8 Steps to Avoid Cash Flow Problems at Your Small Business

8 Steps to Avoid Cash Flow Problems at Your Small Business

Inadequate cash flow can cripple a small business. In fact, research shows that the insufficient management of cash flow can be pinned on as much as 82 percent of small business and start-up failure.

If you run a small business and are experiencing problems with cash flow, take a look at the advice of Fred Parrish.

Parrish is founder and chief executive officer of The Profit Experts and creator of The Profit Beacon, a new app that provides predictive analytics to help businesses make timely and smart decisions. Parrish is also author of “The Profit Mentality”.

How to Avoid Cash Flow Problems

Parrish, aka “America’s Small Business CFO”, provided Small Business Trends the following tips on avoiding cash flow problems at your small business.

Do Appropriate Planning, Constantly

According to Parrish, the real key to avoiding a cash flow crisis is to do the appropriate planning on a constant basis.

“To accomplish this, you as the business owner/manager must look at the profit and loss (P&L) and any other non-operational items (or circumstances) that specifically affect cash flow,” Parrish advises.

Take the Appropriate Steps to Manage Profit and Loss

Small business owners must take the appropriate steps to manage P&L. This includes, says Parrish, being “realistic about upcoming revenue opportunities and the timing of when they will be realized.”

Part of a solid profit and loss management strategy should include performing an analysis of all costs (direct and indirect) and how they are driven by revenue or other activity in the business.

According to Parrish, the “appropriate staffing level for the different stages of the company should also be determined” to help small businesses manage profit and loss adequately and help prevent running into cash flow problems.

A monthly forecast for at least one year should also be developed says Parrish, “starting with the line items in accounting reports.”

Create a Forecast for Future Cash Streams

Parrish also advises small business owners to create a forecast of future cash stream, “preferably weekly.”

“Developing an understanding about when revenues can be collected” is part of a comprehensive and effective cash flow, he says.

Think About the Timing of All Operational Cash Payments

Are you always aware of the timing cash disbursements will be made? It is wise for small business owners to, as Parrish says, “determine the timing of all operational cash disbursements.

Other disbursements should also be identified, such as owner distributions, principal payments on debt and capital expenditures.

Parrish advises small business owners to subtract the disbursements from the receipts to determine cash balances for each future period.

“Update the information as conditions change in the business or the market that will influence the outcomes to maintain a realistic view of the future,” he told Small Business Trends.

Carry out a Comparative Analysis

According to Parrish, small businesses must do a comparative analysis (compare the actual results to the forecast) to determine where the company is not performing as expected, in order to gain a better understanding about what actions should be taken to ensure an optimal outcome.

Parrish warns that: “No forecast is perfect and you can always come back to adjust any items that look to be incorrect. This will not be as painful as it sounds. Start with what information you have and refine the process over time.”

Focus on Proactive Planning

The veteran CFO and author also told Small Business Trends that proactive planning is the key to avoiding a cash flow crisis and the symptoms or warning signs.

According to Parrish, small businesses can avert running into a cash flow crisis by proactive planning and avoiding the following:

Cash Discounts Being Missed

The returns on cash discounts far exceed most returns on any other use of cash.

Vendors Being Stretched Beyond Normal Payment Terms

Parrish warns small business owners: “If this situation is allowed to persist for too long it will irreparably damage these relationships and could impede the business from acquiring the necessary items to operate.”

Late Fees Being Incurred on Lease Payments or Trade Accounts

“In a similar way as cash discounts, the effect of these penalties can far exceed the normal costs of traditional financing arrangements,” says Parrish.

Age of Your Accounts Receivables Increasing or Increased Difficulty in Collecting Accounts

Unfortunately, most managers do not attempt to manage A/R with more than a passing thought until there is a problem with cash or a question arises regarding the validity of the recorded balances, Parrish says.

“You must have a sustained effort to manage A/R in place at all times. Uncover any issues that impair the ability to collect all amounts billed and develop a plan for working through each to a successful conclusion,” says Parrish.

