Tag Archives: small businesses

BMI Elite Buys Employee A New Car, Then Takes Staff to Bahamas

There’s never a dull moment around here at BMI Elite.  We’re back in the news once again, this time for surprising one of our longest and most deserving employees with a brand new 2013 Ford Escape for his 52nd birthday last week.  We’ve been on the front page of the Sun Sentinel’s money section, on the homepage of MSNnow, and many other news channels including CBS12, CNN and WPBF.

Chris Ninos has been BMI’s chief financial officer for the last two years and is one of the most loyal, honest, trustworthy and hardworking employees that our CEO Brandon Rosen has ever met.

“Chris will call me up at midnight, at 5:00 a.m., and on holidays just to talk about business,” said Brandon.  “He’s one of the hardest workers I know.”

Chris has been driving an old 1998 green Ford Escort for the last 11 or 12 years, and recently it’s been giving him lots of trouble.  Even though everyone around the office has been telling him to trade it in and get something new, Chris was determined to ride it until it died.  So last week, a few days before Chris’ birthday, Brandon and BMI’s president, Dan Lansman, decided to surprise him with the new Escape as a way to thank him for all that he does for the company.

Chris was told by some co-workers that they were taking him out to lunch to celebrate his birthday.  They said they needed to make a stop at the Maroone Ford dealership, and when they arrived at the showroom, Ninos was surprised with a new 2013 Ford Escape filled with balloons.

Before this all happened, BMI contacted the media to capture the moment as well.  Not only did Chris get a new car, but he also got the celebrity treatment for a few days.

If that wasn’t enough, BMI Elite is taking its entire staff on a cruise to the Bahamas this weekend for our holiday party.  I am excited and I feel lucky to be working at a company that is doing so well.  In less than two years, BMI has grown from two employees to 55 and next month, we are moving from a 4,500 sq. foot office to one that is over 21,000 sq. feet.  There are lots of big things to come!

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Hey Marketers, Don’t Overlook Halloween!

This year’s version of an annual survey reports that Halloween spending is expected to be huge this year- around $8 billion to be exact.  According to the survey by the National Retail Federation (NRF), seven in 10 Americans plan to celebrate Halloween this year, the most in the survey’s 10-year history.  Total spending on the holiday is expected to reach $8 billion, with each person spending about $80 on costumes, decoration and sweet treats.

Part of the appeal of Halloween is that it is the first holiday of the season.  It’s the kickoff to the rest of the holidays, and it excites people and puts them in the spirit for the months that follow.  Halloween is also popular with consumers because it’s a relatively inexpensive holiday to partake in.  When compared to Christmas, Hanukkah, Valentine’s Day and even New Year’s, which often involve gifts and elaborate meals, Halloween is not that expensive.  Because it is not a gift-giving holiday, people on even the strictest budgets are usually able to indulge a little bit and enjoy themselves.

This year, more people plan to dress in costume, throw or attend a party and give out candy to trick-or-treaters.  Consumers will spend the most on costumes for themselves, their kids, and yes, their pets.  The average person is expected to shell out $43.60 on costumes, up from $40.81 a year ago.  They will spend $32.35 on decorations, up from $28.54 and $24.25 on candy, up from $22.05 last year.

The steady growth in Halloween spending could prove to be an excellent opportunity for both retailers and marketers if they promote it heavily, yet the holiday is overlooked by many.  This has a lot to do with the fact that Halloween falls in between back-to-school and Christmas, two of the largest retail campaigns of the year.  Both of these events attract much more spending than Halloween, and during the months of September and October (when most Halloween purchases are made), retailers are already mainly focusing on Christmas.  Many retailers officially kick off holiday campaigns at the end of October or early November, but holiday merchandise can be found in stores as early as September.  My local Costco in Delray Beach has had their holiday aisle set up for at least two weeks now.

“People are standing in line with a pumpkin looking at Christmas ornaments,” said Mike Gatti, a senior VP at the NRF. “Everyone complains about Christmas creep but people are in there buying it.”

Mainstream retailers that are caught trying to balance both Halloween and Christmas may be missing the opportunity that lies in the growth in Halloween spending. They often see it as a smaller spending holiday that is squeezed between back-to-school and Christmas and do not consider it a significant part of the advertising and promotions calendar.  Those who do focus on heavily promoting Halloween are costume retailers and those who set up pop-up shops, but they are usually not the ones who advertise like crazy.

