Saturday, December 29, 2012

Blog Post: Five Tips for Ensuring Social Media Success in 2013

Do you have a New Year’s resolution for your business? If you haven’t thought of one yet, one idea is to form a social media strategy and promote your business on sites like Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Foursquare, etc.  Social media isn’t going away and it’s critical that you get your business out there. However, BBB recommends that you ease into the waters carefully and thoughtfully when planning to launch your social media strategy; otherwise it could be a giant mess.

Here are some tips to help get you started on your social media strategy:

Don’t get in over your head. Start small, such as with a Facebook page or by commenting on blogs or connecting with customers on Twitter. Let your social media strategy grow and evolve as you learn what works best for your time constraints and business goals. 

Create and share information. Social media is about engagement, and creating and sharing content is key to connecting with customers and other industry leaders. When writing your own content, always maintain an appropriate and professional tone and use plenty of links to other sites, blogs, or news articles to help illustrate your point. 

Keep everything connected.  Once you’ve created your page on Facebook, or established your blog or Twitter account or other online presences, cross-promote your content so that the same message is going out across every site. For example, Tweet about your blog post or send a link in a message to your LinkedIn group.

Engage in the conversation. Inject yourself and opinions into the conversation by following opinion leaders on Twitter and social networking sites and commenting on blog posts. Whenever possible, include a link back to your content or Web site.

Engage with customers.  our customers are talking about you online whether you like it or not on their blogs, consumer-focused Web sites and on review sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local and CitySearch. While you can’t take control of the conversation you can help steer it by listening, engaging with customers and working to resolve any problems.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Recharge and Refresh: Take Advantage of Your Downtime

Typically around this time of year, business can be slow.  This downtime can be a good time to get things done around the office and check off tasks on your to-do list.  According to an article by Entrepreneur, Colin Sprake, motivational business speaker and author of the upcoming book, The Entrepreneur Success Recipe (Morgan James Publishing, 2013), has 6 ways to make good use of your holiday downtime:

1. Reflect and review the past year.  Take some time to think back on the year and review strategies such as marketing and sales.  Be sure to ask yourself, what worked? What didn’t?

2. Create a New Year’s resolution for your business.  These can be small or big goals, but keep them handy so you can evaluate their progress in a few months.

3. Invest in yourself.  Are there any courses you’ve been meaning to take or business books you wanted to read?  Use this time to catch up.

4. Don’t be afraid to take time off.  You need to recharge too. Take a break and come back in the New Year refreshed.  

5. Take care of yourself.  Use this free time to schedule any doctor appointments that may be overdue, or clean up your yard.

6. Be sure to thank those who support you. You often thank your clients for their business, but do you thank the people in your life who support you and your business endeavors? Don’t forget about your family and close friends.  

To read more, visit

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Tackling Holiday Gift Returns

Do you have a return or exchange policy? Are you already dreading the post holiday gift returns? It’s important for businesses to keep their customers in mind when it comes to their return policy. 

BBB recommends that businesses consider the following when creating, solidifying or simplifying their return policy:

Make sure the customer is aware of your policy. Display your policies at the checkout counter and on your website.  

Provide gift receipts. Six out of ten shoppers say they include a gift receipt when giving a gift, so be sure to offer one at the time of purchase.

Encourage customers to return the merchandise unused, unworn or unwrapped. Everyone likes getting merchandise in its original package and by encouraging customers to return goods this way, you better your chances that the product can be resold.

Make online returns easy. Lay out the return rules clearly. Explain who pays for the return shipping, where the customer sends the return, and any forms or mailing labels you want them to use.

Stay calm and helpful. The holidays can be a stressful time for everyone and making returns is usually not high on the customer’s list of fun things to do. When working with a customer, always go into a return with a smile. If their experience is good, you may win over a new customer.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Post a Job with BBB

Want to post a job opening? Don’t know where to look?

Now, Accredited Businesses like you can advertise job openings with BBB.  Simply log into your BBB account and select “Post Your Job Openings.” This is a FREE service offered to only Accredited Businesses.  

Your BBB hears from consumers constantly who have fallen victim to job hunter scams, and so in an effort to connect consumers who are looking for a good job, at a good company, with businesses who care about ethics and integrity, your BBB began the BBB Accredited Business Job Listings program.

Just as it is with the diversity of the BBB’s Accredited Businesses, the jobs listed through the website cover a vast array of industries. From mechanics and landscapers, to salespeople and administrative jobs. You can post jobs for all experience levels spanning across the county.

