Saturday, May 26, 2018

This Virtual Event Could Boost Your Business’s Growth and Success — and It’s Free!

If you’re seeking tips and tricks for business growth, marketing, management and more, Growth & Success Con 2018 may be the event for learning how to build a new or existing business for success.

Best of all, you’ll be able to participate in this virtual event now matter where you are — for free! Growth & Success Con 2018 takes place September 17-18, 2018. And with a good internet connection you won’t have to take a train, plane or automobile to get the full benefit.

The curated collection of speakers will be addressing a range of topics, strategies, tactics and mindsets to give entrepreneurs insights into how to grow their business long after 2018. Learn more below:


Free Virtual Conference

Featured Events, Contests and Awards

TECHSPO Houston 2018TECHSPO Houston 2018
June 06, 2018, Houston, Texas

TECHSPO Houston 2018 is a 2-day technology expo which takes place JUNE 6 – 7, 2018 at the luxurious Houston Marriott Eaton Centre Hotel in Houston, Ontario. TECHSPO Houston brings together developers, brands, marketers, technology providers, designers, innovators and evangelists looking to set the pace in our advanced world of technology. TECHSPO Houston 2018 promises to be better than ever and we’re excited to see all the amazing tech companies and talent that will join us. Register today!

Growth & Success ConGrowth & Success Con
September 17, 2018, Online

This small business virtual conference is dedicated to supporting entrepreneurs at all stages who are stuck in the daily grind of building their businesses and struggle to get solid advice and guidance. An amazing panel of experts in various disciplines and business coaches will share tips & tricks on topics including Growth, Marketing, Management & Business Building for Success. Register today!

More Events

More Contests

This weekly listing of small business events, contests and awards is provided as a community service by Small Business Trends.

You can see a full list of events, contest and award listings or post your own events by visiting the Small Business Events Calendar.

Image: Shutterstock

This article, "This Virtual Event Could Boost Your Business’s Growth and Success — and It’s Free!" was first published on Small Business Trends

This Virtual Event Could Boost Your Business’s Growth and Success — and It’s Free!

10 Awesome Tips About Small Business Resources

No matter how great an entrepreneur you are, you can’t build a successful business completely on your own. Even if you are a solopreneur, there are plenty of resources out there that can provide guidance, tips and a helping hand along the way. Here are some of the most helpful resources suggested by members of the online small business community. Give them a try.

Check Out This Guide to Online Video Advertising

The video advertising landscape is changing. So if you want to make use of this tactic in 2018, you need to make sure you have the most updated tips and information at your disposal. This guide from Matteo Gasparello of Strategico features some helpful content for video advertisers.

Boost Your Brain for Business with Free Online Classes

Building a business requires constant learning. And continuing your education doesn’t need to be costly. In this post, Susan Solovic lists some new free online classes you can use to boost your brain and learn about valuable resources and methods to help grow a successful business.

Create Success Habits with Inspiration from These Books

If you need a jolt of inspiration to create a successful business or build positive habits, there are plenty of books out there that could help. If you’re looking to add to your reading list, Jeff Bullas offers some suggestions in a recent post. You can also see commentary from the BizSugar community.

Learn to Use These Powerful New Instagram Features

Social media platforms can provide plenty of helpful resources and opportunities for small businesses, without requiring a huge investment. Instagram recently added some new features that could be beneficial. Check out a recent post by Jamie Frayer for more information.

Use Facebook Group Units to Organize Your Content

Facebook also offers plenty of helpful resources for businesses looking to reach new customers and connect with current ones. Facebook groups in particular can help you organize your content in a way that’s most effective. Meg Brunson shares some tips in a recent Social Media Examiner post.

Consider What Color Says About Your Brand

The most powerful resources for growing your business can sometimes be more abstract concepts. Color, for example, can evoke emotions and specific responses from potential customers. Learn more in a recent CrowdSpring post by Amanda Bowman.

