Why Business Cards Will Never Go Away

Hardback books and vinyl records are enjoying a revival, but business cards won’t have a comeback — because we’ve never stopped loving them.

Last year was a great one for sales of hardback books, I was reading recently. After several years of decline, sales bounced back and more than 18 million hardbacks were sold in 2017. There is a similar trend in music, where despite the continued growth of streaming music, sales of vinyl records made up 14 percent of all physical albums sold in 2017.

It’s not a trend that surprises me. I love technology, but for some experiences, physical products beat digital ones because they allow us to form an emotional connection.

 

I would bet that those vinyl buyers listen to streaming music, but the records they really care about are the ones they want to add to their physical music collection. Likewise, I wouldn’t be surprised to see those hardback buyers reading a Kindle on the beach this summer; but when it comes to a book they love, they want to display a copy on the shelf. They want their friends to be able to take it down, flick through it and maybe even borrow it.

I understand that emotional connection because in the world of business cards it has never gone away. There have been numerous attempts to replace business cards with digital tools, from QR codes to “bumping” phones together. And yet 27 million business cards are printed daily.

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Creating a team that feels valued

Managers are often caught up in the day-to-day running of a business and making their workforce feel valued can often slip through the net; however, it is worth taking the time to acknowledge that you care for the health and wellbeing of your employees and the work they produce, with even small steps making a big difference.

Creating a Team that Feels Valued

Square sellers can now offer their customers payment plans

Square today launched a new service that will allow its small business sellers to offer financing to their customers. Square Installments, as the service is called, will be available at launch to sellers in 22 U.S. states for purchases between $250 and $10,000. Customers can apply to pay for their purchase over three, six, or 12 months.

Interest rates for the purchases will range between 0 and 24 percent, Square says, and decisions on approvals will be made in real time.

The company designed the process to be quick and transparent, only requiring a brief application process that can be done at any time — including either in the store or at home. When approved, Square also spells out what the total cost will be, and displays the monthly payment options available.

Square says it came to the decision to move into consumer lending services because of customer demand. A survey it ran indicated there was strong demand for more flexible payment options among U.S. consumers. It also cited research that found that 68 percent of consumers said they would be more likely to consider a small or local business if it offered financing options.

But many smaller businesses have not been able to offer payment programs, because they either have minimum sales requirements they can’t meet or because set up time is too labor intensive or expensive, Square explains.

“We’re focused on removing the complexity associated with financial products, enabling more businesses to access incredible tools that can help them grow,” said Jacqueline Reses, head of Square Capital, in a statement about the launch. “Square Installments delivers simple and quick financing to customers seeking greater flexibility as they make purchasing decisions.”

Square isn’t alone in addressing the needs of smaller sellers who want to offer payment programs.

A number of companies offer consumers alternative means of paying for purchases beyond just cash, check or charge these days. For example, Sezzle targets consumers with low FICO scores; London-based Divido is expanding to new markets after raising a Series A; Affirm now has more than 1,000 retail partners; there’s also FuturePay, Afterpay, Klarna’s Slice, PayPal Credit and many others.

However, not all are suitable for smaller sellers, like those who may run their businesses on Square.

The new Square Installments service is being run out of Square Capital, a subsidiary of Square that also offers cash advances to merchants. In the second quarter of 2018, Square Capital originated more than 60,000 loans totally $390 million, up 22 percent from the second quarter last year.

Sellers who want to start offering Square Installments to their customers can go to squareup.com/installments, while customers who want to make a purchase using Square Installments can visit squareinstallments.com.

Top 15 Places You Can Sell Handmade Products Locally

Everyone knows that you can sell handmade products on Etsy or Amazon. But if you sell large items that are hard to ship — or if you just prefer to sell items to customers in your own community — it can help to have some local options.

Where to Sell Handmade Items Locally

There are plenty of options for growing your customer base in your own backyard. Here are some of them to consider.

Craft Fairs

Craft fairs are events that are normally held in halls, schools, churches, or other community venues. They usually feature mainly handmade products, so you can be fairly certain that the shoppers will be interested in that type of purchase. It’s one of the most popular ways for artisans to branch out from online selling and get their name out there in other ways. It can even have benefits beyond just the sales you make that day.

Ashlea Konecny, crocheter and blogger behind Heart Hook Home, wrote in a post, “The obvious goal, when paying the entry fee to a craft fair, is to sell your wares and recoup your cost (and then some). But, you also want people to remember you and your name so that they can find you later on your Facebook page, your website or find you on Etsy etc.”

