startup

Venture Capitalists vs. Angel Investors: Who Can Benefit Your Small Business Best?

Everyone knows the Cinderella story by heart. An intrepid protagonist with big dreams works tirelessly every day and meets a fairy godmother who offers her the opportunity to go to a ball, meet a dashing prince, and live happily ever after. There’s a similar rags to riches story in the small business community too. Just swap out the protagonist with an entrepreneur, the fairy godmother with a venture capitalist or angel investor, and the ball/prince/happily ever after ending with financial backing/an IPO/overnight success boom that turns your brand into a household name.  

Things could have turned out quite differently for Cinderella had her fairy godmother not understood exactly what she needed. For rising entrepreneurs that need funding, it’s important to determine whether your startup is better suited to work with a venture capitalist or angel investor. Take a closer look at the differences between these two types of professionals and what they have to offer your startup to ensure it receives its own fairytale ending. 

Venture Capitalist

What do they do? Venture capitalists, also known as VCs, back high-growth companies early into their startup journey with equity funding. Instead of paying VCs to get their backing, entrepreneurs provide these investors with a stake — typically shares — in the company or an equity position. The capital gives the startup the ability to succeed and gives the VC an active role in the business.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? The younger and more specialized the business, the better. VCs often invest in tech-based companies like apps and software startups. They also tend to favor businesses with strong management that show signs of steady growth in an emerging market. 

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Being offered venture capital is a big deal. It means that your business has the potential to yield huge returns and/or to be quickly sold to public firms. Make sure you have a good idea for your business, that the market your startup is in is large enough for a strong return on capital, and give them something in return for their early investment. Additionally, inquire about the typical check size as this will determine the kind of VC you reach out to for funding. Entrepreneurs that need less than $1 million, for example, should reach out to micro VCs as they have funds with $10 to $50 million.

Angel Investor

What do they do? Angel investors come in a wide variety of professions, like doctors, lawyers, and existing entrepreneurs, and want to invest their wealth into your business. Much like VCs, they also want equity in your startup. Unlike VCs, they can’t invest millions into your business. Typical angel investments go from $25,000 to $100,000 per company.

Which entrepreneurs/startups should work with them? You don’t have to be a brand-new startup to work with an angel investor. If you’re fairly established with some revenue, but still need extra capital, it’s a good idea to reach out and introduce your business.

What do you do if they’re interested in funding your business? Angel investors want to see your business to succeed since they’re helping fund it out of their own pocket. Entrepreneurs that pique their interest are always ones that are passionate about their company and understand how it can succeed over time within its market. Be prepared to explain your business plan, elevator pitch, and executive summary. This shows that you’re thinking about the startup’s past, present, and future — and also shows angel investors the kind of valuable role they can play in your company’s success.

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.

Netflix and Startup: The Three Most Inspiring Shows for Entrepreneurs to Binge Watch

Netflix for Entrepreneurs

Ask any small business owner and they’ll tell you they don’t have the time to ease into a routine of nightly TV before bed. The entrepreneurs I know typically don’t have time for television at all, but, when they do, it’s usually all in one sitting. For some of us, binge watching is the new spa day. If you’re looking for a new show to inspire your business life while vegging out on your couch and eating ice cream, give one of these a try on your next day off:  

Shark Tank

You can’t have a list of shows for entrepreneurs without Shark Tank. For those who don’t know, Shark Tank is a reality television show that started in 2009 on ABC. It involves new entrepreneurs or inventors pitching their business ideas to a panel of “shark” investors.

Just as the show presents some really good ideas that do indeed turn into successful products sold at a large scale, it also shows plenty of duds. Entrepreneurs, whether veteran or novice, can learn from watching both good and bad ideas get pitched. Take notes on the good pitches: how did they present their idea? What was their prep work like? In what manner did they speak to the investors? You can really tell when someone’s prepared and confident in his/her product. The next time you have to pitch your business, or even just a new idea at a meeting with partners, mimic the successful entrepreneurs you see on Shark Tank. In a different way, you can also learn a thing or two from the unsuccessful pitches you see. Exactly why was their pitch or product bad? Why wouldn’t you have invested your money if given the chance?       