Play the Content Long Game

You already know that content marketing can be a powerful strategy for growing a business. However, some entrepreneurs tend to get impatient with the results. Rachel Strella of Strella Social Media explains why the content long game can be so beneficial. And BizSugar members comment on the post as well.

Optimize Your Site with These WordPress SEO Plugins

To improve your website and make it easier for potential customers to find you online, SEO plugins can be a major help. There are plenty of these resources available. Jon Clark offers a list of some of the top options in a recent Search Engine Journal post.

Learn About Google Local Service Ads

Another major resource for improving the likelihood of your business getting found by local customers is through Google Directly. In a recent BrightLocal post, Tom Waddington provides a full explanation of what these ads offer and why businesses should look into them.

Consider Utilizing the Help of an Accountant for Business Formation

If you’re just getting started with forming your business, an accountant can be a potentially valuable resource. There are a variety of duties a person in this role can perform, depending on your business type. Rieva Lesonsky elaborates in a recent post on the CorpNet blog.

If you’d like to suggest your favorite small business content to be considered for an upcoming community roundup, please send your news tips to:

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "10 Awesome Tips About Small Business Resources" was first published on Small Business Trends

10 Awesome Tips About Small Business Resources

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Could Be Your Business’s Ultimate Collaboration Tool

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 May Be the Ultimate Collaboration Tool

The new Microsoft Surface Hub 2 clearly seeks to define itself as a collaboration tool. Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) aimed at businesses in need of such tools in its announcement unveiling the new device. So small business owners must now consider whether the functionality of the latest addition to the Surface series makes it a good investment.

Microsoft Surface Hub 2

The best way to describe the Hub 2 is to call it a modular 4K+ 50.5” multi-touch display tablet smartphone hybrid you can put together with different configurations.

The question remains whether small businesses can afford it — and whether better options may exist when it is finally available in 2019. For certain segments, the benefits the Hub 2 provides will definitely be worth the investment, because it resolves many of the complexities associated with collaborative and conferencing hardware, software and infrastructure.

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 May Be the Ultimate Collaboration Tool

Resolving these complexities becomes essential as the way small businesses work continues to evolve. In a post on Microsoft’s official Windows Blogs announcing the Hub 2, Panos Panay, Chief Product Officer at Microsoft, points out just where this evolution is headed.

Panay writes, “It’s not just that how we work is changing, it’s that where we work is changing too. The environment around us is shifting — towards open offices, huddle rooms, and team workspaces — in fact, in three years, half the global workforce will be mobile.”

Who Will Benefit from the Surface Hub 2?

The Surface Hub 2 provides a potential tool for any business seeking to bring its team together in the most efficient way possible by helping members collaborate with less effort.

According to Microsoft, the new device was designed from the ground up to be used by teams. The 50.5″ display seems  suited for Microsoft Teams, Microsoft Whiteboard, Office 365 and Windows 10.

With the addition of the 4K cameras, which rotate with the device, integrated speakers, and far-field mic arrays, entire teams can fully participate in the conferences and collaborations taking place.

The Surface Hub 2 is also modular, so you can use a single device with rolling stands to take it anywhere, or add up to four screens for a feature Microsoft calls Tiling. By Tiling each monitor together into one large unit, users can simultaneously display Microsoft Whiteboard, PowerBI, PowerPoint, a full view video call and another type of content.

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 May Be the Ultimate Collaboration Tool


Microsoft is going to test Surface Hub 2 in 2018 with select commercial customers, making it available for purchase sometime in 2019.

Images: Microsoft

This article, "Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Could Be Your Business’s Ultimate Collaboration Tool" was first published on Small Business Trends

Microsoft Surface Hub 2 Could Be Your Business’s Ultimate Collaboration Tool

Hacking Marketing Teaches How Adopting the Right Software Can Grow Your Customer Base

Hacking Marketing Book ReviewTo say marketing has changed in the last few years is an understatement. Software drives not only marketing innovation but business innovation as well.   There are plenty of books and articles that offer an overview of the rise of software in business operations. But few authors have done as great a job at explaining how to leverage technology for marketing than Scott Brinker.

