Build Your Brand With These 7 Social Media Tips

At this point, most brands have engaged on social media. However, it is still common for small businesses to use offline marketing because they feel they are too new to even set up an online profile. They may have also tried using social media and struggled with building their brand in the past. No matter where your company is at right now, you can use these seven tips to launch a successful social media campaign that builds buzz around your brand.

Assign Responsibility

The first step to building your brand is to develop a plan that members of your team are going to be responsible for. As you start your planning session, try to identify how often you want to post and respond to other people. Then, appoint the person, or people, who will be responsible for finding content and posting according to a determined schedule.

Keep It Simple

There are so many social media platforms out there that you could have a team spending the bulk of their day compiling posts and responses if you try to use every platforms. If your company is still a bit new to social media, then focus on only using a couple of platforms that relate to your brand the most. This allows you to keep your social media campaigns manageable and sustainable for optimum brand-building.

Aim for Consistency

Consistency generates trust in your brand. Once you’ve chosen the platforms that you prefer, try to post consistently. While you don’t always want to repeat information, you can always post a #ThrowbackThursday photo on each platform every week. This helps your followers know what to expect so that they’ll keep coming back to see the latest updates.

Keep a Conversational Tone

A formal business tone may be what your company uses when interacting with other businesses or compiling reports. However, there is not much room for stuffy business talk on social media. Instead, aim to make your posts more like a conversation, and create an engaging voice that is more relatable to your target audience.

Make Posts Eye-Catching

With social media, you have seconds to catch a person’s eye. Fortunately, that’s easy when you know how to use your company logo, bold colors and beautiful images to garner attention. Keep in mind that the right image can entice someone to click share or hit a link to learn more about your brand.

Be Willing to Shine the Spotlight Elsewhere

Naturally, you want the main focus of your posts to be about your brand. However, only talking about your company gets boring, and it makes your brand seem self-absorbed. Try turning the tables by showcasing something positive that one of your partner brands is doing, like announcing the release of a new product. Alternatively, you can mention a social cause that your brand supports.

Track and Adjust to the Results

As with any marketing campaign, you need to track the responses to know how to adapt as a company. A social media marketing analysis can show you insights such as how followers interact with your posts, how often they visit the business profile, and how frequently your brand’s posts are shared. You can then use this information to tweak your strategies to make future campaigns even more effective. At minimum, you should be analyzing this data at least on a quarterly basis, but you may need to do it more often due to the changing landscape of social media.

Building your brand on social media takes time, but the payoff is worth it when you see those numbers take off as more people are exposed to what your company has to offer. Whether your brand is new to social media or has been at it awhile, be willing to incorporate new strategies that help to bolster your brand’s online presence.

4 Effective Traditional Marketing Techniques

Technology has transformed how companies market their products and services today. While it’s great to be able to instantly share an advertisement video, it is also easy to forget that traditional strategies still work, even in a world filled with social media influencers. When your campaign needs a little something extra, it pays to go back to the basics and try one of these four traditional marketing techniques that are still just as effective as they were years ago.

Telemarketing Campaigns

People still prefer to hear a human voice over reading an email. This is especially true for older demographics that include people who may not feel comfortable submitting their information online or trying to navigate through reading the small print on their computer screen. When possible, try to arrange for an actual customer service representative to handle all outbound calling needs, or invest in a quality automated program that can quickly address a potential customer’s needs. If your marketing campaign involves having customers call in to your company, then make sure that you have the resources in place to answer calls right away and make a sale while the customer is still excited.

On-Site Events

As anyone who has ever stopped at a roadside attraction can attest, events that draw a crowd reels in interest. Consider hosting an event at your main business location that taps into the interests of your target audience. For instance, bounce houses and refreshments are always a great way to encourage families to stop by your location. Companies within the food industry can host pie eating contests, bake-offs, or demonstrate how items are made to get people talking about the company. With this strategy, you can even add a modern spin on the technique by sending updates on social media that include teasers leading up to the event and images in real-time that will have people flocking to your site.

