Tuesday, 31 October 2017

Holiday Sales: What Your Business Needs to Do Right Now

This year, holiday retail sales are expected to hover around $680 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. Given these high stakes, businesses are looking to do all they can to not leave any money on the table. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to preparing a retail operation, whether it's ecommerce or bricks-and-mortar, for an influx of business during the holiday season. But small business experts and experienced owners agree that a blend of time-tested, common-sense steps and innovative approaches can help small businesses take on the holiday sales rush. So with that on ground, here are the nine key steps to get your business ready for the holiday season.
1. Plan and set seasonal goals: Planning is ongoing for every business, but preparation for the busiest shopping time of the year should include a detailed review of last year's holiday sales performance. This information can be used to determine inventory, tailor deals, create promotional offers and set revenue goals for the season. "Make sure that the goals you set for yourself are reasonable and attainable," said Stefan Lewinger, founder and CEO of sock subscription company Sock Fancy. He also reminds fellow business owners that they don't have to define their goals solely on revenue. "Other metrics, like customer engagement and social media following, are . . . great tools to measure your success." Also, spend some time researching the holiday sales strategies of your top competitors and determining the marketing approaches you will use to reach your target customer. Lewinger suggests getting your products included in holiday gift guides or "best of" lists.
2. Review and upgrade technology: In this regard, you need to make sure your technology is ready and able to handle the onslaught of holiday shoppers. You don't want to lose potential customers because your website is down or you can't process credit card orders. This means taking the time earlier in the year to upgrade security software, test checkout and payment processes, check the usability of search functions, and make sure your website is user-friendly and able to handle an increase in traffic. "Small businesses need to ensure that all channels – whether in-store, online or mobile – are all up to date and running smoothly," said Chris Francis, vice president of market development at Worldpay, a provider of payments processing technology. "They must run the necessary tests and evaluations to ensure their technology is working properly, and to avoid any bugs or malfunctions from losing sales."
3. Embrace omnichannel customer experiences: This year, one of the most prominent trends impacting holiday sales is omnichannel retailing, which is defined as an integrated sales approach that creates a seamless shopping experience for customers regardless of whether they are shopping from a desktop, mobile device or store. For example, these customers may buy online but pick up the item in the store, or they may use a smartphone app to compare prices and then make a purchase through a company's website. "By embracing all available sales channels, small businesses can enjoy increased sales during the holiday season," said Francis. According to Francis, omnichannel shoppers are more likely to return to make additional purchases and to recommend brands to family and friends. "Remember what small businesses want to do is to not only increase contact with their customers, but increase the value of that contact too – and they need to be focused on that fact when evaluating omnichannel solutions," he said. One way businesses can be responsive to omnichannel shoppers is by honoring online coupons and in-store deals interchangeably. "If you don't have your holiday deals out now – you should – make sure that all of them are scannable for your in-store sales," said Mike Catania, chief technology officer of coupon website PromotionCode.org. "Nothing is more frustrating than knowing you have a store near you but, in order to get a good deal, you have to order online," added RaShea Drake, B2B specialist with Verizon.
4. Cultivate online sales: Starting here, according to Amit Mathradas, general manager and head of Small Business North America for PayPal, there has been disproportionate holiday shopping growth from online channels. A recently released Walker Sands survey of 1,600 consumers found that 41 percent of respondents completed all or most of their holiday shopping online in 2016, and nearly half said they now prefer to shop online. Additionally, according to Deloitte's retail holiday sales forecast, overall ecommerce sales will grow by 18 to 21 percent from last year's shopping season. Establishing an online store is imperative for all small businesses interested in capturing this ever-growing segment of the holiday market. "An online store makes it easy to show off your holiday specials, create loyalty programs and showcase special products," said Nicolas Beique, founder and CEO of merchant account provider Helcim. Mathradas said that to further capitalize on the growth of online business, merchants need to focus on reducing shopping-cart abandonment (adding items to a virtual shopping cart but not completing the purchase) – particularly on mobile devices. "Online sales and an emphasis on mobile are categorical imperatives," he said. "A site not rendering properly on a mobile device, or any hiccups in payment processing, can cause a ripple effect in terms of lost sales."
5. Market to loyal customers: Acquiring new customers always requires more time and money than getting repeat customers to come back, and this is especially true during the holiday season. Matt Winn, senior manager of segment market communications at HID Global, a manufacturer of secure identity solutions, said that offering highly personalized discounts and promotions to existing customers can be a very effective way to encourage holiday purchases. Richard Stevenson, head of corporate communications at cloud-driven ecommerce software provider ePages, agreed, noting that special "holiday countdown" promotions can encourage customers to come back to your store throughout the season. "Each day, [you can offer] a special price or product combination promotion," Stevenson said. "These can be announced on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. This will not only encourage a direct sale but also create engagement and repeat visits from shoppers curious to see what the next promotion will be."
