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New Year—New Opportunity to Make Your Data Work for You

New Year New DataHappy New Year! Is this the year you want to make a million? It is all about numbers.


Sound confusing? Don’t worry. In the next couple of blogs, we’ll talk about what numbers and Big Data mean, and get you on the road to a more profitable 2016.


If we haven’t met, I am an entrepreneur and business growth authority who built several successful businesses. Now I consult and run business groups to help other small business owners learn how to work smarter—not harder.


The beginning of a new year is a great time to take stock of what works—and what does not work—for your business. It is not a good time to throw money at whatever marketing method catches your eye. As I talked about before, shiny object syndrome can cost a lot of money, without offering much in return—especially when you are determined to make a change in your business.


What am I talking about? Let me tell you about the most common ways people lose money trying to find new clients or customers:


  • Print ads and expensive brochures: Think a general print ad is going to help you gain more business? It might, but it probably won’t unless you know your message, and are delivering that message to folks who are interested in what you have to sell. The days of large runs of expensive printed brochures are done. Order less and develop your website.
  • Online advertising: A specialty by itself, Facebook and other online ads may not pay off. Ad blocking is popular. Unless you have the numbers at the end of the day to show the campaign was effective, you are pouring money into the street.
  • Fly-by-night marketing help: So you know you need to brand, or rebrand, your business. Or, you are painfully aware that you need to kick-start your marketing capabilities. You meet someone, who knows someone, and can help you with a boilerplate marketing kit. It fails, and you are out the $5 or $10K you really needed to identify, attract, and cultivate new leads.


You don’t get the customers because you threw your marketing budget at the crowd. There are at least two ways to make money. One is putting the right plan in place to ensure your service or product is continually reaching new potential leads. The other is making smarter use of the money already present, or already being spent to run your business.


We’ll talk about getting new leads first.


How does data get the customers you need?


A lot of entrepreneurs recoil at the word “data.” What is it? It is knowledge. Knowledge of who might buy your product or service, and what they will pay for it. It is knowledge of the economics and geography of where you are trying to do business—whether it is local, or on the web. It is knowledge that gives you the edge as you cultivate a lead into a converted, long-term client. You need data.


Data-driven organizations make more money, because they have the knowledge of where to place their confidence—and their marketing budget—to generate business. There are a couple of different kinds of data, including:


  • First-party data: First party data is gold. This is free information you own and control that results from your own efforts to capture contact, demographic, and other information about your clients, and customers. When a customer engages your services, it is routine to collect that information within the parameters of the privacy policy of your business, or website.


  • Second-party data: Much lesser known, second-party data is likely to become a marketing powerhouse in the next couple of years. As small business owners get smarter about cultivating their first-party data, and run into privacy and quality issues with third-party data, entrepreneurs are turning to second-party data.


What is it? Second-party data is just the first-party data of someone else. When you share your first-party data with a unique business partner, you gain access to information that can help you refine your customer profile and better target offers your customers receive online, or via mobile. Since you are sharing, there is no cost to obtain the information. For example, you might share, within the limits of your privacy policy, information with a nearby retailer who serves your desired customers. By sharing high-quality information, you, and your partner, develop a valuable marketing cross-channel that is better than what either of you had alone.


  • Third-party data: Gained from behavioral, statistical, and other types of modeling, third-party data is aggregate information from a number of sources. Sometimes expensive, sometimes cheap, there is plenty of third-party data to be found. While the seller may guarantee the data suits your audience segment—the information may no longer be fresh, or accurate.


You also need a way to manage and cultivate your data. You can use any of a number of customer relationship management (CRM) systems. I have a lot of success with Infusionsoft.


When you want to put the right plan in place, or develop better marketing and business process—call me at (585) 633-7563, or check out one of my groups. Starting this year, my goal is to make you a millionaire.


Yours in profit,


Bob Britton

Turn the Tables on Negative Internet Comments

Turn the Tableson NegativeInternet CommentsWhen is a negative internet comment not such a bad thing? The answer—when you use it to your advantage.


I talked before about the importance of reputation management. For the small business owner, the word on the internet can make or break your business. You have to be on top of it. That means vigilance. While there are a number of tools to help you track comments made about your business or brand, Google Alerts is easy and free. If you are not using it—you should.


Let’s say you do all the right things. You are using CRM software, you have a great business plan, and a tight storefront with well-trained, engaged employees. Super. Things will never go wrong—right?


That is incorrect. No matter how well you run your business, there are going to be mistakes, a customer or client is going to get left out in the cold—and they are going to complain. Trust me. As an experienced small business owner, I know the pain of mistakes that just should not have been made.


