According to a well-worn business adage, "Customers don't buy products, they buy you." In essence, building strong customer relationships is essential to the long-term health of your business. It’s critical to focus on every aspect of the customer experience to ensure repeat business. From the very first encounter, be sure to show a sincere interest in your customers and remember their preferences.
Often customers will both recognize and appreciate that you are paying attention and making a conscious investment in them. Not only does this increase the chances for an immediate sale but it also makes it more likely that your customer will speak highly of you and your business to his or her friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances.
Small Business Saturday is coming up later this week on November 28th. Is your small business "tech-ready" to handle all of your customers' needs?
Tell us how your business is using technology to get ready for this big shopping day and you could win up to $1,000 in American Express gift cards. There will be multiple winners and a variety of prize levels. Click here to enter your contact information and your response, as well as to view the contest rules and eligibility restrictions. The contest ends this coming Friday, 11/27, at 11:59 pm ET, so enter now before you get too tied up in all the Thanksgiving holiday festivities.
Did we mention that there will lots of winners and prize levels? There will be lots of winners and prize levels! Enter here.
Today’s smart tip is an amazingly cost-effective way to spread the word about your small business. “Partnership Marketing” is a way of developing relationships with other companies that share similar lists of targeted customers.
How partnerships develop is malleable and can take many forms. No matter the nature of your partnership, a collaborative arrangement is a great way to do more with less. It can provide new opportunities for growth while preserving valuable capital and resources. You’ll have a greater presence in your traditional market plus your new alliance will open up opportunities with a broader range of customers.
The world is changing at a perpetually increasing pace. How well is your business keeping up?
Take a look around. Texting, Facebook, Twitter, and the growing plethora of social media offerings have forever changed our mobile communications landscape. According to Nielsen, more people now access the Internet using cell phones instead of PCs.
Consumer behaviors are also clearly changing in response to these technological innovations. From Baby Boomers to Millennials, the populace is becoming savvier to online buying and selling. They’re also more willing to share their thoughts about products and services through online reviews. Focusing on new ways to attract and keep customers in a generally lukewarm market will give you a powerful edge over your competitors.
byVZSmallBiz11-04-201510:21 AM - edited 11-10-201512:19 PM
Please join us on Friday, November 13th at 2:00 pm ET for a free, online webinar featuring Clint Bruce.
Mr. Bruce, a former Navy SEAL, possesses three traits that help his small businesses and foundation run smoothly: a military background, a disciplined approach, and a passion for what he does. Hear the story behind his motto, “Hold fast, stay true.”
Since leaving the U.S. Navy, Mr. Bruce has founded two companies and one Foundation: TRG -- the trusted advisor in risks to America's best businesses, leaders, and families; HoldFast -- a speakers’ bureau that provides world-class speakers to top-tier companies by coaching and employing both veterans and transitioning professional athletes; and, Carry the Load -- a foundation created to help meet America’s desire to honor their fallen firefighters, law enforcement officers, rescue personnel and military during the month of May.
byVZSmallBiz10-30-201507:43 AM - edited 10-30-201507:46 AM
Could an extra $300 help your business? How about $3,000? It’s our Small Biz Rewards 3-year anniversary and we’re celebrating with a “set the 3 free” sweepstakes, running October 27th through December 31st, 2015.*
You could be one of the lucky winners to take home one of these prizes:
Savvy small business owners consistently search for smart and efficient ways to grow sales. Challenges arise when companies seek a “magic pill” to trigger growth versus well thought-out business solutions. Some business plans focus on extreme promotions, others utilize clichéd practices such as making everything “family” focused, but these practices don’t always lead to success. Valuable customers are out there. But who are they? And how do you reach them?