6. Make use social media to promote your brand: Use tools such as search engines and social media so your customers can find you and stay informed about your products and services when they are ready to buy, Mathradas said. "On a platform like Facebook, you can target the right demographic and ensure that there is a clear call to action, whether a click or a call to drive towards a sale," he added. "Similarly, investing in search terms via Google ensures that you are easily found by customers looking for similar products. This is especially critical for [niche] businesses … to target the right customer as they follow the path to purchase." Now, developing targeted promotional campaigns gives you an opportunity to interact with prospective customers who are looking for holiday recommendations. "Think giveaways, think videos, think content that people want to share with their friends," said Shauna Armitage, chief marketing strategist with Making Moxie, a marketing firm that serves small businesses. "Engagement and virality is the name of the game. Don't just post for the sake of posting," she added. All your social media activity should help you increase brand awareness and customer loyalty. Drake recommends using social media to market early and market often. "Use Facebook, Instagram and Twitter this holiday season to keep in touch with your audience and even have short-term flash sales to keep them checking back with your social accounts, like they're an insider," she said.
7. Make exceptional customer service available: During this high-stress time of year, businesses should ensure that all team members, regardless of position, have the information they need to be responsive to customers' varying needs. "Warehouse personnel and customer service [staff] should be familiar with each holiday campaign so that they can fulfill the right orders, and properly and promptly address customers' issues," said Katy Smith, content manager for CompAndSave, an online provider of printer ink, toner and accessories. If necessary, businesses should also be ready to ask current staff to work longer hours, hire and train seasonal workers, or lengthen hours of operation to accommodate an increase in customer demands.
8. Give out competitive delivery options: You can distinguish yourself from your competitors and win the hearts of last-minute shoppers if you can offer free shipping or quick delivery. "Free shipping raises the perceived value of your product and simultaneously lowers buyer friction," said Augie Kennady, media relations director for ShipMonk, which provides multichannel order fulfillment services. A smart tactic for brick-and-mortar retailers worried about online sales eclipsing their foot traffic this holiday season is to offer an in-store-pickup option for online purchases. Rodney Mason, CEO of Nurture Ranch, a provider of grass-fed beef and meats, said that "buy online, pick up in store" (BOPIS) promotions create a better connection between the online and in-store customer experience. "Getting foot traffic will be crucial to getting many retailers back in the black this holiday season," Mason said. "The BOPIS promotion should prove to be a helpful one this holiday season. This strategy is a win-win – shoppers get an attractive deal during the holiday season, and retailers gain more in-store foot traffic and increase the likelihood of incremental purchasing."
9. Plan for post-holiday business: One thing to note here, is that how you interact with shoppers after the holidays will leave a lasting impact and help determine if they become repeat customers. Lewinger advises finding ways to maintain the momentum of the holiday season well into the new year. Use this time to streamline the process for handling returns as well as develop a strategy for encouraging customers with returns to use their time in your business to make additional purchases. "Find ways to engage with the new customers you made over the holidays as well as reaching out to other potential customers," said Lewinger. "Planning for the post-holiday season can be just as important to make sure you can hop right back into regular sales once the holiday rush comes to an end." Thanks for reading.......

How You Can Start a Podcast

Spiritual teachers Alyssa Malehorn and Zack Fuentes started their day with coffee and a private conversation about spirituality and personal growth. The duo hadn't thought about sharing their discussions with the world until friends and family learned about the lively and insightful conversations that took place during their morning ritual. "They kept saying, 'Man, I wish I could be a fly on the wall,'" said Malehorn. "It gave us the initial thought of starting a podcast." Podcasting is a content format that reaches people who might not otherwise find an organization's messaging and prefer the portability and intimacy of listening to audio content. In the world of today, most listeners fall between the ages of 18 and 54 and are nearly equally distributed between male and females, according to Edison Research. The number of people who listen to podcasts (also known as on-demand audio) is exploding every year, thanks to technology advancements that make creating podcasts and listening to them more convenient and accessible than ever before. One of the biggest benefits of podcasting is positioning yourself as an authority on your topic, which helps influence clients and customers in positive ways that encourage them to purchase your products and services. But in one sense, with millions of hours of podcast audio available today, it's important to find a niche – something that sets your podcast apart from others. Ramp-up to first broadcast can be quick. Malehorn and Fuentes launched their podcast, "Raw Spirituality," a couple of weeks after the idea was first hatched. Best of all, you don’t need to be a technophile or have a big budget to start a podcast.
Where to start? Here's the basic podcast startup checklist.
1. Create content that's highly targeted and conversational: Podcasts are often compared to talk radio broadcasts. But unlike radio, podcasts are more prolific and delivered on demand. Listeners tune in whenever they want, wherever they happen to be at the time. Tuning in to your podcast and consuming your content only just requires a smartphone, tablet or desktop computer. Always keep in mind that the objective of a podcast is to connect with listeners and build a community of relationships with each and every listener over time. They'll be investing 30 minutes or more to listen to what you have to say, so make it worth their time. If your industry is underserved in the podcast universe, it's likely that there are listeners out there who are hungry for information and actively searching for new content. Carve out a topic niche in which you can easily and authoritatively speak for long stretches, in language that's informal and engaging. Don't count on podcasts as a way to generate revenue. Monetization comes with large numbers of weekly downloads, not subscribers, and that's challenging for most podcasters to achieve. Instead, think of podcasting as a way to reach more people. When it comes to choosing a subject, make sure it's something you're passionate about. If you're not in love with the topic you're talking about, podcasting will be a struggle and listeners will hear that in your voice. "You want to talk about something you find very exciting," said Malehorn.