Mr. Gatti explains, “Everyone from home centers to pet stores is taking advantage of the growth in Halloween.  So it could be a missed opportunity [to include it as part of] the ad calendar.”

With more consumers than ever planning to celebrate Halloween this year, it would be smart for retailers and marketers to take advantage of the opportunity. Those who promote the holiday with ads will likely catch the attention of the seven-in-ten consumers who are planning to spend their hard-earned dollars on products that help them get into the Halloween spirit.

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Why You Should Be On Google+

In the year or so since it was launched, Google+ has not exactly become the popular social network that Google imagined creating. Considered an epic failed by some, Google claims that there are currently about 75 million daily active users, but their calculation methods are sketchy at best.

Considering the social network’s lack of popularity, should your even bother with having a Google+ account for your business? Ab-so-effing-lutely!

The free SEO boost that your site will get is the first reason that your business should be on Google+. When someone Google’s you or your businesses’ name, your Google+ profile will come up as a good result, and there’s a better chance that your site will show up quicker on organic search.  Consider it an extra opportunity to get some fresh content out there about you.  Because your Google+ information will rank high, this also can also come in handy if you want to push a different search result down to the second page (a result that you don’t own, or something that might be negative).

Another benefit of the social network is that it integrates with all of Google’s other (extremely successful and popular) public-facing services including search, Google Places, Google Shopping, Google Maps and more. If you run a small business, such as a pet service or clothing store, having a Google+ page will help add valuable data to your Google Places pages.  Google’s recent Zagat acquisition also gives restaurants a boost by posting their rating in the results.

Google+’s integration with the search engine’s other products can also be used as a powerful tool for a small business to communicate internally. It allows you to do a variety of tasks within the same platform. For example, while writing on Gmail, you can hop on to Google+ to communicate ideas with co-workers in real-time. You don’t have to jump from Facebook to Hotmail to Skype just to communicate because Google has it all. It makes swapping information, documents and ideas easier among the employees within your business.

The last reason that your business should absolutely be using Google+ is because it’s there and it’s free. It’s relatively quick and easy to set up and use, so why not? You have nothing to lose, and who doesn’t like an increased presence in the search engines?

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Foursquare Gets Even Better For Small Businesses

Foursquare has been riding the social media marketing bandwagon in a big way by becoming the best friend of many small businesses.  It’s popular with businesses because it gives them a place to put their name where it really counts—locally– and reach out to both frequent and potential customers in the area.  Not only do small businesses use the network to draw new customers, but it creates many return customers and allows these businesses to build a solid local reputation.  Last week foursquare released Local Updates, which enables brands to send customers news, updates and anything else they think the user may find interesting.

Since its launch in 2009, the free app has been used by people and their friends to make the most of where they are.   “Checking in” to a business allows the customer to share and save the places that they visit and choose new ones based on personalized recommendations and deals.  As of April 2009, there has been over 2 billion check-ins from over 20 million people worldwide.

Since the network’s early days, their Specials platform has offered incentives to users for checking in.  Merchants were able to offer both loyalty-related specials (e.g. “Get a free yoga class on your third check-in”) and specials to attract new customers (e.g. “Free appetizer with your first check-in”).  I personally signed up to the network about two years ago after I was told by a friend that an Italian restaurant by my house was offering a free bottle of wine with each check-in.

Local Updates, released last Wednesday, answers the requests of small businesses that were looking for a new way to communicate with the customers who love their businesses and are engaging with them on foursquare.  Dubbed by the network’s product manager, Noah Weiss, as the “all-new foursquare for merchants,” Local Updates allows businesses to send text or images to loyal customers (based on the frequency of check-ins or whether someone has “liked” the business), with the option to share with others.

The way the feature works is this:  whenever a foursquare user finds a business in the Explore feature, the updates will appear within the business’s profile.  Upon being notified that the user is interested, the business can keep the user up to date with the happenings of the business, whether they are customers already or potential customers.  It’s an easy way for users to keep up with news from the places they frequent, including things like special offers, a menu change, or a new shipment of the hottest shoes.  The user has the option of receiving these updates from businesses, and if they are not interested they can easily opt out at any time.  Here is an example of what an update may look like:

Foursquare is hoping that the feature will encourage word-of-mouth marketing, with the ideal course of action being for customers to have more motivation to tell their friends about the business upon receiving a message or update.  Although it is not as useful of a marketing tool for big businesses, small businesses can really benefit from Local Updates.  The free feature is an effective and affordable way for small businesses to market themselves to a large amount of potential customers while keeping their current ones happy.

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