Cheat Sheet for Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is spreading rapidly, with new updates constantly.  As a business, it is hard to know what to do and how to mitigate risk, protect employees, support customers and keep your business running.

Here is a cheat sheet of ways to keep your business afloat and help that is out there to keep businesses open and employees.

Customer Communication

Customers are understanding that the crisis is affecting the way business is being done.  Communicate with them to let them know the current standing, whether you are open or not, different hours if they know what to expect they will be more understanding.

Business Interruption Insurance

Business Interruption insurance might be an option if you have substantial business losses as a result of shutting down because of the pandemic.  Contact your insurance broker as to what  qualifies and if it will cover you for this emergency.

Shift Your Business to Online

As the majority of storefronts are closed, it is time to emphasize a stronger online marketing strategy.  If you sell products, make sure that your site is ready to sell and engage with customers virtually.  Is your social media performance strong?  It may be time to improve your brand awareness across all platforms.  Start working on putting your email list to good use and incorporating videos to reach new leads.

The Paycheck Protection Loan Program

Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act allocated almost $350 million billion to help small businesses keep workers employed during the pandemic.  The Paycheck Protection Loan Program is part of the CARES Act.  These loans may be forgiven if businesses maintain their payrolls during the crisis or restore payroll after.

Who is Eligible for Paycheck Protection Loan?

  • A small business or A 501(c)(3) with less than 500 employees.
  • An individual who operates as a sole proprietor or/an independent contractor.
  • An individual who is self-employed who regularly carries on any trade or business.
  • A 501 (c)(19) Veterans Organization that meets SBA size standard.

The 500 employees include all employees, full-time, part-time, and any other status.  The loan can be for 2.5 months or average payroll or $10 million, whichever is less.  To apply, click here.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan

The CARES Act specifically expands the Small Business Administration’s long-standing Economic Disaster Loan Program (EIDL).  The creation of the EIDL program is to assist businesses, renters, and homeowners located in regions affected by declared disasters.

Who is Eligible for the Economic Injury Disaster Loan?

  • Businesses with less than 500 employees.
  • An individual who operates as a sole proprietor.
  • An individual who operates as an independent contractor.
  • Cooperatives, ESOPs, and tribal small businesses with fewer than 500 employees.
  • In general most private nonprofits.

The maximum is a $2 million working capital loan at a rate of 3.75% for businesses and 2.75% for non-profits with up to a 30-year term.  It is important to realize that the payments are deferred for one year.  To apply, click here.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)

The FFCRA contains eight divisions designed to provide assistance to covered employees and households with eligible children affected by COVID-19 pandemic.  Things that are included in the Act are expansion of unemployment benefits, USDA assistance programs, and emergency paid sick leave.

What Does FFCRA Mean for Businesses?

The FFCRA affects businesses in two main ways.

  • Paid Sick and Family Leave – The law requires all private businesses with fewer than 500 employees to provide emergency paid sick or family leave for employees affected by the coronavirus outbreak.
  • Employer Tax Credits – The law provides employers with fewer than 500 employees with refundable payroll tax credits to cover the cost of providing paid sick leave and the paid FMLA leave to their employees. Employers will receive 100% tax credit against their payroll tax liability.  The credit specifically includes Health Insurance costs.  In this case reimbursement will be quick and easy to attain.

The Ultimate Cheat Sheet for Anyone Who Lost a Job Due to Coronavirus

As businesses are forced to close due to the coronavirus epidemic, a record of 6.6 million Americans filed for unemployment insurance last week.  The surge of being jobless or furloughed is rising as companies cannot weather this economic storm.  If you have lost your job or furloughed, we want to help.  Here is your ultimate cheat sheet for how to get the help that’s available so that you can weather this storm.

Unemployment Benefits

If you have lost your income because of the virus outbreak, you will qualify for unemployment benefits.  Unemployment benefits are to eligible workers who became unemployed through no fault of their own.  The rescue package dramatically expands who is eligible for help.

The package includes self-employed people, freelancers, and contract workers who are unable to work because of COVID-19.

To apply for benefits, go to your state’s website, as the specific details will be listed.  A starting place is Career One Stop which is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Labor you can find information and access your state to file and learn more details.  Keep in mind that the sites are experiencing high volumes of traffic, so don’t give up.

The $2 Trillion Stimulus Package

For individuals who earn $75,000 in adjusted gross income or less will get a payment of $1,200. Married couples earning up to $150,000 would receive $2,400.  An additional $500 will be paid per each child under the age of 17.

The payment will progressively be reduced for higher-income earners.  The amount you receive will decrease by 5% of the amount your income exceeds $75,000.  For those making more than $99,000, you will not qualify.

