A Top 100 Small Business Influencer Champion? Wow, Thanks!

cp_2013_smb_influencer_champion[4]Over the last 20 years, I’ve been blessed to not only run my own small business, but to work with hundreds of other small business owners, managers and startup founders. I’m fanatical about helping entrepreneurs to reach their career goals by starting, running and growing successful small businesses. Sometimes they grow into very large businesses – and that’s fun, too! But the crux of my career has been focused on helping to establish and promote companies in the early stages of their lifecycles, and I really enjoy those challenges.

That’s why I was so happy to be honored last week when I was named a Small Business Influencer Top 100 Champion and Expert in the 2013 Small Business Influencer Awards – produced by Small Business Trends, an award-winning online publication, serving over 6,000,000 small business owners, stakeholders and entrepreneurs annually, and SmallBizTechnology.com, a media company that produces online content and live events educating small and mid-sized companies on how to strategically use technology as a tool to grow their businesses. The awards honor those who are influential to small businesses in North America, through the products, services, knowledge, information or support they provide to the small business market.

I’m flattered to be in this list with some former clients (Brainshark, Constant Contact), companies I admire and use daily (Dropbox, American Express OPENForum, Evernote, Etsy, FedEx, Hootsuite, Hubspot, Plantronics, Vistaprint) and industry folks that I admire such as John Jantsch, Laurie McCabe, Dave Kerpen, Larry Kim and Aliza Sherman. Congratulations to all the other winners and honorable mentions, as well as the nominees. I fully support and cheerlead anyone who works in, and strives to help, small business. You can read about all the champions, here.

I simply wanted to say thank you to those who voted for me, the judges and most certainly my team at PerkettPR. They are not only a huge part of making our national clients successful through smart digital marketing and PR, but they are also an inspiration to me every day to keep my own small business innovative, fun and alive.

You can read additional details here, visit the award site or follow along on Twittter by searching #SMBInfluencer.

 

 

 

Persuasive Picks For Week Of 9/23/13

Social-Media-DoodlesNewsmakers in social marketing tend to be large companies, with big ad spends. Small and midsize companies can sometimes feel as though they’re at a relative disadvantage. MarketingProfs‘ Kerry O’Shea Gorgone speaks with IBM’s Ed Abrams on SMB Social Strategy and Content Marketing who explains the changing landscape, and offers tips for SMBs on social strategy, content marketing, and running a social business.

You have a great product, idea or service. You’ve invested in putting together a solid website. Social media marketing is important, so you have Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts – maybe even a Tumblr account too. You know social sharing is a key element of success online, but you want the results of your efforts to improve. Luke Chitwood of TheNextWeb says just follow The 10 commandments of social sharing and driving traffic to your website and you’ll engage with customers and draw traffic like never before.

alltwitter-klout-logoEveryone has influence, and Klout has made it their mission to tell each of us what that is. They accomplish this by using data from your social networks to gauge your Klout Score. And as your score increases, it becomes exponentially harder to increase your Klout. But there are things you can do to proactively boost your score and, more importantly, keep it as high as possible. AllTwitter Co-editor Shea Bennett posts a visual guide to help boost your score – 4 Tips To Increase Your Klout Score [INFOGRAPHIC].

As a small business, you may think it’s impossible to get the word out about what you do. Marketing doesn’t have to be hard or expensive. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the most effective. Eric V. Holtzclaw, author and founder and CEO of Laddering Works, pens 10 Simple Marketing Tips for Small Businesses on Inc. to help get the word out about your business and watch it grow.

“Effective Executives” Series with Beantown Bedding Founders, Kirsten Lambert & Joan Ripple

Here at PerkettPR, we are not only avid Red Sox fans, but many of our employees are proud to call Beantown our “home.”  This week’s interview is with the founders of a  local Massachusetts-based company, Beantown Bedding. Beantown Bedding, LLC was founded in December 2011 by Joan Ripple and Kirsten Lambert, two mothers of college students. The company is located in Hingham, MA, a suburb of Boston (“Beantown”).

The concept behind Beantown Bedding was to offer a solution to busy college students who had little time to launder their sheets.  Beantown Bedding developed a line of linens made from a fiber called Tencel, derived from Eucalyptus trees, which you can simply toss into a compost bin or trash can when they’re dirty. The sheets are both compostable and biodegradable and available for purchase on their website and at Amazon.com.

We caught up with the founders and asked them more about where the idea came from and what they have planned next.

 

Please tell us a little bit about Beantown Bedding and where the idea came from.

We met when our oldest children began dating in high school.  When they each went off to college, we quickly learned that they, like most college students, just didn’t take time to wash their sheets.  The health and hygiene implications were simply gross.  We wanted to find a way for them to have clean sheets without the hassle of laundering. Essentially, we decided to rethink laundry.  We joked about sending them the rolls of paper sheets found in a doctor’s office.

 

We decided to take the idea seriously and began searching for material that would be both comfortable and disposable in an environmentally responsible manner.  Easier said than done!  We identified the material we liked, organized focus groups with students and mothers, and began to explore sources of supply. Once we had a product, we conducted product testing with students from 22 universities over a two-month period.  The findings indicated we had a winner.

 

When you were researching what type of materials to use in your products, where did you turn for information and how long did the process take?