Flea Markets

Flea markets usually feature a wider array of products, though some are more focused on handmade goods. So it’s important for you to choose the market and the mix of products you offer carefully.

Steve Gillman, the author of 101 Weird Ways to Make Money, recently spent a summer as a flea market vendor. He said of the experience on the Penny Hoarder blog, “Consider whether you plan to specialize or sell a variety of things. Vendors can make good arguments for both strategies, but we were experimenting and didn’t want to invest much in this business, so selling lots of different items made more sense for us.”

Retail Boutiques

If you want to branch out and sell your products at multiple locations around town, you might consider setting up wholesale accounts with retail boutiques through the area. Think about where your target customers like to shop and then contact the owners to see what their process is. This also gives you an opportunity to build relationships with other local business owners.

Consignment Shops

Similarly, some shops offer to sell products for makers on consignment. Basically, you let them display your products in their store and then you get a percentage of the sale.

Pop-Up Stores

Pop-up stores are usually temporary retail setups. They tend to be especially popular around the holidays. This strategy might be a plus for those who are interested in learning more about selling in a retail setting but aren’t ready to commit to any long-term agreements.

Craigslist

You can still go online to sell products locally. Craigslist is an especially popular outlet for people looking to sell various items to neighbors. This could be especially relevant for those who make furniture or other large handmade products that would be difficult to ship if you were to sell elsewhere online.

Facebook Marketplace

The Facebook marketplace is another online option for local sellers. It is gaining popularity because it’s free and already has a huge built-in user base. Plus, it’s extra convenient if you’re already on Facebook.

Jenny Keefe shares on MoneySavingExpert.com, “Facebook selling’s major, erm, the selling point is its sheer convenience. Facebook is free to join and there are no fees for selling either, so it’s very low-risk – and because so many of us use the social network anyway for keeping up with friends and family, it’s easy to get to grips with. What’s not to ‘like’? (Sorry…).”

Instagram

Not specific to local sellers, but Instagram can help you facilitate sales nearby. Simply post a photo or video of the item you’re looking to sell and then ask people to bid in the comments. You can even tag your location on the platform to make it really easy for people to find you and facilitate the logistics.

Farmers Markets

Similar to flea markets, farmers markets tend to include vendors selling a variety of goods. But many do offer non-food sellers in addition to those who might make packaged cookies, canned jams, or other edible products with a handmade touch.

Trade Shows

If you’re looking to make connections within your industry, especially with retail outlets that you might want to sell products to, consider setting up a trade show booth. There are tons of these events throughout the country, some geared specifically toward handmade sellers and others geared toward specific niches.

Shopping Parties

You can even sell handmade products from the comfort of your own home — or a friend’s home. Shopping parties are popular with direct selling companies, but they can also work for handmade businesses.

Deb Bixler or CashFlowShow wrote in a post on the Work at Home Woman blog, “Though it takes discipline, effort, perseverance and a dedication to marketing, the home party plan business is an enjoyable way to earn money. The ability to be your own boss set your own pace, and work in a fun and casual environment makes this the perfect business model for many entrepreneurs.”

Art Galleries

Art galleries often offer space for artisans to display their work and offer it for sale. This is especially relevant for those that work with traditional art techniques like painters or sculptors but may apply to others as well on occasion.

Cafes

Some cafes or coffee shops even offer space for artwork or handmade products. They might have a small cabinet near the register or just hang artwork throughout the location with small prices attached in case one of the patrons wants to make a purchase.

Festivals

Local events that aren’t specifically for shopping can also be useful for handmade sellers. Music festivals, family fun events, or local carnivals might offer some small spaces for vendors nearby. Just see if there are any events in your area that might be popular with your target customers.

Charity Events

Charity races or other fundraisers also offer space for vendors on occasion. This could be relevant for businesses that offer products related to a particular cause or those that are willing to donate a portion of their profits to the host organization.

Photo via Shutterstock

MyUSA Local will also be opening up a local network across America for Small to Medium Business Owners and Entrepreneurs to access people who wish to share their products.

Follow MyUSA Local on Instagram and be sure to use hashtag #myusalocal when posting to your business Instagram for a feature on the growing and popular #supportlocal Instagram channel.

 

The End of Google Plus
What Does the End of Google+ Mean for Local Businesses?

Well, you’ve no doubt already heard the news that Google is shutting down its beleaguered social network, Google+. For many of us, this comes as no surprise. The platform has seen fading traffic and, and beyond the activity of a scant few forums, there have been very few reasons to use it.