He says this plan should include:

  • Billing promptly and as often as possible.
  • Collecting all payments as and when due.
  • Eliminating all barriers to payment at the outset.
  • Providing all documentation necessary to facilitate payment at the beginning of the process.
  • Aggressively following up on overdue invoices.
  • Not working only the old accounts. (If you focus only on the older accounts, you ensure that you will always have older accounts. Working the more current accounts allows you to collect them before they become old.)
  • Staying on top of the situation.

Parrish advises all small business owners ask themselves:

“Who would you pay first — a vendor who is sending invoices on a consistent schedule with full supporting documentation who is very diligent in contacting you to determine the status of a timely payment, or a company that sends invoices from time to time with little explanation and no follow up?”

Increase Scrutiny of Operating Expenses

There are numerous reasons why a business owner will incur debt. Most are perfectly valid. However, there are times when business owners will take on debt in the hope that it will buy enough time to repair a damaged business or to prop up an inability to gain revenue traction in a particular market.

To avoid this, Parrish advises:

“Increase scrutiny of operating expenses, liquidation of under-performing assets or outdated inventory, and carry out an unbiased evaluation of staffing requirements”.

Avoid Filing Delays in Deposits of Payroll or Other Taxes

Parrish says filing delays in deposits of payroll and other taxes should be avoided at all costs.

“The penalties can be severe,” he sats. “Once this path is taken, it’s a dangerous slippery slope.”

Are you a small business owner who has successfully overcome cash flow problems? Is so, share your experiences of running into, avoiding and overcoming issues related to small business cash flow.

Cash Flow Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “8 Steps to Avoid Cash Flow Problems at Your Small Business” was first published on Small Business Trends

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White House Tech Summit Good News for Small Businesses? Hope So!

Inside the White House Tech Summit

The White House wants to improve technology across government agencies. And that could lead to some opportunities for small businesses.

Inside the White House Tech Summit

Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump’s senior advisor and son-in-law, said at the White House Tech Summit Monday, “We will foster a new set of startups focused on [government] tech and be the new global leader in the field, making government more transparent and responsive to citizens’ needs.”

The White House Tech Summit featured a meeting of the American Technology Council and some big names in the tech world, including Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, Jeff Bezos, founder an CEO of Amazon and investor Peter Thiel, among others.

But small businesses also may want to pay attention to what came out of this event. Specifically, the government wants to modernize its technology by leveraging the creativity of the private sector. So tech startups that provide things like cloud programs and cybersecurity could have more opportunities for government contracts in the coming years.

The feds only recently hit some of their small business contracting goals, which aim to award at least 23 percent of government contracts to U.S. small businesses. But according to at least one advocacy group, the government is still short-changing small businesses when it comes to awarding those contracts.

This push for updated tech could take a while to enact across all government agencies. But if it leads to more government contracting opportunities for small businesses, it may well be worth the wait.

Jared Kushner Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “White House Tech Summit Good News for Small Businesses? Hope So!” was first published on Small Business Trends

BBB Says Fake RFP Emails are Targeting Small Businesses

BBB Says Fake RFP Emails are Targeting Small Businesses

You’ve got mail! And it could be a scam.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says fake malicious emails are circulating right now that target small businesses. The emails purport to contain an RFP (Request for Proposal). That’s usually an easy hook to get a small business to open the email. After all, it could mean more business.

That’s exactly the mindset scammers are reportedly banking on with this round of attacks.

How the Fake RFP Emails Scam Works

The BBB says that the subject line of these scam emails is typically ‘RFP Proposal‘ or similar language.

The email will invite recipients to download an attached RFP. The RFP in the email looks legit, according to the alert from BBB. “The RFP has details about the project and uses a company or government agency name.”

After downloading and reviewing the RFP, the scam could play out in three different ways:

You’re directed to another site and asked to enter private data on that site;

You’re directed to another site and asked to download a file that will expose information stored on your computer;

Or you’re asked to provide banking information for payments

Spot the Scam

The BBB suggests that spotting a fake email like the one used in this RFP scam is rather simple. It requires only vigilance and a dose of skepticism.