Parks and Recreation

This next one isn’t quite so in your face in terms of made-for-entrepreneurs TV, but it does provide plenty of good lessons about getting stuff done and sticking to your guns while making you laugh along the way. Parks and Recreation also started in 2009 (a good year for shows for small business owners), and stars Amy Poehler as the main character, Leslie Knope, a mid-level bureaucrat working in the Parks Department of Pawnee, Indiana. Throughout the series, Knope faces a myriad of challenges to overcome to better the lives of those in the fictional Pawnee, Indiana. In every episode the viewer learns about hard work, determination, and how to make the world a better place by doing something you’re good at.

StartUp

Startup is a new American television series that just debuted on Crackle in September. On IMDB, It’s described as a “crime/thriller” about “a desperate banker who needs to conceal some stolen money. A Haitian-American gang lord who wants to “go legit.” And a Cuban-American hacker who has an idea that will revolutionize the very future of money itself. Forced to work together, they unwittingly create their version of the American dream.” A good lesson in working together and overcoming differences to fight for one common goal: the success of a business. 

 

Deborah Sweeney is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best. Follow her on Google+ and on Twitter @mycorporation.

Please note that Bookly’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of Bookly.

Utah's Top 5 Workspaces

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Recently we set out to find the best office spaces in our own backyard. We discovered a lot of great workspaces here in Utah Valley, but in the end only 5 could make the cut. Here they our, our nominees for Utah's best office digs. 

Movement Ventures

A bit of an anachronism, Movement Venture's young and hip workspace is surrounded by a collective of old buildings located off historic Lehi Main St. Movement Ventures is a collective of companies that focuses on social media engagement with awesome products like Qzzr, and Boombox. Their welcoming atmosphere and creative touches make for one of the coolest offices in the valley.

SilencerCo

With nearly 70% of the marketshare, SilencerCo is no greenhorn in the firearm suppressor space. The only office on this list with a sign in sheet and an armoryyou're constantly reminded that you're not dealing with a run of the mill 9-5 suit and tie kind of company. Their mantra may be "Fight the Noise"but their office digs show a company that is anything but reserved. SilencerCo is based in West Valley, UT.  

Studio McGee

You won't find any shooting ranges or ping pong tables here. But what you will find, is the most refined and elegant office of the bunch. But what else would you expect from the SLC design studio that's been featured in everything from Domino Magazine to Better Homes and Gardens? Bright, welcoming, and with a team just as stylish as their workspaceit's no wonder Studio Mcgee makes it into our list of top 5 work spaces in Utah. 

Studio McGee Gallery Photo Credit: Lindsay Salazar

Super Top Secret

The in your face marketing agency Super Top Secret has an office to match their personality. Everything you lay your eyes on oozes cool. It's both unapologetic and refined, housing a mini-ramp, custom artwork, and a full blown librarySuper Top Secret carves out its niche as one of the most edgiest and workable offices on this list. Super Top Secret is based in SLC, UT.

Infusionsoft

You can't hardly mention "CRM" without the name Infusionsoft popping up. The Arizona based company has their satellite office based in the tech friendly city of Lehi, UT. But you would never know this wasn't their flagship office. Replete with a cereal bar, a ping pong table, and an indoor basketball court where employees enjoy playing "Around the World"—Infusionsoft definitely earns a spot as one of the best looking offices and coolest places to work in the Silicon Slopes. 

 

 

 

Startup Lessons From the Force

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By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

You know about the blaster rifles, Jedi mind tricks, and dazzling special effects. You know about the Millennium Falcon, light sabers, and the green sage they call Yoda. But what you may not know, is the acute business lessons that lurk behind what has become one of the most successful movie franchises of all time. 

 

1. Taking Risks

via  Flickr

via Flickr

“Fear is the path to the dark side”  -Darth Vader

Okay, so maybe fear won’t turn you into a Sith Lord—but it can and will keep you from seeing the light. Businesses that aren’t taking risks are going to have a hard time separating themselves from the pack. A unique product or a stand-out marketing campaign both require risk—calculated risk.