Broadcast Messages

Television and radio advertising still works. Not only can your ads reach a large number of people at once, but you can target them to hit a specific demographic. Although broadcast messages tend to only last a few minutes at most, this is still far more time that you can catch someone’s attention than you can often get online. Just remember to keep all of your advertisements geared towards your target audience, and never underestimate the power of late night ads that can catch a consumer’s attention when they are bored and interested in hearing something new.

Direct Mail

The internet helps you to spread your message to a wide audience at minimal cost, but there are also times when it pays to invest in your advertising. Direct mail puts your company’s information directly in a customer’s hands. Even if they tend to throw away advertisements, they will still have to view your company’s information for long enough that it may capture their attention. To increase the effectiveness of this strategy, consider adding a few coupons or a mention of a new service. If your customer base is still fairly small, consider sending out a handwritten note of thanks or a card to celebrate a special occasion. Those little personal touches help to increase your word-of-mouth advertising, and the effort is worth its weight in gold when your business increases its referrals.

In the field of marketing, there are some classic techniques that are just proven to work. Be sure to mix it up and include a variety of different strategies in your advertising plans that help you hit every corner of the market.

6 Ways International Trade Can Help Your Business Excel

The global market is easier than ever to tap into now that technology has made it possible to connect in real time with potential customers and business professionals in other parts of the world. Yet, small businesses often leave this important resource untapped with the false belief that international trade is only for large corporations. When you are ready to take serious steps toward expanding your business, consider these six ways that international trade can help your company reach its goals.

Tap Into An Open Market

Market saturation is a major problem in the U.S. that hinders growth, and small businesses are at an increased risk for failure if they fail to expand beyond their local area. Fortunately, there is an entire world just waiting to benefit from the products and services that your company has to offer. Expanding to an international market allows you to take advantage of having less competition so that you can continue to build.

Extend the Life of Your Products

Product development is costly and time-consuming, and businesses need to carefully consider the return on investment before adding new items to their line. In the U.S., trends and seasonal changes tend to cause the demand for products to fluctuate wildly, which makes it hard to recover the dollars spent on putting a new product on the market. International trade opens up ways to mitigate the potential damages associated with this volatility since the global marketplace is full of potential customers who may be interested in what your company has to offer at any point in the year.

Practice Better Risk Management

Relying upon a single market also places your company in jeopardy of failure during political or economic events that affect the U.S. Unfortunately, many companies have gone down during minor economic downturns that could have been handled had they been trading internationally. Expanding your company’s reach to other countries helps it stay afloat when the local market sinks.

Build a Stronger Reputation

A global mindset is revered in today’s society that recognizes the importance of diversity. Whether your small business showcases the work of artisans from around the world, or you open up a shop overseas, international trade shows potential new customers that your business focuses beyond the borders of its home country. Since international trading is viewed as a sign of a successfully expanding business, this strategy also lends you greater credibility with others within your industry.

Enjoy Greater Control Over Cash-Flow Management

Requiring payments upfront is a common practice in international trade, which is often hard to negotiate for in the U.S. Early payments allow your business to benefit from immediately having the funds available to initiate projects or to invest in new materials. You also see productivity increases when your company’s staff is not strapped with menial tasks such as contacting customers to collect on late payments.

Identify Innovative Ways to Expand

At some point, most businesses hit a wall, and stagnation is often the sign that something must be done before your company fails. International trade has a unique way of opening up everyone’s minds to new possibilities. As your company’s team learns more about the international market, ideas are spawned regarding new ways to specialize or add products that meet the new needs of the areas that your business serves.

At first glance, the prospect of opening your business to international trade may be overwhelming, especially if you’ve always viewed it as something reserved for larger companies. However, being willing to look at the bigger picture is one of the most critical traits for any small business, or startup, to survive. Whether you start out small by expanding your product offerings to one country or go all out with a major campaign, branching out to the global market puts your business in the right position to excel.

5 of the Best Apps for Finance & Accounting

finance

The days of spending hours hunched over ledgers, crunching numbers are officially over for business owners since technology has introduced more effective ways to manage company finances. While large companies often require complicated accounting software programs, you can be happy to hear that most small businesses can improve their operations with some simple apps. These are five of the best apps for managing financing and accounting tasks for improving your company’s daily operations.