In this blog post you’ll discover four sound strategies that can help your business attract new customers and put your company on a path toward prosperity.
byVZSmallBiz10-23-201510:54 AM - edited 11-10-201512:40 PM
Did you know that consumers overwhelmingly believe word-of-mouth recommendations, such as those found on social media, over all other types of advertising? Studies, such as Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising, show that prospective customers increasingly rely on word-of-mouth postings of their friends, family, and acquaintances to make purchasing decisions. From which car to drive to which toothpaste best removes tartar, traditional marketing isn’t what entices customers to buy; in fact, overwhelmingly, it’s the court of public opinion that does.
Social media savvy has become a "must-have" in your business development toolbox. With literally dozens of social media sites to choose from, the choices and best practices for promoting your business can be overwhelming. Awareness of the different social media platforms and the unique tools they offer can be enormously beneficial. Previously for personal-use-only, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Yelp! have evolved into powerful business platforms, and they’re all free! Some of these also offer premium services at a cost that is worth considering as your business grows. The key to getting optimal results via social media is determining which vehicles are best for your business.
This blog post provides tips for developing a powerful social media strategy for your business. From customer demographics to data tracking, some proven tactics will help maximize your success while staying within budget. By following our 5 Step Process below, you can begin to select the right tools for your business and build a dynamic social media presence for your company.
byVZSmallBiz10-14-201511:59 AM - edited 11-10-201512:41 PM
Starting a new business can be rife with headaches, risks, and pitfalls. But it also can be an incredibly rewarding experience that can change one’s life for the better. Most entrepreneurs who start their businesses in mid-life utilize skills honed through years of experience. Yet, like their younger counterparts, they also face a wide variety of business development and planning challenges that no amount of work experience can mitigate.
Today’s blog post focuses on many of the traits, skills and characteristics required for entrepreneurial success, with an emphasis on the mid-life entrepreneur, in particular.
byVZSmallBiz10-08-201509:14 AM - edited 11-10-201512:42 PM
As the saying goes, “Money makes the world go ‘round,” and for an entrepreneur or small business owner, it can be a central part of his or her business world. Money is a requirement for business expansion. There are multiple ways to acquire funding. The more you learn about these options, the easier it will be to make a sound decision. A good place to start is with other business owners you know. Talk with those that have recently gone through an expansion and learn from their experiences.
Let’s take a look at a variety of approaches to acquire funds for business expansion...
Please join us on Wednesday, October 7th at 2:00 pm ET for a free, online webinar featuring Susan L. Taylor, founder and CEO of the National CARES Mentoring Movement and Editor Emerita of Essence magazine.
Ms. Taylor will explain how to craft a vision for one's life and how to cultivate a leadership style that is both energizing and inspiring.
Drawing on her three decades of visionary leadership, Ms. Taylor also will help you to take stock of your purpose and talents, and she'll demonstrate how even the most challenging business and management issues can be tackled and solved with enthusiasm, patience, and a positive attitude.
Click here to see the list of winners including the Grand Prize and five first prize winners. We will soon announce the winners of the Verizon Small Biz Rewards Midsummer Business Makeover winners soon.
Please check back again soon as the Verizon Small Biz Rewards team will launch another sweepstakes to reward our loyal customers.
Click here to see if Verizon is available in your area or if you are already a customer, click here to learn more about the benefits of signing up – for free – and joining the Verizon Small Biz Rewards program.
byVZSmallBiz09-08-201507:46 AM - edited 11-10-201512:46 PM
Post By Michelle Swittenberg, vice president of small business marketing for Verizon.
Like any business, Verizon has a keen interest in how well it’s serving its customers. Customer feedback is invaluable in helping us develop the best solutions to meet their broadband and communications needs.
So it’s gratifying that feedback from you, our small business customers, has placed Verizon at the top of two prestigious customer satisfaction studies.
Verizon received the “Highest Customer Satisfaction with Very Small Businesses Wireline Service, Two Years in a Row”* in the J.D. Power 2015 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study. According to J.D. Power, small businesses ranked Verizon the highest among our competitors in customer satisfaction, pricing and service plans leading to customer loyalty.
