Author: Bonnie Harris

Small Business SaturdaySmall Business Saturday is November 30, 2013 this year, the day after Black Friday. Sponsored by the National Federation of Independent Businesse (NFIB)s and American Express, Small Business Saturday is perhaps one of the best examples of a marketing promotion that has become a staple of small business marketing in a relatively short amount of time. On this day in 2012 consumers spent more than $5.5 billion at small businesses. According to  the second annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey, released yesterday by the NFIB and American Express, the day will be a part of most small business promotional calendars. Of those small business owners incorporating Small Business Saturday into their holiday plans, 70% say Small Business Saturday will be helpful in attracting new customers. Again this year, American Express will give Card Members a special offer for shopping on Small Business Saturday. Card Members who register an eligible American Express® Card will get a one-time $10 statement credit when they use their registered Card to spend $10 or more on November 30, 2013, in a single, in-store transaction at a qualifying small business location that appears on the Small Business Saturday Map.Findings from the survey also uncover the lengths to which small businesses are ready to go to promote their activities on Small Business Saturday. Among those that plan to incorporate Small Business Saturday into their holiday promotions:
  • 75% say the day would be more effective if communities participated together by hosting events;
  • 39% are planning to collaborate with other small businesses in a community event to promote Small Business Saturday; and
  • 33% rely on social media most to promote Small Business Saturday to their customers.
The Small Business Saturday Insights Survey was created to provide a window into holiday planning for small business owners. Other key survey findings relating to Small Business Saturday activities include:

I tasked my  assistant with finding the latest & best free press release sites, something I do on a regular basis as the good ones quickly turn from free to paid.  After laughing at her frustration (I know, I'm a mean boss) I thought I would ask her to enlighten you with her findings. Read on! 
Free Press Release. Free Puppies. You can have it Good, Fast, & Cheap (pick two).  Free? Well … sort of. AKA...PR Fire sucks By Jenny Martel  What is your time worth? Earlier this week I began my day armed with two legitimate press releases, and a useful study from Vitis PR in which they submitted a press release to 60 free sites and reported on ensuing fun. Vitis did a great study that obviously took a lot work but what they failed to mention is the sheer, unadulterated FRUSTRATION of such a process. Luckily I am here to add this into the discussion and since I’m still grumpy from this experience I’ll launch right into it. Least User-Friendly Site: PR Fire Seriously, I had the highest of hopes for this site as it was listed on more than reputable PR blogs as The Best. I entered the URL with confidence ready to be bedazzled as my releases shot their way to the top of Google News (for free!). It goes right into Google News! (This was the supposed benefit of this site.) Twenty-some minutes later I’d re-entered my data SEVEN times, attempting to get some semblance of a press release posted. Each time it cut off my press release to two short paragraphs (though I couldn’t find a mention of word count limits). Then my contact data was chopped away. Every time I clicked back to my entry form, the many category drop-downs I’d selected were cleared away. So I re-entered them. I’d invested so much time into this site that I think I kept trying to post in a vain attempt to make my wasted time worth something. I even considered giving in and paying just to be done. I think this is their strategy because at every turn I could click for a paid option. The cheapest is 50 Euro! No thanks. Honorable Mentions for Least-User Friendly Site: 1888pressrelease.com This site lulled me into a false security. I posted my press releases with confidence, successfully navigating the zoo of paid press release pop-ups and options. I spent my time formatting and adding the data. Again, a good twenty-odd minutes of my time were spent here. I went to bed. I woke up. In my in-box was the message that my press release had been rejected. “Read the publishing guidelines,” it said. So I did. I went back into the site and read and re-read. I hadn’t violated any terms or guidelines (note the additional time wasted). The next day the second release was rejected. Cross this one off your list, too. During my research there were several other sites that had popped up in the blogosphere as “extremely useful”. I disagree with whatever idiot tagged them with that label. You know the sites: useless text, ads, banners, and pop-ups everywhere. It can take several minutes or longer just to locate the link to post with several wrong “click-throughs” often only to find that it is not free at all to post. For example, I never found the link to submit a free press release on FPRC Free Press Release Center. And News Wire Today, PR Zoom, and Ignite Point were listed as free on some blogs, but when you actually go in you can see that it’s actually only the account that is “free” while submitting a press release includes a fee. Believe it or not, I did find some great sites though. Just to prove I'm not that grumpy, here are a couple of GOOD ones: 