Freshbooks

This app is known for its ability to be seamlessly integrated into a company’s current financial operations, and you’ll love how easy it is to perform tasks such as setting up recurring invoices and subscriptions. You can also use this app to accept mobile payments using your smartphone or tablet, which works great if you are a freelancer or have a sales team that works directly with customers out in the field. The app also comes with an option for live support that helps you roll out this new strategy without experiencing major issues in your daily operations.

Wave

For very small businesses with nine or fewer employees, this app serves as a solution to a multitude of financial recordkeeping challenges. Using this app, you can manage customer invoices and payments while also paying your employees. The app also now offers the option of using their free, personal finance software so that you can manage all of your accounting tasks from a single app.

Quickbooks

Quickbooks makes even the most difficult accounting tasks simple, which is perfect when you need to get back to running the rest of your business. One of the biggest benefits of using this app is that multiple users can all view the same information. Use this app if you share accounting tasks with members of your staff or a partner, so that everyone is always on the same page. You’ll also love the ability to quickly generate reports such as profit and loss sheets that are viewable from a single dashboard that you can access on your mobile device.

Xero

Xero is designed to be one of the easiest apps to set up, and most business owners do require any specialized training to get it up and running. Once you input all of the necessary information, this app organizes it all into areas that make it easy to keep up with your company’s contacts and records regarding transactions. Xero also offers payroll processing and inventory tracking services so that you can do all of your essential accounting work in one place.

OnPay

Payroll can become increasingly complicated as your small business grows and adds new members to the team, and dealing with a missed paycheck or uncompensated hours is never good for company morale. With OnPay, you can handle all of your payroll processes including tax filings in one simple app. While other apps offer some degree of payroll services, you’ll love that this one has specialized features for managing common challenges such as managing compensation and health insurance benefits for your employees.

As you explore new apps, keep in mind that any new program you choose should be easy for your staff to use and simple to integrate into your current operations. Once you integrate a new app, be sure to train anyone who needs to use it and upgrade all of your electronics so that you can seamlessly manage your company’s financial and accounting tasks with a few touches of a button.

5 Ways Technology Can Help Small Businesses Grow

technology

Growing a small business takes hard work, dedication, and willingness to think outside the box. Yet, there comes a point when you need to search outside of yourself for solutions to common issues that slow the growth of your business. Fortunately, new technology is constantly being developed to fit the needs of business owners, and you can use these strategies to begin to take full advantage of the options that best fit your company’s needs.

Increase Mobility Among Your Employees

In-office tasks are easier to manage now that technology provides solutions for common problems. For instance, your sales team can use mobile printers to quickly print out critical documents such as contracts for their customers to sign. Being able to put your sales force out into the field more allows them to continue to bring your company’s products and services to a larger market.

Analyze the Effectiveness of Your Company Website

With more customers spending time online, your company website must be viewed as an extension of your storefront. For an internet-based company, your website is the only thing that a customer may see before making a purchase. Website analytics allow you to see the effectiveness of your online presence so that you can make changes to bring in more customers. For instance, you may need to alter the keywords that you use in the content, or you may need to make it easier to navigate through each page.

Spread the Word on Social Media

Sure, Facebook and Twitter have long been viewed as a way for people to connect with their friends and family. However, small businesses can use savvy marketing skills to incorporate their brand into these conversations. Set up a company profile on a social media platform that tends to attract your customer demographics. Then, send out occasional updates about newsworthy events in your company. Giving customers insight into a new product or how you perform certain services keeps your brand on their mind. You can also consider every shared update to be free advertising that helps to drive your company’s growth.

Refine Your Marketing Strategies

Your small business must be taking advantage of online marketing opportunities or you are leaving money on the table. However, there are so many different types of online marketing options available that you can quickly lose sight of what actually works. With marketing software, you can use strategies such as geo-targeted advertisements to get your message out to the exact customers that you want to attract. Then, you can use the software to find out which methods are successful so that you can continue to build upon what is proven to work.

Use Project Management Software

Projects that involve multiple people such as a sales team, independent contractors, and supervisors, are vulnerable to issues that arise from miscommunication that can kill your profits. With project management software, your business benefits from giving everyone access to things such as shared schedules and note taking systems that serve as a central hub. When your team finishes projects faster and with more accuracy, you can expect to watch your customer base grow.

