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13 Important Questions to Ask Before You Sign Up With a SaaS Provider

Every business owner should go into a vendor partnership with a clear understanding of the details. When considering a potential software as a service (SaaS) vendor, what’s one security question that should always be asked? Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs. YEC members represent nearly every industry, generate billions of dollars in revenue each year and have created tens of thousands of jobs. Learn more at yec.co. 1. Where Is Our Credit Card Data Stored? Get a guarantee that your provider won’t store your credit card details on its own server. In a best-case scenario, a provider will use a payment gateway or vendor’s server for processing and maintaining all of your information. Though no measure is cyberattack proof, most of these third-party vendors have the appropriate security and infrastructure in place to handle your sensitive data. – Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker 2. Do You Use Two-Factor Authentication? By now, most mission-critical systems offer two-step verification. In addition to logging in with a password, a code will be sent to your mobile phone, which you‘ll also need to enter to confirm that you are really you. This additional layer prevents someone who may have access to your password from also logging into vital technical systems and causing damage. – David Ciccarelli, Voices.com 3. What’s Your Action Plan for a Worst-Case Scenario? When evaluating a SaaS partner, ask them what the worst-case scenario is that they can foresee. It might be a data breach, a service outage or something else, depending on the software. Then, ask how they would deal with that worst case. Ask detailed questions, and make sure you‘re comfortable with the action plan laid out. – Brittany Hodak, The Superfan Company 4. Is Data Encrypted at Rest? Data should be encrypted in transit and at rest. Secure sockets layer (SSL) encryption for data in transit is nearly ubiquitous, but many vendors don’t encrypt data at rest on storage devices. If their network is breached, that data is vulnerable. Ask potential vendors if the data is encrypted, how it is encrypted and who has access to the keys. – Vik Patel, Future Hosting 5. Are You GDPR Compliant? The recent EU General Data Protection Regulation sowed much confusion among online businesses worldwide, but one positive side effect is that it forced reputable SaaS vendors…

How to Make The Perfect Sales Pitch (8 Tips)

When approaching investors or potential clients, your company pitch is crucial to landing the job or getting investment funding. With only an elevator ride time to get the most important points of your business plan across, the perfect sales pitch can seem harrowing or nearly impossible to make. The bad news: Many people struggle with getting a pitch together at all, while others battle with honing their spiel or keeping it audience-relevant. The good news: Ramon Ray happens to judge spitch competitions from time to time, and has given us his insight into how to formulate the ideal business or sales pitch. Here are the top 8 things to consider so that you can form the perfect pitch: 1. Enter Pitch Competitions – Yes, these are a thing! In pitch competitions, you and other small business owners can toss around your business plans, ideas, and pitches and see if they are caught. Puns aside, these competitions serve as a great opportunity to not only practice telling people about your business, but you have the chance to actually reap the benefits of investment if you win! Pitch competitions include actual potential investors, meaning you could walk in to practice and walk away with funding for your small business. 2. Make Connections – With pitch competitions, you are able to make connections even if you don’t walk away with a win. Even if the judging investors don’t choose you and your sales pitch, there are typically investors present who may take an interest in you and your company. These connections could then lead to investments and funding to get your business off the ground. Aside from investors, you will meet other small business owners and will network with people going through the same things you are in the small business world. You can potentially toss ideas around and brainstorm with others, only improving your business along the way. 3. Personable Pitch – Make sure that you are making connections with your potential investors. If you have rehearsed your spiel so much that you sound robotic, you can’t connect with them and get them…