Sometimes, though, there was no mistake. You just have an unhappy client, or someone trying to stir up trouble for your business. Does it happen? A lot.


Take advantage of a poor review


We already know that online reviews are important. People believe what they read, often without considering the credibility of the reviewer, or the circumstances behind a complaint. So let’s take a look at how to turn a profit on a bad situation:


  • First rule? Do not ignore a complaint: Squeaky wheels get grease and a lot of play on the internet. Ignoring a problem, and hoping it goes away, is a fast way to lose money and hurt your reputation. Remember—people do not often question the credibility of someone who complains. So why respond to people who don’t have anything nice to say? Because you can use the exposure.


  • Free publicity is not a bad thing—especially if it gives you a chance to look good. So look good. Because you are monitoring your online reputation, you know right away about the problem. Gather as much information as you can, but intervene quickly on social media. Respond to your accuser by owning the problem—and ask for more information. Do not create a reason for the error—just own it. “I understand you are unhappy about how you were treated, and I want to make that right.” Step up to the problem—absolutely, and quickly.


  • Do not delete: Deleting a comment is possibly worse than ignoring it. It shows you saw it and are not taking action to address the problem.



  • With bigger or business process problems, you are probably getting more than one complaint, and word spreads fast. Post a note on your website, or via social media, or tell customers you are aware of the problem and working to resolve it. After you have corrected the problem, take the opportunity to briefly discuss the problem, but take more time to talk about how you fixed it. Make it a case study in how to do things right. Add an apology and a discount, coupon, or other perk, to help your customers feel like they were part of the solution—instead of the problem.


  • What if someone is targeting your site, or establishment, on social media? Your best defense is an honest response. If your attempts to resolve the problem or the complaint are rebuffed, use social media to show all you do for your clients. Restate the complaint you received, mention what you did in response, and how you offered to resolve their difficulty. The people you want as customers or clients will see and consider your response. They will also see the complainer as unreasonable if you did your best to respond in good faith.


You cannot please all of the people all of the time. But when you treat people who complain with respect, courtesy, and generosity, they usually respond in kind.


After you resolve the situation, take advantage of the feedback to take a hard look at what you could do to avoid a similar complaint or mistake. Complaints are just outside interests helping you troubleshoot your own business—take advantage of the information, and the opportunity.


As a small business owner, I know how to turn the tables on hard times to help you earn your first million. Get a super start on the New Year by attending one of my free webinars, or give me a call at 585-633-7563 today.


Yours in profit,


Bob Britton

Retaining Great Talent in a Tough Job Market

Retaining Great Talent in a Tough Job MarketAs a small business owner, your employees provide the winning edge in a competitive economy. How do you hold on to talent that could be looking elsewhere?


For more than five years, the job market has undergone change. Severe contraction during the Great Recession threw a lot of people out of work, and many small business owners had a tough time staying afloat. Entrepreneurs that did hire enjoyed a deep talent pool available at rock bottom prices.


Today? Not so much.


As the economic engine heats up, more jobs are created and labor markets are tighter. Early in 2015, small business owners stoked a five-month trend of job creation, snapping up talent, and struggling to hold on to key employees who drive their profits.


By November, that trend slowed, but a National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) survey reports more than 55 percent of small business owners are still trying to hire for positions where there are few, or no, qualified applicants.


With the shoe on the other foot, small business owners have to find new ways to hold on to employees who could be at risk of being hired away.


I talked earlier about why it is important to keep your employees engaged. Now we’ll talk about ways to do it.


Seven tips to keep valuable small business employees on board


So how do you keep your best employees working for you—and not your competitor?


Engagement is a great but overused word. You put time, energy, and money into training the people you hire. Depending on your business, that could mean specialized training, an emphasis on service skills—or whatever combination keeps your business humming.


It used to be easier to hire and keep good talent. Switching jobs every two years, or even every year, looked bad on a resume. Today, steadily switching out one job for the next is a routine way to gain benefits, better working conditions, and higher income. For talented employees—it works.


Many small business owners operate on a tough edge—just balancing revenue and payroll. As I work with my clients to increase their revenue, we look at the whole equation. My goal is to create wealth for my clients—in the million dollar range. While most entrepreneurs believe exhaustion and slim profit margins eventually lead to success—I can tell you, working harder will not make you wealthy. Working smarter does.


