Customer service as marketing

In November, 2014,  Peter Shankman predicted, based on a minor Facebook change, that customer service would soon be the essential marketing tool.  This issue of RNYSBO looks at the marketing-service link today.

Why customers’ experience matters in 2016

Today a business in a rural community that’s doesn’t warrant a four-way stop on the state highway is competing with the best businesses in the world. That means your customers expect you to deliver the same level of service as Amazon, Apple, and Zappos. If you don’t deliver world-class service, they will go to a business that does.

4 simple reasons good restaurants go under

About 60 percent of restaurants fail in their first three years,  according to a report published by a Cornell University journal. You can probably guess that one reason is poor service.  Learn all four reasons in this Boston Globe Magazine article.

Customer feedback grows business 18 ways

Knowing you value their opinions makes customers feel good.  Learn another 17 reasons regularly surveying your customers and soliciting their feedback is essential to growing your business.

Millennials won’t phone customer support

Millennials would rather get a root canal than have to call someone to get the help they need. If you’re not providing help in ways they want help, they’ll buy their products elsewhere. And Elsewhere is gearing up to grab the millennials’ business.

Build a community of raving fans

On a scale of 1 to 5, a business’s relationship with its customers can range from (1) tolerating customers to (5) delivering mind-boggling customer service. If you want raving fans who always choose your business for the products/services you sell, you need to provide customer service that exceeds customer expectations.

Tools for managing customer relationships

Customer relationship management systems allow businesses to track sales leads, convert leads to sales quickly, manage customer support, and follow up for repeat business. Despite the benefits, small businesses aren’t taking advantage of CRMs. A SBA blog post by a business owner whose company is evaluating CRMs is packed with tips for comparing CRM software solutions and making moving to a CRM less difficult.

8 free CRM tools for small businesses

Although CRM software can be pricey, there is some good, free CRM software. Top of the list is small business solutions provider, whose CRM is free for up to 10 users. Zoho and the other providers on the list focus on  making their product intuitive as well as affordable.


New opportunities

From a new technology that offers new business opportunities to a new data  source to help you craft your marketing messages are in this issue of RNYSBO.

Free beginning farmer training for veterans

A free, three-day boot camp for veterans considering farming as a career  will be held Friday, Aug. 12, through Sunday, Aug. 14, in Hudson, NY. The Heroic Food Farm Boot Camp includes basic housing (rustic, semi-private) and meals. Registration is required by Aug. 5.

Most customer complaints are avoidable

Poor service and rude employees are the reasons for more than half of all customer complaints. Rudeness by itself led to 23 percent of customers’ online complaints. In all, 67 percent said they will complain about poor customer service directed at them.

10 reasons to work seriously on a business blog

If you’re not blogging, you’re leaving money on the table. A blog is one of the most-used and most effective content marketing tools. A blog will boost your search engine ranking by providing a stream of updated content, and if your posts are search-engine optimized will increase traffic to your website.

Think with Google data to boost your business

Google offers a host of free data resources in its Data Gallery to help small businesses improve their marketing. You can search for information by industry, platforms, and themes, or check featured data sets.

Learn newsletter lessons from  InVision

All marketers can learn from InVision’s  newsletter,  Shelby Clarke, a marketer who sees lots of newsletters every day, says. (Note: I get Invision’s newsletter, too, and agree with Clarke’s assessment of its strengths and weaknesses.—lga)

Startup opportunity: DIY plastic recycling units

Precious Plastic is trying to rid the world of plastic waste. It has developed a set of recycling machines that can be built locally from readily available materials. The machines are modular and fully customizable.  Blueprints for the machines can be downloaded for free as part of Precious Plastic’s online how-to kit.

App goes after confidential data leaks

Securio 4.0 scours the sections of the Internet invisible to search engines to locate stolen information. It notifies the victimized business that a confidential data breach has occurred. For $8 per user per month,  Securo 4.0 provides real-time data monitoring of sensitive data across a business’s network, cloud-based managed service platforms, and in the dark web. If you don’t think your small business is vulnerable to leaks, read Cyber-SecurityNot Just for the Big Guys.

10 top ways for local businesses to keep customers

Easy to scan infographic by YEAH!Local tells how a small, local business like yours can hang on to the customers they invested time, effort, and money to acquire.


Threats and opportunities

Some business threats are real threats. Others can be mitigated or even turned to your advantage. And opportunities are all around.

Retail ATMs may shut down as chips move in

ATM owners in the U.S. have to replace or upgrade their machines to accept chip cards by October, 2016, or face liability for certain types of fraud. Up to 10 percent of non-bank or  “retail ATMs” may be junked as too costly to replace. How could the potential loss of ATMs affect your rural small business? What’s your backup plan?

eBay goes AMP—and what it means to you

e-Bay recently deployed Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages coding on  8 million pages.  Google gives preference in search engine rankings to fast-loading, mobile-ready pages. Soon your website will need AMP pages to be found in Google search.

Farmers can get malt barley crop insurance

Starting next year, crop insurance for malting barley will be available in four upstate counties. If a farmer with a contract to sell malting barley has a crop failure, the insurance pays up to 1.85 times the market price for the loss. New York’s farm brewing law, designed to aid the craft beverage industry, requires that a certain percentage of grain used in production be grown in state.

Your online ads are a waste of money

The click-through rate for all online display ads is less than 1 percent.   This blog posts gives four basic lessons in visual advertising that will help your  online ads produce better results. The ideas work for print ads, too.

