How Can Small Businesses Get, and Keep, Clients?


Building strong relationships is key to keeping clients

Small businesses acknowledge that clients are critical to their success: In a March 2015 study by The Alternative Board (TAB), 48% of small-business owners (SBOs) worldwide said their customers drove their success—the No. 1 response when asked how to describe their company culture. As such, they’re putting a strong emphasis on driving new and repeat customers this year—and it’s stressing many out.

In a December 2014 study by Zogby Analytics for Xero, growing the customer base was the top 2015 business priority among US SBOs, cited by 62.2%.


However, SBOs are feeling the heat. In March 2015 research by Constant Contact, finding new customers was the leading business concern among US SBOs, cited by two-thirds. Retaining existing customers was also important, at 40%—the No. 3 response behind having enough time.

20150518 PG12aSpring 2015 research by Ebiquity for American Express looked at a different list of priorities and here, keeping current business and revenue sources was the No. 1 company priority cited by US SBOs, at 38%, followed by growing the business (34%).

When it comes to bringing in new business, word-of-mouth is still the most effective marketing channel for small and medium-sized businesses, cited by 28% polled in November 2014 by BrightLocal. For those looking to go beyond chatter though, search engine optimization and online local directories were the second and third most effective marketing channels for bringing in new leads and customers, followed by email marketing.

Once they’ve attracted those customers, relationships are key to keeping them. In a March 2015 study by Braun Research for Bank of America, nearly six in 10 US SBOs said establishing relationships with customers was the primary driver of repeat customers. Nothing came close to this, with low prices and prime location tying for second, with just 11% each.20150518 PG12b

Generating leads and closing deals are just the beginning for small businesses. If they want to maintain the customer base they’ve worked hard for, they’ll need to form strong relationships with their clients. If not, they risk losing out to other driven parties in the industry that do.

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Jeff Zucker’s Singular Role in Promoting Donald Trump’s Rise



By Margaret Sullivan Media Columnist The Washington Post

Looking for someone specific to hold responsible for the improbable rise of Donald Trump?

Although there are many options, you could do worse than to take a hard look at Jeff Zucker, president of CNN Worldwide.

It was Zucker, after all, who as the new head of NBC Entertainment gave Trump his start in reality TV with “The Apprentice” and then milked the real estate developer’s uncanny knack for success for all it was worth in ratings and profits.

“The show was built as a virtually nonstop advertisement for the Trump empire and lifestyle,” according to the book “Trump Revealed,” by Washington Post journalists Marc Fisher and Michael Kranish.

And it succeeded wildly — boosting the network’s ratings, as well as Zucker’s meteoric career. In turn, under Zucker, the show gave rise to “Celebrity Apprentice,” another Trump extravaganza. And, in turn, Zucker became the head of NBC overall.

The executive rode the Trump steed hard. When the reality-TV star was preparing to marry Melania Knauss in 2005, Zucker wanted to broadcast the wedding live. (Trump, uncharacteristically, declined.)

But make no mistake: There would be no Trump-the-politician without Trump-the-TV-star. One begot the other.

Ten years later, it was Zucker, now the head of CNN, who gave Trump astonishing amounts of free exposure in the Republican presidential primary on the cable network, continually blasting out his speeches and rallies — often unfiltered and without critical fact-checking.

“It’s a not-unfair knock on CNN to say that they went all in on Trump and helped him enormously,” Ken Lerer, co-founder of the Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, said in a recent onstage interview at City University of New York’s journalism school. “I think it was a strategy, a programming strategy.”

Of course, CNN was hardly alone. Fox News, too, has been a megaphone for Trump for many months. And nearly every news outlet has played a part — from newspaper front pages to NPR to the network nightly news.

Ratings. Clicks. Audience. Say what you will about Trump as a human being or a potential leader of the free world, he has an ineffable ability to get attention. He has called himself a “ratings machine,” and in the world of TV, ratings equal profit. “It may not be good for America, but it’s damn good for CBS,” Leslie Moonves, chairman of CBS, said of the Trump phenomenon in March, according to the Hollywood Reporter.