Here are some examples Forbes provides of startup successes that hinged on calculated risk taking:

Co-founder of PayPal and Tesla Motors; founder of SpaceX

When I started SpaceX, dedicated to reducing the cost and increasing the reliability of space missions, I’d never been involved in designing anything and had no experience in the aerospace industry. I even ended up pouring in most of the capital from the sale of PayPal. (SpaceX’s annual revenue is now over $100 million. In December 2008, SpaceX won a $1.6 billion contract with NASA to re-supply the International Space Station, an international research facility.)

Founder and CEO of Zynga, an online social gaming company (creator of “FarmVille” and “Mafia Wars”)

Greatest risk? Saying no to my last chance at funding for my (first) company Freeloader in 1996. We had one month of cash left, and the investor I lined up wanted me to hire the CEO of his choice in exchange for the funding. I walked away. We got funded a few months later and sold the company for a good return. (On the success of Zynga, a public relations rep said: “A news report had us at $100 million for revenues in 2009, and we said it was conservative.”)

The term “calculated risk” has become a bit of a platitude, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hold water. If you want to calculate risk, you must do lot’s of research including AB testing. Conducting AB testing on small segments will allow you to test the waters before allocating large amounts of funds on a flawed strategy. Once you find a positive trends, you put yourself in the position to make a calculated decision.

2. Playing to Your Strengths

One of the biggest startup lessons George Lucas teaches us, is his ability to play to his strengths. What interests does George Lucas (the man) have? Fast cars, mythology, sociology, and outer space. What interests does George Lucas (the director) have? Fast cars, mythology, sociology, and outer space. Do you see the pattern? Of course you do, they're one and the same!

If you study Lucas's background, his class choices, and his childhood—you will see that many of the things that interested him before his directorial debut—are the things that carry over into his work.

Whether it’s creating content or a new product—entrepreneurs need to form a strategy around their strengths. That’s not to say you can’t be successful otherwise, but going against the grain will undoubtedly be a more challenging up hill battle. 

If you find yourself getting bored with your core content or product—consider hybridizing. Hybridizing allows you to explore the boundaries of your niche without abandoning your core message or products. This can be done by finding intersecting points between niches.

For example—using a popular movie franchise to discuss business principles. Sound familiar?

Our core objective at #Booklyinsight is to be “Champions of Small Business.” Are we talking about business principles in this article? Yes. Are we also talking about Star Wars? Definitely. And by doing so we’re able to provide hardcore insight with a new twist and hopefully attract non-traditional readers to our site. In fact, one of our most popular articles of 2015,  4 Powerful Marketing Lessons from Willie Wonka's 'Golden Ticket' Campaign, is based on this very concept.

When it comes to products, the same principles apply. Nintendo for example, began as a simple card game company. They slowly moved their way into the consumer electronic space. Are they still a gaming company at their core? Yes. Have they learned to hybridize their product? Without a doubt. And good on them for doing so! If Nintendo to were remain a card making company, do you think they would have ever become a house-hold name worth $18.4 billion? 

3. What it Takes

Via  Flickr

Via Flickr

“Try Not. Do, or do not. There is no try." -Yoda

Effort is a valiant attribute, but how many businesses are remembered for making a good run at it? How many people can support their family on a “good try”?

Failure will happen a long the path to greatness, but what separates those who make it to the top are those who learn from their mistakes. This is Yoda’s council, this is doing.

Clinical Psychologist Guy Winch proposes four steps for learning from failure:

  • Reevaluate your planning
  • Reevaluate your preparation
  • Reevaluate your execution
  • Focus on variables in your control

4. Networking

via  Flickr

via Flickr

“Someone has to save our skins”  - Princess Leia

When George Lucas graduated from USC Film School, he made a pact with some of his schoolmates, that if one of them made it big—they would help the others do the same. Who were these friends? None other than Francis Ford Coppola, Brian De Palma, and Steven Spielberg. In fact, it was Coppola who produced George Lucas’s first two films THX 1138 and American Graffiti

It can be tempting (for a variety of reasons) to go the lone-wolf route. But being a solopreneuer means spreading yourself thin with less tools at your disposal. Networking allows you to develop strategic partnerships. It’s not bullish to say, that if George Lucas had not got his first two films off the ground, Star Wars might have never come to fruition. 

