Tips to jump start your online marketing -

Tips to jump start your online marketing -

Tips to jump start your online marketing -

Posted: 16 Sep 2020 04:04 AM PDT

In one column a few weeks ago, I suggested the following:

1. Revisit your brand and marketing strategy to establish an online presence that is strong and effective. And 2. Let your community know you are there. In my recent chats, I was asked to find some key selling tips for this online strategy. That was a good suggestion!

I found an interesting project done by Brett Farmiloe, who is founder & CEO of Markitors, a digital marketing company that connects small businesses to customers through organic search. He enjoys converting insights from small business owners into high-quality articles for brands. Farmiloe commented that "the shift to selling online can be monumental for a business that had little digital presence before the pandemic.

"However, setting up an eCommerce site is challenging and, at times, overwhelming."

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So, he asked several experts in the digital marketing field, "What is your best eCommerce tip for a business just getting started?" This full piece appears in SCORE's content library.

Create an SEO strategy

When selling online, you don't have the luxury of people wandering into your brick and mortar store by chance and making an impulsive purchase. When SEO is done right and a strategy is set in place, consumers can organically uncover an online retailer. It sounds scary, but SEO is a sure way to make sure that your target market can find you in a search engine.

- Vanessa Molica, The Lash Professional

Pick the right e-commerce platform

E-commerce platforms are the backbone of any online retail enterprise, allowing the front-end and back-end of an online shop to work together efficiently. An E-commerce platform should give you all the features you need to start, scale and manage your online business. Spend time researching your options and find the one that best suits you and your business.

- JJ Hepp, Arrow Lift

Don't send customers away

One of the worst no-nos I see on new online stores is prominent social media links, in either the website header or elsewhere on the home page. The minute someone sees that Facebook or Instagram logo, they'll be distracted from buying from you and enticed by the engagement that social media brings. This means even if they click a link that takes them to your social media page, they'll immediately get drawn into their own notifications and feed and forget about wanting to buy from you. If you want to include social links, keep them in the website footer and discrete.

- Reese Spykerman, Design by Reese

Invest in your website

In the world of online shopping, people aren't going to type their card number into a website that features shoddy images and poorly written product descriptions. Invest in a reputable web developer to help build a website that works cohesively with your eCommerce platform of choice. Make sure they take the time to find professional product images, write some great content, and upload them onto your website in a way that is aesthetic and user-friendly.

- Peter Babichenko, Sahara Case

Live and breathe digital

The number one tip I would give you is that you need to be all over the place. You need to live and breathe digital. You have to know everything out there when it comes to running an online business. You need to have a website and social media pages. You need to be running ads, writing blogs, and making YouTube videos or post your product at online marketplaces. There are a lot of how-to articles to help you with your online business.

- Shari Smith, Shari Sells

Find your unique selling point

To be a successful online seller, find your unique selling point. Analyze your competitors and discover what they don't have that you do. When I was first starting, I realized that most businesses in the VoIP space lacked verified user reviews. As a result, a lot of potential customers were skeptical about their legitimacy. We made this a core part of our model, and over the years we have racked up more than 20,000 verified user reviews, which have helped instill trust in potential customers.

- Reuben Yonatan, Get VoIP

Make your website secure

When it comes to selling online, the most important aspect is security. Chances are, you will be using online payment methods to allow people to make the purchase in a simple and efficient way. Since you will be dealing with customer financial information, you need to ensure that your website's security is excellent. Take all the right precautions to protect customer data. It is their trust that you want to keep after all.

- Will Ellis, Privacy Australia

Don't try to reinvent the wheel

Use what's already available. Utilize Amazon to sell your best products. Let your offline customers know where they can now get their favorite goodies. Then, move to your own site slowly, after you've taken the time to figure out the best way to do things for your business. And even then, use what's already there.

- Vinay Amin, Eu Natural

Dean Swanson is a volunteer Certified SCORE Mentor and former SCORE chapter chairman, district director and regional vice president for the North West Region.

Lowe’s launches ‘Shark Tank’-like effort to get products from diverse small businesses on shelves - CNBC

Posted: 15 Sep 2020 06:25 AM PDT

As many small businesses face challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, Lowe's is giving them a shot to get their products on its store shelves and website.

Lowe's CEO Marvin Ellison said Tuesday on CNBC's "Squawk on the Street" that the home improvement retailer is teaming up with Daymond John, a star of ABC's "Shark Tank," to mentor entrepreneurs across diverse backgrounds, listen to their pitches and narrow the pool to standouts. The initiative will ultimately culminate in a one-day pitch competition judged by Lowe's executives and hosted by John.

"Although we're a big company, we're fortunate to be classified as an essential business, we understand that the success of our broader macro economy is going to be the small businesses and the ability for small businesses to continue to grow and thrive," Ellison said. "We understand that Covid-19 has created an incredible strain on the economic viability of many of these small businesses. We are, as a large company, doing our best to help."