Because your workforce is critical to your success—it pays to retain key personnel. Let’s take a look at some positive steps to safeguard your investment in your employees—and your business:


  1. Hire wisely: Set the stage for success with your employees during the hiring stage. Know your hiring plan, what you need—and what you have to offer. Because small businesses have fewer employers, a bad hire could significantly affect productivity and morale. Get it right from the start.
  2. Engage: Okay—get involved. Once hired, connect with your new hire via email, or phone call. Let them know you are looking forward to their skills and help. Plan for onboarding. Include necessary documents, a tour of your business, a chance to meet co-workers, and a general warm welcome.
  3. Communication and culture: Communicate your work ethic to your employees. Be as transparent as possible with news, developments, and company direction. Foster employee involvement in creating and supporting a company culture of service and concern. Participate in a community volunteer effort as a group. Encourage individual or anonymous feedback on a regular basis to learn about problem issues before you lose an employee.
  4. Compete: Think about the key personnel in your company. Now think about what would happen if they gave notice tomorrow. If you cannot increase salary, think about incentives like:


  1. Improve benefits
  2. Offer flexible work schedules
  3. Discuss career paths
  4. Offer training
  5. Create incentive programs
  6. Sponsor an attractive annual dinner, party, or even a trip or cruise with co-workers
  7. Offer something of value to employees that fires up their enthusiasm for working for you


  1. Treat employees honestly: Be a good employer. Create an environment everyone wants to work in. You may be the boss, but you are drawing a paycheck, too—help employees buy-in to the success of the company for the benefit of all.
  2. Appreciate: Congratulate employees for work well done. Recognize critical work performed by individuals and teams. Your employees offer greater value to your customers when they feel they have intrinsic value in their workplace.


Hire the right people, and create a winning workplace. Inevitably, even highly engaged employees move on for their own reasons. Just don’t lose them for reasons you could address.

When you are ready to bring in more profit, I hope you will call me at 585-633-7563. Make 2016 the year that you break out and earn more by working smarter instead of harder. I can help.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton

Change in the Weather —What Does it Mean to your Business?

Change in the Weather—What Does it Mean to your Business_A change in the weather could cause a change in business climate. Is your small business prepared?


People joke about the weather all the time. Wait a few minutes, it will change. This year, El Nino is giving more people reason to talk about the weather. Basically, El Nino, which means Little Boy, is the name that describes a warming of ocean currents in the equatorial Pacific Ocean. It lasts about a year, but can go on longer. But usually, it occurs every five or seven years.


In North America, El Nino causes warmer than average temperatures, making it drier in some places, and wetter in others. It affects the oceans, fisheries, and global weather patterns—it’s a big deal.


In November the weather service at the United Nations warned that the current El Nino event is contributing to extreme weather patterns, and it could get worse. So you don’t need a heavy coat, and you are watching the rain fall, instead of the snow. Does that affect your business? You bet it does.


Change in the weather means a change in sales and service


I talked earlier about how changes in weather systems could impact your business. That is what is happening this year.


If you think about it, the weather has a huge impact on small and big business. Temperatures, or extreme weather, affect a lot, including:


  • Don’t need a coat? Well, the retailer who wanted to sell you the coat, gloves, scarves, and winter recreation gear is going to have an oversupply. If the weather keeps up as it has, big discounts are going to be the only way to blow out winter overstock in just a month or two. From Macy’s to the small business that sells specialty boots—that’s a problem.
  • Bad weather slows business: While poor weather helps the coat seller, a spike in extreme storms slows everybody down. Along the supply chain, power outages and transportation troubles influence the movement of raw materials and finished products. Inability to get products to market dims a bottom line pretty fast. Flooding? Let’s not go there.
  • The cost of everything: Difficulties with raw materials, or agricultural products, can alter the costs of production—and your profit margin—quickly.


Planning for the weather is important. From anticipating weather trends, to altering your product line, weather instability is another factor to consider in your business plan. Let’s talk about some ways that you can weatherproof your revenue:


  • Know your business: No one knows your business better than you. When I work with clients, we evaluate business and marketing plans, along with what it takes to get the right revenue. Plans need to change when you cannot make the money you need. Take a hard look at your product, or service, and ask some tough questions about where your industry is going. Winter tire sales in a location that is seeing warmer winters is a problem. Highly perishable foods in a location subject to frequent power outages could ruin your inventory. Plan ahead for downturns caused by weather, or storm.
  • Evaluate shipping: When you need to get your product to market, evaluate distribution chains, incorporate weather alerts, and use targeted logistics to keep freight moving when transit conditions are poor. Larger retailers like Target use in-house weather and economic specialists to analyze weather patterns and provide invaluable advice for inventory control.
  • Roll with it: Zara, the Spanish fast-fashion retailer, uses Agile management processes to create, manufacture, and distribute clothing in just over two weeks to respond to customer buying patterns. Sound crazy? The retailer suffers less loss than those with a commitment to large inventory. Better able to scale services, small business owners could take a page from Zara and provide in-demand products and services—whatever the season.
  • Big data: Predictive weather analytics help entrepreneurs make smart, data-driven decisions about supply, services, and personalized marketing.