Verizon FiOS Internet received a PC Magazine award in the publication’s first-ever Business Choice Survey. Our FiOS Internet customers ranked it No.1 in reliability, technical support and overall satisfaction.
Maintaining existing customers and finding new customers in an ever-changing market seems to get progressively more challenging. Savvy small business owners have found that smart networking has become one of the most effective tools in their marketing arsenal, providing a level of trust that advertising and marketing cannot deliver.
The best business networking groups operate as exchanges of business information, ideas and support. The most important skill for effective business networking is listening; focusing on how you can help the person you are listening to rather than on how he or she can help you is the first step to establishing a mutually beneficial relationship. Make the conversation all about them and not you. People love to talk about themselves. If you allow them the freedom to talk about themselves, you will be remembered as someone who took the time to get to know them. Remember, networking is not about the quantity of business cards you collect. It's about relationships.
Does your business experience sales peaks and valleys based on either the day or the season? For many seasonal or time-sensitive businesses the peaks are often optimized and the valleys are opportunities. Let’s look at ways to maximize sales, cash flow, and time for a business that experiences such highs and lows.
Ideas to expand a seasonal business:
A seasonal or time-sensitive business can be extended to other periods. Look to your off-peak periods for ideas. For example, if your store sells Christmas ornaments, consider expanding into décor for other holidays like Halloween or Valentine’s Day and rotate your stock to cover multiple seasons. If you have a coffee shop, you could offer pre-prepared products or meals that could be purchased for other parts of the day (e.g., take-home dinners). If driving incremental sales during non-peak periods is important to you, there are multiple ways to achieve this objective.
byVZSmallBiz08-20-201507:57 AM - edited 08-20-201508:04 AM
Five years ago, John and Jane embarked on their dream of owning a business.
They did all the right things to get started, from creating a business plan to hiring the right people. They went to networking meetings, joined their local chamber, placed ads, started using social media and created an impressive website. But their business didn’t take off.
Those basic activities just didn’t set them apart from their competition. John and Jane knew they had a great business. But the lackluster results were frustrating and one thing was clear. The business wasn’t growing fast enough and they needed to change what they were doing to get better results.
If you won $5,000 how would you use it to improve your business?
If you haven’t heard, the Verizon Small Biz Rewards program is running another sweepstakes giving one of our customers the chance to win $5,000* to help makeover their business. Five of Verizon’s small business customers will each win a $1,000 Staples® gift card.
byVZSmallBiz08-13-201511:03 AM - edited 08-13-201511:17 AM
Change. Those six little letters hold great power. Change is the booster engine in a business life cycle. It has the power to create positive results for a business including innovation, growth, cost reductions, improved customer loyalty, and greater employee morale.
So, why do business owners sometimes resist change?
Sometimes “staying the course” is more comfortable since shifting the course sometimes represents the unknown; however, change is the catalyst for future growth and can create great results.
byVZSmallBiz08-06-201507:36 AM - edited 08-06-201507:43 AM
Family-owned businesses have historically been the backbone of the American economy, making up approximately 80-90% of all enterprises in North America. With this large of a percentage there are some good reasons why there are a variety of best practices that have grown to support this business model.
The health of your business is, in many ways, much like your personal health.
Regular check-ups help you understand if anything is going wrong. These routine check-ups include quick checks, like blood pressure, pulse and weight. Others are more detailed and require a lab expert, like blood sugar, for example, or cholesterol. Not only do these visits give you an idea of where your health is in the moment, over time they establish a pattern. If your pattern indicates you’re headed for a problem, you can start working to prevent that problem long before it takes its toll. Preventative measures dramatically reduce the cost of treating a problem, increase your odds of fixing it and decrease the stress that comes along with that fix.
Many people assume the most significant perk of being a small business owner is being your own boss. While this is often cited at the top of the list, many small business owners identify several other perks they never considered when they started their business, some being lifestyle related and others financial.