2. Throw out the scripts: Now...before we talk about equipment needed to produce a podcast, understand that podcasting is no place for a teleprompter. A short topic outline might prove helpful, but successful podcasters don't use scripts because they lead to stilted language that doesn't resonate with listeners. Podcasts that feel like an advertisement or resemble college lectures won't cut it either. Be your authentic self. Talk about what you know, using essentially the same words and tone you normally use when conversing with a close friend. Successful podcasts allow listeners to get to know the podcasters, warts and all. "A lot of people who start podcasts think they have to be perfect. Relax into what you're doing. Your listeners are friendly, and if you're engaging with them, you're getting to know them too," Malehorn said. "Being authentic helps build the community. We feel that sense of community, and that allows us to relax and just go for it." Talking into a microphone for 30 minutes or longer might take some getting used to. Try to imagine yourself talking to an individual person, one-on-one, about a single aspect in your area of expertise and take the conversation wherever it leads. Better yet, consider different formats, such as expert interviews and multiple hosts.
3. Acquire hardware and peripherals capable of recording high-quality audio: Here, you don't need a professional studio with fancy equipment. All that's required is a laptop or tablet, audio recording and editing software, and a high-quality microphone to record the audio. Probably the most important piece of equipment for podcasting is the microphone. Skimp on this item and the resulting lack of audio crispness and clarity could brand your podcast as amateurish. Look for a USB microphone that plugs into the USB port of your computer. Do not use the computer's built-in microphone. There are some basic microphones on the market for under $100, but if you're serious about podcasting, you'll want to budget for a higher-quality model – anywhere from $125 to $300. Many podcasters swear by Blue Yeti USB microphones. Condenser microphones also provide rich sounds and are available within the same budget range. Be sure to buy enough microphones for all your podcast's speakers. Browse products (and talk or chat with customer service representatives) at online retailers like B&H to see the full range of microphones available. Consider purchasing a pop filter to muffle or reduce the likelihood of recording the clicking or smacking sounds so many people make when speaking normally into a microphone. Audio should ideally be recorded in a small area, away from cars and nature noises. To reduce editing time, consider sectioning off the room and adding some dense sound-absorbing materials to reduce noise and sound reflections within the room – rugs or carpet on the floor and blankets on rods around the space in which you'll be recording, for example. Some podcasters record in a closet, where carpeted floors and hanging clothing absorb most ambient sounds. Check out some examples of pop and reflection filters. You'll need audio software to create your podcast. If you already own a MacBook or iPad, you are already ahead of the recording and editing game. Apple's laptops and tablets typically come equipped with GarageBand, a professional-level studio editing application that's free and easy to use. For PC users, such applications as Audacity and Adobe Audition work similarly to GarageBand. Audacity is free, and Audition is available for a monthly subscription. Intros and outros are short voiceovers, usually with music, that introduces each podcast episode and the host(s). You can record these yourself or hire a professional voiceover person to record your intro and outro for you. An intro and outro for your podcast add personality and professionalism. Once you edit the audio recording and add images and music for the podcast intro (the beginning of the podcast) and outro (the end of the podcast), you're ready to export the finished podcast to your website and the distribution platforms of your choice.
4. Upload podcasts to your website and multiple distribution platforms to reach a wide audience: First here, check with your current web hosting company, but you'll probably need a separate host for your audio files because of file size. When determining how much storage space you'll need, consider how many episodes you'll record each week and multiply to figure out your storage needs – and then try to get an option to quickly increase space, just in case you need more file space. After you have your web hosting squared away and at least one episode uploaded, your media host will provide you with an RSS feed. This is the feed you'll submit to platforms like iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud and Spotify. Make sure your podcast landing page on these platforms includes beautiful podcast art that reflects the look and feel of your podcast. Platforms such as iTunes pay attention to details like artwork and podcast description text.
5. Launch your podcast with two or three episodes: Now in order to generate more buzz on launch day, get several episodes already completed and uploaded. Announce the launch in advance to your business network via email and social media. The idea is to build a small audience before you launch. To improve your chances of getting noticed and possibly featured by iTunes, be sure to encourage new listeners to subscribe to your podcast and leave a review.
Your first step: Listen to popular podcasts and set your goals.
There are dozens and dozens of categories and subcategories of podcasts on iTunes. To find out what works and what doesn't work, listen to a wide variety of them – including those that aren't in your industry or topic area – to learn how others conduct themselves on air. The best podcasts are conversations, not sales pitches. Malehorn and Fuentes say the goal for their podcast was focused around the energy of giving a gift to others. They planned their podcast for like-minded people interested in spiritual growth, and their broadcasts provide insights to help listeners improve their lives. "As spiritual teachers, we don't put a lot of energy into developing a brand," Fuentes said. "We looked at podcasting as a way to reach more people." That's the right approach, no matter the industry or topic. Connecting and engaging with more people should be every podcaster's primary objective. Deliver the information listeners need most, and branding will naturally follow. Thanks for reading....