5. Foresight

star wars toys

There are many who can do just fine making money off side-hustles that generate a few hundred here and a few thousand there. But when it comes to building and sustaining a business—owners must have incredible patience and foresight. They must always have one foot in the present and one in the future. Generating funds for the present, while posturing for the future.

One of the most remarkable things about George Lucas besides his on-screen vision, is his off-screen prowess. At the time of Star Wars’ release, merchandising was not nearly as lucrative as it is now.  In 1973 he turned down the studios' offer of a $500,000 salary in exchange for $150,000, and merchandising/sequel rights. 

Many of us in George Lucas’s place would have taken the easy money and ran. But his ability to visualize the future is what makes him the richest man in Hollywood ($5.1 Billion Net Worth).

Audio Interview With Fundraising Fiend—Jess Larsen

Jess Larsen Podcast

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Last week we sat down with Jess Larsen, founder of the Ideation Collective and Child Rescue (an organization that helps save children from sex trafficking and slavery). He's raised millions of dollars in funds for  non-profits and for-profits alike, rubbed shoulders with NBA players, Hollywood Actors, Special Forces, and high powered CEO's. Throughout his journey he's picked up a thing or two about starting a business. Luckily for you, Jess was willing to share his wisdom with us. 

Side Note: The recording begins mid-stream as we've edited the conversation to contain only the meatiest parts. Bookly was also acquired by KPMG Spark in 2018.

This Entrepreneur is Turning Trash Into Beautiful Everyday Objects

cube

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

Meet Carter Zufelt, the Brain Behind Müll

Carter Zufelt is turning heads and garnering media attention with his latest creation Müll. With simple and elegant designs he's putting a new spin on everyday objects like stools, cubes, and organizers. But perhaps most impressive is the way he's doing it.

After years of trial and error Carter has created a way to change trash (like plastic bags) into useful objects. The impact this could have on the future of product design has yet to be seen, but the future looks bright—very bright. That's why this week we sat down with Carter and got to know a little bit more about what makes him tick, the creation process, and what he sees going forward.

How did you come up with the process of converting trash into art?

It began a couple years ago when I started my Senior Project in industrial design. During the research phase I discovered the excessive amount of plastic trash in the environment, so I set out to do something about it. It started with collecting trash on the streets and experimenting with it. I failed so many times. There were many late nights and lots of frustration. Finally I did something that worked and continued to refine it until I had an end result that I was happy with.

Do you have any design influences?

Yes, of course. I've always been inspired by Dieter Rams. His designs are clean and always functional. I love his "less but better" philosophy. Also, Benjamin Hubert. He explores materials and innovates like crazy. You can tell he enjoys what he does, his designs illustrate that perfectly.

What kind of reaction are you seeing from people since the announcement of your product?

I've received a lot of positive feedback from people. Everyone seems to be really excited about the process and endless possibilities. Random people are emailing me just to tell me that they appreciate the work I'm doing and innovation I'm creating. One little girl heard of the project and started running around her house collecting plastic to donate. It's fun to feel people's excitement, it's really cool to be apart of.

How do you avoid any dangers to you during the conversion process? i.e. Carbon monoxide, gases, toxics etc.?

HDPE is relatively safe to work with if it is prepped and handled appropriately. If it is melted at or below a certain temperature then it wont release toxins like other plastic. So, the trick is knowing the plastic you are using, how to get it ready to melt, and then melting appropriately. I take extra precaution though and work in a well ventilated room with an air respirator. It's probably overkill, but I like to be on the safe side.

In just a few days you’ve been able to raise over $12,000 dollars. What advice would you give to others trying to crowd fund their projects?

Given that this is my first crowd funded project, I don't know if I'm the best person to give advise. But I'll give it a shot. I'd say that the first thing is to have a neat idea; something new and innovative that will catch people's eye and peak their interest. You don't have to invent a new tool, maybe just figure out a way to refine it. Another huge part is trying to get press coverage. I spent many many hours researching companies and writing those companies who I thought might be interested in covering my story. It takes a lot of time, so make sure to plan for that. Also, just be yourself. Let your personality shine through your video, your pictures, your graphic design, everything. In essence people aren't just backing your product, they're backing you.