Jeff Zucker

“The money’s rolling in, and this is fun. It’s a terrible thing to say. But bring it on, Donald. Keep going.”

Moonves’s ebullience makes it clear that ratings madness infects all of commercial TV, although, of course, particularly the cable-news channels.

None rolled out the welcome mat more eagerly than CNN, which has billed itself as the “most trusted name in news.” And unlike Fox, which is blatantly conservative, CNN pitches itself as nonpartisan. It’s supposed to be the down-the-middle alternative to Fox and, on the left, MSNBC.

And it’s been CNN, too, that has employed former Trump campaign manager Corey Lewandowski as an analyst, where he is bound by a nondisclosure agreement to say nothing negative about Trump, and where he has — until last week — continued to be paid severance by the campaign even while promoting the candidate on the air.

To be sure, CNN also boasts many fine journalists, and in recent weeks, the network has become much tougher on Trump. Apparently, the candidate noticed. Not only has he retreated to Fox News, but his September tweets also show a certain lack of gratitude for past help, calling CNN “unwatchable” and Zucker himself a failure.

Undeniably, the political coverage is working for all the cable news networks. Ratings out last week show sky-high viewership for all three — and that’s manna from heaven in an industry whose numbers were tanking in 2014 and where average viewers are over 60 — while millennials cut the cord and stay glued to their phones.

I asked Zucker, both directly and through his representative, to comment for this column but was told he wasn’t available to talk about it. In the past, he’s brushed off the idea that CNN has been anything but responsible in its coverage decisions.

Can you blame a TV executive such as Zucker for doing his job — striving for the highest possible ratings and profits?

Maybe not at NBC, where as the head of the entertainment division, Zucker bore no responsibility to the public interest when he made Trump a reality-show star.

But when it comes to CNN’s news coverage — its journalism — that’s a different matter. Decisions about covering a presidential campaign should consider what’s best for citizens as well as what’s best for Time Warner’s shareholders.

Some would say that CNN merely held up the mirror to Trump, and voters freely chose him over his Republican competitors. And now, voters may freely choose him over Hillary Clinton, who has made the coverage problem worse by being the anti-Trump — failing to connect emotionally with voters and even at the basic political task of making news. Partly by being so guarded, she’s ceded the near-monopoly on news to her more charismatic rival.

But it is, after all, the responsibility of the press to hold candidates accountable, not to provide publicity.

Twice, Zucker made Trump a winner. And twice, Trump made Zucker a winner.

But what about the rest of us?

Margaret Sullivan is The Washington Post’s media columnist. Previously, she was The New York Times public editor, and the chief editor of The Buffalo News, her hometown paper.

Your Editor Asks: Is it journalism or entertainment? Is CNN an online journal? Or online show business?

Opinion: What Corporate America Can Learn From Political America

Bush, Cruz, and Trump

As the political spectrum has been upended by the impact of big data, social media and the multicultural boom in our society, so too has corporate America. Some agencies and brands have adapted quickly and are thriving as a result. Others have learned the hard way that what worked in the past won’t necessarily work in the future.

At our Hispanic advertising agency, we’re aiming to adapt not only to macro-trends, but also those at the micro-level that pertain to Latin audiences. It’s a volatile environment in which marketers need to remain flexible and steal good ideas from anywhere they can. The 2016 political season offers five lessons that brands would be wise to heed:

