Marketing 101 in 2019: Authenticity Reigns

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Marketing 101 in 2019: Authenticity Reigns

Consumers are increasingly immune to traditional advertising and have become adept at tuning it out. The public's fatigue with paid and owned advertising has created an opportunity for other types of marketing and public relations to flourish. Of these, earned media is poised to have the greatest impact in 2019, particularly with Generation X and the millennial audiences who crave authenticity and contribution to the greater good from businesses they frequent.

Earned media

One untapped marketing tool that small businesses, in particular, often overlook is earned media, which is when a business or business leader is written about, quoted in or contributes to a publication or website. As consumers grow more and more fatigued with traditional advertising, earned media continues to deliver results when it comes to establishing a business's credibility and name recognition.

With the number of small businesses increasing, earned media can help differentiate a business from its competitors and usually reaches a large audience. Studies from Nielsen show that audiences trust earned media significantly more than they trust traditional advertising. Technology buyers especially rely on reviews, blogs, videos and articles by experts to guide their purchases.

Until relatively recently, earned media has been underutilized in marketing strategies, but particularly by the small business market. Large businesses traditionally have relied on the credibility of earned media to grow their reputations and customer bases, but in 2019, expect to see small businesses adopt earned media strategies.

In addition to increasing a business's credibility and brand recognition, earned media provides broad media coverage and establishes positive relationships with members of the press, which is always good. Once a media outlet uses you as an expert, they often will turn to you when they need a quote for an article, a quick interview or last-minute editorial contribution.

The rise of millennials and Generation X

In 2019, expect to see the values of millennials and Generation X start to dominate mainstream American culture. Millennials make up 25 percent of the U.S. population and Gen Xers account for 31 percent of the country's income, so they certainly have purchasing power and influence.

Many millennials and Generation Xers don't have the same wealth that their parents and grandparents did and carry tremendous amounts of debt, so they do lots of research before committing to major purchases. They often distrust traditional advertising and rely on peer reviews to guide them. Both generations also care about the greater good, the environment and how and where the goods they buy are made.

Implementing an earned media strategy that specifically targets forging brand loyalty with millennials and Gen Xers is the key in 2019. If businesses commit to truly engaging with audiences on social media, highlighting customer success stories, and using authenticity and humor in their messaging, they'll have a pretty good shot at reaching both generations.

Marketing (and public relations) professionals can help businesses strengthen their brand messaging and foster positive relationships directly with millennial and Gen X consumers with creative storytelling that includes video, podcasts and live events.

Businesses that give back

Unlike many baby boomers, millennials and Gen Xers are willing to pay slightly more for products when the brand also donates to charity. Businesses like Tom's and Patagonia, which are socially conscious and donate to those in need, are winners with both generations.

Tom's offers a one-for-one match: For each pair of shoes purchased, a new pair of shoes is donated to a child in need. Despite spending billions of dollars on advertising, Nike has been unable to dethrone Tom's shoes as the shoe of choice for millennial buyers. Since 1985, Patagonia has given 1 percent of its sales to environmental preservation, in total awarding $89 million dollars to grassroots environmental organizations. The company also helped create 1% for the Planet, a nonprofit that encourages other businesses to donate 1 percent of their sales to environmental causes.

No matter if you're a microbusiness, small-to-medium-sized organization, a nonprofit or corporate giant, keeping these principles in mind in 2019 will help win buy-in and brand loyalty from two generations whose influence is only growing. The businesses that thrive and continue to do so are able to adapt to changing culture and thinking, and we'll see that play out in 2019.

How to Sell Your Business by Labor Day 2019

If you've been thinking about selling your business, the new year presents a fresh start to take action. Between getting your financials together, finding and screening buyers, and deciding on a price, selling your business can take more time than is ideal.

The BusinessesForSale.com global broker survey showed that 32 percent of brokers claimed it took an average of one year to sell a business and 11.3 percent claimed it took an average of 18 months. If that's longer than your timeline allows or you want to get your business off your hands as soon as possible, the following guidelines are right for you. Here is what you need to do to sell your business by Labor Day of 2019.

1. Boost your sales now.

If your sales aren't already at a high point, do everything possible at the start of the new year to increase sales and expand your customer base. Buyers want to buy businesses when they're on an upswing, not when sales are low. This indicates to the buyer that the market for your products or services is substantial or growing and instills confidence that the business will be successful post-purchase. Whether it's by introducing a new product, expanding your services or increasing your marketing efforts, get your numbers in a good spot before seeking out prospective buyers.

