Metrics are a powerful tool for measuring the wellbeing of your business.
Many small business owners, however, focus on the number of page “likes” or “followers” they have as an indication of how well they’re doing on social media and in their content marketing efforts. But those “vanity metrics” don’t usually bear much relevance to how effectively your strategy and tactics are working.
In a post for the KissMetrics blog, marketing analyst Lars Lofgren explains, “Vanity metrics are all those data points that make us feel good if they go up but don’t help us make decisions.”
Before putting a lot of stock into any metrics from social media insights or Google Analytics, first think about which metrics will realistically indicate how well your small business is performing. These will be things like new leads, revenue, service subscription renewals, etc. After defining those key performance indicators, you can look at ways to measure them using the analytical tools available to you. Otherwise, you’ll be inundated with a lot of numbers that may or may not be truly relevant to the health of your business.
In his eBook, “A Field Guide To The 4 Types Of Content Marketing Metrics,”
digital media entrepreneur Jay Baer breaks down content marketing metrics and the basic questions they answer into four categories:
- Consumption Metrics – How many people read, viewed, listened to, or downloaded a piece of content?
- Sharing Metrics – How many people shared a piece of content?
- Lead-Gen Metrics – How often did consumption of content result in a lead?
- Sales Metrics – Did you make money because of the content?
The last two in particular are those you might find most telling of how well your business is doing, and they’re far more representative of your small business’s content marketing and social media efforts than likes and follows. If your lead generation and revenue numbers aren’t where you anticipated or not at a level you need them to be to sustain and grow your business, you’ll know you need to make some changes and you can begin taking action.
If you need more insight about content marketing, social media, and other aspects of starting and growing a small business, contact the SCORE Chapter near you. SCORE mentors have a vast amount of experience in all areas of entrepreneurship, and they’re available to provide guidance and feedback to fuel your success.
Since 1964, SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” has helped more than 10 million aspiring entrepreneurs and small business owners through mentoring and business workshops. More than 11,000 volunteer business mentors in over 320 chapters serve their communities through entrepreneur education dedicated to the formation, growth and success of small businesses. For more information about starting or operating a small business, call 1-800-634-0245 for the SCORE chapter nearest you. Visit SCORE at www.score.org.
Business tips from the greatest showman
Learning from one of the greatest showmen in history is certainly a good place to start if you want to learn how to grow your business. P.T. Barnum is still a household name, even though his famous circuses are no longer so popular with audiences. While Barnum is most famous for the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the entrepreneur dabbled with running a newspaper and museum, among other things.
In 1880, Barnum published “The Art of Money-Getting or Golden Rules for Making Money,” and to this day, many of the insights remain helpful. For one, Barnum recommends that whatever you do, make sure you do it with all of your might. Many markets are crowded, and if you put in only a half-hearted effort, you’re only going to get half-hearted results.
Given his own eclectic career pursuits, you might think that Barnum would champion throwing lots of things at the wall and seeing what sticks. In practice, however, he urged focus, stating, “Many a fortune has slipped through a man’s fingers because he was engaged in too many occupations at a time.”
Barnum also urged entrepreneurs to follow developing events. In his day, that meant reading the newspaper. Today, many folks prefer podcasts and visiting news websites. But the medium doesn’t matter — the content does. By staying abreast of developments, entrepreneurs are in a better position to tap into opportunities and mitigate threats.
P.T. Barnum passed away in 1891, but the Barnum and Bailey Circus lived on, bought out by Ringling Bros. Circus in 1907. The Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus shut their doors in 2017 following declining ticket sales and animal rights protests. However, the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus are set to return in 2023. This time around, animals won’t be used in the acts.
4 strategies for retaining your employees
As the job market becomes increasingly competitive, it can be challenging to retain your employees. Here are four strategies to help keep your talent.
1. Focus on communication. Communicate openly with your employees. Listen to their concerns and be open to new ideas. Let them know they’re heard and that you take them seriously.
2. Think about development. Employees often quit because of a lack of advancement opportunities. Therefore, provide training so your employees can develop their potential, avoid boredom and take on new challenges.
3. Offer benefits. Ask your employees what your company could improve and add these to their benefits and perks. For example, you could include group insurance, paid holidays, yoga classes, flexible working hours, and telemedicine.
4. Get out of the office. Create opportunities for your employees to socialize and have fun in a context that doesn’t revolve around work. Use the opportunity to celebrate their successes.
Employee retention also depends on effective recruitment. Therefore, use a specialized agency to start your talent search today.
Odd jobs: How the mud man makes baseballs fly right
It’s a closely guarded secret, passed down from generation to generation. It helps save lives and is integral to a multi-billion dollar industry. It’s mud. Yes, mud. And Major League Baseball (MLB) currently depends on this mud to provide ball traction and to ensure a strong grip, thus reducing errant balls.