10 Video Marketing Mistakes A Good Marketer Should Avoid

A famous adage goes like this, “When you fail to plan, you plan to fail”. Whatever you do, it is quite important that you know what you are doing and you do it right. Same is the case for your video marketing strategy as well. Video marketing today is like a fast and competitive game. If you are likely to make any mistakes, then there is no winning. A poor quality video marketing campaign can do more harm than good to your video as well as your business. Remember the video you make reflects your brand. Hence, getting it right is indeed crucial. With 87% of online marketers using video content to improve their marketing strategy, 51% of them have claimed videos to be the best content to give you ROI.  Also, viewers retain 95% of the information you give in the form of a video as compared to 10% when reading it in a text. But the fact is, that kind of success is not very easy. Your video marketing should also be bang on! With video being the superhero of marketing, you will always get back what you put forth in your video marketing strategy. Avoid any mistakes and you will be on your way in producing a video that surely captivates the world. Without further ado, let’s get into the details of various mistakes you are likely to make in your business’s video marketing strategy, how to get rid of them and rise like a star! How to avoid 10 common video marketing mistakes Let’s face it! Video marketing costs money. And when you are willing to lay a budget on this marketing strategy, a mistake is something you cannot afford. Below are the most common video marketing mistakes that even experts can sometimes make. Choosing the wrong partner Today, anyone can make a video easily with just a smartphone in hand. But, is that what you want? The customers of your business might equate the quality of your video to the quality of your business. Thus, you need to consult the experts. In order to save…

Why I Hired a Sales Coach & Why You Should, Too

Sales isn’t easy and it isn’t hard to find yourself questioning how to meet sales goals, and how to get sales through the roof. More than anything, it’s easy to feel alone and wondering where to go next. There’s no shame in getting a sales coach, whether you’re a beginner or a highly qualified expert. Deciding to get a sales coach was one of the best decisions I ever made for my business and my colleagues. Here are 5 reasons that I hired a sales coach to better my business: Motivation and Accountability – These go hand in hand, really. A sales coach will be there to push you harder no matter how motivated you think you are–there’s always room to grow. A sales coach is going to find what you need to address the most in your business plan and push you to go above and beyond what you are already doing to get there. It may be your weakest link, but with someone else’s eye, they’ll keep you on the ball at all times to keep things on the up and up. Working with a sales coach will allow you to set these plans into action and then work together to meet the goals along the way. Fresh Perspective – Once you get in the groove of things, having a fresh eye can be challenging and those minors details can blur out pretty easily. Even if a sales coach is familiar with your business or similar companies, they will still be addressing your business as a unique setup through a new pair of lenses with a brand new approach. This can lead to introducing new ideas and innovative techniques to grow your business. A sales coach could very well have the knowledge and resources necessary to introduce you to opportunities you never previously considered. Specified Training – You and your business will be a unique job for any sales coach. It doesn’t matter if anyone else in your field used this coach before so they have an idea of what your company is about. The unique experience and…

Don’t Just Listen, Do! How to Turn Idle Listening into Action (5 Tips)

Are you looking to start a business but have no idea where to begin? Do you know what you want to do but aren’t sure where to turn next or who you can ask? Podcasts could be the genie to fulfill your wishes. Idle listening is easy. But taking the lessons and putting them to practice is the hard part.   The biggest factor that separates a successful startup from an unsuccessful one is actually taking the necessary steps to get started. Thinking about starting a business gets you nowhere; you must take action to become successful. Great ideas do not a business make. The way to use podcasts as a tool to success is by taking action from the information provided. Here are our 5 top tips for using podcasts to help your business grow. Network – Podcasts are really a live action, audio blog. The people who put these business podcasts on have been where you are. They, too, started their business from the bottom and worked through the ringer to get where they are now. Odds are they have some solid advice for others that are just getting started. Podcasters started talking about their experiences to help other people. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who’s podcast stands out to you. If you have questions, comment and ask them! They will more than likely answer you and offer wise advice. If they weren’t willing to dole out advice when questioned, they wouldn’t have put it out there to begin with. Don’t fret! Choose Wisely – Don’t get overwhelmed with trying to listen to every podcast on business that you can find. Instead, focus on those most in line with the type of business you plan to start and those that are most in tune with your mindset and goals. Listen to these podcasts and truly listen to what they’re saying. Devote even just an hour a day to listening to the podcasts that most match your business plan. These will give you the better ideas for what you need to focus on. Take notes, apply…

Talk Triggers. Get New Customers with Word of Mouth Marketing? New Book by Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin

I’ve been to the Double Tree Hotel many times, and Jay Baer and Daniel Lemin remind me, in their new book about the Double Tree’s warm chocolate chip cookies. Why? The cookies are a “talk trigger” – customers talk about the cookies and think of the hotel chain. Or Cheescake Factory – the HUGE menu and great food. “Talk Triggers” is all about thinking what YOU can purposefully create to stoke word of mouth around your brand. What’s interesting about a talk trigger is that it can’t be TOO BIG. It’s not like giving away a brand new $50,000 car to every customer. No that’s too big and probably too expensive. But it seems like most talk triggers are simple, but memorable, effective and something that’s always done. Indeed, large companies can create talk triggers and implement them at scale, but smaller business can as well. Think about the car dealer who wanted to penetrate the NYC market. Manhattan is dense and a pain to get to and out of. So this car dealer has a service where they pick up your car and bring it back to you. It makes the entire customer experience that much easier. Talk Triggers is filled with neat stories (to give you ideas) of companies who are using talk triggers to generate word of mouth marketing. But it’s also filled with the formulas and best practices for HOW to implement a talk trigger in your own company. While reading Jay’s book it got me thinking about my own talk trigger, which I didn’t think I had! My talk trigger is my energy (and a few other things). I was recently reading a post initiated by Joe Apfelbaum where he asked people what they most liked about Ramon Ray, ONE of the things that stood out was “energy” – this is a talk trigger. While a talk trigger is most often associated with a big brand, for sure there’s a lot of things you can do to generate word of mouth marketing for your personal brand or your corporate brand. Get your copy at Amazon.com  

Tips for Starting a Snapchat Influencer Marketing Campaign

Influencer marketing is all the rage in today’s business landscape. Not only is an influencer marketing strategy relatively easy to implement, but the benefits are clear and proven. For starters, here are a few influencer marketing statistics to prove its effectiveness: According to one study, 99.3% of influencers use Instagram to execute their influencer marketing strategies Eighty-four percent of micro-influencers charge less than $250 per post, making it a very budget-friendly strategy to focus on According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers trust recommendations from their online peers, even if they don’t know the person directly The average return on investment (ROI) for marketers who used influencer marketing was $7.65 per dollar spent Of the ten most popular YouTube channels, eight of them are hosted by influencers Snapchat is designed to be fun and engaging for their users, which makes it a perfect platform for communicating with your market through an influencer strategy. Over the past few years, more and more brands—as well as influencers—have turned to Snapchat to get creative with their content. Here’s how you can get started with influencer marketing for Snapchat. Get Your Site Ready Before you launch your influencer marketing strategy, be sure that your website is equipped to handle an influx of site visitors. You may unknowingly be using a shared hosting provider, and should consider switching to a virtual private server. According to Dreamhost, “if your website’s audience is consistently growing, you’ll want to consider upgrading. You don’t want to run the risk of your website running slowly or, even worse, your server crashing because it can’t handle the traffic. Once you’ve completed all your website housekeeping, it’s time to move on to the next steps. Choose the Right Influencer Choosing the right influencer is one of the most important aspects of your influencer marketing campaign. After all, this is the person who will be representing your brand. Without the right influencer, you can consider it a wasted investment. The key is to thoroughly find the influencers who are most aligned with your brand. By examining each of their social profiles—not just…

