This Week in Small Business: Elvis Costello, Cybercrime and Ex-Cons

From what I hear, the Irish saved civilization and they definitely made last week a lot more fun. We start out with a serving of Irish (marketing) stew before moving on to productivity, taxes, the best cities for women in terms of wage parity and much, much more.


beer dark beer ale public domainWhat do Elvis Costello, Guiness and Riverdance all have in common? They are great examples of Irish marketing triumphs. We hope you toasted these on St. Patrick’s Day!

David Ciccarelli, CEO of, outlines some principles to help startups do their own marketing on a tight budget. And here’s more on the topic: Startup marketing is its own beast. If you need a little guidance on how to pace your marketing strategy, Ed Zimmerman offers guidance.

There’s definitely a line between personalizing an experience and stalking a customer. Sky TV’s marketing guru says you should know where that is.

Increased touch points, customer data and custom content will be driving increased email marketing success in 2015. And for an in-depth look at how companies are pushing personalized experiences to the next level, here’s the story.

Social media marketing

Have you noticed changes in your Facebook “Likes”? Here are the latest machinations at our biggest social networking platform. More FB news: Facebook has a “firehose” of user-generated topical data that it is finally opening up to marketers. This should keep people busy for a while.

You’ll find the most important social media metrics to follow in this article broken down by social media platform.

Tips and tools

To make the sale you need to establish the relationship, understand your prospect and keep the conversation going on the right level. Here are 30 effective questions to ask that will help you close more deals.

Appeal to your customers’ primal instincts to connect on a very visceral level. Here are four ways.

Forbes writer Drew Hendricks says these are the only six content marketing tips you need for 2015. We’ll see about that..,

There’s nothing fancy about this list of 80 (I think) third-party marketing tools, but look it over and see if there are any you don’t recognize or any categories you don’t know about.

Entrepreneurship, venture capital and startups

Most states offer some type of tax incentives for investors who pour capital into early-stage companies, however many companies and investors are in the dark about these breaks. It’s time to shed a little light on the subject.

“Storage Wars” makes for great reality TV on A&E, but buying abandoned storage units may be the ideal recession-proof small business opportunity. Darrell Sheets explains.

If Indiegogo fundraising is an indictor, Christopher Engelo has hit it out of the park with his 21st century tool box. It proves that even products that have been around forever are ripe for innovation. I’m going to take another look at that mousetrap.

To be a successful entrepreneur, one trait is valuable above all the rest: Persistence. Jeremy Johnson describes its many benefits.

If your startup is of the virtual variety, review these five tips for starting your business online.

Take note of this year’s #SXSW Accelerator Winners and check back next year to see if their picks were on target.

Government, politics and economics

Would you be surprised to learn many SBA loans from $1 million to $5 million, went to luxury goods retailers, exclusive clubs, Fortune 100 companies, plastic surgery clinics and even private equity firms? It might be an indicator of where growth is occurring as much as anything else.

Let’s face it, it’s always tax time so bone up on these four changes to the tax code and be prepared.

Gallup’s US Job Creation Index is up again, posting at +27, which is its highest score in the six years since the report’s creation.

The International Franchise Association has filed for an injunction to block portions of Seattle’s new $15/hour minimum wage law.

If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere; but it’s proving difficult for some NYC small businesses. Hence the creation of the #SaveNYC online campaign.

He’s from the federal government and he’s here to help you: the SBA ombudsman. See if your needs match his service.

Management and leadership

Cybercriminals are doing more than stealing customer information – they’re commandeering entire domains. Be sure you’re protected.

Costco and Sam’s Club can both save small businesses money on a wide range of supplies and more. Consumer Reports gives a slight edge to Costco, but says both are worth the membership cost.

The right online tools can greatly help you keep things under control and maximize your productivity. You’ll find 24 such tools in this annotated listing. When you have a healthy and productive culture in your business, other things fall into place. Here are five easy tips to help you create a great culture.

Are you positioned to be recognized as a thought leader? Michael Brenner guides you through the questions and how to leverage thought leadership.

These 18 tips and tricks for managing your business cover everything from when you need to diversify to what kind of credit card your biz should be using. And how about a vehicle for your business? Should you buy or lease?

According to a Wall Street Journal article, The Vanguard Group is bringing the investment price war to the small-business pensions market. Check out what fees you are currently paying for your 401(k) and make some comparisons.

Social media can be a great venue for customer service. Here are four ways to use Twitter.

Implement these five keys to customer retention to boost your lifetime value figures.

Hey ladies, if you want better wage parity with men, maybe you need to relocate to one of these 10 cities. Also, eight successful women in tech industries reveal how the prep on Monday mornings to be ready for the week’s challenges.

David Sederholt of Strategic Funding Source presents a list of three common small business opportunities and three challenges that might have you looking for a funding source. If so, you should consider your alternatives.

Apple used a variation of the “razor-razor blade” business model to build its phenomenal success. The same approach could work in your business.

Human resources

We are moving from an ownership economy to a membership economy. Roberta Matuson offers advice on how to hire top talent in this environment.

According to this article in The Week, some small businesses are finding that ex-cons make good workers; in fact they are outperforming the non-felons at Dave’s Killer Bread. (I don’t know what to make of that business name.)

Also in HR: There are some things in hiring, firing and managing employees that you must do correctly every time if you want to avoid an expensive lawsuit. Get up to speed.

Sponsored by AT&T