As you work to incorporate new forms of technology into your business model, remember that growth sometimes involves a few bumps along the way. Be sure to work with your team to analyze what works so that you can adjust your plan accordingly. With a little flexibility and willingness to try new things, you will see your business begin to flourish in no time.

Cyber Intelligence Briefing: Understanding Blockchain and its Impact | NJSBDC @ Ramapo College of New Jersey

Cyber Intelligence Briefing: Understanding Blockchain and its Impact | NJSBDC @ Ramapo College of New Jersey

 

WHEN:

Thu, April 26, 2018

4:00 PM – 7:00 PM EDT

Add to Calendar

 

WHERE:

Ramapo College of New Jersey/ Small Business Development Center

505 Ramapo Valley Road

Friends Hall

Mahwah, NJ 07430

View Map

 

Description

Regardless of the price of Bitcoin, Blockchain technology is here to stay.Which businesses are left standing will likely come down to how well companies are able to adapt. The total market capitalization for the world’s crypto-currencies, led by Bitcoin on Blockchain, is more than $100 Billion. Soon to be disrupted industries will include Financial Services, Healthcare, Aviation, Global Logistics and Shipping, Transportation, Music, Manufacturing, Security, Media, Identity, Automotive, Land Use and Government, and more.

Intelligence Briefing Includes:

  • What exactly is Blockchain technology
  • How this new era in technology has the potential to change the business world
  • Why is this technology powering crypto-currencies like Bitcoin
  • Top industries impacted by Blockchain
  • What you should be considering before Blockchain disrupts your industry

Who Should Attend?

  • Business Owners, Operations & System Administrators
  • Entrepreneurs, Educators and Elected Officials
  • Anyone interested in learning about the future of Blockchain technology

NJSBDC AT THE COLLEGE OF NEW JERSEY

Stout’s Transportation
Tim Stout
20 Irven Street
Ewing, NJ 08638
Tel: 609-883-8891
Website: www.stoutstransporation.com

Founded in 1982 by Harry Stout III, two generations of family management and an exceptional employee base at Stout’s Transportation are driving the future of motor coach travel in the Northeast. Company President, Tim Stout, along with brothers, Shawn, who heads business development for the medical transportation division, and Harry, Stout’s safety director, manage the 100-plus employee, family-owned business. This ground transportation and tour operation business has been built on talents, skills, and a team of a well-seasoned staff, augmented by a cutting-edge fleet and a customer-focused culture that positions their brand ahead of their competition.

The 60-year Trenton-based Stout’s has locations throughout the state of New Jersey and serves key markets within the tri-state New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania area. Their predominantly Van Hool fleet consists of 76 vehicles: 38- to 56-passenger motor coaches for tour and charter excursions; 29-passenger shuttle transport vehicles; 16- to 20-passenger para-transit specialty vehicles for private contract service, and DOT-approved, school and transit buses.

Since 2015, Stout has worked with the NJSBDC at TCNJ consultants, receiving assistance and training in a wide range of areas and services, including:  Financial recordkeeping design and reports; financial report analysis using QuickBooks; digital media/website design and marketing; catalog design and marketing; company branding; and extensive industry/ geographic/demographic/psychographic market research. The NJSBDC at TCNJ is proud to have served as a “go to” feedback resource for Stout’s Transportation on operational issues from marketing to financial operational issues.

As the business evolves, Stout’s leadership continues to focus on best business practices and technology improvements that will enhance operational efficiencies. Their latest implementation of the Zonar fleet management mobile platform is critical in helping the company remotely monitor fleet and driver performance, and enhance fleet maintenance. Additionally, the system supports automated processes, effectively reducing paperwork and record storage, which are also key priorities within Stout’s “green culture.” Their state-of-the-art 8,000-square-foot office building features energy-efficient utilities and an environmentally friendly heating system utilizing waste oil as fuel.

With a strong and growing infrastructure, healthy market share, and sales and marketing efforts focused on new and emerging markets, the company is actively seeking growth, and the timing is perfect for acquisition. Stout’s Transportation has positioned itself as a leader in the transportation industry, well prepared for the next 60 years of growth and expansion.