First, be suspicious of an email like this out of the blue. Even things like a legit-looking sender email, official logos and other hallmarks of a professional email are not proof the RFP is real.

Call the sender, the BBB advises. If you can’t get the sender on the phone — ever — then it’s likely a scam. Expect to hear the phrase “They’re out of the country,” or something similar, the agency warns.

Since many of these fake RFPs are made to look like government requests or from other businesses, check the web to see if they’re posted anywhere else. If you don’t see it, call the agency behind the supposed RFP and confirm that it’s real.

The fake RFPs generally lack a lot of detail. This alone, plus the fact the RFP seems to have arrived with no prior contact or notification should be more than enough to make you suspicious.

Email Scam Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “BBB Says Fake RFP Emails are Targeting Small Businesses” was first published on Small Business Trends

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities

The storage industry in the U.S. is growing. According to IBISWorld, the industry brings in an estimated $38 billion annually. And if you’re looking to break into this growing business niche, a franchise can be a great way to get the resources and know-how you need. Here are some storage franchise opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider.

Storage Franchise Opportunities

Storage Authority

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Storage Authority

Storage Authority offers a franchise opportunity that focuses on consumer level self storage. The overall investment can vary depending on location and size. But the minimum upfront cost is typically around $400,000.

UNITS Moving and Portable Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - UNITS Moving and Portable Storage

A moving and storage franchise business, UNITS currently has open territories in metropolitan areas across the U.S. The initial franchise fee is $55,500. And multiple-unit franchises are also available.

PODS Portable Storage Units

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - PODS Portable Storage Units

PODS is another moving and storage franchise that provides large storage containers, boxes and other packing items that customers can use at their own locations. The company has offerings for consumers, businesses and more.

U-Haul

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - U-Haul

U-Haul offers a unique opportunity for existing business owners who want to add the U-Haul name to their moving and storage offerings. You can become a dealer to earn about 21 percent commission across U-Haul’s product lines.

1–800-PACK-RAT

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - 1-800-PACK-RAT

1–800-PACK-RAT offers partnership opportunities for businesses that want to add a trusted name to their packing and storage offerings. Cost can vary depending on location and type of services offered.

Big Box Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Big Box Storage

Big Box Storage is a storage and moving company based in San Diego, California. The company, which provides portable storage containers, started out with just a few company owned locations, but has since welcomed franchisees in other areas.

Smartbox Moving and Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Smartbox Moving and Storage

Smartbox offers storage containers and moving services and has locations in states around the U.S. The initial franchise fee can vary depending on the size of your desired territory. But it usually starts at $40,000.

GarageTown USA

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - GarageTown USA

GarageTown USA provides a few different business opportunities for land owners and entrepreneurs in various markets around the U.S. You can provide the location for a new GarageTown franchise or partner with the company to find the right markets in your area.

Zippy Shell

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Zippy Shell

Originally founded in Australia, Zippy Shell has franchise locations in a number of U.S. markets and is open to even further expansion. The moving and storage business offers location assistance and other support services to franchisees as they get started and grow their businesses.

CubeSmart Self Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - CubeSmart Self Storage

This self storage property management business offers customizable opportunities for entrepreneurs. Those interested in partnering with CubeSmart Self Storage receive access to benefits like marketing support, access to management professionals, a sales center and more.

ClosetBox

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - ClosetBox

ClosetBox is a full service storage business, offering services like pickup, security and delivery. The company has partnerships in states across the U.S. You can contact the company to learn more about current opportunities and integrating the ClosetBox name into your business offerings.

Extra Space Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Extra Space Storage

Extra Space Storage offers a third party management solution for property owners looking for a trusted name to manage their business. The company provides marketing support, strategic direction, revenue management and more.

MyWay Mobile Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - MyWay Mobile Storage

MyWay Mobile Storage offers a portable self storage option for consumers. The company provides marketing and customer service/sales support for franchisees. So you can use your time and resources to focus on running all the other aspects of your franchise business.