Continue reading for other benefits of being your own boss.
Sure, we can talk about ourselves. But at Verizon, we know the value of you dropping our name to other small businesses like yours. After all, you’re experiencing first-hand the advantages of Verizon solutions, so who better to spread the word about the network with 99.9% reliability?
NEW YORK – No one wants to worry about online threats or how and where to store their many files. A new solution from Verizon will ease these concerns.
The Security, Support & Storage Bundle provides Verizon small-business and residential customers with comprehensive protection from viruses and malware on many connected devices; premium tech support to help keep customers’ technology running smoothly; and cloud storage for files, videos, photos and more.
Verizon's third annual Powerful Answers Award program is accepting ideas until June 18. The program offers innovators, developers and entrepreneurs $6 million in cash prizes, plus the opportunity for winners to participate in an Accelerator program designed to help develop their ideas and bring solutions to market faster.
The Verizon Powerful Answers Award program seeks ideas that leverage cutting-edge technology to create solutions that deliver social good. The 2015 program is seeking ideas in three core categories, each with three subcategories:
Transportation: How can technology enable better, more efficient ways to reduce the complexities of transportation and distribution in the physical world?
o Smarter Driving
o Public Transport & Sharing
o Logistics and Distribution
Emergency Response: How can technology enable first responders and emergency crews to locate and save lives faster; what solutions can improve long-term recovery for survivors?
o First Responders
o Search and Rescue
o Long Term Relief
Internet of Things: How can using technology behind the Internet of Things (IoT) enable new intelligent actions that will have wide-scale and beneficial impacts in the following areas?
o Connected Health
o Smart Cities
o Smart Agriculture
For more information or to submit your idea visit www.powerfulanswersaward.com.
Submissions will be judged by panels of industry experts, and winners will be announced later this year.
Verizon will award cash prizes of $1 million to the top winner in each of the three core categories. The second prize winner in each category will receive $500,000 and two third-prize winners in each category will receive $250,000, for a total of $6 million. If you are on Twitter search for #VZPAA for updates and information.
Starting today and every other Thursday we'll share tips from experts to help you gain an edge in running your business. Today we will focus on better managing your time.
As the sayings go, "time is fleeting" and "time is money." No one knows these concepts better than you, the small business owner. Here are seven suggestions to help you manage your most limited resource: time.
With summer just around the corner, people’s thoughts turn to vacation and travel. As an avid traveler myself, I was eager to speak with Leo Zheng, owner of Top Star International in Flushing, N.Y., about his business, how he got his start and how Verizon’s small business services help him run his agency.
Leo’s firm can book airline tickets, cruises or tours to anywhere. He gets many of his customers the best packages to Asia or Europe – the most popular destinations.
Located in the heart of a diverse neighborhood, Leo is proud to serve his customers in both Chinese and English. He added that, while he advertises his business in local papers, he gets most of his customers by referrals.
Just as we keep our car ready to roll by periodically checking the air in its tires and getting it tuned up, small-business owners can keep their operation in the fast lane with reliable broadband and communications services.
And now’s the time to act. For the next six weeks, until June 27, Verizon is offering small businesses free FiOS Internet-speed upgrade. For instance, a small-business owner who orders a new FiOS Internet and voice bundle with equal upload/download speeds of 50 megabits per second will pay the price of our 25/25 Mbps service for a two-year term agreement.
Why’s that important? The level of upload activity on the FiOS network is expected to double by late 2016 and to continue to grow, according to Verizon’s projections. In addition, with the Internet of Things fast becoming a reality for small businesses, equal download and upload speeds will be essential for operations. If you have a number of devices using the same broadband connection, then a faster Internet speed can prevent delays in sending and receiving files.
If you aren’t sure how fast your current Internet service is, click here to test your speed.