Thursday, 12 October 2017

Movies Anywhere is going to merge your iTunes, Google, Vudu, and Amazon libraries: Here's how

For so many years, Disney Movies Anywhere has been the unsung hero of the digital world. With a simple sign-in, your Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and, of course Disney, flicks could be accessed on any device, regardless of where they were purchased. And now Disney is bringing that magical streaming convenience to the rest of your iTunes, Play Store, Vudu, and Amazon libraries. Starting from today, Disney is dropping its name from Movies Anywhere, and is expanding the service to include more than 7,000 titles from Fox, Sony, Universal, and Warner Bros. That opens it up to a much wider selection of films, and eliminates the need to download and sign into various apps just to watch something on a different device.
The impactation on you at home: In a word, this is very big. Ever since the first movies were released digitally, we’ve wanted a universal locker to store them all and easy access across all of our devices. As someone who often switches between iOS and Android, I’ve had to repurchase movies too many times just because I wanted to watch it on a different device (I’m looking at you, iTunes). But now those days are nearly behind us. There’s still a long way to go, of course, but this is a giant step toward creating a friendly, seamless way to carry your movie collection across devices. And maybe, just maybe this will be the final blow to the awful Ultraviolet service Hollywood keeps pushing on us.
Anywhere and everywhere: The service will for sure work with Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Play Movies, Vudu, and Amazon, and it’s just as easy to use as it was before. Here’s how it works:
1.Download the Movies Anywhere app from the iOS, Google Play Store or Amazon app store.
2.Tap the Get Started button and choose how you want to sign in (Google, Facebook, or email).
3.Once you’re logged, select Manage Retailers (on Android phones you’ll need to click the menu icon at the top left first).
4.Choose the service you want to connect. (You’ll need to be on an iPhone in order to link your iTunes account, and you’ll be taken to the iTunes Store).
5.Tap on the My Movies tab to browse your library.
That’s all you need to do to make it work. The app grabbed a significant chunk of my movie library, which is quite large. Of the 300 or so titles I own, 178 turned up in the Movies Anywhere app. I assume more studios (such as Lionsgate and Paramount) will sign on as the service spreads in popularity. The app is available for Apple TV, Roku, Kindle Fire, and Fire TV devices, and it also supports Chromecast. You’ll notice that Microsoft isn’t one of the services supported, so Surface users are out of luck. That's not a complete surprise, as Microsoft Movies was dropped from the Disney Movies Anywhere app in September. Movies can be downloaded or streamed, but they only play in HD, so Apple TV 4K users will still want to use the Movies app for 2160p content. Anyone who signs up for the service can get up to five movies for free: two after linking the first account (the original Ice Age and the latest Ghostbusters), and three more after linking the second (Big Hero 6, Jason Bourne, and The Lego Movie).
This story, was originally published by TechHive.
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How You Can Make Great Headshots, Even if You're Camera Shy

Before now, it used to be that only executives and model/actor types needed headshots, but now thanks to the proliferation of online professional networks, and a general increase in online visibility across all industries, everyone from office administrators and restaurant owners to dentists and government employees is getting in the headshot game. If you're not a fan of having your photo taken, but you know you need a professional headshot, you're not alone. Luckily, there are several tried-and-true tips that help make the experience painless. We talked to professional photographers to get their take on how regular people can find a great headshot photographer and get top-notch photos. Here's what they said.
Finding the right photographer You don't have to be licensed or certified to be a professional photographer, and lots of people dream of working in photography. Both these facts lead to a staggering number of headshot photographers to choose from, and they vary drastically in terms of pricing and quality. Almost every photographer we spoke with said asking to see examples of past work is the first step to finding a great headshot photographer. In addition to checking out each photographer's portfolio, several photographers mentioned that it's smart to ask to see a complete set of photos from a single photoshoot, as this will help you determine whether the photographer in question is talented or merely able to get a few salvageable shots out of hundreds. Ashley Lodge, the photographer behind Ashley Lodge Photography, recommends people go one step further in their assessment of photographers and look at each image with a critical eye. "Overly Photoshopped images are unflattering on any human with pores," she said. "Eyes should not be ultrawhite or brightly colored, and if teeth look unnaturally white, most likely it is the work of some bad Photoshop. While it may look good for a moment on a small computer screen or cellphone, a print will show every bit of over-the-top editing. Be aware. Ask to see at least five different headshot assignments. Look for quality [and] consistency." Another tip multiple photographers mentioned was asking for clarification on what is included with each headshot session. Mike Peyzner, a professional photographer based in San Francisco, recommended asking specifically about whether you will receive all of the high-resolution images (free of watermarks) taken that day. Some photographers give their clients access to all of the images taken during a given session, while others require their clients to choose a set number for use/purchase. The same is true for retouching, so if you want your images Photoshopped, make sure you know what's included in the base price and what will cost extra.