Farm and food biz incubator has openings

Oneonta-based CADE and SUNY Cobleskill are seeking participants in their incubator, which provides business training and value-added product development facilities for new and expanding farm and food entrepreneurs. The Farm & Food Business Incubator offers on-farm and in-depth workshops, in addition to an intensive business planning course.

Video: 10 non-tech startup ideas

Skills that might seem a little old fashioned like woodworking, baking, and cleaning can still lead to successful business opportunities.A 3-minute video presents 10 low-tech business ideas.

Free Illustrator alternative in your browser is a free new graphic design program for designing things such as logos, illustrations, and website mockups. The browser-based program works with Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Opera on Windows, Mac, Linux and ChromeOS on a host of devices. Gravit offers lots of tutorials and a support community in addition to usual customer support.

Free Foxit Reader gains Connected PDF tech

The free software program Foxit Reader which lets you read,  create, annotate, and print PDF files, now integrates—also for free—with a set of cloud-based services that let you track where your PDFs went and who opened them—a lifesaver for firms emailing sensitive information.

Customer connections

In this issue:

  • mobile’s importance;
  • scaling  up;
  • customer service;
  • chat technology;
  • online business reviews;
  • Facebook marketing mistakes;
  • market differently;
  • ProFarmer training.

GM food bill shows mobile’s importance

The bipartisan Senate deal to require nationwide labeling of genetically modified organisms, (GMOs) in packaged foods, shows how central mobile devices are to today’s shoppers. Instead of the words “produced with genetic engineering,”  the Senate bill allows a smartphone accessible label, such as a QR code.

12 ways to scale your business

Ready to grow your business? This article will show you a dozen ways you can use to reach customers wherever they are in the sales funnel. (It also explains what the sales funnel is and why it’s important.)

5 consumer service stats you must know

Here in five sentences (plus an optional slideshow)  are the most important facts you need to know now about the service your customers expect from your business.

Chat technology lets you engage customers 1:1

If you’re not considering chat technology for your website, maybe you should be. The typed, real-time, website-based interactions between customers and staff have been found to boost the value of online sales by 19%. Its ability to convert about-to-be-abandoned shopping carts to sales is just short of miraculous.  Read earlier posts about PureChat service which later added the ability to guide you to the best times to be available to chat.

Test chat yourself. The next time you have a customer service problem with one of the companies known for lousy service, if the website has a chat feature, use it. You’ll see the responses, be able to ask a follow up question, and usually get a transcript of the entire conversation.

Get good reviews, handle poor ones well

Positive online reviews are a major factor in customers’ choice of businesses. They also play an important role in local search engine optimization. Learn how to leverage reviews, both good and bad, for business growth.

10 unforgivable Facebook marketing mistakes

People are sick of businesses that flood Facebook news feeds with sales messages and too many updates. Your business needs a documented—as in written down— Facebook marketing strategy to keep from making 10 mistakes customers won’t forgive.

Unleash the power of marketing differently

Many small business owners have become steeped in their traditional marketing habits, and have been very slow to adopt newer marketing strategies. Today’s marketing is different, but different doesn’t need to be scary. Marketing differently can be good.

ProFarmer trainees sought for 2017

Sept. 9 is deadline to apply for the 2017 ProFarmer program of the Hudson Valley Farm Hub, a non-profit center for resilient agriculture in Hurley, NY. Read details about the multi-year, residential training program.


Faster and easier

Reaching mobile users;
Reading pdfs;
Finding a lawyer;
Creating a press kit;
Saving for retirement;
Learning about meat production;
Slaughterhouse rules;
Craft beverage tax credits.

Tips from Google on reaching mobile users

If you are going to reach today’s buyers, you need to be mobile savvy. Google has a booklet of four easy-to-grasp tips on how to reach customers at any stage in their customer journey, plus lots of examples of how to implement the tips.  Get your free 28-page, downloadable pdf.

Fast, light, free Adobe reader alternatives

To read pdfs, such as the Google booklet discussed above, you need a pdf reader. The most familiar,  Adobe Reader, not only is plagued by security problems—which no small business owner needs—but is slow. Learn about three safer, faster alternatives tested and approved by PCWorld.

Finding a lawyer just got easier

A lawyer and an entrepreneur teamed up to create Legal Services Link, an online service that lets you find, compare, and connect with attorneys at the click of a button.  You need to set up an account, but the website’s matching service is free for individuals and businesses.  The actual hiring process proceeds in the normal (off-line) manner.

Easy press kit creations service

PressKitHero gathers all the information a journalist needs to cover your business, creates a hosted press kit with a custom domain name, and hosts it where journalists can find everything they need to write about your business. There’s a 30-day free trial, no credit card required. Continuing will cost $5/$20 per month, depending on whether you accept/reject the “powered by PressKitHero” link.

6 steps for SBOs saving for retirement

Retirement is the biggest risk facing entrepreneurs who are already struggling with the challenges of running a small business in a fiercely competitive market. Here are six simple steps to help you tackle the retirement planning process right from the start.

Beef seminar draws sell-out crowd

A one-day Beef Cutting Seminar co-hosted by SUNY Cobleskill and Harvest New York attracted 15 beef producers from seven counties interested in learning about cuts of meat, consumer preferences, pricing strategies, and marketing tactics. Additional classes will be held for other meat producers.

News: Slaughterhouse restriction extended

New York lawmakers have voted to continue for four more years a prohibition set to expire this year against state licensing of slaughterhouses within 1,500 feet of a residence.

News: Tax credits expand to wine, spirits, cider

The state Beer Production Credit has become the Alcohol Production Credit with the inclusion of  New York’s wine, spirits, and cider industries. The credit is expected to save wineries, distillers and cideries $4 million over the next two years, allowing them to reinvest in their businesses.