Guardian Storage

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Guardian Storage

Guardian Storage offers some property management and consulting services to self storage business owners, currently with locations in Pennsylvania and Colorado. Some of the company’s offerings include operations management, accounting, human resources support and more.

Universal Storage Group

15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities - Universal Storage Group

Universal Storage Group also offers a variety of management and consulting services for self storage businesses. The company offers training, development, management and more all aimed at helping storage businesses increase earnings.

Storage Unit Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “15 Storage Franchise Business Opportunities” was first published on Small Business Trends

Looking for A/R Factoring? Ask the Right Questions Get The Best Deal

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Looking for Accounts Receivable Factoring? Ask the Right Questions, Get The Best Deal

Invoice factoring is a very simple transaction that involves a business selling its outstanding invoices to a factoring company. The factoring company then collects on the invoice, when due, from the business’s customers. It seems like a very simple transaction, and it is, but the devil is always in the details.

The first devil is that many small business loans are disguised as factoring. The second issue to be aware of is the factoring relationship not fitting your needs. And lastly, you need to be free to exit a factoring relationship without penalty or major pitfall in your cash flow. If you’ve contemplated factoring invoices, read on to learn the right questions to ask as you talk to factoring companies. However a quick explanation of how factoring works is warranted before getting into the details of what to ask.

How Does Factoring Work?

Once you bill your customers, you technically create an invoice (also known as Accounts Receivable or A/R). The best way to distinguish this from being paid cash is that with cash you get paid now, whereas with A/R you get paid later. With factoring, businesses can sell their invoices to a factoring company, and obtain up to 80–90% of the invoice value now. A/R factoring accelerates the payment, effectively. Then later, when your customer pays the factoring company the full invoice amount, the factor will release the remaining 10–20% to you, minus their factoring fee.

Looking for Accounts Receivable Factoring? Ask the Right Questions, Get The Best Deal

A couple other useful points to note about factoring invoices: first, factoring companies will have you contact your customers about redirecting payment to them. Second, the mechanism used by factoring companies to factor your invoices on a monthly or weekly basis is known as a factoring facility. Lastly, the law governing these transactions is the United Commercial Code, or “UCC” for short.

Now that you have a general understanding of how factoring works, let’s get into some details.

Avoid the Devil: Ask the Right Questions

Asking the right questions will definitely help you get the best deal. Please note however that the word best is relative. What happens to be a good deal for your business might not be the best deal for another’s. Either way, asking the following questions will help you sort out the details of the deal to best fit your needs.

Question 1. Is your factoring recourse or non-recourse? (it must fit your risk appetite)

True factoring facilities are non-recourse, meaning that the factoring company assumes the risk of non-collection. If they purchase an invoice from your business and the customer paying that invoice goes “belly-up”, that’s a risk that the factoring company assumes if the deal is “non-recourse”. However with a recourse factoring facility, the mechanism is the same as a factoring facility (i.e. 80% up front, with a rebate, minus fees later), but the liability is like a small business loan.

If a customer doesn’t pay your factoring partner, and your deal is recourse, you will be obligated to help the factor obtain that payment. In the event you and the factor are unsuccessful at getting your customer to pay, the factoring company can force you to pay the invoice by “selling it back” to you. In this regard, the factoring facility is really a line of credit backed by receivables. Usually, given the extra risk assumed by the business (i.e. being forced to buy-back the receivable), the rates on recourse factoring are cheaper than non-recourse. Therefore this question is important to ask so you can gauge 1) whether the factoring facility is a a loan disguised as factoring and 2) what level of risk you’re willing to assume by obtaining factoring. This article is very helpful in distinguishing the two, and identifying the similarities.

Provided the factoring deal fits your risk appetite, it’s important to ask three questions to make sure it fits your needs.