So what are you waiting for? Pass along the word to your friends, family, strangers passing by you. Post your job opening today. The BBB Job Listings are available now!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

BBB Study Shows Radical Change In Advertising In Cyber Age

Cyberspace is changing the advertising scene radically, both in terms of where consumers look for ads and what businesses say is their most effective advertising medium, according to a study done by our BBB counterpart in St. Louis, Mo.

The study, “Believe It or Not: A BBB Study of the Perceptions of Advertising by Consumers and Business,” is based largely on surveys of 1,360 consumers and 442 businesses.

Consumers were asked what the most and least trusted media were for advertising. The two results were combined to create a “trust factor.” With a rating of a positive 17 percent, they ranked company websites well ahead of such common media as mainline newspapers, television and radio.

Businesses were asked to indicate their most effective medium for advertising. A third of respondents said their own websites were the most effective, and company websites led the list of where businesses spend their most advertising dollars.

Businesses also ranked search engine optimization (SEO) high in both dollars spent and effectiveness. The study recommends “that businesses that have not done so explore the opportunities available through search engine optimization and search engine marketing.”

Eight-five percent of consumers responding to the survey said they use an Internet search engine to find a company with which to do business, according to the study.

To view the complete study please go to

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Protecting Your Business Against Office Supply Scams

Businesses are being bilked out of millions of dollars through office supply scams.  The typical office scam may include a phony invoice or a phone call from someone pretending to be your regular office supplier.

BBB and the FTC offer 5 rules for protecting your business against a scam like this:

1. Know and insist on your rights. If you receive merchandise you didn't order, you may keep it as a gift according to the FTC.  According to a federal law commonly referred to as the "Unordered Merchandise Law," and principles established in FTC enforcement cases, it is illegal for the seller to send you bills or dunning notices for unordered merchandise and ask you to return it, even if the seller offers to pay the shipping expenses.

2. Don't pay any bills that don’t match your documentation. When the supplies arrive, the receiving employee should check to see that it matches the shipper's bill of lading.

3. Document orders. For each order, an employee should issue to the supplier a written purchase order on a standard multiple-copy form with an authorized signature and a purchase order number.

4. Train your employees. If your employees are not familiar with certain callers, advise them to say something like, "I am not authorized to order anything. You will have to speak to the person in charge of ordering supplies and get a purchase order."

5. Do not pay for or return unordered merchandise.  If you are certain that you didn't order the merchandise the seller has shipped, do not pay for or return the merchandise.

For more information visit

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Does Your Small Business Text?

These days it seems like everyone is texting, surfing the Internet and playing games on their smartphone. Long gone are the days when someone actually called you on the phone. In a personal setting this might not be so bad, such as sending a quick text to your family or friends, but with this new age technology, what does this mean for your business? announced the results of it’s Small Business Mobile Survey, which indicated that 69 percent of small businesses will consider mobile marketing as key to their growth in the next five years.  Mobile marketing includes strategies like text messaging, smartphone applications, mobile web marketing and many more.

Of those mobile marketing approaches, texting is the most prominent. Open Forum explained that texting excels as a marketing tool for two important reasons:

1. Texting is instant. According to Mobile Squared, 90 percent of texts are read within three minutes of being received. That’s an astonishingly high open rate.

2. Sending texts adds a personal approach to your business. You can communicate with customers one-on-one, customize messages and provide the same great customer service. 

For more information visit

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Encourage Charitable Giving At Your Office

December is a critical fundraising month for charities. Many businesses and organizations make year-end gifts for tax reasons, or to extend the holiday spirit.  Employees and employers who pool their efforts to support a cause, either with their time, money or in kind donations, can make a positive impact for struggling families over the holidays.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends the following ways that small business owners can spread the holiday spirit around the office:

Institute a volunteer day. Giving to a charity doesn't have to mean pulling out the checkbook. Many charities also rely heavily on the gift of time from volunteers. An office wide volunteer day is a great way to get employees out of the office and working together on something they can be proud of.

Rally around one cause with an office fundraiser. Office bake sales, silent auctions and tag sales are just a few ways to raise money for a charity. If everyone gets involved, then the nickel and dimes can add up to a healthy donation to a needy organization.

Collect food or toys. Around the holidays, many charities are looking for non-perishable food donations or toys. If everyone in the office donates a can of food or a toy, those items can collectively make a huge difference for a less fortunate family's holiday season.