The better part of a year was spent researching the market, fabrics, and supply options. Initially, our secondary research focused on sustainable textiles through sources such as fiber and fabric manufacturers, trade organizations and publications,  trade shows and published white papers and articles.  Our first fabric choice didn’t perform well in the qualitative research stage, so we continued the search until we discovered a fiber called TENCEL®, which offered the properties we wanted… softness, strength, and compostability. Lenzing, the manufacturer of TENCEL®, was instrumental in helping us establish our supply chain and has been tremendously supportive as we’ve grown. In fact, they recently hosted us as part of their Innovation Platform at the Home Textiles Sourcing Expo in New York City.

 

How did your previous education or career prepare you to be a business owner?

While we both have degrees and backgrounds in business, we feel it’s the versatile skills we learned as mothers and volunteer leaders in our communities which best prepared us for our entrepreneurial duties.  Like all entrepreneurs, we wear many hats and must be resourceful. Joan’s Management and Human Resources background nicely complement Kirsten’s marketing and research experience. For everything else, we either learn quickly, consult with experts, or cover the gaps with outsourcing.

 

One extremely valuable resource was the team of graduate students from Stanford University who worked on our business as a class project this past spring.  After presenting our pitch at a competition for startup companies at Stanford last April, we were selected by one of the teams. It was one of many tremendous opportunities we’ve had in bringing bedsox to market.

 

You are passionate about the environment and sustainability especially with your product offerings. What else are you passionate about?

Yes, sustainability is a central theme in our messaging and we’re delighted to have just received USDA certification as 100% Biobased®.   That said, we really love college kids!  Their energy, enthusiasm, work ethic, and desire to make a difference in the world is inspiring.  Our own college kids are the basis for our story, but we’ve worked closely with many others as we’ve researched and gotten to know our primary target market.

 

Our dogs are also an integral part of our story. Since our earliest conversations about the concept, the local dog park has been the venue for many of our strategy sessions. We each have yellow Labrador Retrievers – Fenway and Sunshine, who receive an undue amount of attention since we sent our youngest children off to college. (For the record, the younger kids also dated!)

 

What is next for Beantown Bedding in 2013?

College kids aren’t the only time-starved consumers who can enjoy the convenience of laundry-free linens. We will soon roll out additional sizes of sheet sets to serve markets such as overnight camps, vacation homes and travel.   Though the retail launch was only weeks ago, via our ecommerce site (www.BeantownBedding.com) and Amazon, our wholesale business took off before we received our first inventory.   Universities nationwide began purchasing bedsox this summer for their overnight conferences and events.  As a result, our next steps are to generate awareness for bedsox in both the retail and business sectors.  Fortunately, Beantown Bedding has received quite a bit of media attention in recent weeks to convince consumers to rethink laundry.

 

Persuasive Picks for week of 6/4/12

Go ahead and throw out everything you used to know about SEO, such as link building, keyword-rich content, internal links, and tracking results on SERPs. It’s time to start over. MarketingProfs‘ Aaron Dunn writes that in a little over a year, Google has rendered 10 years of SEO dogma mostly useless in The New Google Search: Six Changes That Rocked the SEO World.

Everyone knows Pinterest is one of the fastest growing sites of all time, shooting up to No. 3 among social networking sites in less than two years. Bonnie Kintzer, CEO, Women’s Marketing Inc. and iMediaConnection contributor, explains that it’s also the first design-focused site to reach mainstream working women with children in large numbers – the sweet spot of many brands and retailers in 7 reasons why Pinterest is unique for marketers.

You’re a small business with very limited resources (time, money, and employees), so how on earth can you incorporate a social media strategy into what you’re already doing – especially when there are so many avenues out there to cover? Liana Evans provides some helpful tips to get the most out of Social Media on a Small Business Budget on ClickZ.

Social Media Marketing success is based almost entirely on how well you engage your customers. James Meyer would like to qualify that by “almost” reasoning that if your efforts are not supporting a quality brand, product or service, you could do most everything perfectly and still not get great results. On SocialMediaToday he provides a number of great tools that create visibility and allow you to monitor your effectiveness in Measuring Engagement Levels in Social Media

Persuasive Picks for week of 4/16/12

When Deborah Sweeney, CEO of MyCorporation, started to run her own business, she never would have guessed that a day would come when she’d be expected to update the internet on her life in 140 characters or less. To help CEO’s aspiring to join the Twitter-sphere, Deborah posts her advice on Becoming a “Corporate Executive Tweeter” on SocialMediaToday.

A strong referral network is imperative for small businesses. Thanks to social networking, businesses can now connect directly with customers, enabling them to market in new more cost-effective ways. MarketingProfs guest blogger Pamela Springer provides some tips to Build a Strong Referral Network to Boost Your Business and parlay those social networks into business opportunities.

Pinterest isn’t only for women – despite its heavy concentration on all things girlie, it’s for guys, too! Pinterest has a growing audience of men who like the site – for many of the same reasons women do explains Jennifer Waters in her latest MarketWatch article Why men like social-media site Pinterest.

Doug Schumacher takes a look at some numbers around Facebook content and what kind is the most shared, and finds that video and photo posts are far more likely to be shared than status updates or links. Find out more of What consumers share on Facebook – and why in his iMediaConnection post.