Archives for October 2014

Can Cats Help an Office Run with Less Stress? Roscoe and Bobo Say So.

National Cat Daycattop

Today is National Cat Day which was created to recognize the number of cats that need to be rescued each year. Two special rescue cats from the Cherokee County Animal Shelter live at The Barter Company’s Kennesaw office where they provide the staff companionship and love. A recent survey from Virginia Commonwealth University School of Business found that ”animals in the workplace buffer stress for workers and make the job more satisfying for those who come into contact with furry friends.”

Stephanie Tatum, travel and broker assistant at The Barter Company, would agree. ”Earlier this year when I broke my vertebrae, I could only work for a few hours a day. Roscoe and Bobo sensed that I was in a lot of pain and would always check on me and curl up on my desk. It was a comfort to me and helped me get through a tough time,” said Tatum.

National Cat Day was founded in 2005 by Pet and Family Lifestyle Expert and Animal Welfare Advocate Colleen Paige.

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Results from our 2014 Annual Benefit Golf Tournament for Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation

Thank you to everyone who came out to our 2014 Golf Benefit Tournament for the Pediatric Brain Tumor Foundation! This year we raised $5000 cash and $5000 trade!! Congratulations to our winners this year!
Click here to see all the wonderful photos from our event!
50/50 Putting Contest – Steve Huseby
50/50 Marshmallow Drive #1 – Steve Nelsen
50/50 Closest to the Pin #8 – Yannie Erasmus
Longest Drive #18 – Rhyll Brinsmead
Closest to the Pin #15 – Aric Wynkoop
2nd Place Group A – Ivy League Moving Services: Steve Miller, Steve Huseby, Cam Ryan, Judd Hughes
2nd Place Group B – Bestech, Inc.: David Nelsen, Steve Nelsen, Daniel Nelsen, Jeremy Nelsen
1st Place Group A – J&J Waterworks: Chad Harkins, Zak Lusk, Julian Jones & Terry Wright
1st Place Group B – Paul Ploener, Amir McRae, Dan Watkins & Wayne Kosbe
Hole-in-One on #15: Aric Wynkoop
Golf - announcements11 Golf - Aric Wins Hole-In-One Smile Golf - Awards 2 Golf - Barter Car Golf - Bestech Wins 2nd Golf - Brookfield2 Golf - carts Golf - Ivy League Golf - J&J Water Wins 1st Golf - Kevin and Pam3 Golf - Looking at Print 2 Golf - Natalie Golfing with Marshmallow3 Golf - Natalie Golfing2 Golf - Pam Speaks with Courtney 4 Golf - Paul Amir Dan Wayne Golf - PBTF Banner2 Golf - Print Prize Golf - PBTF with Chateau Elan2 Golf - Range2 Golf - Registration2 Golf - Rhyll Wins Longest Drive Golf - Steve Nelsen Marshmallow Drive Golf - Wayne & Amir Golf - Yannie Wins Closest to Pin Golf6 Golf - KSU Golf10
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Holiday Gift Buying Made Easy: Make Your Clients and Employees Feel Appreciated

gifts

The holidays are approaching quickly and that means it’s time to start thinking about gift ideas for your employees and clients! As a business owner, employee incentives and gifts, especially around the holidays, are a token of goodwill that can do wonders to improve employee morale and enthusiasm.  During prosperous years, some businesses give holiday cash bonuses or a type of profit sharing gesture that rewards employees for a productive year. During slower economic times, holiday gift giving and year-end bonuses are often not in the budget.

A great way to bonus your employees without spending any cash is to offer bonuses of barter! Client and vendor gifts are a great way to say thank you for your business relationships that you hope will continue to grow and barter gift cards are a wonderful way to do just that! The Barter Company offers gift cards in all increments to use at our annual Holiday Barter Show which will be on Saturday November 8th from 12-4 at the Cobb Galleria. Your employees can use our cards to purchase holiday items, electronics, restaurant certificates, high-end sunglasses, home decor, jewelry, art and much more!

To maximize employee satisfaction and lower your costs this holiday season,  join over 2,500 businesses giving the gift of barter! For more information, click here.

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Tips for Running Your Small Business on the Cheap

Most things in life aren’t free, but the Internet has made it pretty cheap for small business owners to run their office. From email to collaboration software, there’s a host of ways you can get your business up and running without paying a bundle.

“It’s really easy to go the free route when you’re small or just starting out,” says Mario Schulzke, founder of IdeaMensch, an online community designed to help people bring their ideas to life. “With increased growth, it’s oftentimes a good idea to up your technology investments as well. Most times smart tech investments pay for themselves.”

According to experts, before you start adopting free or low cost applications you have to figure out which parts of your business are mission critical and which aren’t. For instance Chuck Fried, president and chief executive of TxMQ an IT services company, says using free software for email or collaboration may make sense, but putting ALL of your customer data on a free customer relationship management app could spell disaster.

At TxMQ, Fried says they use a lot of Google apps for things like email and calendaring, but the company doesn’t only use just free. While he isn’t a fan of completely free, he does say there are a lot of low cost options available to small business owners because of the growth in cloud computing.

“The dangerous part for small business owners is if they run into some challenges and need to get a hold of somebody at say, Google, you basically can’t,” says Fried. “If you need something tweaked or changed you are stuck.”

So what should you spend money on and where should you cut corners? According to small business advocate and Small Business Engagement Officer at QuickBooks Leslie Barber, you should invest in services and technology that will enable you to know where you money is going at all times, as well as ensuring you are meeting all of your legal and regulatory requirements for the industry you are in.  Anything that is customer facing is also worth spending money on. The last thing you can afford, if you are an e-retailer, is a clunky or hard-to-use Website.