Offer a matching program. Small business owners can encourage employees to make donations to charities by matching their contributions. Matching programs allows individual employees to choose a cause that might be near and dear to their own heart. By matching their donations, small business owners can show they support their employees with the added benefit of a tax deduction.

Educate employees to be wise givers. Encourage employees to research their charities first with the BBB Wise Giving Alliance before they give. BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluates more than 1,200 national-soliciting charities against 20 rigorous accountability standards.

For more advice on holiday charitable giving from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, visit

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Preventing Cold and Flu Season in the Work Place

With cold and flu season upon us, the transfer of germs and illness in the workplace increases. Better Business Bureau advises business owners to take initiative in preventing the spread of illness.

Beginning in late November each year, the flu affects millions of us. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says this germy bug costs businesses nearly $10 billion in employee medical visits every year. Keep your employees healthy by maintaining a clean and productive work environment. The CDC has made it easier with a free employer tool kit, “Make It Your Business to Fight the Flu.”

Here are some tips to help protect employees and customers as much as possible:

Acquire products that ward off germs. Hand sanitizers, tissues and disinfectants are all products that can aid employees in keeping the workspace clean. Make them readily available throughout your workspaces.

Advise employees to stay home. While sick employees may deem it necessary to attend work, their presence will only expose healthy employees to contagions. If employees are sick, they should stay home for at least 24 hours after they no longer show symptoms. Consider creating a leave policy that allows employees to work from home should they (or their children) fall ill.

Enforce good hygiene in the work place. Institute the cleaning of shared equipment such as phones and computers, and wipe down common areas with
disinfectant regularly. Remind employees of the importance of washing their hands, as well as covering their mouth when sneezing and/or coughing. Encourage them to “sneeze in your sleeve,” rather than into their hand, to reduce the spread of germs.

Promote flu shots. Search for on-site flu shots through your local hospital, retail pharmacy or other health care provider, or consider reimbursing some or all of the cost for employees to receive the shot on their own.

Hold a health fair. Contact your local hospital to see if they provide health fairs for employers. If your business isn’t large enough, you can possibly team up with others in your building, office park or neighborhood. If you are in a retail location, you can invite the community, as well. You can also contract the coordination of an on-site health fair with a company specializing in the service.

Be the example. It is important for the employer to follow the same advice being given to the employees. As the boss, it may seem impossible to take a sick day, but it is just as important for you to stay home and keep your germs out of the office.

Vist BBB's webiste for more Business Tips or join our LinkedIn business group. 

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Another BBB Phishing Scam. Don’t Bite!

Phishing scams look like legitimate email, and they are getting more sophisticated every day. What these con artists are really after is your banking and financial information. And they won’t mind destroying your computer to get it.

Once again, scammers are sending emails that appear to come from your trusted Better Business Bureau. They’ll tell you that a complaint has been registered against your business, or that a customer has submitted a review of your business. (It doesn’t matter that you might not even OWN a business.)

The email will ask you to download and complete an attached form, or it will ask you to click on a link to view and respond to the consumer posting. Don’t do either!

The “attached form” is actually an executable file that will drop a nasty virus onto your system. Next thing you know, you’ll see a pop-up message that claims your computer is infected with dozens of viruses, and that will offer to clean your system for a fee. If you provide your credit card or banking information to have your system cleaned, you will waste your money, and the scammers will then have access to your funds and will steal even more of your money.

The links in the bogus email are dangerous, as well. They look like a link to a BBB page, but the code behind the link will actually route your browser to a website where malware is dropped onto your computer. The malware is written in such a way that it usually passes by anti-virus programs undetected. Once the malware is in place, the scammer can sniff for your banking information (including user names and passwords), and can use your system to send more scam emails out to your contacts under your name.

The bottom line is this: If you don’t own a business, you can disregard any BBB email that claims your company has been the subject of a customer communication. If you do own a business, you can always check with your local office to confirm the legitimacy of any email purporting to come from BBB. To find your local office, visit But never click on a link in an email or download an attachment unless and until you confirm that it truly came from BBB.

BBB would like you to send us any bogus emails claiming to come from BBB. Forward the email(s) to Don’t worry if you receive a notification that the email could not be delivered because of an attached virus. We pull them from quarantine and examine them anyway. Please understand that we would like to reply to each email, however, when the traffic to the phishing mailbox is particularly heavy, we might not be able to offer a direct reply. If you need personal assistance with an email, contact your local BBB.