and prolonged exposure to that face just reinforced the initial impression.

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15 Tips for Turning Your Craft Hobby Into a Successful Business Katie Lundin | June 2nd, 2017

Are you a crafter? Does plucking an idea from your brain and crafting it into a reality with your very own hands make your heart sing? If so, you may have said to yourself at some point, “I wish I could do this for a living.”

The amazing news is that you can. The market for hand-made crafts is growing. Etsy, the internet’s largest crafting marketplace has reported steady revenue increases since 2015. Even Amazon has joined the party with it’s Handmade store.

In fact, millions of people in the U.S. and around the world are looking to turn their craft hobbies into real businesses.

“But, I’m a crafter. Not a businesswoman,” I hear some of you say.

You are not alone. You can continue crafting as a hobby. But, for those of you who are ready to take the next step… who are ready to make a living doing what you love and are most passionate about… Let’s talk.

Here are the 15 things you should do to turn your craft hobby into a successful business or career:

1. Choose a business structure.

2. Acquire business licenses or permits.

3. File and pay taxes.

4. Build profit into your pricing.

5. Establish a personal brand with which customers can connect. 

6. Create unique, original crafts with your niche market in mind.

7. Create a great customer experience by providing safe, easy transactions and making it easy to reach you.

8. Incorporate thoughtfully designed visual assets that embody your personal brand.

9. Show off your crafts to their best advantage with flawless product photos.

10. Create an efficient workspace.

11. Develop products that can be reproduced easily.

12. Purchase supplies wholesale.

13. Create a professional website to be a customer ambassador when you’re not around.

14. Communicate often via convenient email marketing.

15. Build relationships with your customers via social media.

 

Run Your Crafting Hobby as a Business

The first step to converting your crafting hobby into a crafting business is pretty obvious- start treating it like a business. But, in practical terms, what does that really mean?

There are a few essential steps you must take. You’ll obviously need a name for your new business, and we’ll address that below.

Let’s start by looking at the nuts and bolts of your new business: whether you should have a sole proprietorship, incorporate, register a partnership or an LLC (limited liability company).

What the heck is the difference?

A sole proprietorship is the “most basic type of business to establish” according to the SBA (Small Business Administration). You are the sole owner of the business; and, as such, are solely responsible for the assets and liabilities accrued by the business. This may be just the ticket for your brand new, baby crafting business as it is also the easiest to set up.

If you’re interested in a little more protection, an LLC (or Limited Liability Company) may be a better fit. The LLC business structure provides the limited liability features you would find in a corporation. The Small Business Administration has all of the details about these common small business structures and others.

To learn more about corporations, partnerships and other legal mistakes people commonly make when setting up a small business, take a look at our post and video: 10 Legal Mistakes That Can Destroy Your Small Business And How To Avoid Them.

Regardless which structure you choose, you need to be aware that your new crafting business, like any business, will need to pay taxes. The crafting blog Start a Craft Business cautions,

It’s vital that you follow the tax laws of your state and country if you want to run a successful craft business that will grow and thrive for years to come. There’s no excuse for not filing your taxes, no matter how much of a pain you may find it to be. It’s always better to have your paperwork in order.

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Fresh from the SPRING: prasoonmohantk Audree | June 1st, 2017

When perusing our galleries here on crowdSPRING, we see some amazing work submitted in the projects. Today, we recognize a gem submitted in this logo project:

The challenge of this project was to create a logo/app icon for a billiard game app. Designers were to pit the 8 ball vs. the 9 ball in a sword duel using pool cues.

Let us start the slow clap for prasoonmohantk. Check out more great work on prasoonmohantk’s profile page.

Nicely done, prasoonmohantk, nicely done!

How Businesses and Agencies Can Save Money by Crowdsourcing Design Ross Kimbarovsky | May 31st, 2017

I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Scott Kitun, CEO of Technori, to talk about crowdSPRING’s global community of more than 200,000 designers and writers. Over the past nine years, crowdSPRING creatives have helped startups, businesses, agencies and non-profits around the world with professional logo design, web design, print design and company naming.

The interview covered many issues, including how businesses and agencies can save money by leveraging crowdsourcing, how crowdSPRING has led the industry in protecting intellectual property, and much more. Here’s a short two-minute video summarizing some fo the interview highlights:

The full 17-minute interview is available on WGN Radio.

 

For more tips and tricks on running your business, check out our latest ebook written by CEO and founder Ross Kimbarovsky entitled Stand Out: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Starting, Growing, and Managing a Successful Business.

 

How to Build And Preserve A Strong Company Culture Amanda Bowman | May 30th, 2017

Even experienced entrepreneurs and business owners often struggle when building a strong cultural foundation for their businesses. In fact, some business owners don’t fully understand why it’s important for a company to have a strong culture or what makes a culture strong.

Company culture is not about ping pong tables, fruit baskets, or free massages.

But what makes for a strong company culture?

A strong company culture is a common set of beliefs and behaviors among the company’s employees. An organization’s culture is not something that your employees bring with them their first day on the job. It exists through careful cultivation or through natural evolution, and it plays a big role in the success and productivity of an organization.

Here’s what most leaders and managers misunderstand: leaders and managers cannot fiat the culture of their company. They can, however, support the culture, or take steps to undermine it.

Having a well defined, celebrated culture promotes an organization’s identity in a way that nothing else can, and preserving it is an integral part of achieving a flourishing business. In fact, one of the most important things you can do to ensure the success of your business is to create and maintain a strong company culture.

According to Professor James L. Heskett,

effective culture can account for 20-30 percent of the differential in corporate performance when compared with ‘culturally unremarkable’ competitors.

“A company’s culture and a company’s brand are really just two sides of the same coin,” wrote Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh in his acclaimed book Delivering Happiness. He continues:

What goes around the office comes around to the customer. We wanted employees that really believed in our long term vision and really felt like this was the right culture for them.

Now that we know what company culture is, how can you nurture your organization’s culture? Read the rest of this post »

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