If Mull takes off, where would you like to see it go in the future?

The idea behind Mull is to start a movement and help others see the need for recycling. I enjoy the business side of things, but I like design more, so I'd be thrilled to have a business partner who has the resources and contacts to push this idea to it's limits. The possibilities of this process really are endless.

 

You can support Müll by contributing/sharing their Kickstarter project here

 

Please note that KPMG Spark’s sponsorship of this blog article is not intended to address the specific circumstances of any particular individual or entity and does not constitute an endorsement of any entity or its products or services. This content represents the views of the author, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG Spark.

How to Neuromarket the Proper Way

neuromarketing

By Austin Miller, Content Marketing Manager

What is neuromarketing?

For the uninitiated, Neuromarketing is a field of research that studies the subconscious habits and responses of consumers. This is done through a mix of psychology and controlled experiments using machines like fMRI’s which scan the subject’s brain.

In his book Brainfluence (which we highly recommend), Roger Dooley cites that around 90% of consumer decisions are made at the subconscious level. That means that the “common sense” approach to marketing is not the most prudent strategy. In fact, many of these studies show how unpredictable we as consumers really are. 

NEuromarketing: Know the Data

It goes without saying that living in a data vacuum will not help you take advantage of the “90%.” Sites like Marketing Sherpa and books like Brainfluence or The Buying Brain are great places to start. A mix of psychology and quantitative data are the two ingredients required to concoct an elixir of marketing success. 

NEUROMARKETING: Apply and Monitor

Business does not occur in a controlled setting. Just because an experiment showed that consumers preferred water over juice, does not mean they will choose water over juice in your market setting. Variables are numerous and often unpredictable especially in a business environment.

What did they eat before the experiment? What was the temperature of the lab? Is your presentation the same as in the experiment’s? 

If you think a Neuromarketing statistic will help your business, try it out but monitor it closely. If things aren’t happening as planned, experiment with different variables. AB test in small samplings before choosing to overhaul your entire business strategy. Tamper with variables and find out what succeeds. Many email marketers for example, will experiment with changing just a couple of words to see how it affects engagement. If they find response trends, they will use those findings in their future email campaigns. 

Neuromarketing Application Tips:

In 2012 The New York Times published a piece by MP Mueller from the Ad Agency Door Number 3. Mueller sat down with the French researcher Christophe Morin who offered these six steps to extract pain from the marketing to sale process.

1. Don’t use the word “we” or start off your pitch with a corporate overview that lasts 10 minutes. Focus instead on how to relieve your customers’ pain. Our brains are extremely self-centered, and we care most about our own survival.
2. About 10,000 messages are sent to our brains daily, so get to the point. “When you sell to the lower brain structure, you must say, ‘This is your life with our product or service, this is your life without,’” Mr. Morin said. He cited a successful campaign that helped a client that was selling home flood remediation services to major insurance companies. The campaign featured a traveling exhibit that showed a flooded home and how the company had mastered the art of drying home interiors. “The reptilian brain gets very stimulated by this kind of disruption. Stay away from, “We are one of the leading providers.” It’s the marketing equivalent of sugar — empty calories.
3. Make your points visual. Remember the “See and Say” books from childhood? Don’t just tell; show. “We are visual people, and the eyes are directly connected to the reptilian brain,” he said.
4. Stay concrete and make it tangible. The primal brain isn’t able to understand complex language or metaphors. As much as we love word play, if it’s too complicated, it doesn’t get processed by the parts of us that make decisions. Creating ads with facial expressions is good. “Facial expressions help us decode what people’s intentions are,” he said.
5. Gain attention quickly in your advertising or marketing and make sure you have a strong close. The brain pays the most attention at the beginning and end of an event. It’s important because the brain needs to recap and store.
6. Use emotion. It creates disruption, a contrast with what we expect — surprise, laughter, fear, disgust, anger, it really doesn’t matter. If there is emotion, we are more likely to remember the message. Nothing happens in the brain unless some chemical process has found a code to create memories. To create a memorable brand, therefore, you have to use emotional connectors in your advertising. Don’t just give your audience the facts, tell them how it will make their lives better and solve their pain.