What to Do About  Payments on Homes, Cars, and Credit Cards

The federal government is requiring mortgage companies to work with people who have lost their jobs or income.  To give them  reduced payments or no payments for the time being.  In order to qualify, you need to have suffered a financial hardship related to the COVID-19 outbreak that makes you unable to meet basic living expenses.  Things like losing your job because of business shutdowns, it does not just include being sick or caring for a sick family member.

Many lending companies are offering assistance for a variety of other types of loans, auto, credit cards, mortgages, insurance, and small business loans.  Late fees for many of these are also waived during this time of crisis.  However, you must call or reach out online to speak with them so that they can take note of it on your account.  In addition, these payments may be put into a forbearance plan, which you want to understand when it ends and the details.  It may mean that the loan extends, getting it in writing from the lender.  Confirm that you are not paying extra interest or fees.  As the goal is to help people during the national crisis.

They are suspending student loan payments.  The Department of Education is allowing borrowers to suspend payments without penalties and accruing interest for at least 60 days.

Health Insurance

The rescue package does include making furloughed workers eligible for unemployment benefits. Employers who will be willing to keep workers technically employees and getting health benefits, even if they can’t afford to pay employees.  This is to keep company-sponsored health plans while getting unemployment.

If you lose your company benefits, COBRA is an option, where you pay out of pocket to maintain your same company benefits.  However, this is not an inexpensive choice.  Another option is to see if you can qualify for Medicaid.  Losing a job is considered a life event that will allow you to enroll in state-level health care under the Affordable Care Act.  Depending on your financial situation it can be free or for a very low price.

MaxAudience Announced as a 2019 UpCity City Excellence Award Winner

UpCity launched the City Excellence Awards as a follow up to their national awards in early 2019, celebrating the top marketing service providers as measured by their UpCity Rating. MaxAudience is thrilled to officially announce that we are one of the top marketing service providers in New York!

At MaxAudience, we are more than just a web design, brand management, and advertising agency.  We create precise, high ROI, marketing campaigns that deliver inspiring results, to help our clients win in their marketplace. Assisting brands by providing design and messaging solutions, it reinvigorates stale, non-performing or underperforming Ad Campaigns, Websites, Social Media Campaigns, and other online and offline initiatives.

UpCity is an online marketplace that creates and empowers successful relationships between businesses and marketing service providers by providing transparency and insights to dramatically improve the marketing partner selection and purchase experience.

Over 225,000 businesses visit UpCity each month seeking marketing services from over 33,000 providers in over 600 cities in North America.

Each year, the UpCity Excellence awards are presented to the top 1% of marketing service providers in the UpCity marketplace.  The awards celebrate the providers with the highest customer satisfaction and brand integrity based on their UpCity rating, a proprietary scoring mechanism that helps to determine an agency’s “recommendability” to businesses looking for marketing service providers.

“We’re excited to introduce our local UpCity Excellence Awards to both businesses seeking marketing services and marketing service providers. MaxAudience has been an outstanding example of what it means to be ‘recommendable’ in the industry – and especially in New York.” – Dan Olson, CEO, UpCity

“I’d like to recognize my team here at MaxAudience for their hard work and dedication to each and every one of our valued clients,” said CEO Mark McIntyre.  “I strongly believe we have the top team in our space.”

MaxAudience clients have given testimonials and recommendations on our behalf within the UpCity provider listing:

Our experience with MaxAudience was a valuable one in which both parties did some learning and growing.  All the while ushering our company into a new era with regards to digital presence. – Serouge Panossian

Because we are a startup company in the United States. MaxAudience has helped us grow our exposure. Their marketing ideas have helped us to gain quick traction in our target market. – Yogesh Marimuthu

Finding a team of people that really cares about your success as much as theirs is rare these days.  My company wouldn’t be where it is today.  Thank you MaxAudience, I am forever grateful. – KJ Franklin

Thank you to all of our clients for your continued support of MaxAudience!

Five Essential Skills of The Modern Marketer

Marketing is an unavoidable part of every business. Without marketing, your target audience will never know your business, or your products exist.

Marketing is often the first step in announcing your existence to the world. Years ago, physical mediums like billboard and newspaper advertisements were used to market a business or products. Today, modern marketers use digital marketing to promote their brand.

As the choice of marketing mediums has changed, the skills required in the modern marketer have also changed. The skills that worked twenty years ago don’t work anymore. The modern marketer has to keep up with the times and upgrade his skills.

Five of the most important skills of the modern marketer are:

Tracking customer behavior: Customer buying, and spending habits provide insights into the demand and consumption of a product.

