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

Gravit.io 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.


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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.


Law firm business

This extra issue of Rural NY SBO is specifically for small New York law practices, which have a distinct set of challenges in rural communities.


Law office tips on buying billing software

Legal Tech News tells seven things a law firm should know before it invests in time and billing software. [ALM subscribers only; subscription is free.]


Use SEO to market your law practice

Clients are lazy. If they are looking for a law practice with a specific specialty, they turn to Google.  To increase your chances of being chosen, your website’s pages need to be search engine optimized to prove your firm does what the client is seeking.

This explanation from a company that does law firm advertising explains what’s involved in SEO. This  explains why location information is so important to potential clients.


7 ideas for marketing to existing clients

Just because you don’t give clients discount coupons doesn’t mean you shouldn’t think about ways to tell past clients about additional help you could provide. This post from the SBA blog suggests some ways to to that.


Biggest threats to your firm’s data: employees

The biggest threat to your law firm’s security is your own employees. Data breaches most often occur due to simple employee negligence or oversight, such as accidentally emailing confidential information. Learn five steps take to develop email compliance standards to safeguard your sensitive information.


How to write a business plan

A detailed explanation of how to write a business plan capable of becoming a tool for managing a growing law practice is one of the small law firm resources available from the New York City Bar Association. It is written by Robin Kravitz, Esq.


Artificially intelligent “lawyer” is hired

Baker & Hostetler recently reported it has licensed the artificial intelligence product developed by ROSS Intelligence for bankruptcy matters.


Is social media worth the investment?

Five legal technology marketing experts suggest ways to make social media pay off for your law firm. [ALM subscribers only; subscription is free.]


Protect your most valuable data

Legal tech industry  experts warn  it is no longer a question of if cybercriminals will get in, but when.  To protect your firm, start “mapping business functions … and … the systems used to support those functions.” Read more. [ALM subscribers only; subscription is free.]


Attorney-client quick match service

Legal Services Link automates the process of connecting someone seeking legal services to an attorney with appropriate expertise. There’s no sign-up fee for an attorney to view postings, but updating to premium in order to reply to postings requires an annual fee of $250.


Make the most of summer

Just because it’s summer doesn’t mean you can take a vacation from your business. Planning and marketing are two jobs that need to be done year round. Some news of particular interest to farmers and would-be farmers is here, too.


List your SBO on Bing places for Business

While Google is the big name in search engine land, other smaller SE’s have their fans, some of whom may be customers looking for what you have to offer. These directions will help you get your business listed on Bing.

Note: Be sure your essential NAP information—name, address, phone number) is identical on each search engine. For example, don’t use Route 28 as your address on Google and Rt. 28 as your address on Bing.


Free read: 27 Strategies for Raising Capital

Startup Wisdom by Maury Forman and Jordan Tampien presents 27 different strategies for raising capital. Forman is with the Washington State Department of Commerce Office of Economic Development and Competitiveness, but the strategies are applicable in all states. The book is free to read online or download.


Seasonal marketing is always in season.

Read 10 strategies for optimizing each marketing season even if your products or services aren’t seasonal.


Keep the local content coming

It’s hard to rank well in search unless your website is regularly being updated. Even a local business with little local competition needs to keep adding new, quality content.


Young farmers get help to grow

The New Farmers Grant Fund has awarded  $743,000 in grants to support 25 early-stage agricultural businesses across New York State.  See a list of the recipients here.

Registrations are due by July 1 for a week-long Armed to Farm workshop for New York State military veterans who have been farming less than 10 years or want to start farming. Get information and register for the free program which begins Aug. in Hamilton.

Farmers 18-35 years old can  apply for the Achievement Award or the Excellence in Agriculture Award by submitting their applications to the New York Farm Bureau website or contacting NYFB at 1-800-342-4143. by Aug. 15, 2016.  See eligibility requirements and applications.


Can essay contest fund retirement?