NEUROMARKETING: Use Your Compass

We don’t want to make you think that Neuromarketing is akin to Luke Skywalker’s use of the force. But it is and can be a powerful tool. Don’t use any types of tactics you wouldn’t want to be used on you. Remember your job is to provide value—not to deceive. After all value is the bridge builder of trust, and trusting your brand is the first step a consumer makes on the path to becoming a customer.

Is your inner nerd begging for more information about Neuromarketing?

For more answers to "What is neuromarketing?" and "How to apply neuromarketing principles?" check out Patrick Renvoise's Tedx Talk:

5 Ways to Promote Your E-Business Locally

local bar

Promoting Your E-business Locally

Marketers have been loudly banging the Social Media drum for years. Seth Godin even went as far as to say that "Content marketing is the only marketing left." And while the pundits' tend to ring true, they've got a lot of people looking for customers all over the web without ever checking out the gold-mine that is their own backyard. 

In this sense, local promotion is one of the most overlooked growth hacks available to entrepreneurs. And while local promotion might conjure up seemingly medieval marketing tactics—what many business owners don't realize is that promoting your business locally should include a hybrid-strategy of both physical and digital marketing tactics.

To help you out, we've created a simple 5 step guide to help your business carve out its share of the local promotion space.

1. Have a Physical Presence

One of the best ways to promote yourself locally is by having a physical presence. We’re not talking about expensive billboards or flyers that will most likely get tossed. We’re talking about collaborating with strategic business partners and retailers in your area. 

Make a list of local businesses that might be interested in carrying your product. If you’re a service-based business, think of ways you can collaborate with other brands. Giveaways can be an effective way to garner other businesses' interest.

2. Attend Business Events

By attending business events you can help form strategic partnerships and network with local businesses. Anytime you can integrate your service or product with another business, you have a chance to tap into their consumer base and reach a new audience.

KPMG Spark’s, Zach Olson, recently engaged in such an activity with his participation at Ontrapalooza

3. Repurpose Your Inventory

You’ve heard of repurposing your content, but what about repurposing your inventory? Taking a product you normally sell online and presenting it in a new way to unique customers can be a huge boost. After all, foot traffic and web traffic aren’t so different. Think of each walk-in or passerby as a “unique visitor.” 

Pop up shops and farmers markets are great ways to repurpose your inventory. When people go to farmers markets, they go with the intention of making a purchase. Capitalize on that emotion by presenting your product in an appetizing way.

Pop up shops have been an especially trendy businesses tactic these past few years. For the uninitiated, pop up shops are well, exactly what they sound like. They pop up out of nowhere and are only open for a limited time. The temporality of their nature is a built-in sales tactic, forcing the consumer to make quick decisions; knowing that your shop will only be open for a short period of time. 

4. Share Your Expertise

Look for opportunities to share your expertise in a local forum. Find a topic that your company’s an expert at and attend a business conference or host a training session. A food blogger for example, could hold a cooking class to teach people how to make a killer Chicken Pot Pie. This personal interaction provides value, builds trust, and creates an emotional bond. It also gives you a chance to make an organic sales pitch.

Even if you don’t think your industry has mass appeal, consider teaching general business principles. You can host classes on sales, marketing, and investment. Providing value to your audience will build trust which will make it easier for you to convert them into leads. 

5. Exploit the Local Digital Space

When you hear the word “local,” the digital space might not be the first thing to come to mind. But just as people are walking through local shopping centers, they’re also searching for local outlets like restaurants, concerts, events, and services (plumbing, electric etc.). Here are some practical tactics:

  • Create content tailored to local searches. (Google has started to reward locally focused SEO.)

  • Make sure you’re store is registered on Google Maps.

  • Create Facebook ads targeted at consumers within a 10-20 mile radius.