It's also important during this time to diversify your customer base. It's common for small businesses to get a majority of their revenue from a few returning customers. However, if a prospective buyer notices that a high percentage of your revenue comes from one or two customers, they'll worry that revenue will drop significantly after transitioning ownership. Even though you're actively working to sell the business, expanding into new markets before selling can encourage more buyers and ultimately a higher selling price.

2. Get a professional valuation.

When trying to sell your business, evaluating its worth and answering prospective buyers' questions can take up significant time. To expedite this process and ensure a reasonable asking price, it's important to get a professional valuation. A professional valuation will cover all important items that you may or may not have considered. By taking competition, finances and market health into account, a professional valuation will ensure a reasonable asking price, which will also help sell the business faster. After all, nothing turns buyers away like an unfairly high asking price.

When getting your business valuation, you should also receive a business summary. This document will outline all the factors that went into your asking price and streamline the answers to buyers' likely questions, which could otherwise slow down the process.

3. Hire a broker.

Finding, screening and negotiating with prospective buyers takes up the most time during a business sale. As a small business owner, you may not have the time to expertly navigate this network of buyers and accurately advocate for your business.

That's why a business broker is one of the best investments you can make while trying to sell your business. Not only do brokers know how to find qualified buyers quickly, they are experts at negotiating an asking price in your favor. They can do in weeks or months what may take you years to do. If selling your business in a short timeframe is truly important to you, a business broker is well worth the money.

4. Advertise aggressively.

While your broker will help you track down qualified leads, advertising that your business is up for sale elsewhere can give you the needed boost to close a sale within nine months. Advertise your business on websites like BusinessesForSale.com to get your listing in front of thousands of interested buyers. Advertise in trade publications or magazines relevant to your industry, and show up to local networking events to meet people who may be interested in your business. By getting your message in front of people on several platforms, you'll be sure to quickly capture the interest of several serious buyers.

Selling your business in under nine months may be intimidating, but it's possible with the right strategies and resources. Relying on professionals to handle the time-consuming aspects of selling your business and advertising aggressively will ensure that the right buyers are seeing your business. 

3 Proven Ways to Monetize Your Passion

Life’s too short to waste on unfulfilling work. If you’re lucky enough to have a passionate interest you spend hours of your free time immersing yourself in, imagine what it would be like to monetize it.

If you’ve ever wondered if it’s possible to make a living doing what you love – whether through a side hustle or starting your own business – it is. Here's how to do just that.

1. Write about what you love

Yes, it is possible to make a living with a blog. In fact, it’s a great place to start your journey away from mediocre employment and toward the freedom you desire. By setting up a simple website, you can build an audience and eventually, a business.

You don’t have to look far to find examples of hobbies turned into profitable blogs. Search any topic you’re interested in, and examine the blogs you find. If you’re paying attention, you’ll see advertising, paid content and affiliate marketing offers. Beyond these well-established revenue models, you can find other ways to add value for your audience as it grows.

2. Teach what you know

No matter where you are on the scale between novice and expert, there is someone who can learn from you. As Derek Sivers says in his article "Obvious to you. Amazing to others", creators often second guess their ideas as nothing special. But chances are, if you’re passionate and curious about your hobby, you already have a lot of insight to share.

The internet has created an opportunity for you to share your expertise with anyone in the world. As a natural extension of blogging, monetize your passion by providing coaching services and creating digital courses. Reach more people, build a business and immerse yourself in what lights your fire by teaching.

3. Build a community around your passion

Why stop at teaching when you can create a hub at the intersection of your passion and your community? There is huge value in providing a space, either physical or digital, where people who share your interests can gather. People crave human contact, especially with like-minded enthusiasts.

There are a few ways to serve your community that will enable you to get paid at the same time. The key is always to provide a valuable service:

Build a forum or membership site: This is a place to find the latest information, and interact with others. For access to these resources, members will pay a monthly or annual fee. No market is too small or community is too niche to build a community around. In fact, smaller is usually better.

Facilitate a paid mastermind group: Bring together a group of people on a similar journey to support and encourage one another (under your expert guidance). This is a great way to provide value to a more dedicated portion of your community that wants next-level involvement.

Build a marketplace: Different than a forum, a marketplace is where people do business, and provides buyers and sellers a place to meet.

Own your results

Even when you have passion, starting a business involves a ton of work. But if you’re excited about what you’re building, you won’t mind the work. You put in the effort, and you own the results.

Once you learn the fundamentals of doing business online, you can make money and live with purpose doing what you love.

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