What has come as a surprise to many is the fact that shuttering Google+’s doors is due not to stagnating use but the revelation that the platform suffered an until-now hidden data leak that potentially affected up to 500,000 accounts.

The other shocker isn’t that it had that many users (b’dum tish) but that it’s the exact same API weakness that allowed Cambridge Analytica to misuse Facebook data. No wonder they tried to keep it hidden!

G’bye, G+!

Google has a chequered history of trying to force the influence of Google+ on other parts of its service, from putting search weight behind content authors’ G+ profiles via the ‘rel=author’ tag and encouraging people to ask questions on G+ to highlighting ‘Latest Posts’ in SERPs. The failure of these attempts at forcing people to use Google+ should be an encouraging reminder to all that even monopolies can have their bad days.

I think it’s fair to say very few people will be mourning the loss of Google+, but as with any big update The Big G makes, it’s important to take a look at your local business operations and adjust as necessary. While its closure shouldn’t technically affect your local SEO, Google+’s claws were in many places (remember when they forced YouTube and Google+ together?), so I’d recommend taking a look at the below.

What should local businesses do now that Google+ is closing? Breathe a sigh of relief

Well, that’s one less thing to worry about. Google+ was part of a wave of new social networks that all positioned themselves as pretenders to the twin crowns of Facebook and Twitter, and for a time every local business owner was swimming in apps, wondering which platform was going to be the next breakthrough hit.

With the exception of image-based networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat, the new frontier of social media never really materialized. They hung around, sure (Google+ longer than most), but today we focus our sights on the few social media platforms that are truly right for our businesses.

It’s good practice to place your best content on your website, first and foremost.

However, this sudden shuttering is a reminder that everything online is transient, temporary. It’s unlikely that you’ve been saving your best content for Google+, but it’s just good practice to place it on your website, which you have total control of, first and foremost. Then you can push it out to social networks and even Google My Business Posts.

Don’t worry: this won’t affect your local SEO

Although there once was a time when Google Places (now Google My Business) was integrated heavily with Google+, with the introduction of Google+ Local, that was six long years ago and the relevance of G+ on local SEO in recent years has been pretty much nil. So take heart in the fact that this is one Google update you won’t have to tear your hair out over.

Delete your account

As for your Google+ personal and business profiles, I’d recommend downloading or saving everything you’d like to keep from them before the platform closes its doors for good.

Whether you delete your profiles entirely or let Google remove them when the time comes is up to you, but personally I’m a bit too organized to leave a thread like that dangling (that’s if I can find my password, of course). Plus if the platform is susceptible to data leaks it might make sense to take that data out of their hands sooner rather than later.

Ditch the social sharing buttons from your site

Ah, there’s nothing like getting rid of fluff from your site. You’ve probably long squinted at the minimal interactions your G+ sharing buttons have been getting compared to others, and will celebrate the fact that you can now get shot of them.

Make sure you take stock of all the places Google+ is linked to throughout your site and beyond, such as:

Social sharing buttons Icon links to social networks in website header/footer Company and personal email signatures In-store signage ‘Write a G+ review’ links Printed marketing collateral Find new local search communities

Back in February, we asked you what your favorite local search communities were, and Google+ took up a surprising three of the top ten spots. As a part of these communities myself, I’ll be sad to see them go, but the word on the virtual street is that they’re already seeking new homes on Facebook.

I’d personally recommend checking out the one-of-a-kind Local Search Directory

What do you think?

As we say adieu to Google+, it just remains for me to see what you all thought of the platform. Did you find some use with it, or was it just another thing to keep track of?

Get your Business on https://myusalocal.com if you desire to get ahead of the new uBer Directory before their 2019 launch.
.

 

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Partnering with a marketing agency is a big decision and shouldn’t be taken lightly. The marketing agency you choose will be a trusted brand advocate and tasked with helping you to meet your strategic marketing objectives. At the end of the day, they will either make you look good and help accomplish your goals or they won’t. In this blog post…
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George: Tenderloin pork belly short ribs burgdoggen strip steak, prosciutto brisket.

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George: Short ribs kielbasa ball tip chuck bacon meatball meatloaf cow biltong pastrami filet mignon fatback. Read more

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Paradox Inc Josephine B. AndersonThis guys are awesome! It is hard to find a web design company who can actually listen and understand what you need. I’m 100% satisfied with this guys.