His book Hacking Marketing, Agile Practices to Make Marketing Smarter, Faster and More Innovative, explores the right ideas in managing MarTech.

Brinker is editor and chief at Marketing Technologist Blog where he covers MarTech related news and trends. He is also the program chair of the MarTech Conference, and co-founder and CEO of Iron Interactive, a marketing software company that counts Dell, Dun & Bradstreet and General Mills among its clientele.

What Is Hacking Marketing About?

Hacking Marketing advances a philosophy focused on how to manage software development that impacts your product or brand.  It’s not a workbook, as Brinker states.  He offers a unique perspective to help small business owners do it themselves and manage apps, chatbots and websites in a more cohesive manner.

Brinker spends the opening chapters laying out how software development protocol became part of the marketing landscape. Here’s an example of why marketing automation is important and how software development has infused into every bit of marketing.

“For many years, marketers mostly concerned themselves with only the design of their company’s website — the way individual pages looked — and the content inserted into pages, primarily static text, photographs and illustrations. But websites today are often much more sophisticated. They include functionality to let customers place orders, make custom service requests, and check on the status of their accounts.”

The next chapters outline Brinker’s thought process about how marketing relates to technology.  He explains how marketing automation is programming, and diagrams approaches for how teams should manage information and resources with agile marketing and scrum tactics in mind.  

He also notes examples of leadership concerns related to current technological practices.

What I Liked About Hacking Marketing

What I liked about Hacking Marketing is that Brinker simplifies each chapter topic so the reader understands how technological processes aid their operations.  This helps to make the text — with its focus on agile marketing and the rise of software’s role in business strategy —  less jargon-oriented, while still explaining essential terms that a marketer would see and hear from developer teams.   

As a result, Brinker outlines the takeaways most important to his readers. In Chapter 11, for example, he stresses the importance of building a business website in increments.

“When launching a website, you might want to build the initial version — your first increment — with a modest amount of content … In subsequent increments, you would then add more content, more sections, more advanced features, and so on.”

Many of the tips are based on agile management. And Brinker wisely outlines pros and cons of each to help business leaders the benefits of each for their own situations.

Brinker also talks about trends related to the rise of software development in marketing.  Take interactive content — media meant specifically to encourage audience participation — for example.

“Research has shown the interactive content is more effective than passive content at differentiating a company’s marketing, educating prospects, and converting them into leads and customers … It pulls participants into a more immersive kind of storytelling around a brand.”

I also liked Brinker’s presentation of the text as a workbook, not a guide.  He rightly realizes how implementation of many marketing approaches will vary for each business.  Thus readers will walk away with meaningful content rather than cherry-picked tech ideas.

What Could Have Been Done Differently?

I really liked the book as a whole, so it’s difficult to nitpick, or to wish for something different.  If I had to suggest anyplace where the book could use further development, it might be where Brinker discusses difficulties in assigning roles. But the book is a solid read for savvy business owners seeking to develop their work teams into something truly special.

Why Read Hacking Marketing?

Every business feels the pressure to adopt software in their operations, but many struggle with how and where to best incorporate it. Marketing certainly stands out.

Brinker discusses hacks to help managers re-imagine software development within business.  With Hacking Marketing, Brinker shows how best to build the right processes quickly — a perspective marketers should consider when establishing a business model.

This article, "Hacking Marketing Teaches How Adopting the Right Software Can Grow Your Customer Base" was first published on Small Business Trends

Hacking Marketing Teaches How Adopting the Right Software Can Grow Your Customer Base

Friday, May 25, 2018

Anand Thaker of IntelliPhi: Adobe Acquisition of Magento Reinforces Importance of Martech to Digital Transformation

The 2018 Marketing Technology (Martech) Landscape Supergraphic was released last month. And just like last year, we caught up with Anand Thaker, who led the data research for this year’s landscape through his company, IntelliPhi.