The home improvement retailer has committed $55 million towards small business grants to support minority-owned and women-owned businesses and rural small businesses — many of which have struggled as Covid-19 spread, shuttered stores and created economic uncertainty.

Ellison said Tuesday that the new effort was inspired by the outpouring of interest and great need. He said Lowe's has gotten over 800,000 applications for the grants since it began the program in May.

"The demand from this program led us to understand that there's a lot more that we should be doing," he said. "So we came up with an idea to try to get more products on our shelves and on that originate from diverse entrepreneurs."

The new initiative is called "Making it... With Lowe's." Small businesses can apply for the contest from Sept. 15 through Sept. 25.

In an interview with CNBC, John said the competition differs from "Shark Tank" in a notable way: Lowe's won't take a cut of the company like the "sharks" on the TV show do.

He said he expects as many as a million applicants. He said the contest helps small businesses reach a mass market, one of the major hurdles for entrepreneurs as they start out and try to scale. 

Lowe's has been trying to strengthen its relationship with home professionals, such as plumbers, contractors and electricians, and try to win more of their business. About 20% to 25% of its sales come from pros, compared to about 45% at rival Home Depot. Lowe's launched a loyalty program, added new products geared towards them and began offering a free video tool that allows pros to make virtual home visits during the pandemic. It recently launched a tool rental business, which it plans to expand nationwide.

"We're going to be committed to serving that really, really important and very influential customer, while making sure that our e-commerce business continues to be something that customers think first about," he said.

Along with spotlighting small businesses, the pitch competition could help differentiate Lowe's. It could add a unique assortment of products that customers can't find at other retailers. The retailer already carries some exclusive brands of power tools and other home improvement items.

Lowe's has benefited during the pandemic, as Americans work, learn and spend more time at home. Customers have been sprucing up their lawns, replacing appliances and doing DIY projects. That caused second-quarter revenue to jump by 30% and website sales to soar by 135%. 

Shares were up about 1% early Tuesday. Its shares are up nearly 38% so far this year.

Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."

JustBusiness Launches Today, Releasing the First In-Depth Look at America's 'Pandemic Founders' Starting Businesses in 2020 - Salamanca Press

Posted: 15 Sep 2020 08:00 AM PDT

NEW YORK, Sept. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- JustBusiness, a powerful new source of information, advice, and services for new business owners, is launching today with original research on America's newest entrepreneurs -- the "Pandemic Founders" who are striving to start a business despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.

JustBusiness' inaugural report, titled How 2020 Has Influenced A New Class of 'Pandemic Founders', provides the first deep-dive analysis of who's starting a business in 2020, and how they've been impacted by COVID-19. Key insights include:

  • The pandemic was a catalyst for many entrepreneurs. One in five, or 20% of respondents said that they didn't have plans to start a business before the pandemic—but they do now.
  • Many of these folks are tackling their passion after losing a job: More than a quarter, or 26%, were laid off, and are now starting up on their own.
  • More than half are first-timers. About 51% of survey respondents said that this would be their first time starting a business.
  • Fully virtual and hybrid models are most popular. Approximately 29% of businesses launching will be entirely virtual, while an additional 32% will be both physical and online.

The full report examines additional factors, such as the most popular industries, most common types of financing and business owners' hiring plans.

"This is a fascinating group of founders," said Eric Goldschein, Partnerships Editor at JustBusiness, and lead researcher on the report. "We were initially surprised that small business formation has increased so significantly this year. But we've learned that these entrepreneurs are seizing the silver lining, perhaps pursuing their passion after being laid off, or uncovering a new opportunity due to the pandemic. I'm proud to report that many in this new class of business owners are meeting the hardships of 2020 with quintessential American ingenuity and innovation."

JustBusiness was created by the editorial team at Fundera and will operate independent of its parent company. It is a passion project of a group of seasoned small business journalists who saw just how little was made available to new small businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. JustBusiness's purpose is to give business owners direct access to the comprehensive information they need to make confident decisions for their new business.

"The pandemic completely changed our relationship with our Fundera Ledger readers," said Sally Lauckner, Editor-in-Chief at JustBusiness. "We started talking to them on the phone for hours a day. No one could keep up with what was happening with PPP and what was available to their business. And while there were many efforts to help established small businesses, people who were starting or had recently started their business were pretty much left behind. The overwhelming piece of feedback we got from readers pre-pandemic was that they wished they would have had a one-stop shop for everything they needed when they started their business. That, plus what we saw firsthand over the past six months, made us realize now is the time to prioritize this resource and start helping as many folks as we can."

About JustBusiness
JustBusiness strives to provide the most accurate and trusted small business advice on the internet. We connect business owners to thoroughly researched information, product reviews, and expert recommendations. JustBusiness launched in September 2020 after parent company, Fundera, saw just how little was made available to new small businesses during the novel coronavirus pandemic. JustBusiness was born to create a home for truly unbiased advice, operating independent to Fundera and the Fundera Ledger. For more information, please visit

CONTACT: Dave Heinzinger,

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