NJSBDC AT RUTGERS UNIVERSITY – NEW BRUNSWICK

Greycell Labs, Inc.
Dharmesh & Shweta Vachhani
190 Lincoln Highway, Suite 201
Edison, NJ 08820
Tel: 732-444-0123
Website: www.greylabs.com

Greycell Labs, Inc. was established in 2004. They are a leading IT firm that provides a variety of technology-based services and solutions including IT consulting, business and technology services, custom software design, development, testing, deployment, and integration support to fulfill the needs of local, regional and global corporations of any size.   Greycell offers a suite of software services to help their clients increase process efficiency; enhance workforce productivity; reduce operating costs; boost employee and customer satisfaction; and enable better and faster decisions.   

Greycell’s owners, Dharmesh and Shweta Vachhani, have been clients of the NJSBDC at Rutgers New Brunswick since 2014. They were initially counseled regarding government contracting and certification as SBE, MBE, WBE and 8A businesses. They have regularly participated in Center workshops, seminars and other programs to help their business grow and prosper. More recently, the Center helped the firm develop its social media outreach, engaged the Vachhanis in its Managing Growth Ventures and other experiential learning programs.   

The firm has grown exponentially in both their domestic sales as well as their expansion into global markets. The Vachhanis now have 50 employees and have doubled their sales over the last two years.  In fact, Greycell has been recognized as one of the fastest growing firms in the USA. They were also ranked as #139 among the fastest growing firms out of 500 in New Jersey. Greycell has recently established a development center in India, which will be the headquarters for their Mobile Apps and Cloud/Big Data services.  They are working on expanding the company’s presence in other countries as well.  

Mr. Vachhani sums up his experience and success in just a few words: “Everyone dreams. Ninety-nine percent do not start due to fear of failure. The rest change the world. It is truly wonderful to have resources like the SBDC to help accomplish your dreams.”

NJSBDC | TECHNOLOGY COMMERCIALIZATION

Arable Labs, Inc.
Adam Wolf, Ph.D.
40 North Tulane Street
Princeton, NJ 08542
Website: www.arable.com

Arable is a data and analytics company reducing risk in the food and agriculture supply chain. Their flagship product, the Mark, is a low-cost, highly connected solar-powered sensor that continuously and precisely measures more than 40 different, relevant data types regarding plant, light and weather conditions. The data enable farmers and agribusinesses to better assess crop status, forecast growth, predict yields and improve decision-making.

Customers are able to better manage resources in real time and make decisions that enable them to increase revenue through better forecasts of harvest timing, yield, and postharvest outcomes. The Mark hardware was designed in collaboration with the designer of the GoPro camera and Nest learning thermostat.  

Company Founder Adam Wolf was a Princeton University post doctorate candidate when he participated in the National Science Foundation’s Innovation Corps Teams Program (I-Corps).  The purpose of the program is to identify National Science Foundation/NSF-funded researchers who will receive additional support, in the form of mentoring and funding, to accelerate innovation that can attract subsequent third-party funding. Through their participation in I-Corps, Adam and his team decided to pursue SBIR funding. Arable’s I-Corps mentor referred them to NJSBDC’s Technology Commercialization Consultant, Randy Harmon.

Randy reviewed, critiqued and made suggestions for strengthening Adam’s draft NSF SBIR Phase I proposal, which was submitted in June 2015. Adam received word in December 2015 that the $150,000 project had been approved for funding. He then applied for and received $20,000 through NSF’s Phase IB program, which is intended to provide supplemental funding between the completion of Phase I and Phase II.

Upon successfully completing the Phase I project, Arable submitted a Phase II SBIR proposal at the end of August 2016 NJSBDC Consultant, Randy Harmon, assisted the team in the preparation of the Phase II technology commercialization plan.

Arable was able to successfully leverage their Phase I and IB awards to raise $2.6 million in venture capital which closed in February 2017. Upon successful completion of a pre-award audit and administrative review, Arable received notice of a $750,000 NSF Phase II award in April. According to Dr. Wolf, the assistance provided by NJSBDC through Randy Harmon helped Arable win SBIR Phase I and Phase II grants and the validation provided by the Phase I award helped raise their equity financing.