Down the road, predictions say rain from El Nino will increase the corn crop this year. While water has been lacking lately, it could mean lower corn prices. That is good news for those who use raw materials from corn. It is bad news for farmers and anyone who sells to them.


Weather is a business factor that matters. When you are ready to take a hard look at business planning in this unstable climate, I can help. Let’s put plans in place to make you the revenue you want and deserve. Contact me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton

Looking Ahead: Small Business Tips for 2016

new yearIt is that time of year—top ten lists, countdowns, and trends to watch for in the coming year.


While a crystal ball is always handy, business success is really no mystery. In the current economy, it takes more than hard work to succeed. By succeed, I mean earning enough revenue to really thrive, not just survive.


To me, putting my clients on the road to becoming millionaires is my definition of success. It isn’t luck—it is having the smarts and experience to take advantage of opportunities, and efficiencies that could be right in front of you.


Here are my top six picks to boost your success in the 2016.


  1. Climate change: To support economic recovery, interest rates have been rock bottom for some time. The Federal Reserve is expected to raise interest rates—soon. Take time now to assess how a small increase in interest rates will impact your price of doing business. If your business is reliant on credit, the cost of borrowing will increase.


Depending on your product or service, sales could go up or down. The National Association for Business Economics (NABE) predicts mild economic improvement in the next few months, and into 2016. At present, employment rates are expected to continue to improve through the end of next year. Even without robust growth, this improving economic picture bodes well for small business owners.


  1. Business tech: Fast, seemingly inexpensive delivery, like Amazon Prime, changed the look of customer service. This is going to continue to have a big impact in 2016. A November article in The New York Times states, “Growth in Prime subscriptions matters because Prime alters the psychology of shopping. Once you’ve prepaid for shipping, you tend to start more of your shopping excursions at Amazon.” By the end of 2016, Amazon Prime membership is estimated to be around 50 million, up from 30 million at the beginning of the year.


Notes one analyst, “So what’s the differentiator at this point? It’s selection. It’s service. It’s convenience. It’s how easy it is to use their interface. And Amazon’s got all this stuff already. How do you compete with that?” Your differentiator drives your business—know what makes your product, or your service, worth buying. Plus, tech—like your ordering interface, marketing automation, and CRM—is going to improve and make your life easier if you know how to exploit the capabilities. Use marketing automation tech to target and personalize—a practice I think is going to get even bigger in 2016.


  1. Service! You know I talk about this all the time. Offer better service, drive a fair bargain for a premium product and make the money you want. You need a great business model, sure, but sales and marketing are all about perception and customer satisfaction. Meet a need and take care of your client—it never goes out of style. So you should expect to work harder at one-on-one lead nurturing and customer service in 2016.


  1. Social media just keeps on going: Look for social channels to expand search capabilities and other services in the next year. Why leave it to Google? Small business owners need social media both for local interest and national profile. Find and work your channels—LinkedIn for networking and guest blogging, Pinterest for products, Twitter for profile—and shorten the distance between you and a new customer. Engage your employees through internal social media and let them be brand representatives on your company blog or their Facebook page. Spread the word in 2016!


  1. Mobile: Everyone agrees that digital marketing is only going to get more important. Be sure the content on your website is high quality, and fresh. Pay attention to SEO and be sure to push content to social channels as soon as it is published. Make sure your website design is responsive, use big buy buttons, and make your interface or app easy to use—and easy to shop.


  1. Cybersecurity: With new hacks reported in the news on a weekly basis, cyber intrusion cannot be ignored by small business owners. Whether you are hacked directly, or your business is compromised by a vendor partner, take a strong look at your data and online security. Employ IT security specialists to help you build a secure system, keep it up to date, create a password policy, and use good online hygiene. Everyone, either directly, or on the periphery, is a cyber target. It is going to be more important than ever in 2016 to be sure your data, brand, and reputation are safe.


Resolve to earn the revenue you really want in 2016. When you have questions about how you can earn more for doing what you do best—call me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton


Trends and Tips in Inbound Marketing

Inbound MarketingThroughout my career as a small business owner, I had the same marketing and productivity questions that my clients ask me today. I have been there—and I know what you are going through. You work long hours, have a great product, but your revenue just isn’t enough.

To correct this situation, inbound marketing is a must—and it doesn’t end there.

Marketing process—what’s in a word?