Question 2. What is your advance rate? (it must fit your needs)

The advance rate is the percentage of the invoice value that you will obtain right away. Most of the time it is 80%, however in some instances it may be as high as 90–95% for certain industries. This is important because if you need the full invoice value up front, obtaining 80% won’t do you any good. As a simple rule of thumb for cash flow timing purposes, think of it conservatively this way: you will get 80% up front, and then 18% of the invoice value 30 days after it gets paid. The 2% is the average fee paid on invoice factoring.

Looking for Accounts Receivable Factoring? Ask the Right Questions, Get The Best Deal

Question 3. What are your fees? (it must fit your needs)

Average fees are about 2 percent. This is also known as the “discount value”. For example, if an invoice is $100,000, and the discount is 2%, then you will pay $2,000. The timing is that you will get 80 percent, or $80,000, up front. Then the invoice will get paid to the factoring company ($100,000). The factoring company will charge the $20,000 excess a $2,000 fee, and they will remit or rebate $18,000 to you 30 days later. The $18,000 is usually held as a buffer against potential losses. It’s important to pay attention to the fees amount because if you have very thin margins, you may actually lose money factoring. Another rule of thumb: the gross margins you make on each invoice must be greater than the factoring fee.

Question 4. What is the minimum term? (it must fit your needs)

Some businesses only need factoring for a very short term. Unfortunately, many factoring companies require you to sign up for 12 months. Therefore it’s important to ask if there is a minimum term commitment.

Question 5. Is there an early termination fee? (avoid the penalties)

If there is a minimum commitment and you decide to leave early or switch to a better factoring facility, it’s important that you ask if there is a termination fee. Many factors will have a termination fee if you switch to a competitor of theirs, but if you switch to bank financing or simply don’t need them anymore, they won’t charge you. Understandably so. Either way, you need to know whether you can get hit with an early termination fee. Ask if this can be waived. Most factors will be ok with waiving this for you, plus it never hurts to ask. The worse that could happen is that they say no.

Other things to Keep In Mind

  • In need of a one-time infusion?Ask for spot Factoring or seek out a Merchant Cash Advance (MCA)
  • Need more frequent, but smaller payments?Ask your factor if they can advance you in weekly installments.
  • Looking for more than 80 percent of your invoice value? You may need to seek out other small business funding options, like a line of credit, term loan or MCA.

For a free introduction to the funder that best fits your needs, please contact us.

Images: InvoiceFinancing.net

This article, “Looking for A/R Factoring? Ask the Right Questions, Get The Best Deal” was first published on Small Business Trends

Restaurant Owners App Use Among Foodies is Up 70 Percent

A Revealing Restaurant App Trend

If you have a restaurant, this is one data point you can’t afford to ignore. Since 2014, food app usage among foodies has increased by around 70 percent.

A Revealing Restaurant App Trend

A 70 percent positive increase on any other segment of your restaurant business would be cause or excitement. And its no less the case with the unprecedented leap in the popularity of food apps.

GlobalWebIndex has been conducting a survey with a base of 355,621 foodies between the ages of 16–64 from 2014 to 2017. As defined by the company in its survey, a foodie is someone that is strongly interested in food, restaurants or cooking.

Since the survey started, the percentage of total foodies using apps has increased from 20 to 34 percent, and it is growing. This group is also more likely — by 25 percent — to seek out reviews when doing their research.

What Does This Mean for Your Restaurant?

The first obvious answer is having a mobile app will increase the visibility of your restaurant.

A well designed mobile app should be available on iOS, Android, and even Windows platforms so users can invite their friends. Other must-have features include a menu with high-quality images and click to call for ordering and making reservations. Contact info with hours of operation and a map app to guide customers to your eatery are also essential.

If you happen to have a mobile app and it is not performing well, you can introduce loyalty and referral programs, coupons, social sharing, use push notification for offers and to ask for reviews, and more. This, of course, is only a starting point, so feel free to add more features.

Most small business owners still don’t appreciate the value of mobile apps, but their importance can’t be overstated. Once you get your restaurant up and running, it will pay maximum dividends with minimal maintenance.

While “foodies” might have above average desire to seek new food experiences, average restaurant customers are always looking for something new too. And one way to make your restaurant and the food you serve easier to discover by everyone is to create a mobile app.