An opportunity exists to apply for additional NSF funding after Phase II ends. The Arable Insights platform, supported by the Arable Mark, is already generating revenue. Customers include Driscoll’s, Treasury Wine Estates, and Valley Irrigation. The Arable vision is to help enhance a customer’s sound decisions-making, mitigating risk in food production systems.

NJSBDC | PROCUREMENT

KDW Partners
Eric Kainer & Rasul Damji
865 Ridge Road
Princeton, NJ 08852
Tel: 908-741-4314
Website: www.kdwpartners.com

For the past year, NJSBDC Procurement Consultant, Andy Bennett, has been working with KDW Partners located in Princeton, New Jersey.  The firm, owned by technology-savvy finance and marketing professional, Eric Kainer, and growth and transformation executive Rasul Damji, features Ambedded Technology advanced storage systems and Modulan cabinets and containment systems for large data centers and smaller computer rooms.  

Upon Andy’s recommendations, KDW added the technology leading, American-made LED lights from Pennsylvania-based Independence LED Lighting. Independence LED Lighting offers the highest quality, longest-lasting, highest efficiency lights in the world. As a result of adding Independence LED Lighting to their product line, KDW has seen exploding demand, both within its data center target market, and beyond. Demand for LED lighting has emerged from the Federal government, local government, commercial businesses, and even retail environments.

In April, SBDC Procurement Specialist Andy Bennett also introduced the firm to a New Jersey-based steel-manufacturing partner that is currently producing prototypes for KDW. In the same month he introduced another NJSBDC client, The Maximum Group LLC, which is working with KDW in business promotion and marketing.

To date, Andy has assisted the firm with over $1 million in negotiation support with Tier-1 construction companies in both Pennsylvania and Colorado. These negotiations were for KDW’s modular data center cabinets and containment. Andy also worked with the firm on a proposal for LED lighting systems for municipalities in Northern New Jersey with applications spanning libraries, schools, municipal buildings, and public housing.

In August 2017, Andy assisted KDW with negotiating and landing a $900,000 commercial contract with a Colorado-based construction company for LED lighting and CPU metal cabinets. And in November, one of the northern New Jersey municipalities (noted above) awarded KDW a contract for LED lighting that resulted from RFP research and review that Andy provided to the company’s business owner, Eric Kainer.

NJSBDC’s Procurement Specialty Program, through Andy Bennett, also introduced the firm to two contacts at Rutgers University’s purchasing department, and continues to work with KDW in business development, marketing, and contract negotiations support.

NJSBDC’s support of KDW and their perseverance has resulted in great outcomes!

Technology Commercialization Assistance and Support Offered to Science-Technology Companies/Entrepreneurs through America’s SBDC New Jersey

America’s SBDC New Jersey Technology Commercialization Program sponsored a September 30th SBIR/STTR training seminar (8:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.) followed by one-to-one appointments at the NJ Economic Development Authority (NJEDA) North Brunswick facility. PSE&G provided support for this event and follow-on with SBDC science-technology clients and trainees. In addition, a key sponsor of these annual sessions is Eisner Amper, accountant advisors. Other sponsoring organizations included BioNJ and the Rutgers Office of New Ventures and Entrepreneurship as well as supporting organizations including Innovation NJ, the NJ Technology Council, and NJIT Enterprise Development Center.

Randy Harmon, the New Jersey Small Business Development Centers network Technology Commercialization Program Consultant, invited The National Cancer Institute, The Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Smart Health and Biomedical Technologies Program to participate at this seminar.

The services of NJSBDC’s program focuses on providing guidance and assistance in pursuing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Transfer of Technology (STTR) grants; the program’s consultant coaches and provides assistance in the proposal preparation process and also specialized reviews and critiques of draft proposals with specific suggestions as to how to strengthen in order to be competitive in winning such grant awards. These latter services aim at Phase I and Phase II commercialization plans, which can be particularly challenging for many applicants. Assistance can be provided by sending an email message to rgharmon@njsbdc.com; call NJSBDC’s Headquarters Office located at Rutgers Business School, (973) 353-1927.