What do I mean by inbound and outbound marketing? A lot of small business owners are confused about web lingo. Conversions, lead generation, inbound and outbound marketing are all terms used to discuss getting more customers for your business, and increasing your revenue:

  • Inbound marketing: From a computer, or via mobile, the web is usually the first place people look for information about goods and services. Your website is a critical piece of your marketing strategy. Inbound marketing attracts people already interested in your topic, product, or process. By offering informative blogs, tips, and other fresh data, your website works to convert website visitors to clients. To do this, your website should consists of search-engine-optimized (SEO) content, design, and keywords.
  • Outbound marketing: Outbound marketing also helps you fill the top of your sales funnel. Think of the traditional methods, like cold calling, email campaigns, business and client networking, advertising, and referrals. These are important tools that may be more appropriate for your product or service than inbound marketing.
  • Lead generation: Inbound and outbound marketing work to create active leads, or potential clients.
  • Conversion: The process of turning an active lead into a paying customer is a conversion. For some businesses, conversion may take forms other than making a cash sale.


The importance of positioning

For you to allocate resources to marketing strategies, it is important to know your position—in the market, in the business lifecycle, and in your industry. A big part of my work with clients is helping them see their position, as well as what direction they need to go to achieve their revenue goals.

Once you have the bigger picture, you can drill down into techniques to help your bottom line. A super report from Hubspot offers marketing strategy information from the last half of 2015. Some key points of the report include:

  • Inbound marketing is the top tactic for companies and small businesses. For companies with between one and 200 employees, vigorous use of inbound marketing and web strategies builds their brand and profile and keeps marketing costs down. Larger companies with deeper resources tend to employ inbound and outbound strategies more evenly.
  • Small- and medium-sized businesses are growing—and looking for cost-effective ways to increase leads. But the priority is on turning those leads into paying customers. For entrepreneurs, you have to be able to measure the return on your marketing dollars—and prove your ROI for the budget spend.
  • Inbound marketing works across industry, including non-profit, B2B, and B2C. Traditional outbound marketing methods cost more and achieve less ROI when compared to inbound marketing.
  • The creation of inbound marketing content, like blogs, articles, whitepapers, and tip sheets is moving out of the business and into the hands of freelance writers and agencies. This makes sense as lean marketing and production strategies call for the right people doing the best job. As I have said before—make sure you are doing the job only you can do. When appropriate, outsource the responsibilities better suited to others, like content creation.
  • Prime marketing strategies have already shifted. More than 55 percent of businesses who earned higher ROI on their marketing budget in 2015 say paid advertising, whether in broadcast, print, or social media, is the most overrated marketing path at present.
  • Successful marketing means using both CRM and marketing automation systems.

You have a lot of leads—and then what?

With the rush to generate leads, some entrepreneurs forget to close. I am a big fan of marketing automation and CRM software, to identify, nurture, and convert leads. When marketing and sales teams are coordinated, the same software helps me maintain those clients and fine-tune my services to better obtain and serve customers. Internal service level agreements (SLAs) define responsibilities and outcomes for both groups.

Whether your marketing and sales teams are sizeable, or small, cooperation is fundamental to business growth and success. I work every day with entrepreneurs that have misaligned marketing and sales priorities. We explore ROI on all marketing efforts, and create the right plans to make sure your inbound marketing ultimately brings in the revenue you want.

When you have a question about marketing automation, or you need someone to reboot your marketing strategy, call me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton

Holiday Sales? Bah Humbug!

Holiday Sales_Bah Humbug!

Okay—everybody loves a sale. But if you are depending on deep discounts to sweeten your business bottom line this season, think again.


Black Friday sales are legendary. Did you fight crowds to score a big screen television from Walmart for a 75 percent discount last week? “Black Friday” used to refer to a blockbuster shopping day that boosted business owners into the financial safety zone. But now there is Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday—and a whole lot of discounting in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, and after.


Consumers now expect super sales throughout the holiday season. So everyone expects to pay less for whatever you have to sell. As an entrepreneur, does this sound like a great way to make money?


My business is doubling—if not tripling—the revenue of my clients. I work with entrepreneurs in all kinds of businesses. Some are well-established, while some are start-ups. As a small business owner several times over, I have seen my own businesses struggle and then thrive. So I know what it takes to succeed—and it is not the magic of the holiday discount shopping season.


Can you buck the holiday discount trend?


Outdoor outfitter REI did not open on Thanksgiving—or on Black Friday. Instead, the retailer closed all 143 of its stores and put a “gone fishin’” banner on their website that read, “We’re not here. Today we’re closing our doors…We hope you’ll join us outside today. You can still shop our site. We’ll start on your order first thing Saturday morning.”


While other stores pushed back on Thanksgiving openings, REI took it the extra mile. But consider this:


  • REI is a lifestyle brand.
  • REI is not making most of its money from mass merchandising. Unlike big box stores, REI has a somewhat exclusive niche market.
  • If you chose not to join REI outside, you could still shop its website.