Food App Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Restaurant Owners, App Use Among Foodies is Up 70 Percent” was first published on Small Business Trends

Moving to the Mall: How the Death of Department Stores Could Benefit Small Retailers

Shopping Center Anchor Trends

Once a staple of suburban life, America’s malls are going through a sea change. A recent rash of department store closures, including many Macy’s, J.C. Penney and Sears locations, is making news. However, although more than 300 department stores are slated to close this year, this is just the latest wave in a trend that’s been going on for years. What does the decline of department stores and the transformation of malls mean for small, independent retailers?

The mall isn’t disappearing — but it is undergoing a major makeover. The national Retail Federation’s Stores magazine predicts that while “B-grade malls” will struggle and C- and D-grade malls will disappear, large malls that are well positioned will thrive. They will, however, look substantially different.

Shopping Center Anchor Trends

Instead of the traditional department-store-anchor model, malls are replacing department stores with specialized retailers, entertainment venues, service businesses and restaurants. “Mixed-use” is the catchphrase of mall operators today, and tomorrow’s malls are likely to be even more diverse, with everything from condominiums to medical buildings and commercial office space incorporated into the mix.

What’s taking over the empty department store spaces?

Destination restaurants: Forget about food courts with greasy corndogs and stale soft pretzels. Today’s most successful malls are adding restaurants ranging from casual to upscale that attract groups of customers who often stay and shop.

Supermarkets: Big-box discounters like Costco and Sam’s Club have been moving into malls for a while now, and regular grocery stores are starting to follow suit. The move appeals to consumers’ desire for convenience — why not buy shoes, groceries and a TV set in one trip?

Entertainment venues: Movie theaters, bowling alleys, arcades and other entertainment businesses catering to everyone from families to upscale singles are rapidly making malls destination points.

Specialized chains: Shoppers no longer want a one-size-fits-all department store; instead, they are gravitating toward larger but still specialized chains, such as Dick’s Sporting Goods or PetSmart.

Is your retail store located in a mall — or are you hoping to take advantage of a local mall’s makeover to get a space? When deciding whether to go, stay or move, the most important factor for a small retailer is whether a mall attracts enough of your target customers. Here are some other points to consider.

  • Is an anchor department store in your mall or your area planning to close? If so, consider whether you can capture some of their former customers. Assess the retailer’s customer base and how closely it matches yours, as well as where the next-nearest location of that retailer is. Customers whose favorite store closes won’t necessarily switch loyalties. One study found that after a Kmart closed, many of its regular shoppers were so loyal, they willingly drove twice as far to a Kmart in another town.
  • What kind of mix does the mall have? Malls with department store anchors are no longer your best bet. Instead, look for malls with a thriving mix of different businesses. For example, shopping centers that include condominiums or office buildings often incorporate smaller “boutique” stores, similar to traditional Main Street retailers, to cater to residents and workers.
  • How well are mall tenants doing? More than ever, small retailers in malls will need to watch the fortunes of their larger neighbors. If a formally reliable anchor store in your mall is starting to struggle, be prepared to make some changes yourself.

Empty Mall Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Moving to the Mall: How the Death of Department Stores Could Benefit Small Retailers” was first published on Small Business Trends

Important Lead Generation Lessons Learned from Over 1/4 Million SlideShare Views

slide-share.png

According to DMR Stats, SlideShare users add more than 400,000 new presentations per month. The site receives 159 million page views per month, and has more than 70 million users.

And it’s one of the most underutilized lead generation tools we marketers have in our quiver.

Sure, it has a paid lead capture form, but even without it, organic calls-to-action (CTA) work beautifully. Plus, with the embed feature, you presentations are highly portable and easily placed in blog posts, bylines, and on social media.

Out of the 30-plus decks I’ve posted, four of them have been featured on the SlideShare homepage. That helps drive a considerable amount of visibility and referral traffic. While I can’t tell you exactly how to get featured there, I do have a few ideas.