Anand shares with us some of his takeaways from this year’s landscape, including certain categories which went away, and why some were added. And with the big news of the week being Adobe’s acquisition of ecommerce platform Magento, we had to ask him what that means for the whole marketing technology category. And does this mean that HubSpot should go after Shopify.

Below is an edited transcript of our conversation. We go into much more detail in the video, so if you’re interested in learning more about what’s driving martech, check it out below — or click on the embedded SoundCloud player.

* * * * *

Marketing Technology Landscape 2018 - The Importance of Martech to Digital Transformation Small Business Trends: Tell us about this year’s landscape.

Anand Thaker: We started off with 37,000 companies that got harvested so, just because you have the data, doesn’t mean you really, really have the knowledge, or the intel. So you really do have to work at it. We did that. The final tally this year was 6,829.

We removed predictive analytics [as a category] all together and we found that the 70%, 70 plus companies that were in there were already found in other parts of the landscape, being applied in some specific need or problem that marketers were being solved. Same reason we didn’t include AI as a category either. That was a lot of questions we got, a lot of complaints that how come you don’t have AI in there. Well, you don’t just use AI for the sake of using AI. It’s being applied.

Small Business Trends: It’s a foundational piece.

Anand Thaker: It’s a capability. It’s a feature. It is … Maybe it’s a major part of it. But, it’s not something you necessarily need to call out.

Small Business Trends: Right.

Anand Thaker: Another thing that came up too, of course with all the privacy matters that have been going around, we have a new category on privacy/data governance that was included. And two dozen companies are immersed in there. That was certainly a new thing. And then we evolved one category from just simply chat and surveys or feedback, moved all of it into customer experience, because that’s really a core component of customer experience, customer success.

Then, the chat component we expanded into chat-bots and live chat. So, this conversational, which is going to be intriguing — the real time nature of that conversation is going to give us both an interesting deep, qualitative and quantitative aspect and understanding of our customers now. And that’s going to be a new flavor of information we never had before.

And it’s now including the aspect of time into the mix, right? At that time, this customer from Amazon was really upset, and they got onto chat and all of a sudden they gave a five star rating at the end, or a happy face you know, at the end of that chat session. Right? That’s an interesting measure of success.

The biggest other piece that came out of the landscape, or the MarTech conference, that we found was this crossed collaboration of the organization. So, if we see that consumers are demanding more on an iterative basis, companies are having to keep pace to be … to stay differentiated. But, also to stay relevant. In order to do that, more companies — enterprise or small businesses — are breaking down the silos between departments.

We have sales as a category. We have customer success as a category. Because while all of those functions may have departments assigned to them, and they all have respective customer touch-points — being able to understand how to connect that journey which clearly has been very disconnected for a great deal of time — connecting that across the board, marketing still seems to be or will be very responsible or have visibility in the experiential part of that across the board. If something goes wrong in legal, guess what? Marketing’s going to be one to have to handle that. Right?

With privacy, guess what? We’ve got legal and marketing now having to work together. Operations and marketing are working together. Finance and marketing work together.

Small Business Trends: Yeah.

Anand Thaker: But, Brent, how have you seen like a lot of this empathy translate into organizations changing or having to change to meet that demand or perhaps become more connected with the consumers they’ve … may have lost ground with.

Small Business Trends: I think the thing that we hear a lot about digital disruption and digital transformation and kind of the things that move, make things move. Customer adoption is the most disruptive thing out there and it’s the thing that should be at the center of your digital transformation, because as you said, customers are smarter than they every have been. They have more tools at their disposal. They’re demanding that you not only value them for their money, but you value them for their smarts.

Anand Thaker: Absolutely.

Small Business Trends: But one of the more interesting things just happened earlier this week, one of the biggest martech companies of course is Adobe.

Anand Thaker: Right.

Small Business Trends: And what they did with their $1.6 billion announced acquisition of Magento, is basically we’re saying commerce and martech have to be closer together. And this didn’t start with them. This is kind of their answer because Salesforce bought Demandware and CloudCraze, SAP bought Hybris and even well before that, Oracle bought ATG.