Collaborating with your photographer: Now on this note, feeling comfortable enough to collaborate with your photographer is key to getting great headshots, especially if you tend to be anxious. When asked about finding a pro, Irina Smirnova, the photographer and founder of Power Portraits said, "The most important thing is connection and open communication … Many people can take great photos. [The] question is will you be able to relax with them and let the magic happen?" Smirnova says the best way to make sure you and your photographer are on the same page is to schedule a consultation to get to know each other. Walk away if something doesn't sit right, she added. In addition to asking questions about the process, Smirnova explained, it's important for clients to speak up about their expectations. "If you want your entrepreneurial story captured in one picture, the photographer needs to know it well enough to make valuable suggestions and create a perfect atmosphere for it," said Smirnova. Many photographers we interviewed echoed Smirnova's sentiments about the importance of communication between photographer and subject. The traditional close-cropped, polished headshot that still works well for professionals in formal work environments (like corporate lawyers or doctors) may be far too stuffy for creative professionals or people who work in more casual settings. Nicole Taylor, the photographer and founder behind Whole Lotta Grace Photography, summed it up well when she said, "It is important that your photographer ask you questions about your profession and what you do in your day to day so they can understand the story you are trying to tell." She said that explaining who you are, what you do, and where you plan on using your headshots will help your photographer understand your vision and deliver a product you're happy with. After all, a photo that's going to be used as a large banner on a personal website can include more background detail and context than a headshot that will be used as a tiny thumbnail on social networking sites. Finally make sure your goals for your headshot are clearly defined and articulated to your photographer before the day of the shoot. If you get the sense that they don't understand you, aren't good listeners or aren't grasping what you need, find someone else.
Choosing a look: As we mentioned, what is considered professional for a headshot no longer fits into the narrow confines of the past, back to that time when nearly all headshots included a grey backdrop, a black suit and closely cropped composition. However, there are still some general rules in terms of clothing and styling that most people will benefit from by following. If you have no idea where to start in terms of selecting an outfit, Lydia Kearney Carlis, Ph.D., and Washington D.C.-based photographer at Eyemagination Imaging, said, "The most important prompt I use during a style consultation with private-session clients is 'Tell me about the last outfit you wore to work that you felt completely confident in. Close your eyes and describe the look to me, from hair to accessories to shoes.'" Kearney Carlis also said it's not usually necessary for her clients to purchase a new outfit for a headshot appointment. Most people already have clothing they like in their wardrobes. Many photographers we spoke with said similar things to Kearney Carlis regarding hairstyles, accessories and makeup. The main takeaway was be yourself, and don't mix it up too much for your headshots. If you wear makeup daily, replicate that look for your headshots, but if you don't, there's no need to get done up for photos. Likewise, don't opt for a new haircut right before your shoot, or try a totally new style of clothing out for the first time. Stick with what works for you. Mike Peyzner, who has more than 12 years of professional photography experience, added that it's important for people to get plenty of sleep the night before their photo shoot, drink plenty of water, and eat prior to the appointment. "Hungry people generally don't look very good," he said. While that may sound a little silly, several other photographers mentioned the same three tips. Just one other styling tip was mentioned over and over again by different photographers: Bring a second shirt, just in case. Accidents happen, and sometimes your personal taste can fail you.
Looking confident when you're uncomfortable: Only if you're regularly in the public eye, you probably have some nervousness about getting your picture taken. Mike Nakumura, like most professional photographers, is familiar with that sense of trepidation. Nakumura said, "The most common expression I hear is, 'I hate having my picture taken.'" He explained that it's the photographer's job to put clients at ease, "When I meet a customer and interact on the phone [with them], I am gathering information on what will help them relax. There is a bit of mirroring happening to help them get comfortable, and we work together to bring their confidence up to the point where they are 'owning' their session." Photographer Taylor agreed that making people comfortable in front of the camera is largely the photographer's onus, but she also provided some helpful tips for those who are especially nervous: "Taking headshots can feel incredibly invasive and uncomfortable […] There are several tricks I have when shooting my clients to help them to engage with me so I can get the authentic shots that I know we both want to see. You don't need to be looking at the camera for every shot. Look away, try smiling, laughing and not smiling at all. Keep in mind to have great posture too," she said. "One trick I often use is having my client breathe in really [deeply], then exhaling and smiling or exhaling and verbally laughing out loud. It seems ridiculous, but oftentimes it creates authentic laughter, and nine times out of 10, those end up being my favorite shots."
Conclusion: If you do your research, choose a photographer you're comfortable with and style yourself in a way that's put together but still reflective of your day-to-day look, most sure....you can skate through the headshot process without much trouble. Thanks....
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Safe and Sound: Apply Workplace Safety Into Your Culture

In the world of today, finding good workers can be tough for any small business. Most employers are constantly looking for an edge over the competition, such as higher pay, better benefits or a lot of time off. But something that could really attract employees is a culture of workplace safety. Employees want to feel safe while they are working, and they want to know that if anything does happen, their employer will have their back. "In today's labor market, it's important that small businesses … recognize [that] safety of the work environment is a top priority for employees," said David Quezada, vice president of loss control at small business insurance company EMPLOYERS. "By fostering a safe work environment, small businesses can protect and retain their most valuable asset, their employees And while all these are well noted... here are some things we are going to look into.