The icing on the cake, perhaps, is that incoming traffic from a CTA slide can convert at incredible rates — much higher than any other social media platform. Here are some analytics from a new deck after just a few days live:

Here are the lessons learned in more detail:

Always end with a top to mid-funnel CTA slide.

As content marketers it is our duty to provide our content consumers with what to do next. If someone is going to take the time to read, watch or listen to our content we owe them the next step. As a result, it is absolutely prudent to include a top to mid-funnel CTA at the end of the presentation.

There’s a reason to put it at the end, too, but more on that shortly.

Also know that the lower the CTA is in the funnel, the less conversions you’re going to get. Having a CTA to sign up for a free demo will get far less action than offering up an ebook.

Examples of SlideShare CTAs that Actually Convert from Chad Pollitt

Above are examples of what CTA slides can look like. All but the last CTA are just JPGs so the buttons don’t work. You’ll want to make sure your buttons do. If you want more examples feel free to check out my SlideShare account. I’ve retired some of the really old stuff, but there are plenty of goodies still in there.

SlideShare referral traffic has more inherent trust in you.

How would I know this? Easy, look at the conversion rates below. These are Relevance.com conversion rates since November of 2012 for social media channels. Meaning — if someone clicked on any link to our website on social media this was the percentage of people that converted on a landing page.

Here’s the thing — If someone is going to trudge through 30, 50, 100 slides and get to the end, they clearly liked the content and found it helpful. Otherwise, they would jump ship before the end, never see the CTA, and never become referral traffic.

I’ve experimented with placing CTA slides in the middle of decks and they don’t perform nearly as well as the ones at the end. Besides, you want to give the content consumer a chance to get through the deck before they click away. They might not trust you enough to click through to your landing page yet, let alone fill out your form.

Slide embeds on bylines and guest posts on popular sites get a ton of views.

Below is a chart of all of the traffic sources to my presentations. Sometimes these presentations are from speaking appearances, but sometimes I’ll create one just for a post. There’s a reason why almost 75% of the traffic comes from embeds and referral sources. Anytime I get the chance to write for HuffPo, Guardian, Moz, Social Media Today, etc. I try to include an embed of a presentation.

This serves three purposes — more visibility, a baked-in CTA (many of the sites I write for don’t like overtly written CTAs, but have no issues with one in a deck), and the slide view count is a way to monitor how many people are reading the article.

With the embedded deck I can go back to SlideShare and get a rough estimate as to how many people read the article I wrote on Moz without having to ask them how many views it got. While Moz does indeed show 30 days of analytics via a link below the comments section, SlideShare gives a lifetime view count.

SlideShare will feature your deck on its homepage if it’s good.

Here’s where I have to rely on my gut since I don’t know exactly how SlideShare determines which decks are considered to be featured on the homepage or in a category. Since I’ve had four decks featured on the homepage and four more featured in the marketing category I have a hunch.

If you can get your deck embedded on a highly traveled website within 24 or 48 hours of uploading someone at SlideShare takes notice of its popularity. I believe it’s at this point they determine whether or not to feature it in a category or the homepage. This has held true with all of my decks that have been featured.

If SlideShare isn’t a channel you use to drive leads, I highly recommend you make it one. The numbers don’t lie — it’s arguably the most efficient social media lead generation tool on the Internet. Making a presentation can be a lot of work, but if you repurpose it well and get it out there it can sure be worth the effort.

Now let’s see what I can learn in the next quarter million views …

Editor’s Note: a version of this post first appeared on Inbound.org, HubSpot’s community for inbound marketers.

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Take Full Advantage of Your Next Business Conference Experience Read These 4 Tips

Tips for Attending a Business Conference

Attending a conference can be overwhelming or very productive. This totally depends on you. If you go there prepared and invest your time and energy, then you can get the most out of it. Below you can find tips to prepare for a conference and get the return of your commitment.