  1.     Rewrite the Rules. Tactically speaking, the playbook used by Barack Obama was effective and largely different from that of George W. Bush, including a focus on demographic segmentation and digital content creation. This same evolution continues and, in spite of the leapfrogs witnessed during the 2008 cycle, the tides have turned yet again. Politicians (and brands) need to be willing to cannibalize their own recipe for success and pivot to new strategic directions before they become necessary. Apple is a great example. In the late 90s, the desktop represented over 75 percent of Apple’s revenue. Then the iPod took the disproportionate growth trend within the company; that is…until the iPhone and iPad came along. Now the focus is on leveraging is vast consumer base approaching the billions. Obviously this is easier said than done, but the key insight remains; the most dangerous thing a company can do is rest on its laurels and assume its cash cow today won’t be its dead weight of tomorrow.
  2.     Any Publicity is Good Publicity. While there are obviously exceptions, this age-old adage has never been truer. More than ever before, the power of a quick retort or statement made in jest garners as much, if not more, buzz than a superbly-executed Super Bowl spot or clever magazine ad. Integrated campaigns that offer shock value and disrupt the status quo will win out, even among traditional journalists. If there’s anything to be learned as a result of this campaign season, it is that consumers crave “honesty” (whether real or perceived) — in the way they are targeted and in the way messages are delivered.
  3.     Stay on Message. Focus is critical, and politicians understand this with their ad-nauseum repetition of the same messaging over and over. That said, it works. Organizations should do less things better, find their voice and serve as a consistent beacon for the values they espouse (be they quality, speed, entertainment, reliability, etc). If you try to be all things to all people, you’ll probably be relevant to none.
  4.     Technology Rules. For the past decade, technological advances have vastly redefined the political process, and those changes are witnessed in states like New Hampshire and South Carolina … where a crowd of 5,000 can be gathered in hours from social media, and a candidate can raise $5 million in small donations online based on one rousing speech. Those same tectonic shifts have upended the corporate landscape as well, providing massive opportunities to those who leverage these latest marketing tools to their benefit.
  5.     Be Bold. From eschewing big money, to directly attacking the press, candidates on both sides of the aisle have thought differently and positioned themselves as mavericks willing to take a chance. Although this comes with big risks, it can also deliver big rewards. Companies today need to be willing to forgo a bit of control (especially in social media) and stand out in a competitive marketplace filled with background noise. In order to cut through the clutter, brands need to take calculated risks and establish a bold voice.

There are stark differences between politics and business, but also many similarities. Innovative leaders in both realms would be well-advised to adapt, get comfortable with change and understand the many factors out of their control. We may not be able to predict the returns in November 2016, but we can be certain the forecast includes uncertainty.

Mike Valdes-Fauli is president of Pinta, a full-service marketing agency with offices in Miami, New York and Los Angeles. 

The Trump FCC: What Will Happen to Diversity in Radio?


by David Honig

So are things going to go from disappointing to worse? Perhaps not. We might be in for a surprise.

My job today is to throw down some history that will help us answer the question, “What will a Trump FCC do to diversity in radio?”

Will Pres. Donald Trump respect the FCC’s long tradition of promoting minority ownership, procurement, equal employment, and transactional opportunity in a medium that serves all Americans? And where would he be starting from?

  • Minority radio ownership has never been much to shout about. According to the FCC’s Commercial Broadcast Stations Ownership Report (issued June 2014, with data as of 2013), people of color — one-third of the nation — owned 11.2% of the nation’s AM stations and 6.1% of the nation’s FM stations. Most of these stations are small and struggling.
  • AM radio, the platform of entry and the primary home of minority broadcasters, is threatened with extinction. The FCC has no comprehensive plan to rescue the band or those whose livelihoods depend on it.
  • There aren’t any statistics on minority broadcast employment anymore. In 2001, the FCC stopped keeping records.

This didn’t happen overnight.

In 1932, Pres. Herbert Hoover’s Federal Radio Commission held that a Kansas City black newspaper was unqualified to hold a radio station license because it planned to serve a black audience rather than the “entire community” — an obligation never visited on white broadcasters.

Pres. Dwight Eisenhower’s FCC ruled in 1955 that a Louisiana state statute legalizing segregated movie theaters made the owner of such theaters qualified to own a TV station, even though the Section 1 of the 1934 Communications Act banned discrimination by broadcast licensees.