Anand Thaker: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Small Business Trends: As a MarTech expert, what is the importance of this announcement and what does that do to the MarTech landscape overall?

Anand Thaker: I think this is just another add for Adobe who actually in my opinion has been intelligently putting a lot of these things together very silently so, I mean, yes, there’s your traditional press releases, but I have a feeling they’re going to pop this rabbit out of their hat that’s going to be incredible.

We were talking about value at another conversation of ours. You know, they’re adding value of why you would want to need to stick to the Adobe brand. This Magento acquisition, you know, it’s the defacto angle for people to be able to set up ecommerce as you grow out of your say, marketplace version of your store. So, we’re trying to meet the needs of going longer tail into the small business as well, since we’re talking about how much of this new economy is going to be more gig economy to something greater. They want to stay ahead of that and I think that’s one aspect of it. I think all the other companies find that ecommerce and MarTech, or customer data and ecommerce, are extremely powerful together.

Small Business Trends: The theoretical thing you would think is now that they have the Magento-, well it’s not official, but when it’s all totally done. They can put the data that says, all right, not only all this great analytics, but now we know specifically these are the transactions that got closed. We don’t have to go outside now to piece it together. Now we have the actual transaction that we can tie back to. All the efforts you did on your marketing and even on your sales, all of that. So, having it all together, having all the data now makes it even more powerful in addition to giving the people the platform to put it all together. Now, the data’s going to be able to tell you, oh yeah, this stuff really did work.

Anand Thaker: Oh yeah.

Small Business Trends: What if HubSpot bought Shopify? How would that affect things?

Anand Thaker: Makes sense. I don’t want to … there’s no need to really divulge it. I mean, it sounds like a great combination if they ended up doing that. I mean, Shopify has a great, strong community again. The way they operate if you’ve ever been a Shopify customer, they literally are working to help you build your business because they recognize that that would be very beneficial to them. Same MO with HubSpot.

Small Business Trends: I think somebody’s going to have to buy Shopify. I mean, literally. If you want to remain a player at the level of some of the companies that we talked about, I mean I think Shopify, HubSpot is a really great fit because I think there’s a lot of commonality in their customer base. In addition to like I said, some of their philosophies. But it may make even more sense to a company that’s competing with HubSpot to buy Shopify just for that fact.

Anand Thaker: Does Shopify even want to be bought? Right?

Small Business Trends: That’s true too.

Anand Thaker: I still see this trend of, if we’re talking about AI taking over jobs, not all jobs but certainly a lot of the tedious jobs. Certainly going to a gig economy because people don’t work at companies for 30 years. Those baby boomers, right? Gen X’ers, we’re figuring, we’re in the middle of all that right? And then, if that’s all happening, people are going to be starting their own businesses. They’re going to be finding alternate sources of revenue. Shopify is squarely in a great position.

Small Business Trends: There’s like the last man standing at this point.

Anand Thaker: Right.

This article, "Anand Thaker of IntelliPhi: Adobe Acquisition of Magento Reinforces Importance of Martech to Digital Transformation" was first published on Small Business Trends

Anand Thaker of IntelliPhi: Adobe Acquisition of Magento Reinforces Importance of Martech to Digital Transformation

Amazon Chime Helps Small Businesses with Web Meetings and Chats

Amazon Chime Web Application for Meetings and Chat Debuts

You can now connect to more devices with Amazon Chime by using the new web application to carry out your meetings and chats.

Amazon Chime Web Application

As long as you have a browser supported device, Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) says you can start communicating, even on Linux or ChromeOS platforms, without downloading or installing a client application. And the new feature comes with a pricing model familiar to users of Amazon services — pay-as-you-go.

With more small businesses using video and chat features to talk to their customers, vendors and freelance workers across the world, the pay-as-you-go pricing structure may be a helpful option. And best of all, you are only charged $3 per-day on days you host a meeting, with a cap of $15 for the whole month.