Tips for Attending a Business Conference

Learn the Schedule and the Presenters: Look at the conference schedule and find the presentations that you are interested in. Also, study the speakers and identify the ones that will beneficial for you to meet. Research their online profiles and learn their backgrounds so when you are talking with them, you can mention a few key points that you learned through your researches. Moreover, don’t forget to mention why they should meet with you and what you can do them for them as well.

Present Well: If you are one of the presenters, then, pay attention to the content of your slides. Make your slides entertaining. Don’t use too many bullet points and make your slides look overcrowded. Instead, use graphs and pictures whenever possible. Don’t use too much animation in transitions between slides unless you are absolutely sure that all of the animations will work. Remember that simple is always better and less is always more. Also, take every opportunity to connect with your audience. Look your audience in the eyes.

Take Care of Logistical Details: If the conference is in another city, don’t forget to make travel and accommodation arrangements. Don’t leave everything to the last minute. Otherwise, you may come across with unwanted situations such as overbooked flights or hotel rooms. Make yourself familiar with the conference area so you can plan how you are going to make your transfer between the hotel and the conference venue. If the conference is in your home city, then, learn how to get there and how long it takes so you can plan being there on time with your chosen method of transport such as driving, taking a bus or using the metro.

Use Social Media: Use social media to join the conversation related to the conference. Use the official conference hashtag when making a post and find others who used this hashtag to connect with them. In this way, you can gain new followers or connect with them using their LinkedIn profiles and grow your network. You can even arrange a social gathering with these people before the conference is over so you can meet face to face. By the way, don’t forget to bring a lot of business cards with you because you will need them during the conference.

Republished by permission. Original here.

Conference Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “Take Full Advantage of Your Next Business Conference Experience — Read These 4 Tips” was first published on Small Business Trends

The Secrets Behind Retaining More Repeat Customers Dont Miss These!

How to Retain Customers with Long-Term Relationships

You’ve closed the sale and delivered on your products or services, and you might think your work is done, but that’s not the case at all. If you want to spend less time and money in the future making sales, you’ve still got some work to do.

Repeat customers are your ticket to continually boosting revenue without putting in a ton of work. In fact, increasing customer retention rates by just 5 percent can increase your profits 25 to 95 percent.

Where Most Companies Fail

Despite the numbers for customer retention being in every business’ favor, many companies drop the ball as soon as that initial sale is made. Customers, even if they’re happy with the product or service, have no reason to continue the relationship with a brand if that brand doesn’t make an effort to nurture that relationship.

Most small businesses don’t realize how incredibly simple it is to remain relevant to those customers: a simple post-sale email marketing campaign can keep the brand at the forefront of a customer’s mind. When she’s ready to buy, she’ll be more likely to do so if she’s got a special offer in her inbox.

Another way companies fail to connect with customers is by neglecting to ask for feedback. Sending a simple survey after a purchase can help your brand understand how well (or not) you met customers’ expectations. If you failed in that aspect, you have the opportunity to remedy the situation, make the customer happy and inspire loyalty to your brand. If you don’t bother, she has no sense that you care about her at all, and she’ll be happy to go to the competition.

How to Retain Customers with Long-Term Relationships

The simplest solution here is to just care about your customers. Make sure you’ve lived up to your brand promises by talking to your customers and inquiring how you could do better in the future.

Beyond that, you need to stay relevant. Gear your blog content, your emails, and the interactions you have with customers to capture their attention and make them feel like they couldn’t do without you.

Remember that marketing to someone who has purchased from you in the past isn’t the same as marketing to a new customer. You’ll get better results if you speak to that “audience of one” and make her feel like you acknowledge her as a customer and look forward to serving her in the future. Make recommendations for products that complement what she’s already bought from you. Call her personally to see how she likes her purchase. Make her feel like a person and not a sale.

With just a little bit of upfront effort to bridge the gap from the first sale to subsequent ones, you’ll set up a relationship with a customer that will last for years. Just keep her needs and interests at the core of all you do, and she’ll become a brand ambassador for you.

Customer Photo via Shutterstock

This article, “The Secrets Behind Retaining More Repeat Customers, Don’t Miss These!” was first published on Small Business Trends