You see, baseballs fresh from the box are quite slippery. And if pitchers lose control of the ball, someone could end up hurt or even killed. Mud can be used to increase grip while still maintaining the classic look of a white baseball.
But not just any old mud will do. In fact, the mud all comes from a specific place, a top-secret spot on a New Jersey river. And the MLB depends on one man, Jim Bintliff, who may be the only person alive who knows where to find the mud.
Bintliff learned the secret of the mud’s location in 2000 when his parents passed it on to him. An MLB player, Russell “Lena” Blackburne, first discovered the mud and its deglossing properties in 1938. The mud quickly became popular throughout the league, and barrels of it can now be found in every MLB stadium.
In 1968, Blackburne passed on the secret location of the mud to a close friend, who just so happened to be Jim Bintliff’s grandfather. Grandpa eventually passed the location on to Jim’s parents, who then passed it on to him.
Mudding new baseballs is now a time-honored tradition. That said, the mud’s days may be numbered. MLB is exploring ways to create a baseball that will provide excellent grip without mud and without interfering with the baseball’s many properties.
Cloud computing: the environmental impact of the virtual world
The internet is often referred to as the virtual world. Despite its intangible nature, it relies on many tangible resources, especially when it comes to cloud computing. Here’s a look at the environmental impact of the cloud.
What’s cloud computing?
Numerous companies make a living by storing personal files like photos and videos on internet servers instead of physical devices. This storage space is called the cloud because the data is suspended and readily accessible from anywhere.
What are the environmental impacts?
The growing popularity of cloud storage has led to the need for massive data processing hubs. These systems use a lot of energy and produce a lot of heat, which requires environmentally unfriendly cooling processes.
Moreover, these installations must be fail-safe, requiring large battery backup systems and generators. In short, storing information in the virtual world requires many resources. It also creates quite a bit of industrial waste.
However, cloud computing does have its advantages. For example, software programs can be downloaded from the cloud, eliminating the need for millions of compact discs. Additionally, this technology makes it easy to work from home, which helps reduce fuel consumption.
Despite these pros and cons, we need many more studies to measure the true environmental footprint of the cloud.
How buying local can help your business
You often hear about the advantages of buying local from a consumer’s perspective, but what about from a business perspective? Here are four ways your business could benefit from buying locally.
1. Logistical benefits
It takes a lot of time and resources to ensure your supply chain runs smoothly. The longer the chain, the greater the risk of encountering obstacles like sudden shortages, volatile exchange rates, and miscommunications. Buying local gives you more control and flexibility over your supply chain, saving you money.
2. Networking opportunities
Opening your doors to companies in your area creates exciting business opportunities. Buying local means contributing to the economic vitality of your region and being appreciated by your community.
3. Environmental advantages
Buying local is one of the keys to reducing your company’s carbon footprint. Today, products often travel thousands of miles when alternatives exist nearby. Therefore, your decision will be an inspiration to many.
4. Improve your brand image
Many consumers prioritize companies that take concrete steps to uplift their community and protect the environment. Many large businesses proudly publicize their local purchasing policies. Therefore, why not take advantage of this powerful marketing tool?
Buy local if you want your business to prosper and stand out from the crowd.
Before Amazon, Sears disrupted retail
Back in May, Sears announced that it was closing roughly 100 stores, cutting the company’s footprint in half. Even those stores that survived the downsizing are likely living on borrowed time, and someday soon, Sears may fade into history. It’s hard to remember these days, but Sears revolutionized the retail industry and once ranked among the most successful companies in the world.
Founded in 1892, Sears, Roebuck and Co. initially focused on selling watches and jewelry. But the company moved aggressively to expand its product lineup. As with many disruptive companies, Sears leveraged emerging technologies and new ideas to offer goods at lower prices than the competition and the company won big.
Back in the late 19th century and early 20th century, folks living in rural areas were often forced to pay exorbitant prices at local general stores, typically on credit. Rather than setting standardized prices, local retailers typically set prices based on the creditworthiness of the customer. Have bad credit? Be prepared to pay more.
Rather than setting up local general stores and basing prices on creditworthiness, Sears offered a large catalog from which customers could order products. Prices were transparent and published in the catalog.
Of course, making a sale is one thing, and delivering the goods another. Rather than building up local infrastructure in rural areas, Sears used the high tech of the day — railroad networks. After an order was received, the items were loaded onto trains and shipped to customers. By today’s standards, fulfilling an order was slow, often taking weeks. Back then, it was revolutionary.
Just as Amazon used the Internet to lower costs and offer a wider selection, Sears and its catalog offered folks in rural communities access to a wide product selection at lower prices. Sears would later build brick-and-mortar stores but eventually fell behind more efficient competitors like Walmart and tech-savvy companies like Amazon.