While only overall holiday sales numbers will tell—it is possible REI may have found a way to market its lifestyle message in a powerful way.


Black Friday, for most retailers, is about dropping prices on inventory low enough to attract bargain hunters. For many small business owners, if you do not offer rock-bottom prices, shoppers shrug and go down the block to another store, or big box that does. REI opted out of that traffic. Black Friday, or holiday discount—cutting your profit to bone is not going to boost your revenue.


What kind of customers are you looking for?


One of the first mistakes made by a lot of small business owners is to try and compete on price. Sure, you might get a few more customers, but they are the wrong kind. Bargain hunters are not loyal, and you cannot make a living—let alone a million dollars—offering bargain basement prices, unless you have an unusual product, or a high volume business.


In a LinkedIn blog post, Michael Silverstein, Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group (BCG) writes, “Black Friday shoppers are your worst customers. Fire them and concentrate instead on your best customers.”


What does he mean?


He means you need to attract loyal customers—not high volume foot traffic looking for close-out prices. Your target is the client or customer who shops your business, or uses your services, throughout the year, not just when you are running a promotion. How do you identify these customers and keep their business?


  • On the data side, use marketing automation and other reports to identify your loyal, repeat customers.
  • Price your products and services so that you are making the profit you need to thrive. Evaluate your customer journey to ensure customers are getting a value proposition that equals the money they spend to patronize your business.
  • Cater to clients who do not quibble about your price, but who appreciate your product, and the extra service they receive as a result.
  • Develop programs and processes through which these clients are recognized and rewarded when they use your services.
  • Take big advantage of digital tools like apps, and social media, to engage followers on channels like Facebook or Twitter. Keep your brand and profile fresh, and offer deals you can afford to those who you really want to attract.


Plan now and stay ahead


Thinking ahead helps you stay ahead. How can you make your business easier to find? What tech is right to manage client communications and promote your product? How can you meaningfully connect with your customer base to learn their needs and meet their desires?


Stay ahead of the curve to ensure your customers feel good about paying a price for your product that keeps them happy—and you earning the right revenue.


Constant stress and a minimal income keep you from the success you deserve. When you want to kick-start your business and marketing strategy, I hope you will call me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton

Eight Hot Holiday Marketing Tips for Small Business Owners

Eight HotHolidayMarketing Tipsfor Small BusinessOwnersThe holiday season is underway. Keep revenue numbers high with the right marketing moves for this buying season.

Whether you sell products or services, the holidays are a good time to show existing customers you care—while you spread the word about your business to new leads.

Throughout the year, I work with entrepreneurs to improve business processes and increase income. Those who know me, know my goal is to make a millionaire out of each of my clients.

I help small business owners understand their business and offer a value proposition that makes them money. Knowing the desires, and behaviors, of customers and clients is important—especially during the holiday season.

The economic picture this season is dicey. Both Price Waterhouse and Deloitte predict consumers are planning to spend about what they did last year, with a lot of room for variation. There is increasing growth at the premium—and bargain—ends of the spectrum, with both groups looking for creative ideas and decent deals.


Top Eight Tips for Holiday Marketing in 2015

During the holiday crush, try these tips to boost your client base—before and after the holidays:

1. Watch your channels: Omni-channel marketing means using multiple channels to attract, engage, and serve your customer. Across screens, from corded computer to mobile app, entrepreneurs offer convenience, rewards, discounts, coupons, and information to ease the shopping experience, whether online, brick and mortar, or both. According to the National Retail Foundation (NRF), just about half (or 46 percent) of all browsing and buying this holiday will take place online. Buy buttons and links between e-commerce and physical stores give customers a super way to find what you have to offer.

2. Delivery options: Free shipping is offered by many retailers, and free is tough to beat. If not waiving, or deeply discounting shipping costs, consider online purchase and in-store pick-up. This offers your customers the convenience and pricing they want, and improves in-store sales when additional items are purchased when a product is picked up, or returned. Shoppers in the 18 to 35 year old range are more likely seeking same-day or two-day shipping—giving you an opening to provide premium service.

3. Discounts and self-gifting: With consumer confidence slightly higher, the average amount of money shoppers intend to spend on themselves has gone up. Consider discounts like buy two, get one free, and other variations to appeal to shoppers looking to take home a little something for themselves. Many retailers, like Walmart and Macy’s, already started price-matching or discounting earlier this year.

4. The gift everybody wants: Gift cards continue to be sought after and appreciated. In plastic or digital form, make it easy for your clients and customers to buy gift cards for products or services. Gift cards are a great way to reach beyond your current client base

5. Subscriptions: Subscriptions are not just for magazines anymore. From flowers, chocolate, wine, coffee, socks, and snacks—subscriptions for full, or sample-size products are a great way to showcase and introduce products, build loyalty, upsell—and convert new leads. Subscriptions are a gift that continues to give—and thrill—recipients throughout the year.

