10 topics for SBOs

This issue links you to articles on 10 different topics for different types of businesses in varying stages of development. There should be something for just about every rural New York small business owner.

Don’t discount print advertising

According to a recent study, print and online ads each pull 39 percent of retailers’ market reach. The retailers with the most success use print and digital advertising, especially if they can’t afford television ads which have a 40 percent market reach.

3 social media tips for B2B firms

Social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube are excellent places to promote your B2B message and connect with your firm’s followers, potential clients, and existing customers.

3 marketing mistakes small businesses make

New businesses make mistakes while they’re learning the ropes. Three common marketing mistakes with long-term consequences are entirely preventable. The first mistake is not having a website, which can lead to a second preventable mistake.

New overtime rules compliance checklist

Changes to the U.S. Dept. of Labor’s  Fair Labor Standards Act’s “white collar” overtime exemptions go into effect Dec. 1, 2016.  The new rules increase the salary threshold needed to qualify for overtime exemption from $455 per week to $913 per week. Learn more here.

8 habits restaurants need to satisfy customers

Patrons can make or break a restaurant. This infographic and text explain clearly eight habits restaurants need to be great at customer service and win the hearts of current and future patrons.

5 steps to creating a killer marketing plan

Don’t even think about a website, Facebook business page, or ad in the local “shopper” until you have a good marketing plan. Learn the five steps to creating a really good marketing plan that covers all media.

5 clever retail offers that won’t eat the profits

Running discounts without running in the hole can be tricky. This article shares five ideas for running retail sales while maintaining a healthy profit margin and brand image.

Being professional in a family business

When your manager is also your parent, sibling, or another relative, how do you keep things professional? An article in Harvard Business Review shares true experiences and advice for those in a family business and those just thinking about becoming part of a family business.

How to create a Facebook business page

If you haven’t created a Facebook page for your business, check out these directions and screenshots that show how to go about it.

7 deals to help you run a small business

There are plenty of lists of tools for small businesses, but this one is a bit unusual. Not only is it short, but the tools are both inexpensive and easy to learn. Definitely worth a look for a prospective or new SBO.



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 Zoho.com, 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.

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.


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.

Keep it simple

Simple tips and short lists of ideas for a more efficient, productive, and profitable small business operation—all without working any harder.

7 ideas for marketing to your customer base

Most of a small business’s sales come from existing customers. This article from the SBA blog discusses seven ways to boost sales by encouraging customers to buy more or more frequently.

Reinvent retail with Internet-connected tools

Although some bricks-and-mortal retailers have flamed out, census data suggest that physical retail is thriving . The best retail businesses tap into customers’ increasing use of Internet-connected tools to search, shop, and buy.

For email newsletters, appearances matter

A well-designed email can have a big impact on the success of your marketing campaign. Get Convince and Convert’s guide to best practices for email design free. Entrepreneur has a different set of tips for a great-looking email newsletter. Between the two, you’re covered.

Straightforward guide to B2B lead generation

This four-point guide will help you find the right leads to pursue to keep from wasting resources on businesses that aren’t likely to convert to customers.

10 on-demand services to watch in 2016

Your customers want convenience. Check these 10 on-demand services to inspire ideas for how you can provide more convenience in your small business.

Music festivals are marketing opportunities

Just about one in 10 Americans attends a music festival each year, making such events a great place to connect with customers. Niche festivals offer opportunities to get your brand before the public—especially millennials—at relatively small cost. This article gives four ways to get noticed at a music festival.

Working  website has more than good design

Appealing aesthetics may get attention, but they aren’t enough to make visitors spend time on your site and come back again. This article suggests thinking of your home page as an online-dating profile for your business. This one ticks off a few essential website elements.

7 digital productivity tools

If you’re going to run a small business these days, you need to take advantage of digital tools that allow you to be  more efficient and productive.

Donations are opportunities. Donate strategically.

A small business gets hit up for donations right and left.  “It’s in your best interest to think about what you want from your charitable giving program and use it,  just like all of your other tools, to build your reputation and your brand.” Read the full article.

How to create a QR code for your business

In many situations, such as those print ads on diner placemats,  a QR code that can be scanned with a smart phone is more convenient for customers than typing a URL.  Here are easy directions for creating a QR code for a particular link. You’ll need a QR code app to test your code. If your smartphone doesn’t have one,  learn how to find, download and use an app for your device.


Press your advantage

Family businesses have 21st century advantage. Fine art sales increasing. More news and insights for rural SBOs to act on.

First steps to engage moms online

With 90% of moms online and 22% shopping online at least once a day, rural small businesses can’t afford not to engage with them. The trick to doing it well is to start by learning what topics are on their minds. Then see if your business has solutions to the problems they’re experiencing.

Family businesses have edge in 21st century

An article in Harvard Business Review says family businesses have the potential to out-adapt other types of businesses and thus to dominate the business world in this century.

Their value-oriented culture is the first reason for that prediction. Read all five reasons family businesses are the next big thing.

Taste NY bolsters access to local food products

Taste NY is partnering with distributor Baldor Specialty Foods to support local agribusinesses and farms. As part of the deal, Baldor’s Pledge Local will make it easier for chefs to secure local foods for their restaurants. Learn more.

Good news for artists, art dealers

One of the major changes in the fine arts industry is a big increase in online sales of one-of-a-kind art items. Prices are up, too. Social media is playing a big role in purchasing decisions. Read more and download the Hiscox Online Art Trade Report 2015.

S. Tier agriculture gets development money

The first two major projects awarded under the $5 million Southern Tier Agricultural Industry Enhancement program were recently announced. Broome County Cornell Cooperative Extension was awarded $500,000 for a one-stop Agriculture Development Center and a Taste NY Market in Broome County. Cornell University was awarded $627,055 for the Stocker Cattle Initiative to further training and research in the industry which raises weaned calves for others to “finish” by raising them to maturity.

Don’t celebrate April Fool’s Day

Just because it’s April 1 is no reason to be foolish about your business marketing. Click below for advice.

Facebook explains News Feed

Apparently many Facebook users are confused by the social media company’s News Feed. Facebook has an interactive explanation of News Feed and why the company has chosen to use it. Near the end of the explainer is information specifically targeted toward business users.

How to gather subscriber feedback

Subscribers to your email newsletter are one of your most important sources of feedback. Learn how to ask for subscriber feedback. The article shows survey forms from two popular tools.

How to create killer CTAs on social media

The key to creating Calls to Action that customers act upon is engaging those customers on social media beforehand. Good images can help. Learn other tips here.

How to recover from a website hack

If yours is one of the 25 percent of all websites that run on the WordPress.com content management system, use the directions in this article to undo the damage and get back in business quickly. Sometimes WordPress has hiccups that cause “the white screen of death.” This article gives tips on dealing with that WordPress problem.

Site owners should notify their customers immediately when a site is offline. Keep people in the loop. Use social media and email all your newsletter subscribers daily about your progress.

How to prevent a website hack

The article about recovering from a website hack includes useful information near the bottom of the page about how to keep from getting hacked.

A website that’s down a week has been down a century in web years. If bots visit your site when it’s unavailable, your site could be removed from the search engine’s index. Getting re-indexed can take months. Be sure you perform routine maintenance to keep your site safe. WhatArmy.com has a free website management checklist that can help.

See for free how visitors use your website

HotJar translates Google Analytics data into understandable, actionable  information. The site lets you use its service for two weeks free. If your website is at least a year old and not yet pulling at least 250 unique visitors a day, you certainly should take advantage of HotJar’s offer.