Workplace safety and recruiting: A major key here is-feeling safe at work is crucial to retaining and recruiting employees. According to Chris Edmonds, founder and CEO of The Purposeful Culture Group, if an organization prides itself on keeping employees, suppliers and customers safe, that organization will invest a great deal of time and energy in defining its safety values in behavioral terms, modeling those safety behaviors, and holding everyone in the organization accountable for those safety behaviors. "The organization's reputation as a safe, fun, inspiring, productive workplace creates positive word-of-mouth marketing for their organization as a great place to work," Edmonds said. "That buzz has great reach, which positively impacts recruiting." On the other hand, if the organization's reputation is one of hit-or-miss safety, that creates negative word-of-mouth marketing, said Edmonds: "That buzz has great reach as well."
Training: Okay on this key point, proper safety training is the first step in creating a safer work environment. A recent EMPLOYERS survey revealed that not many small business employees received workplace safety training (17 percent), and 25 percent of microbusiness employees responded that they never received workplace safety training. Attending a training session might help one build knowledge and practice new safety-related behaviors. However, if the organization's culture doesn't reinforce what's learned, the training won't have any significant beneficial impact. "Training is an important complement to a culture of workplace safety – but it won't move the needle much if the culture doesn't embed, reinforce and hold people accountable for safe behaviors every minute," Edmonds said.
How employers can create a culture of workplace safety: Creating a culture of workplace safety starts at the top, Quezada said. "Business owners and management need to set an example by offering regular training and displaying proper safety signage, as well as by being open to their employees who report concerns," he said. "Yet, with the need for small business owners to wear many hats, and without the luxury of dedicated risk professionals on staff, many could benefit from additional resources to help them foster a safe work environment." EMPLOYERS recommends small business owners take the following steps to create a culture of workplace safety that protects their workers and may provide a recruiting advantage:
Identify and assess potential hazards. Business owners should take the time to recognize potential hazards in the work environment and develop policies and procedures to ensure employees can do their jobs safely. Lead by example. It is important to not only communicate safety goals to everyone within the company, but set the model example for others to follow.
Train and educate regularly. Take the time to train new employees during orientation, and set up regular trainings for all employees throughout the year. It is also good practice to include workplace safety policies in employee handbooks and display safety posters throughout the workplace to remind employees about the business's safety priorities and procedures.
Enforce and evaluate. Conduct regular workplace safety audits, safety meetings and annual safety training sessions to enforce regulations and keep safety top of mind for employees. Finally, Edmonds advised defining and refining your desired workplace culture, and aligning your business practices with it. "If you desire to make values – like safety – as important as results, you must define desired values in observable, measurable, tangible terms (valued behaviors)," he said. "Then, measure, mentor and reward those few but vital behaviors every moment."
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Samsung Galaxy Note 8: The 10 killer tips and tricks

At this point Samsung has come back from last year’s Note 7 disaster with the Galaxy Note 8, a phone so jam-packed with features, you might still be learning things about it when the time comes for your next upgrade. The Note 8 includes all the cool stuff Samsung bakes into all its phones, and then adds all the S Pen stuff. So now, why not accelerate your learning process? While you are still thinking on that here are the 10 tips that will guide you to the very best features the Note 8 offers.

Note 8 display adjustments:
The very first thing here is that...the Galaxy Note 8 has one of the best displays available on a smartphone, and you can make a few adjustments to tweak it just right for your eyes. Head into settings and find Display > Screen mode. There are four different modes from which to choose, including Adaptive, AMOLED cinema, AMOLED photo, and basic. There’s a demo picture at the top of the screen so you can see how each one will look. Adaptive mode gives you the most options. At the bottom of the list you’ll find a slider to make the colors cooler or warmer. Tap the advanced checkbox, and you get sliders for the red, green, and blue channels. Additionally, you should also check out the “Screen zoom and font” menu. The default zoom level is a little large for a device as big as the Note 8, but you can lower it by dragging the slider left so more content fits on the screen. If you have trouble seeing everything at the default zoom, you can also make it larger by dragging the slider to the right.
Tweak your Note 8 navigation buttons: Like the Galaxy S8, the Note 8 has on-screen navigation buttons. Now on this ground, you can change the way these buttons work in Settings > Display > Navigation bar. There’s a “Hide” button on the far left of the nav bar that makes the buttons accessible only with a swipe up. So, if you don’t intend to use this feature, turn the button off in this menu. And if you prefer the standard Android button order (back - home - overview) rather than Samsung’s (overview - home - back), you can change that here as well. You’ll need to experiment with the pressure-sensitive home button, which works even when the phone is in full-screen mode or asleep. The default pressure level is 3 out of 5, but you can make it easier (or harder) to trigger. You can also set the hard-press home button to skip the lock screen entirely when your phone is not securely locked.