6. Location, location, location: Online, big box, and malls are expected to be profitable locations this holiday season. A holiday survey from Deloitte reports 30 percent of respondents are planning to shop at pop-up stores, festivals, flea markets, swaps, and other non-traditional retail opportunities. Think about “invitation only” events, or target client segments for special events.

7. Service, service, service: From web to store, offer value to your customer or client by making their buying journey easier. Use marketing automation on your website to encourage sales, offer bundled products, and close the deal. Whatever your product or service, be sure your website is easily browsed, gifts are categorized, and your shopping cart tech is fast.

Websites with an “Under $50 or $100” page could attract buyers who may stay longer and buy up. Use your client list and visitor information to send countdown Tweet and email gift ideas, discount offers, and surprise perks. Be clear about shipping dates and deadlines—and do your best to help last minute shoppers, even if they are outside your posted shipping deadlines. Have a store “open house,” plan an event with nearby merchants, and feature a product, or service, on a weekly or daily basis. Use social media to get the word out. Make the value irresistible.

8. Don’t forget the fruit basket: As the holiday nears, use automated tools to ensure your established client base hears from you. Fruit baskets, cheeses, cookies, cards, and discount coupons are all great ways to let customers and clients know you remember them—and that you hope they remember you in the coming year. If you have a physical location, show your spirit on the shopping days prior to the holiday—offer cookies, candies, or other treats—to all those who take the time to check out your store or service. The kindness is appreciated—and may be returned.


As time to the New Year ticks down, make a resolution to boost your income, and spend more time doing what you love—not worrying relentlessly about business survival. When you are ready to earn more money and a better life from your business, I hope you will call me at 585-633-7563.


Yours in profit,
Bob Britton

Why You Should Engage Your Employees

Why You ShouldEngage Your EmployeesMake and save money by reducing employee turnover. How do you do that? Increase employee engagement.


My job is helping entrepreneurs create strong business plans, work smart, and use tech efficiencies to market in a way that makes them money. It is no secret that my goal is to make my clients millionaires.


So why talk about employee engagement? That’s just a human resources issue, right? On the contrary, as a small business owner, employee engagement should be near the top of your list of priorities.


An engaged, satisfied workforce creates profit for you, and reduces budget spend from employee churn. The hiring and training process takes time and money out of your pocket, while a valued employee is an asset.


An engaged workforce helps your bottom line


Engagement is the measure of commitment and satisfaction your employee feels for your small business. The smaller your business, and fewer your employees, the more essential it is that the people you hire want to grow your business with you.


We have all known co-workers, and maybe employees, who hate their jobs, scraping by with minimum effort to collect the paycheck. These types of characters bring others down, and can impact your revenue. Let’s look at four engagement profiles developed by Quantum Workplace:


  • Engaged employee: Engaged employees are those who buy into your company culture, purpose, and goals. Committed to their job—and moving the organization forward—they support business and workplace community efforts. These workers are happy where they are, striving to do their best, and usually become assets to your business.


  • Contributing: Doing what they need to do, contributing employees support your business, but do not fully embrace your value proposition. Contributing workers are doing a good job—but could do, and add, more if they were better engaged.


  • Disengaged: Workers who are disengaged may already be looking for a different job. If highly skilled talent in your company is disengaged, your company is at risk for losing the talent, and restarting the recruitment and training cycle. Disengaged employees can still be met, and engaged, if the situation is noticed, and remedied in time.


  • Hostile: Hostile workers have an attitude about your company and do not mind sharing it. Reducing your profit, and damaging your company culture, these are workers who have a mostly negative impact as soon as they walk in the door in the morning.


Are your employees engaged?


You might employ only hourly or salaried workers, or a mix of both. Although compensation and time spent on the job may be different, the aim is the same—engagement.


Companies that make employee engagement a high priority build a stronger workforce, improve client and customer service, enjoy better communication, and see better productivity. All these measures are the result of top-down efforts by owners to maximize their profit by valuing their employees.


Whether yours is a large or small shop, consider these tips to create a workforce better aligned with the overall goals and success of your company:


  • Know your employees: While you work daily with some of your employees—would they say they know you? Do your employees, even if they are hourly, feel their contribution is important to the business, and to their own well-being? Being known, and valued, is a critical aspect of employee engagement.


  • Do you have a company culture? It does not take a 100-member firm to create and enjoy a company culture. Start with fair compensation, easily accessible information, and approachable management staff. Add training and skills development. A company that cares about its employees enjoys better retention rates of talent up and down the line.