 

How to Leverage Research to Produce Meaningful Content

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As Gary Vee says, value is the key to converting readers into buyers. And while it’s easy to create fluff-filled articles in a world wide web drowning in the stuff—if a company truly hopes to create valuable content, they are going to have to do a lot more than rehash general business principles. Repurposing content or sharing links to other publications has it’s time and place—but it will only take your brand so far. True value requires innovation, and true innovation requires time and hard work. 

To stay relevant, brands have to produce numerous articles, posts, and videos a day. But due to limited resources, many small businesses find themselves at a crossroads. Should we produce lot’s of content at the risk of sacrificing quality? Or should we produce incredibly valuable content at the risk of losing relevancy? 

Leveraging Resources:

To avoid sacrificing relevancy or quality it’s imperative that your business learn the power of leveraging resources. For a content producer, this means finding original research and stories. There are numerous sites like academia.edu  or Marketing Sherpa (for business gurus) that contain databases full of research and data applicable to your niche. 

Right now you may be thinking—But hey, that’s not original content! And you’d be right. But where you can add originality and value is in your synthesis and application of this information. Most of these articles are written in dry and difficult language with the main points strung throughout. Many readers these days simply don’t have the time or attention span to read dense articles. 

What You Need to Consider:

  • Synthesize and format the takeaways in an easily digestible format i.e. bullet points, web copy, images. 
  • Apply the research and findings to your niche—Ask yourself: How do these findings affect my niche? and What would my audience want to learn from this study? 
  • Create infographics that repurpose the content for your various social media platforms. 

Unless your a news outlet, you will rarely be breaking the new and original stories. Instead, when it comes to hard data: it’s your job to add value by synthesizing, analyzing (opinions), applying, and repurposing information for your audience. Remember, personal experiences add personality and voice to your brand—but unless you add variety by producing fact-based content, you may run the risk of losing credibility. Take a good look in the mirror and ask yourself if there’s potential to be creating unique and valuable content that your competitor’s are overlooking. 

How to Cultivate Your Brand's Voice

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Cultivating Your Voice

Let’s face it, a Nike sweatband isn’t always so different from a Reebok sweatband, and a Ford isn’t always so different from a Chevy. But what is different, is the marketing team behind them and the stories they tell. It's precisely these narratives that appeal to our emotional side and eventually our wallets. 

Alright, alright, we know that our voice is important. But exactly how important is it?

Wordpress reports that on their platform alone, 52.4 million new posts are created monthly. With dozens of other blogging platforms, social networks, and media vehicles—a unique voice has never been more relevant to a brand’s success. 

When evaluating your brand’s unique voice, there are a couple of things you must ask yourself: 

Who’s Your audience? 

It’s much easier to convert consumers within your niche than converting and educating new ones. If you’re looking for fast returns, consider your audience carefully. Do your research, using tools like Google Analytics and questionnaires to find out who and where your customers are. Be sure to reward your customers for their time if you choose to use the latter method. 

What value does Your content provide?

Notice how we used the word value instead of difference? That’s because too many companies think being different means being unique without evaluating whether or not that difference adds value to the consumer. Research your competitor’s and find out what you offer that they don’t. Use that information to focus in on customer reviews and surveys to see if that’s a valuable difference you need to exploit—this will be the central focus of your brand’s voice. 

How should You convey that value?

How you convey your message can distinguish you just as much as the message itself. Sure you’re probably going to use many of the same platforms as your competitor’s, but you should also consider the avenues your competitor’s are not yet dominating. MacWorld for example, reports that there are only 250,000+ podcasts whereas according to Adweek there are 42 billion Facebook pages. As a business owner you need to evaluate the competition—less competitive platforms are not always better, but they have the potential to give you a solid edge. 

It’s also important to consider content length and digestabilibty. Does your audience prefer long form? Short form? Videos? Text? Again, use analytics to evaluate these things to see what content your audience is consuming, and the length of time they’re consuming it. Adjust accordingly. 

Takeaways: 

  • With market saturation, finding a unique voice is more essential than ever.
  • Consider your audience.
  • Consider your service/product.
  • Exploit the areas where you are strong and your competitors are weak. This will be the central focus of your brand voice. 
  • Tailor your content to your audience’s attention span, and mediums of choice.