Customize Note 8 Air Command: The Note 8’s Air Command popup is where you can access all your favorite apps and features for the phone’s S Pen. All you need to do is remove the S Pen from its holder to bring up the floating Air Command icon. But what if you don’t want it to always be there on the screen? That is going to require a trip into the settings. To make changes to how Air Command works, head into Settings > Advanced features > S Pen, and then scroll down to the Air Command section. If you want to keep Air Command from opening every time you take out the S Pen, change the Removal option to “Do nothing.” You can still open Air Command at any time by pressing the side button on your S Pen. It’s also a good idea to take a look at what shortcuts are included in Air Command. Tap the Shortcuts link in this menu, and drag whatever apps and S Pen features you want over to the right. To get rid of one, tap the minus icon.
Edit your Note 8’s Edge Panel: Here the Edge Panel is always available on the Note 8 as a translucent bar on the right side of the display. If you want to move it or change what’s available, you’ll have to dig into the settings a bit. Go to Settings > Display > Edge screen > Edge panels to see what’s currently enabled. Samsung includes almost a dozen panels, and you can get more from the Samsung app store. Tap the checkbox above each panel to turn it on or off, and long-press on any panel to enter reordering mode. Many of the panels—for example, weather and the clipboard manager—have additional settings to configure. Look for the edit button at the bottom to access those settings. Finally, to change the appearance or location of the edge panel handle, tap the menu button and select “Handle settings.” This screen lets you change the location, opacity, and size of the handle
Make animated GIFs with Note 8 Smart Select: Now, even if you make tweaks to Air Command, you’ll definitely want to keep Smart Select in the mix. So now among other tricks, this S Pen feature lets you grab a cropped screenshot in just a few seconds. After launching Smart Select, you’re shown a selection bar at the top of the screen with options for square, round, lasso, and GIF selections. The first three are just regular screenshots, so use the S Pen to highlight what you want. You can also draw on the resulting image before saving. The GIF capture is great for sharing quick video clips with friends, and it works similarly to the static capture methods. Move the selection box where you want to capture the GIF, and check your quality setting at the bottom. Hit record when you’re ready to go, and stop when you’ve recorded what you want. You can then draw directly on top of the GIF, and save or share the resulting animation. Bottom line: It’s one of the quickest, most convenient tools around for making animated GIFs.
Using Note 8 handwriting input: The S Pen makes drawing and annotating an easy thing, but what about inputting text? Samsung has built handwriting input into the core of the Note 8, so you can use the S Pen in almost any text field. To open handwriting input mode, simply hover the S Pen over a text field and tap the blue icon that appears. A writing area will replace your keyboard, and then you can go to town. Samsung’s handwriting recognition system is extremely accurate, so feel free to go as fast as you like. Whenever you pause, the input field will transcribe what you’ve written into text. Just make sure you leave enough room between words to make it obvious there’s a space, and you shouldn’t have any issues. When you’re done adding text, tap the Done button, and it will all be dropped into the field you selected previously.
Note 8 screen-off memo: If in one other hand you need to jot down a quick note, don’t even bother unlocking your phone. Pop out the S Pen, and the Note 8 automatically enters screen-off memo mode. You get a black screen with a basic pen tool and an eraser. Write your note, and tap the button in the corner to save it to the Samsung Notes app. You can set up this app to sync to the Samsung Cloud so you don’t lose your notes.
Pop-up view for more powerful multitasking: One thing to note here, is that all Android phones running the Nougat system or higher have split-screen mode, but Samsung goes one better on the Note 8. You can open almost any app as a resizable floating window in Pop-up View. There are two ways to launch this. The easiest way is to open the overview screen and long-press on the app you want to open in a window. Drag it down to the middle of the screen and release in the indicated box to launch it as a Pop-up. Alternatively, you can open an app in Pop-up from split-screen mode. Tap in the middle between the two apps and press the Pop-up View button. When an app is in Pop-up View, it can be moved and resized freely just like a window on your computer. The buttons at the top of the floating window let you close, maximize, and minimize the app. Minimized apps stay on the screen as a floating icon, which you can tap at any time to re-open.
Turn off Samsung’s Bixby button: Samsung’s Bixby voice assistant means well, but the placement of the physical button can be annoying. It’s on the left edge of the phone, right under the volume rocker. An accidental press opens the Bixby Home panel, interrupting what you’re doing. Luckily, however, a few tweaks can make Bixby less annoying while preserving functionality. In Bixby Home, you should check your settings and activate the Bixby Voice features. This can be accessed by a long-press of the Bixby button. Back on the main Bixby screen, tap the settings icon at the top, and turn the toggle for launching Bixby via the button to off. While it may seem like you’re disabling Bixby, you’re just making it harder to trigger accidentally. You can long-press the Bixby button at any time to issue a voice command, although it doesn’t work in all apps. A single tap of the button doesn’t do anything, but you can still access Bixby Home with a short-press followed by a long-press. Okay?
Note 8’s one-handed mode: The Galaxy Note 8 is a big phone, so it can be arduous to use one-handed. Still, there’s an option for one-handed mode under Settings > Advanced Features > One-handed mode. In addition to turning it on, you should check the options for activating it. You can use a gesture (swipe up from the bottom corner of the screen) or a button press (triple-press the home button). One-handed mode shrinks the display down into the corner, making everything easier to reach. The arrow button switches the screen to the other corner, and tapping outside the screen area returns to normal mode. These tips I believe should get you well on your way to being a Note 8 expert, but there’s a lot more to learn. Samsung really does make “kitchen sink” phones.