  • What about flexibility? Do you understand and respond appropriately when a worker needs extra time, or a more flexible schedule? Limit and avoid “just-in-time” scheduling if you value your workforce and seek to reduce workforce churn.


  • Communication: Do you maintain connection with employees through email, surveys, feedback, and informal newsletters? Good communication keeps workers knowledgeable about their workplace, and their own space in it. Increase employee engagement—and confidence—by keeping workers in the loop of important information.


While the last five years has seen many small businesses struggle to survive, more companies are now investing in growth. One of the best ways to assure growth is to ensure engagement of valuable personnel.

Profitable companies are no mistake. When you need a hand with improving your bottom line, call me at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton

Make Your Mark—and Protect It!

Make Your MarkandProtect it!A trademark is important to small business branding. Have you registered your unique business name or symbol?


Consider the story of Payam Tabibian, a small businessman who built a chain of hamburger restaurants called Z-Burger. As detailed in The New York Times, Mr. Tabibian created a distinctive retro-look trademark before he had even opened his first restaurant. After he drew the design, he registered it as his trademark in 2007.


By 2008, his restaurants, operated with partners, had grown to six locations. Business was good until the relationship between Mr. Tabibian and his partners soured. His partners—who are brothers—locked him out of his business, claiming he was an employee. The brothers filed suit to prohibit Mr. Tabibian from starting new restaurants with the Z-Burger trademark, and insisted he turn his trademarks over to them.


In August, 2015, a federal judge preliminarily ruled in favor of Mr. Tabibian. While awaiting the outcome of a forensic accounting report, Mr. Tabibian has opened new restaurants and a food truck with new partners.


Business relationships between small business partners often go south. For Mr. Tabibian, the outcome is good so far, primarily because he took the time to protect the trademark which became the calling card of his business. Many other entrepreneurs are not so lucky.


Take the time, pay the money, and register your trademark


Today’s marketing strategies intensely support definition and promotion of your brand. Your brand begins with your business name, word, design, or symbol. Without registering your trademark, you have almost no protection if another entrepreneur wants to use your name—and the good will and credibility you have built around your business.


If you are thinking about starting a business—or if you are already underway—here are important facts you need to know about registering your trademark:


  • Registering a domain name does not give you trademark protection: While you pay an annual fee for a domain name, it does not double as trademark protection for your business name. For many reasons, a well-crafted website is essential for entrepreneurs offering any kind of product, or service. But a website—and domain name—is just the location of your business on the internet. Also, simply doing business as (DBA) a particular name does not automatically give you trademark rights to your business name.


  • Check to be sure your trademark is not already in use: Just like domain names, and email addresses, there are a lot of trademarks on file with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Work with an attorney, or specialized consultant to review the USPTO database for same or similar marks. This review offers good information, but the review undertaken by the USPTO upon your application for the trademark is the final word on whether your mark can be registered.


  • Are you unique? The unique nature of your brand name, logo, or design is considered by USPTO examiners when you apply for trademark registration. The similarity of your trademark to others already registered is a factor considered by the USPTO. A mark that looks, sounds, or means the same as another mark could be considered too similar to be registered. That said, two visually similar marks may be registered if the products or services offered by each business are not related. An invented name or arbitrary mark is stronger than a generic or suggestive name.


  • Marks to avoid: Certain factors exclude a mark or brand name from registration. The USPTO does not register surnames, geographically descriptive, offensive, or generic terms or names, among others.


  • Do I have to? What do I get? Registering your trademark at the federal level is not required but protects your rights to your brand name on a national (not international) level. Some other benefits include:


  • Legal ownership of a business name
  • Ability to register with U.S. Customers and Border Protection to prevent entry of infringing foreign goods
  • Registration in the USPTO database
  • The legal right to bring a federal action against others infringing on your brand


Registering your brand name establishes the identity of your brand beyond common use. Money and time spent developing your product or service could be lost if you choose not to protect it. Litigation of any kind is expensive, especially if you are up against a competitor with deeper pockets aiming at your customer base.


  • Yours to protect: When your trademark registration is granted by the USPTO, it confers federal protection of your brand name. Should a business, individual, or organization infringe on your trademark, it is your sole responsibility to enforce your rights granted by registration.


Your trademark is not only your brand name or logo, but important intellectual property. Work with a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney to ensure your trademark is registered properly and enforced.


Know your rights—and how to protect those rights from unscrupulous competitors, or business partners who may want out of the deal. Launching a start-up, or pivoting your established small business toward greater success is not easy. When you want to shift from struggle to success, think about giving me a call at 585-633-7563.

Yours in profit,

Bob Britton