Civil rights champion Pres. Lyndon Johnson’s FCC lost its way in 1965 when it held that a segregationist was qualified to hold a television license, and that black listeners had no standing to challenge its license renewal application. The D.C. Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals eventually reversed the FCC rulings twice.

Closer to living memory for most of us was Pres. Ronald Reagan’s FCC. In 1986, it unanimously suspended two of the three minority ownership policies, without prior notice or warning, on the grounds that white people were being held back from getting their fair share of broadcast licenses. At the time, white people held only 98% of the broadcast licenses.

And now we come to Pres. Barack Obama’s second term. On the plus side:

  • The Obama FCC relaxed the 104-year old xenophobic restrictions on foreign investment in broadcasting, opening new sources of capital and new overseas markets for U.S. broadcasters. This was actually done unanimously in the FCC’s first public meeting after the 2012 election.
  • Perhaps the Obama FCC’s greatest achievement in broadcast policy was its 2015 bipartisan initiative to provide desperately needed relief to AM stations, including opening two new AM-only translator windows.
    But on the other side:
  • They killed the Federal Advisory Committee on Diversity. Think about that. What are the priorities of an agency that goes out of its way to kill an advisory committee on diversity that had previously enjoyed the enthusiastic support of two Republican and two Democratic administrations?
  • Refused to extend the cable equal procurement rule to broadcasting and other technologies — defying the Third Circuit of the U.S. Court of Appeals. This rule simply requires broad outreach — like having a Request for Proposals disseminated widely enough so minority- and women-owned businesses will find out about it in time to submit bids for the work. It’s constitutionally noncontroversial. MMTC and the National Association of Black Owned Broadcasters (NABOB) have had to take the FCC to court over this.
  • And finally, and it pains me so deeply to have to report this, the current FCC refused to require emergency, life-saving hurricane warnings to be broadcast over the radio in languages other than English. In doing this, the FCC failed even to mention the unanimous, 24–0, recommendation of its own Hurricane Katrina Advisory Committee. Who in the world sets out to write an actual opinion authorizing the continued absence of in-language information to Spanish-speaking and Asian language-speaking families in a hurricane? And yes, MMTC and the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) and dozens of friends of the court have had to appeal to get this overturned.

So are things going to go from disappointing to worse? Perhaps not. We might be in for a surprise.

We know the Trump FCC transition team members and the Republican FCC commissioners well. Based on their interests and past positions, we can envision four radio issues where, if we’re really vigilant, if we engage early and often, we might be able to make some progress:

First: Application of the cable procurement rule to radio, TV and other technologies. All of the Trump FCC transition team members and Republican FCC commissioners favor “platform neutrality,” and none has been hostile to broad outreach and nondiscrimination protections.

Second: Minority ownership initiatives, particularly through such mechanisms as improving services where minority entrepreneurs are heavily invested, such as program creation, syndication, and distribution.

Third: Some overdue deregulation of the radio market definition, minimum station personnel levels, and some public file rules.

Fourth: A comprehensive plan for AM owners to transition their programming to other technologies without devastating economic consequences as AM inevitably continues to lose aggregate market share.

At the same time as we have goals, we must also have realism. Over the next four years, civil rights in housing, education, health care, and voting rights are going to be constantly under siege.

But communications policy might be different. If we hold the new administration accountable for diversity, inclusion, and job creation, I believe we can make far more progress than we thought we’d make on Nov. 9, when many of us spent the morning trying to decide which would be the better place to move, “Canada, or Jamaica?”

Finally, civil rights supporters in our industry must never underestimate the power and persuasiveness of our advocacy, our organizing and our prayers. Let’s remember that over time, we reversed all of the awful things you just read about in this post that the commission did under the Hoover, Eisenhower, Johnson and Reagan FCCs. That is living proof that Martin Luther King Jr., was absolutely correct when he declared that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”

Your Editor Muses: We want reason to triumph. And we will do our bit.

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