Getting Media Attention: A How to Guide

Whether you’re at the very start of your business venture or you’ve been around the block a few times, media attention is a key part of success. With so much competition on the market, setting yourself apart from other similar brands is vital. The challenge is doing so in a way that is efficient and will contribute to the positive growth of your business. Here are 7 ways to get media attention for your business: Craft a Solid Story Face the facts. No one will pay attention to your business unless you’ve created and shared an intriguing brand story. The goal is not to pull out all the stops and try to impress people but to tell the authentic story of your business. People want to know what lies behind a service or product. It is essential to create a solid brand story foundation before you start seeking media attention. While things may start off on the slow foot, the story you share with media could be making the rounds years after its initial circulation. Take advantage of that power and make your story magnetizing. To get the juices flowing, think back to a sales meeting or a time when you had to pitch your product or service. The way you actually speak about your product or service can help you form your story. Keep Your Pitch Short and Sweet While you may have a lot of ideas to share with the writer you’re pitching to, they simply may not have the time to read a lengthy pitch. In the interest of respecting your reader’s time and boosting your chances of being considered, keep your pitches short, sweet, and to the point. Let your reader know right away you have a lot to offer. Share your biggest selling points in a few dynamic, concise paragraphs and link to your website and social media accounts for more information. Focus on People Not Publications Don’t trip yourself up by creating goals to be published in certain newspapers or other sources. Yes, big names can do a lot for your brand, but you…

Telling a Compelling Brand Story

There are many moving parts to successfully marketing your business. It’s easy to get distracted with the technical content creation and marketing techniques that are said to make the difference. What’s often forgotten is that consumers appreciate authenticity. They want to know more about the businesses they buy from. The demand for a sense of human connection is back. Using a brand story is the ideal way to create this invisible thread between you and your consumers. First of all, what is a Brand Story? One of the common mistakes in brand storytelling is making the assumption that you must deliver a neatly packaged linear narrative. The word ‘story’ can be misleading, especially if you’re new to the marketing world. The first thing to understand about your brand story is the purpose it serves. Your brand story should communicate the essence of your business, service, and/or product. Nevertheless, communicating the essence of your business in a way that will get through to consumers does include a basic formula. This is what you need to share through your brand story: The Who The first thing consumers want to learn about is who you are. They want to know where you started, what culture and values you embrace, and what mission you live by. It’s not only about you, of course. Exploring the Who also involves making it clear who you are trying to help through your business. Answer these questions: Who are your target customers? Why are you the right person to help? The What Don’t leave consumers guessing or trying to fill in any gaps. Make it explicitly clear what service or product you provide. It’s critical to portray your business and product for what it is. This helps create trust and loyalty from consumers. Answer this question: What’s your sales pitch, how do you sell your business? The Why You can take the time to share your driving vision with consumers. They will want to know what made you start the journey to provide your service or product. Just make sure that you focus mainly on why it benefits…

10 Ways to Drive Holiday Sales on Pinterest

Stand out from the competition and reach holiday shoppers that are already looking for brands like yours. We’re still at least two months away from peak holiday season—when retailers start blasting their holiday playlists and offering their steepest deals of the year. But on Pinterest, holiday shopping has already begun! That’s right: Christmas-related searches and saves on Pinterest start ticking upward as early as September (two times earlier than when shoppers tend to begin exploring products on other platforms). So, why does this happen? Because shoppers use Pinterest to help them decide what to buy (finding the perfect holiday gift or tracking down the ingredients for a festive recipe). And here’s the best news: Most of the inspirational ideas that people find on Pinterest actually come from brands—87% of people on Pinterest say brands help them find the right products when planning for the holidays. So, what’re you waiting for? Here are 10 easy wins to help you reach more holiday shoppers on Pinterest this season. 1. Meet holiday shoppers where they’re at We’ve identified four main types of holiday shoppers on Pinterest: The time-saver, the gifter, the guest and the planner. Check out our holiday shopper insights to learn who they are, what they care about and how your brand can reach them with tips on relevant messaging and creative. 2. Tune into what your customers really want this holiday season Log in to our Audience Insights tool (you’ll need to have a business profile) to find out what they’re searching and saving. You’ll also be able to find data on your audience’s age, gender, location and device use to help you decide what products to feature in your ads. 3. Like gift shopping, it’s best to start earlier than you think Since holiday shoppers primarily use Pinterest to discover new ideas, it’s important to launch your holiday campaigns on Pinterest earlier than you might on other platforms. If you can reach people as they start making that list and checking it twice—before they’ve decided on a brand or product—you’re more likely to pop back into their mind when they’re ready to make a purchase. As a general…

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