That’s why the modern marketer must be aware of how his target audience and existing customers go about choosing a product, what appeals to them, and how you need to market to them. Analytics and CRM are two technologies that can help marketers track customer habits more efficiently.

Using more than one channel: When marketing your products or services, you cannot stick to only technique or channel. You have used digital marketing, advertising, email marketing, traditional billboards, and social media to get the maximum benefits out of your campaigns.

Remember that different sections of your target audience hang out on different channels. While some are on Facebook others are into newspapers. Therefore, every channel must be used to see where the most success is.

Budget allocation: When multiple channels are used, the budget must also be divided equally among them. Spending more on one channel and less on the other can make the marketing budget go haywire.

SEO: Modern marketing is nowhere without SEO. Search is the primary source of knowledge about customer habits. Therefore, marketers must build campaigns around the impact they have on search optimization.

Setting goals: Every marketer must know what they want to achieve with marketing campaigns. Without a proper goal, the marketing campaigns will be vague and aimless. Therefore, before starting any marketing campaign, you need to know what you want the end result to be.

Do you want to boost web traffic?

For any help with marketing, MaxAudience is around with their team of experts. Simply get in touch with the team to start.

Importance of Marketing Automation

Marketing automation is the technology that exists with the objective of computerizing and automating all marketing activities.

Priorities Misconstrued

There are various marketing and advertising tasks that are tedious, time consuming, and repetitive. These types of tasks use up valuable time of employees when they could be focusing on more important areas of the business.

These repetitive undertakings include messages, emails, networking, and social media, website updating, résumé sorting, tracking campaigns, etc. Therefore, marketing automation exists for the reason of computerizing these tasks and allowing employees to work on more essential things.

The innovation that marketing automation has made repetitive tasks manageable, boosting efficiency and productivity by leaps and bounds. If your competition is doing it, you better be doing it.

Marketing Automation is not a Fad

Marketing automation technology helps to enhance efficiency and eliminate errors. Automation leaves employees with a lot of time to focus on how to improve certain aspects of the business while reducing stress and helping in the easier accomplishment of tasks.

Because of marketing automation, employees don’t have to work round the clock and stress themselves. Once certain tasks are in automation, they get done as per the setting. Automation also eliminates human errors, making work more professional and efficient.

To be more precise, there are a number of ways in which marketing automation benefits a company. Some of them are:

  • Nurturing prospects with the means of targeted and personalized content
  • Converting prospects into paying customers, and retain existing customers by implementing analytics
  • Incorporating digital marketing tactics to generate new revenue for the business
  • Boosting ROI by automating key marketing tasks, and letting employees focus on aspects that need human intervention

As a result, a marketing automation system installation is easy with a client relationship management system to automate your marketing tasks.

You can track customer purchases and preferences, and even promptly answer complaints. With the help of an automation system, customers don’t have to wait for connecting with a representative.

They immediately get to connect with a representative and communicate in real time. Hence, all this is made possible with a CRM integration with automation software.

MaxAudience Rises to the Top

If you’re still wondering if marketing automation will be beneficial to your company, talk to any of the digital marketing experts at MaxAudience.

Local Marketing for Bigger Business Growth, Part II

In the previous blog post, we wrote a bit about the importance of marketing on a local basis and how that might be accomplished effectively. However, we just scratched the surface of the tools and approaches available to local marketers.  In this post, we’ll look at some more of those tricks and techniques that can be used to grow your local customer base.

Promote Reviews Rather Than Product Pages A lot of your advertising will undoubtedly be done online.  That is the way that business works these days but be sure that you are promoting the things that potential customers really want to see.  The chances that a person clicks through on the advertisement for your company page aren’t great, but if you promote an event or a customer review that speaks directly to the intended customer base, you may find that your return on investment is substantially better.

Ask for Reviews If you are going to promote them, then you better have a backlog of reviews.  It has been reported that 70% of people will provide a company review when asked, and yet many companies fail to ask.  Be sure that you are not missing out on this opportunity.  Include links to a review page on receipts and point them out at the time of sale.  When consumers reach out on Facebook, Twitter, or one of the other social media platforms, end the conversation with a request for a review.  Reach out to previous big-scale clients asking for a review to post on your website.  Ask, ask, ask!

Promote Other Local Events and Activities If you know of a fair, festival, a great dog park, an excellent new coffee shop, or a children’s event at the local library, then promote it!  Not all of your social activity online has to be directly related to your business.  Make it known that you care about your community by supporting others living and making a living there.