Jeff Barr, Chief Evangelist for Amazon Web Services, writes on the official AWS blog how the decision for the pay-as-you-go pricing model was based on customer feedback. Barr also writes, “Based on historical usage patterns, this will result in an overall price reduction for virtually all Amazon Chime customers.”

The New Web Application

If you want to use Chime on your browser, you go to the web application or click on the link you have been provided to join a meeting.  You don’t need an Amazon Chime account to join a meeting but registered Amazon Chime users can access more features. These include group chats, ad-hoc calls, meeting scheduling, meeting host controls and more. These users can also get notifications to join scheduled meetings with the auto-call feature.

What is Amazon Chime?

Amazon Chime was launched in February 2017 as a real-time unified communications solution which delivers video conferencing, online meetings, calls, and chat through an application in sync across all of your devices.

As Chime continues to sync chats and meetings, users can join on their Android, iOS, Mac and Windows devices while being able to switch between them also.

Flexibility, scalability, low price and the fact no infrastructure is required are all factors making the app popular with users across all budgets.

You can try Amazon Chime free for 30 days with access to all of the features. When the trial period is over, you can still continue to chat and attend meetings at no charge. However, when hosting meetings there will be a charge of $3 per day and a maximum of $15 per month.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "Amazon Chime Helps Small Businesses with Web Meetings and Chats" was first published on Small Business Trends

Amazon Chime Helps Small Businesses with Web Meetings and Chats

U.S. Department of Defense Must Work Harder to Include Small Business Contractors, Audit Says

Defense Contracts for Small Businesses too Few

An audit of two Army Contracting Command centers in Redstone, Alabama and Warren, Michigan, revealed The Department of Defense (DOD) must increase its efforts in order to meet small business subcontracting goals.

The DOD Inspector General Audit was carried out in three different branches. One audit was performed on the Army, and two each on the Marine Corps and the Air Force. According to the audit, small businesses may have lost opportunities because protocols were not followed which could have encouraged more small businesses to be part of the federal marketplace.

Defense Contracts for Small Businesses

Small businesses have been specifically included in the federal contract bidding process to both support and encourage growth in communities across the country. Head of the House Small Business Committee U.S. Rep. Sam Graves (R-Missouri) announced in Nov. 2017 his desire to raise the federal government’s contracting goal for small businesses to 25 percent, a two percent increase from the current 23 percent target for contracts to be awarded to small businesses today.

The drive to increase the rate comes after the fed actually did manage to hit its contracting goals for 2017.

In a press release addressing the results of the audit and moving forward, Rep. Stephanie Murphy (D-Florida), Ranking Member of the Contracting and Workforce Subcommittee, said, “The federal procurement process can be a powerful tool for stimulating growth and helping small businesses succeed.  On the Small Business Committee, I’ll continue working to ensure more entrepreneurs can access the federal marketplace and win their fair share of federal work, whether that’s working directly with the U.S. government or as a subcontractor for a larger firm.”

Findings of the Audit

But this year, the Inspector General’s audit reported two Army Contracting Command centers failed to observe the subcontracting plans developed to insure the inclusion of small businesses. Under these plans, prime contractors must make a good-faith effort to ensure they provide small businesses with opportunities for participating in federal contract projects.

The Inspector General found close to half of the contracts it examined failed to meet these requirements, a total of 23 contracts valued at around $915 million.

The two locations awarded six contracts worth $330.7 million without a subcontracting plan in place — or where no subcontracting possibilities existed without a contracting officer’s consent. Another contract valued at $480.3 million didn’t have a monitoring system in place to keep track of a prime contractors’ compliance with subcontracting plans for 11 contracts.

Finally, in the case of six other contracts valued at $103.7 million, small business subcontracting goals were not met and subcontractor goals were misreported.

Photo via Shutterstock

This article, "U.S. Department of Defense Must Work Harder to Include Small Business Contractors, Audit Says" was first published on Small Business Trends

U.S. Department of Defense Must Work Harder to Include Small Business Contractors, Audit Says