Metropolitan newspapers have been laying off staff for years. Many small rural newspaper publishers are in their sixties and seventies. One of them, the owner of The Hardwick Gazette in Vermont is making his newspaper operation the prize in an essay contest. He hopes enough ex-news staffers enter so the $175 entry fee equals half his paper’s annual gross income.


B2B booster steps

To be competitive, a small, rural business-to-business firm must make really good use of its resources. Learn small ways to boost your B2B profitability.


Optimize email for opens and clicks

B2B email marketing is a dependable and cost-effective workhorse. To get the most opens and clicks, optimize those emails. Also check out what’s trending in email design now. Spoiler: Designing for mobile first and sharability are big in 2016.


Tips for marketing to millennials

Almost half (46%) of today’s B2B consumers are now millennials, according to a 2015 study commissioned by Google. Learn nine ways boring brands are marketing successfully to millennials.


Have a conversation to help buyers buy

To help buyers buy, which accelerates the sales process, you actually have to talk to them. Research proves you don’t need a face-to-face conversation: A phone call works just as well.


Identify who makes the buying decision

One of the biggest mistakes that B2B sales organizations tend to make is confusing the “end user” of their solution with the “decision maker” for the purchase. Research and build relationships with various stakeholders and decision makers as part of the long sales process.


Make an awesome About Us page

What does a website visitor need to know about you and your business to compel them to stick around? Learn tips for your About Us page  content, layout, design, and concept.


Gated B2B content: When, why, how

Gating content means you restrict access to people willing to give you information in exchange for it, usually via a form fill. Invest the time to review (or create) a content marketing strategy before you decide what elements of that content to put behind a gate.


Link your solution to  customer’s problem

Your potential customers have:

  • Problems they want to solve
  • Needs they want to meet
  • Desires they want to fulfill

Your website should be the link between what the customers are searching for and your business.  Learn how to supply the missing links.


7 no-link ways to improve local SEO

This article gives specific tips for improving organic traffic through an optimized website, a  Google My Business listing, and local citations (directories).


8 benefits of a business credit card

A recent survey by seven Federal Reserve Banks showed 72% of business owners who apply for a traditional loan get turned down. One of the most common reasons for loan denial was insufficient personal and business credit scores. One of the simplest ways to establish a positive business credit history is by using a business credit card.


Personal touch makes a webinar  stand out

Webinars help B2B firms stand out in crowded market segments. You need solid educational content to attract an audience and a personal voice that holds their attention and showcases your authority on your subject.


 

Video for SBOs

People love video. Search engines and social media platforms love it, too. This issue of Rural New York Small Business Owner focuses entirely on how to get the benefits of video without a huge investment of time and money.


How to leverage the power of video

Tips on how small business owners with limited time can harness the power of video on their websites and on the social media sites they already use.


Video production in 12 simple steps

Although written for people who use video in teaching online courses, this introduction  to video production will work for SBOs, too. It tells what to do and the cheapest tools to use (and some slightly more pricey options). It also includes a link to a webinar, links to some free courses, and links to examples of video productions.


How to create a product page that converts

It is not enough to have a video about your great product or service: You have to make sure customers can find that video. That means paying attention to the product URLs,  titles, and  descriptions which allow customers to find you via a search engine.


How to use YouTube video shopping ads

Google, which owns YouTube, has initiated an e-commerce functionality within YouTube videos so customers can click through to purchase. Learn about the two types of video-embedded ads and how to set them up.  Also, read  elsewhere what Google has to say about using YouTube TrueView to drive retail sales.


Landing page videos boost conversions

Dollar Shave Club showed that videos are a perfect way to tell your business’s story.  Studies show a video on your landing page can increase the conversion rate by up to 86%. ( A landing page is a web page with only one objective, such as to get newsletter signups. The only link choices from a landing page are to accept or decline the call to action.)  Learn how to make an effective landing page video.


Video can go into newsletters, too

This article, which first appeared on the AWeber blog, tells why you’d  use video in email newsletters.  The article links to three other video tutorials on aspects of video for email newsletters. Neither article mentions that some email service providers won’t let email containing video be delivered or shut down when a recipient tries to view a video within newsletter.