Track Your Local Search Success One of the biggest and most important tips that can be offered to local marketers is to ensure that the advertising budget is being wisely spent.  You do that by taking advantage of the tools available to you today, such as Yext.  This online service will help you determine how well your business is performing in local searches across a wide variety of platforms, including Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Yelp, MapQuest, Local.com, and many others.

There are so many tools, services, and tips related to local marketing these days that you may feel overwhelmed and uncertain where your money and time is best spent.  It is often wise to invest in the professionals who know how to reach your intended audience most effectively, so you can get the biggest bang for your buck.

Why Content Marketing Should Begin With Content and Not Marketing

There is a big misconception among marketers that has been persistent, despite many efforts to decimate it.  The belief that great content marketing begins with great marketing is a myth.  The most successful examples of great content marketing begin with an understanding of how to create engaging content.  The question of how to reach the intended market, where to promote the content, and how social media will play its part are afterthoughts.  The first objective is to write content that others will want to read, watch, or listen to.  If you can’t do that effectively, then all of the value that comes from great marketing is diminished.

 

There are a few basic elements of successful content:

 

An Engaging and Obvious Headline The title is important.  It is the first impression, and as all worthwhile marketers know — first impressions are critical.  If you want a person to read, listen to, or watch your content, then you have to give them a good reason.  That is to be found in a good, solid, and understandable headline.  Don’t make them guess what the content is about.  Tell them exactly what can be found by delving further.  Explain in as few words as possible exactly what value can be obtained.

 

Clear, Concise, Clean Verbiage Whether you are speaking it, scripting it, or just laying it out for the viewer to read, be sure that your wording is clean and concise.  Avoid troubling grammatical, spelling, or pronunciation mistakes that can undermine the worth of your content.  Be sure that you have the content proofed by at least one other person before sharing it with the general masses.  Poorly crafted content, marketed as worthwhile, can badly damage your reputation in the eyes of many consumers.

 

Value It was mentioned briefly above, but there should absolutely be some value to be gained by reading, listening to, or watching your content.  Value, of course, is defined in different ways.  This could be a How-To article explaining how to complete a task related to your product line or industry.  It could be a podcast discussing the advantages of different apps related to your business.  Or, the value added could simply be emotional gain, in that the content eases stress, makes a person laugh, or causes an attachment to a specific cause by making a person experience empathy.

 

Once you have created content worthy of your audience, then you can figure out how to get it in front of the right people.  It all begins, though, with the ability to create something that others want to be witness to.

 

 

Check the Health of Your Media Marketing Strategy in 2018

At the start of every new year, you should take some time to really evaluate how well your business strategies performed in the year past.  This certainly extends to your media marketing approach.  If you have been faithful in your collection of data throughout the recent years, then this will be much easier.  However, even with only the data collected in 2017, you can get a good picture of what worked and what didn’t, so you can make more informed decisions as you move forward in 2018.

Run a Year-to-Year Analysis

This is where it is handy to have data from at least two years’ past.  You can compare your media marketing results from 2016 and from 2017.  Was the return on investment better or worse last year?  If it was worse, what might be the cause of that?  Sometimes, the answer is obvious.  There may have been some bad press, a product recall, or some other sort of negative attention that hurt your brand.  In that case, the numbers might make sense.  On the other hand, there are times when you will have to delve a bit deeper, looking at the engagement on individual campaigns to determine where the weak points were in your strategy.  More on that topic to follow.  If, though, 2017 proved to be prosperous where media marketing was concerned, then you can use that momentum to make 2018 even better.

Finding the Weak Spots

As mentioned above, one of the considerations to keep in mind, as you audit your media marketing strategy, is which campaigns helped your cause and which were more of a drag on your resources.  Looking through the data related to engagement, sales figures, and general social media reach can paint a good picture of how well a particular campaign performed.  This can really give you a head start in your strategy development for the New Year.

Other Metrics to Consider

There are several things that you should consider when evaluating your media marketing success, always keeping in mind what goals you had set when you started the various campaigns.  A few questions to ask:

  • Has Your Followership Grown in the Past Year?  By How Much?
  • How Many Click-Throughs Have You Achieved as a Result of Each Campaign of 2017?
  • How Many Times Was Your Brand Mentioned During Campaigns?  How Many Times Was it Mentioned Unrelated to Marketing Campaigns?  How Many of Those Mentions Were Positive?  If Recommendations are Being Made, by Whom and What For?
  • How Did Your Media Marketing Budget in 2017 Compare to the Marketing Budget in 2016?  How Much Did Each Engagement Cost you in 2017 as Compared to the Cost Per Engagement in 2016?

With this sort of information at hand, you can host much more production and informed meetings with the marketing team, so 2018 can be your most successful year to date.