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Wednesday, 4 October 2017

The Four Ways to Effectively Market Your Equity Crowdfunding Campaign

Equity crowdfunding, a creation of the 2012 Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act, is an alternative way for startups and small businesses to crowdsource capital from investors and consumers who are passionate about their products or services. In anycase, running an equity crowdfunding campaign can be difficult; there are many startups vying for the crowd's dollars, and making your voice heard in a sea of exciting ideas can be difficult. The success of these types of campaigns largely rides on how you market your company to the crowd. Establish a unique brand and a voice that cuts through the clutter, and you'll get you the capital you need to get moving. Fail to forge an essential emotional connection, and your equity crowdfunding campaign could end in failure. So without going to far here's how to make sure your crowdfunding endeavor pays off in both capital raise and brand awareness.
1. Know your audience and cultivate relationships: The first step you need to take towards any successful equity crowdfunding campaign is to understand your audience. What are their needs or desires? Why would they support your product? Even more importantly, why would they be passionate about your product? Forging an emotional connection starts with understanding your potential supporters and catering to their needs, both with a quality product and impactful storytelling. "Emotional connection really comes when you understand your audience and the people you're trying to reach," said Chris Westfall, a pitch strategist and author of "Bulletproof Branding" (Marie Street Press, 2014). "Oftentimes for entrepreneurs, this means look for the impact. Giving people something to believe in, that emotional connection, that's what [draws the crowd]." Reaching the correct audience is also a matter of medium and messaging, said Mark Stanich, chief experience officer with the ELEQT Group. High-quality photos and video are huge boosts when it comes to marketing ideas; allowing potential investors to place themselves in the shoes of a satisfied customer brings them one step closer to understanding the value of your idea. It's also imperative to speak to the things that make your idea stand out from the rest. "In terms of actual messaging, why is it different than competition? How does it fit a true need or desire for your lifestyle? Is it simple to use? [Does it] free up time to do other things? Make life easier?" Stanich said. "There's this area of social investing that's becoming very important … If you can speak to those things, you build this emotional bond. Obviously, financial return is important in equity crowdfunding, but I think that's not enough. I think many people want to support something they really believe in."
2. Keep it simple: One thing here is that you need to keep your message simple. Overwhelming audiences with too much information or the slew of benefits your product provides – even if they're all valid – is a surefire way to lose their attention. The shorter and sweeter your pitch, the better. "You need a simple, distilled description of your product," Stanich said. "People often launch something and love it and want to go on and on about it, but that's complicated and noisy. There are lots of other competing products, so you need to keep it very, very simple. "As you go further down the path of investment, you can flesh the benefits out and talk more and more," he added. Consistency and simplicity go hand in hand. That means aligning your brand with the right platforms, speaking to the right audience with the right message, and selling the right idea, Westfall said. "You want alignment every step of the way," he told Business News Daily. "Choose the right platform and you'll reach the right people. But if you have the right idea in the wrong platform, that still adds up to the wrong idea. You want to be careful and deliberate about picking your alignment, from the platform you choose, to the way you approach it, to the methods you use."
3. Build a strong brand: Without a clear brand and associated message for your campaign, it's very easy to miss opportunities to engage potentially interested investors. On the other hand, if your brand is successful and consistent, it will be much easier to initially grab people and encourage them to investigate your idea further. "A broad crowdfunding platform gives you a place to stand in the market square, but they don't give you a megaphone," Stanich said. "Successful campaigns have [an] existing connections base already with people passionate about [their] product, or if they don't already have a big base to tap into or influence, they build an emotional bond with passionate people. That's when you start to get viral pickup … That's when you see successful campaigns." A strong brand clearly and succinctly expresses what your company is all about. Strong brands cut through the noise to grab the audience and immediately shed light on the character of the product or service. Once hooked, the audience will naturally gravitate toward learning more. "Simply saying the market for this is huge without a way to connect your … idea to that market means you're missing a step," Westfall said. "It's not enough to have an idea in a gigantic market. The key to what gets funded is how you connect this hungry market to the idea that satisfies it."
4. Adapt to the changing marketplace: One thing one should take note of here is that the equity crowdfunding industry is changing fast, so being able to pivot and adapt as the marketplace shifts is imperative. For example, Stanich said platforms are moving from a generalized "supermarket" model to more segmented verticals. This can benefit brands by helping them target those investors and consumers who are specifically interested in their type of product or service. Stanich used the example of Scottish craft beer company BrewDog, which ran a successful equity crowdfunding campaign with ELEQT this year. By building an emotional connection around its brand and catering specifically to the craft beer crowd, BrewDog was able to raise the capital and brand awareness needed to successfully break into the U.S. market with a groundswell of support. "Their character is great," Stanich said. "They really created a whole persona around what this was, and it's so innovative that people really respond to it."
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