Other areas you want to invest in include a Web hosting company as well as an attorney, if you are just starting the business. “I usually tell people to get a really good hosting company from the very beginning, one that performs fast and can keep an eye on your security,” says Schulzke. “I used to go the cheap route on hosting, and it cost me dearly in IT and security consultants down the road.”

While you will have to make some investments, experts say there are still a ton of opportunities to run some parts of your business for free. It’s no secret that many small business owners are cash strapped and don’t have the money to launch a big marketing and advertising campaign. A great way to get the word out about your company and products or services without spending a dime is to embrace social media. There are countless stories of small businesses that blew up all because of their Facebook page, Twitter feed or YouTube video that went viral.

For basic computing needs you can also skimp and go with a free service. For instance, Google has a wide range of free products such as Google Drive, Google email and Google Docs, and they aren’t the only game in town.

Because of the plethora of free or low cost services available, it’s important to do your research before choosing a vendor. Fried says that’s where looking at online reviews, talking to people in your network and other small business owners comes in.

“It’s so easy these days to do the research,” says Fried. “Just be careful to ask a lot of tough questions and don’t assume you’ll get a certain level (of support).”

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Fall Marketing Strategy: Small Business Tips For The Holidays

Tick Tock. The holiday countdown clock is ticking!

Hear that? It’s the sound of large and small businesses starting to buzz with holiday advertising. For many small businesses, the months leading up to the holidays can be the “make or break” season for their year-end business goals. Why should you start planning now? Your competitors probably are! With advance planning and a well-thought out Fall marketing strategy you can position your business to ring in the holiday season with a minimum of stress and sleigh full of success.

How should Marketers best sync their holiday marketing strategy with their customers? Reach out to your customers, market your social channels, start early and stand out with e-mail messaging.

Reach Out To Your Customers

Begin with a thorough review of your holiday campaign from last year to determine what should be repeated, tweaked or avoided.

“Christmas In July” launches the holiday season for many big brands, why not “Christmas in September” for your small business. Promote a special one-day event with a “buy now get later” offer. Is a new product or service on your product horizon? Consider offering a sneak preview with a special coupon or gift certificate promotion.

Have a monthly email newsletter? Start your holiday messaging in September, or even August. Reach out to subscribers with a short holiday tease. Ask customers to make a “wish list,” preview holiday products, or order your holiday catalog. Pre-holiday email promotions work well for any business. If you’re in a service industry, promote upcoming holiday specials like holiday room reservations and parties.

Market Your Social Media Channels

With built-in followers on social media, use your channels to promote upcoming holiday specials.

Facebook

86% of US retailers were expected to use Facebook to market their holiday promotions in 2012. When should you start and what are some tips for effectively using Facebook to market your business?

  • Start your Facebook campaign early. Brands start pitching holiday promotions as early as September, followed by a heavy spike in mid-October. Mid-November sees campaigns take a dip in participation, but activity spikes again from the end of November through December.
  • Space out and build your holiday campaign to align with your best post days and times.
  • Offer exclusive holiday discounts or insider sales for your followers.
  • Announce upcoming specials and offers; add eye-catching images along with your status.
  • Ask your customers to post a review and analyze their engagement and interaction to your product or service.
  • Walmart announced in August they would be accelerating their popular Facebook lay-away plan, early. I can only guess that this announcement will trigger other large brands to accelerate their holiday promotions on Facebook. Stay in tune with what large brands with local storefronts are doing on social media and make adjustments to your holiday schedule if appropriate.
  • Pay attention to Facebook’s new promotion guidelines released August 27, 2013!

Twitter

  • Host tweet chats for target market areas. Use a tag to invite your local followers to tweet parties and discuss gift ideas with your target audience.
  • Tweet using a unique hashtag like #holidaydeals, #holidaysavings, #blackfriday, #cybermonday. Use geographic tags popular to your area to target your local customers.
  • Tweet special incentives or one day offers leading up to the holidays.
  • Tweet with images like your store’s holiday decor, products, or customers and employees enjoying an in-store event; draw attention to your brand’s story. Post to Instagram.
  • Create a holiday greeting or product video on YouTube or Vine and upload to your business account.
  • Pay attention to Twitter’s promotion guidelines!

Pinterest

  • Set up trending holiday boards with featured products; don’t forget to add prices.
  • Pinterest has new contest guidelines. If you host a holiday contest, make sure that your contest rules are clearly posted on your board or profile and that you follow the updated Pinterest Brand Guidelines. Pinterest wants people to pin based on inspiration and creativity.

Start Early.  Stand Out With E-Mail!

According to Responsys, a market leader in email and cross-channel marketing analysis, the first mention of Christmas in holiday messages is July. Retailers send the majority of their Christmas-themed emails after Dec. 2.

  • Draft compelling content for your email newsletters; strategically create subject lines with captivating “calls to action” so your email stands out amidst the deluge of the competitions. Personalize the subject line with the subscriber’s name.
  • Start getting holiday graphics ready.
  • Create a mailing schedule. Get your holiday emails going early with a slow buildup.
  • Review your email list from last year and curate your contact lists for this season.
  • Begin sending holiday messages in September. Add banners and boxes to your non-holiday email messages.

Tick Tock! The holiday countdown clock is ticking. It’s time to wrap up your planning and start implementing your holiday marketing strategy. Have you started reaching out to your customers with soft holiday advertising? What are some of your holiday marketing tips?

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