Mini Media MogulThis business has changed so much over the past few years I can't even stand it. I used to freelance because it was so much fun. Who knew that 5 years post-Hooters Magazine I would be writing just as much for marketing? (Although I can't say I've produced any content quite as compelling as my in-depth interview of the WWW Tag Team Champions of the World. ) It used to be that PR people were never supposed to also write for publications, this would be a conflict of interest!  Now we have to maintain our own blogs, write blogs (if we can get them) for HuffPo or its redheaded cousin the Examiner , and contribute well-written content for our clients' content marketing programs. Then we've got to distribute that information across what should be a well-developed social media platform that must include Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, depending on whether you're consumer- or business-facing. I think a good communications person has to be a mini-media mogul in order to survive. We've got to be building our own influence as we continue to leverage off of the influence of the media.

Since we've been talking about the unique characteristics of generations, I thought it would be appropriate to include an article on the "lost" generation.  By Donna Stevenson
Generation X used to be known as the 'lost generation' because they are members of a demographic cohort much smaller than their predecessor, the baby boomers. In fact, the group was so small in comparison that their existence was referred to as the 'boom echo'. As a result, and over time, this cohort has and continues to be ignored- in both business and organizational development literature. They have become squeezed between the two larger cohorts - Boomers and Generation Y - and are seldom acknowledged for their own particular preferences and behaviours. But they are of an age where making large purchases, such as homes and cars, are part of their daily routine. For those seeking customers, this cohort should not be ignored. From latchkey to boomerang: Generation X experienced tough economic times watching their boomer parents work long hours for a company only to be downsized or laid off when the economy tanked. This developed in them a distrust of employers and politicians. At the same time, they struggled to gain economic independence from their parents but, in many cases, became 'boomerang' children, the ones who kept returning to their parents' home because they couldn't find employment that would support their lifestyle.

wax blogAccording to the July 2013 issue of Forbes the generation known as Millennials,  or  Generation Y, are re-inventing the word charity. Although this demographic (those born between the 1980s to the early 2000s) has been referred to as lazy, unmotivated "slacktivists" the Huffington Post  reported in July of 2013  that Gen Y is increasingly looking for new and innovative ways to give back. I myself wrote about this a few weeks ago as one of the 5 reasons why I personally would rather work with Gen Y.  Companies are marketing new socially responsible products and services that appeal to this generation based on effortless and hassle-free ways to give back. Here are five products/services in this category that appeal to Millennials because they include a charitable component as part of their business model: 

By Jenny Martel The only energy drink I remember from my younger years is the highly caffeinated soda called Jolt Cola. I don’t recall that kids drank it or that they tried to get us to drink it with marketing. As a teenager, I didn't really know what to make of Red Bull when it was introduced. Today things are different. After reports of increased emergency room visits and even deaths from excessive caffeine consumption by children under 18, Red Bull is one of three energy drink companies embroiled in controversy concerning their marketing practices  to kids and teenagers. Last month energy drink makers Red Bull, Monster, and Rockstar came under fire in a Senate commerce hearing . During the hearing energy drink makers were asked to describe their marketing practices to children and teenagers. Expert physicians and researchers were also asked for their opinion on the effects of caffeine consumption on kids and the effects of marketing to those children.  US Senators Rockefeller, Blumenthal and Durbin seemed determined to prove that children and adolescents are a major target of the energy drink companies via websites, events and other non-traditional marketing practices. [caption id="attachment_5454" align="alignright" width="200"]Austin Lancaster, a "private" in the Monster Army is just 15. Austin Lancaster, a "private" in the Monster Army is just 15.[/caption] Although Monster CEO Rodney Sacks stated that Monster's primary demographic is young adult males and that it "does not focus its brand initiatives on young teenagers," the drink maker sponsors a so-called Monster Army to support and develop teenaged athletes including some as young as 12 years old! Red Bull and Rockstar were not able to support their claims of not marketing to kids either, to the scorn of the Senators on the committee.