As you review your broadband and communications needs, you also might want to consider adding TV to entertain your customers and inform your employees. Verizon’s Custom TV (http://vz.to/TVforSmallbiz) solution allows you to pay only for the types of channels that will best interest your customers or employees.
For more information or to speak to one of Verizon’s expert small-business consultants, call 800-VERIZON (800-837-4966) or click here (http://vz.to/SpeedUpGrade). If Twitter is your preferred mode of communication, reach out to us @VZSmallBiz.
Verizon is ranked Highest in Customer Satisfaction with Very Small Business Wireline Service in the J.D. Power “J.D. Power 2014 U.S. Business Wireline Satisfaction Study”sm. The company was ranked highest for overall satisfaction, which includes the following factors: performance and reliability, customer service, communications, sales reps, cost of service and billing.
Guest post by Dr. Randal Pinkett (@RandalPinkett), featured guest, Chairman and CEO of BCT Partners, serial entrepreneur, international speaker, and bestselling author of Campus CEO: The Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multimillion-Dollar Business and No-Money Down CEO: How to Start Your Dream Business with Little or No Cash.
Individuals or Teams
What names come to mind when you think about entrepreneurial success? I have asked this question of audiences on several occasions and the following names are frequently cited: Cathy Hughes of Radio One and TV One, Steve Jobs of Apple, Oprah Winfrey of Harpo Studios, Bill Gates of Microsoft, and Anita Roddick of the Body Shop, to name a few. I’ve noticed that almost always the responses I receive are the names of individuals. It seems the perception of entrepreneurial success is that individuals drive it. However, my experience has shown me that teams, not individuals, drive entrepreneurial success.
For example, Cathy Hughes and Alfred Liggins have been the forces behind Radio One and TV One’s accomplishments. Steve Jobs teamed with Steve Wozniak to launch Apple. Oprah Winfrey and Jeff Jacobs worked together to create the global multimedia empire known as Harpo Studios. Microsoft was built upon the joint efforts of Bill Gates and Paul Allen. And Anita Roddick co-founded the eco-conscious Body Shop alongside her husband Gordon Roddick. History has shown that although we often focus on the individual entrepreneur, more often than not, they are not the sole driving force behind their company’s success. There is almost always a team that is the story behind a company’s story of success.
This is a post by Michelle Swittenberg, vice president of mass business and marketing sales for Verizon.
Small business owners are constantly looking for ways to keep their employees current and/or to serve their customers better. And they certainly want the best value for their investment. Verizon delivers on both with FiOS Custom TV. We developed FiOS Custom TV in response to customers who have told us they want more choice and control over their TV service.It’s an entirely new way to buy TV that gives their employees and/or customers the channels they want.
With FiOS Custom TV, a small business gets 34 featured base channels, plus local broadcast channels, and at least two genre-based packs of channels out of a choice of seven. Business customers can select additional channel packs for $10 more each per month (a Regional Sports Network fee applies if the Sports Plus genre pack is chosen or added). The genre-based packs include: Sports, Sports Plus, News and Info, Lifestyle, Kids, Entertainment and Pop Culture. Click here to read more.
byEllen_Yu03-26-201512:59 PM - edited 03-30-201507:20 AM
Will you do your small part to contribute to global environmental change by signing up for Earth Hour?
It’s simple, just turn off non-essential lights for one hour, on Saturday, March 28 at 8:30 PM. You can show your employees and your customers your business’ sustainability commitments.
The Earth Hour movement is led by the World Wildlife Fund to promote sustainable living, expand energy-efficiency awareness, and take a stand against climate change.
I know I always love learning about the good things businesses do and I do tend to favor those who are doing their part to make our community a little better. Click here to learn about the 500 Verizon buildings that will go dark this Saturday.
Check out the infographic to get some tips on how you can get your business involved.
Get news from Verizon about small business services and market trends that affect your bottom line. Here, you'll find tips and commentary from the Verizon small business group and other experts to help keep your business growing.